Part 3 out of 4
seventy dollars. There it stopped, and neither the auctioneer's
tears nor his prayers could apparently coax it higher.
"Seventy dollars!" he cried, as if he were really too shocked to
speak at all; "seven-ty dollars! Make it eighty! Oh, it is a sin
and a shame, gentlemen, and the fair fame of this beautiful city
is eternally ruined. It will become a wagging of the head and a
byword among the nations. Sev-en-ty dollars!"--then hotly and
indignantly--"seventy dollars!--fifth and last time, seventy
dollars!"--here he raised his hammer threateningly--"seventy
"One hundred!" cried a high boyish voice, and in an instant
every neck was craned and every eye was turned toward the corner
where Erik Carstens was standing, half hidden behind the broad
figure of Lieutenant Thicker.
"Did I hear a hundred?" repeated the auctioneer, wonderingly.
"May I ask who was the gentleman who said a hundred?"
An embarrassing silence followed. Erik knew that if he
acknowledged the bid he would suffer the shame of having it
refused. But his excitement and his solicitude for the fair fame
of his native city had carried him away so completely that the
words had escaped from his lips before he was fully aware of
"May I ask," repeated the wielder of the hammer, slowly and
emphatically, "may I ask the gentleman who offered one hundred
dollars for Lady Clare to come forward and give his name?"
He now looked straight at Erik, who blushed to the edge of his
hair, but did not stir from the spot. From sheer embarrassment
he clutched the lieutenant's arm, and almost pinched it.
"Oh, I beg your pardon," the officer exclaimed, addressing the
auctioneer, as if he had suddenly been aroused from a fit of
abstraction; "I made the bid of one hundred dollars, or--or--at
any rate, I make it now."
The same performance, intended to force up the price, was
repeated once more, but with no avail, and at the end of two
minutes Lady Clare was knocked down to Lieutenant Thicker.
"Now I have gone and done it like the blooming idiot that I am,"
observed the lieutenant, when Lady Clare was led into his stable
by a liveried groom. "What an overhauling the captain will give
me when he gets home."
"You need have no fear," Erik replied. "I'll sound father as
soon as he gets home; and if he makes any trouble I'll pay you
that one hundred dollars, with interest, the day I come of age."
Well, the captain came home, and having long had the intention to
present his son with a saddle-horse, he allowed himself to be
cajoled into approving of the bargain. The mare was an exquisite
creature, if ever there was one, and he could well understand how
Erik had been carried away; Lieutenant Thicker, instead of being
hauled over the coals, as he had expected, received thanks for
his kind and generous conduct toward the son of his superior
officer. As for Erik himself, he had never had any idea that a
boy's life could be so glorious as his was now. Mounted on that
splendid, coal-black mare, he rode through the city and far out
into the country at his father's side; and never did it seem to
him that he had loved his father so well as he did during these
afternoon rides. The captain was far from suspecting that in
that episode of the purchase of Lady Clare his own relation to
his son had been at stake. Not that Erik would not have obeyed
his father, even if he had turned out his rough side and taken
the lieutenant to task for his kindness; but their relation would
in that case have lacked the warm intimacy (which in nowise
excludes obedience and respect) and that last touch of devoted
admiration which now bound them together.
That fine touch of sympathy in the captain's disposition which
had enabled him to smile indulgently at his son's enthusiasm for
the horse made the son doubly anxious not to abuse such kindness,
and to do everything in his power to deserve the confidence which
made his life so rich and happy. Though, as I have said, Captain
Carstens lacked the acuteness to discover how much he owed to
Lady Clare, he acknowledged himself in quite a different way her
debtor. He had never really been aware what a splendid specimen
of a boy his son was until he saw him on the back of that
spirited mare, which cut up with him like the Old Harry, and yet
never succeeded in flurrying, far less in unseating him. The
captain felt a glow of affection warming his breast at the sight
of this, and his pride in Erik's horsemanship proved a
consolation to him when the boy's less distinguished performances
at school caused him fret and worry.
"A boy so full of pluck must amount to something, even if he does
not take kindly to Latin," he reflected many a time. "I am
afraid I have made a mistake in having him prepared for college.
In the army now, and particularly in the cavalry, he would make a
reputation in twenty minutes."
And a cavalryman Erik might, perhaps, have become if his father
had not been transferred to another post, and compelled to take
up his residence in the country. It was nominally a promotion,
but Captain Carstens was ill pleased with it, and even had some
thought of resigning rather than give up his delightful city
life, and move far northward into the region of cod and herring.
However, he was too young a man to retire on a pension, as yet,
and so he gradually reconciled himself to the thought, and sailed
northward in the month of April with his son and his entire
household. It had long been a question whether Lady Clare should
make the journey with them; for Captain Carstens maintained that
so high-bred an animal would be very sensitive to climatic
changes and might even die on the way. Again, he argued that it
was an absurdity to bring so fine a horse into a rough country,
where the roads are poor and where nature, in mercy, provides all
beasts with rough, shaggy coats to protect them from the cold.
How would Lady Clare, with her glossy satin coat, her slender
legs that pirouetted so daintily over the ground, and her
exquisite head, which she carried so proudly--how would she look
and what kind of figure would she cut among the shaggy, stunted,
sedate-looking nags of the Sognefiord district? But the captain,
though what he said was irrefutable, had to suspend all argument
when he saw how utterly wretched Erik became at the mere thought
of losing Lady Clare. So he took his chances; and, after having
ordered blankets of three different thicknesses for three
different kinds of weather, shipped the mare with the rest of his
family for his new northern home.
As the weather proved unusually mild during the northward voyage
Lady Clare arrived in Sogn without accident or adventure. And
never in all her life had she looked more beautiful than she did
when she came off the steamer, and half the population of the
valley turned out to see her. It is no use denying that she was
as vain as any other professional beauty, and the way she danced
and pirouetted on the gangplank, when Erik led her on to the
pier, filled the rustics with amazement. They had come to look
at the new captain and his family; but when Lady Clare appeared
she eclipsed the rest of the company so completely that no one
had eyes for anybody but her. As the sun was shining and the
wind was mild, Erik had taken off her striped overcoat (which
covered her from nose to tail), for he felt in every fibre of his
body the sensation she was making, and blushed with pleasure as
if the admiring exclamations had been intended for himself.
"Look at that horse," cried young and old, with eyes as big as
saucers, pointing with their fingers at Lady Clare.
"Handsome carcass that mare has," remarked a stoutish man, who
knew what he was talking about; "and head and legs to match."
"She beats your Valders-Roan all hollow, John Garvestad," said a
young tease who stood next to him in the crowd.
"My Valders-Roan has never seen his match yet, and never will,
according to my reckoning," answered John Garvestad.
"Ho! ho!" shouted the young fellow, with a mocking laugh; "that
black mare is a hand taller at the very least, and I bet you
she's a high-flyer. She has got the prettiest legs I ever
clapped eyes on."
"They'd snap like clay pipes in the mountains," replied
Erik, as he blushingly ascended the slope to his new home,
leading Lady Clare by a halter, had no suspicion of the
sentiments which she had aroused in John Garvestad's breast. He
was only blissfully conscious of the admiration she had excited;
and he promised himself a good deal of fun in future in showing
off his horsemanship. He took Lady Clare to the stable, where a
new box-stall had been made for her, examined the premises
carefully and nailed a board over a crevice in the wall where he
suspected a draught. He instructed Anders, the groom, with
emphatic and anxious repetitions regarding her care, showed him
how to make Lady Clare's bed, how to comb her mane, how to brush
her (for she refused to endure currying), how to blanket her, and
how to read the thermometer which he nailed to one of the posts
of the stall. The latter proved to be a more difficult task than
he had anticipated; and the worst of it was that he was not sure
that Anders knew any more on the subject of his instruction at
the end of the lesson than he had at the beginning. To make sure
that he had understood him he asked him to enter the stall and
begin the process of grooming. But no sooner had the unhappy
fellow put his nose inside the door than Lady Clare laid back her
ears in a very ugly fashion, and with a vicious whisk of her tail
waltzed around and planted two hoof-marks in the door, just where
the groom's nose had that very instant vanished. A second and a
third trial had similar results; and as the box-stall was new and
of hard wood, Erik had no wish to see it further damaged.
"I won't have nothin' to do with that hoss, that's as certain as
my name is Anders," the groom declared; and Erik, knowing that
persuasion would be useless, had henceforth to be his own groom.
The fact was he could not help sympathizing with that
fastidiousness of Lady Clare which made her object to be handled
by coarse fingers and roughly curried, combed, and washed like a
common plebeian nag. One does not commence life associating with
a princess for nothing. Lady Clare, feeling in every nerve her
high descent and breeding, had perhaps a sense of having come
down in the world, and, like many another irrational creature of
her sex, she kicked madly against fate and exhibited the
unloveliest side of her character. But with all her skittishness
and caprice she was steadfast in one thing, and that was her love
for Erik. As the days went by in country monotony, he began to
feel it as a privilege rather than a burden to have the exclusive
care of her. The low, friendly neighing with which she always
greeted him, as soon as he opened the stable-door, was as
intelligible and dear to him as the warm welcome of a friend.
And when with dainty alertness she lifted her small, beautiful
head, over which the fine net-work of veins meandered, above the
top of the stall, and rubbed her nose caressingly against his
cheek, before beginning to snuff at his various pockets for the
accustomed lump of sugar, he felt a glow of affection spread from
his heart and pervade his whole being. Yes, he loved this
beautiful animal with a devotion which, a year ago, he would
scarcely have thought it possible to bestow upon a horse. No one
could have persuaded him that Lady Clare had not a soul which
(whether it was immortal or not) was, at all events, as distinct
and clearly defined as that of any person with whom he was
acquainted. She was to him a personality--a dear, charming
friend, with certain defects of character (as who has not?) which
were, however, more than compensated for by her devotion to him.
She was fastidious, quick-tempered, utterly unreasonable where
her feelings were involved; full of aristocratic prejudice, which
only her sex could excuse; and whimsical, proud, and capricious.
It was absurd, of course, to contend that these qualities were in
themselves admirable; but, on the other hand, few of us would not
consent to overlook them in a friend who loved us as well as Lady
Clare loved Erik.
The fame of Lady Clare spread through the parish like fire in
withered grass. People came from afar to look at her, and
departed full of wonder at her beauty. When the captain and his
son rode together to church on Sunday morning, men, women, and
children stood in rows at the roadside staring at the wonderful
mare as if she had been a dromedary or a rhinoceros. And when
she was tied in the clergyman's stable a large number of the men
ignored the admonition of the church bells and missed the sermon,
being unable to tear themselves away from Lady Clare's charms.
But woe to him who attempted to take liberties with her; there
were two or three horsy young men who had narrow escapes from
bearing the imprint of her iron shoes for the rest of their days.
That taught the others a lesson, and now Lady Clare suffered from
no annoying familiarities, but was admired at a respectful
distance, until the pastor, vexed at her rivalry with his sermon,
issued orders to have the stable-door locked during service.
There was one person besides the pastor who was ill pleased at
the reputation Lady Clare was making. That was John Garvestad,
the owner of Valders-Roan. John was the richest man in the
parish, and always made a point of keeping fine horses.
Valders-Roan, a heavily built, powerful horse, with a tremendous
neck and chest and long tassels on his fetlocks, but rather squat
in the legs, had hitherto held undisputed rank as the finest
horse in all Sogn. By the side of Lady Clare he looked as a
stout, good-looking peasant lad with coltish manners might have
looked by the side of the daughter of a hundred earls.
But John Garvestad, who was naturally prejudiced in favor of his
own horse, could scarcely be blamed for failing to recognize her
superiority. He knew that formerly, on Sundays, the men were
wont to gather with admiring comment about Valders-Roan; while
now they stood craning their necks, peering through the windows
of the parson's stable, in order to catch a glimpse of Lady
Clare, and all the time Valders-Roan was standing tied to the
fence, in full view of all, utterly neglected. This spectacle
filled him with such ire that he hardly could control himself.
His first impulse was to pick a quarrel with Erik; but a second
and far brighter idea presently struck him. He would buy Lady
Clare. Accordingly, when the captain and his son had mounted
their horses and were about to start on their homeward way,
Garvestad, putting Valders-Roan to his trumps, dug his heels into
his sides and rode up with a great flourish in front of the
"How much will you take for that mare of yours, captain?" he
asked, as he checked his charger with unnecessary vigor close to
"She is not mine to sell," the captain replied. "Lady Clare
belongs to my son."
"Well, what will you take for her, then?" Garvestad repeated,
swaggeringly, turning to Erik.
"Not all the gold in the world could buy her," retorted Erik,
Valders-Roan, unable to resist the charms of Lady Clare, had in
the meanwhile been making some cautious overtures toward an
acquaintance. He arched his mighty neck, rose on his hind legs,
while his tremendous forehoofs were beating the air, and cut up
generally--all for Lady Clare's benefit.
She, however, having regarded his performances for awhile with a
mild and somewhat condescending interest, grew a little tired of
them and looked out over the fiord, as a belle might do, with a
suppressed yawn, when her cavalier fails to entertain her.
Valders-Roan, perceiving the slight, now concluded to make more
decided advances. So he put forward his nose until it nearly
touched Lady Clare's, as if he meant to kiss her. But that was
more than her ladyship was prepared to put up with. Quick as a
flash she flung herself back on her haunches, down went her ears,
and hers was the angriest horse's head that ever had been seen in
that parish. With an indignant snort she wheeled around, kicking
up a cloud of dust by the suddenness of the manoeuvre. A less
skilled rider than Erik would inevitably have been thrown by two
such unforeseen jerks; and the fact was he had all he could do to
keep his seat.
"Oho!" shouted Garvestad, "your mare shies; she'll break your
neck some day, as likely as not. You had better sell her before
she gets you into trouble."
"But I shouldn't like to have your broken neck on my conscience,"
Erik replied; "if necks are to be broken by Lady Clare I should
prefer to have it be my own."
The peasant was not clever enough to make out whether this was
jest or earnest. With a puzzled frown he stared at the youth and
finally broke out:
"Then you won't sell her at no price? Anyway, the day you change
your mind don't forget to notify John Garvestad. If it's
spondulix you are after, then here's where there's plenty of
He slapped his left breast-pocket with a great swagger, looking
around to observe the impression he was making on his audience;
then, jerking the bridle violently, so as to make his horse rear,
he rode off like Alexander on Bucephalus, and swung down upon the
It was but a few weeks after this occurrence that Captain
Carstens and his son were invited to honor John Garvestad by
their presence at his wedding. They were in doubt, at first, as
to whether they ought to accept the invitation; for some
unpleasant rumors had reached them, showing that Garvestad
entertained unfriendly feelings toward them. He was an intensely
vain man; and the thought that Erik Carstens had a finer horse
than Valders-Roan left him no peace. He had been heard to say
repeatedly that, if that high-nosed youth persisted in his
refusal to sell the mare, he would discover his mistake when,
perhaps, it would be too late to have it remedied. Whatever that
meant, it sufficed to make both Erik and his father uneasy. But,
on the other hand, it would be the worst policy possible, under
such circumstances, to refuse the invitation. For that would be
interpreted either as fear or as aristocratic exclusiveness; and
the captain, while he was new in the district, was as anxious to
avoid the appearance of the one as of the other. Accordingly he
accepted the invitation and on the appointed day rode with his
son into the wide yard of John Garvestad's farm, stopping at the
pump, where they watered their horses. It was early in the
afternoon, and both the house and the barn were thronged with
wedding-guests. From the sitting-room the strains of two fiddles
were heard, mingled with the scraping and stamping of heavy feet.
Another musical performance was in progress in the barn; and all
over the yard elderly men and youths were standing in smaller and
larger groups, smoking their pipes and tasting the beer-jugs,
which were passed from hand to hand. But the moment Lady Clare
was seen all interest in minor concerns ceased, and with one
accord the crowd moved toward her, completely encircling her, and
viewing her with admiring glances that appreciated all her
"Did you ever see cleaner-shaped legs on a horse?" someone was
heard to say, and instantly his neighbor in the crowd joined the
chorus of praise, and added: "What a snap and spring there is in
every bend of her knee and turn of her neck and flash of her
It was while this chorus of admiration was being sung in all keys
and tones of the whole gamut, that the bridegroom came out of the
house, a little bit tipsy, perhaps, from the many toasts he had
been obliged to drink, and bristling with pugnacity to the ends
of his fingers and the tips of his hair. Every word of praise
that he heard sounded in his ears like a jeer and an insult to
himself. With ruthless thrusts he elbowed his way through the
throng of guests and soon stood in front of the two horses, from
which the captain and Erik had not yet had a chance to dismount.
He returned their greeting with scant courtesy and plunged
instantly into the matter which he had on his mind.
"I reckon you have thought better of my offer by this time," he
said, with a surly swagger, to Erik. "What do you hold your mare
"I thought we had settled that matter once for all," the boy
replied, quietly. "I have no more intention of selling Lady
Clare now than I ever had."
"Then will ye trade her off for Valders-Roan?" ejaculated
"No, I won't trade her for Valders-Roan or any other horse in
"Don't be cantankerous, now, young fellow, or you might repent of
"I am not cantankerous. But I beg of you kindly to drop this
matter. I came here, at your invitation, as a guest at your
wedding, not for the purpose of trading horses."
It was an incautious speech, and was interpreted by everyone
present as a rebuke to the bridegroom for his violation of the
rules of hospitality. The captain, anxious to avoid a row,
therefore broke in, in a voice of friendly remonstrance: "My dear
Mr. Garvestad, do let us drop this matter. If you will permit
us, we should like to dismount and drink a toast to your health,
wishing you a long life and much happiness."
"Ah, yes, I understand your smooth palaver," the bridegroom
growled between his teeth. "I have stood your insolence long
enough, and, by jingo, I won't stand it much longer. What will
ye take for your mare, I say, or how much do you want to boot, if
you trade her for Valders-Roan?"
He shouted the last words with furious emphasis, holding his
clinched fist up toward Erik, and glaring at him savagely.
But now Lady Clare, who became frightened perhaps by the loud
talk and violent gestures, began to rear and plunge, and by an
unforeseen motion knocked against the bridegroom, so that he fell
backward into the horse-trough under the pump, which was full of
water. The wedding-guests had hardly time to realize what was
happening when a great splash sent the water flying into their
faces, and the burly form of John Garvestad was seen sprawling
helplessly in the horse-trough. But then--then they realized it
with a vengeance. And a laugh went up--a veritable storm of
laughter--which swept through the entire crowd and re-echoed with
a ghostly hilarity from the mountains. John Garvestad in the
meanwhile had managed to pick himself out of the horse-trough,
and while he stood snorting, spitting, and dripping, Captain
Carstens and his son politely lifted their hats to him and rode
away. But as they trotted out of the gate they saw their host
stretch a big clinched fist toward them, and heard him scream
with hoarse fury: "I'll make ye smart for that some day, so help
Lady Clare was not sent to the mountains in the summer, as are
nearly all horses in the Norwegian country districts. She was
left untethered in an enclosed home pasture about half a mile
from the mansion. Here she grazed, rolled, kicked up her heels,
and gambolled to her heart's content. During the long, bright
summer nights, when the sun scarcely dips beneath the horizon and
reappears in an hour, clothed in the breezy garments of morning,
she was permitted to frolic, race, and play all sorts of
improvised games with a shaggy, little, plebeian three-year-old
colt whom she had condescended to honor with her acquaintance.
This colt must have had some fine feeling under his rough coat,
for he never presumed in the least upon the acquaintance, being
perhaps aware of the honor it conferred upon him. He allowed
himself to be abused, ignored, or petted, as it might suit the
pleasure of her royal highness, with a patient, even-tempered
good-nature which was admirable. When Lady Clare (perhaps for
fear of making him conceited) took no notice of him, he showed
neither resentment nor surprise, but walked off with a sheepish
shake of his head. Thus he slowly learned the lesson to make no
exhibition of feeling at the sight of his superior; not to run up
and greet her with a disrespectfully joyous whinny; but calmly
wait for her to recognize him before appearing to be aware of her
presence. It took Lady Clare several months to accustom Shag
(for that was the colt's name) to her ways. She taught him
unconsciously the rudiments of good manners; but he proved
himself docile, and when he once had been reduced to his proper
place he proved a fairly acceptable companion.
During the first and second week after John Garvestad's wedding
Erik had kept Lady Clare stabled, having a vague fear that the
angry peasant might intend to do her harm. But she whinnied so
pitifully through the long light nights that finally he allowed
his compassion to get the better of his anxiety, and once more
she was seen racing madly about the field with Shag, whom she
always beat so ignominiously that she felt half sorry for him,
and as a consolation allowed him gently to claw her mane with his
teeth. This was a privilege which Shag could not fail to
appreciate, though she never offered to return the favor by
clawing him. At any rate, as soon as Lady Clare reappeared in
the meadow Shag's cup of bliss seemed to be full.
A week passed in this way, nothing happened, and Erik's vigilance
was relaxed. He went to bed on the evening of July 10th with an
easy mind, without the remotest apprehension of danger. The sun
set about ten o'clock, and Lady Clare and Shag greeted its last
departing rays with a whinny, accompanied by a wanton kickup from
the rear--for whatever Lady Clare did Shag felt in honor bound to
do, and was conscious of no disgrace in his abject and ape-like
imitation. They had spent an hour, perhaps, in such delightful
performances, when all of a sudden they were startled by a deep
bass whinny, which rumbled and shook like distant thunder. Then
came the tramp, tramp, tramp of heavy hoof-beats, which made the
ground tremble. Lady Clare lifted her beautiful head and looked
with fearless curiosity in the direction whence the sound came.
Shag, of course, did as nearly as he could exactly the same.
What they saw was a big roan horse with an enormous arched neck,
squat feet, and long-tasselled fetlocks.
Lady Clare had no difficulty in recognizing Valders-Roan. But
how big and heavy and ominous he looked in the blood-red
after-glow of the blood-red sunset. For the first time in her
life Lady Clare felt a cold shiver of fear run through her.
There was, happily, a fence between them, and she devoutly hoped
that Valders-Roan was not a jumper. At that moment, however, two
men appeared next to the huge horse, and Lady Clare heard the
sound of breaking fence-rails. The deep hoarse whinny once more
made the air shake, and it made poor Lady Clare shake too, for
now she saw Valders-Roan come like a whirlwind over the field,
and so powerful were his hoof-beats that a clod of earth which
had stuck to one of his shoes shot like a bullet through the air.
He looked so gigantic, so brimming with restrained strength, and
somehow Lady Clare, as she stood quaking at the sight of him, had
never seemed to herself so dainty, frail, and delicate as she
seemed in this moment. She felt herself so entirely at his
mercy; she was no match for him surely. Shag, anxious as ever to
take his cue from her, had stationed himself at her side, and
shook his head and whisked his tail in a non-committal manner.
Now Valders-Roan had cleared the fence where the men had broken
it down; then on he came again, tramp, tramp, tramp, until he was
within half a dozen paces from Lady Clare. There he stopped, for
back went Lady Clare's pretty ears, while she threw herself upon
her haunches in an attitude of defence. She was dimly aware that
this was a foolish thing to do, but her inbred disdain and horror
of everything rough made her act on instinct instead of reason.
Valders-Roan, irritated by this uncalled-for action, now threw
ceremony to the winds, and without further ado trotted up and
rubbed his nose against hers. That was more than Lady Clare
could stand. With an hysterical snort she flung herself about,
and up flew her heels straight into the offending nose,
inflicting considerable damage. Shag, being now quite clear that
the programme was fight, whisked about in exactly the same
manner, with as close an imitation of Lady Clare's snort as he
could produce, and a second pair of steel-shod heels came within
a hair of reducing the enemy's left nostril to the same condition
as the right. But alas for the generous folly of youth! Shag
had to pay dearly for that exhibition of devotion. Valders-Roan,
enraged by this wanton insult, made a dash at Shag, and by the
mere impetus of his huge bulk nearly knocked him senseless. The
colt rolled over, flung all his four legs into the air, and as
soon as he could recover his footing reeled sideways like a
drunken man and made haste to retire to a safe distance.
Valders-Roan had now a clear field and could turn his undivided
attention to Lady Clare. I am not sure that he had not made an
example of Shag merely to frighten her. Bounding forward with
his mighty chest expanded and the blood dripping from his
nostrils, he struck out with a tremendous hind leg and would have
returned Lady Clare's blow with interest if she had not leaped
high into the air. She had just managed by her superior
alertness to dodge that deadly hoof, and was perhaps not prepared
for an instant renewal of the attack. But she had barely gotten
her four feet in contact with the sod when two rows of terrific
teeth plunged into her withers. The pain was frightful, and with
a long, pitiful scream Lady Clare sank down upon the ground, and,
writhing with agony, beat the air with her hoofs. Shag, who had
by this time recovered his senses, heard the noise of the battle,
and, plucking up his courage, trotted bravely forward against the
victorious Valders-Roan. He was so frightened that his heart
shot up into his throat. But there lay Lady Clare mangled and
bleeding. He could not leave her in the lurch, so forward he
came, trembling, just as Lady Clare was trying to scramble to her
feet. Led away by his sympathy Shag bent his head down toward
her and thereby prevented her from rising. And in the same
instant a stunning blow hit him straight in the forehead, a
shower of sparks danced before his eyes, and then Shag saw and
heard no more. A convulsive quiver ran through his body, then he
stretched out his neck on the bloody grass, heaved a sigh, and
Lady Clare, seeing Shag killed by the blow which had been
intended for herself, felt her blood run cold. She was strongly
inclined to run, for she could easily beat the heavy Valders-Roan
at a race, and her fleet legs might yet save her. I cannot say
whether it was a generous wrath at the killing of her humble
champion or a mere blind fury which overcame this inclination.
But she knew now neither pain nor fear. With a shrill scream she
rushed at Valders-Roan, and for five minutes a whirling cloud of
earth and grass and lumps of sod moved irregularly over the
field, and tails, heads, and legs were seen flung and tossed
madly about, while an occasional shriek of rage or of pain
startled the night, and re-echoed with a weird resonance between
It was about five o'clock in the morning of July 11th, that Erik
awoke, with a vague sense that something terrible had happened.
His groom was standing at his bedside with a terrified face,
doubtful whether to arouse his young master or allow him to
"What has happened, Anders?" cried Erik, tumbling out of bed.
"Lady Clare, sir----"
"Lady Clare!" shouted the boy. "What about her? Has she been
"No, I reckon not," drawled Anders.
"Then she's dead! Quick, tell me what you know or I shall go
"No; I can't say for sure she's dead either," the groom
Erik, being too stunned with grief and pain, tumbled in a dazed
fashion about the room, and scarcely knew how he managed to
dress. He felt cold, shivery, and benumbed; and the daylight had
a cruel glare in it which hurt his eyes. Accompanied by his
groom, he hastened to the home pasture, and saw there the
evidence of the fierce battle which had raged during the night.
A long, black, serpentine track, where the sod had been torn up
by furious hoof-beats, started from the dead carcass of the
faithful Shag and moved with irregular breaks and curves up
toward the gate that connected the pasture with the underbrush of
birch and alder. Here the fence had been broken down, and the
track of the fight suddenly ceased. A pool of blood had soaked
into the ground, showing that one of the horses, and probably the
victor, must have stood still for a while, allowing the
vanquished to escape.
Erik had no need of being told that the horse which had attacked
Lady Clare was Valders-Roan; and though he would scarcely have
been able to prove it, he felt positive that John Garvestad had
arranged and probably watched the fight. Having a wholesome
dread of jail, he had not dared to steal Lady Clare; but he had
chosen this contemptible method to satisfy his senseless
jealousy. It was all so cunningly devised as to baffle legal
inquiry. Valders-Roan had gotten astray, and being a heavy
beast, had broken into a neighbor's field and fought with his
filly, chasing her away into the mountains. That was the story
he would tell, of course, and as there had been no witnesses
present, there was no way of disproving it.
Abandoning, however, for the time being all thought of revenge,
Erik determined to bend all his energies to the recovery of Lady
Clare. He felt confident that she had run away from her
assailant, and was now roaming about in the mountains. He
therefore organized a search party of all the male servants on
the estate, besides a couple of volunteers, making in all nine.
On the evening of the first day's search they put up at a saeter
or mountain chalet. Here they met a young man named Tollef
Morud, who had once been a groom at John Garvestad's. This man
had a bad reputation; and as the idea occurred to some of them
that he might know something about Lady Clare's disappearance,
they questioned him at great length, without, however, eliciting
a single crumb of information.
For a week the search was continued, but had finally to be given
up. Weary, footsore, and heavy hearted, Erik returned home. His
grief at the loss of Lady Clare began to tell on his health; and
his perpetual plans for getting even with John Garvestad amounted
almost to a mania, and caused his father both trouble and
anxiety. It was therefore determined to send him to the military
academy in the capital.
Four or five years passed and Erik became a lieutenant. It was
during the first year after his graduation from the military
academy that he was invited to spend the Christmas holidays with
a friend, whose parents lived on a fine estate about twenty miles
from the city. Seated in their narrow sleighs, which were drawn
by brisk horses, they drove merrily along, shouting to each other
to make their voices heard above the jingling of the bells.
About eight o'clock in the evening, when the moon was shining
brightly and the snow sparkling, they turned in at a wayside
tavern to order their supper. Here a great crowd of lumbermen
had congregated, and all along the fences their overworked, half-
broken-down horses stood, shaking their nose-bags. The air in
the public room was so filled with the fumes of damp clothes and
bad tobacco that Erik and his friend, while waiting for their
meal, preferred to spend the time under the radiant sky. They
were sauntering about, talking in a desultory fashion, when all
of a sudden a wild, joyous whinny rang out upon the startled air.
It came from a rusty, black, decrepit-looking mare hitched to a
lumber sleigh which they had just passed. Erik, growing very
serious, paused abruptly.
A second whinny, lower than the first, but almost alluring and
cajoling, was so directly addressed to Erik that he could not
help stepping up to the mare and patting her on the nose.
"You once had a horse you cared a great deal for, didn't you?"
his friend remarked, casually.
"Oh, don't speak about it," answered Erik, in a voice that shook
with emotion; "I loved Lady Clare as I never loved any creature
in this world--except my father, of course," he added,
But what was the matter with the old lumber nag? At the sound of
the name Lady Clare she pricked up her ears, and lifted her head
with a pathetic attempt at alertness. With a low, insinuating
neighing she rubbed her nose against the lieutenant's cheek. He
had let his hand glide over her long, thin neck, when quite
suddenly his fingers slid into a deep scar in the withers.
"My God!" he cried, while the tears started to his eyes, "am I
awake, or am I dreaming?"
"What in the world is the matter?" inquired his comrade,
"It is Lady Clare! By the heavens, it is Lady Clare!"
"That old ramshackle of a lumber nag whose every rib you can
count through her skin is your beautiful thoroughbred?"
ejaculated his friend, incredulously. "Come now, don't be a
"I'll tell you of it some other time," said Erik, quietly; "but
there's not a shadow of a doubt that this is Lady Clare."
Yes, strange as it may seem, it was indeed Lady Clare. But oh,
who would have recognized in this skeleton, covered with a
rusty-black skin and tousled mane and forelock in which chaff and
dirt were entangled--who would have recognized in this drooping
and rickety creature the proud, the dainty, the exquisite Lady
Clare? Her beautiful tail, which had once been her pride, was
now a mere scanty wisp; and a sharp, gnarled ridge running along
the entire length of her back showed every vertebra of her spine
through the notched and scarred skin. Poor Lady Clare, she had
seen hard usage. But now the days of her tribulations are at an
end. It did not take Erik long to find the half-tipsy lumberman
who was Lady Clare's owner; nor to agree with him on the price
for which he was willing to part with her.
There is but little more to relate. By interviews and
correspondence with the different parties through whose hands the
mare had passed, Erik succeeded in tracing her to Tollef Morud,
the ex-groom of John Garvestad. On being promised immunity from
prosecution, he was induced to confess that he had been hired by
his former master to arrange the nocturnal fight between Lady
Clare and Valders-Roan, and had been paid ten dollars for
stealing the mare when she had been sufficiently damaged. John
Garvestad had himself watched the fight from behind the fence,
and had laughed fit to split his sides, until Valders-Roan seemed
on the point of being worsted. Then he had interfered to
separate them, and Tollef had led Lady Clare away, bleeding from
a dozen wounds, and had hidden her in a deserted lumberman's shed
near the saeter where the searchers had overtaken him.
Having obtained these facts, Erik took pains to let John
Garvestad know that the chain of evidence against him was
complete, and if he had had his own way he would not have rested
until his enemy had suffered the full penalty of the law. But
John Garvestad, suspecting what was in the young man's mind,
suddenly divested himself of his pride, and cringing dike a
whipped dog, came and asked Erik's pardon, entreating him not to
As for Lady Clare, she never recovered her lost beauty. A pretty
fair-looking mare she became, to be sure, when good feeding and
careful grooming had made her fat and glossy once more. A long
and contented old age is, no doubt, in store for her. Having
known evil days, she appreciates the blessings which the change
in her fate has brought her. The captain declares she is the
best-tempered and steadiest horse in his stable.
"Oh, you never will amount to anything, Bonnyboy!" said
Bonnyboy's father, when he had vainly tried to show him how to
use a gouge; for Bonnyboy had just succeeded in gouging a piece
out of his hand, and was standing helplessly, letting his blood
drop on an engraving of Napoleon at Austerlitz, which had been
sent to his father for framing. The trouble with Bonnyboy was
that he was not only awkward--left-handed in everything he
undertook, as his father put it--but he was so very good-natured
that it was impossible to get angry with him. His large blue
innocent eyes had a childlike wonder in them, when he had done
anything particularly stupid, and he was so willing and anxious
to learn, that his ill-success seemed a reason for pity rather
than for wrath. Grim Norvold, Bonnyboy's father, was by trade a
carpenter, and handy as he was at all kinds of tinkering, he
found it particularly exasperating to have a son who was so
left-handed. There was scarcely anything Grim could not do. He
could take a watch apart and put it together again; he could mend
a harness if necessary; he could make a wagon; nay, he could even
doctor a horse when it got spavin or glanders. He was a sort of
jack-of-all-trades, and a very useful man in a valley where
mechanics were few and transportation difficult. He loved work
for its own sake, and was ill at ease when he had not a tool in
his hand. The exercise of his skill gave him a pleasure akin to
that which the fish feels in swimming, the eagle in soaring, and
the lark in singing. A finless fish, a wingless eagle, or a dumb
lark could not have been more miserable than Grim was when a
succession of holidays, like Easter or Christmas, compelled him
to be idle.
When his son was born his chief delight was to think of the time
when he should be old enough to handle a tool, and learn the
secrets of his father's trade. Therefore, from the time the boy
was old enough to sit or to crawl in the shavings without getting
his mouth and eyes full of sawdust, he gave him a place under the
turning bench, and talked or sang to him while he worked. And
Bonnyboy, in the meanwhile amused himself by getting into all
sorts of mischief. If it had not been for the belief that a good
workman must grow up in the atmosphere of the shop, Grim would
have lost patience with his son and sent him back to his mother,
who had better facilities for taking care of him. But the fact
was he was too fond of the boy to be able to dispense with him,
and he would rather bear the loss resulting from his mischief
than miss his prattle and his pretty dimpled face.
It was when the child was eighteen or nineteen months old that he
acquired the name Bonnyboy. A woman of the neighborhood, who had
called at the shop with some article of furniture which she
wanted to have mended, discovered the infant in the act of
investigating a pot of blue paint, with a part of which he had
accidentally decorated his face.
"Good gracious! what is that ugly thing you have got under your
turning bench?" she cried, staring at the child in amazement.
"No, he is not an ugly thing," replied the father, with
resentment; "he is a bonny boy, that's what he is."
The woman, in order to mollify Grim, turned to the boy, and
asked, with her sweetest manner, "What is your name, child?"
"Bonny boy," murmured the child, with a vaguely offended
And from that day the name Bonnyboy clung to him.
To teach Bonnyboy the trade of a carpenter was a task which would
have exhausted the patience of all the saints in the calendar.
If there was any possible way of doing a thing wrong, Bonnyboy
would be sure to hit upon that way. When he was eleven years old
he chopped off the third joint of the ring-finger on his right
hand with a cutting tool while working the turning-lathe; and by
the time he was fourteen it seemed a marvel to his father that he
had any fingers left at all. But Bonnyboy persevered in spite of
all difficulties, was always cheerful and of good courage, and
when his father, in despair, exclaimed: "Well, you will never
amount to anything, Bonnyboy," he would look up with his slow,
winning smile and say:
"Don't worry, father. Better luck next time."
"But, my dear boy, how can I help worrying, when you don't learn
anything by which you can make your living?"
"Oh, well, father," said Bonnyboy, soothingly (for he was
beginning to feel sorry on his father's account rather than on
his own), "I wouldn't bother about that if I were you. I don't
worry a bit. Something will turn up for me to do, sooner or
"But you'll do it badly, Bonnyboy, and then you won't get a
second chance. And then, who knows but you may starve to death.
You'll chop off the fingers you have left; and when I am dead and
can no longer look after you, I am very much afraid you'll manage
to chop off your head too."
"Well," observed Bonnyboy, cheerfully, "in that case I shall not
starve to death."
Grim had to laugh in spite of himself at the paternal way in
which his son comforted him, as if he were the party to be
pitied. Bonnyboy's unfailing cheerfulness, which had its great
charm, began to cause him uneasiness, because he feared it was
but another form of stupidity. A cleverer boy would have been
sorry for his mistakes and anxious about his own future. But
Bonnyboy looked into the future with the serene confidence of a
child, and nothing under the sun ever troubled him, except his
father's tendency to worry. For he was very fond of his father,
and praised him as a paragon of skill and excellence. He
lavished an abject admiration on everything he did and said. His
dexterity in the use of tools, and his varied accomplishments as
a watch-maker and a horse-doctor, filled Bonnyboy with ungrudging
amazement. He knew it was a hopeless thing for him to aspire to
rival such genius, and he took the thing philosophically, and did
It occurred to Grim one day, when Bonnyboy had made a most
discouraging exhibition of his awkwardness, that it might be a
good thing to ask the pastor's advice in regard to him. The
pastor had had a long experience in educating children, and his
own, though they were not all clever, promised to turn out well.
Accordingly Grim called at the parsonage, was well received, and
returned home charged to the muzzle with good advice. The pastor
lent him a book full of stories, and recommended him to read them
to his son, and afterward question him about every single fact
which each story contained. This the pastor had found to be a
good way to develop the intellect of a backward boy.
When Bonnyboy had been confirmed, the question again rose what
was to become of him. He was now a tall young fellow,
red-checked, broad-shouldered, and strong, and rather
nice-looking. A slow, good-natured smile spread over his face
when anyone spoke to him, and he had a way of flinging his head
back, when the tuft of yellow hair which usually hung down over
his forehead obscured his sight. Most people liked him, even
though they laughed at him behind his back; but to his face
nobody laughed, because his strength inspired respect. Nor did
he know what fear was when he was roused; but that was probably,
as people thought, because he did not know much of anything. At
any rate, on a certain occasion he showed that there was a limit
to his good-nature, and when that limit was reached, he was not
as harmless a fellow as he looked.
On the neighboring farm of Gimlehaug there was a wedding to which
Grim and his son were invited. On the afternoon of the second
wedding day--for peasant weddings in Norway are often celebrated
for three days--a notorious bully named Ola Klemmerud took it
into his head to have some sport with the big good-natured
simpleton. So, by way of pleasantry, he pulled the tuft of hair
which hung down upon Bonnyboy's forehead.
"Don't do that," said Bonnyboy.
Ola Klemmerud chuckled, and the next time he passed Bonnyboy,
pinched his ear.
"If you do that again I sha'n't like you," cried Bonnyboy.
The innocence of that remark made the people laugh, and the
bully, seeing that their sympathy was on his side, was encouraged
to continue his teasing. Taking a few dancing steps across the
floor, he managed to touch Bonnyboy's nose with the toe of his
boot, which feat again was rewarded with a burst of laughter.
The poor lad quietly blew his nose, wiped the perspiration off
his brow with a red handkerchief, and said, "Don't make me mad,
Ola, or I might hurt you."
This speech struck the company as being immensely funny, and they
laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks. At this moment
Grim entered, and perceived at once that Ola Klemmerud was
amusing the company at his son's expense. He grew hot about his
ears, clinched his teeth, and stared challengingly at the bully.
The latter began to feel uncomfortable, but he could not stop at
this point without turning the laugh against himself, and that he
had not the courage to do. So in order to avoid rousing the
father's wrath, and yet preserving his own dignity, he went over
to Bonnyboy, rumpled his hair with both his hands, and tweaked
his nose. This appeared such innocent sport, according to his
notion, that no rational creature could take offence at it. But
Grim, whose sense of humor was probably defective, failed to see
it in that light.
"Let the boy alone," he thundered.
"Well, don't bite my head off, old man," replied Ola. "I haven't
hurt your fool of a boy. I have only been joking with him."
"I don't think you are troubled with overmuch wit yourself,
judging by the style of your jokes," was Grim's cool retort.
The company, who plainly saw that Ola was trying to wriggle out
of his difficulty, but were anxious not to lose an exciting
scene, screamed with laughter again; but this time at the bully's
expense. The blood mounted to his head, and his anger got the
better of his natural cowardice. Instead of sneaking off, as he
had intended, he wheeled about on his heel and stood for a moment
irresolute, clinching his fist in his pocket.
"Why don't you take your lunkhead of a son home to his mother, if
he isn't bright enough to understand fun!" he shouted.
"Now let me see if you are bright enough to understand the same
kind of fun," cried Grim. Whereupon he knocked off Ola's cap,
rumpled his hair, and gave his nose such a pull that it was a
wonder it did not come off.
The bully, taken by surprise, tumbled a step backward, but
recovering himself, struck Grim in the face with his clinched
fist. At this moment. Bonnyboy, who had scarcely taken in the
situation; jumped up and screamed, "Sit down, Ola Klemmerud, sit
The effect of this abrupt exclamation was so comical, that people
nearly fell from their benches as they writhed and roared with
Bonnyboy, who had risen to go to his father's assistance, paused
in astonishment in the middle of the floor. He could not
comprehend, poor boy, why everything he said provoked such
uncontrollable mirth. He surely had no intention of being funny.
So, taken aback a little, he repeated to himself, half
wonderingly, with an abrupt pause after each word,
But Ola Klemmerud, instead of sitting down, hit Grim repeatedly
about the face and head, and it was evident that the elder man,
in spite of his strength, was not a match for him in alertness.
This dawned presently upon Bonnyboy's slow comprehension, and his
good-natured smile gave way to a flush of excitement. He took
two long strides across the floor, pushed his father gently
aside, and stood facing his antagonist. He repeated once more
his invitation to sit down; to which the latter responded with a
slap which made the sparks dance before Bonnyboy's eyes. Now
Bonnyboy became really angry. Instead of returning the slap, he
seized his enemy with a sudden and mighty grab by both his
shoulders, lifted him up as if he were a bag of hay, and put him
down on a chair with such force that it broke into splinters
"Will you now sit down?" said Bonnyboy.
Nobody laughed this time, and the bully, not daring to rise,
remained seated on the floor among the ruins of the chair.
Thereupon, with imperturbable composure, Bonnyboy turned to his
father, brushed off his coat with his hands and smoothed his
disordered hair. "Now let us go home, father," he said, and
taking the old man's arm he walked out of the room. But hardly
had he crossed the threshold before the astonished company broke
"Good for you, Bonnyboy!" "Well done, Bonnyboy!" "You are a
bully boy, Bonnyboy!" they cried after him.
But Bonnyboy strode calmly along, quite unconscious of his
triumph, and only happy to have gotten his father out of the room
safe and sound. For a good while they walked on in silence.
Then, when the effect of the excitement had begun to wear away,
Grim stopped in the path, gazed admiringly at his son, and said,
"Well, Bonnyboy, you are a queer fellow."
"Oh, yes," answered Bonnyboy, blushing with embarrassment (for
though he did not comprehend the remark, he felt the approving
gaze); "but then, you know, I asked him to sit down, and he
"Bless your innocent heart!" murmured his father, as he gazed at
Bonnyboy's honest face with a mingling of affection and pity.
When Bonnyboy was twenty years old his father gave up, once for
all, his attempt to make a carpenter of him. A number of
saw-mills had been built during the last years along the river
down in the valley, and the old rapids had been broken up into a
succession of mill-dams, one above the other. At one of these
saw-mills Bonnyboy sought work, and was engaged with many others
as a mill hand. His business was to roll the logs on to the
little trucks that ran on rails, and to push them up to the saws,
where they were taken in charge by another set of men, who
fastened and watched them while they were cut up into planks.
Very little art was, indeed, required for this simple task; but
strength was required, and of this Bonnyboy had enough and to
spare. He worked with a will from early morn till dewy eve, and
was happy in the thought that he had at last found something that
he could do. It made the simple-hearted fellow proud to observe
that he was actually gaining his father's regard; or, at all
events, softening the disappointment which, in a vague way, he
knew that his dulness must have caused him. If, occasionally, he
was hurt by a rolling log, he never let any one know it; but even
though his foot was a mass of agony every time he stepped on it,
he would march along as stiffly as a soldier. It was as if he
felt his father's eye upon him long before he saw him.
There was a curious kind of sympathy between them which expressed
itself, on the father's part, in a need to be near his son. But
he feared to avow any such weakness, knowing that Bonnyboy would
interpret it as distrust of his ability to take care of himself,
and a desire to help him if he got into trouble. Grim,
therefore, invented all kinds of transparent pretexts for paying
visits to the saw-mills. And when he saw Bonnyboy, conscious
that his eye was resting upon him, swinging his axe so that the
chips flew about his ears, and the perspiration rained from his
brow, a dim anxiety often took possession of him, though he could
give no reason for it. That big brawny fellow, with the frame of
a man and the brain of a child, with his guileless face and his
guileless heart, strangely moved his compassion. There was
something almost beautiful about him, his father thought; but he
could not have told what it was; nor would he probably have found
any one else that shared his opinion. That frank and genial gaze
of Bonnyboy's, which expressed goodness of heart but nothing
else, seemed to Grim an "open sesame" to all hearts; and that
unawakened something which goes so well with childhood, but not
with adult age, filled him with tenderness and a vague anxiety.
"My poor lad," he would murmur to himself, as he caught sight of
Bonnyboy's big perspiring face, with the yellow tuft of hair
hanging down over his forehead, "clever you are not; but you have
that which the cleverest of us often lack."
There were sixteen saw-mills in all, and the one at which
Bonnyboy was employed was the last of the series. They were
built on little terraces on both banks of the river, and every
four of them were supplied with power from an artificial dam, in
which the water was stored in time of drought, and from which it
escaped in a mill-race when required for use. These four dams
were built of big stones, earthwork, and lumber, faced with
smooth planks, over which a small quantity of water usually
drizzled into the shallow river-bed. Formerly, before the power
was utilized, this slope had been covered with seething and
swirling rapids--a favorite resort of the salmon, which leaped
high in the spring, and were caught in the box-traps that hung on
long beams over the water. Now the salmon had small chance of
shedding their spawn in the cool, bright mountain pools, for they
could not leap the dams, and if by chance one got into the mill-
race, it had a hopeless struggle against a current that would
have carried an elephant off his feet. Bonnyboy, who more than
once had seen the beautiful silvery fish spring right on to the
millwheel, and be flung upon the rocks, had wished that he had
understood the language of the fishes, so that he might tell them
how foolish such proceedings were. But merciful though he was,
he had been much discouraged when, after having put them back
into the river, they had promptly repeated the experiment.
There were about twenty-five or thirty men employed at the mill
where Bonnyboy earned his bread in the sweat of his brow, and he
was, on the whole, on good terms with all of them. They did, to
be sure, make fun of him occasionally; but sometimes he failed to
understand it, and at other times he made clumsy but good-humored
attempts to repay their gibes in kind. They took good care,
however, not to rouse his wrath, for the reputation he had
acquired by his treatment of Ola Klemmerud made them afraid to
risk a collision.
This was the situation when the great floods of 188- came, and
introduced a spice of danger into Bonnyboy's monotonous life.
The mill-races were now kept open night and day, and yet the
water burst like a roaring cascade over the tops of dams, and the
river-bed was filled to overflowing with a swiftly-hurrying tawny
torrent, which filled the air with its rush and swash, and sent
hissing showers of spray flying through the tree-tops. Bonnyboy
and a gang of twenty men were working as they had never worked
before in their lives, under the direction of an engineer, who
had been summoned by the mill-owner to strengthen the dams; for
if but one of them burst, the whole tremendous volume of water
would be precipitated upon the valley, and the village by the
lower falls and every farm within half a mile of the river-banks
would be swept out of existence. Guards were stationed all the
way up the river to intercept any stray lumber that might be
afloat. For if a log jam were added to the terrific strain of
the flood, there would surely be no salvation possible. Yet in
spite of all precautions, big logs now and then came bumping
against the dams, and shot with wild gyrations and somersaults
down into the brown eddies below.
The engineer, who was standing on the top of a log pile, had
shouted until he was hoarse, and gesticulated with his cane until
his arms were lame, but yet there was a great deal to do before
he could go to bed with an easy conscience. Bonnyboy and his
comrades, who had had by far the harder part of the task, were
ready to drop with fatigue. It was now eight o'clock in the
evening, and they had worked since six in the morning, and had
scarcely had time to swallow their scant rations. Some of them
began to grumble, and the engineer had to coax and threaten them
to induce them to persevere for another hour. The moon was just
rising behind the mountain ridges, and the beautiful valley lay,
with its green fields, sprouting forests, and red-painted
farm-houses, at Bonnyboy's feet. It was terrible to think that
perhaps destruction was to overtake those happy and peaceful
homes, where men had lived and died for many hundred years.
Bonnyboy could scarcely keep back the tears when this fear
suddenly came over him. Was it not strange that, though they
knew that danger was threatening, they made not the slightest
effort to save themselves? In the village below men were still
working in their forges, whose chimneys belched forth fiery
smoke, and the sound of their hammer-blows could be heard above
the roar of the river. Women were busy with their household
tasks; some boys were playing in the streets, damming up the
gutters and shrieking with joy when their dams broke. A few
provident souls had driven their cattle to the neighboring hills;
but neither themselves nor their children had they thought it
necessary to remove. The fact was, nobody believed that the dams
would break, as they had not imagination enough to foresee what
would happen if the dams did break.
Bonnyboy was wet to the skin, and his knees were a trifle shaky
from exhaustion. He had been cutting down an enormous mast-tree,
which was needed for a prop to the dam, and had hauled it down
with two horses, one of which was a half-broken gray colt, unused
to pulling in a team. To restrain this frisky animal had
required all Bonnyboy's strength, and he stood wiping his brow
with the sleeve of his shirt. Just at that moment a terrified
yell sounded from above: "Run for your lives! The upper dam is
The engineer from the top of the log-pile cast a swift glance up
the valley, and saw at once from the increasing volume of water
that the report was true.
"Save yourselves, lads!" he screamed. "Run to the woods!"
And suiting his action to his words, he tumbled down from the log
pile, and darted up the hill-side toward the forest. The other
men, hearing the wild rush and roar above them, lost no time in
following his example. Only Bonnyboy, slow of comprehension as
always, did not obey. Suddenly there flared up a wild resolution
in his face. He pulled out his knife, cut the traces, and leaped
upon the colt's back. Lashing the beast, and shouting at the top
of his voice, he dashed down the hill-side at a break-neck pace.
"The dam is breaking!" he roared. "Run for the woods!"
He glanced anxiously behind him to see if the flood was
overtaking him. A great cloud of spray was rising against the
sky, and he heard the yells of men and the frenzied neighing of
horses through the thunderous roar. But happily there was time.
The dam was giving way gradually, and had not yet let loose the
tremendous volume of death and desolation which it held enclosed
within its frail timbers. The colt, catching the spirit of
excitement in the air, flew like the wind, leaving farm after
farm behind it, until it reached the village.
"The dam is breaking! Run for your lives!" cried Bonnyboy, with
a rousing clarion yell which rose above all other poises; and up
and down the valley the dread tidings spread like wildfire. In
an instant all was in wildest commotion. Terrified mothers, with
babes in their arms, came bursting out of the houses, and little
girls, hugging kittens or cages with canary-birds, clung weeping
to their skirts; shouting men, shrieking women, crying children,
barking dogs, gusty showers sweeping from nowhere down upon the
distracted fugitives, and above all the ominous, throbbing,
pulsating roar as of a mighty chorus of cataracts. It came
nearer and nearer. It filled the great vault of the sky with a
rush as of colossal wing-beats. Then there came a deafening
creaking and crashing; then a huge brownish-white rolling wall,
upon which the moonlight gleamed for an instant, and then the
very trump of doom--a writhing, brawling, weltering chaos of
cattle, dogs, men, lumber, houses, barns, whirling and struggling
upon the destroying flood.
It was the morning after the disaster. The sun rose red and
threatening, circled with a ring of fiery mist. People encamped
upon the hill-side greeted each other as on the morn of
resurrection. For many were found among the living who were
being mourned as dead. Mothers hugged their children with
tearful joy, thanking God that they had been spared; and husbands
who had heard through the night the agonized cries of their
drowning wives, finding them at dawn safe and sound, felt as if
they had recovered them from the very gates of death. When all
were counted, it was ascertained that but very few of the
villagers had been overtaken by the flood. The timely warning
had enabled all to save themselves, except some who in their
eagerness to rescue their goods had lingered too long.
Impoverished most of them were by the loss of their houses and
cattle. The calamity was indeed overwhelming. But when they
considered how much greater the disaster would have been if the
flood had come upon them unheralded, they felt that they had
cause for gratitude in the midst of their sorrow. And who was it
that brought the tidings that snatched them from the jaws of
death? Well, nobody knew. He rode too fast. And each was too
much startled by the message to take note of the messenger. But
who could he possibly have been? An angel from Heaven, perhaps
sent by God in His mercy. That was indeed more than likely. The
belief was at once accepted that the rescuer was an angel from
heaven. But just then a lumberman stepped forward who had worked
at the mill and said: "It was Bonnyboy, Grim Carpenter's son. I
saw him jump on his gray colt."
Bonnyboy, Grim Carpenter's son. It couldn't be possible. But
the lumberman insisted that it was, and they had to believe him,
though, of course, it was a disappointment. But where was
Bonnyboy? He deserved thanks, surely. And, moreover, that gray
colt was a valuable animal. It was to be hoped that it was not
The water had now subsided, though it yet overflowed the banks;
so that trees, bent and splintered by the terrific force of the
flood, grew far out in the river. The foul dams had all been
swept away, and the tawny torrent ran again with tumultuous
rapids in its old channel. Of the mills scarcely a vestige was
left except slight cavities in the banks, and a few twisted beams
clinging to the rocks where they had stood. The ruins of the
village, with jagged chimneys and broken walls, loomed out of a
half-inundated meadow, through which erratic currents were
sweeping. Here and there lay a dead cow or dog, and in the
branches of a maple-tree the carcasses of two sheep were
entangled. In this marshy field a stooping figure was seen
wading about, as if in search of something. The water broke
about his knees, and sometimes reached up to his waist. He stood
like one dazed, and stared into the brown swirling torrent. Now
he poked something with his boat-hook, now bent down and purled
some dead thing out of a copse of shrubbery in which it had been
caught. The sun rose higher in the sky, and the red vapors were
scattered. But still the old man trudged wearily about, with the
stony stare in his eyes, searching for him whom he had lost. One
company after another now descended from the hill-sides, and from
the high-lying farms which had not been reached by the flood came
wagons with provisions and clothes, and men and women eager and
anxious to help. They shouted to the old man in the submerged
field, and asked what he was looking for. But he only shook his
head, as if he did not understand.
"Why, that is old Grim the carpenter," said someone. "Has
anybody seen Bonnyboy?"
But no one had seen Bonnyboy.
"Do you want help?" they shouted to Grim; but they got no
Hour after hour old Grim trudged about in the chilly water
searching for his son. Then, about noon, when he had worked his
way far down the river, he caught sight of something which made
his heart stand still. In a brown pool, in which a
half-submerged willow-tree grew, he saw a large grayish shape
which resembled a horse. He stretched out the boat-hook and
rolled it over. Dumbly, fearlessly, he stood staring into the
pool. There lay his son--there lay Bonnyboy stark and dead.
The cold perspiration broke out upon Grim's brow, and his great
breast labored. Slowly he stooped down, drew the dead body out
of the water, and tenderly laid it across his knees. He stared
into the sightless eyes, and murmuring a blessing, closed them.
There was a large discolored spot on the forehead, as of a
bruise. Grim laid his hand softly upon it, and stroked away the
yellow tuft of hair.
"My poor lad," he said, while the tears coursed down his wrinkled
cheeks, "you had a weak head, but your heart, Bonnyboy--your
heart was good."
THE CHILD OF LUCK
A sunny-tempered little fellow was Hans, and his father declared
that he had brought luck with him when he came into the world.
"He was such a handsome baby when he was born," said Inga, his
mother; "but you would scarcely believe it now, running about as
he does in forest and field, tearing his clothes and scratching
Now, it was true, as Hans's mother said, that he did often tear
his clothes; and as he had an indomitable curiosity, and had to
investigate everything that came in his way, it was also no
uncommon thing for him to come home with his face stung or
"Why must you drag that child with you wherever you go, Nils?"
the mother complained to Hans's father, when the little boy was
brought to her in such a disreputable condition. "Why can't you
leave him at home? What other man do you know who carries a
six-year-old little fellow about with him in rain and shine,
storm and quiet?
"Well," Nils invariably answered, "I like him and he likes me.
He brings me luck."
This was a standing dispute between Nils and Inga, his wife, and
they never came to an agreement. She knew as well as her husband
that before little Hans was born there was want and misery in
their cottage. But from the hour the child lifted up its tiny
voice, announcing its arrival, there had been prosperity and
contentment. Their luck had turned, Nils said, and it was the
child that had turned it. They had been married for four years,
and though they had no one to provide for but themselves, they
scarcely managed to keep body and soul together. All sorts of
untoward things happened. Now a tree which he was cutting down
fell upon Nils and laid him up for a month; now he got water on
his knee from a blow he received while rolling logs into the
chute; now the pig died which was to have provided them with salt
pork for the winter, and the hens took to the bush, and laid
their eggs where nobody except the rats and the weasels could
find them. But since little Hans had come and put an end to all
these disasters, his father had a superstitious feeling that he
could not bear to have him away from him. Therefore every
morning when he started out for the forest or the river he
carried Hans on his shoulder. And the little boy sat there,
smiling proudly and waving his hand to his mother, who stood in
the door looking longingly after him.
"Hello, little chap!" cried the lumbermen, when they saw him.
"Good-morning to you and good luck!"
They always cheered up, however bad the weather was, when they
saw little Hans, for nobody could look at his sunny little face
without feeling something like a ray of sunlight stealing into
his heart. Hans had a smile and a wave of his hand for
everybody. He knew all the lumbermen by name, and they knew him.
They sang as they swung the axe or the boat-hook, and the work
went merrily when little Hans sat on the top of the log pile and
shouted to them. But if by chance he was absent for a day or two
they missed him. No songs were heard, but harsh words, and not
infrequently quarrels. Now, nobody believed, of course, that
little Hans was such a wizard that he could make people feel and
behave any better than it was in their nature to do; but sure it
was--at least the lumbermen insisted that it was so--there was
joy and good-tempered mirth wherever that child went, and life
seemed a little sadder and poorer to those who knew him when he
No one will wonder that Nils sometimes boasted of his little son.
He told not once, but a hundred times, as they sat about the
camp-fire eating their dinner, that little Hans was a child of
luck, and that no misfortune could happen while he was near.
Lumbermen are naturally superstitious, and though perhaps at
first they may have had their doubts, they gradually came to
accept the statement without question. They came to regard it as
a kind of right to have little Hans sit on the top of the log
pile when they worked, or running along the chute, while the
wild-cat strings of logs shot down the steep slide with lightning
speed. They were not in the least afraid lest the logs should
jump the chute, as they had often done before, killing or maiming
the unhappy man that came too near. For was not little Hans's
life charmed, so that no harm could befall him?
Now, it happened that Inga, little Hans's mother, came one day to
the river to see how he was getting on. Nils was then standing
on a raft hooking the floating logs with his boat-hook, while the
boy was watching him from the shore, shouting to him, throwing
chips into the water, and amusing himself as best he could. It
was early in May, and the river was swollen from recent thaws.
Below the cataract where the lumbermen worked, the broad, brown
current moved slowly along with sluggish whirls and eddies; but
the raft was moored by chains to the shore, so that it was in no
danger of getting adrift. It was capital fun to see the logs
come rushing down the slide, plunging with a tremendous splash
into the river, and then bob up like live things after having
bumped against the bottom. Little Hans clapped his hands and
yelled with delight when a string of three or four came tearing
along in that way, and dived, one after the other, headlong into
"Catch that one, papa!" he cried; "that is a good big fellow.
He dived like a man, he did. He has washed the dirt off his
snout now; that was the reason he took such a big plunge."
Nils never failed to reach his boat-hook after the log little
Hans indicated, for he liked to humor him, and little Hans liked
to be humored. He had an idea that he was directing his father's
work, and Nils invented all sorts of innocent devices to flatter
little Hans's dignity, and make him think himself indispensable.
It was of no use, therefore, for poor Inga to beg little Hans to
go home with her. He had so much to do, he said, that he
couldn't. He even tried to tear himself away from his mother
when she took him by the arm and remonstrated with him. And then
and there the conviction stole upon Inga that her child did not
love her. She was nothing to him compared to what his father
was. And was it right for Nils thus to rob her of the boy's
affection? Little Hans could scarcely be blamed for loving his
father better; for love is largely dependent upon habit, and Nils
had been his constant companion since he was a year old. A
bitter sense of loneliness and loss overcame the poor wife as she
stood on the river-bank pleading with her child, and finding that
she annoyed instead of moving him.
"Won't you come home with mamma, little Hans?" she asked,
tearfully. "The kitten misses you very much; it has been mewing
for you all the morning."
"No," said little Hans, thrusting his hands into his pockets, and
turning about with a manly stride; "we are going to have the
lumber inspector here to-day? and then papa's big raft is going
down the river."
"But this dreadful noise, dear; how can you stand it? And the
logs shooting down that slide and making such a racket. And
these great piles of lumber, Hans--think, if they should tumble
down and kill you!"
"Oh, I'm not afraid, mamma," cried Hans, proudly; and, to show
his fearlessness, he climbed up the log pile, and soon stood on
the top of it, waving his cap and shouting.
"Oh, do come down, child--do come down!" begged Inga, anxiously.
She had scarcely uttered the words when she heard a warning shout
from the slope above, and had just time to lift her eyes, when
she saw a big black object dart past her, strike the log pile,
and break with a deafening crash. A long confused rumble of
rolling logs followed, terrified voices rent the air, and, above
it all, the deep and steady roar of the cataract. She saw, as
through a fog, little Hans, serene and smiling as ever, borne
down on the top of the rolling lumber, now rising up and skipping
from log to log, now clapping his hands and screaming with
pleasure, and then suddenly vanishing in the brown writhing
river. His laughter was still ringing in her ears; the poor
child, he did not realize his danger. The rumbling of falling
logs continued with terrifying persistence. Splash! splash!
splash! they went, diving by twos, by fours, and by dozens at
the very spot where her child had vanished. But where was little
Hans? Oh, where was he? It was all so misty, so unreal and
confused. She could not tell whether little Hans was among the
living or among the dead. But there, all of a sudden, his head
popped up in the middle of the river; and there was another head
close to his--it was that of his father! And round about them
other heads bobbed up; for all the lumbermen who were on the raft
had plunged into the water with Nils when they saw that little
Hans was in danger. A dozen more were running down the slope as
fast as their legs could carry them; and they gave a tremendous
cheer when they saw little Hans's face above the water. He
looked a trifle pale and shivery, and he gave a funny little
snort, so that the water spurted from his nose. He had lost his
hat, but he did not seem to be hurt. His little arms clung
tightly about his father's neck, while Nils, dodging the bobbing
logs, struck out with all his might for the shore. And when he
felt firm bottom under his feet, and came stumbling up through
the shallow water, looking like a drowned rat, what a welcome he
received from the lumbermen! They all wanted to touch little
Hans and pat his cheek, just to make sure that it was really he.
"It was wonderful indeed," they said, "that he ever came up out
of that horrible jumble of pitching and diving logs. He is a
child of luck, if ever there was one."
Not one of them thought of the boy's mother, and little Hans
himself scarcely thought of her, elated as he was at the welcome
he received from the lumbermen. Poor Inga stood dazed,
struggling with a horrible feeling, seeing her child passed from
one to the other, while she herself claimed no share in him.
Somehow the thought stung her. A sudden clearness burst upon
her; she rushed forward, with a piercing scream, snatched little
Hans from his father's arms, and hugging his wet little shivering
form to her breast, fled like a deer through the underbrush.
From that day little Hans was not permitted to go to the river.
It was in vain that Nils pleaded and threatened. His wife acted
so unreasonably when that question was broached that he saw it
was useless to discuss it. She seized little Hans as a tigress
might seize her young, and held him tightly clasped, as if daring
anybody to take him away from her. Nils knew it would require
force to get his son back again, and that he was not ready to
employ. But all joy seemed to have gone out of his life since he
had lost the daily companionship of little Hans. His work became
drudgery; and all the little annoyances of life, which formerly
he had brushed away as one brushes a fly from his nose, became
burdens and calamities. The raft upon which he had expended so
much labor went to pieces during a sudden rise of the river the
night after little Hans's adventure, and three days later Thorkel
Fossen was killed outright by a string of logs that jumped the
"It isn't the same sort of place since you took little Hans
away," the lumbermen would often say to Nils. "There's no sort
of luck in anything."
Sometimes they taunted him with want of courage, and called him a
"night-cap" and a "hen-pecked coon," all of which made Nils
uncomfortable. He made two or three attempts to persuade his
wife to change her mind in regard to little Hans, but the last
time she got so frightened that she ran out of the house and hid
in the cow stable with the boy, crouching in an empty stall, and
crying as if her heart would break, when little Hans escaped and
betrayed her hiding-place. The boy, in fact, sympathized with
his father, and found his confinement at home irksome. The
companionship of the cat had no more charm for him; and even the
brindled calf, which had caused such an excitement when he first
arrived, had become an old story. Little Halls fretted, was
mischievous for want of better employment, and gave his mother no
end of trouble. He longed for the gay and animated life at the
river, and he would have run away if he had not been watched. He
could not imagine how the lumbermen could be getting on without
him. It seemed to him that all work must come to a stop when he
was no longer sitting on the top of the log piles, or standing on
the bank throwing chips into the water.
Now, as a matter of fact, they were not getting on very well at
the river without little Hans. The luck had deserted them, the
lumbermen said; and whatever mishaps they had, they attributed to
the absence of little Hans. They came to look with
ill-suppressed hostility at Nils, whom they regarded as
responsible for their misfortunes. For they could scarcely
believe that he was quite in earnest in his desire for the boy's
return, otherwise they could not comprehend how his wife could
dare to oppose him. The weather was stormy, and the mountain
brook which ran along the slide concluded to waste no more labor
in carving out a bed for itself in the rock, when it might as
well be using the slide which it found ready made. And one fine
day it broke into the slide and half filled it, so that the logs,
when they were started down the steep incline, sent the water
flying, turned somersaults, stood on end, and played no end of
dangerous tricks which no one could foresee. Several men were
badly hurt by beams shooting like rockets through the air, and
old Mads Furubakken was knocked senseless and carried home for
dead. Then the lumbermen held a council, and made up their minds
to get little Hans by fair means or foul. They thought first of
sending a delegation of four or five men that very morning, but
finally determined to march up to Nils's cottage in a body and
demand the boy. There were twenty of them at the very least, and
the tops of their long boat-hooks, which they carried on their
shoulders, were seen against the green forest before they were
Nils, who was just out of bed, was sitting on the threshold
smoking his pipe and pitching a ball to little Hans, who laughed
with delight whenever he caught it. Inga was bustling about
inside the house, preparing breakfast, which was to consist of
porridge, salt herring, and baked potatoes. It had rained during
the night, and the sky was yet overcast, but the sun was
struggling to break through the cloud-banks. A couple of
thrushes in the alder-bushes about the cottage were rejoicing at
the change in the weather, and Nils was listening to their song
and to his son's merry prattle, when he caught sight of the
twenty lumbermen marching up the hillside. He rose, with some
astonishment, and went to meet them. Inga, hearing their voices,
came to the door, and seeing the many men, snatched up little
Hans, and with a wildly palpitating heart ran into the cottage,
bolting the door behind her. She had a vague foreboding that
this unusual visit meant something hostile to herself, and she
guessed that Nils had been only the spokesman of his comrades in
demanding so eagerly the return of the boy to the river. She
believed all their talk about his luck to be idle nonsense; but
she knew that Nils had unwittingly spread this belief, and that
the lumbermen were convinced that little Hans was their good
genius, whose presence averted disaster. Distracted with fear
and anxiety, she stood pressing her ear against the crack in the
door, and sometimes peeping out to see what measures she must
take for the child's safety. Would Nils stand by her, or would
he desert her? But surely--what was Nils thinking about? He was
extending his hand to each of the men, and receiving them kindly.
Next he would be inviting them to come in and take little Hans.
She saw one of the men--Stubby Mons by name--step forward, and
she plainly heard him say:
"We miss the little chap down at the river, Nils. The luck has
been against us since he left."
"Well, Mons," Nils answered, "I miss the little chap as much as
any of you; perhaps more. But my wife--she's got a sort of
crooked notion that the boy won't come home alive if she lets him
go to the river. She got a bad scare last time, and it isn't any
use arguing with her."
"But won't you let us talk to her, Nils?" one of the lumbermen
proposed. "It is a tangled skein, and I don't pretend to say
that I can straighten it out. But two men have been killed and
one crippled since the little chap was taken away. And in the
three years he was with us no untoward thing happened. Now that
speaks for itself, Nils, doesn't it?"
"It does, indeed," said Nils, with an air of conviction.
"And you'll let us talk to your wife, and see if we can't make
her listen to reason," the man urged.
"You are welcome to talk to her as much as you like," Nils
replied, knocking out his pipe on the heel of his boot; "but I
warn you that she's mighty cantankerous."
He rose slowly, and tried to open the door. It was locked.
"Open, Inga," he said, a trifle impatiently; "there are some men
here who want to see you."
Inga sat crouching on the hearth, hugging little Hans to her
bosom. She shook and trembled with fear, let her eyes wander
around the walls, and now and then moaned at the thought that now
they would take little Hans away from her.
"Why don't you open the door for papa?" asked little Hans,
Ah, he too was against her! All the world was against her! And
her husband was in league with her enemies!
"Open, I say!" cried Nils, vehemently. "What do you mean by
locking the door when decent people come to call upon us?"
Should she open the door or should she not? Holding little Hans
in her arms, she rose hesitatingly, and stretched out her hand
toward the bolt. But all of a sudden, in a paroxysm of fear, she
withdrew her hand, turned about, and fled with the child through
the back door. The alder bushes grew close up to the walls of
the cottage, and by stooping a little she managed to remain
unobserved. Her greatest difficulty was to keep little Hans from
shouting to his father, and she had to put her hand over his
mouth to keep him quiet; for the boy, who had heard the voices
without, could not understand why he should not be permitted to
go out and converse with his friends the lumbermen. The wild
eyes and agitated face of his mother distressed him, and the
little showers of last night's rain which the trees shook down
upon him made him shiver.
"Why do you run so, mamma?" he asked, when she removed her hand
from his mouth.
"Because the bad men want to take you away from me, Hans," she
"Those were not bad men, mamma," the boy ejaculated. "That was
Stubby Mons and Stuttering Peter and Lars Skin-breeches. They
don't, want to hurt me."
He expected that his mamma would be much relieved at receiving
this valuable information, and return home without delay. But
she still pressed on, flushed and panting, and cast the same
anxious glances behind her.
In the meanwhile Nils and his guests had entirely lost their
patience. Finding his persuasions of no avail, the former began
to thump at the door with the handle of his axe, and receiving no
response, he climbed up to the window and looked in. To his
amazement there was no one in the room. Thinking that Inga might
have gone to the cow-stable, he ran to the rear of the cottage,
and called her name. Still no answer.
"Hans," he cried, "where are you?"
But Hans, too, was as if spirited away. It scarcely occurred to
Nils, until he had searched the cow- stable and the house in
vain, that his wife had fled from the harmless lumbermen. Then
the thought shot through his brain that possibly she was not
quite right in her head; that this fixed idea that everybody
wanted to take her child away from her had unsettled her reason.
Nils grew hot and cold in the same moment as this dreadful
apprehension took lodgement in his mind. Might she not, in her
confused effort to save little Hans, do him harm? In the blind
and feverish terror which possessed her might she not rush into
the water, or leap over a precipice? Visions of little Hans
drowning, or whirled into the abyss in his mother's arms, crowded
his fancy as he walked back to the lumbermen, and told them that
neither his wife nor child was anywhere to be found.
"I would ask ye this, lads," he said, finally: "if you would help
me search for them. For Inga--I reckon she is a little touched
in the upper story--she has gone off with the boy, and I can't
get on without little Hans any more than you can."
The men understood the situation at a glance, and promised their
aid. They had all looked upon Inga as "high-strung" and "queer,"
and it did not surprise them to hear that she had been frightened
out of her wits at their request for the loan of little Hans.
Forming a line, with a space of twenty feet between each man,
they began to beat the bush, climbing the steep slope toward the
mountains. Inga, pausing for an instant, and peering out between
the tree trunks, saw the alder bushes wave as they broke through
the underbrush. She knew now that she was pursued. Tired she
was, too, and the boy grew heavier for every step that she
advanced. And yet if she made him walk, he might run away from
her. If he heard his father's voice, he would be certain to
answer. Much perplexed, she looked about her for a hiding-place.
For, as the men would be sure to overtake her, her only safety
was in hiding. With tottering knees she stumbled along, carrying
the heavy child, grabbing hold of the saplings for support, and
yet scarcely keeping from falling. The cold perspiration broke
from her brow and a strange faintness overcame her.
"You will have to walk, little Hans," she said, at last. "But if
you run away from me, dear, I shall lie down here and die."
Little Hans promised that he would not run away, and for five
minutes they walked up a stony path which looked like the
abandoned bed of a brook.
"You hurt my hand, mamma," whimpered the boy, "you squeeze so
She would have answered, but just then she heard the voices of
the lumbermen scarcely fifty paces away. With a choking
sensation and a stitch in her side she pressed on, crying out in
spirit for the hills to hide her and the mountains to open their
gates and receive her. Suddenly she stood before a rocky wall
some eighty or a hundred feet high. She could go no farther.
Her strength was utterly exhausted. There was a big boulder
lying at the base of the rock, and a spreading juniper half
covered it. Knowing that in another minute she would be
discovered, she flung herself down behind the boulder, though the
juniper needles scratched her face, and pulled little Hans down
at her side. But, strange to say, little Hans fell farther than
she had calculated, and utterly-vanished from sight. She heard a
muffled cry, and reaching her hand in the direction where he had
fallen, caught hold of his arm. A strong, wild smell beat
against her, and little Hans, as he was pulled out, was enveloped
in a most unpleasant odor. But odor or no odor, here was the
very hiding-place she had been seeking. A deserted wolf's den,
it was, probably--at least she hoped it was deserted; for if it
was not, she might be confronted with even uglier customers than
the lumbermen. But she had no time for debating the question,
for she saw the head of Stubby Mons emerging from the leaves, and
immediately behind him came Stuttering Peter, with his long boat-
hook. Quick as a flash she slipped into the hole, and dragged
Hans after her. The juniper-bush entirely covered the entrance.
She could see everyone who approached, without being seen.
Unhappily, the boy too caught sight of Stubby Mons, and called
him by name. The lumberman stopped and pricked up his ears.
"Did you hear anybody call?" he asked his companion.
"N-n-n-n-aw, I d-d-d-d-didn't," answered Stuttering Peter.
"There b-be lots of qu-qu-qu-qu-eer n-noises in the w-w-w-woods."
Little Hans heard every word that they spoke, and he would have
cried out again, if it hadn't appeared such great fun to be
playing hide-and-go-seek with the lumbermen. He had a delicious
sense of being well hidden, and had forgotten everything except
the zest of the game. Most exciting it became when Stubby Mons
drew the juniper-bush aside and peered eagerly behind the
boulder. Inga's heart stuck in her throat; she felt sure that in
the next instant they would be discovered. And as ill-luck would
have it, there was something alive scrambling about her feet and
tugging at her skirts. Suddenly she felt a sharp bite, but
clinched her teeth, and uttered no sound. When her vision again
cleared, the juniper branch had rebounded into its place, and the
face of Stubby Mons was gone. She drew a deep breath of relief,
but yet did not dare to emerge from the den. For one, two, three
tremulous minutes she remained motionless, feeling all the while
that uncomfortable sensation of living things about her.
At last she could endure it no longer. Thrusting little Hans
before her, she crawled out of the hole, and looked back into the
small cavern. As soon as her eyes grew accustomed to the
twilight she uttered a cry of amazement, for out from her skirts
jumped a little gray furry object, and two frisky little
customers of the same sort were darting about among the stones
and tree-roots. The truth dawned upon her, and it chilled her to
the marrow of her bones. The wolf's den was not deserted. The
old folks were only out hunting, and the shouting and commotion
of the searching party had probably prevented them from returning
in time to look after their family. She seized little Hans by
the hand, and once more dragged him away over the rough path. He
soon became tired and fretful, and in spite of all her entreaties
began to shout lustily for his father. But the men were now so
far away that they could not hear him. He complained of hunger;
and when presently they came to a blueberry patch, she flung
herself down on the heather and allowed him to pick berries. She
heard cow-bells and sheep-bells tinkling round about her, and
concluded that she could not be far from the saeters, or mountain
dairies. That was fortunate, indeed, for she would not have
liked to sleep in the woods with wolves and bears prowling about
She was just making an effort to rise from the stone upon which
she was sitting, when the big, good-natured face of a cow broke
through the leaves and stared at her. There was again help in
need. She approached the cow, patted it, and calling little
Hans, bade him sit down in the heather and open his mouth. He
obeyed rather wonderingly, but perceived his mother's intent when
she knelt at his side and began to milk into his mouth. It
seemed to him that he had never tasted anything so delicious as
this fresh rich milk, fragrant with the odor of the woods and the
succulent mountain grass. When his hunger was satisfied, he fell
again to picking berries, while Inga refreshed herself with milk
in the same simple fashion. After having rested a full hour, she
felt strong enough to continue her journey; and hearing the loor,
or Alpine horn, re-echoing among the mountains, she determined to
follow the sound. It was singular what luck attended her in the
midst of her misfortune. Perhaps it was, after all, no idle tale
that little Hans was a child of luck; and she had done the
lumbermen injustice in deriding their faith in him. Perhaps
there was some guiding Providence in all that had happened,
destined in the end to lead little Hans to fortune and glory.
Much encouraged by this thought, she stooped over him and kissed
him; then took his hand and trudged along over logs and stones,
through juniper and bramble bushes.
"Mamma," said little Hans, "where are you going?"
"I am going to the saeter," she answered; "where you have wanted
so often to go."
"Then why don't you follow the cows? They are going there too."
Surely that child had a marvellous mind! She smiled down upon
him and nodded. By following the cows they arrived in twenty
minutes at a neat little log cabin, from which the smoke curled
up gayly into the clear air.
The dairy-maids who spent the summer there tending the cattle
both fell victims to the charms of little Hans, and offered him
and his mother their simple hospitality. They told of the
lumbermen who had passed the saeter huts, and inquired for her;
but otherwise they respected her silence, and made no attempt to
pry into her secrets. The next morning she started, after a
refreshing sleep, westward toward the coast, where she hoped in
some way to find a passage to America. For if little Hans was
really born under a lucky star--which fact she now could scarcely
doubt--then America was the place for him. There he might rise
to become President, or a judge, or a parson, or something or
other; while in Norway he would never be anything but a lumberman
like his father. Inga had a well-to-do sister, who was a widow,
in the nearest town, and she would borrow enough money from her
to pay their passage to New York.
It was early in July when little Hans and his mother arrived in
New York. The latter had repented bitterly of her rashness in
stealing her child from his father, and under a blind impulse
traversing half the globe in a wild-goose chase after fortune.
The world was so much bigger than she in her quiet valley had
imagined; and, what was worse, it wore such a cold and repellent
look, and was so bewildering and noisy. Inga had been very
sea-sick during the voyage; and after she stepped ashore from the
tug that brought her to Castle Garden, the ground kept heaving
and swelling under her feet, and made her dizzy and miserable.
She had been very wicked, she was beginning to think, and
deserved punishment; and if it had not been for a vague and
adventurous faith in the great future that was in store for her
son, she would have been content to return home, do penance for
her folly, and beg her husband's forgiveness. But, in the first
place, she had no money to pay for a return ticket; and,
secondly, it would be a great pity to deprive little Hans of the
Presidency and all the grandeur that his lucky star might here
Inga was just contemplating this bright vision of Hans's future,
when she found herself passing through a gate, at which a clerk
"What is your name?" he asked, through an interpreter.
"Inga Olsdatter Pladsen."
"Twenty-eight a week after Michaelmas."
"Single or married?"
"Where is your husband?"
"Are you divorced from him?"
"Divorced--I! Why, no! Who ever heard of such a thing?"
Inga grew quite indignant at the thought of her being divorced.
A dozen other questions were asked, at each of which her
embarrassment increased. When, finally, she declared that she
had no money, no definite destination, and no relatives or
friends in the country, the examination was cut short, and after
an hour's delay and a wearisome cross-questioning by different
officials, she was put on board the tug, and returned to the
steamer in which she had crossed the ocean. Four dreary days
passed; then there was a tremendous commotion on deck: blowing of
whistles, roaring of steam, playing of bands, bumping of trunks
and boxes, and finally the steady pulsation of the engines as the
big ship stood out to sea. After nine days of discomfort in the
stuffy steerage and thirty-six hours of downright misery while
crossing the stormy North Sea, Inga found herself once more in
the land of her birth. Full of humiliation and shame she met her
husband at the railroad station, and prepared herself for a
deluge of harsh words and reproaches. But instead of that he
patted her gently on the head, and clasped little Hans in his
arms and kissed him. They said very little to each other as they
rode homeward in the cars; but little Hans had a thousand things
to tell, and his father was delighted to hear them. In the
evening, when they had reached their native valley, and the boy
was asleep, Inga plucked up courage and said, "Nils, it is all a
mistake about little Hans's luck."
"Mistake! Why, no," cried Nils. "What greater luck could he
have than to be brought safely home to his father?"
Inga had indeed hoped for more; but she said nothing.
Nevertheless, fate still had strange things in store for little
Hans. The story of his mother's flight to and return from
America was picked up by some enterprising journalist, who made a
most touching romance of it. Hundreds of inquiries regarding
little Hans poured in upon the pastor and the postmaster; and
offers to adopt him, educate him, and I know not what else, were
made to his parents. But Nils would hear of no adoption; nor
would he consent to any plan that separated him from the boy.
When, however, he was given a position as superintendent of a
lumber yard in the town, and prosperity began to smile upon him,
he sent little Hans to school, and as Hans was a clever boy, he
made the most of his opportunities.
And now little Hans is indeed a very big Hans, but a child of
luck he is yet; for I saw him referred to the other day in the
newspapers as one of the greatest lumber dealers, and one of the
noblest, most generous, and public-spirited men in Norway.
THE BEAR THAT HAD A BANK ACCOUNT
You may not believe it, but the bear I am going to tell you about
really had a bank account! He lived in the woods, as most bears
do; but he had a reputation which extended over all Norway and
more than half of England. Earls and baronets came every summer,
with repeating-rifles of the latest patent, and plaids and
field-glasses and portable cooking-stoves, intent upon killing
him. But Mr. Bruin, whose only weapons were a pair of paws and a
pair of jaws, both uncommonly good of their kind, though not
patented, always managed to get away unscathed; and that was
sometimes more than the earls and the baronets did.
One summer the Crown Prince of Germany came to Norway. He also
heard of the famous bear that no one could kill, and made up his
mind that he was the man to kill it. He trudged for two days
through bogs, and climbed through glens and ravines, before he
came on the scent of a bear, and a bear's scent, you may know, is