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Tales From Two Hemispheres by Hjalmar Hjorth Boysen

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opinions were based upon conviction and a
charming ignorance of facts, and they were not
to be moved. They knew all about Tweed and
the Tammany Ring, and believed them to be
representative citizens of New York, if not of
the United States; but of Charles Sumner and
Carl Schurz they had never heard. Halfdan,
who, in spite of his misfortunes in the land of
his adoption, cherished a very tender feeling for
it, was often so thoroughly aroused at the foolish
prejudices which everywhere met him, that his
torpidity gradually thawed away, and he began
to look more like his former self.

Toward autumn he received an invitation
to visit a country clergyman in the North, a
distant relative of his father's, and there whiled
away his time, fishing and shooting, until winter
came. But as Christmas drew near, and the day
wrestled feebly with the all-conquering night,
the old sorrow revived. In the darkness which
now brooded over land and sea, the thoughts
needed no longer be on guard against themselves;
they could roam far and wide as they
listed. Where was Edith now, the sweet, the
wonderful Edith? Was there yet the same
dancing light in her beautiful eyes, the same
golden sheen in her hair, the same merry ring
in her voice? And had she not said that when
he was content to be only her friend, he might
return to her, and she would receive him in the
old joyous and confiding way? Surely there
was no life to him apart from her: why should
he not be her friend? Only a glimpse of her
lovely face--ah, it was worth a lifetime; it
would consecrate an age of misery, a glimpse of
Edith's face. Thus ran his fancies day by day,
and the night only lent a deeper intensity to the
yearnings of the day. He walked about as in a
dream, seeing nothing, heeding nothing, while
this one strong desire--to see Edith once more
--throbbed and throbbed with a slow, feverish
perseverance within him. Edith--Edith, the
very name had a strange, potent fascination.
Every thought whispered "Edith,"--his pulse
beat "Edith,"--and his heart repeated the
beloved name. It was his pulse-beat,--his
heartbeat,--his life-beat.

And one morning as he stood absently
looking at his fingers against the light--and they
seemed strangely wan and transparent--the
thought at last took shape. It rushed upon
him with such vehemence, that he could no more
resist it. So he bade the clergyman good-bye,
gathered his few worldly goods together and
set out for Bergen. There he found an English
steamer which carried him to Hull, and a few
weeks later, he was once more in New York.

It was late one evening in January that a
tug-boat arrived and took the cabin passengers
ashore. The moon sailed tranquilly over the
deep blue dome of the sky, the stars traced their
glittering paths of light from the zenith downward,
and it was sharp, bitter cold. Northward
over the river lay a great bank of cloud, dense,
gray and massive, the spectre of the coming
snow-storm. There it lay so huge and fantastically
human, ruffling itself up, as fowls do, in
defense against the cold. Halfdan walked on
at a brisk rate--strange to say, all the street-
cars he met went the wrong way--startling
every now and then some precious memory, some
word or look or gesture of Edith's which had
hovered long over those scenes, waiting for his
recognition. There was the great jewel-store
where Edith had taken him so often to consult
his taste whenever a friend of hers was to be
married. It was there that they had had an
amicable quarrel over that bronze statue of
Faust which she had found beautiful, while he,
with a rudeness which seemed now quite
incomprehensible, had insisted that it was not.
And when he had failed to convince her, she had
given him her hand in token of reconciliation--
and Edith had a wonderful way of giving her
hand, which made any one feel that it was a
peculiar privilege to press it--and they had
walked out arm in arm into the animated, gas-
lighted streets, with a delicious sense of
snugness and security, being all the more closely
united for their quarrel. Here, farther up the
avenue, they had once been to a party, and he
had danced for the first time in his life with
Edith. Here was Delmonico's, where they had
had such fascinating luncheons together; where
she had got a stain on her dress, and he had
been forced to observe that her dress was then
not really a part of herself, since it was a thing
that could not be stained. Her dress had
always seemed to him as something absolute and
final, exalted above criticism, incapable of

As I have said, Halfdan walked briskly up the
avenue, and it was something after eleven when
he reached the house which he sought. The
great cloud-bank in the north had then begun
to expand and stretched its long misty arms
eastward and westward over the heavens. The
windows on the ground-floor were dark, but the
sleeping apartments in the upper stories were
lighted. In Edith's room the inside shutters
were closed, but one of the windows was a little
down at the top. And as he stood gazing
with tremulous happiness up to that window,
a stanza from Heine which he and Edith had
often read together, came into his head. It
was the story of the youth who goes to the
Madonna at Kevlar and brings her as a votive
offering a heart of wax, that she may heal him
of his love and his sorrow.

"I bring this waxen image,
The image of my heart,
Heal thou my bitter sorrow,
And cure my deadly smart!"[4]

[4] Translation, from "Exotics. By J. F. C. & C. L."

Then came the thought that for him, too, as
for the poor youth of Cologne, there was healing
only in death. And still in this moment he
was so near Edith, should see her perhaps, and
the joy at this was stronger than all else,
stronger even than death. So he sat down
beside the steps of the mansion opposite, where
there was some shelter from the wind, and
waited patiently till Edith should close her win-
dow. He was cold, perhaps, but, if so, he hardly
knew it, for the near joy of seeing her throbbed
warmly in his veins. Ah, there--the blinds
were thrown open; Edith, in all the lithe
magnificence of her wonderful form, stood out clear
and beautiful against the light within; she
pushed up the lower window in order to reach
the upper one, and for a moment leaned out
over the sill. Once more her wondrous profile
traced itself in strong relief against the outer
gloom. There came a cry from the street below,
a feeble involuntary one, but still distinctly
audible. Edith peered anxiously out into the
darkness, but the darkness had grown denser
and she could see nothing. The window was
fastened, the shutters closed, and the broad
pathway of light which she had flung out upon
the night had vanished.

Halfdan closed his eyes trying to retain the
happy vision. Yes, there she stood still, and
there was a heavenly smile upon her lips--ugh,
he shivered--the snow swept in a wild whirl up
the street. He wrapped his plaid more closely
about him, and strained his eyes to catch one
more glimpse of the beloved Edith. Ah, yes;
there she was again; she came nearer and
nearer, and she touched his cheek, gently, warily
smiling all the while with a strange wistful smile
which was surely not Edith's. There, she bent
over him,--touched him again,--how cold her
hands were; the touch chilled him to the heart.
The snow had now begun to fall in large scattered
flakes, whirling fitfully through the air,
following every chance gust of wind, but still
falling, falling, and covering the earth with its
white, death-like shroud.

But surely--there was Edith again,--how
wonderful!--in a long snow-white robe, grave
and gracious, still with the wistful smile on her
lips. See, she beckons to him with her hand,
and he rises to follow, but something heavy
clings to his feet and he cannot stir from the
spot. He tries to cry for help, but he cannot,--
can only stretch out his hands to her, and feel
very unhappy that he cannot follow her. But
now she pauses in her flight, turns about, and
he sees that she wears a myrtle garland in her
hair like a bride. She comes toward him, her
countenance all radiant with love and happiness,
and she stoops down over him and speaks:

"Come; they are waiting for us. I will follow
thee in life and in death, wherever thou
goest. Come," repeats Edith, "they have long
been waiting. They are all here."

And he imagines he knows who they all are,
although he has never heard of them, nor can
he recall their names.

"But--but," he stammers, "I--I--am a foreigner "

It appeared then that for some reason this
was an insurmountable objection. And Edith's
happiness dies out of her beautiful face, and she
turns away weeping.

"Edith, beloved!"

Then she is once more at his side.

"Thou art no more a foreigner to me, beloved.
Whatever thou art, I am."

And she presses her lips to his--it was the
sweetest kiss of his life--the kiss of death.

The next morning, as Edith, after having put
the last touch to her toilet, threw the shutters
open, a great glare of sun-smitten snow burst
upon her and for a moment blinded her eyes.
On the sidewalk opposite, half a dozen men
with snow-shovels in their hands and a couple
of policeman had congregated, and, judging by
their manner, were discussing some object of
interest. Presently they were joined by her
father, who had just finished his breakfast and
was on his way to the office. Now he stooped
down and gazed at something half concealed in
the snow, then suddenly started back, and as
she caught a glimpse of his face, she saw that
it was ghastly white. A terrible foreboding
seized her. She threw a shawl about her shoulders
and rushed down-stairs. In the hall she was
met by her father, who was just entering,
followed by four men, carrying something between
them. She well knew what it was. She would
fain have turned away, but she could not:
grasping her father's arm and pressing it hard,
she gazed with blank, frightened eyes at the
white face, the lines of which Death had so
strangely emphasized. The snow-flakes which
hung in his hair had touched him with their
sudden age, as if to bridge the gulf between youth
and death. And still he was beautiful--the
clear brow, the peaceful, happy indolence, the
frozen smile which death had perpetuated.
Smiling, he had departed from the earth which
had no place for him, and smiling entered the
realm where, among the many mansions, there is, perhaps,
also one for a gentle, simple-hearted enthusiast.


THERE was an ancient feud between
the families; and Bjarne Blakstad was
not the man to make it up, neither was
Hedin Ullern. So they looked askance
at each other whenever they met on the
highway, and the one took care not to cross the
other's path. But on Sundays, when the church-
bells called the parishioners together, they could
not very well avoid seeing each other on the
church-yard; and then, one day, many years
ago, when the sermon had happened to touch
Bjarne's heart, he had nodded to Hedin and
said: "Fine weather to-day;" and Hedin had
returned the nod and answered: "True is that."
"Now I have done my duty before God and
men," thought Bjarne, "and it is his turn to
take the next step." "The fellow is proud,"
said Hedin to himself, "and he wants to show
off his generosity. But I know the wolf by his
skin, even if he has learned to bleat like
a ewe-lamb."

What the feud really was about, they had
both nearly forgotten. All they knew was
that some thirty years ago there had been a
quarrel between the pastor and the parish about
the right of carrying arms to the church. And
then Bjarne's father had been the spokesman of
the parish, while Hedin's grandsire had been a
staunch defender of the pastor. There was a
rumor, too, that they had had a fierce encounter
somewhere in the woods, and that the one had
stabbed the other with a knife; but whether that
was really true, no one could tell.

Bjarne was tall and grave, like the weather-
beaten fir-trees in his mast-forest. He had a
large clean-shaven face, narrow lips, and small
fierce eyes. He seldom laughed, and when he
did, his laugh seemed even fiercer than his
frown. He wore his hair long, as his fathers
had done, and dressed in the styles of two
centuries ago; his breeches were clasped with large
silver buckles at the knees, and his red jerkin
was gathered about his waist with a leathern
girdle. He loved everything that was old, in
dress as well as in manners, took no newspapers,
and regarded railroads and steamboats as inventions
of the devil. Bjarne had married late in
life, and his marriage had brought him two
daughters, Brita and Grimhild.

Hedin Ullern was looked upon as an upstart.
He could only count three generations back,
and he hardly knew himself how his grandfather
had earned the money that had enabled
him to buy a farm and settle down in the
valley. He had read a great deal, and was well
informed on the politics of the day; his name
had even been mentioned for storthingsmand, or
member of parliament from the district, and it
was the common opinion, that if Bjarne Blakstad
had not so vigorously opposed him, he
would have been elected, being the only
"cultivated" peasant in the valley. Hedin was no
unwelcome guest in the houses of gentlefolks,
and he was often seen at the judge's and the
pastor's omber parties. And for all this Bjarne
Blakstad only hated him the more. Hedin's
wife, Thorgerda, was fair-haired, tall and stout,
and it was she who managed the farm, while
her husband read his books, and studied politics
in the newspapers; but she had a sharp tongue
and her neighbors were afraid of her. They
had one son, whose name was Halvard.

Brita Blakstad, Bjarne's eldest daughter, was
a maid whom it was a joy to look upon. They
called her "Glitter-Brita," because she was fond
of rings and brooches, and everything that was
bright; while she was still a child, she once
took the old family bridal-crown out from the
storehouse and carried it about on her head.
"Beware of that crown, child," her father had
said to her, "and wear it not before the time.
There is not always blessing in the bridal
silver." And she looked wonderingly up into
his eyes and answered: "But it glitters,
father;" and from that time forth they had
named her Glitter-Brita.

And Glitter-Brita grew up to be a fair and
winsome maiden, and wherever she went the
wooers flocked on her path. Bjarne shook
his head at her, and often had harsh words
upon his lips, when he saw her braiding field-
flowers into her yellow tresses or clasping the
shining brooches to her bodice; but a look
of hers or a smile would completely disarm
him. She had a merry way of doing things
which made it all seem like play; but work went
rapidly from her hands, while her ringing laughter
echoed through the house, and her sunny
presence made it bright in the dusky ancestral
halls. In her kitchen the long rows of copper
pots and polished kettles shone upon the walls,
and the neatly scoured milk-pails stood like
soldiers on parade about the shelves under the
ceiling. Bjarne would often sit for hours watching
her, and a strange spring-feeling would steal
into his heart. He felt a father's pride in her
stately growth and her rich womanly beauty.
"Ah!" he would say to himself, "she has the
pure blood in her veins and, as true as I live,
the farm shall be hers." And then, quite
contrary to his habits, he would indulge in a little
reverie, imagining the time when he, as an
aged man, should have given the estate over
into her hands, and seeing her as a worthy matron
preside at the table, and himself rocking
his grandchildren on his knee. No wonder,
then, that he eyed closely the young lads who
were beginning to hover about the house, and
that he looked with suspicion upon those who
selected Saturday nights for their visits.[5]
When Brita was twenty years old, however, her
father thought that it was time for her to make
her choice. There were many fine, brave lads
in the valley, and, as Bjarne thought, Brita
would have the good sense to choose the finest
and the bravest. So, when the winter came, he
suddenly flung his doors open to the youth of
the parish, and began to give parties with ale
and mead in the grand old style. He even
talked with the young men, at times, encouraged
them to manly sports, and urged them to taste
of his home-brewed drinks and to tread the
spring-dance briskly. And Brita danced and
laughed so that her hair flew around her and
the silver brooches tinkled and rang on her
bosom. But when the merriment was at an
end, and any one of the lads remained behind
to offer her his hand, she suddenly grew grave,
told him she was too young, that she did not
know herself, and that she had had no time as yet
to decide so serious a question. Thus the winter
passed and the summer drew near.

[5] In the country districts of Norway Saturday
evening is regarded as "the wooer's eve."

In the middle of June, Brita went to the saeter[6]
with the cattle; and her sister, Grimhild,
remained at home to keep house on the farm. She
loved the life in the mountains; the great
solitude sometimes made her feel sad, but it was
not an unpleasant sadness, it was rather a gentle
toning down of all the shrill and noisy feelings
of the soul. Up there, in the heart of the
primeval forest, her whole being seemed to herself
a symphony of melodious whispers with a
vague delicious sense of remoteness and mystery
in them, which she only felt and did not attempt
to explain. There, those weird legends which,
in former days, still held their sway in the fancy
of every Norsewoman, breathed their secrets
into her ear, and she felt her nearness and kinship
to nature, as at no other time.

[6] The saeter is a place in the mountains where the
Norwegian peasants spend their summers pasturing their cattle.
Every large farm has its own saeter, consisting of one
or more chalets, hedged in by a fence of stone or planks.

One night, as the sun was low, and a purple
bluish smoke hung like a thin veil over the tops
of the forest, Brita had taken out her knitting
and seated herself on a large moss-grown stone,
on the croft. Her eyes wandered over the broad
valley which was stretched out below, and she
could see the red roofs of the Blakstad mansion
peeping forth between the fir-trees. And she
wondered what they were doing down there,
whether Grimhild had done milking, and
whether her father had returned from the ford,
where it was his habit at this hour to ride with
the footmen to water the horses. As she sat
thus wondering, she was startled by a creaking
in the dry branches hard by, and lifting her eye,
she saw a tall, rather clumsily built, young man
emerging from the thicket. He had a broad
but low forehead, flaxen hair which hung down
over a pair of dull ox-like eyes; his mouth was
rather large and, as it was half open, displayed
two massive rows of shining white teeth. His
red peaked cap hung on the back of his head
and, although it was summer, his thick wadmal
vest was buttoned close up to his throat; over
his right arm he had flung his jacket, and in his
hand he held a bridle.

"Good evening," said Brita, "and thanks for
last meeting;" although she was not sure that
she had ever seen him before.

"It was that bay mare, you know," stammered
the man in a half apologetic tone, and
shook the bridle, as if in further explanation.

"Ah, you have lost your mare," said the girl,
and she could not help smiling at his helplessness
and his awkward manner.

"Yes, it was the bay mare," answered he, in
the same diffident tone; then, encouraged by her
smile, he straightened himself a little and
continued rather more fluently: "She never was
quite right since the time the wolves were after
her. And then since they took the colt away
from her the milk has been troubling her, and
she hasn't been quite like herself."

"I haven't seen her anywhere hereabouts,"
said Brita; "you may have to wander far, before
you get on the track of her."

"Yes, that is very likely. And I am tired already."

"Won't you sit down and rest yourself?"

He deliberately seated himself in the grass,
and gradually gained courage to look her
straight in the face; and his dull eye remained
steadfastly fixed on her in a way which bespoke
unfeigned surprise and admiration. Slowly his
mouth broadened into a smile; but his smile had
more of sadness than of joy in it. She had,
from the moment she saw him, been possessed
of a strangely patronizing feeling toward him.
She could not but treat him as if he had been a
girl or some person inferior to her in station.
In spite of his large body, the impression he
made upon her was that of weakness; but she
liked the sincerity and kindness which expressed
themselves in his sad smile and large, honest
blue eyes. His gaze reminded her of that of an
ox, but it had not only the ox's dullness, but
also its simplicity and good-nature.

They sat talking on for a while about the weather,
the cattle, and the prospects of the crops.

"What is your name?" she asked, at last.

"Halvard Hedinson Ullern."

A sudden shock ran through her at the sound
of that name; in the next moment a deep blush
stole over her countenance.

"And my name," she said, slowly, "is Brita
Bjarne's daughter Blakstad."

She fixed her eyes upon him, as if to see
what effect her words produced. But his features
wore the same sad and placid expression;
and no line in his face seemed to betray either
surprise or ill-will. Then her sense of patronage
grew into one of sympathy and pity. "He
must either be weak-minded or very unhappy,"
thought she, "and what right have I then to
treat him harshly." And she continued her
simple, straightforward talk with the young
man, until he, too, grew almost talkative, and
the sadness of his smile began to give way to
something which almost resembled happiness.
She noticed the change and rejoiced. At last,
when the sun had sunk behind the western
mountain tops, she rose and bade him good-
night; in another moment the door of the saeter-
cottage closed behind her, and he heard her
bolting it on the inside. But for a long time
he remained sitting on the grass, and strange
thoughts passed through his head. He had
quite forgotten his bay mare.

The next evening when the milking was done,
and the cattle were gathered within the saeter
enclosure, Brita was again sitting on the large
stone, looking out over the valley. She felt a
kind of companionship with the people when
she saw the smoke whirling up from their chimneys,
and she could guess what they were going
to have for supper. As she sat there, she again
heard a creaking in the branches, and Halvard
Ullern stood again before her, with his jacket
on his arm, and the same bridle in his hand.

"You have not found your bay mare yet?"
she exclaimed, laughingly. "And you think
she is likely to be in this neighborhood?"

"I don't know," he answered; "and I don't
care if she isn't."

He spread his jacket on the grass, and sat
down on the spot where he had sat the night
before. Brita looked at him in surprise and
remained silent; she didn't know how to interpret
this second visit.

"You are very handsome," he said, suddenly,
with a gravity which left no doubt as to his

"Do you think so?" she answered, with a
merry laugh. He appeared to her almost a
child, and it never entered her mind to feel
offended. On the contrary, she was not sure but
that she felt pleased.

"I have thought of you ever since yesterday,"
he continued, with the same imperturbable
manner. "And if you were not angry with me, I
thought I would like to look at you once more.
You are so different from other folks."

"God bless your foolish talk," cried Brita,
with a fresh burst of merriment. "No, indeed
I am not angry with you; I should just as soon
think of being angry with--with that calf,"
she added for want of another comparison.

"You think I don't know much," he
stammered. "And I don't." The sad smile again
settled on his countenance.

A feeling of guilt sent the blood throbbing
through her veins. She saw that she had done
him injustice. He evidently possessed more
sense, or at least a finer instinct, than she had
given him credit for.

"Halvard," she faltered, "if I have offended
you, I assure you I didn't mean to do it; and a
thousand times I beg your pardon."

"You haven't offended me, Brita," answered
he, blushing like a girl. "You are the first one
who doesn't make me feel that I am not so wise
as other folks."

She felt it her duty to be open and confiding
with him in return; and in order not to seem
ungenerous, or rather to put them on an equal
footing by giving him also a peep into her
heart, she told him about her daily work, about
the merry parties at her father's house, and
about the lusty lads who gathered in their halls
to dance the Halling and the spring-dance. He
listened attentively while she spoke, gazing
earnestly into her face, but never interrupting
her. In his turn he described to her in his
slow deliberate way, how his father constantly
scolded him because he was not bright, and did
not care for politics and newspapers, and how
his mother wounded him with her sharp tongue
by making merry with him, even in the presence
of the servants and strangers. He did not seem
to imagine that there was anything wrong in
what he said, or that he placed himself in a
ludicrous light; nor did he seem to speak from
any unmanly craving for sympathy. His manner
was so simple and straightforward that
what Brita probably would have found strange
in another, she found perfectly natural in him.

It was nearly midnight when they parted{.}
She hardly slept at all that night, and she was
half vexed with herself for the interest she
took in this simple youth. The next morning
her father came up to pay her a visit and to see
how the flocks were thriving. She understood
that it would be dangerous to say anything to
him about Halvard, for she knew his temper
and feared the result, if he should ever discover
her secret. Therefore, she shunned an opportunity
to talk with him, and only busied herself
the more with the cattle and the cooking.
Bjarne soon noticed her distraction, but, of
course, never suspected the cause. Before he
left her, he asked her if she did not find it too
lonely on the saeter, and if it would not be well
if he sent her one of the maids for a companion.
She hastened to assure him that that was quite
unnecessary; the cattle-boy who was there to
help her was all the company she wanted.
Toward evening, Bjarne Blakstad loaded his
horses with buckets, filled with cheese and butter,
and started for the valley. Brita stood
long looking after him as he descended the
rocky slope, and she could hardly conceal from
herself that she felt relieved, when, at last, the
forest hid him from her sight. All day she had
been walking about with a heavy heart; there
seemed to be something weighing on her breast,
and she could not throw it off. Who was this
who had come between her and her father?
Had she ever been afraid of him before, had
she been glad to have him leave her? A sudden
bitterness took possession of her, for in her
distress, she gave Halvard the blame for all that
had happened. She threw herself down on the
grass and burst into a passionate fit of weeping;
she was guilty, wretchedly miserable, and
all for the sake of one whom she had hardly
known for two days. If he should come in
this moment, she would tell him what he had
done toward her; and her wish must have been
heard, for as she raised her eyes, he stood there
at her side, the sad feature about his mouth and
his great honest eyes gazing wonderingly at her.
She felt her purpose melt within her; he looked
so good and so unhappy. Then again came the
thought of her father and of her own wrong,
and the bitterness again revived.

"Go away," cried she, in a voice half
reluctantly tender and half defiant. "Go away,
I say; I don't want to see you any more."

"I will go to the end of the world if you
wish it," he answered, with a strange firmness.

He picked up his jacket which he had dropped
on the ground, then turned slowly, gave her
mother long look, an infinitely sad and hopeless
one, and went. Her bosom heaved violently
--remorse, affection and filial duty wrestled
desperately in her heart.

"No, no," she cried, "why do you go? I did
not mean it so. I only wanted--"

He paused and returned as deliberately as he
had gone.

Why should I dwell upon the days that followed--
how her heart grew ever more restless,
how she would suddenly wake up at nights and
see those large blue eyes sadly gazing at her,
how by turns she would condemn herself and
him, and how she felt with bitter pain that she
was growing away from those who had hitherto
been nearest and dearest to her. And strange
to say, this very isolation from her father made
her cling only the more desperately to him. It
seemed to her as if Bjarne had deliberately
thrown her off; that she herself had been the
one who took the first step had hardly occurred
to her. Alas, her grief was as irrational as her
love. By what strange devious process of
reasoning these convictions became settled in her
mind, it is difficult to tell. It is sufficient to
know that she was a woman and that she loved.
She even knew herself that she was irrational,
and this very sense drew her more hopelessly
into the maze of the labyrinth from which she
saw no escape.

His visits were as regular as those of the sun.
She knew that there was only a word of hers
needed to banish him from her presence forever.
And how many times did she not resolve to
speak that word? But the word was never
spoken. At times a company of the lads from
the valley would come to spend a merry evening
at the saeter; but she heeded them not, and
they soon disappeared. Thus the summer went
amid passing moods of joy and sorrow. She
had long known that he loved her, and when at
last his slow confession came, it added nothing
to her happiness; it only increased her fears for
the future. They laid many plans together in
those days; but winter came as a surprise to
both, the cattle were removed from the mountains,
and they were again separated.

Bjarne Blakstad looked long and wistfully
at his daughter that morning, when he came to
bring her home. She wore no more rings and
brooches, and it was this which excited Bjarne's
suspicion that everything was not right with
her. Formerly he was displeased because she
wore too many; now he grumbled because she
wore none.


The winter was half gone; and in all this
time Brita had hardly once seen Halvard. Yes,
once,--it was Christmas-day,--she had ventured
to peep over to his pew in the church, and had
seen him, sitting at his father's side, and gazing
vacantly out into the empty space; but as he
had caught her glance, he had blushed, and began
eagerly to turn the leaves of his hymn-
book. It troubled her that he made no effort to
see her; many an evening she had walked alone
down at the river-side, hoping that he might
come; but it was all in vain. She could not but
believe that his father must have made some
discovery, and that he was watched. In the
mean time the black cloud thickened over her
head; for a secret gnawed at the very roots of
her heart. It was a time of terrible suspense
and suffering--such as a man never knows, such
as only a woman can endure. It was almost a
relief when the cloud burst, and the storm broke
loose, as presently it did.

One Sunday, early in April, Bjarne did not
return at the usual hour from church. His
daughters waited in vain for him with the dinner,
and at last began to grow uneasy. It was
not his habit to keep irregular hours. There
was a great excitement in the valley just then;
the America-fever had broken out. A large
vessel was lying out in the fjord, ready to take
the emigrants away; and there was hardly a
family that did not mourn the loss of some
brave-hearted son, or of some fair and cherished
daughter. The old folks, of course, had to
remain behind; and when the children were gone,
what was there left for them but to lie down
and die? America was to them as distant as if
it were on another planet. The family feeling,
too, has ever been strong in the Norseman's
breast; he lives for his children, and seems to
live his life over again in them. It is his greatest
pride to be able to trace his blood back into the
days of Sverre and St. Olaf, and with the same
confidence he expects to see his race spread into
the future in the same soil where once it has
struck root. Then comes the storm from the
Western seas, wrestles with the sturdy trunk,
and breaks it; and the shattered branches fly to
all the four corners of the heavens. No wonder,
then, like a tree that has lost its crown, his
strength is broken and he expects but to
smoulder into the earth and die.

Bjarne Blakstad, like the sturdy old patriot
that he was, had always fiercely denounced the
America rage; and it was now the hope of his
daughters that, perhaps, he had stayed behind
to remind the restless ones among the youth of
their duty toward their land, or to frighten some
bold emigration agent who might have been too
loud in his declamations. But it was already
eight o'clock and Bjarne was not yet to be seen.
The night was dark and stormy; a cold sleet
fiercely lashed the window-panes, and the wind
roared in the chimney. Grimhild, the younger
sister, ran restlessly out and in and slammed the
doors after her. Brita sat tightly pressed up
against the wall in the darkest corner of the
room. Every time the wind shook the house
she started up; then again seated herself and
shuddered. Dark forebodings filled her soul.

At last,--the clock had just struck ten,--there
was a noise heard in the outer hall. Grimhild
sprang to the door and tore it open. A tall,
stooping figure entered, and by the dress she at
once recognized her father.

"Good God," cried she, and ran up to him.

"Go away, child," muttered he, in a voice
that sounded strangely unfamiliar, and he pushed
her roughly away. For a moment he stood
still, then stalked up to the table, and, with a
heavy thump, dropped down into a chair. There
he remained with his elbows resting on his
knees, and absently staring on the floor. His
long hair hung in wet tangles down over his
face, and the wrinkles about his mouth seemed
deeper and fiercer than usual. Now and then
he sighed, or gave vent to a deep groan. In a
while his eyes began to wander uneasily about
the room; and as they reached the corner where
Brita was sitting, he suddenly darted up, as if
stung by something poisonous, seized a brand
from the hearth, and rushed toward her.

"Tell me I did not see it," he broke forth,
in a hoarse whisper, seizing her by the arm and
thrusting the burning brand close up to her face.
"Tell me it is a lie--a black, poisonous lie."

She raised her eyes slowly to his and gazed
steadfastly into his face. "Ah," he continued
in the same terrible voice, "it was what I told
them down there at the church--a lie--an infernal
lie. And I drew blood--blood, I say--I
did--from the slanderer. Ha, ha, ha! What
a lusty sprawl that was!"

The color came and departed from Brita's
cheeks. And still she was strangely self
possessed. She even wondered at her own calmness.
Alas, she did not know that it was a
calmness that is more terrible than pain, the
corpse of a forlorn and hopeless heart.

"Child," continued Bjarne, and his voice
assumed a more natural tone, "why dost thou
not speak? They have lied about thee, child,
because thou art fair, they have envied thee."
Then, almost imploringly, "Open thy mouth,
Brita, and tell thy father that thou art pure--
pure as the snow, child--my own--my beautiful child."

There was a long and painful pause, in which
the crackling of the brand, and the heavy
breathing of the old man were the only sounds
to break the silence. Pale like a marble image
stood she before him; no word of excuse, no
prayer for forgiveness escaped her; only a
convulsive quivering of the lips betrayed the life
that struggled within her. With every moment
the hope died in Bjarne's bosom. His visage
was fearful to behold. Terror and fierce
indomitable hatred had grimly distorted his features,
and his eyes burned like fire-coals beneath his bushy brows.

"Harlot," he shrieked, "harlot!"

A cold gust of wind swept through the room.
The windows shook, the doors flew open, as if
touched by a strong invisible hand--and the old
man stood alone, holding the flickering brand
above his head.

It was after midnight, the wind had abated,
but the snow still fell, thick and silent, burying
paths and fences under its cold white mantle.
Onward she fled--onward and ever onward.
And whither, she knew not. A cold numbness
had chilled her senses, but still her feet drove
her irresistibly onward. A dark current seemed
to have seized her, she only felt that she was
adrift, and she cared not whither it bore her.
In spite of the stifling dullness which oppressed
her, her body seemed as light as air. At last,--
she knew not where,--she heard the roar of the
sea resounding in her ears, a genial warmth
thawed the numbness of her senses, and she
floated joyfully among the clouds--among
golden, sun-bathed clouds. When she opened
her eyes, she found herself lying in a comfortable
bed, and a young woman with a kind motherly
face was sitting at her side. It was all
like a dream, and she made no effort to account
for what appeared so strange and unaccountable.

What she afterward heard was that a fisher-
man had found her in a snow-drift on the strand,
and that he had carried her home to his cottage
and had given her over to the charge of his
wife. This was the second day since her arrival.
They knew who she was, but had kept the doors
locked and had told no one that she was there.
She heard the story of the good woman without
emotion; it seemed an intolerable effort to think.
But on the third day, when her child was born,
her mind was suddenly aroused from its lethargy,
and she calmly matured her plans; and for the
child's sake she resolved to live and to act.
That same evening there came a little boy with
a bundle for her. She opened it and found
therein the clothes she had left behind, and--
her brooches. She knew that it was her sister
who had sent them; then there was one who
still thought of her with affection. And yet her
first impulse was to send it all back, or to throw
it into the ocean; but she looked at her child and forbore.

A week passed, and Brita recovered. Of
Halvard she had heard nothing. One night, as
she lay in a half doze, she thought she had Seen
a pale, frightened face pressed up against the
window-pane, and staring fixedly at her and her
child; but, after all, it might have been merely
a dream. For her fevered fancy had in these
last days frequently beguiled her into similar
visions. She often thought of him, but, strangely
enough, no more with bitterness, but with
pity. Had he been strong enough to be wicked,
she could have hated him, but he was weak, and
she pitied him. Then it was that; one evening,
as she heard that the American vessel was to
sail at daybreak, she took her little boy and
wrapped him carefully in her own clothes, bade
farewell to the good fisherman and his wife, and
walked alone down to the strand. Huge clouds
of fantastic shapes chased each other desperately
along the horizon, and now and then the
slender new moon glanced forth from the deep
blue gulfs between. She chose a boat at random
and was about to unmoor it, when she saw the
figure of a man tread carefully over the stones
and hesitatingly approach her.

"Brita," came in a whisper from the strand.

"Who's there?"

"It is I. Father knows it all, and he has
nearly killed me; and mother, too."

"Is that what you have come to tell me?"

"No, I would like to help you some. I have
been trying to see you these many days." And
he stepped close up to the boat.

"Thank you; I need no help."

"But, Brita," implored he, "I have sold my
gun and my dog, and everything I had, and this
is what I have got for it." He stretched out
his hand and reached her a red handkerchief
with something heavy bound up in a corner.
She took it mechanically, held it in her hand for
a moment, then flung it far out into the water.
A smile of profound contempt and pity passed
over her countenance.

"Farewell, Halvard," said she, calmly, and
pushed the boat into the water.

"But, Brita," cried he, in despair, "what
would you have me do?"

She lifted the child in her arms, then pointed
to the vacant seat at her side. He understood
what she meant, and stood for a moment wavering.
Suddenly, he covered his face with his
hands and burst into tears. Within half an
hour, Brita boarded the vessel, and as the first
red stripe of the dawn illumined the horizon, the
wind filled the sails, and the ship glided westward
toward that land where there is a home
for them whom love and misfortune have exiled.

It was a long and wearisome voyage. There
was an old English clergyman on board, who
collected curiosities; to him she sold her rings
and brooches, and thereby obtained more than
sufficient money to pay her passage. She hardly
spoke to any one except her child. Those of
her fellow-parishioners who knew her, and perhaps
guessed her history, kept aloof from her,
and she was grateful to them that they did.
From morning till night, she sat in a corner
between a pile of deck freight and the kitchen
skylight, and gazed at her little boy who was
lying in her lap. All her hopes, her future, and
her life were in him. For herself, she had
ceased to hope.

"I can give thee no fatherland, my child," she
said to him. "Thou shalt never know the name
of him who gave thee life. Thou and I, we
shall struggle together, and, as true as there is
a God above, who sees us, He will not leave either
of us to perish. But let us ask no questions,
child, about that which is past. Thou shalt
grow and be strong, and thy mother must grow
with thee."

During the third week of the voyage, the
English clergyman baptized the boy, and she
called him Thomas, after the day in the almanac
on which he was born. He should never
know that Norway had been his mother's home;
therefore she would give him no name which
might betray his race. One morning, early in
the month of June, they hailed land, and the
great New World lay before them.


Why should I speak of the ceaseless care, the
suffering, and the hard toil, which made the
first few months of Brita's life on this continent
a mere continued struggle for existence? They
are familiar to every emigrant who has come
here with a brave heart and an empty purse.
Suffice it to say that at the end of the second
month, she succeeded in obtaining service as
milkmaid with a family in the neighborhood of
New York. With the linguistic talent peculiar
to her people, she soon learned the English
language and even spoke it well. From her
countrymen, she kept as far away as possible, not
for her own sake, but for that of her boy; for
he was to grow great and strong, and the knowledge
of his birth might shatter his strength and
break his courage. For the same reason she
also exchanged her picturesque Norse costume
for that of the people among whom she was
living. She went commonly by the name of
Mrs. Brita, which pronounced in the English
way, sounded very much like Mrs. Bright, and
this at last became the name by which she was
known in the neighborhood.

Thus five years passed; then there was a great
rage for emigrating to the far West, and Brita,
with many others, started for Chicago. There
she arrived in the year 1852, and took up her
lodgings with an Irish widow, who was living
in a little cottage in what was then termed the
outskirts of the city. Those who saw her in
those days, going about the lumber-yards and
doing a man's work, would hardly have recognized
in her the merry Glitter-Brita, who in
times of old trod the spring-dance so gayly in
the well-lighted halls of the Blakstad mansion.
And, indeed, she was sadly changed! Her features
had become sharper, and the firm lines
about her mouth expressed severity, almost
sternness. Her clear blue eyes seemed to have
grown larger, and their glance betrayed secret,
ever-watchful care. Only her yellow hair had
resisted the force of time and sorrow; for it
still fell in rich and wavy folds over a smooth
white forehead. She was, indeed, half ashamed
of it, and often took pains to force it into a
sober, matronly hood. Only at nights, when
she sat alone talking with her boy, she would
allow it to escape from its prison; and he would
laugh and play with it, and in his child's way
even wonder at the contrast between her stern
face and her youthful maidenly tresses.

This Thomas, her son, was a strange child.
He had a Norseman's taste for the fabulous and
fantastic, and although he never heard a tale of
Necken or the Hulder, he would often startle
his mother by the most fanciful combinations
of imagined events, and by bolder personifications
than ever sprung from the legendary soil
of the Norseland. She always took care to
check him whenever he indulged in these imaginary
flights, and he at last came to look upon
them as something wrong and sinful. The boy,
as he grew up, often strikingly reminded her of
her father, as, indeed, he seemed to have
inherited more from her own than from Halvard's
race. Only the bright flaxen hair and his square,
somewhat clumsy stature might have told him
to be the latter's child. He had a hot temper,
and often distressed his mother by his stubbornness;
and then there would come a great burst
of repentance afterwards, which distressed her
still more. For she was afraid it might be a
sign of weakness. "And strong he must be,"
said she to herself, "strong enough to overcome
all resistance, and to conquer a great name for
himself, strong enough to bless a mother who
brought him into the world nameless."

Strange to say, much as she loved this child,
she seldom caressed him. It was a penance she
had imposed upon herself to atone for her guilt.
Only at times, when she had been sitting up late,
and her eyes would fall, as it were, by accident
upon the little face on the pillow, with the
sweet unconsciousness of sleep resting upon it
like a soft, invisible veil, would she suddenly
throw herself down over him, kiss him, and
whisper tender names in his ear, while her tears
fell hot and fast on his yellow hair and his rosy
countenance. Then the child would dream that
he was sailing aloft over shining forests, and
that his mother, beaming with all the beauty of
her lost youth, flew before him, showering
golden flowers on his path. These were the
happiest moments of Brita's joyless life, and
even these were not unmixed with bitterness;
for into the midst of her joy would steal a shy
anxious thought which was the more terrible
because it came so stealthily, so soft-footed and
unbidden. Had not this child been given her
as a punishment for her guilt? Had she then a
right to turn God's scourge into a blessing?
Did she give to God "that which belongeth unto
God," as long as all her hopes, her thoughts,
and her whole being revolved about this one
earthly thing, her son, the child of her sorrow?
She was not a nature to shrink from grave questions;
no, she met them boldly, when once they
were there, wrestled fiercely with them, was
defeated, and again with a martyr's zeal rose to
renew the combat. God had Himself sent her
this perplexing doubt and it was her duty to
bear His burden. Thus ran Brita's reasoning.
In the mean while the years slipped by, and great
changes were wrought in the world about her.

The few hundred dollars which Brita had been
able to save, during the first three years of her
stay in Chicago, she had invested in a piece of
land. In the mean while the city had grown,
and in the year 1859 she was offered five thousand
dollars for her lot; this offer she accepted
and again bought a small piece of property at
a short distance from the city. The boy had
since his eighth year attended the public school,
and had made astonishing progress. Every day
when school was out, she would meet him at the
gate, take him by the hand and lead him home.
If any of the other boys dared to make sport of
her, or to tease him for his dependence upon
her, it was sure to cost that boy a black eye{.}
He soon succeeded in establishing himself in
the respect of his school-mates, for he was the
strongest boy of his own age, and ever ready to
protect and defend the weak and defenseless.
When Thomas Bright (for that was the name
by which he was known) was fifteen years old
he was offered a position as clerk in the office of
a lumber-merchant, and with his mother's consent
he accepted it. He was a fine young lad
now, large and well-knit, and with a clear
earnest countenance. In the evening he would bring
home books to read, and as it had always been
Brita's habit to interest herself in whatever
interested him, she soon found herself studying
and discussing with him things which had in
former years been far beyond the horizon of
her mind. She had at his request reluctantly
given up her work in the lumber-yards, and now
spent her days at home, busying herself with
sewing and reading and such other things as
women find to fill up a vacant hour.

One evening, when Thomas was in his nineteenth
year, he returned from his office with a
graver face than usual. His mother's quick eye
immediately saw that something had agitated
him, but she forbore to ask.

"Mother," said he at last, "who is my father?
Is he dead or alive?"

"God is your father, my son," answered she,
tremblingly. "If you love me, ask me no more."

"I do love you, mother," he said, and gave
her a grave look, in which she thought she
detected a mingling of tenderness and reproach.
"And it shall be as you have said."

It was the first time she had had reason to
blush before him, and her emotion came near
overwhelming her; but with a violent effort
she stifled it, and remained outwardly calm.
He began pacing up and down the floor with
his head bent and his hands on his back. It
suddenly occurred to her that he was a grown
man, and that she could no longer hold the
same relation to him as his supporter and
protector. "Alas," thought she, "if God will but
let me remain his mother, I shall bless and thank Him."

It was the first time this subject had been
broached, and it gave rise to many a doubt and
many a question in the anxious mother's mind.
Had she been right in concealing from him that
which he might justly claim to know? What
had been her motive in keeping him ignorant of
his origin and of the land of his birth? She
had wished him to grow to the strength of man-
hood, unconscious of guilt, so that he might
bear his head upright, and look the world
fearlessly in the face. And still, had there not in
all this been a lurking thought of herself, a fear
of losing his love, a desire to stand pure and
perfect in his eye? She hardly dared to answer
these questions, for, alas, she knew not that even
our purest motives are but poorly able to bear a
searching scrutiny. She began to suspect that
her whole course with her son had been wrong
from the very beginning. Why had she not
told him the stern truth, even if he should
despise her for it, even if she should have to stand
a blushing culprit in his presence? Often, when
she heard his footsteps in the hall, as he returned
from the work of the day, she would man herself
up and the words hovered upon her lips:
"Son, thou art a bastard born, a child of guilt,
and thy mother is an outcast upon the earth."
But when she met those calm blue eyes of his,
saw the unsuspecting frankness of his manner
and the hopefulness with which he looked to
the future, her womanly heart shrank from its
duty, and she hastened out of the room, threw
herself on her bed, and wept. Fiercely she
wrestled with God in prayer, until she thought
that even God had deserted her. Thus months
passed and years, and the constant care and
anxiety began to affect her health. She grew
pale and nervous, and the slightest noise would
annoy her. In the mean while, her manner
toward the young man had become strangely
altered, and he soon noticed it, although he
forbore to speak. She was scrupulously mindful
of his comfort, anxiously anticipated his wants,
and observed toward him an ever vigilant consideration,
as if he had been her master instead of her son.

When Thomas was twenty-two years of age,
he was offered a partnership in his employer's
business, and with every year his prospects
brightened. The sale of his mother's property
brought him a very handsome little fortune,
which enabled him to build a fine and comfortable
house in one of the best portions of the
city. Thus their outward circumstances were
greatly improved, and of comfort and luxury
Brita had all and more than she had ever
desired; but her health was broken down, and the
physicians declared that a year of foreign
travel and a continued residence in Italy might
possibly restore her. At last, Thomas, too,
began to urge her, until she finally yielded. It
was on a bright morning in May that they both
started for New York, and three days later they
took the boat for Europe. What countries
they were to visit they had hardly decided, but
after a brief stay in England we find them again
on a steamer bound for Norway.


Warm and gentle as it is, June often comes
to the fjord-valleys of Norway with the voice
and the strength of a giant. The glaciers totter
and groan, as if in anger at their own weakness,
and send huge avalanches of stones and ice
down into the valleys. The rivers swell and
rush with vociferous brawl out over the mountain-
sides, and a thousand tiny brooks join in
the general clamor, and dance with noisy chatter
over the moss-grown birch-roots. But later,
when the struggle is at an end, and June has
victoriously seated herself upon her throne, her
voice becomes more richly subdued and brings
rest and comfort to the ear and to the troubled
heart. It was while the month was in this latter
mood that Brita and her son entered once more
the valley whence, twenty-five years ago, they
had fled. Many strange, turbulent emotions
stirred the mother's bosom, as she saw again
the great snow-capped mountains, and the calm,
green valley, her childhood's home, lying so
snugly sheltered in their mighty embrace.
Even Thomas's breast was moved with vaguely
sympathetic throbs, as this wondrous scene
spread itself before him. They soon succeeded
in hiring a farm-house, about half an hour's
walk from Blakstad, and, according to Brita's
wish, established themselves there for the summer.
She had known the people well, when she
was young, but they never thought of identifying
her with the merry maid, who had once
startled the parish by her sudden flight; and
she, although she longed to open her heart to
them, let no word fall to betray her real
character. Her conscience accused her of playing
a false part, but for her son's sake she kept silent.

Then, one day,--it was the second Sunday
after their arrival,--she rose early in the morning,
and asked Thomas to accompany her on a
walk up through the valley. There was Sabbath
in the air; the soft breath of summer, laden
with the perfume of fresh leaves and field-flowers,
gently wafted into their faces. The sun
glittered in the dewy grass, the crickets sung
with a remote voice of wonder, and the air
seemed to be half visible, and moved in trem-
bling wavelets on the path before them. Resting
on her son's arm, Brita walked slowly up
through the flowering meadows; she hardly
knew whither her feet bore her, but her heart
beat violently, and she often was obliged to
pause and press her hands against her bosom, as
if to stay the turbulent emotions.

"You are not well, mother," said the son.
"It was imprudent in me to allow you to exert
yourself in this way."

"Let us sit down on this stone," answered
she. "I shall soon be better. Do not look so
anxiously at me. Indeed, I am not sick."

He spread his light summer coat on the stone
and carefully seated her. She lifted her veil
and raised her eyes to the large red-roofed mansion,
whose dark outlines drew themselves dimly
on the dusky background of the pine forest.
Was he still alive, he whose life-hope she had
wrecked, he who had once driven her out into
the night with all but a curse upon his lips?
How would he receive her, if she were to
return? Ah, she knew him, and she trembled at
the very thought of meeting him. But was not
the guilt hers? Could she depart from this
valley, could she die in peace, without having
thrown herself at his feet and implored his for-
giveness? And there, on the opposite side of
the valley, lay the home of him who had been
the cause of all her misery. What had been
his fate, and did he still remember those long
happy summer days, ah! so long, long ago?
She had dared to ask no questions of the people
with whom she lived, but now a sudden weakness
had overtaken her, and she felt that to-day
must decide her fate; she could no longer bear
this torture of uncertainty. Thomas remained
standing at her side and looked at her with
anxiety and wonder. He knew that she had
concealed many things from him, but whatever
her reasons might be, he was confident that
they were just and weighty. It was not for
him to question her about what he might have
no right to know. He felt as if he had never
loved her as in this moment, when she seemed
to be most in need of him, and an overwhelming
tenderness took possession of his heart.
He suddenly stooped down, took her pale, thin
face between his hands and kissed her. The
long pent-up emotion burst forth in a flood of
tears; she buried her face in her lap and wept
long and silently. Then the church-bells began
to peal down in the valley, and the slow mighty
sound floated calmly and solemnly up to them.
How many long-forgotten memories of childhood
and youth did they not wake in her bosom
--memories of the time when the merry Glitter-
Brita, decked with her shining brooches, wended
her way to the church among the gayly-dressed
lads and maidens of the parish?

A cluster of white-stemmed birches threw its
shadow over the stone where the penitent
mother was sitting, and the tall grass on both
sides of the path nearly hid her from sight.
Presently the church-folk began to appear, and
Brita raised her head and drew her veil down over
her face. No one passed without greeting the
strangers, and the women and maidens, according
to old fashion, stopped and courtesied. At
last, there came an old white-haired man, leaning
on the arm of a middle-aged woman. His
whole figure was bent forward, and he often
stopped and drew his breath heavily.

"Oh, yes, yes," he said, ill a hoarse, broken
voice, as he passed before them, "age is gaining
on me fast. I can't move about any more
as of old. But to church I must this day. God
help me! I have done much wrong and need to
pray for forgiveness."

"You had better sit down and rest, father,"
said the woman. "Here is a stone, and the
fine lady, I am sure, will allow a weak old man
to sit down beside her."

Thomas rose and made a sign to the old man
to take his seat.

"O yes, yes," he went on murmuring, as if
talking to himself. "Much wrong--much
forgiveness. God help us all--miserable sinners.
He who hateth not father and mother--and
daughter is not worthy of me. O, yes--yes--
God comfort us all. Help me up, Grimhild. I
think I can move on again, now."

Thomas, of course, did not understand a word
of what he said, but seeing that he wished to
rise, he willingly offered his assistance, supported
his arm and raised him.

"Thanks to you, young man," said the peasant.
"And may God reward your kindness."

And the two, father and daughter, moved on,
slowly and laboriously, as they had come.
Thomas stood following them with his eyes,
until a low, half-stifled moan suddenly called
him to his mother's side. Her frame trembled violently.

"Mother, mother," implored he, stooping
over her, "what has happened? Why are you
no more yourself?"

"Ah, my son, I can bear it no longer," sobbed
she. "God forgive me--thou must know it all."

He sat down at her side and drew her closely
up to him and she hid her face on his bosom.
There was a long silence, only broken by the
loud chirruping of the crickets.

"My son," she began at last, still hiding her face,
"thou art a child of guilt."

"That has been no secret to me, mother,"
answered he, gravely and tenderly, "since I was
old enough to know what guilt was."

She quickly raised her head, and a look of
amazement, of joyous surprise, shone through
the tears that veiled her eyes. She could read
nothing but filial love and confidence in those
grave, manly features, and she saw in that
moment that all her doubts had been groundless,
that her long prayerful struggle had been for naught.

"I brought thee into the world nameless," she
whispered, "and thou hast no word of reproach
for me?"

"With God's help, I am strong enough to conquer
a name for myself, mother," was his answer.

It was the very words of her own secret wish,
and upon his lips they sounded like a blessed
assurance, like a miraculous fulfillment of her
motherly prayer.

"Still, another thing, my child," she went on
in a more confident voice. "This is thy native
land,--and the old man who was just sitting
here at my side was--my father."

And there, in the shadow of the birch-trees,
in the summer stillness of that hour, she told
him the story of her love, of her flight, and of
the misery of these long, toilsome five and
twenty years.

Late in the afternoon, Brita and her son were
seen returning to the farm-house. A calm, subdued
happiness beamed from the mother's countenance;
she was again at peace with the world
and herself, and her heart was as light as in the
days of her early youth. But her bodily
strength had given out, and her limbs almost
refused to support her. The strain upon her
nerves and the constant effort had hitherto
enabled her to keep up, but now, when that
strain was removed, exhausted nature claimed
its right. The next day--she could not leave
her bed, and with every hour her strength
failed. A physician was sent for. He gave
medicine, but no hope. He shook his head
gravely, as he went, and both mother and son
knew what that meant.

Toward evening, Bjarne Blakstad was
summoned, and came at once. Thomas left the
room, as the old man entered, and what passed
in that hour between father and daughter, only
God knows. When the door was again opened,
Brita's eyes shone with a strange brilliancy, and
Bjarne lay on his knees before the bed, pressing
her hand convulsively between both of his.

"This is my son, father," said she, in a
language which her son did not understand; and a
faint smile of motherly pride and happiness
flitted over her pale features. "I would give
him to thee in return for what thou hast lost;
but God has laid his future in another land."

Bjarne rose, grasped his grandson's hand, and
pressed it; and two heavy tears ran down his
furrowed cheeks. "Alas," murmured he, "my
son, that we should meet thus."

There they stood, bound together by the
bonds of blood, but, alas, there lay a world
between them.

All night they sat together at the dying
woman's bedside. Not a word was spoken.
Toward morning, as the sun stole into the darkened
chamber, Brita murmured their names, and
they laid their hands in hers.

"God be praised," whispered she, scarcely
audibly, "I have found you both--my father
and my son." A deep pallor spread over her
countenance. She was dead.

Two days later, when the body was laid out,
Thomas stood alone in the room. The windows
were covered with white sheets, and a subdued
light fell upon the pale, lifeless countenance.
Death had dealt gently with her, she seemed
younger than before, and her light wavy
hair fell softly over the white forehead. Then
there came a middle-aged man, with a dull eye,
and a broad forehead, and timidly approached
the lonely mourner. He walked on tip-toe and
his figure stooped heavily. For a long while he
stood gazing at the dead body, then he knelt
down at the foot of the coffin, and began to sob
violently. At last he arose, took two steps toward
the young man, paused again, and departed
silently as he had come. It was Halvard.

Close under the wall of the little red-painted
church, they dug the grave; and a week later
her father was laid to rest at his daughter's side.

But the fresh winds blew over the Atlantic
and beckoned the son to new fields of labor in
the great land of the future.


RALPH GRIM was born a gentleman.
He had the misfortune of coming into
the world some ten years later than
might reasonably have been expected.
Colonel Grim and his lady had celebrated twelve
anniversaries of their wedding-day, and had
given up all hopes of ever having a son and
heir, when this late-comer startled them by his
unexpected appearance. The only previous
addition to the family had been a daughter, and
she was then ten summers old.

Ralph was a very feeble child, and could only
with great difficulty be persuaded to retain his
hold of the slender thread which bound him to
existence. He was rubbed with whisky, and
wrapped in cotton, and given mare's milk to
drink, and God knows what not, and the Colonel
swore a round oath of paternal delight
when at last the infant stopped gasping in that
distressing way and began to breathe like other
human beings. The mother, who, in spite of
her anxiety for the child's life, had found time
to plot for him a career of future magnificence,
now suddenly set him apart for literature,
because that was the easiest road to fame, and
disposed of him in marriage to one of the most
distinguished families of the land. She
cautiously suggested this to her husband when he
came to take his seat at her bedside; but to
her utter astonishment she found that he had
been indulging a similar train of thought, and
had already destined the infant prodigy for the
army. She, however, could not give up her
predilection for literature, and the Colonel, who
could not bear to be contradicted in his own
house, as he used to say, was getting every
minute louder and more flushed, when, happily,
the doctor's arrival interrupted the dispute.

As Ralph grew up from infancy to childhood,
he began to give decided promise of future
distinction. He was fond of sitting down in a
corner and sucking his thumb, which his mother
interpreted as the sign of that brooding disposition
peculiar to poets and men of lofty genius.
At the age of five, he had become sole master
in the house. He slapped his sister Hilda in
the face, or pulled her hair, when she hesitated
to obey him, tyrannized over his nurse, and
sternly refused to go to bed in spite of his
mother's entreaties. On such occasions, the
Colonel would hide his face behind his newspaper,
and chuckle with delight; it was evident
that nature had intended his son for a great
military commander. As soon as Ralph himself
was old enough to have any thoughts about his
future destiny, he made up his mind that he
would like to be a pirate. A few months later,
having contracted an immoderate taste for
candy, he contented himself with the comparatively
humble position of a baker; but when
he had read "Robinson Crusoe," he manifested
a strong desire to go to sea in the hope of being
wrecked on some desolate island. The parents
spent long evenings gravely discussing these
indications of uncommon genius, and each
interpreted them in his or her own way.

"He is not like any other child I ever knew,"
said the mother.

"To be sure," responded the father, earnestly.
"He is a most extraordinary child. I was a
very remarkable child too, even if I do say it
myself; but, as far as I remember, I never
aspired to being wrecked on an uninhabited is

The Colonel probably spoke the truth; but
he forgot to take into account that he had never
read "Robinson Crusoe."

Of Ralph's school-days there is but little to
report, for, to tell the truth, he did not fancy
going to school, as the discipline annoyed him.
The day after his having entered the gymnasium,
which was to prepare him for the Military
Academy, the principal saw him waiting at the
gate after his class had been dismissed. He
approached him, and asked why he did not go
home with the rest.

"I am waiting for the servant to carry my
books," was the boy's answer.

"Give me your books," said the teacher.

Ralph reluctantly obeyed. That day the
Colonel was not a little surprised to see his son
marching up the street, and every now and then
glancing behind him with a look of discomfort
at the principal, who was following quietly in
his train, carrying a parcel of school-books.
Colonel Grim and his wife, divining the teacher's
intention, agreed that it was a great outrage,
but they did not mention the matter to Ralph.
Henceforth, however, the boy refused to be
accompanied by his servant. A week later he
was impudent to the teacher of gymnastics,
who whipped him in return. The Colonel's
rage knew no bounds; he rode in great haste
to the gymnasium, reviled the teacher for
presuming to chastise HIS son, and committed the
boy to the care of a private tutor.

At the age of sixteen, Ralph went to the
capital with the intention of entering the
Military Academy. He was a tall, handsome youth,
slender of stature, and carried himself as erect
as a candle. He had a light, clear complexion
of almost feminine delicacy; blonde, curly hair,
which he always kept carefully brushed; a low
forehead, and a straight, finely modeled nose.
There was an expression of extreme sensitiveness
about the nostrils, and a look of indolence
in the dark-blue eyes. But the ensemble of his
features was pleasing, his dress irreproachable,
and his manners bore no trace of the awkward
self-consciousness peculiar to his age. Immediately
on his arrival in the capital he hired a
suite of rooms in the aristocratic part of the
city, and furnished them rather expensively,
but in excellent taste. From a bosom friend,
whom he met by accident in the restaurant's
pavilion in the park, he learned that a pair of
antlers, a stuffed eagle, or falcon, and a couple
of swords, were indispensable to a well-appointed
apartment. He accordingly bought these articles
at a curiosity-shop. During the first weeks
of his residence in the city he made some feeble
efforts to perfect himself in mathematics, in
which he suspected he was somewhat deficient.
But when the same officious friend laughed at
him, and called him "green," he determined to
trust to fortune, and henceforth devoted himself
the more assiduously to the French ballet, where
he had already made some interesting acquaintances.

The time for the examination came; the
French ballet did not prove a good preparation;
Ralph failed. It quite shook him for the time,
and he felt humiliated. He had not the courage
to tell his father; so he lingered on from
day to day, sat vacantly gazing out of his window,
and tried vainly to interest himself in the
busy bustle down on the street. It provoked
him that everybody else should be so light-
hearted, when he was, or at least fancied himself,
in trouble. The parlor grew intolerable;
he sought refuge in his bedroom. There
he sat one evening (it was the third day after
the examination), and stared out upon the gray
stone walls which on all sides enclosed the
narrow court-yard. The round stupid face of the
moon stood tranquilly dozing like a great Limburger
cheese suspended under the sky.

Ralph, at least, could think of a no more
fitting simile. But the bright-eyed young girl
in the window hard by sent a longing look up
to the same moon, and thought of her distant
home on the fjords, where the glaciers stood
like hoary giants, and caught the yellow moonbeams
on their glittering shields of snow. She
had been reading "Ivanhoe" all the afternoon,
until the twilight had overtaken her quite
unaware, and now she suddenly remembered that
she had forgotten to write her German exercise.
She lifted her face and saw a pair of sad, vacant
eyes, gazing at her from the next window in
the angle of the court. She was a little startled
at first, but in the next moment she thought of
her German exercise and took heart.

"Do you know German?" she said; then
immediately repented that she had said it.

"I do," was the answer.

She took up her apron and began to twist it
with an air of embarrassment.

"I didn't mean anything," she whispered, at last.
"I only wanted to know."

"You are very kind."

That answer roused her; he was evidently
making sport of her.

"Well, then, if you do, you may write my
exercise for me. I have marked the place in
the book."

And she flung her book over to his window,
and he caught it on the edge of the sill, just as
it was falling.

"You are a very strange girl," he remarked,
turning over the leaves of the book, although
it was too dark to read. "How old are you?"

"I shall be fourteen six weeks before
Christmas," answered she, frankly.

"Then I excuse you."

"No, indeed," cried she, vehemently. "You
needn't excuse me at all. If you don't want to
write my exercise, you may send the book back
again. I am very sorry I spoke to you, and I
shall never do it again."

"But you will not get the book back again
without the exercise," replied he, quietly.

The girl stood long looking after him, hoping
that he would return. Then, with a great burst
of repentance, she hid her face in her lap, and
began to cry.

"Oh, dear, I didn't mean to be rude," she
sobbed. "But it was Ivanhoe and Rebecca
who upset me."

The next morning she was up before daylight,
and waited for two long hours in great
suspense before the curtain of his window was
raised. He greeted her politely; threw a hasty
glance around the court to see if he was
observed, and then tossed her book dexterously
over into her hands.

"I have pinned the written exercise to the fly-
leaf," he said. "You will probably have time
to copy it before breakfast."

"I am ever so much obliged to you," she
managed to stammer.

He looked so tall and handsome, and grown-
up, and her remorse stuck in her throat, and
threatened to choke her. She had taken him for a boy
as he sat there in his window the evening before.

"By the way, what is your name?" he asked,
carelessly, as he turned to go.


"Well, my dear Bertha, I am happy to have
made your acquaintance."

And he again made her a polite bow, and entered his parlor.

"How provokingly familiar he is," thought
she; "but no one can deny that he is handsome."

The bright roguish face of the young girl
haunted Ralph during the whole next week.
He had been in love at least ten times before, of
course; but, like most boys, with young ladies far
older than himself. He found himself frequently
glancing over to her window in the
hope of catching another glimpse of her face;
but the curtain was always drawn down, and
Bertha remained invisible. During the second
week, however, she relented, and they had many
a pleasant chat together. He now volunteered
to write all her exercises, and she made no
objections. He learned that she was the daughter
of a well-to-do peasant in the sea-districts of
Norway (and it gave him quite a shock to hear
it), and that she was going to school in the city,
and boarded with an old lady who kept a pension
in the house adjoining the one in which he lived.

One day in the autumn Ralph was surprised
by the sudden arrival of his father, and the fact
of his failure in the examination could no longer
be kept a secret. The old Colonel flared up at
once when Ralph made his confession; the large
veins upon his forehead swelled; he grew coppery-
red in his face, and stormed up and down
the floor, until his son became seriously alarmed;
but, to his great relief, he was soon made aware

that his father's wrath was not turned against
him personally, but against the officials of the
Military Academy who had rejected him. The
Colonel took it as an insult to his own good
name and irreproachable standing as an officer;
he promptly refused any other explanation, and
vainly racked his brain to remember if any
youthful folly of his could possibly have made
him enemies among the teachers of the Academy.
He at last felt satisfied that it was envy
of his own greatness and rapid advancement
which had induced the rascals to take vengeance
on his son. Ralph reluctantly followed
his father back to the country town where the
latter was stationed, and the fair-haired Bertha
vanished from his horizon. His mother's wish
now prevailed, and he began, in his own easy
way, to prepare himself for the University. He
had little taste for Cicero, and still less for
Virgil, but with the use of a "pony" he soon
gained sufficient knowledge of these authors to
be able to talk in a sort of patronizing way
about them, to the great delight of his fond
parents. He took quite a fancy, however, to the
ode in Horace ending with the lines:

Dulce ridentem,
Dulce loquentem,
Lalagen amabo.

And in his thought he substituted for Lalage the
fair-haired Bertha, quite regardless of the
requirements of the metre.

To make a long story short, three years later
Ralph returned to the capital, and, after having
worn out several tutors, actually succeeded
in entering the University.

The first year of college life is a happy time
to every young man, and Ralph enjoyed its
processions, its parliamentary gatherings, and its
leisure, as well as the rest. He was certainly
not the man to be sentimental over the loss of a
young girl whom, moreover, he had only known
for a few weeks. Nevertheless, he thought of
her at odd times, but not enough to disturb
his pleasure. The standing of his family, his
own handsome appearance, and his immaculate
linen opened to him the best houses of the city,
and he became a great favorite in society. At
lectures he was seldom seen, but more frequently
in the theatres, where he used to come in during
the middle of the first act, take his station in
front of the orchestra box, and eye, through his
lorgnettes, by turns, the actresses and the ladies
of the parquet.


Two months passed, and then came the great
annual ball which the students give at the opening
of the second semester. Ralph was a man
of importance that evening; first, because he
belonged to a great family; secondly, because he
was the handsomest man of his year. He wore
a large golden star on his breast (for his fellow-
students had made him a Knight of the Golden
Boar), and a badge of colored ribbons in his

The ball was a brilliant affair, and everybody
was in excellent spirits, especially the ladies.
Ralph danced incessantly, twirled his soft
mustache, and uttered amiable platitudes. It was
toward midnight, just as the company was moving
out to supper, that he caught the glance of
a pair of dark-blue eyes, which suddenly drove
the blood to his cheeks and hastened the beating
of his heart. But when he looked once

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