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Full text of "'Round the yule-log : Christmas in Norway"



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NY PUBL C LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



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Christmas in flomay 



P. CHR, ASBJORNSEN 







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TRA.H.SUATED. BY 



H. L. B'li-(.K : KSTAD'. 



BOSTON 
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'ROUND THE YULE-LOG. 

" I ^HE wind was whistling through the old lime and maple 
A trees opposite my windows, the snow was sweeping down 
the street, and the sky was black as a December sky can 
possibly be here in Christiania. I was in just as black a 
mood. It was Christmas Eve, - - the first I was to spend away 
from the cosey fireside of my home. I had lately received my 
officer's commission, and had hoped that I should have glad- 
dened my aged parents with my presence during the holidays, 
and had also hoped that I should be able to show myself in all 
my glory and splendour to the ladies of our parish. But a 
fever had brought me to the hospital, which I had left 
only a week before, and now I found myself in the much- 
extolled state of convalescence. I had written home for a 
horse and sledge and my father's fur coat, but my letter could 
scarcely reach our valley before the clay after Christmas, and 
the horse could not be in town before New Year's Eve. 

My comrades had all left town, and I knew no family with 
whom I could make myself at home during the holidays. The 
two old maids I lodged with were certainly very kind and 
friendly people, and they ,had- taken' great care of me in the 
commencement of my^ill-b-ess/but the peculiar ways and habits 
of these ladies were' re-Q'. touch of the old school to prove 
attractive to the fancies of youth. Their thoughts dwelt 
mostly on the past ; ?nd when they, as often might occur, 
related to me some, stories of the town, its people and its 
customs, these stories reminded me, not only by their contents, 

5 



CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 



but also by the simple, unaffected way in which they were 
rendered, of a past age. 

The antiquated appearance of these ladies was also in the 
strictest harmony with the house in which they lived. It was 
one of those old houses in Custom House Street, with deep 
windows, long dark passages and staircases, gloomy rooms and 
garrets, where one could not help thinking of ghosts and 
brownies ; in short, just such a house, and perhaps it was the 



very one, which Mau- 
scribed in his 
Dame with the 
circle of ac- 
was very lim- 
a married sister 
dren, no other 
there but a couple 




ritz Hansen has de- 
story, "The Old 
Hood." Their 

. quaintances 

m 

ited ; besides 

and her chil- 
visitors came 
of tiresome old ladies. 



The only relief to this kind of life was a pretty niece and 
some merry little cousins of hers, who always made me tell 
them fairy tales and stories. 

I tried to divert myself in my loneliness and melancholy 
mood by looking out at all the people who passed up and 
down the street in the snow and wind, with blue noses and 
half-shut eyes. It amused me to see the bustle and the life 
in the apothecary's shop across the street. The door was 
scarcely shut for a moment. Servants and peasants streamed 
in and out, and commenced to study the labels and directions 
when they came oui in the street./', orce appeared to be able 
to make them cue, but sometimes a lengthy study and a 
dubious shake of the head showed that the solution was too 
difficult. It was growing dusk. I could not distinguish the 
countenances any longer, but gazed across at the old building. 
The apothecary's 'house, "The Swan," as it is still called, 









CHRISTMAS AY NORWAY. 



stood there, with its dark, reddish-brown walls, its pointed 
gables and towers, with weather-cocks and latticed windows, 
as a monument of the architecture of the time of King Chris- 
tian the Fourth. The Swan looked then, as now, a most 
respectable and sedate bird, with its gold ring round its neck, 
its spur-boots, and its wings stretched out as if to fly. I was 
about to plunge myself into reflection on imprisoned birds 
when I was disturbed by noise and laughter 
proceeding from some children in the 
adjoining room, and by a gentle, old- 
maidish knock at my door. 

On my requesting the visitor 
to come in, the elder of my 
landladies, Miss Mette, entered 
the room with a courtesy in 
the good old style ; she in- 
quired after my health, and 
invited me, without further 
ceremony, to come and make 
myself at home with them for 
the evening. " It is n't good for you, dear Lieutenant, to sit 
thus alone here in the dark," she added. "Will you not 
come in to us now at once ? Old Mother Skau and my 
brother's little girls have come; they will perhaps amuse you 
a little. You are so fond of the dear children.' 

I accepted the friendly ir.vitatio i i. ;_, .As I entered the room, 
the fire from the large/ square stove, where the logs were 
burning lustily, tlirev/ a red, flickering, light through the wide- 
open door over the room, which was very deep, and furnished 
in the old style-, with high-back, Russia leather chairs, and one 
of those settees 'which were intended.' for farthingales and 
straight up-and-down, positions. The walls *vere adorned with 

V ' > 

:'' 

. 




IO 



CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 






t"M l/.'l 



oil paintings, portraits of stiff ladies with powdered coiffures, 
of bewigged Oldenborgians, and other redoubtable persons in 
mail and armour or red coats. 

" You must really excuse us, Lieutenant, for not having 

lighted the candles vet," said 

J * 

Miss Cicely, the younger 
sister, who was generally 
called " Cilly," and who 
came towards me and 
dropped a courtesy, ex- 
actly like her sister's ; 
" but the children do so 
like to tumble about 
here before the fire in 
the dusk of the evening, 
and Madam Skau does also 
enjoy a quiet little chat in the 
chimney corner." 

" Oh, chat me here and chat 
me there! there is nothing you 
like yourself better than a 
little bit of gossip in the dusk 
of the evening, Cilly, and then 
we are to get the blame of 
it," answered the old asthmatic 

bdv whom they called Mother 

j < j 

VSk'ar, 

"Eh ! good evening, sir," she said to me, as she drew herself 
up to make the best of her own inflated, bulky appearance. 
"Come and sit down here and tell me how it fares with you; 
but, by my troth, you are nothing but skin and bones ! " 

I had to tell her all. about my illness, and in return I had 

oo a 

. 







CHRISTMAS IN NOKll'AY. 



I I 



to endure a very long and circumstantial account of her 
rheumatism and her asthmatical ailments, which, fortunately, 
was interrupted by the noisy arrival of the children from the 
kitchen, where they had paid a visit to old Stine, a fixture in 

the house. 

" Oh, auntie, do you know what Stine says ? " cried a little 
brown-eyed beauty. " She says I shall go with her into the 
hay loft to-night and give the brownie his Christmas porridge. 
But I won't go ; I am afraid of the 
brownies ! " 

" Never mind, my dear, 
Stine says it only to get rid 
of you ; she dare not go 
into the hay-loft herself - 
the foolish old thing in the 
dark, for she knows well 
enough she was frightened 
once by the brownies herself," 
said Miss Mette. " But are you 
not going to say good evening 
to the Lieutenant, children?" 

" Oh, is that you, Lieutenant ? I did not know you. How 
pale you are ! It is such a long time since I saw you ! " 
shouted the children all at once, as they flocked round me. 

"Now you must tell us something awfully jolly ! It is such 
a long time since you told us anything. Oh, tell us about 
Buttercup, dear Mr. Lieutenant, do tell us about Buttercup 
and Goldentooth ! " 

I had to tell them about Buttercup and the dog Golden- 
tooth, but they would not let me off until I gave them a 
couple of stories into the bargain about the brownies at Vager 
and at Bure, who stole hay from each other, and who met at 




12 CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 

last with a load of hay on their backs, and how they fought till 
they vanished in a cloud of hay-dust. I had also to tell 
them the story of the brownie at Hesselberg, who teased the 
house-dog till the farmer came out and threw him over the barn 
bridge. The children clapped their hands in great joy and 
laughed heartily. 

" It served him right, the naughty brownie ! " they shouted, 
and asked for another story. 

"Well," said I, "I will tell you the story of Peter Gynt and 
the trolls. 

" In the olden days there lived in Kvam a hunter whose 
name was Peter Gynt, and who was always roaming about 
in the mountains after bears and elks, for in those days there 
were more forests on the mountains than there are now, and 
consequently plenty of wild beasts. 

" One day, shortly before Christmas, Peter set out on an 
expedition. He had heard of a farm on Doorefell which was 
invaded by such a number of trolls every Christmas Eve that 
the people on the farm had to move out, and get shelter at 
some of their neighbours'. He was anxious to go there, for 
he had a great fancy to come across the trolls, and see if he 
could not overcome them. He dressed himself in some old 
ragged clothes, and took a tame white bear which he had with 

oo 

him, as well as an awl, some pitch and twine. When he came 
to the farm he went in and asked for lodgings. 

'"God help us!' said the farmer; 'we can't give you any 
loderinsfs. We have to clear out of the house ourselves soon 

o o 

and look for lodgings, for every Christmas Eve we have the 
trolls here.' 

" But Peter thought he should be able to clear the trolls out, 

-he had done such a thing before; and then he got leave to 

stay, and a pig's skin into the bargain. The bear lay down 



^ / '/ ;/ If \^F>~ 

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, 

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. 

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CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 15 

behind the fireplace, and Peter took out his awl and pitch 
and twine, and began making a big, big shoe, which it took the 
whole pig's skin to make. He put a strong rope in for lacings,, 
that he might pull the shoe tightly together, and, finally, he 
armed himself with a couple of handspikes. 

" Shortly he heard the trolls coming. They had a fiddler 
with them, and some began dancing, while others fell to eating 
the Christmas fare on the table, some fried bacon, and some 
fried frogs and toads, and other nasty things which they had 
brought with them. During this some of the trolls found 
the shoe Peter had made. They thought it must belong 
to a very big foot. They all wanted to try it on at once, 
so they put a foot each into it ; but Peter made haste and 
tightened the rope, took one of the handspikes and fastened 
the rope around it, and got them at last securely tied up in 
the shoe. 

" Just then the bear put his nose out from behind the fire- 
place, where he was lying, and smelt they were frying some- 
thing. 

t( ' Will you have a sausage, pussy ? ' said one of the trolls, 
and threw a hot frog right into the bear's jaws. 

" ' Scratch them, pussy ! ' said Peter. 

" The bear got so angry that he rushed at the trolls and 
scratched them all over, while Peter took the other handspike 
and hammered away at them as if he wanted to beat their 
brains out. The trolls had to clear out at last, but Peter 
stayed and enjoyed himself with all the Christmas fare the 
whole week. After that the trolls were not heard of there for 
many years. 

" Some years afterwards, about Christmas time, Peter was 
out in the forest cutting wood for the holidays, when a troll 
same up to him and shouted,- 



:6 



CHRISTMAS IN NOR IV AY. 



" ' Have you got that big pussy of yours, yet ? ' 

" ' Oh, yes ! she is at home behind the fireplace,' said he; 'and 
she has got seven kittens, all bigger and larger than herself.' 

"'We'll never come to you any more, then,' said the troll, 
and they never did." 

The children were all delighted with this story. 




"Tell us another, dear Lieutenant," they all shouted in 
chorus. 

"No, no, children! you bother the Lieutenant too much," 
said Miss Cicely. " Aunt Mette will tell you a story now." 

"Yes, do, auntie, do ! " was the general cry. 

" I don't know exactly what I shall tell you," said Aunt 



CHRISTMAS IN XORWAY. \J 

Mette, " but since we have commenced telling about the brown 
ies, I think I will tell you something about them, too. You 
remember, of course, old Kari Gausdal, who came here and 
baked bread, and who always had so many tales to tell you." 

" Oh, yes, yes ! " shouted the children. 

"Well, old Kari told me that she was in service at the 
orphan asylum some years ago, and at that time it was still 
more dreary and lonely in that part of the town than it is now. 
That asylum is a dark and dismal place, I can tell you. Well, 
when Kari came there she was cook, and a very smart and 
clever girl she was. She had, one day, to get up very early 
in the morning to brew, when the other servants said to 
her, 

" ' You had better mind you don't get up too early, and you 
must n't put any fire under the copper before two o'clock.' 

" ' Why ? ' she asked. 

" ' Don't you know there is a brownie here ? And you ought 
to know that those people don't like to be disturbed so early,' 
they said ; ' and before two o'clock you must n't light the fire 
by any means.' 

" ' Is that all ? ' said Kari. She was anything but chicken- 
hearted. 'I have nothing to do with that brownie of yours, 
but if he comes in 1113- way, why, by my faith, I will send him 
head over heels through the door.' 

" The others warned her, but she did not care a bit, and next 
morning, just as the clock struck one, she got up and lighted 
the fire under the copper in the brewhouse ; but the fire 
went out in a moment. Somebody appeared to be throwing 
the logs about on the hearth, but she could not see who it was. 
She gathered the logs together, one at a time, but it was of no 
use, and the chimney would not draw, either. She got tired of 
this at last, took a burning log and ran around the room with 



18 



CHRISTMAS H\ T NORWAY. 



it, swinging it high and low while she shouted, ' Be gone, be 
gone whence you came ! If you think you can frighten me 
you are mistaken.' 'Curse you!' somebody hissed in one 
of the darkest corners. ' I have had seven souls in this house ; I 
thought I should have got eight in all ! ' But from that time 

nobody saw or heard the brownie in the 
asylum, said Kari Gausdal." 

"I am getting so frightened!" said 
one of the children. "No, you must 
tell us some more stories, Lieuten- 
ant ; I never feel afraid when you 
tell us anything, because you tell us 
such jolly tales." Another proposed 
that I should tell them about the 
brownie who danced the Hailing 
dance with the lassie. That was a 
tale I did n't care much about, as 
there was some singing in it. But 
they would on no account let me 
off, and I was going to clear my 
throat and prepare my exceed- 
ingly inharmonious voice to sing 
the Hailing dance, which belongs 
to the story, when the pretty niece, 
whom I have already referred to, entered 
the room, to the great joy of the children and to my rescue. 
Well, my dear children, I will tell you the story, if you can 
get cousin Lizzie to sing the Hailing for you," said I, as she 
sat down, "and then you'll dance to it yourselves, won't 

i 
you ? 

Cousin Lizzie was besieged by the children, and had to 
promise to do the singing, so I commenced my story. 




CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 



"There was, once upon a time, --I almost think it was in 
Hallingdal, --a lassie who was sent up into the hay-loft with 
the cream porridge for the brownie,--! cannot recollect if it 
was on a Thursday or on a Christmas Eve, but I think it was a 
Christmas Eve. Well, she thought it was a great pity to give 
the brownie such a dainty dish, so she ate the porridge herself, 
and the melted butter in the bargain, and went up into the 
hay-loft with the plain oatmeal porridge and sour milk, in a 
pig's trough instead. ' There, that 's good enough for you, 
Master Brownie,' she said. But no sooner 
had she spoken the words than the 
brownie stood right before her, seized 
her round the waist, and danced about 
with her, which he kept up 







'j# *x. 




till she lay gasping for 

breath, and when the 

people came up into the 

hay-loft in the morning, _ 

she was more dead than 

alive. But as long as they danced, the brownie sang," (and 

here Cousin Lizzie undertook his part, and sang to the tune 

of the Hailing) - 

"And you have eaten the porridge for the brownie, 
And you shall dance with the little brownie ! 

" And have you eaten the porridge for the brownie ? 
Then you shall dance with the little brownie ! " 

I assisted in keeping time by stamping on the floor with my 
feet, while the children romped about the room in uproarious 
joy. 

" I think you are turning the house upside down, children ! " 



2O CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 

said old Mother Skau ; " if you '11 be quiet, I '11 give you a 
story." 

The children were soon quiet, and Mother Skau commenced 
as follows : 

" You hear a great deal about brownies and fairies and 
such like beings, but I don't believe there is much in it. I 
have neither seen one nor the other. Of course I have not been 
so very much about in my lifetime, but I believe it is all 
nonsense. But old Stine out in the kitchen there, she says 
she has seen the brownie. About the time when I was 
confirmed she was in service with my parents. She came 
to us from a captain's, who had given up the sea. It was 
a very quiet place. The captain only took a walk as far as 
the quay every day. They always went to bed early. People 
said there was a brownie in the house. Well, it so happened 
that Stine and the cook were sitting in their room one evening, 
mending and darning their things; it was near bedtime, for 
the watchman had already sung out ' Ten o'clock ! ' but some- 
how the darning and the sewing went on very slowly indeed ; 
every moment ' Jack Nap ' came and played his tricks upon 
them. At one moment Stine was nodding and nodding, and 
then came the cook's turn, they could not keep their eyes 
open; they had been up early that morning to wash clothes. 
But just as they were sitting thus, they heard a terrible crash 
down stairs in the kitchen, and Stine shouted, ' Lor' bless and 
preserve us ! it must be the brownie.' She was so frightened 
she dared scarcely move a foot, but at last the cook plucked 
up courage and went clown into the kitchen, closely followed 
by Stine. When they opened the kitchen door they found 
all the crockery on the floor, but none of it broken, while the 
brownie was standing on the big kitchen table with his red cap 
on, and hurling one dish after the other on to the floor, and 



CHRISTMAS IN NOR IV AY. 



laughing in great glee. The cook had heard that the brownies 
could sometimes be tricked into moving into another house 
when anybody would tell them of a very quiet place, and as 
she long had been wishing for an opportunity to play a trick 
upon this brownie, she took courage 
and spoke to him, --her voice was 
a little shaky at the time, - - that 
he ought to remove to the tin- 
man's over the way, where it 
was so very quiet and pleasant, 
because they always went 
to bed at nine o'clock every 
evening; which was true 
enough, as the cook told 
Stine later, but then the 
master and all his ap- 
prentices and journey- 
men were up every 
morning at three 
o'clock, and ham- 
mered away and 
made a terrible 
noise all day. 
Since that 
day they 
have not 
seen the 

brownie any more at the captain's. He seemed to feel quite 
at home at the tinman's, although they were hammering and 
tapping away there all day ; but people said that the glide- 
wife put a dish of porridge up in the garret for him every 
Thursday evening, and it 's no wonder that they got on well 




24 CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 

and became rich when they had a brownie in the house. 
Stine believed he brought things to them. Whether it was 
the brownie or not who really helped them, I cannot say," 
said Mother Skau, in conclusion, and got a fit of coughing 
and choking after the exertion of telling this, for her, un- 
usually long story. 

When she had taken a pinch of snuff she felt better, and 
became quite cheerful again, and began : - 

" My mother, who, by the way, was a truthful woman, told 
a story which happened here in the town one Christmas Eve. 
I know it is true, for an untrue word never passed her lips." 

" Let us hear it, Madame Skau," said I. 

"Yes, tell, tell, Mother Skau! " cried the children. 

She coughed a little, took another pinch of snuff, and pro- 
ceeded : 

" When my mother still was in her teens, she used some- 
times to visit a widow whom she knew, and whose name was, 
-dear me, what was her name ?-- Madame, yes, Madame 
Evensen, of course. She was a woman who had seen the 
best part of her life, but whether she lived up in Mill Street or 
down in the corner by the Little Church Hill, I cannot say for 
certain. Well, one Christmas Eve, just like to-night, she 
thought she would go to the morning service on the Christ- 
mas Day, for she was a great church-goer, and so she left 
out some coffee with the girl before she went to bed, that 
she might get a cup next morning, --she was sure a cup 
of warm coffee would do her a great deal of good at that 
early hour. When she woke, the moon was shining into 
the room ; but when she got up to look at the clock she 
found it had stopped and that the fingers pointed to half- 
past eleven. She had no idea what time it could be, so 
she went to the window and looked across to the church. 



CHRISTMAS IN NOR II' AY. 2$ 

The light was streaming out through all the windows. She 
must have overslept herself ! She called the girl and told 
her to get the coffee ready, while she dressed herself. So 
she took her hymn-book and started for church. The street 
was very quiet ; she did not meet a single person on her 
way to church. When she went inside, she sat down in 
her customary seat in one of the pews, but when she looked 






*&, * 




around her she thought that the people were so pale and so 
strange, --exactly as if they were all dead. She did not know 
any of them, but there were several of them she seemed to 
recollect having seen before ; but when and where she had 
seen them she could not call to mind. When the minister 
came into the pulpit, she saw that he was not one of the 
ministers in the town, but a tall, pale man, whose face, how- 
ever, she thought she could recollect. He preached very 
nicely indeed, and there was not the usual noisy coughing 



26 CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 

and hawking which you always hear at the morning services 
on a Christmas Day ; It was so quiet, you could have heard 
a needle drop on the floor, in fact, it was so quiet she began 
to feel quite uneasy and uncomfortable. When the singing 
commenced again, a female who sat next to her leant towards 
her and whispered in her ear, ' Throw the cloak loosely 
around you and go, because if you wait here till the service 
is over they will make short work of you. It is the dead 
who are keeping service.' ' 

" Oh, Mother Skau, I feel so frightened, I feel so fright- 
ened ! " whimpered one of the children, and climbed up on 
a chair. 

" Hush, hush, child ! " said Mother Skau. " She got away 
from them safe enough ; only listen ! When the widow heard 
the voice of the person next to her, she turned round to 
look at her, - - but what a start she got ! She recognized 
her ; it was her neighbour who died many years ago ; and 
when she looked around the church, she remembered well 
that she had seen both the minister and several of the con- 
gregation before, and that they had died long ago. This sent 
quite a cold shiver through her, she became that frightened. 
She threw the cloak loosely round her, as the female next 
to her had said, and went out of the pew ; but she thought 
they all turned round and stretched out their hands after her. 
Her legs shook under her, till she thought she would sink 
down on the church floor. When she came out on the 
steps, she felt that they had got hold of her cloak; she let 
it go and left it in their clutches, while she hurried home 
as quickly as she could. When she came to the door the 
clock struck one, and by the time she got inside she was 
nearly half dead, she was that frightened. In the morning 
when the people went to church, they found the cloak lying 



CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 2 9 

on the steps, but it was torn into a thousand pieces. My 
mother had often seen the cloak before, and I think she 
saw one of the pieces, also ; but that does n't matter, it 
was a short, pink, woollen cloak, with fur lining and borders, 
such as was still in use in my childhood. They are very 
rarely seen nowadays, but there are some old ladies in the 
town and down at the ' Home ' whom I see with such cloaks 
in church at Christmas time." 

The children, who had expressed considerable fear and 
uneasiness during the latter part of the story, declared they 
would not hear any more such terrible stories. They had 
crept up into the sofa and on the chairs, but still they 
thought they felt somebody plucking at them from under- 
neath the table. Suddenly the lights were brought in, and 
we discovered then, to our great amusement, that the children 
had put their legs on to the table. The lights, the Christmas 
cake, the jellies, the tarts and the wine soon chased away 
the horrible ghost story and all fear from their minds, revived 
everybody's spirits, and brought the conversation on to their 
neighbours and the topics of the day. Finally, our thoughts 
took a flight towards something more substantial, on the 
appearance of the Christmas porridge and the roast ribs of 
pork. We broke up early, and parted with the best wishes 
for a Merry Christmas. I passed, however, a very uneasy 
night. I do not know whether it was the stories, the sub- 
stantial supper, my weak condition, or all these combined, 
which was the cause of it ; I tossed myself hither and thither 
in my bed, and got mixed up with brownies, fairies and ghosts 
the whole night. Finally, I sailed through the air towards 
the church, while some merry sledge-bells were ringing in 
my ears. The church was lighted up, and when I came 
inside I saw it was our own church up in the valley. There 



CHRISTMAS AY 



were nobody there but peasants in their red caps, soldiers 
in full uniform, country lasses with their white head-dresses 
and red cheeks. The minister was in the pulpit ; it was 
my grandfather, \vh6 died when I was a little boy. But just 

as he was in the middle of the sermon, he 
made a somersault --he was known as 
one of the smartest men in the par- 
ish --right into the middle of the 
church ; the surplice flew one 
way and the collar another. 
" There lies the parson, and 
here am I," he said, with one 
of his well-known airs, " and 

Mil 

now let us have a spring 
dance ! " In an instant the 
whole of the congregation was 
in the midst of a wild dance. 
A big tall peasant came to- 
wards me and took me by 
the shoulder and said, " You '11 
have to join us, my lad ! " 
At this moment I awoke, and 
felt some one pulling at my shoulder. 
I could scarcely believe my eyes 
when I saw the same peasant whom I 
had seen in my dream leaning over me. 
There he was, with the red cap clown over his ears, a big 
fur coat over his arm, and a pair of big eyes looking fixedly 

at me. 

"You must be dreaming," he said, "the perspiration is 
standing in big drops on your forehead, and you were sleep- 
ing as heavily as a bear in his lair ! God's peace and a 




CHRISTMAS IX XORWAY. 31 

merry Christmas to you, I say ! and greetings to you from 
your father and all yours up in the valley. Here 's a letter 
from your father, and the horse is waiting for you out in 
the yard." 

" But, good heavens ! is that you, Thor ? " I shouted in 
great joy. It was indeed my father's man, a splendid speci- 
men of a Norwegian peasant. " How in the world have you 
come here already ? " 

"Ah! that I can soon tell you," answered Thor. "I came 
with your favourite, the bay mare. I had to take your father 




down to Naes, and then he says to me, ' Thor,' says he, ' it 
isn't very far to town from here. Just take the bay mare 
and run down and see how the Lieutenant is, and if he is 
well and can come back with you, you must bring him back 
along with you,' says he." 

\Yhen we left the town it was daylight. The roads were 
in splendid condition. The bay mare stretched out her 



32 CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY. 

old smart legs, and we arrived at length in sight of the 
dear old house. Thor jumped off the sledge to undo the 
gate, and as we merrily drove up to the door we were met 
by the boisterous welcome of old Rover, who, in his frantic 
joy at hearing my voice, almost broke his chains in trying 
to rush at me. 

Such a Christmas as I spent that year I cannot recollect 
before or since. 



THE END. 





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