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Full text of "Wanderers"

, 









LI E> RARY 

OF THL 
U N I VERS ITY 



Tom 



839. BB 



Return this book on or before the 
Latest Date stamped below. 

Theft, mutilation, and underlining of books 
are reasons for disciplinary action and may 
result in dismissal from the University. 
University of Illinois Library 



ui.c - 
M;F. 2 1 1312 

S MtZi' 

4UM- 7 1! 
JON 1 6 





u3 1 3 
JW 
JAN 1 3 1981 



L161 O-1096 




LI B R.AR.Y 

OF THE 
UN IVERSITY 



Tom 



839 



Return this book on or before the 
Latest Date stamped below. 

Theft, mutilation, and underlining of books 
are reasons for disciplinary action and may 
result in dismissal from the University. 
University of Illinois Library 



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S MrZl'JS 







-L161 O-1096 



I 

SMOOTH as glass the water was yesterday, and 
smooth as glass it is again to-day. Indian 
summer on the island, mild and warm ah ! But 
there is no sun. 

It is many years now since I knew such peace. 
Twenty or thirty years, maybe ; or maybe it was in 
another life. But I have felt it some time, surely, since 
I go about now humming a little tune ; go about re- 
joicing, loving every straw and every stone, and feeling 
as if they cared for me in return. 

When I go by the overgrown path, in through the 
woods, my heart quivers with an unearthly joy. I call 
to mind a spot on the eastern shores of the Caspian, 
where I once stood. All just as it is here, with the 
water still and heavy and iron-grey as now. I walked 
through the woods, touched to the heart, and verging 
on tears for sheer happiness' sake, and saying to myself 
all the time : God in heaven. To be here again. . . . 

As if I had been there before. 

Ah well, I may have been there once before, perhaps, 
coming from another time and another land, where the 
woods and the woodland paths were the same. 
Perhaps I was a flower then, in the woods, or perhaps a 
beetle, with its home in some acacia tree. 

And now I have come to this place. Perhaps I was 
a bird and flew all that long way. Or the kernel in 
some fruit sent by a Persian trader. 

See, now I am well away from the rush and crowd of 



WANDERERS 




Original Titles: " Under Hjststjarnen" 

"En Vandrer spiller med Sordin" 
Translated from the Norwegian by W. WORSTER, M.A. 



WANDERERS 

("AUTUMN" AND "WITH MUTED 
STRINGS") 



BY 

KNUT HAMSUN 



GYLDENDAL 
11 HANOVER SQUARE, LONDON, W.I 

COPENHAGEN CHRISTIANIA 



o 

c/> 



to 

OT 



oo 






AUTUMN 






I 

SMOOTH as glass the water was yesterday, and 
smooth as glass it is again to-day. Indian 
summer on the island, mild and warm ah ! But 
there is no sun. 

It is many years now since I knew such peace. 
Twenty or thirty years, maybe ; or maybe it was in 
another life. But I have felt it some time, surely, since 
I go about now humming a little tune ; go about re- 
joicing, loving every straw and every stone, and feeling 
as if they cared for me in return. 

When I go by the overgrown path, in through the 
woods, my heart quivers with an unearthly joy. I call 
to mind a spot on the eastern shores of the Caspian, 
where I once stood. All just as it is here, with the 
water still and heavy and iron-grey as now. I walked 
through the woods, touched to the heart, and verging 
on tears for sheer happiness' sake, and saying to myself 
all the time : God in heaven. To be here again. . . . 

As if I had been there before. 

Ah well, I may have been there once before, perhaps, 
coming from another time and another land, where the 
woods and the woodland paths were the same. 
Perhaps I was a flower then, in the woods, or perhaps a 
beetle, with its home in some acacia tree. 

And now I have come to this place. Perhaps I was 
a bird and flew all that long way. Or the kernel in 
some fruit sent by a Persian trader. 

See, now I am well away from the rush and crowd of 



4 WANDERERS 

the city, from people and newspapers ; I have fled away 
from it all, because of the calling that came to me once 
more from the quiet, lonely tracts where I belong. 
" It will all come right this time," I tell myself, and am 
full of hope. Alas, I have fled away from the city like 
this before, and afterwards returned. And fled away 
again. 

But this time I am resolved. Peace I will have, at 
any cost. And for the present I have taken a room in 
a cottage here, with Old Gunhild to look after me. 

Here and there among the pines are rowans, with 
ripe coral berries ; now the berries are falling, heavy 
clusters striking the earth. So they reap themselves 
and sow themselves again, an inconceivable abundance 
to be squandered every single year. Over three hundred 
clusters I can count on a single tree. And here and 
there about are flowers still in bloom, obstinate things 
that will not die, though their time is really past. 

But Old Gunhild's time is past as well and think 
you she will die ? She goes about as if death were a 
thing did not concern her. When the fishermen are 
down on the beach, painting their boats or darning 
nets, comes Gunhild with her vacant eyes, but with a 
mind as keen as any to a bargain. 

"And what is the price of mackerel to-day?" she 
asks. 

" The same as yesterday." 

" Then you can keep it, for all I care." 

And Gunhild goes back home. 

But the fishermen know that Gunhild is not one of 
those that only pretend to go away ; she has gone off 
like that before now, up to her cottage, without once 
looking back. So, "Hey" they call to her, and say 
they'll make it seven to the half-dozen to-day, seeing 
she is an old customer. 

And Gunhild buys her fish. . . . 



WANDERERS 5 

Washing hangs on the lines to dry ; red petticoats 
and blue shirts, and under-things of preposterous thick- 
ness, all spun and woven on the island by the old 
women still left alive. But there is washing, too, of 
another sort : those fine chemises without sleeves, the 
very thing to make a body blue with cold, and mauve 
woollen undervests that pull out to no more than the 
thickness of a string. And how did these abominations 
get there? Why, 'tis the daughters, to be sure, the 
young girls of the present day, who've been in service 
in the towns, and earned such finery that way. Wash 
them carefully, and not too often, and the things will 
last for just a month. And then there is a lovely naked 
feeling when the holes begin to spread. 

But there is none of that sort of nonsense, now, about 
Gunhild's shoes, for instance. At suitable intervals, 
she goes round to one of the fishermen, her like in age 
and mind, and gets the uppers and the soles done in 
thoroughly with a powerful mess of stuff that leaves the 
water simply helpless. I've seen that dubbin boiling 
on the beach ; there's tallow in it, and tar and resin as 
well. 

Wandering idly along the beach yesterday, looking 
at driftwood and scales and stones, I came upon a tiny 
bit of plate glass. How it ever got there is more than 
I can make out ; but the thing seems a mistake, a very 
lie, to look at. Would any fisherman, now, have 
rowed put here with it and laid it down and rowed 
away again ? I left it where it lay ; it was thick and 
common and vulgar ; perhaps a bit of a tramcar 
window. Once on a time glass was rare, and bottle- 
green. God's blessing on the old days, when some- 
thing could be rare ! 

Smoke rising now from the fisher-huts on the southern 
point of the island. Evening time, and porridge cooking 
for supper. And when supper's done, decent folk go 



6 WANDERERS 

to their beds, to be up again with the dawn. Only 
young and foolish creatures still go trapesing round 
from house to house, putting off their bedtime, not 
knowing what is best for themselves. 

II 

A man landed here this morning come to paint the 
house. But Old Gunhild, being very old indeed, and 
perishing with gout most times, gets him to cut up a 
few days' firewood for her cooking before he starts. 
I've offered many a time to cut that wood myself, but 
she thinks my clothes too fine, and would not let me 
have the axe on any account. 

This painter, now, is a short, thick-set fellow with 
red hair and no beard. I watch him from behind a 
window as he works, to see how he handles the axe. 
Then, noticing that he is talking to himself, I steal out 
of the house to listen. If he makes a false stroke, he 
takes it patiently, and does not trouble himself; but 
whenever he knocks his knuckles, he turns irritable 
and says : " Fan! Fansmagt!" 1 and then looks round 
suddenly and starts humming a tune to cover his 
words. 

Yes ; I recognise that painter man. Only, he's not a 
painter at all, the rascal, but Grindhusen, one of the 
men I worked with when I was roadmaking at Skreia. 

I go up to him, and ask if he remembers me, and we 
talk a bit. 

Many, many years it is now since we were road- 
menders together, Grindhusen and I ; we were young- 
sters then, and danced along the roads in the sorriest of 
shoes, and ate what we could get as long as we had 
money enough for that. But when we'd money to 
spare, then there would be dancing with the girls all 
1 " The Devil ! Power of the Devil ! " 



WANDERERS 7 

Saturday night, and a crowd of our work-mates would 
come along, and the old woman in the house sold us 
coffee till she must have made a little fortune. Then 
we worked on heart and soul another week through, 
looking forward to the Saturday again. But Grind- 
husen, he was as a red-headed wolf after the girls. 

Did he remember the old days at Skreia ? 

He looks at me, taking stock of me, with something 
of reserve ; it is quite a while before I can draw him 
out to remember it at all. 

Yes, he remembers Skreia well enough. 

" And Anders Fila and ' Spiralen ' and Petra ? " 

"Which one?" 

" Petra the one that was your girl." 

"Ay, I remember her. I got tied up with her at 
last." 

Grindhusen falls to chopping wood again. 

" Got tied up with her, did you ? " 

"Ay, that was the end of it. Had to be, I suppose. 
What was I going to say, now ? You've turned out 
something fine, by the look of things." 

"Why? Is it these clothes you're thinking of? 
You've Sunday clothes yourself, now, haven't you ? " 

" What d'you give for those you've got on ? " 

" I can't remember, but it was nothing very much. 
Couldn't say exactly what it was." 

Grindhusen looks at me in astonishment and bursts 
out laughing. 

" What ? Can't remember what you paid for them ? " 

Then he turns serious, shakes his head, and says : 
"No, I dare say you wouldn't. No. That's the way 
when you've money enough and beyond." 

Old Gunhild comes out from the house, and seeing us 
standing there by the chopping-block wasting time in 
idle talk, she tells Grindhusen he'd better start on the 
painting. 



8 WANDERERS 

" So you've turned painter now ? " said I. 
Grindhusen made no answer, and I saw I had said a 
thing that should not have been said in others' hearing. 

Ill 

Grindhusen works away a couple of hours with his 
putty and paint, and soon one side of the little house, 
the north side, facing the sea, is done all gaily in red. 
At the midday rest, I go out and join him, with some- 
thing to drink, and we lie on the ground awhile, chatting 
and smoking. 

" Painter ? Not much of a one, and that's the truth," 
says he. " But if anyone comes along and asks if I can 
paint a bit of a wall, why, of course I can. First-rate 
Brcendevin this you've got." 

His wife and two children lived some four miles off, 
and he went home to them every Saturday. There 
were two daughters besides, both grown up, and one of 
them married. Grindhusen was a grandfather already. 
As soon as he'd done painting Gunhild's cottage two 
coats it was to have he was going off to the vicarage 
to dig a well. There was always work of some sort to 
be had about the villages. And when winter set in, and 
the frost began to bind, he would either take a turn of 
woodcutting in the forests or lie idle for a spell, till 
something else turned up. He'd no big family to look 
after now, and the morrow, no doubt, would look after 
itself just as to-day. 

"If I could only manage it," said Grindhusen, "I 
know what I'd do. I'd get myself some bricklayer's 
tools." 

" So you're a bricklayer, too? " 

" Well, not much of a one, and that's the truth. But 
when that well's dug, why, it'll need to be lined, that's 
clear. , ." 



WANDERERS 9 

I sauntered about the island as usual, thinking of this 
and that. Peace, peace, a heavenly peace comes to me 
in a voice of silence from every tree in the wood. And 
now, look you, there are but few of the small birds left ; 
only some crows flying mutely from place to place and 
settling. And the clusters from the rowans drop with 
a sullen thud and bury themselves in the moss. 

Grindhusen is right, perhaps : to-morrow will surely 
look after itself, just as to-day. I have not seen a paper 
now these last two weeks, and, for all that, here I am, 
alive and well, making great progress in respect of 
inward calm ; I sing, and square my shoulders, and 
stand bareheaded watching the stars at night. 

For eighteen years past I have sat in cafe's, calling for 
the waiter if a fork was not clean : I never call for Gun- 
hild in the matter of forks clean or not ! There's Grind- 
husen, now, I say to myself ; did you mark when he lit 
his pipe, how he used the match to the very last of it, 
and never burned his horny fingers ? I saw a fly crawl- 
ing over his hand, but he simply let it crawl ; perhaps 
he never noticed it was there. That is the way a man 
should feel towards flies. . . . 

In the evening, Grindhusen takes the boat and rows 
off. I wander along the beach, singing to myself a 
little, throwing stones at the water, and hauling bits of 
driftwood ashore. The stars are out, and there is a 
moon. In a couple of hours Grindhusen comes back, 
with a good set of bricklayer's tools in the boat. Stolen 
them somewhere, I think to myself. We shoulder each 
our load, and hide away the tools among the trees. 

Then it is night, and we go each our separate way. 

Grindhusen finishes his painting the following after- 
noon, but agrees to go on cutting wood till six o'clock 
to make up a full day's work. I get out Gunhild's boat 
and go off fishing, so as not to be there when he leaves. 
I catch no fish, and it is cold sitting in the boat ; I look 



io WANDERERS 

at my watch again and again. At last, about seven 

o'clock : he must be gone by now, I say to myself, and 

I row home. Grindhusen has got over to the mainland, 

and calls across to me from there : " Farvel!" 

Something thrilled me warmly at the word ; it was 

like a calling from my youth, from Skreia, from days a 

generation gone. 

I row across to him and ask : 

" Can you dig that well all alone ? " 

" No. I'll have to take another man along." 

"Take me," I said. "Wait for me here, while I go 

up and settle at the house." 

Half-way up I heard Grindhusen calling again : 

" I can't wait here all night. And I don't believe you 

meant it, anyway." 

" Wait just a minute. I'll be down again directly." 
And Grindhusen sets himself down on the beach to 

wait. He knows I've some of that first-rate Brcendevin 

still left. 

IV 

We came to the vicarage on a Saturday. After much 
doubting, Grindhusen had at last agreed to take me as 
his mate. I had bought provisions and some working 
clothes, and stood there now, in blouse and high boots, 
ready to start work. I was free and unknown ; I learned 
to walk with a long, slouching stride, and for the look 
of a labouring man, I had that already both in face and 
hands. We were to put up at the vicarage itself, and 
cook our food in the brewhouse across the yard. 

And so we started on our digging. 

I did my share of the work, and Grindhusen had no 
fault to find with me as a work-mate. "You'll turn 
out a first-rate hand at this, after all," he said. 

Then after we'd been working a bit, the priest came 
out to look, and we took off our hats. He was an 



WANDERERS 1 1 

oldish man, quiet and gentle in his ways and speech ; 
tiny wrinkles spread out fanwise from the corners of his 
eyes, like the traces of a thousand kindly smiles. He 
was sorry to interrupt, and hoped we wouldn't mind 
but they'd so much trouble every year with the fowls 
slipping through into the garden. Could we leave the 
well just for a little, and come round and look at the 
garden wall ? There was one place in particular . . . 

Grindhusen answered : surely ; we'd manage that for 
him all right. 

So we went up and set the crumbling wall to rights. 
While we were busy there a young lady came out and 
stood looking on. We greeted her politely, and I 
thought her a beautiful creature to see. Then a half- 
grown lad came out to look, and asked all sorts of 
questions. The two were brother and sister, no doubt. 
And the work went easily enough with the young folk 
there looking on. 

Then evening came. Grindhusen went off home, 
leaving me behind. I slept in the hayloft for the night. 

Next day was Sunday. I dared not put on my town 
clothes lest they should seem above my station, but 
cleaned up my working things as neatly as I could, and 
idled about the place in the quiet of Sunday morning. 
I chatted to the farm-hands and joined them in talking 
nonsense to the maids ; when the bell began ringing 
for church, I sent in to ask if I might borrow a Prayer 
Book, and the priest's son brought me one himself. 
One of the men lent me a coat ; it wasn't big enough, 
really, but, taking off my blouse and vest, I made it do. 
And so I went to church. 

That inward calm I had been at such pains to build 
up on the island proved all too little yet ; at the first 
thrill of the organ I was torn from my setting and came 
near to sobbing aloud. " Keep quiet, you fool," I said 
to myself, "it's only neurasthenia." I had chosen a 



12 WANDERERS 

seat well apart from the rest, and hid my emotion as 
best I could. I was glad when that service was over. 

When I had boiled my meat and had some dinner, I 
was invited into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. And 
while I sat there, in came Frokenen, the young lady 
I had seen the day before ; I stood up and bowed a 
greeting, and she nodded in return. She was charming, 
with her youth and her pretty hands. When I got up 
to go, I forgot myself and said : 

" Most kind of you, I'm sure, my dear young lady ! " 

She glanced at me in astonishment, frowned, and the 
colour spread in her cheeks till they burned. Then with 
a toss of her head she turned and left the room. She 
was very young. 

Well, I had done a nice thing now ! 

Miserable at heart, I sneaked up into the woods to 
hide. Impertinent fool, why hadn't I held my tongue ! 
Of all the ridiculous things to say . . . 

The vicarage buildings lay on the slope of a small 
hill ; from the top, the land stretched away flat and 
level, with alternating timber and clearing. It struck 
me that here would be the proper place to dig the well, 
and then run a pipe-line down the slope to the house. 
Judging the height as nearly as I can, it seems more 
than enough to give the pressure needed ; on the way 
back I pace out the approximate length : two hundred 
and fifty feet. 

But what business was it of mine, after all? For 
Heaven's sake let me not go making the same mistake 
again, and insulting folk by talking above my station. 



V 

Grindhusen came out again on Monday morning, and 
we fell to digging as before. The old priest came out 
to look, and asked if we couldn't fix a post for him on 



WANDERERS 1 3 

the road up to the church. He needed it badly, that 
post ; it had stood there before, but had got blown 
down ; he used it for nailing up notices and announce- 
ments. 

We set up a new post, and took pains to get it 
straight and upstanding as a candle in a stick. And 
by way of thanks we hooded the top with zinc. 

While I was at work on the hood, I got Grindhusen 
to suggest that the post should be painted red ; he had 
still a trifle of red paint left over from the work at 
Gunhild's cottage. But the priest wanted it white, 
and Grindhusen was afraid to contradict, and carefully 
agreed to all he said, until at last I put in a word, and 
said that notices on white paper would show up better 
against red. At that the priest smiled, with the endless 
wrinkles round his eyes, and said : " Yes, yes, of course, 
you're quite right." 

And that was enough ; just that bit of a smile and 
saying I was right made me all glad and proud again 
within. 

Then Frokenen came up, and said a few words to 
Grindhusen ; even jested with him, asking what that 
red cardinal was to be stuck up there for on the road. 
But to me she said nothing at all, and did not even 
look at me when I took off my hat. 

Dinner was a sore trial to me that day, not that the 
food was bad, no, but Grindhusen, he ate his soup in a 
disgusting fashion, and his mouth was all greasy with 
fat. 

" What'll he be like when it comes to eating por- 
ridge ? " I thought to myself hysterically. 

Then when he leaned back on the bench to rest 
after his meal in the same greasy state, I called to 
him straight out : 

" For Heaven's sake, man, aren't you going to wipe 
your mouth ? " 



I 4 WANDERERS 

He stared at me, wiping his mouth with one hand. 
" Mouth?" he said. 

I tried to turn it off then as a joke, and said : " Haha, 
I had you there ! " But I was displeased with myself, for 
all that, and went out of the brewhouse directly after. 

Then I fell to thinking of Frokenen. "I'll make her 
answer when I give a greeting," I said to myself. 
" I'll let her see before very long that I'm not altogether 
a fool." There was that business of the well and the 
pipe-line, now ; what if I were to work out a plan for 
the whole installation all complete ! I had no instru- 
ments to take the height and fall of the hill . . . well, 
I could make one that would serve. And I set to work. 
A wooden tube, with two ordinary lamp-glasses fixed 
in with putty, and the whole filled with water. 

Soon it was found there were many little things 
needed seeing to about the vicarage odd matters here 
and there. A stone step to be set straight again, a 
wall to be repaired ; the bridgeway to the barn had to 
be strengthened before the corn could be brought in. 
The priest liked to have everything sound and in order 
about the place and it was all one to us, seeing we 
were paid by the day. But as time went on I grew 
more and more impatient of my work-mate's company. 
It was torture to me, for instance, to see him pick up 
the loaf from the table, hold it close in to his chest, and 
cut off a slice with a greasy pocket-knife that he was 
always putting in his mouth. And then, again, he 
would go all through the week, from Sunday to Sunday, 
without a wash. And in the morning, before the sun 
was up, and the evening, after it had gone, there was 
always a shiny drop hanging from the tip of his nose. 
And then his nails ! And as for his ears, they were 
simply deformed. 

Alas ! I was an upstart creature, that had learned 
fine manners in the cafes in town. And since I could 



WANDERERS 1 5 

not keep myself from telling my companion now and 
then what I thought of his uncleanly ways, there grew 
up a certain ill-feeling between us, and I feared we 
should have to separate before long. As it was, we 
hardly spoke now beyond what was needed. 

And there was the well, as undug as ever. Sunday 
came, and Grindhusen had gone home. 

I had got my apparatus finished now, and in the 
afternoon I climbed up to the roof of the main building 
and set it up there. I saw at once that the sight cut 
the hillside several metres below the top. Good. Even 
reckoning a whole metre down to the water-level, there 
would'still be pressure enough and to spare. 

While I was busy up there the priest's son caught 
sight of me. Harald Meltzer was his name. And what 
was I doing up there ? Measuring the hill ; what for ? 
What did I want to know the height for ? Would I 
let him try? 

Later on I got hold of a line ten metres long, and 
measured the hill from foot to summit, with Harald to 
help. When we came down to the house, I asked to 
see the priest himself, and told him of my plan. 

VI 

The priest listened patiently, and did not reject the 
idea at once. 

"Really, now!" he said, with a smile. "Why, 
perhaps you're right. But it will cost a lot of money. 
And why should we trouble about it at all ? " 

"It's seventy paces from the house to the well we 
started to dig, Seventy steps for the maids to go 
through mud and snow and all sorts, summer and 
winter." 

"That's true, yes. But this other way would cost a 
terrible lot of money." 



1 6 WANDERERS 

"Not counting the well that you'll have to have 
in any case ; the whole installation, with work and 
material, ought not to come to more than a couple of 
hundred Kroner," said I. 

The priest looked surprised. 

"Is that all?" 

"Yes." 

1 waited a little each time before answering, as if I 
were slow by nature, and born so. But, really, I had 
thought out the whole thing beforehand. 

" It would be a great convenience, that's true," said 
the priest thoughtfully. "And that water-tub in the 
kitchen does make a lot of mess." 

"And it will save carrying water to the bedrooms 
as well." 

"The bedrooms are all upstairs. It won't help us 
there, I'm afraid." 

" We can run the pipes up to the first floor." 

"Can we, though? Up to the bedrooms? Will 
there be pressure enough for that, do you think?" 

Here I waited longer than usual before answering, 
as a stolid fellow, who did not undertake things 
lightly. 

" I think I can answer for a jet the height of the 
roof," I said. 

"Really, now!" exclaimed the priest. And then 
again: "Come and let us see where you think of 
digging the well." 

We went up the hill, the priest, Harald, and I, and 
I let the priest look through my instrument, and showed 
him that there would be more than pressure enough. 

" I must talk to the other man about it," he said. 

But I cut out Grindhusen at once, and said : " Grind- 
husen? He's no idea of this work at all." 

The priest looked at me. 

"Really?" he said. 



WANDERERS i 7 

Then we went down again, the priest talking as if to 
himself. 

" Quite right ; yes. It's an endless business fetching 
water in the winter. And summer, too, for that matter. 
I must see what the women think about it." 

And he went indoors. 

After ten minutes or so, I was sent for round to the 
front steps ; the whole family were there now. 

"So you're the man who's going to give us water 
laid on to the house?" said Fruen kindly. 

I took off my cap and bowed in a heavy, stolid 
fashion, and the priest answered for me : yes, this was 
the man. 

Fr0kenen gave me one curious glance, and then 
started talking in an undertone to her brother. Fruen 
went on with more questions would it really be a 
proper water-supply like they had in town, just turn on 
a tap and there was the water all ready? And for 
upstairs as well? A couple of hundred Kroner? 
"Really, I think you ought to say yes," she said to 
her husband. 

"You think so? Well, let's all go up to the top of 
the hill and look through the thing and see." 

We went up the hill, and I set the instrument for 
them and let them look. 

"Wonderful! " said Fruen. 

But Frokenen said never a word. 

The priest asked : 

" But are you sure there's water here ? " 

I answered carefully, as a man of sober judgment, 
that it was not a thing to swear to beforehand, but 
there was every sign of it. 

" What sort of signs ? " asked Fruen. 

" The nature of the ground. And you'll notice there's 
willow and osiers growing about. And they like a 
wet soil." 

2 



1 8 WANDERERS 

The priest nodded, and said : 

." He knows his business, Marie, you can see." 

On the way back, Fruen had got so far as to argue 
quite unwarrantably that she could manage with one 
maid less once they'd water laid on. And not to fail 
her, I put in : 

" In summer at least you might. You could water 
all the garden with a hose fixed to the tap and carried 
out through the cellar window." 

" Splendid ! " she exclaimed. 

But I did not venture to speak of laying a pipe to the 
cowshed. I had realised all the time that with a well 
twice the size, and a branch pipe across the yard, the 
dairymaid would be saved as much as the kitchen-maids 
in the house. But it would cost nearly twice as much. 
No, it was not wise to put forward so great a scheme. 

Even as it was, I had to agree to wait till Grindhusen 
came back. The priest said he wanted to sleep on it. 

VII 

So now I had to tell Grindhusen myself, and prepare 
him for the new arrangement. And lest he should turn 
suspicious, I threw all the blame on the priest, saying 
it was his idea, but that I had backed him up. Grind- 
husen had no objection ; he saw at once it meant more 
work for us, since we should have the well to dig in 
any case, and the bed for the pipes besides. 

As luck would have it, the priest came out on 
Monday morning, and said to Grindhusen half jestingly : 

"Your mate here and I have decided to have the well 
up on the hill, and lay down a pipe-line to the house. 
What do you think of it ? A mad idea ? " 

Grindhusen thought it was a first-rate idea. 

But when we came to talk it over, and went up all 
three to look at the site of the well, Grindhusen began 



WANDERERS 19 

to suspect I'd had more to do with it than I had said. 
We should have to lay the pipes deep down, he said, on 
account of the frost. . . . 

" One metre thirty's plenty," I said. 

. . . and that it would cost a great deal of money. 

"Your mate here said about a couple of hundred 
Kroner in all," answered the priest. 

Grindhusen had no idea of estimates at all, and could 
only say : 

" Well, well, two hundred Kroner's a deal of money, 
anyway." 

I said : 

" It will mean so much less in Aabot when you move." 

The priest looked at me in surprise. 

"Aabot? But I'm not thinking of leaving the place," 
he said. 

" Why, then, you'll have the full use of it. And may 
your reverence live to enjoy it for many a year," said I. 

At this the priest stared at me, and asked : 

" What is your name ? " 

"Knut Pedersen." 

" Where are you from ? " 

"From Nordland." 

But I understood why he had asked, and resolved 
not to talk in that bookish way any more. 

Anyhow, the well and the pipe-line were decided on, 
and we set to work. . . . 

The days that followed were pleasant enough. I 
was not a little anxious at first as to whether we should 
find water on the site, and I slept badly for some nights. 
But once that fear was past, all that remained was 
simple and straightforward work. There was water 
enough ; after a couple of days we had to bale it out 
with buckets every morning. It was clay lower down, 
and our clothes were soon in a sorry state from the 
work. 



20 WANDERERS 

We dug for a week, and started the next getting out 
stones to line the well.. This was work we were both 
used to from the old days at Skreia. Then we put in 
another week digging, and by that time we had carried 
it deep enough. The bottom was soon so soft that we 
had to begin on the stonework at once, lest the clay 
walls should cave in on top of us. 

So week after week passed, with digging and mining 
and mason's work. It was a big well, and made a nice 
job ; the priest was pleased with it. Grindhusen and I 
began to get on better together ; and when he found 
that I asked no more than a fair labourer's wage, 
though much of the work was done under my directions, 
he was inclined to do something for me in return, and 
took more care about his table manners. Altogether, 
I could not have wished for a happier time ; and nothing 
on earth should ever persuade me to go back to town 
life again ! 

In the evenings I wandered about the woods, or in 
the churchyard reading the inscriptions on the tomb- 
stones, and thinking of this and that. Also, I was 
looking about for a nail from some corpse. I wanted 
a nail ; it was a fancy of mine, a little whim. I had 
found a nice piece of birch-root that I wanted to carve 
to a pipe-bowl in the shape of a clenched fist ; the 
thumb was to act as a lid, and I wanted a nail to set 
in, to make it specially lifelike. The ring finger was to 
have a little gold ring bent round. 

Thinking of such trifles kept my mind calm and at 
ease. There was no hurry now for me about anything 
in life. I could dream as I pleased, having nothing 
else to do ; the evenings were my own. If possible, 
too, I would see and arrive at some feeling of respect 
for the sacredness of the church and terror of the dead ; 
I had still a memory of that rich mysticism from days 
now far, far behind, and wished I could have some 



WANDERERS 2 1 

share in it again. Now, perhaps, when I found that 
nail, there would come a voice from the tombs : " That 
is mine ! " and I would drop the thing in horror, and 
take to my heels and run. 

/'I wish that vane up there wouldn't creak so," 
Grindhusen would say at times. 

" Are you afraid ? " 

" Well, not properly afraid ; no. But it gives you a 
creeping feeling now and then to think of all the corpses 
lying there so near." 

Happy man ! 

One day Harald showed me how to plant pine cones 
and little bushes. I'd no idea of that sort of work 
before ; we didn't learn it in the days when I was at 
school. But now I'd seen the way of it, I went about 
planting busily on Sundays ; and, in return, I taught 
Harald one or two little things that were new to him at 
his age, and got to be friends with him. 

VIII 

And all might have been well if it had not been for 
Frokenen, the daughter of the house. I grew fonder 
of her every day. Her name was Elischeba, Elisabeth. 
No remarkable beauty, perhaps ; but she had red lips, 
and a blue, girlish glance that made her pretty to see. 
Elischeba, Elisabeth a child at the first dawn of life, 
with eyes looking out upon the world. She spoke one 
evening with young Erik from the neighbouring guard, 
and her eyes were full of sweetness and of something 
ripening. 

It was all very well for Grindhusen. He had gone 
ravening after the girls when he was young, and he 
still spanked about with his hat on one side, out of 
habit. But he was quiet and tame enough now, as 
well he might be 'tis nature's way. But some there 



22 WANDERERS 

are who would not follow nature's way, and be tamed ; 
and how shall it fare with them at last? And then 
there was little Elisabeth ; and she was none so little 
after all, but as tall as her mother. And she'd her 
mother's high breast. . . . 

Since that first Sunday they had not asked me in to 
coffee in the kitchen, and I took care myself they 
should not, but kept out of the way. I was still 
ashamed of the recollection. But then, at last, in the 
middle of the week, one of the maids came with a 
message that I was not to go running off into the 
woods every Sunday afternoon, but come to coffee with 
the rest. Fruen herself had said so. 

Good! 

Now, should I put on my best clothes or not? No 
harm, perhaps, in letting that young lady get into her 
head that I was one who had chosen to turn my back 
upon the life of cities, and take upon myself the guise 
of a servant, for all I was a man of parts, that could 
lay on water to a house. But when I had dressed, I 
felt myself that my working clothes were better suited 
to me now ; I took off my best things again, and hid 
them carefully in my bag. 

But, as it happened, it was not Frokenen at all who 
received me on that Sunday afternoon, but Fruen. 
She talked to me for quite a while, and she had spread 
a little white cloth under my cup. 

" That trick of yours with the egg is likely to cost us 
something before we've done with it," said Fruen, with 
a kindly laugh. "The boy's used up half a dozen eggs 
already." 

I had taught Harald the trick of passing a hard- 
boiled egg with the shell off through the neck of a 
decanter, by thinning the air inside. It was about the 
only experiment in physics that I knew. 

"But that one with breaking the stick in the two 



WANDERERS 23 

paper loops was really interesting," Fruen went on. 
" I don't understand that sort of thing myself, but . . . 
When will the well be done ? " 

"The well is done. We're going to start on the 
trench to-morrow." 

"And how long will that take to do?" 

"About a week. Then the man can come and lay 
the pipes." 

"No! really?" 

I said my thanks and went out. Fruen had a way 
she had kept, no doubt, from earlier years ; now and 
again she would glance at one sideways, though there 
was nothing the least bit artful in what she said. . . . 

Now the woods showed a yellowing leaf here and 
there, and earth and air began to smell of autumn. 
Only the fungus growths were now at their best, 
shooting up everywhere, and flourishing fine and thick 
on woolly stems milk mushrooms, and the common 
sort, and the brown. Here and there a toadstool 
thrust up its speckled top, flaming its red all unashamed. 
A wonderful thing! Here it is growing on the same 
spot as the edible sorts, fed by the same soil, given sun 
and rain from heaven the same as they ; rich and lirm 
it is, and good to eat, save, only, that it is full ot 
impertinent muscarin. I once thought of making up a 
fine old story about the toadstool, and saying I had 
read it in a book. 

It has always been a pleasure to me to watch the 
flowers and insects in their struggle to keep alive. 
When the sun was hot they would come to life again, 
and give themselves up for an hour or so to the old 
delight ; the big, strong flies were just as much alive 
as in midsummer. There was a peculiar sort of earth- 
bug here that I had not seen before little yellow 
things, no bigger than a small-type comma, yet they 
could jump several thousand times their own length. 



24 WANDERERS 

Think of the strength of such a body in proportion to 
its size ! There is a tiny spider here with its hinder 
part like a pale yellow pearl. And the pearl is so heavy 
that the creature has to clamber up a stalk of grass 
back downwards. When it comes upon an obstacle 
the pearl cannot pass, it simply drops straight down 
and starts to climb another. Now, a little pearl-spider 
like that is not just a spider and no more. If I hold 
out a leaf towards it to help it to its footing on a floor, 
it fumbles about for a while on the leaf, and thinks to 
itself: " H'm, something wrong about this ! " and backs 
away again, refusing to be in any way entrapped on to 
a floor. . . . 

Someone calls me by name from down in the wood. 
It is Harald ; he has started a Sunday school with me. 
He gave me a lesson out of Pontoppidan to learn, and 
now I'm to be heard. It is touching to be taught 
religion now as I should have taught it myself when I 
was a child. 

IX 

The well was finished, the trench was dug, and the 
man had come to lay the pipes. He chose Grindhusen 
to help him with the work, and I was set to cutting a 
way for the pipes up from the cellar through the two 
floors of the house. 

Fruen came down one day when I was busy in the 
cellar. I called out to her to mind the hole in the floor ; 
but she took it very calmly. 

"There's no hole there, now, is there?" she asked, 
pointing one way. "Or there?" But at last she 
missed her footing after all, and slipped down into the 
hole where I was. And there we stood. It was not 
light there anyway ; and for her, coming straight in 
from the daylight outside, it must have seemed quite 
dark. She felt about the edge, and said : 



WANDERERS 25 

"Now, how am I to get up again? " 

I lifted her up. It was no matter to speak of ; she 
was slight of figure, for all she had a big girl of her 
own. 

"Well, I must say . . ." She stood shaking the 
earth from her dress. " One, two, three, and up ! as 
neatly as could be. . . . Look here, I'd like you to 
help me with something upstairs one day, will you ? I 
want to move some things. Only we must wait till a 
day when my husband's over at the annexe ; he doesn't 
like my changing things about. How long will it be 
before you've finished all there is to do here ? " 

I mentioned a time, a week or thereabout. 

" And where are you going then ? " 

"To the farm just by. Grindhusen's fixed it up for 
us to go and dig potatoes there. ..." 

Then came the work in the kitchen ; I had to saw 
through the floor there. Froken Elisabeth came in 
once or twice while I was there ; it could hardly have 
been otherwise, seeing it was the kitchen. And for all 
her dislike of me, she managed to say a word or two, 
and stand looking at the work a little. 

"Only fancy, Oline," she said to the maid, "when 
it's all done, and you'll only have to turn on a tap." 

But Oline, who was old, did not look anyways 
delighted. It was like going against Providence, she 
said, to go sending water through a pipe right into the 
house. She'd carried all the water she'd a use for these 
twenty years ; what was she to do now ? 

" Take a rest," said I. 

" Rest, indeed ! We're made to work, I take it, not 
to rest." 

"And sew things against the time you get married," 
said Froken Elisabeth, with a smile. 

It was only girlish talk, but I was grateful to her for 
taking a little part in the talk with us, and staying 



26 WANDERERS 

there for a while. And heavens, how I did try to 
behave, and talk smartly and sensibly, showing off like 
a boy. I remember it still. Then suddenly Froken 
Elisabeth seemed to remember it wasn't proper for her 
to stay out here with us any longer, and so she went. 

That evening I went up to the churchyard, as I 
had done so many times before, but seeing Frokenen 
already there, I turned away, and took myself off into 
the woods. And afterwards I thought : now she will 
surely be touched by my humility, and think : poor 
fellow, he showed real delicacy in that. And the next 
thing, of course, was to imagine her coming after me. 
I would get up from the stone where I was sitting, and 
give a greeting. Then she would be a little embar- 
rassed, and say: "I was just going for a walk it's 
such a lovely evening what are you doing here ? " 
"Just sitting here," say I, with innocent eyes, as if 
my thoughts had been far away. And when she hears 
that I was just sitting there in the late of the even- 
ing, she must realise that I am a dreamer and a soul 
of unknown depth, and then she falls in love with 
me. . . . 

She was in the churchyard again the following even- 
ing, and a thought of high conceit flew suddenly into 
my mind : it was myself she came to see ! But, watch- 
ing her more closely, I saw that she was busy, doing 
something about a grave, so it was not me she had 
come for. I stole away up to the big ant-heap in the 
wood and watched the insects as long as I could see ; 
afterwards, I sat listening to the falling cones and 
clusters of rowan berries. I hummed a tune, and 
whispered to myself and thought ; now and again I had 
to get up and walk a little to get warm. The hours 
passed, the night came on, and I was so in love I 
walked there bare-headed, letting myself be stared out 
of all countenance by the stars. 



WANDERERS 27 

" How's the time?" Grindhus"en might ask when I 
came back to the barn. 

"Just gone eleven," I would say, though it might 
be two or three in the morning. 

"Huh! And a nice time to be coming to bed. 
Fansmagt! Waking folk up when they've been sleep- 
ing decently ! " 

And Grindhusen turns over on the other side, to fall 
asleep again in a moment. There was no trouble with 
Grindhusen. 

Eyah, it's over-foolish of a man to fall in love when 
he's getting on in years. And who was it set out to 
show there was a way to quiet and peace of mind ? 

X 

A man came out for his bricklayer's tools ; he wanted 
them back. What? Then Grindhusen had not stolen 
them at all ! But it was always the same with Grind- 
husen : commonplace, dull, and ordinary, never great 
in anything, never a lofty mind. 

I said : 

"You, Grindhusen, there's nothing in you but eat 
and sleep and work. Here's a man come for those 
tools now. So you only borrowed them ; that's all 
you're good for. I wouldn't be you for anything." 

" Don't be a fool," said Grindhusen. 

He was offended now, but I got him round again, as 
I had done so many times before, by pretending I had 
only spoken in jest. 

"What are we to do now?" he asked. 

" You'll manage it all right," said I. 

"Manage it will I?" 

"Yes, or I am much mistaken." 

And Grindhusen was pacified once more. 

But at the midday rest, when I was cutting his hair, 



28 WANDERERS 

I put him out of temper once again by suggesting he 
should wash his head. 

"A man of your age ought to know better than to 
talk such stuff," he said. 

And Heaven knows but he may have been right. 
His red thatch of hair was thick as ever, for all he'd 
grandchildren of his own. . . . 

Now what was coming to that barn of ours ? Were 
spirits about ? Who had been in there one day suddenly 
and cleaned the place and made all comfortable and 
neat ? Grindhusen and I had each our own bedplace ; 
I had bought a couple of rugs, but he turned in every 
night fully dressed, with all he stood up in, and curled 
himself up in the hay all anyhow. And now here were 
my two rugs laid neatly, looking for all the world like 
a bed. I'd nothing against it ; 'twas one of the maids, 
no doubt, setting to teach me neat and orderly ways. 
'Twas all one to me. 

I was ready now to start cutting through the floor 
upstairs, but Fruen begged me to leave it to next 
day ; her husband would be going over to the annexe, 
and that way I shouldn't disturb him. But next morn- 
ing we had to put it off again ; Froken Elisabeth was 
going in to the store to buy no end of things, and I was 
to go with her and carry them. 

"Good," said I, " I'll come on after." 

Strange girl ! had she thought to put up with my 
company on the way ? She said : 

" But do you think you can find the way alone? " 

" Surely ; I've been there before. It's where we buy 
our things." 

Now, I couldn't well walk through all the village in 
my working things all messed up with clay : I put on 
my best trousers, but kept my blouse on over. So I 
walked on behind. It was a couple of miles or more ; 
the last part of the way I caught sight of Froken 



WANDERERS 29 

Elisabeth on ahead now and again, but I took care not 
to come up close. Once she looked round, and at that 
I made myself utterly small, and kept to the fringe of 
the wood. 

Fr0ken Elisabeth stayed behind with some girl friend 
after she had done her shopping ; I carried the things 
back to the vicarage, getting in about noon, and was 
asked in to dinner in the kitchen. The house seemed 
deserted. Harald was away, the maids were wringing 
clothes, only Oline was busy in the kitchen. 

After dinner, I went upstairs, and started sawing in 
the passage. 

"Come and lend me a hand here, will you?" said 
Fruen, walking on in front of me. 

We passed by her husband's study and into the 
bedroom. 

"I want my bed moved," said Fruen. "It's too 
near the stove in winter, and I can't stand the heat." 

We moved the bed over to the window. 

" It'll be nicer here, don't you think? Cooler," said 
she. 

And, happening to glance at her, I saw she was 
watching me with that queer, sideways look. . . . Ey 
. . . And in a moment I was all flesh and blood and 
foolishness. I heard her say : 

"Are you mad? Oh no, dear, please . . . the 
door . . ." 

Then I heard my name whispered again and again. . . . 

I sawed through the floor in the passage, and got 
everything done. Fruen was there all the time. She 
was so eager to talk, to explain, and laughing and 
crying all the time. 

I said: 

"That picture that was hanging over your bed 
wouldn't it be as well to move that too ? " 

" Ye es, perhaps it would," said Fruen. 



30 WANDERERS 

XI 

Now all the pipes were laid, and the taps fixed ; the 
water spurted out in the sink in a fine, powerful jet. 
Grindhusen had borrowed the tools we needed from 
somewhere else, so we could plaster up a few holes left 
here and there ; a couple of days more, and we had 
filled in the trench down the hillside, and our work at 
the vicaragfe was done. The priest was pleased with 
us ; he offered to stick up a notice on the red post 
saying we were experts in the business of wells and 
pipes and water-supply, but, seeing it was so late in 
the year, and the frost might set in any time, it wouldn't 
have helped us much. We begged him instead to bear 
us in mind next spring. 

Then we went over to the neighbouring farm to dig 
potatoes, promising to look in at the vicarage again 
some time. 

There were many hands at work on the new place ; 
we divided up into gangs and were merry enough. 
But the work would barely last over a week ; after 
that we should have to shift again. 

One evening the priest came over and offered to take 
me on as an outdoor hand at the vicarage. It was a 
nice offer, and I thought about it for a while, but 
ended by saying no. I would rather wander about and 
be my own master, doing such work as I could find 
here and there, sleeping in the open, and finding a 
trifle to wonder at in myself. I had come across a 
man here in the potato fields that I might join com- 
pany with when Grindhusen was gone. This new man 
was a fellow after my own mind, and from what I had 
heard and seen of him a good worker ; Lars Falkberget 
was his name, wherefore he called himself Falkenberg. 1 

1 The latter name has a more distinguished sound than the 
native and rustic "Falkberget." 



WANDERERS 3 1 

Young Erik was foreman and overseer in charge of 
the potato diggers, and carted in the crop. He was a 
handsome lad of twenty, steady and sound for his age, 
and a proper son of the house. There was something 
no doubt between him and Froken Elisabeth from 
the vicarage, seeing she came over one day and 
stood talking with him out in the fields for quite 
a while. When she was leaving, she found a few 
words for me as well, saying Oline was beginning 
to get used to the new contrivances of water-pipes 
and tap. 

"And yourself?" I asked. 

Out of politeness, she made some little answer to 
this also, but I could see she had no wish to stay 
talking to me. 

So prettily dressed she was, with a new light cloak 
that went so well with her blue eyes. . . . 

Next day Erik met with an accident ; his horse 
bolted, dragging him across the fields and throwing 
him up against a fence at last. He was badly mauled, 
and spitting blood ; a few hours later, when he had 
come to himself a little, he was still spitting blood. 
Falkenberg was now set to drive. 

I feigned to be distressed at what had happened, and 
went about silent and gloomy as the rest, but I did not 
feel so. I had no hope of Froken Elisabeth for myself, 
indeed ; still, I was rid of one that stood above me in 
her favour. 

That evening I went over to the churchyard and sat 
there a while. If only she would come, I thought to 
myself. And after a quarter of an hour she came. I 
got up suddenly, entirely as I had planned, made as if 
to slip away and hide, then I stopped, stood helplessly 
and surrendered. But here all my schemes and plans 
forsook me, and I was all weakness at having her so 
near ; I began to speak of something. 



32 WANDERERS 

" Erik to think it should have happened and that, 
yesterday ..." 

" I know about it," she answered. 

"He was badly hurt." 

"Yes, yes, of course, he was badly hurt why do 
you talk to me about him ? " 

" I thought . . . No, I don't know. But, anyhow, 
he'll get better. And then it will be all right again, 
surely." 

"Yes, yes . . ." 

Pause. 

It sounded as if she had been making fun of me. 
Then suddenly she said with a smile : 

" What a strange fellow you are ! What makes you 
walk all that way to come and sit here of an evening ? " 

"It's just a little habit I've got lately. For some- 
thing to do till bedtime." 

" Then you're not afraid ? " 

Her jesting tone gave me courage ; I felt myself on 
surer ground, and answered : 

" No, that's just the trouble. I wanted to learn to 
shiver and shake." 

"Learn to shiver and shake? Like the boy in the 
fairy tale. Now where did you read about that, I 
wonder? " 

" I don't know. In some book or other, I suppose." 

Pause. 

" Why wouldn't you come and work for us when 
Father asked you ? " 

"I'd be no good at that sort of work. I'm going 
out on the roads now with another man." 

"Which way are you going?" 

"That I cannot say. East or west. We are just 
wanderers." 

Pause. 

"I'm sorry, "she said. "I mean, I don't think it's wise 



WANDERERS 33 

of you. . . . Oh, but what was it you said about 
Erik? I only came to ask about him. . . ." 
" He's in a baddish way now, but still ..." 
" Does the doctor think he will get better? " 
" Yes, as far as I know. I've not heard otherwise." 
"Well good-night." 

Oh to be young and rich and handsome, and famous 
and learned in sciences ! . . . There she goes. . . . 

Before leaving the churchyard I found a serviceable 
thumbnail and put it in my pocket. I waited a little, 
peering this way and that, and listening, but all was 
still. No voice came saying, " That's mine ! " 

XII 

Falkenberg and I set out. It is evening ; cool air 
and a lofty sky with stars lighting up. I persuaded 
him to go round by way of the churchyard ; in my 
foolishness I wished to go that way, to see if there 
should be light in one little window down at the 
vicarage. Oh to be young and rich and . . . 

We walked some hours, having but little weight to 
carry, and, moreover, we were two wanderers still a 
little strange each to the other, so we could talk a little. 
We passed by the first trading station, and came to 
another ; we could see the tower of the annexe church 
in the evening light. 

From sheer habit I would have gone into the church- 
yard here as well. I said : 

" What do you think? We might find a place here 
for the night ? " 

" No sense on earth in that," said Falkenberg, 
"when there's hay in every barn along the road. 
And if we're turned out, there'll be shelter in the 
woods." 

And we went on again, Falkenberg leading. 
3 



34 WANDERERS 

He was a man of something over thirty. Tall and 
well-built, but with a slight stoop ; his long moustaches 
rounded downwards. He was short of speech for the 
most, quick-witted and kindly ; also he had a splendid 
voice for songs ; a different sort from Grindhusen in 
every way. And when he spoke he used odd words 
from different local dialects, with a touch of Swedish 
here and there ; no one could tell what part he came 
from. 

We came to a farmstead where the dogs barked, and 
folk were still about. Falkenberg asked to see the 
man. A young lad came out. 

Had he any work for us ? 

No. 

But the fence there along by the road was all to 
pieces, if we couldn't mend that, now? 

No. Man himself had nothing else to do this time 
of the year. 

Could they give us shelter for the night ? 

Very sorry, but . . . 

Not in the barn ? 

No, the girls were still sleeping there. 

"Swine," muttered Falkenberg, as we moved away. 

We turned in through a little wood, keeping a look- 
out now for a likely place to sleep. 

"Suppose we went back to the farm now to the 
girls in the barn? Like as not they wouldn't turn 
us out." 

Falkenberg thought for a moment. 

" The dogs will make a row," he said. 

We came out into a field where two horses were 
loose. One had a bell at its neck. 

"Nice fellow this," said Falkenberg, "with his 
horses still out and his womenfolk still sleeping in the 
barn. It'd be doing these poor beasts a good turn to 
ride them a bit." 



WANDERERS 35 

He caught the belled horse, stuffed its bell with grass 
and moss, and got on its back. My beast was shy, 
and I had a deal of trouble to get hold of it. 

We rode across the field, found a gate, and came out 
on to the road. We had each one of my rugs to sit on, 
but neither had a bridle. 

Still, we managed well enough, managed excellently 
well ; we rode close on five miles, and came to another 
village. Suddenly we heard someone ahead along 
the road. 

"Better take it at a gallop," said Falkenberg over 
his shoulder. " Come along." 

But Falkenberg was no marvel of a horseman, for all 
his leg ; he clutched the bell-strap first, then slithered 
forward and hung on with both arms round the horse's 
neck. I caught a glimpse of one of his legs against the 
sky as he fell off. 

Fortunately, there was no great danger waiting us 
after all ; only a young couple out sweethearting. 

Another half-hour's riding, and we were both of us 
stiff and sore. We got down, turned the horses' faces 
to home, and drove them off. And now we were foot- 
passengers once more. 

Gakgak, gakgak the sound came from somewhere 
far off. I knew it well ; it was the grey goose. When 
we were children, we were taught to clasp our hands 
and stand quite still, lest we should frighten the grey 
goose as it passed. No harm in that ; no harm in 
doing so now. And so I do. A quiet sense of mystery 
steals through me ; I hold my breath and gaze. There 
it comes, the sky trailing behind it like the wake of 
a ship. Gakgak) high overhead. And the splendid 
ploughshare glides along beneath the stars. . . . 

We found a barn at last, at a farmstead where all 
was still, and there we slept some hours. They found 
us there next morning sound asleep. 



36 WANDERERS 

Falkenberg went up to the farmer at once and offered 
to pay for our lodging. We had come in late the night 
before, he explained, and didn't like to wake folk out of 
their beds, but we were no runaways for all that. The 
man would not take our money ; instead he gave us 
coffee in the kitchen. But he had no work for us ; the 
harvest was in, and he and his lad had nothing to do 
themselves now but mend their fences here and there. 



XIII 

We tramped three days and found no work, but had 
to pay for our food and drink, getting poorer every day. 

" How much have you got left, and how much have 
I got left ? We'll never get any great way at this rate," 
said Falkenberg. And he threw out a hint that we'd 
soon have to try a little stealing. 

We talked it over a bit, and agreed to wait and see 
how things turned out. Food was no difficulty, we 
could always get hold of a fowl or so at a pinch. But 
ready money was the thing we really needed, and that 
we'd have to get. If we couldn't manage it one way, 
we'd have to manage another. We didn't set up to be 
angels. 

" I'm no angel out of heaven alive," said Falkenberg. 
" Here am I now, sitting around in my best clothes, 
and they no better than another man's workaday things. 
I can give them a wash in a stream, and sit and wait 
till they're dry ; if there's a hole I mend it, and if I 
chance to earn a bit extra some day, I can get some 
more. And that's the end of it." 

" But young Erik said you were a beggar to 
drink." 

"That young cock. Drink well, of course I do. 
No sense in only eating. . . . Let's look about for a 
place where there's a piano," said Falkenberg. 



WANDERERS 37 

I thought to myself: a piano on a place means well- 
to-do folk ; that's where he is going" to start stealing. 

In the afternoon we came to just such a place. 
Falkenberg had put on my town clothes beforehand, 
and given me his sack to carry, so he could walk in 
easily, with an air. He went straight up to the front 
steps, and I lost sight of him for a bit ; then he came 
out again and said yes, he was going to tune their 
piano. 

"Going to what?" 

"You be quiet," said Falkenberg. "I've done it 
before, though I don't go bragging about it every- 
where." 

He fished out a piano-tuner's key from his sack, and 
I saw he was in earnest. 

I was ordered to keep near the place while he was 
tuning. 

Well, I wandered about to pass the time ; every now 
and then coming round to the south side of the house, 
I could hear Falkenberg at work on the piano in the 
parlour, and forcibly he dealt with it. He could not 
strike a decent chord, but he had a good ear ; whenever 
he screwed up a string, he was careful to screw it back 
again exactly where it was before, so the instrument at 
any rate was none the worse. 

I got into talk with one of the farm-hands, a young 
lad. He got two hundred Kroner a year, he said, 
besides his board. Up at half-past six in the morning 
to feed the horses, or half-past five in the busy season. 
Work all day, till eight in the evening. But he was 
healthily content with his life in that little world. I 
remember his fine, strong set of teeth, and his pleasant 
smile as he spolre of his girl. He had given her a 
silver ring with a gold heart on the front. 

" And what did she say to that ? " 

" Well, she was all of a wonder, you may be sure." 



38 WANDERERS 

" And what did you say ? " 

" What I said? Why, I don't know. Said I hoped 
she'd like it and welcome. I'd like to have given her 
stuff for a dress as well, but . . ." 

" Is she young?" 

"Why, yes. Talk away like a little jews' harp. 
Young I should think so." 

" And where does she live ? " 

"Ah, that I won't say. They'd know it all over the 
village if I did." 

And there I stood like another Alexander, so sure of 
the world, and half contemptuous of this boy and his 
poor little life. When we went away, I gave him one 
of my rugs ; it was too much of a weight to go carrying 
two. He said at once he would give it to his girl ; she 
would be glad of a nice warm rug. 

And Alexander said : If I were not myself I would 
be you. . . . 

When Falkenberg had finished and came out, he was 
grown so elegant in his manners all at once, and talked 
in such a delicate fashion, I could hardly understand 
him. The daughter of the house came out with him. 
We were to pass on without delay, he said, to the 
farm adjacent ; there was a piano there which needed 
some slight attention. And so " Farvel, Fr0ken, 
Farvel." 

"Six Kroner, my boy," he whispered in my ear. 
" And another six at the next place, that's twelve." 

So off we went, and I carried our things. 

XIV 

Falkenberg was right ; the people at the next farm 
would not be outdone by their neighbours ; their piano 
must be seen to as well. The daughter of the house 
was away for the moment, but the work could be done 



WANDERERS 39 

in her absence as a little surprise for her when she came 
home. She had often complained that the piano was 
so dreadfully out of tune it was impossible to play on it 
at all. So now I was left to myself again as before, 
while Falkenberg was busy in the parlour. When it 
got dark he had lights brought in and went on tuning. 
He had his supper in there too, and when he had 
finished, he came out and asked me for his pipe. 

"Which pipe? " 

" You fool ! the one with the clenched fist, of course." 

Somewhat unwillingly I handed him my neatly carved 
pipe ; I had just got it finished, with the nail set in and 
a gold ring, and a long stem. 

" Don't let the nail get too hot," I whispered, " or it 
might curl up." 

Falkenberg lit the pipe and went swaggering up with 
it indoors. But he put in a word for me too, and got 
them to give me supper and coffee in the kitchen. 

I found a place to sleep in the barn. 

I woke up in the night, and there was Falkenberg 
standing close by, and calling me by name. The full 
moon shone right in, and I could see his face. 

"What's the matter now?" 

" Here's your pipe. Here you are, man, take it." 

"Pipe?" 

"Yes, your pipe. I won't have the thing about me 
another minute. Look at it the nail's all coming 
loose." 

I took the pipe, and saw the nail had begun to curl 
away from the wood. Said Falkenberg : 

"The beastly thing was looking at me with a sort 
of nasty grin in the moonlight. And then when I 
remembered where you'd got that nail . . ." 

Happy Falkenberg ! 

Next morning when we were ready to start off again, 
the daughter of the house had come home. We heard 



40 WANDERERS 

her thumping out a waltz on the piano, and a little 
after she came out and said : 

" It's made no end of difference with the piano. 
Thank you very much." 

" I hope you may find it satisfactory," said the piano- 
tuner grandly. 

"Yes, indeed. There's quite a different tone in it 
now." 

"And is there anywhere else Frokenen could recom- 
mend . . .?" 

"Ask the people at 0vrebo ; Falkenberg's the name." 



" Falkenberg. Go straight on from here, and you'll 
come to a post on the right-hand side about a mile and 
a half along. Turn off there and that'll take you to it." 

At that Falkenberg sat down plump at the steps and 
began asking all sorts of questions about the Falken- 
bergs at 0vrebo. Only to think he should come across 
his kinsmen here, and find himself, as it were, at home 
again. He was profusely grateful for the information. 
"Thanks most sincerely, Froken." 

Then we went on our way again, and I carried the 
things. 

Once in the wood we sat down to talk over what was 
to be done. Was it advisable, after all, for a Falken- 
berg of the rank of piano-tuner to go walking up to the 
Captain at Ovrebo and claim relationship? I was the 
more timid, and ended by making Falkenberg himself a 
little shy of it. On the other hand, it might be a merry 
jest. 

Hadn't he any papers with his name on ? Certificates 
of some sort ? 

"Yes, but for Fan, there's nothing in them except 
saying I'm a reliable workman." 

We cast about for some way of altering the papers a 
little, but finally agreed it would be better to make a new 



WANDERERS 41 

one altogether. We might do one for unsurpassed 
proficiency in piano-tuning and put in the Christian 
name as Leopold instead of Lars. 1 There was no limit 
to what we could do in that way. 

" Think you can write out that certificate ? " he asked. 

"Yes, that I can." 

But now that wretched brain of mine began playing 
tricks, and making the whole thing ridiculous. A 
piano-tuner wasn't enough, I thought ; no, make him 
a mechanical genius, a man who had solved most 
intricate problems, an inventor with a factory of his 
own. . . . 

"Then I wouldn't need to go about waving certifi- 
cates," said Falkenberg, and refused to listen any 
more. No, the whole thing looked like coming to 
nothing after all. 

Downcast and discouraged both, we tramped on till 
we came to the post. 

" You're not going up, are you? " I asked. 

"You can go yourself," said Falkenberg sourly. 
" Here, take your rags of things." 

But a little way farther on he slackened his pace, 
and muttered : 

" It's a wicked shame to throw away a chance like 
that. Why, it's just cut out for us as it is." 

"Well, then, why don't you go up and pay them 
a call? Who knows, you might be some relation 
after all." 

"I wish I'd thought to ask if he'd a nephew in 
America." 

"What then? Could you talk English to them if 
he had ? " 

"You mind your own business, and don't talk so 
much," said Falkenberg. " I don't see what you've 
got to brag about, anyway." 

1 Again substituting an aristocratic for a rustic name. 



42 WANDERERS 

He was nervous and out of temper, and began 
stepping out. Then suddenly he stopped and said : 

" I'll do it. Lend me that pipe of yours again. I 
won't light it." 

We walked up the hill, Falkenberg putting on 
mighty airs, pointing this way and that with the pipe 
and criticising Jie place. It annoyed me somewhat 
to see him stalking along in that vainglorious fashion 
while I carried the load. I said : 

" Going to be a piano-tuner this time? " 

"I think I've shown I can tune a piano," he said 
shortly. " I am good for that at any rate." 

" But suppose there's someone in the house knows 
all about it Fruen, for instance and tries the piano 
after you've done ? " 

Falkenberg was silent. I could see he was growing 
doubtful again. Little by little his lordly gait sank to 
a slouching walk. 

"Perhaps we better not," he said. "Here, take 
your pipe. We'll just go up and simply ask for work." 

XV 

As it happened, there was a chance for us to make 
ourselves useful the moment we came on the place. 
They were getting up a new flagstaff, and were short 
of hands. We set to work and got it up in fine style. 
There was a crowd of women looking on from the 
window. 

Was Captain Falkenberg at home ? 

No. 

Or Fruen? 

Fruen came out. She was tall and fair, and friendly 
as a young foal ; and she answered our greeting in the 
kindliest way. 

Had she any work for us now ? 



WANDERERS 43 

" Well, I don't know. I don't think so really, not 
while my husband's away." 

I had an idea she found it hard to say no, and 
touched my cap and was turning away, not to trouble 
her any more. But she must have found something 
strange about Falkenberg, coming up like that wearing 
decent clothes, and with a man to carry his things ; 
she looked at him inquisitively and asked : 

"What sort of work?" 

"Any kind of outdoor work," said Falkenberg. 
"We can take on hedging and ditching, bricklayer's 
work ..." 

"Getting late in the year for that sort," put in one 
of the men by the flagstaff. 

"Yes, I suppose it is," Fruen agreed. "I don't 
know. . . . Anyhow, it's just dinner-time ; if you'd 
like to go in and get something to eat meanwhile. 
Such as it is." 

"Thank you kindly," answered Falkenberg. 

Now, that seemed to my mind a poor and vulgar 
way to speak ; I felt he shamed us both in answering 
so, and it distressed me. So I must put in a word 
myself. 

" Mille graces, Madame; vous etes trop amiable" 1 
said gallantly, and took off my cap. 

Fruen turned round and stared at me in astonish- 
ment ; the look on her face was comical to see. 

We were shown into the kitchen and given an 
excellent meal. Fruen went indoors. When we had 
finished, ! and were starting off, she came out again ; 
Falkenberg had got back his courage now, and, 
taking advantage of her kindness, offered to tune 
the piano. 

" Can you tune pianos too? " she asked, in surprise. 

" Yes, indeed ; I tuned the one on the farm down 
below." 



44 WANDERERS 

" Mine's a grand piano, and a good one. I shouldn't 
like it . . ." 

" Fruen can be easy about that." 

" Have you any sort of . . ." 

" I've no certificate, no. It's not my way to ask for 
such. But Fruen can come and hear me." 

"Well, perhaps yes, come this way." 

She went into the house, and he followed. I 
looked through the doorway as they went in, and 
saw a room with many pictures on the walls. 

The maids fussed about in and out of the kitchen, 
casting curious glances at me, stranger as I was ; one 
of the girls was quite nice-looking. I was thankful I 
had shaved that morning. 

Some ten minutes passed ; Falkenberg had begun. 
Fruen came out into the kitchen again and said : 

"And to think you speak French ! It's more than 
I do." 

Now, Heaven be thanked for that. I had no wish to 
go farther with it myself. If I had, it would have been 
mostly hackneyed stuff, about returning to our muttons 
and looking for the lady in the case, and the State, 
that's me, and so on. 

"Your friend showed me his papers," said Fruen. 
"You seem to be decent folk. I don't know. ... I 
might telegraph to my husband and ask if he's any 
work for you." 

I would have thanked her, but could not get 
a word out for swallowing at something in my 
throat. 

Neurasthenia ! 

Afterwards I went out across the yard and walked 
about the fields a bit ; all was in good order every- 
where, and the crops in under cover. Even the potato 
stalks had been carted in, though there's many places 
where they're left out till the snow comes. I could see 



WANDERERS 45 

nothing for us to do at all. Evidently these people 
were well-to-do. 

When it was getting towards evening, and Falken- 
berg was still tuning, I took a bit of something to eat 
in my pocket and went off for a walk, to be out of the 
way so they should not ask me in to supper. There 
was a moon, and the stars were out, but I liked best to 
grope my way into the dense part of the wood and sit 
down in the dark. It was more sheltered there, too. 
How quiet the earth and air seemed now ! The cold 
is beginning, there is rime on the ground ; now and 
again a stalk of grass creaks faintly, a little mouse 
squeaks, a rook comes soaring over the treetops, then 
all is quiet again. Was there ever such fair hair as 
hers ? Surely never. Born a wonder, from top to toe, 
her lips a ripened loveliness, and the play of dragon- 
flies in her hair. If only one could draw out a diadem 
from a sack of clothes and give it her. I'll find a pink 
shell somewhere and carve it to a thumbnail, and offer 
her the pipe to give her husband for a present . . . 
yes. . . . 

Falkenberg comes across the yard to meet me, and 
whispers hurriedly : 

" She's got an answer from the Captain ; he says we 
can set to work felling timber in the woods. Are you 
any good at that ? " 

"Yes." 

"Well, then, go inside, into the kitchen. She's 
been asking for you." 

I went in, and Fruen said : 

" I wondered where you'd got to. Sit down and 
have something to eat. Had your supper ? Where?" 

" We've food with us in the sack." 

"Well, there was no need to do that. Won't you 
have a cup of tea, then? Nothing? . . . I've had an 
answer from my husband. Can you fell trees ? Well, 



4 6 WANDERERS 

that's all right. Look, here it is : ' Want couple of men 
felling- timber, Fetter will show trees marked.' ..." 

Heaven she stood there beside me, pointing to the 
message. And the scent of a young girl in her 
breath. . . . 

XVI 

In the woods. Fetter is one of the farm-hands ; he 
showed us the way here. 

When we talked together, Falkenberg was not by 
any means so grateful to Fruen for giving us work. 
" Nothing to bow and scrape for in that," he said. 
"It's none so easy to get workmen these days." 
Falkenberg, by the way, was nothing out of the 
ordinary in the woodcutting line, while I'd had some 
experience of the work in another part of the world, 
and so could take a lead in this at a pinch. And he 
agreed I was to be leader. 

Just now I began working in my mind on an 
invention. 

With the ordinary sort of saw now in use, the men 
have to lie down crookedwise on the ground and pull 
sideways. And that's why there's not so much gets 
done in a day, and a deal of ugly stumps left after 
in the woods. Now, with a conical transmission 
apparatus that could be screwed on to the root, it 
should be possible to work the saw with a straight 
back-and-forward movement, but the blade cutting 
horizontally all the time. I set to work designing 
parts of a machine of this sort. The thing that 
puzzled me most was how to get the little touch of 
pressure on the blade that's needed. It might be done 
by means of a spring that could be wound up by 
clockwork, or perhaps a weight would do it. The 
weight would be easier, but uniform, and, as the saw 
went deeper, it would be getting harder all the time, 



WANDERERS 47 

and the same pressure would not do. A steel spring, 
on the other hand, would slacken down as the cut 
grew deeper, and always give the right amount of 
pressure. I decided on the spring 1 system. "You can 
manage it," I told myself. And it would be the 
greatest thing in my life for the credit of it. 

The days passed, one like another ; we felled our 
nine-inch timber, and cut off twigs and tops. We 
lived in plenty, taking food and coffee with us when we 
started for the woods, and getting a hot meal in the 
evening when we came home. Then we washed and 
tidied ourselves to be nicer-mannered than the farm- 
hands and sat in the kitchen, with a big lamp 
alight, and three girls. Falkenberg got to be sweet- 
hearts with Emma. 

And every now and then there would come a wave of 
music from the piano in the parlour ; sometimes Fruen 
herself would come out to us with her girlish youth and 
her blessed kindly ways. "And how did you get on 
to-day?" she would ask. "Did you meet a bear in 
the woods ? " But one evening she thanked Falkenberg 
for doing her piano so nicely. What? did she mean 
it ? Falkenberg's weather-beaten face grew quite hand- 
some with pleasure ; I felt proud of him when he 
answered modestly that he thought himself it was a 
little better now. 

Either he had gained by his experience in tuning 
already, or Fruen was grateful to him for not having 
spoiled the grand piano. 

Falkenberg dressed up in my town clothes every 
evening. It wouldn't do for me to take them back now 
and wear them myself; everyone would believe I'd 
borrowed them from him. 

" Let me have Emma, and you can keep the clothes," 
I said in jest. 

?' All right, you can take her," he answered. 



48 WANDERERS 

I began to see then that Falkenberg was growing 
cooler towards his girl. Oh, but Falkenberg had fallen 
in love too, the same as I. What simple boys we were ! 

"Wonder if she will give us a look-in this evening 
again ? " Falkenberg would say while we were out at 
work. 

And I would answer that I didn't care how long the 
Captain stayed away. 

"No, you're right," said Falkenberg. "And I say, 
if I find he isn't decent to her, there'll be trouble." 

Then one evening Falkenberg gave us a song. And 
I was proud of him as ever. Fruen came out, and he 
had to sing it over again, and another one after ; his 
fine voice filled the room, and Fruen was delighted, 
and said she had never heard anything like it. 

And then it was I began to be envious. 

"Have you learnt singing?" asked Fruen. "Can 
you read music at all ? " 

"Yes, indeed," said Falkenberg. "I used to sing 
in a club." 

Now that was where he should have said : no, 
worse luck, he'd never learned, so I thought to myself. 

" Have you ever sung to anyone? Has anyone ever 
heard you ? " 

" I've sung at dances and parties now and again. 
And once at a wedding." 

"But I mean for anyone that knew: has anyone 
tried your voice?" 

" No, not that I know of or yes, I think so, yes." 

" Well, won't you sing some more now ? Do." 

And Falkenberg sang. 

The end of it'll be he'll be asked right into the parlour 
one evening, I thought to myself, with Fruen to play 
for him. I said : 

"Beg pardon, but won't the Captain be coming 
home soon?" 



WANDERERS 49 

"Yes, soon," answered Fruen. "Why do you 
ask?" 

" I was only thinking 1 about the work." 

" Have you felled all the trees that were marked ? " 

" No, not yet no, not by a long way. But ..." 

"Oh ..." said Fruen suddenly, as if she had just 
thought of something. " You must have some money. 
Yes, of course . . ." 

I grasped at that to save myself, and answered : 

"Thank you very much." 

Falkenberg said nothing. 

" Well, you've only to ask, you know. V&rsaagod" 
and she handed me the money I had asked for. " And 
what about you ? " 

"Nothing, thank you all the same," answered 
Falkenberg. 

Heavens, how I had lost again fallen to earth again ! 
And Falkenberg, that shameless impostor, who sat 
there playing the man of property who didn't need 
anything in advance. I would tear my clothes off him 
that very night, and leave him naked. 

Only, of course, I did nothing of the sort. 

XVII 

And two days went by. 

"If she comes out again this evening," Falkenberg 
would say up in the woods, " I'll sing that one about 
the poppy. I'd forgotten that." 

"You've forgotten Emma, too, haven't you?" I ask. 

" Emma? Look here, I'll tell you what it is: you're 
just the same as ever, that's what you are." 

"Ho, am I?" 

"Yes; inside, I mean. You wouldn't mind taking 
Emma right there, with Fruen looking on. But I 
couldn't do that." 
4 



50 WANDERERS 

" That's a lie!" I answered angrily. "You won't 
see me tangled up in any foolery with the girls as long 
as I am here." 

"Ah, and I shan't be out at nights with anyone 
after. Think she'll come this evening? I'd forgotten 
that one about the poppy till now. Just listen." 

Falkenberg sang the Poppy Song-. 

"You're lucky, being able to sing like that," I said. 
" But there's neither of us'll get her, for all that." 

"Get her! Why, whoever thought . . . What a 
fool you are ! " 

"Ah, if I were young and rich and handsome, I'd 
win her all the same," I said. 

" If and if ... So could I, for the matter of that. 
But there's the Captain." 

"Yes, and then there's you. And then there's me. 
And then there's herself and everybody else in the 
world. And we're a couple of brutes to be talking 
about her like this at all," said I, furious now with 
myself for my own part. " A nice thing, indeed, for two 
old woodcutters to speak of their mistress so." 

We grew pale and thin the pair of us, and the 
wrinkles showed up in Falkenberg's drawn face ; 
neither of us could eat as we used. And by way of 
trying to hide our troubles from each other, I went 
about talking all sorts of cheerful nonsense, while 
Falkenberg bragged loudly at every meal of how he'd 
got to eating too much of late, and was getting slack 
and out of form. 

" Why, you don't seem to eat anything 1 at all," Fruen 
would say when we came home with too much left of 
the food we had taken with us. " Nice woodcutters, 
indeed." 

" It's Falkenberg that won't eat," said I. 

" Ho, indeed ! " said Falkenberg ; " I like that. He's 
given up eating altogether." 



WANDERERS 5 1 

Now and again when she asked us to do her a favour, 
some little service or other, we would both hurry to do 
it ; at last we got to bringing in water and firewood of 
our own accord. But one day Falkenberg played me a 
mean trick : he came home with a bunch of hazel twigs 
for a carpet-beater, that Fruen had asked me expressly 
to cut for her. 

And he sang every evening now. 

Then it was I resolved to make Fruen jealous ey, 
ey, my good man, are you mad now, or merely foolish ? 
As if Fruen would ever give it as much as a thought, 
whatever you did. 

But so it was. I would try to make her jealous. 

Of the three girls on the place, there was only one 
that could possibly be used for the experiment, and 
that was Emma. So I started talking nonsense to 
Emma. 

" Emma, I know of someone that is sighing for you." 

" And where did you get to know of that, pray ? " 

" From the stars above." 

" I'd rather hear of it from someone here on earth." 

" I can tell you that, too. At first-hand." 

"It's himself he means," put in Falkenberg, anxious 
to keep well out of it. 

"Well, and I don't mind saying it is. Paratum cor 
meum." 

But Emma was ungracious, and didn't care to talk to 
me, for all I was better at languages than Falkenberg. 
What could I not even master Emma? Well ... I 
turned proud and silent after that, and went my own 
ways, making drawings for that machine of mine and 
little models. And when Falkenberg was singing of 
an evening, and Fruen listening, I went across to the 
men's quarters and stayed there with them. Which, 
of course, was much more dignified. The only trouble 
about it was that Fetter was ill in bed, and couldn't 



UNIVERSmr OF ILUNGU 



52 WANDERERS 

stand the noise of axe and hammer, so I had to go 
outside every time I'd any heavy piece of work to do. 

Still, now and again I fancied Fruen might perhaps 
be sorry, after all, at missing my company in the kitchen. 
It looked so, to me. One evening, when we were at 
supper, she turned to me and said : 

" What's that the men were saying about a new 
machine you're making?" 

"It's a new kind of saw he's messing about with," 
said Falkenberg. " But it's too heavy to be any good." 

I made no answer to that, but craftily preferred to 
be wronged. Was it not the fate of all inventors to be 
so misjudged ? Only wait : my time was not yet come. 
There were moments when I could hardly keep from 
bursting out with a revelation to the girls, of how I 
was really a man of good family, led astray by despera- 
tion over an unhappy love affair, and now taking to 
drink. Alas, yes, man proposes, God disposes. . . . 
And then, perhaps, Fruen herself might come to hear 
of it. . . . 

"I think I'll take to going over with the men in the 
evenings," said Falkenberg, " the same as you." 

And I knew well enough why Falkenberg had sud- 
denly taken it into his head to spend his evenings there ; 
he was not asked to sing now as often as before ; some 
way or other, he was less in demand of late. 

XVIII 

The Captain had returned. 

A big man, with a full beard, came out to us one day 
while we were at work, and said : 

" I'm Captain Falkenberg. Well, lads, how goes it?" 

We greeted him respectfully, and answered: "Well 
enough." 

Then there was some talk of what we had done and 



WANDERERS 53 

what remained to do. The Captain was pleased with 
our work all clean cut and close to the root. Then 
he reckoned out how much we had got through per day, 
and said it came to a good average. 

" Captain's forgetting Sundays," said I. 

"That's true," said he. "Well, that makes it over 
the average. Had any trouble at all with the tools ? 
Is the saw all right ? " 

"Quite all right." 

"And nobody hurt?" 

"No." 

Pause. 

" You ought by rights to provide your own food," he 
said, " but if you would rather have it the other way, 
we can square it when we come to settle up." 

" We'll be glad to have it as Captain thinks best." 

"Yes," agreed Falkenberg as well. 

The Captain took a turn up through the wood and 
came back again. 

"Couldn't have better weather," he said. "No 
snow to shovel away." 

" No, there's no snow that's true ; but a little more 
frost'd do no harm." 

" Why ? Cooler to work in, d'you mean ? " 

" That, too, perhaps ; yes. But the saw cuts easier 
when timber's frozen." 

"You're an old hand at this work, then?" 

"Yes." 

" And are you the one that sings ? " 

" No, more's the pity. He is the one that sings." 

" Oh, so you are the singer, are you? We're name- 
sakes, I believe ? " 

"Why, yes, in a way," said Falkenberg, a little 
awkwardly. "My name is Lars Falkenberg, and I've 
my certificate to show for that." 

" What part d'you come from ? " 



54 WANDERERS 

" From Trendelagen." 

The Captain went home. He was friendly enough, 
but spoke in a short, decisive way, with never a smile 
or a jesting word. A good face, something ordinary. 

From that day onwards Falkenberg never sang but 
in the men's quarters, or out in the open ; no more 
singing in the kitchen now the Captain had come home. 
Falkenberg was irritable and gloomy ; he would swear 
at times and say life wasn't worth living these days ; a 
man might as well go and hang himself and have done 
with it. But his fit of despair soon came to an end. 
One Sunday he went back to the two farms where he 
had tuned the pianos, and asked for a recommendation 
from each. When he came back he showed me the 
papers, and said : 

" They'll do to keep going with for a bit." 

" Then you're not going to hang yourself, after all ? " 

" You've better cause to go that way, if you ask me," 
said Falkenberg. 

But I, too, was less despairing now. When the 
Captain heard about my machine idea, he wanted to 
know more about it at once. He saw at the first glance 
that my drawings were far from perfect, being made on 
small pieces of paper, and without so much as a pair of 
dividers to work with. He lent me a set of drawing 
instruments, and gave me some useful hints about how 
such things were done. He, too, was afraid my saw 
would prove too cumbersome. " But keep on with it, 
anyway," he said. "Get the whole thing drawn to a 
definite scale, then we can see." 

I realised, however, that a decently constructed model 
of the thing would give a better idea of it, and as soon 
as I was through with the drawings I set to work 
carving a model in wood. I had no lathe, and had to 
whittle out the two rollers and several wheels and screws 
by hand. I was working at this on the Sunday, and so 



WANDERERS 5 5 

taken up with it I never heard the dinner-bell. The 
Captain came out and called, " Dinner! " Then, when 
he saw what I was doing", he offered to drive over him- 
self to the smithy the very next day, and get the parts 
I needed cut on the lathe. " All you need do is to give 
me the measurements," he said. "And you must want 
some tools, surely ? Saw and drills ; right ! Screws, 
yes, and a fine chisel ... is that all?" 

He made a note of the things on the spot. A first- 
rate man to work under. 

But in the evening, when I had finished supper and 
was crossing the courtyard to the men's room, Fruen 
called me. She was standing between the kitchen 
windows, in the shadow, but slipped forward now. 

" My husband said ... he ... said . . . you can't 
be warm enough in these thin clothes," she said. 
" And would you . . . here, take these." 

She bundled a whole suit into my arms. 

I thanked her, stammering foolishly. I was going to 
get myself some new things soon. There was no hurry ; 
I didn't need . . . 

"Of course, I know you can get thing's yourself. 
But when your friend is so ... so ... oh, take these." 

And she ran away indoors again, the very fashion of 
a young girl fearing to be caught doing something- 
over-kind. I had to call my last thanks after her. 

When the Captain came out next evening" with my 
wheels and rollers, I took the opportunity of thanking 
him for the clothes. 

"Oh er yes," he answered. "It was my wife 
that ... Do they fit you all right? " 

" Yes ; many thanks." 

"That's all right, then. Yes ; it was my wife that . . . 
well, here are the things for your machine, and the 
tools. Good-night." 

It seemed, then, as if the two of them were equally 



56 WANDERERS 

ready to do an act of kindness. And when it was done, 
each would lay the blame upon the other. Surely this 
must be the perfect wedded life, that dreamers dreamed 
of here on earth. , 



XIX 

The woods are stripped of leaf now, and the bird- 
sounds are gone ; only the crows rasp out their screech- 
ing" note at five in the morning, when they spread out 
over the fields. We see them, Falkenberg and I, as 
we go to our work ; the yearling birds, that have not 
yet learned fear of the world, hop along the path before 
our feet. 

Then we meet the finch, the sparrow of the timbered 
lands. He has been out in the woods already, and is 
coming back now to humankind, that he likes to live 
with and study from all sides. Queer little finch. A 
bird of passage, really, but his parents have taught him 
that one can spend a winter in the north ; and now he 
will teach his children that the north's the only place to 
spend the winter in at all. But there is still a touch of 
emigrant blood in him, and he remains a wanderer. 
One day he and his will gather together and set off for 
somewhere else, many parishes away, to study a new 
collection of humans there and in the aspen grove 
never a finch to be seen. And it may be a whole week 
before a new flock of this winged life appears and 
settles in the same place. . . . Herregud! how many a 
time have I watched the finches and their doings, and 
found pleasure in all. 

One day Falkenberg declares he is all right again- 
now. Going to save up and put aside a hundred 
Kroner this winter, out of tuning pianos and felling 
trees, and then make it up again with Emma. I, too, 
he suggests, would be better advised to give over sighing 



WANDERERS 57 

for ladies of high degree, and go back to my own rank 
and station. 

Falkenberg was right. 

On Saturday evening we stopped work a trifle earlier 
than usual to go up and get some things from the 
store. We wanted shirts, tobacco, and wine. 

While we were in the store I caught sight of a little 
workbox, ornamented with shells, of the kind seafaring 
men used to buy in the old days at Amsterdam, and 
bring home to their girls ; now the Germans make 
them by the thousand. I bought the workbox, with 
the idea of taking out one of the shells to serve as a 
thumbnail for my pipe. 

"What d'you want with a workbox?" asked Fal- 
kenberg. "Is it for Emma, what?" He grew jealous 
at the thought, and, not to be outdone, he bought a 
silk handkerchief to give her himself. 

On the way back we sampled the wine, and got 
talking. Falkenberg was still jealous, so I took out 
the workbox, chose the shell I wanted, and picked it off 
and gave him the box. After that we were friends 
again. 

It was getting dark now, and there was no moon. 
Suddenly we heard the sound of a concertina from a 
house up on a hillside ; we could see there was dancing 
within, from the way the light came and went like a 
lighthouse beam. 

" Let's go up and look," said Falkenberg. 

Coming up to the house, we found a little group of 
lads and girls outside taking the air. Emma was there 
as well. 

"Why, there's Emma!" cried Falkenberg cheerily, 
not in the least put out to find she had gone without 
him. " Emma, here, I've got something for you ! " 

He reckoned to make all good with a word, but Emma 
turned away from him and went indoors. Then, when 



58 WANDERERS 

he moved to go after her, others barred his way, 
hinting 1 pretty plainly that he wasn't wanted there. 

" But Emma is there. Ask her to come out." 

" Emma's not coming out. She's here with Markus 
Shoemaker." 

Falkenberg stood there helpless. He had been cold 
to Emma now for so long that she had given him up. 
And, seeing him stand there stupidly agape, some of 
the girls began to make game of him : had she left 
him all alone, then, and what would he ever do now, 
poor fellow ? 

Falkenberg set his bottle to his lips and drank before 
the eyes of all, then wiped his mouth with the back of 
his hand and passed to the nearest man. There was 
a better feeling now towards us ; we were good fellows, 
with bottles in our pockets, and willing to pass them 
round ; moreover, we were strangers in the place, and 
that was always something new. Also, Falkenberg 
said many humorous things of Markus Shoemaker, 
whom he persisted in calling Lukas. 

The dance was still going on inside, but none of the 
girls left us to go in and join. 

" I'll bet you now," said Falkenberg, with a swagger, 
" that Emma 'd be only too glad to be out here with us." 

Helene and Ronnaug and Sara were there ; every 
time they drank, they gave their hands prettily by way 
of thanks, as the custom is, but some of the others 
that had learned a trifle of town manners said only, 
" Takfor Skjcenken" and no more. Helene was to be 
Falkenberg's girl, it seemed ; he put his arm round her 
waist and said she was his for to-night. And when 
they moved off farther and farther away from the rest 
of us, none called to them to come back ; we paired 
off, all of us, after a while, and went our separate ways 
into the woods. I went with Sara. 

When we came out from the wood again, there stood 



WANDERERS 59 

R0nnaug still taking the air. Strange girl, had she 
been standing there alone all the time ? I took her 
hand and talked to her a little, but she only smiled 
to all I said and made no answer. We went off towards 
the wood, and Sara called after us in the darkness : 
" Ronnaug, come now and let's go home." But 
Ronnaug made no answer ; it was little she said at 
all. Soft, white as milk, and tall, and still. 

XX 

The first snow is come ; it thaws again at once, 
but winter is not far off, and we are nearing the end 
of our woodcutting now at 0vreb0 another week or 
so, perhaps, no more. What then ? There was work 
on the railway line up on the hills, or perhaps more 
woodcutting at some other place we might come to. 
Falkenberg was for trying the railway. 

But I couldn't get done with my machine in so short 
a time. We'd each our own affairs to take our time ; 
apart from the machine, there was that thumbnail for 
the pipe I wanted to finish, and the evenings came out 
all too short. As for Falkenberg, he had made it up 
with Emma again. And that was a difficult matter 
and took time. She had been going about with 
Markus Shoemaker, 'twas true, but Falkenberg for 
his part could not deny having given Helene presents 
a silk handkerchief and a workbox set with shells. 

Falkenberg was troubled, and said : 

" Everything is wrong, somehow. Nothing but 
bother and worry and foolery." 

"Why, as to that ..." 

"That's what I call it, anyway, if you want to know. 
She won't come up in the hills as we said." 

"It'll be Markus Shoemaker, then, that's keeping 
her back?" 



60 WANDERERS 

Falkenberg was gloomily silent. Then, after a pause : 

" They wouldn't even have me go on singing." 

We got to talking of the Captain and his wife. 
Falkenberg had an ill-foreboding all was not as it 
might be between them. 

Gossiping fool ! I put in a word : 

"You'll excuse me, but you don't know what you 
are talking about." 

"Ho!" said he angrily. And, growing more and 
more excited, he went on: "Have you ever seen 
them, now, hanging about after each other? I've 
never heard them say so much as a word." 

The fool ! the churl I 

"Don't know what is the matter with you to-day 
the way you're sawing. Look what do you think of 
that for a cut ? " 

" Me? We're two of us in it, anyway, so there." 

"Good! Then we'll say it's the thaw. Let's get 
back to the axe again." 

We went on working each by himself for a while, 
angered and out of humour both. What was the lie 
he had dared to say of them, that they never so much 
as spoke to each other ? But, Heaven, he was right ! 
Falkenberg had a keen scent for such things. He 
knew something of men and women. 

"At any rate, they speak nicely of each other to us," 
I said. 

Falkenberg went on with his work. 

I thought over the whole thing again. 

"Well, perhaps you may be right as far as that 
goes, that it's not the wedded life dreamers have 
dreamed of, still . . ." 

But it was no good talking to Falkenberg in that 
style ; he understood never a word. 

When we stopped work at noon, I took up the talk 
again. 



WANDERERS 61 

" Didn't you say once if he wasn't decent to her 
there'd be trouble?" 

"Yes, I did." 

"Well, there hasn't been trouble." 

"Did I ever say he wasn't decent to her?" said 
Falkenberg irritably. " No, but they're sick and 
wearied of each other that's what it is. When one 
comes in, the other goes out. Whenever he starts 
talking of anything out in the kitchen, her eyes go 
all dead and dull, and she doesn't listen." 

We got to work again with the axe, each thinking 
his own ways. 

"I doubt but I'll need to give him a thrashing," 
said Falkenberg. 

"Who?" 

"Lukas. . . ." 

I got my pipe done, and sent Emma in with it to the 
Captain. The nail had turned out fine and natural this 
time, and with the fine tools I had now, I was able to 
cut well down into the thumb and fasten it on the 
underside, so that the two little copper pins would not 
show. I was pleased enough with the work. 

The Captain came out while we were at supper that 
evening, to thank me for the pipe. At the same time, 
I noticed that Falkenberg was right ; no sooner had 
the Captain come out than Fruen went in. 

The Captain praised my pipe, and asked how I had 
managed to fix the nail ; he said I was an artist and 
a master. All the others were standing by and heard 
his words and it counted for something to be called 
an artist by the Captain himself. I believe I could 
have won Emma at that moment. 

That night I learned to shiver and shake. 

The corpse of a woman came up to me where I lay 
in the loft, and stretched out its left hand to show me : 
the thumbnail was missing. I shook my head, to say 



62 WANDERERS 

I had had a thumbnail once, but I had thrown it away, 
and used a shell instead. But the corpse stood there 
all the same, and there I lay, shivering, cold with fear. 
Then I managed to say I couldn't help it now ; in 
God's name, go away ! And, Our Father which art 
in heaven . . . The corpse came straight towards 
me ; I thrust out two clenched fists and gave an icy 
shriek and there I was, crushing Falkenberg flat 
against the wall. 

"What is it?" cried Falkenberg. "In Heaven's 
name . . ." 

I woke, dripping with sweat, and lay there with 
open eyes, watching the corpse as it vanished quite 
slowly in the dark of the room. 

"It's the corpse," I groaned. "Come to ask for 
her thumbnail." Falkenberg sat straight up in bed, 
wide awake all at once. 

" I saw her," he said. 

"Did you see her, too? Did you see her thumb? 
Ugh!" 

" I wouldn't be in your shoes now for anything." 

" Let me lie inside, against the wall," I begged. 

" And what about me ? " 

" It won't hurt you ; you can lie outside all right." 

"And let her come and take me first? Not if I 
know it." 

And at that Falkenberg lay down again and pulled 
the rug over his eyes. 

I thought for a moment of going down to sleep with 
Fetter ; he was getting better now, and there was no fear 
of infection. But I was afraid to go down the stairs. 

It was a terrible night. 

Next morning I searched high and low for the nail, 
and found it on the floor at last, among the shavings 
and sawdust. I took it out and buried it on the way 
to the wood. 



WANDERERS 63 

"It's a question if you oughtn't to carry it back 
where you took it from," said Falkenberg. 

" Why, that's miles away a whole long- journey. . . ." 

"They won't ask about that if you're called to do it. 
Maybe she won't care about having a thumb in one place 
and a thumbnail in another." 

But I was brave enough now ; a very desperado in 
the daylight. I laughed at Falkenberg for his super- 
stition, and told him science had disposed of all such 
nonsense long ago. 

XXI 

One evening there came visitors to the place, and 
as Fetter was still poorly, and the other lad was only 
a youngster, I had to go and take out the horses. 
A lady got out of the carriage. 

" Is anyone at home? " she asked. 

The sound of wheels had brought faces to the win- 
dows ; lamps were lit in the rooms and passages. 
Fruen came out, calling : 

" Is that you, Elisabeth? I'm so glad you've come." 

It was Frcken Elisabeth from the vicarage. 

" Is he here? " she asked in surprise. 

"Who?" 

It was myself she meant. So she had recognised 
me. . . . 

Next day the two young ladies came out to us in the 
wood. At first I was afraid lest some rumour of a 
certain nightly ride on borrowed horses should have 
reached the vicarage, but calmed myself when nothing 
was said of it. 

"The water-pipes are doing nicely," said Froken 
Elisabeth. 

I was pleased to hear it. 

" Water-pipes? " said Fruen inquiringly. 

" He laid on a water-supply to the house for us. 



64 WANDERERS 

Pipes in the kitchen and upstairs as well. Just turn a 
tap and there it is. You ought to have it done here." 

"Really, though? Could it be done here, do you 
think?" 

I answered : yes, it ought to be easy enough. 

" Why didn't you speak to my husband about it?" 

"I did speak of it. He said he would see what 
Fruen thought about it." 

Awkward pause. So he would not speak to her even 
of a thing that so nearly concerned herself. I hastened 
to break the silence, and said at random : 

"Anyhow, it's too late to start this year ; the winter 
would be on us before we could get it done. But next 
spring ..." 

Fruen seemed to come back to attention from some- 
where far away. 

"Oh yes, I remember now, he did say something 
about it," she said. "We talked it over. But it was 
too late this year. . . . Elisabeth, don't you like watch- 
ing them felling trees ? " 

We used a rope now and then to guide the tree in its 
fall. Falkenberg had just fixed this rope high up, and 
the tree stood swaying. 

" What's that for ?" 

"To make it fall the right way," I began. But 
Fruen did not care to listen to me any more ; she 
turned to Falkenberg and put the question to him 
directly : 

" Does it matter which way it falls?" 

Falkenberg had to answer her. 

"Why, we'll need to guide it a bit, so it doesn't 
break down too much of the young growth when it 
falls." 

"Did you notice," said Fruen to her friend, "what 
a voice he has? He's the one that sings." 

How I hated myself now for having talked so much, 



WANDERERS 65 

instead of reading her wish ! But at least I would 
show her that I understood the hint. And, moreover, 
it was Froken Elisabeth and no other I was in love 
with ; she was not full of changing humours, and was 
just as pretty as the other ay, a thousand times 
prettier. I would go and take work at her father's 
place. ... I took care now, whenever Fruen spoke, to 
look first at Falkenberg and then at her, keeping back 
my answer as if fearing to speak out of my turn. I 
think, too, she began to feel a little sorry when she 
noticed this, for once she said, with a little troubled 
smile : "Yes, yes, it was you I asked." 

That smile with her words . . . There came a whirl 
of joy at my heart ; I began swinging the axe with all 
the strength I had gained from long use, and made fine 
deep cuts. I heard only a word now and then of what 
they said. 

"They want me to sing to them this evening," said 
Falkenberg, when they had gone. 

Evening came. 

I stood out in the courtyard, talking to the Captain. 
Three or four days more, and our work on the timber 
would be at an end. 

"And where will you be going then?" asked the 
Captain. 

" We were going to get work on the railway." 

"I might find you something to do here," said the 
Captain. " I want the drive down to the high road 
carried a different way ; it's too steep as it is. Come 
and see what I mean." 

He took me round to the south side of the house, and 
pointed this way and that, though it was already 
dark. 

" And by the time that's done, and one or two other 
little things, we shall be well on to the spring," he said. 
"And then there'll be the water, as you said. And, 
5 



66 WANDERERS 

besides, there's Fetter laid up still ; we can't get along 
like this. I must have another hand to help." 

Suddenly we heard Falkenberg singing. There was 
a light in the parlour ; Falkenberg was in there, singing 
to an accompaniment on the piano. The music welled 
out towards us the man had a remarkable voice and 
made me quiver against my will. 

The Captain started, and glanced up at the windows. 

"No," he said suddenly; "I think, after all, we'd 
better leave the drive till next spring as well. How 
soon did you say you'd be through with the timber ? " 

"Three or four days." 

" Good ! We'll say three or four days more for that, 
and then finish for this year." 

A strangely sudden decision, I thought to myself. 
And aloud I said : 

"There's no reason why we shouldn't do the road 
work in winter. It's better in some ways. There's the 
blasting, and getting up the loads. ..." 

"Yes, I know . . . but . . . well, I think I must go 
in now and listen to this. . . ." 

The Captain went indoors. 

It crossed my mind that he did so out of courtesy, 
wishing to make himself, as it were, responsible for 
having Falkenberg in the parlour. But I fancied he 
would rather have stayed talking with me. 

Which was a coxcomb's thought, and altogether 
wrong. 

XXII 

I had got the biggest parts of my machine done, and 
could fix them together and try it. There was an old 
stump by the barn-bridge from an aspen that had been 
blown down ; I fixed my apparatus to that, and found 
at once that the saw would cut all right. Aha, now, 
what have you got to say ? Here's the problem solved ! 



WANDERERS 67 

I had bought a huge saw-blade and cut teeth all down 
the back ; these teeth fitted into a little cogwheel set to 
take the friction, and driven forward by the spring. 
The spring itself I had fashioned originally from a 
broad staybusk Emma had given me, but, when I came 
to test it, it proved too weak ; so I made another from 
a saw-blade only six millimetres across, after I had first 
filed off the teeth. This new spring, however, was too 
strong ; I had to manage as best I could by winding it 
only half-way up, and then, when it ran down, half-way 
up again. 

I knew too little theory, worse luck ; it was a case 
of feeling my way at every step, and this made it a 
slow proceeding. The conical gear, for instance, I 
found too heavy when I came to put it into practice, 
and had to devise a different system altogether. 

It was on a Sunday that I fixed my apparatus to the 
stump ; the new white woodwork and the shining saw- 
blade glittered in the sun. Soon faces appeared at 
the windows, and the Captain himself came. He did 
not answer my greeting, so intent was he on the 
machine. 

" Well, how do you think it will work ? " 

I set it going. 

" Upon my soul, I believe it will. . . ." 

Fruen and Froken Elisabeth came out, all the maids 
came out, Falkenberg came out, and I let them see it 
work. Aha, what did I say? 

Said the Captain presently : 

" Won't it take up too much time, fixing the appara- 
tus to one tree after another ? " 

" Part of the time will be made up by easier work. 
No need to keep stopping for breath." 

"Why not?" 

" Because the lateral pressure's effected by the spring. 
It's just that pressure that makes the hardest work." 



68 WANDERERS 

" And what about the rest of the time? " 

" I'm going to discard this screw-on arrangement 
and have a clamp instead, that can be pressed down by 
the foot. A clamp with teeth to give a better grip, 
and adjustable to any sized timber." 

I showed him a drawing of this clamp arrangement ; 
I had not had time to make the thing itself. 

The Captain took a turn at the saw himself, 
noticing carefully the amount of force required. He 
said : 

" It's a question whether it won't be too heavy, pull- 
ing a saw twice the width of an ordinary woodcutting 
saw. " 

"Ay," agreed Falkenberg ; "it looks that way." 

All looked at Falkenberg, and then at me. It was 
my turn now. 

"A single man can push a goods truck with full load 
on rails," I said. "And here there'll be two men to 
work a saw with the blade running on two rollers over 
oiled steel guides. It'll be easier to work than the old 
type of saw a single man could work it, if it came to 
a pinch." 

" It sounds almost impossible." 

"Well, we shall see." 

Froken Elisabeth asked half in jest : 

" But tell me I don't understand these things a bit, 
you know why wouldn't it be better to saw a tree 
across in the old way ? " 

" He's trying to get rid of the lateral pressure ; that's 
a strain on the men working," explained the Captain. 
"With a saw like this you can, as he says, make a 
horizontal cut with the same sort of pressure you would 
use for an ordinary saw cutting vertically down. It's 
simply this : you press downwards, but the pressure's 
transmitted sideways. By the way," he went on, turn- 
ing to me, "has it struck you there might be a danger 



WANDERERS 69 

of pressing- down the ends of the blade, and making a 
convex cut ? " 

"That's obviated in the first place by these rollers 
under the blade." 

"True; that goes for something. And in the second 
place ? " 

" In the second place, it would be impossible to make 
a convex cut with this apparatus even if you wanted to. 
The blade, you see, has a T-shaped back ; that makes 
it practically impossible to bend it." 

I fancy the Captain put forward some of his objections 
against his own conviction. Knowing all he did, he 
could have answered them himself better than I. On 
the other hand, there were points he did not notice, but 
which caused me some anxiety. A machine that was 
to be carried about in the woods must not be made 
with delicate mechanism. I was afraid, for instance, 
that the two steel guides might be easily injured, 
and either broken away, or so bent that the wheels 
would jam. No ; the guides would have to be 
dispensed with, and the wheels set under the back 
of the saw. Altogether, my machine was far from 
complete. . . . 

The Captain went over to Falkenberg and said : 

"I want you to drive the ladies to-morrow; they're 
going some way, and Fetter's not well enough, it seems. 
Do you think you could?" 

" Surely," said Falkenberg ; "and welcome." 

" Frokenen's going back to the vicarage," said the 
Captain, as he turned to go. "You'll have to be out 
by six o'clock." 

Falkenberg was in high spirits at this mark of 
confidence, and jestingly hinted that I envied him the 
same. Truth to tell, I did not envy him there in the 
least. I was perhaps a little hurt to find my comrade 
so preferred before myself, but I would most certainly 



70 WANDERERS 

rather stay here by myself in the quiet of the woods 
than sit on a box and drive in the cold. 

Falkenberg was thoroughly pleased with himself. 

"You're looking" simply green with envy now," he 
said. "You'd better take something for it. Try a 
little castor-oil, now, do." 

He was busy all the forenoon getting ready for the 
journey, washing down the carriage, greasing the 
wheels, and cleaning the harness after. I helped him 
with the work. 

" I don't believe you can drive a pair at all, really," I 
said, just to annoy him. " But I'll give you a bit of a 
lesson, if you like, before you start." 

"You've got it badly," he answered. "It's a pity 
to see a man looking like that, when a dose of castor- 
oil would put him right." 

It was like that all the time jesting and merriment 
from one to the other. 

That evening the Captain came out to me. 

"I didn't want to send you down with the ladies," 
he said, "because of your work. But now Froken 
Elisabeth says she wants you to drive, and not the 
other man." 

"Me?" 

" Yes. Because she knows you." 

"Why, as for that, 'twould have been safe enough 
as it was." 

" Do you mind going at all ? " 

"No." 

" Good ! Then that's settled." 

This thought came into my mind at once : " Aha, it's 
me the ladies fancy, after all, because I'm an inventor 
and proprietor of a patent saw, and not bad looking when 
I'm properly got up not bad looking by any means." 

But the Captain explained things to Falkenberg in 
an altogether different way, that upset my vanity 



WANDERERS 7 1 

completely : Froken Elisabeth wanted me to go down 
to the vicarage once more, so that her father might 
have another try at getting me to take work there. 
She'd promised him to do so. 

I thought and thought over this explanation. 

" But if you get taken on at the vicarage, then it's 
all off with our railway work," said Falkenberg. 

"I shan't," said I. 

XXIII 

I started early in the morning with the two ladies in 
a closed carriage. It was more than a trifle cold at 
first, and my woollen rug came in very handy ; I used 
it alternately to put over my knees and wrap round 
my shoulders. 

We drove the way I had walked up with Falkenberg, 
and I recognised place after place as we passed. There 
and there he had tuned the pianos ; there we had heard 
the grey goose passing. . . . The sun came up, and it 
grew warmer ; the hours went by ; then, coming to 
cross-roads, the ladies knocked at the window and said 
it was dinner-time. 

I could see by the sun it was too early for the ladies' 
dinner-time, though well enough for me, seeing I took 
my dinner with Falkenberg at noon. So I drove on. 

"Can't you stop? " they cried. 

" I thought . . . you don't generally have dinner till 
three. . . ." 

" But we're hungry." 

I turned off aside from the road, took out the horses, 
and fed and watered them. Had these strange beings 
set their dinner-time by mine? 

" Vcersaagod!" 

But I felt I could not well sit down to eat with them, 
so I remained standing by the horses. 



72 WANDERERS 

' 'Well?" said Fruen. 

"Thank you kindly," said I, and waited to be served. 

They helped me, both of them, as if they could never 
give me enough. I drew the corks of the beer bottles, 
and was given a liberal share here as well ; it was a 
picnic by the roadside a little wayfaring adventure in 
my life. And Fruen I dared look at least, for fear she 
should be hurt. 

And they talked and jested with each other, and now 
and again with me, out of their kindliness, that I 
might feel at ease. Said Froken Elisabeth : 

"Oh, I think it's just lovely to have meals out of 
doors. Don't you ? " 

And here she said De, instead of Du, as she had said 
before. 

"It's not so new to him, you know," said Fruen; 
" he has his dinner out in the woods every day." 

Eh, but that voice of hers, and her eyes, and the 
womanly, tender look of the hand that held the glass 
towards me. ... I might have said something in 
turn have told them this or that of strange things 
from out in the wide world, for their amusement ; I 
could have set those ladies right when they chattered 
on, all ignorant of the way of riding camels or of 
harvest in the vineyards. . . . 

I made haste to finish my meal, and moved away. 
I took the buckets and went down for more water for 
the horses, though there was no need. I sat down by 
the stream and stayed there. 

After a little while Fruen called : 

"You must come and stand by the horses; we are 
going off to see if we can find some wild hops or some- 
thing nice." 

But when I came up they decided that the wild hops 
were over, and there were no rowan berries left now, 
nor any richly coloured leaves. 



WANDERERS 73 

" There's nothing in the woods now," said Frokenen. 
And she spoke to me directly once again: "Well, 
there's no churchyard here for you to roam about 
in." 

"No." 

"You must miss it, I should think." And then she 
went on to explain to Fruen that I was a curious 
person who wandered about in graveyards by night 
and had meetings with the dead. And it was there I 
invented my machines and things. 

By way of saying something, I asked about young 
Erik. He had been thrown by a runaway horse and 
badly hurt. . . . 

"He's better now," said Frokenen shortly. "Are 
you ready to go on again, Lovise ? " 

" Yes, indeed. Can we start? " 

" Whenever you please," I answered. 

And we drove on again. 

The hours pass, the sun draws lower down the sky, 
and it is cooler a chill in the air ; then later wind and 
wet, half rain, half snow. We passed the annexe 
church, a couple of wayside stores, and farm after 
farm. 

Then came a knocking on the window of the 
carriage. 

"Wasn't it here you went riding one night on 
borrowed horses ?" said Frokenen laughingly. "Oh, 
we know all about it, never fear ! " 

And both the ladies were highly amused. 

I answered on a sudden thought : 

" And yet your father would have me to take service 
with him or wasn't it so ? " 

"Yes." 

"While I think of it, Freken, how did your father 
know I was working for Captain Falkenberg ? You 
were surprised yourself to find me there." 



74 WANDERERS 

She thought quickly, and glanced at Fruen and 
said : 

" I wrote home and told them." 

Fruen cast down her eyes. 

Now it seemed to me that the young lady was 
inventing. But she put in excellent answers, and tied 
my tongue. It sounded all so natural ; she writes an 
ordinary letter to her people at home, and puts in 
something like this : " And who do you think is here? 
The man who did those water-pipes for us ; he's felling 
timber now for Captain Falkenberg. ..." 

But when we reached the vicarage, the new hand 
was engaged already, and there at work had been 
there three weeks past. He came out to take the 
horses. 

After that, I thought and thought again why had 
they chosen me to drive them down ? Perhaps it was 
meant as a little treat for me, as against Falkenberg's 
being asked into the parlour to sing. But surely 
didn't they understand, these people, that I was a man 
who had nearly finished a new machine, and would 
soon have no need of any such trifles ! 

I went about sharp and sullen and ill-pleased with 
myself, had my meal in the kitchen, where Oline gave 
me her blessing for the water-pipes, and went out to 
tend my horses. I took my rug and went over to the 
barn in the dark. . . . 

I woke to find someone touching me. It was the 
vicar's wife. 

"You mustn't lie here, you know; it's simply freez- 
ing," she said. "Come with me, and I'll show 
you ..." 

We talked of that a little ; I was not inclined to 
move, and at last she sat down herself instead. A 
flame she was nay, a daughter of Nature. Within 
her the music of a rapturous dance was playing yet. 



WANDERERS 75 

XXIV 

Next morning I was more content with things. I had 
cooled down and turned sensible I was resigned. If 
only I had seen before what was best for me, I might 
have taken service here at the vicarage, and been the 
first of all equals. Ay, and settled down and taken 
root in a quiet countryish life. 

Fru Falkenberg stood out in the courtyard. Her 
bright figure stood like a pillar, stood there free and 
erect in the open courtyard, and her head was bare. 

I greeted her Godmorgen. 

" Godmorgen!" she answered again, and came striding 
towards me. Then very quietly she asked : " I wanted 
to see how they put you up last night, only I couldn't 
get away. That is, of course, I got away, but . . . 
you weren't in the barn, were you ? " 

The last words came to me as if in a dream, and I 
did not answer. 

"Well, why don't you answer ? " 

"Yes . . . in the barn? Yes." 

" Were you ? And was it quite all right ? " 

"Yes." 

"Oh, well, then . . . yes yes. We shall be going 
back sometime to-day." 

She turned and walked away, her face all in one 
great flush. . . . 

Harald came and asked me to make a kite. 

"A kite?" I answered all confusedly. "Ay, I'll 
make you a kite, a huge one, that'll go right up to the 
clouds. That I will." 

We worked at it for a couple of hours, Harald and I. 
He was good and quick, and so innocent in his eager- 
ness ; I, for my part, was thinking of anything but kites. 
We made a tail several metres long, and busied our- 



76 WANDERERS 

selves with paste and lashing- and binding ; twice 
Froken Elisabeth came out to look on. She may have 
been every bit as sweet and bright as before, but I cared 
nothing for what she was, and gave no thought to her. 

Then came the order to harness ready to start. I 
should have obeyed that order at once, for we had a 
long drive before us, but, instead, I sent Harald in to 
ask if we might wait just half an hour more. And we 
worked on till the kite was finished. Next day, when 
the paste was dry, Harald could send up his kite and 
watch it rise, and feel unknown emotion within him, 
as I did now. 

Ready to start. 

Fruen comes out ; all the family are there to see her 
off. The priest and his wife both know me again, 
return my greeting, and say a few words but I heard 
nothing- said of my taking service with them now. 
The priest knew me again yes ; and his blue-eyed wife 
looked at me with that sidelong glance of hers as she 
knew me again, for all she had known me the night 
before as well. 

Froken Elisabeth brings out some food for the 
journey, and wraps her friend up well. 

"Sure you'll be warm enough, now?" she asks for 
the last time. 

" Quite sure, thanks ; it's more than warm enough 
with all these. Farvel, Farvel." 

" See you drive as nicely as you did yesterday," says 
Froken, with a nod to me as well. 

And we drove off. 

The day was raw and chilly, and I saw at once that 
Fruen was not warm enough with her rug. 

We drive on for hour after hour ; the horses know 
they are on the way home, and trot without asking. 
My bare hands stiffen about the reins. As we neared a 
cottage a little way from the road, Fruen knocked on 



WANDERERS 77 

the carriage window to say it was dinner-time. She 
gets out, and her face is pale with the cold. 

"We'll go up there and have dinner," she says. 
" Come up as soon as you're ready, and bring the 
basket." 

And she walked up the hill. 

It must be because of the cold she chose to eat in a 
stranger's house, I thought to myself; she could hardly 
be afraid of me. ... I tied up the horses and gave 
them their fodder. It looked like rain, so I put the 
oilskins over them, patted them, and went up to the 
cottage with the basket. 

There is only an old woman at home. " Vcersaagod! " 
she says, and " Come in." And she goes on tending 
her coffee-pot. Fruen unpacks the basket, and says, 
without looking at me : 

" I suppose I am to help you again to-day? " 

"Thank you, if you will." 

We ate in silence, I sitting on a little bench by the 
door, with my plate on the seat beside me, Fruen at 
table, looking out of the window all the time, and 
hardly eating anything at all. Now and again she 
exchanges a word with the old woman, or glances at 
my plate to see if it is empty. The little place is 
cramped enough, with but two steps from the window 
to where I sit ; so we are sitting together, after all. 

When the coffee is ready, I have no room for my cup 
on the end of the bench, but sit holding it in my hand. 
Then Fruen turns full-face towards me calmly, and 
sajys with downcast eyes : 

"There is room here." 

I can hear my own heart beating, and I murmur 
something : 

"Thanks ; it's quite all right. I'd rather . . ." 

No doubt but that she is uneasy ; she is afraid lest 
I should say something. She sits once more looking 



78 WANDERERS 

away, but I can see she is breathing heavily. Ah, 
she need have no fear ; I would not trouble her with so 
much as a word. 

Now I had to take the empty plate and cup and set 
them back on the table, but I feared to startle her in 
my approach, for she was still sitting with averted 
head. I made a little noise with the things to draw 
her attention, set them down, and thanked her. 

She tried to put on a housewifely tone : 

"Won't you have some more? I'm sure you can't 
have ..." 

" No, thank you very much. . . . Shall I pack up the 
things now? But I doubt if I can." 

I happened to glance at my hands ; they had swelled up 
terribly in the warm room, and were all shapeless and 
heavy now. I could hardly pack up things with hands like 
that. She guessed my thought, looked first at my hands, 
then out across the room, and said, with a little smile : 

" Have you no gloves ? " 

" No ; I never wear them." 

I went back to my place, waiting till she should have 
packed up the things so I could carry the basket down. 
Suddenly she turned her head towards me, still without 
looking up, and asked again : 

" Where do you come from ? " 

"From Nordland." 

Pause. 

I ventured to ask in my turn if Fruen had ever been 
there. 

"Yes ; when I was a child." 

Then she looked at her watch, as if to check me from 
any more questions, and at the same time to hint it was 
getting late. 

I rose at once and went out to the horses. 

It was already growing dusk ; the sky was darker, 
and a loose, wet sleet was beginning to fall. I took 



WANDERERS 79 

my rug down covertly from the box, and hid it under 
the front seat inside the carriage ; when that was done, 
I watered the horses and harnessed up. A little after, 
Fruen came down the hill. I went up for the basket, 
and met her on the way. 

" Where are you going? " 

" To fetch the basket." 

"You needn't trouble, thanks; there's nothing to 
take back." 

We went down to the carriage ; she got in, and I 
made to help her to rights with the rug she had. 
Then I pulled out my own from under the front seat, 
taking care to keep the border out of sight lest she 
should recognise it. 

" Oh, what a blessing ! " cried Fruen. " Why, where 
was it ? " 

" Under the seat here." 

"Well . . . Of course, I might have borrowed some 
more rugs from the vicarage, but the poor souls would 
never have got them back again. . . . Thanks ; I can 
manage . . . no, thank you ; I can manage by myself. 
You can drive on now." 

I closed the carriage door and climbed to my seat. 

" Now, if she knocks at the window again, it's that 
rug," I thought to myself. " Well, I won't stop. . . ." 

Hour after hour passed ; it was pitch dark now, rain- 
ing and snowing harder than ever, the road growing 
worse all the time. Now and again I would jump 
down from the box and run along beside the horses to 
keep warm ; the water was pouring from my clothes. 

We were nearing home now. 

I was hoping there would not be too much light 
when we drove up, so that she recognised the rug. 
Unfortunately, there were lights in all the windows, 
waiting her arrival. 

In desperation I checked the horses a little before 



8o WANDERERS 

we got to the steps, and got down to open the carriage 
door. 

"But why . . . what on earth have you pulled up 
here for?" 

"I only thought if perhaps Fruen wouldn't mind 
getting out here. It's all mud on ahead . . . the 
wheels . . ." 

She must have thought I was trying to entice her 
into something, Heaven knows ! . . . 

" Drive on, man, do ! " she said. 

The horses moved on, and the carriage stopped just 
where the light was at its full. 

Emma came out to receive her mistress. Fruen 
handed her the rugs all in a bundle, as she had rolled 
them up before getting out of the carriage. 

"Thanks," she said to me, glancing round as she 
went in. " Heavens, how dreadfully wet you are ! " 

XXV 

A curious piece of news awaited 'me: Falkenberg 
had taken service with the Captain as a farm hand. 

This upset the plan we had agreed on, and left me 
alone once more. I could not understand a word of it 
all. Anyhow, I could think it over to-morrow. . . . 
By two in the morning I was still lying awake, 
shivering and thinking. All those hours I could not 
get warm ; then at last it turned hot, and I lay there 
in full fever. . . . How frightened she had been 
yesterday dared not sit down to eat with me by the 
roadside, and never opened her eyes to me once 
through all the journey. . . . 

Coming to my senses for a moment, it occurs to 
me I might wake Falkenberg with my tossing about, 
and perhaps say things in my utlirium. That would 
never do. I clench my teeth and jump up, get into my 



WANDERERS 81 

clothes again, scramble down the stairs, and set out 
over the fields at a run. After a little my clothes 
begin to warm me ; I make towards the woods, towards 
the spot where we had been working ; sweat and rain 
pour down my face. If only I can find the saw, and 
work the fever out of my body 'tis an old and tried 
cure of mine, that. The saw is nowhere to be seen, 
but I come upon the axe I had left there Saturday 
evening, and set to work with that. It is almost too 
dark to see at all, but I feel at the cut now and then 
with my hands, and bring down several trees. The 
sweat pours off me now. 

Then, feeling exhausted enough, I hide the axe in its 
old place ; it is getting light now, and I set off at a run 
for home. 

" Where have you been? " asks Falkenberg. 

Now, I do not want him to know about my having 
taken cold the day before, and perhaps go making talk 
of it in the kitchen ; I simply mutter something about 
not knowing quite where I have been. 

"You've been up to see Ronnaug, I bet," he 
said. 

I answered : yes, I had been with Ronnaug, since 
he'd guessed it. 

" 'Twas none so hard to guess," he said. " Anyhow, 
you won't see me running after any of them now." 

"Going to have Emma, then ? " 

" Why, it looks that way. It's a pity you can't get 
taken on here, too. Then you might get one of the 
others, perhaps." 

And he went on talking of how I might perhaps have 
got my pick of the other girls, but the Captain had no 
use for me. I wasn't even to go out to-morrow to the 
wood. . . . The words sound far away, reaching me 
across a sea of sleep that is rolling towards me. 

Next morning the fever is gone ; I am still a little 
6 



82 WANDERERS 

weak, but make ready to go out to the wood all the 
same. 

"You won't need to put on your woodcutting 
things again," says Falkenberg. "I told you that 
before." 

True ! Nevertheless, I put on those things, seeing 
the others are wet. Falkenberg is a little awkward 
with me now, because of breaking our plan ; by way of 
excuse, he says he thought I was taking work at the 
vicarage. 

"So you're not coming up to the hills, then?" I 
asked. 

" H'm ! No, I don't think so no. And you know 
yourself, I'm sick of tramping around. I'll not get a 
better chance than this." 

I make as if it was no great matter to me, and take 
up a sudden interest in Fetter ; worst of all for him, 
poor fellow, to be turned out and nowhere to go. 

" Nowhere to go?" echoes Falkenberg. " When he's 
lain here the three weeks he's allowed to stay sick by 
law, he'll go back home again. His father's a farmer." 

Then Falkenberg declares it's like losing part of 
himself to have me go. If it wasn't for Emma, he'd 
break his word to the Captain after all. 

" Here," he says, " I'll give you these." 

" What's that ?" 

"It's the certificates. I shan't want them now, 
but they may be the saving of you at a pinch. If you 
ever wanted to tune a piano, say." 

And he hands me the papers and the key. 

But, seeing I haven't his ear for music, the things 
are no use to me ; and I tell him so. I could better 
handle a grindstone than a piano. 

Whereat Falkenberg bursts out laughing, relieved 
to find me ready with a jest to the last. . . . 

Falkenberg goes out. I have time to laze a little, 



WANDERERS 83 

and lie down all dressed on the bed, resting and 
thinking. Well, our work was at an end ; we should 
have had to go anyhow. I could not reckon on staying 
here for all eternity. The only thing outside all 
calculation was that Falkenberg should stay. If only 
it had been me they'd offered this work, I'd have 
worked enough for two ! Now, was there any chance 
of buying him off, I wondered ? To tell the truth, I 
fancied I had noticed something before ; as if the 
Captain were not altogether pleased to have this 
labourer about the place bearing his own name. Well, 
perhaps I had been wrong. 

I thought and thought. After all, I had been a good 
workman, as far as I knew, and I had never stolen a 
moment of the Captain's time for work on my own 
invention. . . . 

I fell asleep again, and wakened at the sound of 
footsteps on the stairs. Before I had time to get 
properly to my feet, there was the Captain himself in 
the doorway. 

"Don't get up," he said kindly, and turned as if to 
go again. " Still, seeing you're awake, we might 
settle up. What do you say ? " 

I said it was as he pleased, and many thanks. 
" I ought to tell you, though, both your friend and I 
thought you were going to take service at the vicarage, 
and so ... And now the weather's broken up, there's 
no doing more among the timber and, besides, we've 
got down all there was to come. Well, now ; I've 
settled with the other man. I don't know if 
you'd . . ." 

I said I would be quite content with the same. 
" H'm ! Your friend and I agreed you ought to have 
more per day." 

Falkenberg had said no word of this to me ; it 
sounded like the Captain's own idea. 



84 WANDERERS 

" I agreed with him we should share alike," said I. 

"But you were sort of foreman; of course, you 
ought to have fifty Ore per day extra." 

I saw my hesitation displeased him, and let him 
reckon it out as he pleased. When he gave me the 
money, I said it was more than I had reckoned with. 
The Captain answered : 

"Very pleased to hear it. And I've written a few 
lines here that might be useful, saying you've worked 
well the time you were here." 

He handed me the paper. 

A just and kindly man, the Captain. He said 
nothing now about the idea of laying on water to the 
house next spring ; I took it he'd his reasons for that, 
and did not like to trouble him. 

Then he asked : 

" So you're going off now to work on the railway? " 

I said I was not quite sure as to that. 

" Well, well . . . anyhow, thanks for the time 
you've been with us." 

He moved towards the door. And I, miserable 
weakling that I was, could not hold myself in check, 
but asked : 

"You won't be having any work for me later on, 
perhaps, in the spring?" 

" I don't know ; we shall see. I ... well, it all 
depends. If you should happen to be anywhere near, 
why . . . What about that machine of yours ? " 

I ventured to ask if I might leave it on the place. 

" Certainly," said the Captain. 

When he had gone I sat down on the bed. Well, 
it was all over now. Ay, so it was and Lord have 
mercy on us all ! Nine o'clock ; she is up she is there 
in the house I can see from this very window. Well, 
let me get away and have done with it. 

I get out my sack and stow away my things, put on 



WANDERERS 85 

my wet jacket over my blouse, and am ready to start. 
But I sit down again. 

Emma comes in: "V<zrsaagod\ there's something 
ready for you in the kitchen." 

To my horror she had my rug over one arm. 

"And Fruen told me to ask if this wasn't your 
rug." 

" Mine ? No ; I've got mine here with my things." 

Emma goes off again with the rug. 

Well, how could I say it was mine ? Devil take the 
rug ! . . . Should I go down to the kitchen or not ? I 
might be able to say good-bye and thanks at the same 
time nothing strange in that. 

Emma came in again with the rug and laid it down 
neatly folded on a stool. 

" If you don't hurry up, the coffee'll be cold," 
she says. 

"What did you put that rug there for? " 

"Fruen told me to." 

"Oh, well, perhaps it's Falkenberg's," I muttered. 

Emma asks : 

"Are you going away now for good ? " 

" Yes, seeing you won't have anything to do 
with me." 

" You ! " says Emma, with a toss of her head. 

I went down with Emma to the kitchen ; sitting at 
table, I saw the Captain going out to the woods. 
Good he was gone now, perhaps, Fruen might 
come out. 

I finished my meal and got up. Should I go off now, 
and leave it at that ? Of course ; what else ? I took 
leave of the maids, with a jesting word to each in turn. 

"I'd have liked to say good-bye to Fruen, too, 
but . . ." 

" Fruen's indoors. I'll . . ." 

Emma goes in, and comes back a moment later. 



86 WANDERERS 

" Fruen's lying down with a headache. She sent her 
very good wishes." 

" Come again ! " said all the girls as I set off. 

I walk away out of the place, with my sack under 
my arm. Then suddenly I remembered the axe ; Fal- 
kenberg might not find it where I'd put it. I went 
back, knocked at the kitchen door, and left a message 
for him where it was. 

Going down the road, I turned once or twice and 
looked back towards the windows of the house. Then 
all was out of sight. 

XXVI 

I circled round all that day, keeping near to 0vreb0 ; 
looked in at one or two farms to ask for work, and 
wandered on again like an outcast, aimlessly. It was 
a chill, unkindly day, and I had need of all my walking 
to keep warm. 

Towards evening I made over to my old working 
place among the Captain's timber. I heard no sound 
of the axe ; Falkenberg had gone home. I found the 
trees I had felled the night before, and laughed out- 
right at the ghastly looking stumps I had left. Fal- 
kenberg would surely have seen the havoc, and wondered 
who could have done it. Possibly he might have set it 
down to witchcraft, and fled home accordingly before it 
got dark. Falkenberg ! . . . Hahaha ! 

But it was no healthy merriment, I doubt a thing 
born of the fever and the weakness that followed it. 
And I soon turned sorrowful once more. Here, on this 
spot, she had stood one day with that girl friend of 
hers ; they had come out and talked to us in the 
woods. . . . 

When it was dark enough I started down towards 
the house. Perhaps I might sleep in the loft again 



WANDERERS 87 

to-night ; then to-morrow, when her headache was 
gone, she might come out. I went down near enough 
to see the lights of the house, then I turned back. No, 
perhaps it was too early yet. 

Then for a time I should reckon about two hours 
I wandered round and sat down a bit, wandered again 
and sat down a bit ; then I moved up towards the house 
again. Now I could perfectly well go up in the loft 
and lie down there. As for Falkenberg miserable 
worm ! let him dare to say a word ! Now I know 
what I will do. I will hide my sack in the woods before 
I go up, so as to look as if I had only come back for 
some little thing I had forgotten. 

And I go back to the woods. 

No sooner have I hidden the sack than I realise I am 
not concerned at all with Falkenberg and sleeping in 
the loft. I am a fool and a madman, for the thing I 
want is not shelter for the night, but a sight of just one 
creature there before I leave the place. And I say to 
myself: "My good sir, was it not you that set out to 
live a quiet life among healthy folk, to win back your 
peace of mind ? " 

I pull out my sack from its hiding-place, fling it over 
my shoulder, and move towards the house for the third 
time, keeping well away from the servants' quarters, 
and coming round on the south side of the main build- 
ing. There is a light in the parlour. 

And now, although it is dark, I let down the sack 
from over my shoulder, not to look like a beggar, and 
thrust it under my arm as if it were a parcel. So I 
steal up cautiously towards the house. When I have 
got near enough, I stop, stand there upright and strong 
before the windows, take off my cap and stand there 
still. There is no one to be seen within, not a shadow. 
The dining-room is all dark ; they have finished their 
evening meal. It must be late, I tell myself. 



88 WANDERERS 

Suddenly the lamp in the parlour goes out, and the 
whole house seems dead and deserted. I wait a little, 
then a solitary light shines out upstairs. That must be 
her room. The light burns for half an hour, perhaps, 
and then goes out again. She had gone to rest. Good- 
night ! 

Good-night for ever ! 

And, of course, I shall not come back to this place in 
the spring. A ridiculous idea ! 

When I got down on to the high road, I shouldered 
my sack once more and set out on my travels. . . . 

In the morning I go on again, having slept in a barn 
where it was terribly cold, having nothing to wrap 
round me ; moreover, I had to start out again just at 
the coldest hour, about daybreak, lest I should be found 
there. 

I walk on and on. The woods change from pine to 
birch and back again. Coming upon a patch of fine, 
straight-stemmed juniper, I cut myself a staff, and sit 
down at the edge of the wood to trim it. Here and 
there among the trees a yellow leaf or so still hangs, 
but the birches are full of catkins set with pearly drops. 
Now and again half a dozen small birds swoop down on 
one of these birches, to peck at the catkins, and then look 
about for a stone or a rough tree trunk to rub the gum 
from their beaks. Each is jealous of the rest ; they 
watch and chase and drive one another away, though 
there are millions of catkins for them to take all they 
will. And the one that is chased never does anything 
but take to flight. If a little bird comes bearing down 
towards a bigger one, the bigger one will move away ; 
even a full-grown thrush offers no resistance to a 
sparrow, but simply takes itself off. I fancy it must 
be the speed of the attack that does it. 

The cold and discomfort of the morning gradually 



WANDERERS 89 

disappear ; it amuses me to watch the various things 
I meet with on my way, and think a little, idly enough, 
of every one. The birds were most diverting ; also, it 
was cheering to reflect that I had my pocket full of 
money. 

Falkenberg had chanced to mention that morning 
where Fetter's home was, and I made now for that. 
There would hardly be work for me on so small a place ; 
but now that I was rich, it was not work I sought for 
first of all. Fetter would be coming home soon, no 
doubt, and perhaps have some news to tell. 

I managed so as to reach the farm in the evening. I 
said I brought news of their son, that he was much 
better now, and would soon be home again. And could 
they put me up for the night ? 

XXVII 

I have been staying here a couple of days ; Fetter has 
come home, but had nothing to tell. 

"Is all well at 0vreb0?" 

" Ay, there's nothing wrong that I know of." 

"Did you see them all before you left? The Cap- 
tain, Fruen ? " 

"Yes." 

4 'Nobody ill?" 

"No. Why, who should there be ? " 

"Well, Falkenberg said something about he'd hurt 
his hand. But I suppose it's all right now, then." 

There was little comfort in this home, though they 
seemed to be quite well off. Fetter's father was deputy 
to the Storting, and had taken to sitting reading the 
papers of an evening. Eh, reading and reading the 
whole house suffered under it, and the daughters were 
bored to death. When Fetter came home the entire 
family set to work reckoning out whether he had got 



90 WANDERERS 

his full pay, and if he had lain sick at 0vreb0 for the 
full time allowed him by law, or " provided by statute," 
as his father, the deputy, put it. Yesterday, when I 
happened to break a window a little pane that cost 
next to nothing there was no end of whispering about 
it, and unfriendly glances at me from all sides ; so to- 
day I went up to the store and bought a new pane, and 
fixed it in properly with putty. Then said the deputy : 
"You needn't have taken all that trouble over a pane 
of glass." 

To tell the truth, it was not only for that I had been 
up to the store ; I also bought a couple of bottles of 
wine, to show I did not care so much for the price of a 
pane of glass or so. Also, I bought a sewing-machine, 
to give the girls when I went away. We could drink 
the wine this evening ; to-morrow would be Sunday, 
and we should all have time to lie abed. But on 
Monday morning I would start off again. 

Things turned out otherwise, however. The two 
girls had been up in the loft, sniffing at my sack ; both 
the wine and the sewing-machine had put fancies into 
their heads ; they imagined all sorts of things, and 
began throwing out hints. Wait a bit, thought I to 
myself; my time will come ! 

In the evening I sit with the family in the parlour, 
talking. We have just finished supper, and the master 
of the house has put on his spectacles to read the 
papers. Then someone coughs outside. "There's 
someone coming in," I say. The girls exchange 
glances and go out. A little after they open the door 
and show in two young men. " Come in and sit down," 
says the wife. 

It struck me just then that these two peasant lads 
had been invited on the strength of my wine, and that 
they were sweethearts with the girls. Smart young 
creatures eighteen, nineteen years old, and already up 



WANDERERS 91 

to anything. Well, if they reckoned on that wine now, 
they'd be mistaken ! Not a drop. . . . 

There was some talking- of the weather ; how it was 
no better than could be looked for that time of year, 
but a pity the wet had stopped the ploughing. There 
was no sort of life in this talk, and one of the girls 
turned to me and said I was very quiet this evening. 
How could it be ? 

" Maybe because I'm going away," I answer. " I've 
a good long way to go between now and Monday 
morning." 

"Then perhaps we ought to have a parting glass 
to-night ? " 

There was some giggling at this, as a well-deserved 
thrust at me for keeping back the wine that miserly 
fashion. But I did not know these girls, and cared 
nothing for them, otherwise I had acted differently. 

"What do you mean?" I asked. "I've bought 
three bottles of wine that I've to take with me to a 
certain place." 

"And you're going to carry it all that way?" asked 
the girl, amid much laughter. "As if there were never 
a store on the road." 

" Frokenen forgets that it's Sunday to-morrow, and 
the stores on the road will be shut," said I. 

The laugh died away, but I could see the company 
was no more kindly disposed towards me now for 
speaking straight out. I turned to the wife, and asked 
coldly how much I owed her for the time I had stayed. 

But surely there was no hurry wouldn't it do 
to-morrow ? 

I was in a hurry thank you. I had been there two 
days what did that come to ? 

She thought over it quite a while ; at last she went 
out, and got her husband to go with her and work it out 
together. 



92 WANDERERS 

Seeing they stayed so long- away, I went up to the 
loft, packed my sack all ready, and carried it down into 
the passage. I proposed to be even more offended, 
and start off now that very night. It would be a good 
way of taking leave, as things were. 

When I came into the room again, Fetter said : 

' ' You don't mean to say you're starting out to-night ? " 

"Yes, I do." 

"You've no call to heed the girls' nonsense, anyway." 

" Herregud, let the old fellow go if he wants to," 
said his sister. 

At last the deputy and his wife came in again, stiffly 
and stubbornly silent. 

Well I And how much did I owe them ? 

H'm ! They would leave it to me. 

They were all alike a mean and crafty lot ; I felt 
myself stifling, and picking out the first note that came 
to hand I flung it at the woman. 

Was that enough ? 

H'm ! A tidy bit, for sure, but still . . . And some 
might say 'twas enough, but . . . 

How much was it I had given her ? 

A five-Kroner note. 

Well, perhaps it was barely enough ; I felt in my 
pocket for some more. 

"No, mother, it was a ten-Kroner," said Fetter. 
"And that's too much ; you'll have to give him some- 
thing back." 

The old woman opens her hand, looks at the note, 
and turns so very surprised all at once. 

"Why, so it is, ten Kroner, yes ... I didn't pro- 
perly look. Why, then, 'tis right enough, and many 
thanks. . . ." 

Her husband, in embarrassment, starts talking to the 
two lads of what he'd been reading in the paper ; nasty 
accident ; hand crushed in a threshing-machine. The 



WANDERERS 93 

girls pretended not to notice me, but sat like two cats 
all the time, with necks drawn in and eyes as thin as 
knife blades. Nothing to stay for here good-bye to 
them all. 

The old woman comes out in the passage and tries 
making up to me. 

" If only you'd lend us just one of those bottles now," 
she says, "'twould be a real kindness, that it would. 
With the two lads sitting there and all." 

" Farvel" said I shortly, and would hear no more. 

I had my sack over my shoulder, and the sewing- 
machine in one hand ; it was a heavy load, and the 
muddy road made things no easier. But for all that I 
walked with a light heart. It was a miserable business 
altogether, and I might as well admit I had acted a 
trifle meanly. Meanly ? Not a bit ! I formed myself 
into a little committee, and pointed out that those 
infernal girls had planned to entertain their sweet- 
hearts with my wine. Well and good ; but was not 
my ill-will towards that idea male selfishness on my 
part? If two strange girls had been invited, instead of 
two young men, should I not have uncorked the wine 
without a murmur ? Certainly ! And then as to their 
calling me an old fellow ; after all, it was perfectly 
right. Old indeed I must be, since I took offence at 
being set aside in favour of stray ploughboys. . . . 

But my sense of injury cooled down in the course 
of that hard walking. The committee meeting was 
adjourned, and I toiled along hour after hour with my 
ridiculous burden three bottles of wine and a sewing- 
machine. It was mild and slightly foggy ; I could not 
see the lights of a farm till quite close up, and then mostly 
the dogs would come dashing out on me and hinder 
me from stealing into a barn. Later and later it grew ; 
I was tired and discouraged, and plagued myself too 
with anxiety about the future. Had I not already 



94 WANDERERS 

wasted a heap of money on the most useless trash ? I 
must sell that sewing-machine again now, and get 
some of it back. 

At long last I came to a place where there was no 
dog. There was still a light in the window, and, 
without more ado, I walked up and asked shelter for 
the night. 

XXVIII 

A young girl sat at a table sewing ; there was no 
one else in the room. When I asked for shelter, she 
answered brightly and trustingly that she would see, 
and went into a little room at the side. I called after 
her as she went that I would be glad only to sit here by 
the stove till daylight. 

A little after the girl came in again with her mother, 
who was still buttoning her clothes about her. 
Godkvceld ! Shelter for the night? Well, well, there 
wasn't that room in the place they could make me 
properly comfortable, but I'd be welcome to the bed- 
room, such as it was. 

And where would they sleep themselves ? 

Why, it was near day now, and the girl'd be sitting 
up anyhow for a bit with her sewing. 

What was she sewing to sit up for all night? A 
new dress ? 

No, only the skirt. She was to wear it to church in 
the morning, but wouldn't hear of her mother helping. 

I brought up my sewing-machine, and said jestingly 
that a skirt more or less was a mere trifle for a thing 
like this. Wait, and I'd show them. 

Was I a tailor, then ? 

No. But I sold sewing-machines. 

I took out the printed directions and studied them to 
see how it worked. The girl listened attentively ; she 



WANDERERS 95 

was a mere child ; her thin fingers were all blue with 
the dye from the stuff. There was something so poor- 
looking about those blue fingers ; I brought out some 
wine and poured out for all of us. Then we go on 
sewing again I with the printed paper, and the girl 
working the machine. She is delighted to see how 
easily it goes, and her eyes are all aglow. 

How old was she? 

Sixteen. Confirmed last year. 

And what was her name? 

Olga. 

Her mother stands watching us, and would dearly 
like to try the machine herself, but every time she 
comes near, Olga says: "Be careful, mother, you'll 
harm it." And when the spool needs filling, and her 
mother takes the shuttle in her hand a moment, the 
child is once more afraid it may be " harmed." 

The old woman puts on the coffee-pot, and tends the 
fire ; the room is soon warm and cosy. The lonely folk 
are as trusting and kindly as could be. Olga laughs 
when I make a little jest about the machine. I noted 
that neither of them asked how much the thing cost, 
though I had told them it was for sale. They looked 
on it as hopelessly beyond their reach. But they could 
still take a delight in seeing it work. 

I hinted that Olga really ought to have a machine 
like that, seeing she'd got the way of it so neatly all 
at once. 

Her mother answered it would have to wait till she'd 
been out in service for a bit. 

Was she going out in service ? 

Why, yes, she hoped so, anyway. Both her other 
daughters were in service, and doing well thank 
God. Olga would be meeting them at church in the 
morning. 

There was a little cracked mirror hanging on one of 



96 WANDERERS 

the walls, on the other a few cheap prints had been 
tacked up pictures of soldiers on horseback and 
royalties with a great deal of finery. One of these 
pictures is old and frayed. It is a portrait of the 
Empress Eugenie, and evidently not a recent purchase. 
I asked where it had come from. 

The good woman did not know. Must be something 
her husband had bought in his time. 

"Did he buy it here?" 

More likely 'twould have been at Hersaet, where he 
had been in service as a young man. Might be thirty 
years gone now. 

I have a little plan in my head already, and say : 

"That picture is worth a deal of money." 

The woman thinks I am making game of her, so I 
make a close inspection of the picture, and declare 
emphatically that it is no cheap print no. 

But the woman is quite stupid, and simply says : 
well, did I think so, now? The thing had hung there 
ever since the house was built. It was Olga's, by the 
way, she had called it hers from the time she was a 
little one. 

I put on a knowing, mysterious air, and ask for 
further details of the case where Hersaet might be. 

Hersaet was in the neighbouring parish, some eight 
miles away. The Lensmand lived there. . . . 

The coffee is ready, and Olga and I call a halt. 
There are only the fastenings to be done now. I ask 
to see the blouse she is to wear with the skirt, and it 
appears that this is not a real blouse at all, but a 
knitted kerchief. But she has a left-off jacket that 
one of her sisters gave her, and that will go outside 
and hide all the rest. 

Olga is growing so fast, I am told, that there's no 
sense in buying a blouse for her this twelvemonth to 
come. 



WANDERERS 97 

Olga sits sewing on hooks and eyes, and that is soon 
done. Then she turns so sleepy, it's a sight to see ; 
wherefore I put on an air of authority and order her 
to bed. Her mother feels constrained to sit up and 
keep me company, though I tell her myself to go 
back to bed again. 

"You ought to be properly thankful, I'm sure," says 
the mother, "to the strange man for all the way he's 
helped you." 

And Olga comes up to me and gives her hand to 
thank me, and I turn her round and shuffle her across 
to the bedroom door. 

"You'd better go too," I say to her mother. "I 
won't sit talking any more, for I'm tired myself." 

And, seeing I settle down by the stove with my sack 
under my head, she shakes her head with a smile and 
goes off too. 

XXIX 

I am happy and comfortable here ; it is morning ; 
the sun coming in through the window, and both 
Olga and her mother with their hair so smooth and 
plastered down, a wonder to see. 

After breakfast, which I share with the two of them, 
getting quantities of coffee with it, Olga gets herself 
up in her new skirt and her knitted kerchief and the 
jacket. Eh, that wonderful jacket ; lasting at the edge 
all round, and two rows of buttons of the same, and 
the neck and sleeves trimmed with braid. But little 
Olga could not fill it out. Nothing near it ! The child 
is all odd corners and angles, like a young calf. 

" Couldn't we just take it in a bit at the sides?" I 
ask. "There's plenty of time." 

But mother and daughter exchange glances, plainly 
saying, 'tis Sunday, and no using needle or knife that 
7 



98 WANDERERS 

day. I understand them well enough, for I would have 
thought exactly the same myself in my childhood. So 
I try to find a way out by a little free-thinking: 'tis 
another matter when it's a machine that does the 
work ; no more than when an innocent cart comes 
rumbling down the road, as it may any Sunday. 

But no ; this is beyond them. And anyhow, the 
jacket must give her room to grow ; in a couple of 
years it would fit her nicely. 

I thought about for something I could slip into 
Olga's hand as she went ; but I've nothing, so I gave 
her a silver Krone. And straightway she gives her 
hand in thanks, and shows the coin to her mother, and 
whispers she will give it to her sister at church. Her 
eyes are simply glowing with joy at the thought. 
And her mother, hardly less moved herself, answers 
yes, perhaps she ought. . . . 

Olga goes off to church in her long jacket ; goes 
shambling down the hill with her feet turning in and 
out any odd way. A sweet and heartening thing to 
see. . . . 

Hersaet now ; was that a big place ? 

Yes, a fine big place. 

I sit for a while blinking sleepy eyes and mak- 
ing excursions in etymology. Hersaet might mean 
Herrescete. l Or possibly some herse 2 might have held 
sway there. And the herse's daughter was the proudest 
maiden for far around, and the Jarl himself comes 
to ask her hand. And the year after she bears him 
a son, who becomes king. . . . 

In a word, I would go to Hersaet. Seeing it was all 

the same where I went, I would go there. Possibly 

I might get work at the Lensmand's, or there was 

always the chance of something turning up ; at any 

1 Manor. 2 Local chieftain in ancient times. 



WANDERERS 99 

rate, I should see new people. And, having thus 
decided upon Hersaet, I felt I had a purpose before 
me. 

The good woman gives me leave to lie down on her 
bed, for I am drowsy and stupid for lack of sleep. 
A fine blue spider clambers slowly up the wall, and I 
lie watching it till I fall asleep. 

After a couple of hours I wake suddenly, feeling 
rested and fresh. The woman was cooking the dinner. 
I pack up my sack, pay her for my stay, and end up by 
saying I'd like to make an exchange ; my sewing- 
machine for Olga's picture there. 

The woman incredulous as ever. 

Never mind, say I ; if she was content, why, so 
was I. The picture was of value ; I knew what I was 
doing. 

I took down the picture from the wall, blew the dust 
from it, and rolled it up carefully ; the wall showed 
lighter in a square patch where it had been. Then I 
took my leave. 

The woman followed me out : wouldn't I wait now, 
till Olga came back, so she could thank me? Oh, 
now if I only would ! 

I couldn't. Hadn't time. Tell her from me, if there 
was anything she couldn't make out, to look in the 
directions. . . . 

The woman stood looking after me as I went. I 
swaggered down the road, whistling with satisfaction 
at what I had done. Only the sack to carry now ; I 
was rested, the sun was shining, and the road had 
dried up a little. I fell to singing with satisfaction 
at what I had done. 

Neurasthenia . . . 

I reached Hersset the following day. At first I felt 
like passing by, it looked so big and fine a place ; but 
after I had talked a bit with one of the farm hands, 



ioo WANDERERS 

I decided to try the Lensmand after all. I had worked 
for rich people before let me see, there was Captain 
Falkenberg of 0vreb0 . . . 

The Lensmand was a little, broad-shouldered man, 
with a long white beard and dark eyebrows. He 
talked gruffly, but had kindly eyes ; afterwards, I found 
he was a merry soul, who could laugh and jest heartily 
enough at times. Now and again, too, he would show 
a touch of pride in his position, and his wealth, and 
like to have it recognised. 

"No, I've no work for you. Where do you come 
from ? " 

I named some places I had lately passed. 

" No money, I suppose, and go about begging? " 

No, I did not beg ; I had money enough. 

"Well, you'll have to go on farther. I've nothing 
for you to do here ; the ploughing's done. Can you cut 
staves for a fence ? " 

"Yes." 

" H'm. Well, I don't use wooden fences any more. 
I've put up wire. Do bricklayer's work? " 

"Yes." 

"That's a pity. I've had bricklayers at work here 
for weeks ; you might have got a job. But it's all done 
now." 

He stood poking his stick in the ground. 

" What made you come to me ? " 

"Everyone said go to the Lensmand if I wanted work." 

"Oh, did they? Well, I've always got a crowd 
here working at something or other those bricklayers, 
now. Can you put up a fence that's proof against 
fowls? For that's more than any soul on earth ever 
could, haha ! Worked for Captain Falkenberg, you 
said, at 0vreb0?" 

"Yes." 

" What were you doing there? " 



WANDERERS 101 

" Felling timber." 

"I don't know him he lives a long way off. But 
I've heard of him. Any papers from him ? " 

I showed him what the Captain had written. 

" Come along with me," said the Lensmand abruptly. 

He led me round the house and into the kitchen. 

" Give this man a thorough good meal he's come 
a long way, and ..." 

I sat down in the big, well-lighted kitchen to the 
best meal I had had for a long time. I had just 
finished when the Lensmand came out again. 

" Look here, you . . ." he began. 

I got up at once and stood straight as an arrow a 
piece of politeness which I fancy was not lost on him. 

" No, no, finish your meal, go on. Finished? Sure? 
Well, I've been thinking . . . Come along with me." 

He took me out to the woodshed. 

"You might do a bit of work getting in firewood ; 
what do you say to that? I've two men on the place, 
but one of them I shall want for summoners' work, 
so you'll have to go woodcutting with the other. 
You can see there's plenty of wood here as it is, but 
it'll take no harm lying here ; can't have too much of 
that sort of thing. You said you had money ; let 
me see." 

I showed him the notes I had. 

"Good! I'm an official, you see, and have to know 
my folk. Though I don't suppose you've anything 
on your conscience, seeing you come to the Lensmand, 
haha ! Well, as I said, you can give yourself a rest 
to-day, and start cutting wood to-morrow." 

I set to work getting ready for the next day, 
looked to my clothes, filed the saw, and ground my 
axe. I had no gloves, but it was hardly weather 
for gloves as yet, and there was nothing else I was 
short of. 



102 WANDERERS 

The Lensmand came out to me several times, and 
talked in a casual way ; it amused him, perhaps, to 
talk to a strange wanderer. "Here, Margrethe ! " 
he called to his wife, as she went across the courtyard ; 
" here's the new man ; I'm going to send him out 
cutting wood." 

XXX 

We had no special orders, but set to work as we 
thought best, felling dry-topped trees, and in the 
evening the Lensmand said it was right enough. But 
he would show us himself the next day. 

I soon realised that the work here would not last 
till Christmas. With the weather we were having, 
and the ground as it was, frost at night and no snow, 
we felled a deal each day, and nothing to hinder the 
work ; the Lensmand himself thought we were devilish 
smart at felling trees, haha ! The old man was easy 
to work with ; he often came out to us in the woods 
and chatted and made jokes, and as I never joked in 
return, he took me, no doubt, for a dull dog, but a 
steady fellow. He began sending me on errands now, 
with letters to and from the post. 

There were no children on the place, no young folk 
at all save the maids and one of the farm-hands, so the 
evenings were rather long. By way of passing the time, 
I got hold of some tin and acids and re-tinned some 
old pots and kettles in the kitchen. But that was soon 
done. And then one evening I came to write the follow- 
ing letter : 

" If only I -were -where you are, I -would work for two." 

Next day I had to go to the post for the Lensmand ; 
I took my letter with me and posted it. I was very 
uneasy. Moreover, thejetter looked clumsy as I sent 
it, for I had got the paper from the Lensmand, and had 



WANDERERS 103 

to paste a whole strip of stamps along the envelope to 
cover where his name was printed on. I wondered 
what she would say when she got it. There was no 
name, nor any place given in the letter. 

And so we work in the woods, the other man and I, 
talk of our little affairs, working with heart and soul, 
and getting on well together. The days passed ; al- 
ready, worse luck, I could see the end of our work 
ahead, but I had a little hope the Lensmand might find 
something else for me to do when the woodcutting was 
finished. Something would surely turn up. I had no 
wish to set out wandering anew before Christmas. 

Then one day I go to the post again, and there is a 
letter for me. I cannot understand that it is for me, 
and I stand turning and twisting it confusedly ; but 
the man knows me now ; he reads from the envelope 
again and says yes, it is my name right enough, and 
care of the Lensmand. Suddenly a thought strikes me, 
and I grasp the letter. Yes, it is for me ; I forgot . . . 
yes, of course . . . 

And I hurry out into the road, with something ringing 
in my ears all the time, and open the letter, and read : 

" Skriu ikke tU mig - " * 



No name, no place, but so clear and lovely. The 
first word was underlined. 

I do not know how I got home. I remember I sat 
on a stone by the roadside and read the letter and put 
it in my pocket, and walked on till I came to another 
stone and did the same again. Sfiriu ikke. But did 
that mean I might come and perhaps speak with her ? 
That little, dainty piece of paper, and the swift, delicate 
characters. Her hands had held it, her eyes had looked 
on it, her breath had touched it. And then at the end 
a dash. Which might have a world of meaning. 
1 " Do not -write (skrive) to me." 



104 WANDERERS 

I came home, handed in the Lensmand's post, and 
went out into the wood. I was dreaming all the time. 
My comrade, no doubt, must have found me an incom- 
prehensible man, seeing me read a letter again and 
again, and put it back with my money. 

How splendid of her to have found me ! She must 
have held the envelope up to the light, no doubt, and 
read the Lensmand's name under the stamps ; then laid 
her beautiful head on one side and half closed her eyes 
and thought for a moment : he is working for the 
Lensmand at Hersaet now. . . . 

That evening, when we were back home, the Lens- 
mand came out and talked to us of this and that, and 
asked : 

"Didn't you say you'd been working for Captain 
Falkenberg at 0vreb0 ? " 

"Yes." 

" I see he's invented a machine." 

"A machine?" 

"A patent saw for timber work. It's in the 
papers." 

I started at this. Surely he hadn't invented my 
patent saw ? 

"There must be some mistake," I said. " It wasn't 
the Captain who invented it." 

"Oh, wasn't it?" 

" No/ it wasn't. But the saw was left with him." 

And I told the Lensmand all about it. He went 
in to fetch the paper, and we both read what it 
said : " New Invention . . . Our Correspondent 
on the spot ... Of great importance to owners of 
timber lands . . . Principle of the mechanism is as 
follows: ..." 

" You don't mean to say it's your invention? " 

"Yes, it is." 

" And the Captain is trying to steal it ? Why, this'll 



WANDERERS 105 

be a pretty case, a mighty pretty case. Leave it to me. 
Did anyone see you working on the thing? " 

" Yes, all his people on the place did." 

" Lord save me if it's not the stiffest bit of business 
I've heard for a long time. Walk off with another 
man's invention ! And the money, too . . . why, it 
might bring you in a million ! " 

I was obliged to confess I could not understand the 
Captain. 

"Don't you? Haha, but I do! I've not been 
Lensmand all this time for nothing. No ; I've had 
my suspicions that he wasn't so rich as he pretended. 
Well, I'll send him a bit of a letter from me, just a line 
or so what do you say to that ? Hahaha ! You leave 
it to me." 

But at this I began to feel uneasy. The Lensmand 
was too violent all at once ; it might well be that the 
Captain was not to blame in the matter at all, and that 
the newspaper man had made the mistake himself. I 
begged the Lensmand to let me write myself. 

"And agree to divide the proceeds with that rascal? 
Never ! You leave the whole thing in my hands. And, 
anyhow, if you were to write yourself, you couldn't set 
it out properly the way I can." 

But I worked on him until at last he agreed that I 
should write the first letter, and then he should take it 
up after. I got some of the Lensmand's paper again. 

I got no writing done that evening ; it had been an 
exciting day, and my mind was all in a turmoil still. 
I thought and reckoned it out ; for Fruen's sake I 
would not write directly to the Captain, and risk caus- 
ing her unpleasantness as well ; no, I would send a line 
to my comrade, Lars Falkenberg, to keep an eye on 
the machine. 

That night I had another visit from the corpse that 
miserable old woman in her night-shift, that would not 



io6 WANDERERS 

leave me in peace on account of her thumbnail. I had 
had a long 1 spell of emotion the day before, so this night 
she took care to come. Frozen with horror, I saw her 
come gliding in, stop in the middle of the room, and 
stretch out her hand. Over against the other wall lay 
my fellow-woodcutter in his bed, and it was a strange 
relief to me to hear that he too lay groaning and moving 
restlessly ; at any rate there were two of us to share 
the danger. I shook my head, to say I had buried the 
nail in a peaceful spot, and could do no more. But the 
corpse stood there still. I begged her pardon ; but 
then, suddenly, I was seized with a feeling of annoy- 
ance ; I grew angry, and told her straight out I'd have 
no more of her nonsense. I'd borrowed that nail of 
hers at a pinch, but I'd done all I could do months ago, 
and buried it again. ... At that she came gliding 
sideways over to my pillow, trying to get behind me. 
I flung myself up in bed and gave a shriek. 

" What is it? " asked the lad from the other bed. 

I rub my eyes and answer I'd been dreaming, that 
was all. 

" Who was it came in just now? " asks the boy. 

" I don't know. Was there anyone in here ? " 

" I saw someone going . . ." 

XXXI 

After a couple of days, I set myself down calmly and 
loftily to write to Falkenberg. I had a bit of a saw 
thing I'd left there at 0vreb0, I wrote ; it might be a 
useful thing for owners of timber lands some day, and 
I proposed to come along and fetch it away shortly. 
Please keep an eye on it and see it doesn't get 
damaged. 

Yes, I wrote in that gentle style. That was the 
most dignified way. And since Falkenberg, of course, 



WANDERERS 107 

would mention it in the kitchen, and perhaps show the 
letter round, it had to be delicacy itself. But it was 
not all delicacy and nothing else ; I fixed a definite 
date, to make it serious : I will come for the machine 
on Monday, nth December. 

I thought to myself: there, that's clear and sound ; 
if the machine's not there that Monday, why, then, 
something will happen. 

I took the letter to the post myself, and stuck a strip 
of stamps across the envelope as before. . . . 

My beautiful ecstasy was still on me. I had received 
the loveliest letter in the world ; here it was in my 
breast pocket ; it was to me. Shril) ikke. No, indeed, 
but I could come. And then a dash at the end. 

There wasn't anything wrong, by any chance, about 
that underlining the word : as, for instance, meaning to 
emphasise the whole thing as an order ? Ladies were 
always so fond of underlining all sorts of words, and 
putting in dashes here, there, and everywhere. But 
not she ; no, not she ! 

A few days more, and the work at the Lensmand's 
would be at an end ; it fitted in very well, everything 
worked out nicely ; on the nth I was to be at 0vreb0. 
And that perhaps not a minute too soon. If the Captain 
really had any idea of his own about my machine, it 
would be necessary to act at once. Was a stranger to 
come stealing my hard-earned million ? Hadn't I toiled 
for it ? I almost began to regret the gentleness of my 
letter to Falkenberg ; I might have made it a good deal 
sharper ; now, perhaps, he would imagine I was too 
soft to stand up for myself. Why, he might even take 
it into his head to bear witness against me, and say 
I hadn't invented the machine at all ! Hoho, Master 
Falkenberg, just try it on ! In the first place, 'twill 
cost you your eternal salvation ; and if that's not 
enough, I'll have you up for perjury before my friend 



1 08 WANDERERS 

and patron, the Lensmand. And you know what 
that'll mean. 

" Of course you must go," said the Lensmand when 
I spoke to him about it. "And just come back here 
to me with your machine. You must look after your 
interests, of course ; it may be a question of something 
considerable." 

The following day's post brought a piece of news 
that changed the situation in a moment ; there was a 
letter from Captain Falkenberg himself in the paper, 
saying it was due to a misunderstanding that the new 
timber saw had been stated as being of his invention. 
The apparatus had been designed by a man who had 
worked on his estate some time back. As to its 
value, he would not express any opinion. Captain 
Falkenberg. 

The Lensmand and I looked at each other. 

" Well, what do you say now ? " he asked. 

"That the Captain, at any rate, is innocent." 

" Ho ! D'you know what I think ? " 

Pause. The Lensmand playing Lensmand from top 
to toe, unravelling schemes and plots. 

" He is not innocent," said he. 

"Really?" 

"Ah, I've seen that sort of thing before. Drawing 
in his horns, that's all. Your letter put him on his 
guard. Haha ! " 

At this I had to confess to the Lensmand that I had 
not written to the Captain at all, but had merely sent a 
bit of a note to one of the hands at 0vreb0 ; and even 
that letter could not have reached there yet, seeing it 
was only posted the night before. 

This left the Lensmand dumb, and he gave up un- 
ravelling things. On the other hand, he seemed from 
now onward to be greatly in doubt as to whether the 
whole thing had any value at all. 



WANDERERS 109 

" Quite likely the machine's no good at all," he said. 
But then he added kindly: "I mean, it may need 
touching up a bit, and improving. You've seen your- 
self how they're always altering things like warships 
and flying-machines. . . . Are you still determined 
to go ? " 

No more was said about my coming back here and 
bringing the machine with me. But the Lensmand 
wrote me a very nice recommendation. He would 
gladly have kept me on longer, it said, but the 
work was interrupted by private affairs of my own 
elsewhere. . . . 

In the morning, when I was ready to start, a little 
girl stood in the courtyard waiting for me to come out. 
It was Olga. Was there ever such a child ? She must 
have been afoot since midnight to get here so early. 
And there she stood in her blue skirt and her jacket. 

" That you, Olga ? Where are you going ? " 

She had come to see me. 

How did she know I was here? 

She had asked about me and found out where I was. 
And please was it true she was to keep the sewing- 
machine? But of course it couldn't . . . 

Yes, the machine was hers all right ; hadn't I taken 
her picture in exchange? Did it work all right? 

Yes, it worked all right. 

We did not talk much together ; I wanted to get 
her away before the Lensmand came out and began 
asking questions. 

"Well, run along home now, child ; you've a long 
way to go." 

Olga gives me her hand it is swallowed up 
completely in mine, and she lets it lie there as long 
as I will. Then she thanks me, and shambles gaily 
off again. And her toes turning in and out all 
odd ways. 



no WANDERERS 

XXXII 

I am nearly at my goal. 

Sunday evening I lay in a watchman's hut not far 
from 0vrebo, so as to be on the place early Monday 
morning. By nine o'clock everyone would be up, then 
surely I must be lucky enough to meet the one I sought. 

I had grown dreadfully nervous, and kept imagining 
ugly things. I had written a nice letter to Falkenberg, 
using no sharp words, but the Captain might after all 
have been offended at my fixing the date like that ; 
giving him so and so much time. ... If only I had 
never written at all ! 

Coming up towards the house I stoop more and 
more, and make myself small, though indeed I had 
done no wrong. I turn off from the road up, and go 
round so as to reach the outbuildings first and there 
I come upon Falkenberg. He is washing down the 
carriage. We gave each other greeting, and were 
the same good comrades as before. 

Was he going out with the carriage? 

No, just come back the night before. Been to the 
railway station. 

Who had gone away, then ? 

Fruen. 

Fruen ? 

Fruen, yes. 

Pause. 

Really ? And where was Fruen gone to ? 

Gone to stay in town for a bit. 

Pause. 

" Stranger man's been here writing in the papers 
about that machine of yours," says Falkenberg. 

" Is the Captain gone away too? " 

" No, Captain's at home. You should have seen his 
face when your letter came." 



WANDERERS 1 1 1 

I got Falkenberg to come up to the old loft. I had 
still two bottles of wine in my sack, and I took them 
out and we started on them together ; eh, those bottles 
that I had carried backward and forward, mile after 
mile, and had to be so careful with, they served me 
well just now. Save for them Falkenberg would 
never have said so much. 

"What was that about the Captain and my letter? 
Did he see it?" 

" Well, it began like this," said Falkenberg. " Fruen 
was in the kitchen when I came in with the post. 
' What letter's that with all those stamps on ? ' she says. 
I opened it, and said it was from you, to say you were 
coming on the nth." 

" And what did she say ? " 

"She didn't say any more. Yes, she asked once 
again, 'Coming on the nth, is he?' And I said 
yes, he was." 

"And then, a couple of days after, you got orders 
to drive her to the station ? " 

"Why, yes, it must have been about a couple of 
days. Well, then, I thought, if Fruen knows about 
the letter, then Captain surely knows too. D'you 
know what he said when I brought it in?" 

I made no answer to this, but thought and thought. 
There must be something behind all this. Was she 
running away from me ? Madman ! the Captain's lady 
at 0vreb0 would not run away from one of her labourers. 
But the whole thing seemed so strange. I had hoped 
all along she would give me leave to speak with her, 
since I was forbidden to write. 

Falkenberg went on, a little awkwardly : 

"Well, I showed the Captain your letter, though 
you didn't say I was to. Was there any harm in 
that?" 

" It doesn't matter. What did he say ? " 



112 WANDERERS 

"'Yes, look after the machine, do,' he said, and 
made a face. ' In case anyone comes to steal it,' he 
said." 

"Then the Captain's angry with me now?" 

" Nay, I shouldn't think so. I've heard no more 
about it since that day." 

It mattered little after all about the Captain. When 
Falkenberg had taken a deal of wine, I asked him if 
he knew where Fruen was staying in town. No, but 
Emma might, perhaps. We get hold of Emma, treat 
her to wine, talk a lot of nonsense, and work gradually 
round to the point ; at last asking in a delicate way. 
No, Emma didn't know the address. But Fruen had 
gone in to buy things for Christmas, and she was 
going with Froken Elisabeth from the vicarage, so 
they'd know the address there. What did I want 
it for, by the way? 

Well, it was only about a filigree brooch I had got 
hold of, and wanted to ask if she'd care to buy it. 

" Let's look." 

Luckily I was able to show her the brooch ; it was 
a beautiful piece of old work ; I had bought it of one 
of the maids at Hersaet. 

" Fruen wouldn't have it," said Emma. " I wouldn't 
have it myself." 

" Not if you got me into the bargain, Emma, what ? " 
And I force myself to jest again. 

Emma goes off. I try drawing out Falkenberg 
again. Falkenberg was sharp enough at times to 
understand people. 

Did he still sing for Fruen ? 

Lord, no ; that was all over. Falkenberg wished he 
hadn't taken service here at all ; 'twas nothing but 
trouble and misery about the place. 

Trouble and misery? Weren't they friends, then, 
the Captain and his lady ? 



WANDERERS 1 1 3 

Oh yes, they were friends. In the same old way. 
Last Saturday she had been crying all day. 

" Funny thing it should be like that," say I, " when 
they're so upright and considerate towards each other." 
And I watch to see what Falkenberg says to that. 

"Eh, but they're ever weary," says Falkenberg in his 
Valdres dialect. "And she's losing her looks too. 
Only in the time you've been gone, she's got all 
pale and thin." 

I sat up in the loft for a couple of hours, keeping an 
eye on the main building from my window, but the 
Captain did not appear. Why didn't he go out ? It 
was hopeless to wait any longer ; I should have to go 
without making my excuses to the Captain. I could 
have found good grounds enough ; I might have put 
the blame on to the first article in tfie paper, and said it 
had rather turned my head for the moment and there 
was some truth in that. Well, all I had to do now 
was to tie up the machine in a bundle, cover it up 
as far as possible with my sack, and start off on my 
wanderings again. 

Emma stole some food for me before I went. 

It was another long journey this time ; first to the 
vicarage though that was but a little out of the way 
and then on to the railway station. A little snow was 
falling, which made it rather heavy walking ; and what 
was more, I could not take it easy now, but must get 
on as fast as I could. The ladies were only staying in 
town for their Christmas shopping, and they had a 
good start already. 

On the following afternoon I came to the vicarage. 
I had reckoned out it would be best to speak with 
Fruen. 

"I'm on my way into town," I told her. "And 
I've this machine thing with me ; if I might leave the 
heaviest of the woodwork here meanwhile ? " 
8 



114 WANDERERS 

"Are you going into town?" says Fruen. "But 
you'll stay here till to-morrow, surely ? " 

"No, thanks all the same. I've got to be in town 
to-morrow." 

Fruen thinks for a bit and then says : 

" Elisabeth's in town. You might take a parcel in 
for her something she's forgotten." 

That gives me the address ! I thought to myself. 

" But I've got to get it ready first." 

"Then Fr0ken Elisabeth might be gone again before 
I got there ? " 

"Oh no; she's with Fru Falkenberg, and they're 
staying in town for the week." 

This was grand news, joyous news. Now I had both 
the address and the time. 

Fruen stands watching me sideways, and says : 

" Well, then, you'll stay the night, won't you? You 
see, it's something I've got to get ready first ..." 

I was given a room in the main building, because it 
was too cold to sleep in the barn. And when all the 
household had gone to rest that night, and everything 
was quiet, came Fruen to my room with the parcel, 
and said : 

" Excuse my coming so late. But I thought you 
might be going early to-morrow morning before I 
was up." 

XXXIII 

So here I am once more in the crush and noise of 
a city, with its newspapers and people. I have been 
away from all this for many months now, and find it 
not unpleasant. I spend a morning taking it all in ; 
get hold of some other clothes, and set off to find 
Froken Elisabeth at her address. She was staying 
with some relatives. 

And now should I be lucky enough to meet the 



WANDERERS 1 1 5 

other one? I am restless as a boy. My hands are 
vulgarly unused to gloves, and I pull them off; then 
going up the step I notice that my hands do not go at 
all well with the clothes I am wearing, and I put on 
my gloves again. Then I ring the bell. 

" Froken Elisabeth? Yes, would you wait a 
moment ? " 

Froken Elisabeth comes out. " Goddag. You wished 
to speak to ... Oh, is it you ? " 

I had brought a parcel from her mother. Vcersaagod. 

She tears open the parcel and looks inside. "Oh, 
fancy Mama thinking of that. The opera-glasses ! 
We've been to the theatre already. ... I didn't recog- 
nise you at first." 

"Really! It's not so very long since ..." 

" No, but . . . Tell me, isn't there anyone else you'd 
like to inquire about ? Haha ! " 

"Yes," said I. 

"Well, she's not here. I'm only staying here with 
my relations. No, she's at the Victoria." 

"Well, the parcel was for you," said I, trying to 
master my disappointment. 

" Wait a minute. I was just going out again ; we 
can go together." 

Froken Elisabeth puts on some over-things, calls out 
through a door to say she won't be very long, and goes 
out with me. We take a cab and drive to a quiet 
cafe. Froken Elisabeth says yes, she loves going to 
cafes. But there's nothing very amusing about this 
one. 

Would she rather go somewhere else ? 

"Yes. To the Grand." 

I hesitated ; it might be hardly safe. I had been 
away for a long time now, and if we met anyone I knew 
I might have to talk to them. But Frokenen insisted on 
the Grand. She had had but a few days' practice in the 



u6 WANDERERS 

capital, and had already gained a deal of self-assurance. 
But I liked her so much before. 

We drove off again to the Grand. It was getting 
towards evening. Fr0kenen picks out a seat right in 
the brightest spot, beaming all over herself at the fun 
of it. I ordered some wine. 

"What fine clothes you're wearing now," she says, 
with a laugh. 

"I couldn't very well corne in here in a workman's 
blouse." 

" No, of course not. But, honestly, that blouse .. . . 
shall I tell you what I think? " 

"Yes, do." 

"The blouse suited you better." 

There ! Devil take these town clothes ! I sat 
there with my head full of other things, and did not 
care for this sort of talk. 

" Are you staying long in town ? " I asked. 

" As long as Lovise does. We've finished our shop- 
ping. No, I'm sorry ; it's all too short." Then she turns 
gay once more, and asks laughingly: "Did you like 
being with us out in the country ? " 

" Yes. That was a pleasant time." 

" And will you come again soon ? Haha ! " 

She seemed to be making fun of me. Trying, of 
course, to show she saw through me : that I hadn't 
played my part well enough as a country labourer. 
Child that she was ! I could teach many a labourer his 
business, and had more than one trade at my finger- 
ends. Though in my true calling I manage to achieve 
just the next best of all I dream. . . . 

" Shall I ask Papa to put up a notice on the post 
next spring, to say you're willing to lay down water- 
pipes and so on ? " 

She closed her eyes and laughed so heartily she 
laughed. 



WANDERERS 117 

I am torn with excitement, and her merriment pains 
me, though it is all good-humoured enough. I glance 
round the place, trying to pull myself together ; here 
and there an acquaintance nods to me, and I return it ; 
it all seems so far away to me. I was sitting with a 
charming girl, and that made people notice us. 

" You know these people, it seems?" 

"Yes, one or two of them. Have you enjoyed your- 
self in town?" 

" Oh yes, immensely. I've two boy cousins here, 
and then there were their friends as well." 

"Poor young Erik, out in the country," said I 
jestingly. 

" Oh, you with your young Erik. No, there's one 
here in town ; his name's Bewer. But I'm not friends 
with him just now." 

" Oh, that won't last long." 

"Do you think so? Really, though, I'm rather 
serious about it. I've an idea he might be coming in 
here this evening." 

" You must point him out to me, if he does." 

" I thought, as we drove out here, that you and I 
could sit here together, you know, and make him 
jealous." 

"Right, then, we will." 

"Yes, but . . . No, you'd have to be a bit younger. 
I mean . . ." 

I forced myself to laugh. Oh, we would manage 
all right. Don't despise us old ones, us ancient ones, 
we can be quite surprisingly useful at times. " Only 
you'd better let me sit on the sofa beside you there, so 
he can't see I'm bald at the back." 

Eh, but it is hard to take that perilous transition to 
old age in any quiet and beautiful way. There comes 
a forcedness, a play of jerky effort and grimaces, the 
fight against those younger than ourselves, and envy. 



n8 WANDERERS 

"Froken ..." I ask this of her now with all my 
heart. " Froken, couldn't you ring up Fru Falkenberg 
and get her to come round here now ? " 

She thinks for a moment. 

"Yes, we will," she says generously. 

We go out to the telephone, ring up the Victoria : 
Fruen is there. 

"Is that you, Lovise? You'd never guess who 
I'm with now? Won't you come along? Oh, good! 
We're at the Grand. No, I can't tell you now. Yes, 
of course it's a man only he's a gentleman now I 
won't say who it is. Are you coming? Why, you 
said just now you would ! Some people ? Oh, well, 
do as you like, of course, but I do think . . . Yes, 
he's standing here. You are in a hurry . . ." 

Froken Elisabeth rang off, and said shortly : 

" She had to go and see some friends." 

We went back to our seat, and had some more wine ; 
I tried to be cheerful, and suggested champagne. Yes, 
thanks. And then, as we're sitting there, Frokenen 
says suddenly : 

"Oh, there's Bewerl I'm so glad we're drinking 
champagne." 

But I have only one idea in my mind, and being now 
called upon to show what I can do, and charm this 
young lady to the ultimate advantage of someone else, 
I find myself saying one thing and thinking another. 
Which, of course, leads to disaster. I cannot get that 
telephone conversation out of my head ; she must have 
had an idea have realised that it was I who was wait- 
ing for her here. But what on earth had I done? 
Why had I been dismissed so suddenly from 0vreb0, 
and Falkenberg taken on in my place ? Quite possibly 
the Captain and his wife were not always the best of 
friends, but the Captain had scented danger in my 
being there, and wished to save his wife at least from 



WANDERERS 119 

such an ignominious fall. And now, here she was, 
feeling ashamed that I had worked on her place, that 
she had used me to drive her carriage, and twice 
shared food with me by the way. And she was ashamed, 
too, of my being no longer young. . . . 

"This will never do," says Froken Elisabeth. 

So I pull myself together again and start saying all 
manner of foolish things, to make her laugh. I drink 
a good deal and that helps ; at last, she really seems 
to fancy I am making myself agreeable to her on her 
own account. She looks at me curiously. 

" No, really, though, do you think I'm nice? " 

' ' Oh, please don't you understand ? I was speaking 
of Fru Falkenberg." 

" Sh ! " says Froken Elisabeth. "Of course it is 
Fru Falkenberg ; I know that perfectly well, but you 
need not say so. ... I really think we're beginning 
to make an impression on him over there. Let's go 
on like we are doing, and look interested." 

So she hadn't imagined I was trying on my own 
account, after all. I was too old for that sort of thing, 
anyway. Devil take it, yes, of course. 

"But you can't get Fru Falkenberg," she says, 
beginning again. " It's simply hopeless." 

" No, I can't get her. Nor you either." 

" Are you speaking to Fru Falkenberg now again ? " 

" No, it was to you this time." 

Pause. 

" Do you know I was in love with you? Yes, when 
I was at home." 

"This is getting quite amusing," said I, shifting up 
on the sofa. " Oh, we'll manage Bewer, never fear." 

" Yes, only fancy, I used to go up to the churchyard 
to meet you in the evenings. But you, foolish person, 
you didn't see it a bit." 

" Now you're talking to Bewer, of course," said I. 



120 WANDERERS 

" No, it's perfectly true. And I came over one day 
when you were working in the potato fields. It wasn't 
your young Erik I came to see, not a bit." 

" Only think, that it should have been me," I say, 
putting on a melancholy air. 

"Yes, of course you think it was strange. But 
really, you know, people who live in the country must 
have someone to be fond of too." 

" Does Fru Falkenberg say the same? " 

" Fru Falkenberg? No, she says she doesn't want 
to be fond of anybody, only play her piano and that 
sort of thing. But I was speaking of myself. Do you 
know what I did once? No, really, I can't tell you 
that. Do you want to know ? " 

"Yes, tell me." 

" Well, then . . . for, after all, I'm only a child com- 
pared to you, so it doesn't matter. It was when you 
were sleeping in the barn ; I went over there one day 
and laid your rugs together properly, and made a 
proper bed." 

" Was it you did that? " I burst out quite sincerely, 
forgetting to play my part. 

"You ought to have seen me stealing in. Hahaha! " 

But this young girl was not artful enough, she 
changed colour at her little confession, and laughed 
forcedly to cover her confusion. 

I try to help her out, and say : 

" You're really good-hearted, you know. Fru 
Falkenberg would never have done a thing like that." 

" No ; but then she's older. Did you think we were 
the same age ? " 

" Does Fru Falkenberg say she doesn't 'want to be 
fond of anybody ? " 

"Yes. Oh no ... bother, I don't know. Fru 
Falkenberg's married, of course ; she doesn't say 
anything. Now talk to me again a little. . . . Yes, 



WANDERERS 121 

and do you remember the time we went up to the store 
to buy things, you know ? And I kept walking slower 
and slower for you to catch up. . . ." 

" Yes . . . that was nice of you. And now I'll do 
something for you in return." 

I rose from my seat, and walked across to where 
young Bewer sat, and asked if he would not care to 
join us at our table. I brought him along ; Froken 
Elisabeth flushed hotly as he came up. Then I talked 
those two young people well together, which done, I 
suddenly remembered I had some business to do, and 
must go off at once. " I'm ever so sorry to leave just 
now. Froken Elisabeth, I'm afraid you've bewitched 
me completely ; but I realise it's hopeless to think of 
it. It's a marvel to me, by the way. . . ." 

XXXIV 

I shambled over to Raadhusgaten, and stood awhile 
by the cab-stand, watching the entrance to the Victoria. 
But, of course, she had gone to see some friends. I 
drifted into the hotel, and got into talk with the porter. 

Yes, Fruen was in. Room No. 12, first floor. 

Then she was not out visiting friends ? 

No. 

Was she leaving shortly ? 

Fruen had not said so. 

I went out into the street again, and the cabmen 
flung up their aprons, inviting my patronage. I picked 
out a cab and got in. 

"Whereto?" 

"Just stay where you are. I'm hiring you by the 
hour." 

The cabmen walk about whispering, one suggesting 
this, another that : he's watching the place ; out to 
catch his wife meeting some commercial traveller. 



122 WANDERERS 

Yes, I am watching the place. There is light in one 
or two of the rooms, and suddenly it strikes me that 
she might stand at a window and see me. " Wait," 
I say to the cabman, and go into the hotel again. 

" Whereabouts is No. 12 ?" 

" First floor." 

" Looking out on to Raadhusgaten ? " 

"Yes." 

"Then it must have been my sister," I say, invent- 
ing something in order to slip past the porter. 

I go up the stairs, and, to give myself no chance of 
turning back, I knock at the door the moment I have 
seen the number. No answer. I knock again. 

" Is it the maid? " comes a voice from within. 

I could not answer yes ; my voice would have 
betrayed me. I tried the handle the door was locked. 
Perhaps she had been afraid I might come ; possibly 
she had seen me outside. 

" No, it's not the maid," I say, and I can hear how 
the words quiver strangely. 

I stand listening a long while after that ; I can hear 
someone moving inside, but the door remains closed. 
Then come two short rings from one of the rooms 
down to the hall. It must be she, I say to myself; she 
is feeling uneasy, and has rung for the maid. I move 
away from her door, to avoid any awkwardness for 
her, and, when the maid comes, I walk past as if going 
downstairs. Then the maid says, " Yes, the maid," 
and the door is opened. 

" No, no," says the maid ; " only a gentleman going 
downstairs." 

I thought of taking a room at the hotel, but the idea 
was distasteful to me ; she was not a runaway wife 
meeting commercial travellers. When I came down, I 
remarked to the porter as I passed that Fruen seemed 
to be lying down. 



WANDERERS 123 

Then I went out and got into my cab again. The 
time passes, a whole hour ; the cabman wants to know 
if I do not feel cold ? Well, yes, a little. Was I wait- 
ing for someone? Yes. . . . He hands me down his 
rug from the box, and I tip him the price of a drink 
for his thoughtfulness. 

Time goes on ; hour after hour. The cabmen talk 
unrestrainedly now, saying openly one to another that 
I'm letting the horse freeze to death. 

No, it was no good. I paid for the cab, went home, 
and wrote the following letter : 

" You -would not let me 'write to you ; will you not let 
-me see you once again? I will ask for you at the hotel 
at five to-morrow afternoon." 

Should I have fixed an earlier hour ? But the 
light in the forenoon was so white ; if I felt moved 
and my mouth twitched, I should look a dreadful 
sight. 

I took the letter round myself to the hotel, and went 
home again. 

A long night oh, how long were those hours ! Now, 
when I ought to sleep and stretch myself and feel 
refreshed, I could not. Day dawned, and I got up. 
After a long ramble through the streets I came back 
home again, and slept. 

Hours pass. When I awake and come to my senses, 
I hurry anxiously to the telephone to ask if Fruen 
had left. 

No, Fruen had not left. 

Thank Heaven then, it seemed she did not wish to 
run away from me ; she must have had my letter long 
since. No ; I had called at an awkward hour the 
evening before, that was all. 

I had something to eat, lay down, and slept again. 
When I woke it was past noon. I stumble in to the 
telephone again and ring up as before. 



1 24 WANDERERS 

No, Fruen had not left yet; But her things were 
packed. She was out just now. 

I got ready at once, and hurried round to Raadhus- 
gaten to stand on watch. In the course of half an 
hour I saw a number of people pass in and out, not 
the one I sought. It was five o'clock now, and I went 
in and spoke to the porter. 

Fruen was gone. 

Gone? 

" Was it you that rang up ? She came just at that 
moment and took her things. But I've a letter here." 

I took the letter, and, without opening it, asked 
about the train. 

"Train left at 4.45," says the porter, looking at his 
watch. " It's five now." 

I had thrown away half an hour keeping watch 
outside. 

I sit down on one of the steps, staring at the floor. 

The porter keeps on talking. He must be well 
aware it was not my sister. 

" I said to Fruen there was a gentleman had just 
rung up. But she only said she hadn't time, and 
would I give him this letter." 

" Was there another lady with her when she left? " 

" No." 

I got up and went out. In the street I opened the 
letter and read : 

" You must not follow me about any more " 

Impassively I put the thing away. It had not sur- 
prised me, had made no new impression. Thoroughly 
womanly, hasty words, written on impulse, with under- 
lining and a dash. . . . 

Then it occurred to me to go round to Froken 
Elisabeth's address ; there was still a glimmer of hope. 
I heard the door bell ring inside the house as I pressed, 
and stood listening as in a whirling desert. 



WANDERERS 125 

Froken Elisabeth had left an hour before. 

Then wine, and then whisky. And then endless 
whisky. And altogether a twenty-one days' debauch, 
in the course of which a curtain falls and hides my 
earthly consciousness. In this state, it enters my head 
one day to send something to a little cottage in the 
country. It is a mirror, in a gay gilt frame. And 
it was for a little maid, by name Olga, a creature 
touching and sweet to watch as a young calf. 

Ay, for I've not got over my neurasthenia yet. 

The timber saw is in my room. But I cannot put 
it together now, for the bulk of the wooden parts I left 
behind at a vicarage in the country. It matters little 
now, my love for the thing is dulled. My neurasthenic 
friends, believe me, folk of our sort are useless as 
human beings, and we should not even do for any 
kind of beast. 

One day I suppose I shall grow tired of this uncon- 
sciousness, and go out and live on an island once again. 



II 

WITH MUTED STRINGS 



127 



INTRODUCTION 

IT looks to be a fine year for berries, yes ; whortle- 
berries, crowberries, and fintocks. A man can't 
live on berries ; true enough. But it is good to 
have them growing all about, and a kindly thing to see. 
And many a thirsty and hungry man's been glad to find 
them. 

I was thinking of this only yesterday evening. 
There's two or three months yet till the late autumn 
berries are ripe ; yes, I know. But there are other joys 
than berries in the wilds. Spring and summer they are 
still only in bloom, but there are harebells and lady- 
slipper, deep, windless woods, and the scent of trees, 
and stillness. There is a sound as of distant waters 
from the heavens ; never so long-drawn a sound in all 
eternity. And a thrush may be singing as high as ever 
its voice can go, and then, just at its highest pitch, 
breaks the note suddenly at a right angle ; clear and 
clean as if cut with a diamond ; then softly and sweetly 
down the scale once more. Along the shore, too, there 
is life ; guillemot, oyster-catcher, tern are busy there ; 
the wagtail is out in search of food, advancing in little 
spurts, trim and pert with its pointed beak and swift 
little flick of the tail ; after a while it flies up to perch 
on a fence and sing with the rest. But when the sun 
has set, may come the cry of a loon from some hill-tarn ; 
a melancholy hurrah. That is the last ; now there is 
only the grasshopper left. And there's nothing to say 
of a grasshopper, you never see it ; it doesn't count, 
9 



130 WANDERERS 

only he's there gritting his resiny teeth, as you might 
say. 

I sit and think of all these things ; of how summer 
has its joys for a wanderer, so there's no sort of need 
to wait till autumn comes. 

And here I am writing cool words of these quiet 

things for all the world as if there were no violent and 

perilous happenings ahead. 'Tis a trick, and I learned 

it of a man in the southern hemisphere of a Mexican 

called Rough. The brim of his huge hat was hung 

with tinkling sequins ; that in itself was a thing to 

remember. And most of all, I remember how calmly 

he told the story of his first murder : " I'd a sweetheart 

once named Maria," said Rough, with that patient 

look of his ; " well, she was no more than sixteen, and I 

was nineteen then. She'd such little hands when you 

touched them ; fingers thin and slight, you know the 

sort. One evening the master called her in from the 

fields to do some sewing for him. No help for it then ; 

and it wasn't more than a day again before he calls her 

in same as before. Well, it went on like that a few 

weeks, and then stopped. Seven months after Maria 

died, and they buried her, little hands and all. I went 

to her brother Inez and said: 'At six to-morrow 

morning the master rides to town, and he'll be alone.' 

' I know,' said he. ' You might lend me that little 

rifle of yours to shoot him with.' ' I shall be using it 

myself,' said he. Then we talked for a bit about other 

things : the crops, and a big new well we'd dug. And 

when I left, I reached down his rifle from the wall and 

took it with me. In the timber I heard Inez at my 

heels, calling to me to stop. We sat down and talked 

a bit more this way and that ; then Inez snatched the 

rifle away from me and went home. Next morning I 

was up early, and out at the gate ready to open it for 

the master ; Inez was there too, hiding in the bushes. 



WANDERERS 1 3 1 

I told him he'd better go on ahead ; we didn't want to 
be two to one. ' He's pistols in his belt,' said Inez ; 
'but what about you?' ' I know,' said I ; 'but I've a 
lump of lead here, and that makes no noise.' I showed 
him the lump of lead, and he thought for a bit ; then he 
went home. Then the master came riding up ; grey 
and old he was, sixty at least. ' Open the gate ! ' he 
called out. But I didn't. He thought I must be mad, 
no doubt, and lashed out at me with his whip, but I 
paid no heed. At last he had to get down himself to 
open the gate. Then I gave him the first blow : it got 
him just by one eye and cut a hole. He said ' Augh!' 
and dropped. I said a few words to him, but he didn't 
understand ; after a few more blows he was dead. 
He'd a deal of money on him ; I took a little to help me 
on my way, then I mounted and rode off. Inez was 
standing in the doorway as I rode past his place. 
' It's only three and a half days to the frontier,' he 
said." 

So Rough told his story, and sat staring coolly in 
front of him when it was ended. 

I have no murders to tell of, but joys and sufferings 
and love. And love is no less violent and perilous than 
murder. 

Green in all the woods now, I thought to myself this 
morning as I dressed. The snow is melting on the 
hills, and everywhere the cattle in their sheds are eager 
and anxious to be out ; in houses and cottages the 
windows are opened wide. I open my shirt and let the 
wind blow in upon me, and I mark how I grow star- 
struck and uncontrollable within ; ah, for a moment it 
is all as years ago, when I was young, and a wilder 
spirit than now. And I think to myself: maybe there's 
a tract of woodland somewhere east or west of this, 
where an old man can find himself as well bested as a 
young. I will go and look for it. 



132 WANDERERS 

Rain and sun and wind by turns ; I have been many 
days on the road already. Too cold yet to lie out in 
the open at night, but there is always shelter to be had 
at farmsteads by the way. One man thinks it strang-e 
that I should go tramping about like this for nothing ; 
he takes me, no doubt, for somebody in disguise, just 
trying to be original like Wergeland. 1 The man knows 
nothing of my plans, how I am on my way to a place 
I know, where live some people I have a fancy to see 
again. But he is a sensible fellow enough, and in- 
voluntarily I nod as if to agree there is something in 
what he says. There's a theatrical touch in most of us 
that makes us feel flattered at being taken for more 
than we are. Then up come his wife and daughter, 
good, ordinary souls, and carry all away with their 
kindly gossip ; he's no beggar, they say ; he paid for 
his supper and all. And at last I turn crafty and 
cowardly and say never a word, and let the man lay 
more to my charge and still never a word. And we 
three hearty souls outwin his reasoning sense, and he 
has to explain he was only jesting all the time ; surely 
we could see that. I stayed a night and a day there, 
and greased my shoes with extra care, and mended my 
clothes. 

But then the man begins to suspect once more. 
"There'll be a handsome present for that girl of mine 
when you leave, I know," says he. I made as if his 
words had no effect, and answered with a laugh : " You 
think so?" "Yes," says he ; "and then when you're 
gone we'll sit thinking you must have been somebody 
grand, after all." 

A detestable fellow this ! I did the only thing I 

could : ignored his sarcasm and asked for work. I 

liked the place, I said, and he'd need of help ; I could 

turn my hand to anything now in the busy time. 

1 A Norwegian poet. 



WANDERERS 133 

"You're a fool," said he, "and the sooner you're off 
the place the better I'll be pleased." 

Clearly he had taken a dislike to me, and there was 
none of the womenfolk at hand to take my part. I 
looked at the man, at a loss to understand what was 
in his mind. His glance was steady ; it struck me 
suddenly that I had never seen such wisdom in the eyes 
of man or woman. But he carried his ill-will too far, 
and made a false step. He asked: "What shall we 
say your name was ?" "No need to say anything at 
all," I answered. "A wandering Eilert Sundt?" 1 he 
suggested. And I entered into the jest and answered : 
" Yes, why not ? " But at that he fired up, and snapped 
out sharply: "Then I'm sorry for Fru Sundt, that's 
all." I shrugged my shoulders in return, and said: 
" You're wrong there, my good man ; I am not married." 
And I turned to go. But with an unnatural readiness 
he called after me: " 'Tis you that's wrong: I meant 
for the mother that bore you." 

A little way down the road I turned, and saw how 
his wife and daughter took him up. And I thought to 
myself: no, 'tis not all roses when one goes a- wandering. 

At the next place I came to I learned that he had 
been with the army, as quartermaster-sergeant ; then 
he went mad over a lawsuit he lost, and was shut up 
in an asylum for some time. Now in the spring his 
trouble broke out again ; perhaps it was my coming 
that had given the final touch. But the lightning 
insight in his eyes at the moment when the madness 
came upon him ! I think of him now and again ; he 
was a lesson to me. 'Tis none so easy to judge of men, 
who are wise or mad. And God preserve us all from 
being known for what we are ! 

That day I passed by a house where a lad sat on the 
1 An itinerant preacher. 



134 WANDERERS 

doorstep playing 1 a mouth-organ. He was no musician 
to speak of, but a cheerful soul he must surely be, to 
sit there playing to himself like that. I would not 
disturb him, but simply raised one hand to my cap, 
and stood a little distance off. He took no notice of 
me, only wiped his mouth-organ and went on playing. 
This went on for some time ; then at last, waiting till 
he stopped to wipe his instrument again, I coughed. 

"That you, Ingeborg?" he called out. I thought 
he must be speaking to someone in the house behind 
him, and made no answer. "You there, I mean," he 
said again. 

I was confused at this. " Can't you see me ? " I said. 

He did not answer, but fumbled with his hands to 
either side, as if trying to get up, and I realised that he 
was blind. " Sit still ; don't be afraid of me," I said, 
and set myself down beside him. 

We fell into talk : been blind since he was fourteen, 
it seemed ; he would be eighteen now, and a big, strong 
fellow he was, with a thick growth of down on his chin. 
And, thank Heaven, he said, his health was good. But 
his eyesight, I asked ; could he remember what the 
world looked like ? Yes, indeed ; there were many 
pleasant things he could remember from the time when 
he could see. He was happy and content enough. 
He was going in to Christiania this spring, to have an 
operation ; then perhaps he might at least be able to 
see well enough to walk ; ay, all would be well in time, 
no doubt. He was dull-witted, looked as if he ate a 
lot ; was stout and strong as a beast. But there was 
something unhealthy-looking, something of the idiot 
about him ; his acceptance of his fate was too unreason- 
able. To be hopeful in that way implies a certain 
foolishness, I thought to myself; a man must be 
lacking in sense to some degree if he can go ahead 
feeling always content with life, and even reckoning 



WANDERERS 1 3 5 

to get something new, some good out of it into the 
bargain. 

But I was in the mood to learn something from all I 
chanced on in my wandering ; even this poor creature 
on his doorstep made me the wiser by one little thing. 
How was it he could mistake me for a woman ; the 
woman Ingeborg he had called by name ? I must have 
walked up too quietly. I had forgotten the plodding 
cart-horse gait ; my shoes were too light. I had lived 
too luxuriously these years past ; I must work my way 
back to the peasant again. 

Three more days now to the goal my curious fancy 
had set before me : to 0vreb0, to Captain Falkenberg's. 
It was an opportune time to walk up there just now 
and ask for work ; there would be plenty to do on a big 
place like that in the spring. Six years since I was 
there last ; time had passed, and for the last few weeks 
I had been letting my beard grow, so that none should 
recognise me now. 

It was in the middle of the week ; I must arrange to 
get there on the Saturday evening. Then the Captain 
would let me stay over the Sunday while he thought 
about taking me on. On Monday he would come and 
say yes or no. 

Strangely enough, I felt no excitement at the thought 
of what was to come ; nothing of unrest, no ; calmly 
and comfortably I took my way by farmstead, wood, 
and meadow. I thought to myself how I had once, 
years ago, spent some adventurous weeks at that same 
0vreb0, even to being in love with Fruen herself, with 
Fru Lovise. Ay, that I was. She had fair hair and 
grey, dark eyes ; like a young girl she was. Six years 
gone, ay, so long it is ago ; would she be greatly 
changed ? Time has had its wear of me ; I am grown 
dull and faded and indifferent ; I look upon a woman 



136 WANDERERS 

now as literature, no more. It is come to the end. 
Well, and what then ? Everything comes to an end. 
When first I entered on this stage I had a feeling as if 
I had lost something ; as if I had been favoured by the 
caresses of a pickpocket. Then I set to and felt myself 
about, to see if I could bear myself after this ; if I could 
endure myself as I was now. Oh well, yes, why not ? 
Not the same as before, of course, but it all passed off 
so noiselessly, but peacefully, but surely. Everything 
comes to an end. 

In old age one takes no real part in life, but keeps 
oneself on memories. We are like letters that have 
been delivered ; we are no longer on the way, we have 
arrived. It is only a question whether we have whirled 
up joys and sorrows out of what was in us, or have 
made no impression at all. Thanks be for life ; it was 
good to live ! 

But Woman, she was, as the wise aforetime knew, 
infinitely poor in mind, but rich in irresponsibility, in 
vanity, in wantonness. Like a child in many ways, but 
with nothing of its innocence. 

I stand by the guide-post where the road turns off to 
0vreb0. There is no emotion in me. The day lies 
broad and bright over meadow and woods ; here and 
there is ploughing and harrowing in the fields, but all 
moves slowly, hardly seems to move at all, for it is full 
noon and a blazing sun. I walk a little way on beyond 
the post, dragging out the time before going up to the 
house. After an hour, I go into the woods and wander 
about there for a while ; there are berries in flower and 
a scent of little green leaves. A crowd of thrushes go 
chasing a crow across the sky, making a great to-do, 
like a clattering confusion of faulty castanets. I lie 
down on my back, with my sack under my head, and 
drop off to sleep. 



WANDERERS 137 

A little after I wake again, and walk over to the 
nearest ploughman. I want to find out something 
about the Falkenbergs, if they are still there and all 
well. The man answers cautiously ; he stands blinking, 
with his little, crafty eyes, and says: "All depends if 
Captain's at home." 

"Is he often away, then ? " 

"Nay, he'll be at home." 

" Has he got the field-work done ? " 

The man smiled: "Nay, I doubt it's not finished 
yet." 

" Are there hands enough to the place ? " 

"That's more than I can say; yes, I doubt there's 
hands enough. And the field-work's done ; leastways, 
the manure's all carted out." 

The man clicks to his horses and goes on ploughing ; 
I walked on beside him. There was not much to be 
got out of him ; next time the horses stopped for a 
breathing space I worried out of him a few more con- 
tradictions as to the family at 0vreb0. The Captain, 
it seemed, was away on manoeuvres all through the 
summer, and Fruen was at home alone. Yes, they 
had always a heap of visitors, of course ; but the 
Captain was away. That is to say, not because he 
wanted to ; he liked best to stay at home, by all 
accounts, but, of course, he'd his duty as well. No, 
they'd no children as yet ; didn't look as if Fruen 
was like to have any. What was I talking about ? 
They might have children yet, of course ; any amount 
of them for that. On again. 

We plough on to the next stop. I am anxious not 
to arrive at an awkward time, and ask the man, there- 
fore, if he thinks there would be visitors or anything of 
that sort up at the house to-day. No, he thought not. 
They'd parties and visitors now and again, but . . . 
Ay, and music and playing and fine goings-on as often 



138 WANDERERS 

as could be, but . . . And well they might, for that 
matter, seeing" they were fine folks, and rich and well- 
to-do as they were. 

He was a torment, was that ploughman. I tried to 
find out something about another Falkenberg, who 
could tune pianos at a pinch. On this the plough- 
man's information was more definite. Lars? Ay, he 
was here. Know him? Why, of course he knew 
Lars well enough. He'd finished with service at 
0vrebo, but the Captain had given him a clearing 
of land to live on ; he married Emma, that was maid 
at the house, and they'd a couple of children. Decent, 
hard-working folk, with feed for two cows already out 
of their clearing. 

Here the furrow ended, and the man turned his team 
about. I thanked him, and went on my way. 

When I came up to the house, I recognised all the 
buildings ; they wanted painting. The flagstaff I had 
helped to raise six years before, it stood there still ; but 
there was no cord to it, and the knob at the top was 
gone. 

Well, here I was, and that was four o'clock in the 
afternoon of the 26th of April. 

Old folk have a memory for dates. 



I 

IT turned out otherwise than I had thought. Captain 
Falkenberg came out, heard what I had to say, 
and answered no on the spot. He had all the 
hands he wanted, and the field-work was all but done. 

Good ! Might I go over to the men's room and sit 
down and rest a while ? 

Certainly. 

No invitation to stay over Sunday. The Captain 
turned on his heel and went indoors again. He looked 
as if he had only just got out of bed, for he was wear- 
ing a night-shirt tucked into his trousers, and had no 
waistcoat on ; only a jacket flung on loosely and left 
unbuttoned. He was going grey about the ears, and 
his beard as well. 

I sat down in the men's quarters and waited till the 
farm-hands came in for their afternoon meal. There 
were only two of them the foreman and another. I 
got into talk with them, and it appeared the Captain 
had made a mistake in saying the field-work was all 
but done. Well, 'twas his own affair. I made no 
secret of the fact that I was looking for a place, and, 
as for being used to the work, I showed them the 
fine recommendation I had got from the Lensmand at 
Hersaet years ago. When the men went out again, I 
took my sack and walked out with them, ready to go 
on my way. I peeped in at the stables and saw a sur- 
prising number of horses, looked at the cowshed, at 

the fowls, and the pigs. I noticed that there was dung 

139 



140 WANDERERS 

in the pit from the year before that had not been carted 
out yet. 

I asked how that could be. 

" Well, what are we to do ? " answered the foreman. 
" I looked to it from end of winter up till now, and 
nobody but myself on the place. Now there's two of 
us at least, in a sort of way, but now there's all the 
ploughing- and harrowing to be done." 

'Twas his affair. 

I bade him farewell, and went on my way. I was 
going to my good friend, Lars Falkenberg, but I did 
not tell them so. There are some new little buildings 
far up in the wood I can see, and that I take to be the 
clearing. 

But the man I had just left must have been inwardly 
stirred by the thought of getting an extra hand to help 
with the work. I saw him tramp across the courtyard 
and up to the house as I went off. 

I had gone but a couple of hundred yards when he 
comes hurrying after me to say I am taken on after all. 
He had spoken to the Captain, and got leave to take 
me on himself. "There'll be nothing to do now till 
Monday, but come in and have something to eat." 

He is a good fellow, this ; goes with me up to the 
kitchen and tells them there : " Here's a new man come 
to work on the place ; see he gets something to eat." 

A strange cook and strange maids. I get my food 
and go out again. No sign of master or mistress 
anywhere. 

But I cannot sit idle in the men's room all the 
evening ; I walk up to the field and talk to my two 
fellow-workers. Nils, the foreman, is from a farm a 
little north of here, but, not being the eldest son, and 
having no farm of his own to run, he has been sensible 
enough to take service here at 0vreb0 for the time 
being. And, indeed, he might have done worse. The 



WANDERERS 141 

Captain himself was not paying more and more atten- 
tion to his land, rather, perhaps, less and less, and he 
was away so much that the man had to use his own 
judgment many a time. This last autumn, for instance, 
he has turned up a big stretch of waste land that he is 
going to sow. He points out over the ground, showing 
where he's ploughed and what's to lie over : " See that 
bit there, how well it's coming on." 

It is good to hear how well this young man knows 
his work ; I find a pleasure in his sensible talk. He 
has been to one of the State schools, too, and learned 
how to keep accounts of stock, entering loads of hay in 
one column and the birth dates of the calves in another. 
His affair. In the old days a peasant kept such matters 
in his head, and the womenfolk knew to a day when 
each of their twenty or fifty cows was due to calve. 

But he is a smart young fellow, nevertheless, and not 
afraid of work, only a little soured and spoiled of late 
by having more on his hands than a man could do. It 
was plain to see how he brightened up now he had got 
a man to help with the work. And he settles there and 
then that I am to start on Monday with the harrow 
horse, carting out manure, the lad to take one of the 
Captain's carriage horses for the harrow ; he himself 
would stick to the ploughing. Ay, we would get our 
sowing done this year. 

Sunday. 

I must be careful not to show any former knowledge 
of things about the place here ; as, for instance, how 
far the Captain's timber runs, or where the various out- 
houses and buildings are, or the well, or the roads. 
I took some time getting things ready for to-morrow 
greased the wheels of the cart, and did up the harness, 
and gave the horse an extra turn. In the afternoon I 
went for a four or five hours' ramble through the woods, 



142 WANDERERS 

passed by Lars Falkenberg's place without going in, 
and came right out to where the Captain's land joined 
that of the neighbouring village before I turned back. 
I was surprised to see the mass of timber that had been 
cut. 

When I got back, Nils asked : " Did you hear them 
singing and carrying on last night ? " 

" Yes ; what was it? " 

" Visitors," said he, with a laugh. 

Visitors ! yes, there were always visitors at Ovrebo 
just now. 

There was an extremely fat but sprightly man among 
them ; he wore his moustache turned up at the ends, 
and was a captain in the same arm of the service as 
the master. I saw him and the other guests come 
lounging out of the house in the course of the evening. 
There was a man they called Ingenior; l he was young, 
a little over twenty, fairly tall, brown-skinned and 
clean shaven. And there was Elisabeth from the vicar- 
age. I remember Elisabeth very well, and recognised 
her now at once, for all she was six years older and 
more mature. Little Elisabeth of the old days was no 
longer a girl her breast stood out so, and gave an 
impression of exaggerated health. I learned she was 
married ; she took Erik after all, a farmer's son she 
had been fond of as a child. She was still friendly with 
Fru Falkenberg, and often came to stay. But her 
husband never came with her. 

Elisabeth is standing by the flagstaff, and Captain 
Falkenberg comes out. They talk a little, and are 
occupied with their own affairs. The Captain glances 
round every time he speaks ; possibly he is not talking 
of trifles, but of something he must needs be careful 
with. 

1 Engineer. Men are frequently addressed and referred to by 
the title of their occupation, with or without adding the name. 



WANDERERS 143 

Then comes the other Captain, the fat and jovial 
one ; we can hear his laugh right over in the servants' 
quarters. He calls out to Captain Falkenberg to come 
along, but gets only a curt answer back. A few stone 
steps lead down to the lilac shrubbery ; the Captain 
goes down there now, a maid following after with wine 
and glasses. Last of all comes the engineer. 

Nils bursts out laughing : " Oh, that Captain ! look 
at him ! " 

" What's his name? " 

" They all call him Bror ; l it was the same last year 
as well. I don't know his proper name." 
" And the engineer ? " 

" His name's Lassen, so I've heard. He's only been 
here once before in my time." 

Then came Fru Falkenberg out on the steps ; she 
stopped for a moment and glanced over at the two by 
the flagstaff. Her figure is slight and pretty as ever ; 
but her face seems looser, as if she had been stouter 
once and since grown thin. She goes down to the 
shrubbery after the others, and I recognise her walk 
again light and firm as of old. But little wonder if 
time has taken something of her looks in all those years. 
More people come out from the house an elderly 
lady wearing a shawl, and two gentlemen with her. 

Nils tells me it is not always there are so many 
guests in the house at once ; but it was the Captain's 
birthday two days ago, and two carriage-loads of people 
had come dashing up ; the four strange horses were in 
the stables now. 

Now voices are calling again for the couple by the 
flagstaff; the Captain throws out an impatient " Yes ! " 
but does not move. Now he brushes a speck of dust 
from Elisabeth's shoulder; now, looking round carefully, 

1 Brother. Not so much a nickname as a general term of 
jovial familiarity. 



144 WANDERERS 

he lays one hand on her arm and tells her something 
earnestly. 

Says Nils : 

" They've always such a lot to talk about, those two. 
She never comes here but they go off for long walks 
together." 

" And what does Fru Falkenberg say to that? " 

" I've never heard she troubled about it any way." 

"And Elisabeth, hasn't she any children either? " 

" Ay, she's many." 

" But how can she get away so often with that big 
place and the children to look after? " 

" It's all right as long as Erik's mother's alive. She 
can get away all she wants." 

He went out as he spoke, leaving me alone. In this 
room I had sat once, working out the construction of 
an improved timber saw. How earnest I was about it 
all ! Fetter, the farm-hand, lay sick in the room next 
door, and I would hurry out eagerly whenever I'd any 
hammering to do, and get it done outside. Now that 
patent saw's just literature to me, no more. So the 
years deal with us all. 

Nils comes in again. 

" If the visitors aren't gone to-morrow, I'll take a 
couple of their horses for the ploughing," says he, 
thinking only of his own affairs. 

I glance out of the window ; the couple by the flag- 
staff have moved away at last. 

In the evening things grew more and more lively 
down in the shrubbery. The maids went backwards 
and forwards with trays of food and drink ; the party 
were having supper among the lilacs. "Bror! Bror ! " 
cried one and another, but Bror himself was loudest of 
all. A chair had broken under his enormous weight, 
and a message comes out to the servants' quarters to 



WANDERERS 145 

find a good, solid, wooden chair that would bear him. 
Oh, but they were merry down in the shrubbery ! Cap- 
tain Falkenberg walked up now and again in front of 
the house to show he was still steady on his legs, and 
was keeping a watchful eye on things in general. 

"You mark my words," said Nils, " he'll not be the 
first to give over. I drove for him last year, and he was 
drinking all the way, but never a sign was there to see." 

The sun went down. It was growing chilly, perhaps, 
in the garden ; anyway, the party went indoors. But 
the big windows were thrown wide, and waves of 
melody from Fru Falkenberg's piano poured out. After 
a while it changed to dance tunes ; jovial Captain Bror, 
no doubt, was playing now. 

" Nice lot, aren't they ? " said Nils. " Sit up playing 
and dancing' all night, and stay in bed all day. I'm 
going to turn in." 

I stayed behind, looking out of the window, and saw 
my mate Lars Falkenberg come walking across the 
courtyard and go up into the house. He had been sent 
for to sing to the company. When he has sung for a 
while, Captain Bror and some of the others begin to 
chime in and help, making a fine merry noise between 
them. After about an hour in comes Lars Falkenberg 
to the servants' quarters, with a half-bottle of spirit in 
his pocket for his trouble. Seeing no one but me, a 
stranger, in the room, he goes in to Nils in the bedroom 
next door, and they take a dram together ; after a little 
they call to me to come in. I am careful not to say too 
much, hoping not to be recognised ; but when Lars 
gets up to go home, he asks me to go part of the way 
with him. And then it appears that I am discovered 
already ; Lars knows that I am his former mate of the 
woodcutting days. 

The Captain had told him. 

Well and good, I think to myself. Then I've no 
10 



146 WANDERERS 

need to bother about being- careful any more. To tell 
the truth, I was well pleased at the way things had 
turned out ; it meant that the Captain was completely 
indifferent as to having me about the place ; I could do 
as I pleased. 

I walked all the way home with Lars, talking over 
old times, and of his new place, and of the people at 
0vreb0. It seemed that the Captain was not looked 
up to with the same respect as before ; he was no longer 
the spokesman of the district, and neighbours had 
ceased to come and ask his help and advice. The last 
thing of any account he did was to have the carriage 
drive altered down to the high road, but that was five 
years ago. The buildings needed painting, but he had 
put it off and never had it done ; the road across the 
estate was in disrepair, and he had felled too much 
timber by far. Drink? Oh, so folk said, no doubt, 
but it couldn't be fairly said he drank not that way. 
Devil take the gossiping fools ! He drank a little, and 
now and again he would drive off somewhere and stay 
away for a bit ; but when he did come home again 
things never seemed to go well with him, and that was 
the pity of it ! An evil spirit seemed to have got hold 
of him, said Lars. 

And Fruen? 

Fruen ! She went about the house as before, and 
played on her piano, and was as pretty and neat as ever 
anyone could wish. And they keep open house, with 
folk for ever coming and going ; but taxes and charges 
on this and that mount up, and it costs a deal to keep 
up the place, with all the big buildings to be seen to. 
But it is a sin and a shame for the Captain, and Fruen 
as well, to be so dead-weary of each other, you'd never 
think. If they do say a word to each other, it's looking 
to the other side all the time, and hardly opening their 
lips. They barely speak at all, except to other people, 



WANDERERS 147 

month after month the same. And all summer the 
Captain's out on manoauvres, and never comes home to 
see how his wife and the place are getting on. " No, 
they've no children ; that's the trouble," says Lars. 

Emma comes out and joins us. She looks well and 
handsome still, and I tell her so. 

" Emma ? " says Lars. " Ay, well, she's none so bad. 
But she's for ever having children, the wretch ! " and, 
pouring out a drink from his half-bottle, he forces 
her to drink it off. Now Emma presses us to come 
in ; we might just as well be sitting down indoors 
as standing about out here. " Oh, it's summer now ! " 
says Lars, evidently none so anxious to have me in. 
Then, when I set off for home, he walks down again 
with me a bit of the way, showing me where he's dug 
and drained and fenced about his bit of land. Small 
as it is, he has made good and sensible use of it. 
I find a strange sense of pleasure coming over me 
as I look at this cosy homestead in the woods. There 
is a faint soughing of the wind in the forest behind ; 
close up to the house are foliage trees, and the 
aspens rustle like silk. 

I walk back home. Night is deepening ; all the birds 
are silent ; the air calm and warm, in a soft bluish gloom. 

" Let us be young to-night! " It is a man's voice, 
loud and bright, from behind the lilacs. "Let's go 
and dance, or do something wild." 

" Have you forgotten what you were like last year? " 
answers Fru Falkenberg. "You were nice and young 
then, and never said such things." 

" No, I never said such things. To think you should 
remember that ! But you scolded me one evening last 
year too. I said how beautiful you were that evening, 
and you said no, you weren't beautiful any more ; and you 
called me a child, and told me not to drink so much." 



148 WANDERERS 

" Yes, so I did," says Fru Falkenberg, with a laugh. 

"So you did, yes. But as to your being beautiful 
or not, surely I ought to know when I was sitting 
looking at you all the time ? " 

" Oh, you child! " 

"And this evening you're lovelier still." 

" There's someone coming ! " 

Two figures rise up suddenly behind the lilacs. 
Fruen and the young engineer. Seeing it is only 
me, they breathe more easily again, and go on talking 
as if I did not exist. And mark how strange is human 
feeling ; I had been wishing all along to be ignored 
and left in peace, yet now it hurt me to see these 
two making so little account of me. My hair and 
beard are turning grey, I thought to myself ; should 
they not respect me at least for that ? 

" Yes, you're lovelier still to-night," says the man again. 

I come up alongside them, touching my cap care- 
lessly, and pass on. 

"I'll tell you this much: you'll gain nothing by 
it," says Fruen. And then: "Here, you've dropped 
something," she calls to me. 

Dropped something? My handkerchief lay on the 
path ; I had dropped it on purpose. I turned round 
now and picked it up, said thank you, and walked on. 

" You're very quick to notice things of no account," 
says the engineer. " A lout's red-spotted rag. . . . 
Come, let's go and sit in the summer-house." 

" It's shut up at night," says Fruen. " I dare say 
there's somebody in there." 

After that I heard no more. 

My bedroom is up in the loft in the servants' quarters, 
and the one open window looks out to the shrubbery. 
When I come up I can still hear voices down there 
among the bushes, but cannot make out what is said. 
I thought to myself: why should the summer-house be 



WANDERERS 



shut up at night, and whose idea could It be ? 

t ' * * 



149 



had j r 

with the shawl. hey had h * "* W ' ady 

among the trees no doL .. ," S '""' g ' some where 
to wondering no ' w fbv a' W r ""*" by ' and ' fel1 
talking to nfyse^fa i Jalked a^H C U ' d haVe been 
Suddenly I s~ thV ' been over heard. 

bushe, anV^Vtrnf;^/;: ^ fr m behi " d the 
Finding it locked h . f e sum mer-house. 

b ti 



Whatever are you doing? 



: " M adman! 



a man just no oka "tt-g there 

warning- them ; here i<= , SOme means of 

window and fling it's hard 2T b ttle J ' ^ to th 
summer-house. There is t ^ "^ ' Wards th = 
"oken, and the pieces eo J'n ' "^ a " d tiles are 
f; a cry of di r ? clattering down over the 

berg'rushes out, her^moa tl'"' a " d Fr " Falk - 
her dress. They stonlbrT " " d her Sti " ^ as Pi-* 
" Bror ! Bror Irenes Fru ST''^ ' k ab Ut them 

Falkenberg.andsetsoffata 



ISO WANDERERS 

run down the shrubbery. " No, don't come," she calls 
back over her shoulder. " You mustn't, I tell you." 

But the engineer ran after her, all the same. Wonder- 
fully young 1 he was, and all inflexible. 

Now the stout Captain and his lady come up, and 
their talk is a marvel to hear. Love : there is nothing 
like it, so it seems. The stout cavalier must be sixty 
at the least, and the lady with him, say forty ; their 
infatuation was a sight to see. 

The Captain speaks : 

" And up to this evening I've managed to hide it 
somehow, but now well, it's more than any man can. 
You've bewitched me, Frue, completely." 

" I didn't think you cared so much, really," she 
answers gently, trying to help him along. 

"Well, I do," he says. "And I can't stand it any 
longer, and that's the truth. When we were up in the 
woods just now, I still thought I could get through one 
more night, and didn't say anything much at the time. 
But now ; come back with me, say you will ! " 

She shook her head. 

" No ; oh, I'd love to give you ... do what you ..." 

"Ah!" he exclaims, and, throwing his arms about 
her, stands pressing his round paunch against hers. 
There they stood, looking like two recalcitrants that 
would not. Oh, that Captain ! 

" Let me go," she implored him. 

He loosened his hold a trifle and pressed her to him 
again. Once more it looked as if both were resisting. 

"Come back up into the wood," he urged again 
and again. 

"Oh, it's impossible!" she answered. "And then 
it's all wet with the dew." 

But the Captain was full of passionate words full 
and frothing over. 

" Oh, I used to think I didn't care much about eyes ! 



WANDERERS 1 5 I 

Blue eyes huh ! Grey eyes huh ! Eyes any sort of 
colour huh ! But then you came with those brown 
eyes of yours. . . ." 

"They are brown, yes. . . ." 

"You burn me with them ; you you roast me up ! " 

"To tell the truth, you're not the first that's said 
nice things about my eyes. My husband now . . ." 

"Ah, but what about me!" cries the Captain. "I 
tell you, Frue, if I'd only met you twenty years ago, I 
wouldn't have answered for my reason. Come ; there's 
no dew to speak of up in the wood." 

" We'd better go indoors, I think," she suggests. 

"Go in? There's not a corner anywhere indoors 
where we can be alone." 

" Oh, we'll find somewhere !" she says. 

" Well, anyhow, we must have an end of it to-night," 
says the Captain decisively. 

And they go. 

I asked myself: was it to warn anybody I had thrown 
that empty bottle ? 

At three in the morning I heard Nils go out to feed 
the horses. At four he knocked to rouse me out of 
bed. I did not grudge him the honour of being first up, 
though I could have called him earlier myself, any hour 
of that night indeed, for I had not slept. 'Tis easy 
enough to go without sleep a night or two in this light, 
fine air ; it does not make for drowsiness. 

Nils sets out for the fields, driving a new team. 
He has looked over the visitors' horses, and chosen 
Elizabeth's. Good country-breds, heavy in the leg. 



II 

More visitors arrive, and the house-party goes on. 
We farm hands are busy ploughing, sowing, and 



152 WANDERERS 

carting manure ; some of the fields are sprouting green 
already after our work a joy to see. 

But we've difficulties here and there, and that with 
Captain Falkenberg himself. "He's lost all thought 
and care for his own good," says Nils. And indeed an 
evil spirit must have got hold of him ; he was half- 
drunk most of the time, and seemed to think of little 
else beyond playing the genial host. For nearly a 
week past, he and his guests had played upside down 
with day and night. But what with the noise and 
rioting after dark the beasts in stable and shed could 
get no rest ; the maids, too, were kept up at all hours, 
and, what was more, the young gentlemen would come 
over to their quarters at night and sit on their beds 
talking, just to see them undressed. 

We working hands had no part in this, of course, but 
many a time we felt shamed instead of proud to work on 
Captain Falkenberg's estate. Nils got hold of a temper- 
ance badge and wore it in the front of his blouse. 

One day the Captain came out to me in the fields and 
ordered me to get out the carriage and fetch two new 
visitors from the station. It was in the middle of the 
afternoon ; apparently he had just got up. But he put 
me in an awkward position here why had he not gone 
to Nils? It struck me that he was perhaps, after all, a 
little shy of Nils with his temperance badge. 

The Captain must have guessed my difficulty, for he 
smiled and said : 

"Thinking what Nils might say? Well, perhaps I'd 
better talk to him first." 

But I wouldn't for worlds have sent the Captain over 
to Nils just then, for Nils was still ploughing with 
visitors' horses, and had asked me to give him warning 
if I saw danger ahead. I took out my handkerchief to 
wipe my face, and waved a little ; Nils saw it, and 
slipped his team at once. What would he do now r I 



WANDERERS 153 

wondered ? But Nils was not easily dismayed ; he came 
straight in with his horses, though it was in the middle 
of a working spell. 

If only I could hold the Captain here a bit while he 
got in ! Nils realises there is no time to be lost he is 
already unfastening the harness on the way. 

Suddenly the Captain looks at me, and asks : 

" Well, have you lost your tongue? " 

" 'Twas Nils," I answer then. "Something gone 
wrong, it looks like ; he's taken the horses out." 

"Well, and what then ?" 

"Nay, I was only thinking . . ." 

But there I stopped. Devil take it, was I to stand 
there playing the hypocrite ? Here was my chance to 
put in a word for Nils ; the next round he would have 
to manage alone. 

"It's the spring season now," I said, "and there's 
green showing already where we've done. But there's 
a deal more to do yet, and we . . ." 

" Well, and what then what then ? " 

"There's two and a half acres here, and Nils with 
hard on three acres of corn land ; perhaps Captain 
might give it another thought." 

At that the Captain swung on his heel and left me 
without a word. 

"That's my dismissal," I thought to myself. But I 
walked up after him with my cart and team, ready to 
do as he had said. 

I was in no fear now about Nils ; he was close up to 
the stables by now. The Captain beckoned to him, 
but without avail. Then "Halt!" he cried, military 
fashion ; but Nils was deaf. 

When we reached the stables the horses were back 
in their places already. The Captain was stiff and 
stern as ever, but I fancied he had been thinking 
matters over a Httle on the way. 



154 WANDERERS 

"What have you brought the horses infer now?" 
he asked. 

"Plough was working loose," answered Nils. "I 
brought them in just while I'm setting it to rights 
again; it won't take very long." 

The Captain raps out his order : 

" I want a man to drive to the station." 

Nils glances at me, and says half to himself: 

" H'm ! So that's it? A nice time for that sort of 
thing." 

" What's that you're muttering about ? " 

" There's two of us and a lad," says Nils, "for the 
season's work this spring. 'Tis none so much as leaves 
any to spare." 

But the Captain must have had some inkling as to 
the two brown horses Nils had been in such a hurry to 
get in ; he goes round patting the animals in turn, 
to see which of them are warm. Then he comes back 
to us, wiping his fingers with his handkerchief. 

"Do you go ploughing with other people's horses, 
Nils?" 

Pause. 

" I'll not have it here ; you understand ? " 

" H'm ! No," says Nils submissively. Then suddenly 
he flares up: " We've more need of horses this spring 
than any season ever at 0vreb0 : we're taking up more 
ground than ever before. And here were these strange 
cattle standing here day after day eating and eating, 
and doing never so much as the worth of the water 
they drank. So I took them out for a bit of a spell now 
and then, just enough to keep them in trim." 

"I'll have no more of it. You hear what I say?" 
repeated the Captain shortly. 
Pause. 

" Didn't you say one of the Captain's plough horses 
was ailing yesterday ? " I put in. 



WANDERERS 155 

Nils was quick to seize his chance. 

"Ay. So it was. Standing all a-tremble in its box. 
I couldn't have taken it out anyway." 

The Captain looked me coldly up and down. 

" What are you standing- here for ? " he asked sharply. 

" Captain said I was to drive to the station." 

" Well, then, be off and get ready." 

But Nils took him up on the instant. 

"That can't be done." 

Bravo, Nils ! said I to myself. The lad was thoroughly 
in the right, and he looked it, sturdily holding his own. 
And as for the horses, our own had been sorely over- 
done with the long season's work, and the strange 
cattle stood there eating their heads off and spoiling 
for want of exercise. 

"Can't be done?" said the Captain, astounded. 
"What do you mean?" 

" If Captain takes away the help I've got, then I've 
finished here, that's all," says Nils. 

The Captain walked to the stable door and looked 
out, biting his moustache and thinking hard. Then 
he asked over his shoulder : 

" And you can't spare the lad, either? " 

" No," said Nils ; " he's the harrowing to do." 

This was our first real encounter with the Captain, 
and we had our way. There were some little troubles 
again later on, but he soon gave in. 

"I want a case fetched from the station," he said 
one day. " Can the boy go in for it? " 

"The boy's as ill to spare as a man for us now," said 
Nils. " If he's to drive in to the station now, he won't 
be back till late to-morrow ; that's a day and a half lost." 

Bravo ! I said to myself again. Nils had spoken to 
me before about that case at the station ; it was a new 
consignment of liquor ; the maids had heard about it. 

There was some more talk this way and that. The 



156 WANDERERS 

Captain frowned ; he had never known a busy season 
last so long 1 before. Nils lost his temper, and said at 
last: "If you take the boy off his field-work, then I 
go." And then he did as he and I had agreed before- 
hand, and asked me straight out : " Will you go, too ? " 

"Yes," said I. 

At that the Captain gave way, and said with a smile : 
" Conspiracy, I see. But I don't mind saying you're 
right in a way. And you're good fellows to work." 

But the Captain saw but little of our work, and little 
pleasure it gave him. He looked out now and again, 
no doubt, over his fields, and saw how much was 
ploughed and sown, but that was all. But we farm 
hands worked our hardest, and all for the good of our 
masters ; that was our way. 

Ay, that was our way, no doubt. 

But maybe now and again we might have just a 
thought of question as to that zeal of ours, whether it 
was so noble after all. Nils was a man from the 
village who was anxious to get his field-work done at 
least as quickly as any of his neighbours ; his honour 
was at stake. And I followed him. Ay, even when he 
put on that temperance badge, it was, perhaps, as much 
as anything to get the Captain sober enough to see the 
fine work we had done. And here again I was with 
him. Moreover, I had perhaps a hope that Fruen, 
that Fru Falkenberg at least, might understand what 
good souls we were. I doubt I was no better than to 
reckon so. 

The first time I saw Fru Falkenberg close to was 
one afternoon as I was going out of the kitchen. She 
came walking across the courtyard, a slender, bare- 
headed figure. I raised my cap and looked at her ; her 
face was strangely young and innocent to see. And 
with perfect indifference she answered my " Goddag" 
and passed on. 



WANDERERS 157 

It could not be all over for good between the Captain 
and his wife. I based this view upon the following 
grounds : 

Ragnhild, the parlour-maid, was her mistress's friend 
and trusted spy. She noted things on Fruen's behalf, 
went last to bed, listened on the stairs, made a few 
swift, noiseless steps when she was outside and some- 
body called. She was a handsome girl, with very 
bright eyes, and fine and warm-blooded into the bargain. 
One evening I came on her just by the summer-house, 
where she stood sniffing at the lilacs ; she started as I 
came up, pointed warningly towards the summer-house, 
and ran off with her tongue between her teeth. 

The Captain was aware of Ragnhild's doings, and 
once said to his wife so all might hear he was drunk, 
no doubt, and annoyed at something or other : 

"That Ragnhild's an underhand creature; I'd be 
glad to be rid of her." 

Fruen answered : 

" It's not the first time you've wanted to get Ragnhild 
out of the way ; Heaven knows what for ! She's the 
best maid we've ever had." 

" For that particular purpose, I dare say," he retorted. 

This set me thinking. Fruen was perhaps crafty 
enough to keep this girl spying, simply to make it seem 
as if she cared at all what her husband did. Then 
people could imagine that Fruen, poor thing, went 
about secretly longing for him, and being constantly 
disappointed and wronged. And then, of course, who 
could blame her if she did the like in return, and went 
her own way ? Heaven knows if that was the way of it ! 

One day later on the Captain changed his tactics. 
He had not managed to free himself from Ragnhild's 
watchfulness ; she was still there, to be close at hand 
when he was talking to Elisabeth in some corner, or 
making towards the summer-house late in the evening 



158 WANDERERS 

to sit there with someone undisturbed. So he tried 
another way, and began making- himself agreeable to 
that same Ragnhild. Oho ! 'twas a woman's wit no 
doubt, 'twas Elisabeth had put him up to that ! 

We were sitting at the long dining-table in the 
kitchen, Nils and I and the lad ; Fruen was there, and 
the maids were busy with their own work. Then in 
comes the Captain from the house with a brush in his 
hand. 

" Give my coat a bit of a brush, d'you mind ? " says 
he to Ragnhild. 

She obeyed. When she had finished, he thanked 
her, saying: "Thank you, my child." 

Fruen looked a little surprised, and, a moment after, 
sent her maid upstairs for something. The Captain 
looked after her as she went, and said : 

"Wonderfully bright eyes that girl has, to be sure." 

I glanced across at Fruen. Her eyes were blazing, 
her cheeks flushed, as she moved to leave the room. 
But in the doorway she turned, and now her face was 
pale. She seemed to have formed her resolution 
already. Speaking over her shoulder, she said to her 
husband : 

" I shouldn't be surprised if Ragnhild's eyes were a 
little too bright." 

" Eh? " says the Captain, in surprise. 

" Yes," says Fruen, with a slight laugh, nodding 
over towards the table where we sat. " She's getting 
a little too friendly with the men out here." 

Silence. 

" So perhaps she'd better go," Fruen went on. 

It was incomparable audacity on Fruen's part, of 
course, to say such a thing to our face, but we could 
not protest ; we saw she was only using us to serve 
her need. 

When we got outside, Nils said angrily : 



WANDERERS 159 

" I'm not sure but I'd better go back and say a word 
or two myself about that." 

But I dissuaded him, saying it was not worth 
troubling 1 about. 

A few days passed. Again the Captain found an 
opportunity of paying barefaced compliments to 
Ragnhild : " . . . with a figure like yours," he said. 

And the tone of everything about the house now 
badly changed from of old. Gone down, grown poorer 
year by year, no doubt, drunken guests doing their 
share to help, and idleness and indifference and child- 
lessness for the rest. 

In the evening, Ragnhild came to me and told me 
she was dismissed ; Fruen had made some reference 
to me, and that was all. 

Once more a piece of underhand work. Fruen knew 
well I should not be long on the place ; why not make 
me the scapegoat? She was determined to upset her 
husband's calculations, that was the matter. 

Ragnhild, by the way, took it to heart a good deal, 
and sobbed and dabbed her eyes. But after a while 
she comforted herself with the thought that, as soon 
as I was gone, Fruen would take back her dismissal 
and let her stay. I, for my part, was inwardly sure that 
Fruen would do nothing of the kind. 

Yes, the Captain and Elisabeth might be content: the 
troublesome parlour-maid was to be sent packing, 
surely enough. 

But who was to know? I might be out in my 
reckoning after all. New happenings set me question- 
ing anew ; ay, forced me to alter my judgment once 
again. Tis a sorely difficult thing to judge the truth 
of humankind. 

I learned now, beyond doubt, that Fru Falkenberg 
was truly and honestly jealous of her husband ; not 



160 WANDERERS 

merely pretending to be, as so by way of covering her 
own devious ways. Far, indeed, from any pretence 
here. True, she did not really believe for a moment 
that he was interested in her maid. But it suited her 
purpose to pretend she did ; in her extremity, she 
would use any means that came to hand. She had 
blushed during that scene in the kitchen ; yes, indeed, 
but that was a sudden and natural indignation at her 
husband's ill-chosen words, nothing more. 

But she had no objection to her husband's imagining 
she was jealous of the girl. This was just what she 
wanted. Her meaning was clear enough. I'm jealous 
again, yes ; you can see it's all the same as before with 
me : here I am ! Fru Falkenberg was better than I 
had thought. For many years now the pair had 
slipped farther and farther from each other through 
indifference, partly perhaps towards the last, in defiance; 
now she would take the first step and show that she 
cared for him still. That was it, yes. But, in face ot 
the one she feared most of all, she would not show her 
jealousy for worlds and that was Elisabeth, this 
dangerous friend of hers who was so many years 
younger than herself. 

Yes, that was the way of it. 

And the Captain ? Was he moved at all to see his 
wife flush at his words to her maid ? Maybe a shadow 
of memory from the old days, a tinge of wonder, a 
gladness. But he said no word. Maybe he was grown 
prouder and more obstinate with the years that had 
passed. It might well seem so from his looks. 

Then it was there came the happenings I spoke of. 



Ill 

Fru Falkenberg had been playing with her husband 
now for some little time. She affected indifference to 



WANDERERS 161 

his indifference, and consoled herself with the casual 
attentions of men staying in the house. Now one and 
now another of them left, but stout Captain Bror and 
the lady with the shawl stayed on, and Lassen, the 
young engineer, stayed too. Captain Falkenberg 
looked on as if to say : " Well and good, stay on by all 
means, my dear fellow, as long as you please." And it 
made no impression on him when his wife said " Du " 
to Lassen and called him Hugo. " Hugo ! " she would 
call, standing on the steps, looking out. And the 
Captain would volunteer carelessly : " Hugo's just gone 
down the road." 

One day I heard him answer her with a bitter smile 
and a wave of his hand towards the lilacs : " Little King 
Hugo is waiting for you in his kingdom." I saw her 
start ; then she laughed awkwardly to cover her con- 
fusion, and went down in search of Lassen. 

At last she had managed to wring some expression 
of feeling out of him. She would try it again. 

This was on a Sunday. 

Later in the day Fruen was strangely restless ; she 
said a few kindly words to me, and mentioned that 
both Nils and I had managed our work very well. 

" Lars has been to the post office to-day," she said, 
" to fetch a letter for me. It's one I particularly want. 
Would you mind going up to his place and bringing 
it down for me?" 

I said I would with pleasure. 

" Lars won't be home again till about eleven. So 
you need not start for a long time yet." 

Very good. 

"And when you get back, just give the letter to 
Ragnhild." 

It was the first time Fru Falkenberg had spoken to 
me during my present stay at 0vreb0 ; it was some- 
thing so new. I went up afterwards to my bedroom 
ii 



1 62 WANDERERS 

and sat there by myself, feeling as if something had 
really happened. I thought over one or two things a 
little as well. It was simply foolishness, I told myself, 
to go on playing the stranger here and pretending 
nobody knew. And a full beard was a nuisance in the 
hot weather ; moreover, it was grey, and made me look 
ever so old. So I set to and shaved it off. 

About ten o'clock I started out towards the clearing. 
Lars was not back. I stayed there a while with Emma, 
and presently he came in. I took the letter and went 
straight home. It was close on midnight. 

Ragnhild was nowhere to be seen, and the other 
maids had gone to bed. I glanced in at the shrubbery. 
There sat Captain Falkenberg and Elisabeth, talking 
together at the round stone table ; they took no notice 
of me. There was a light in Fruen's bedroom upstairs. 
And suddenly it occurred to me that to-night I looked 
as I had done six years before, clean-shaven as then. 
I took the letter out of my pocket and went in the 
main entrance to give it to Fruen myself. 

At the top of the stairs Ragnhild comes slipping 
noiselessly towards me and takes the letter. She is 
evidently excited. I can feel the heat of her breath 
as she points along the passage. There is a sound of 
voices from the far end. 

It looked as if she had taken up her post here on 
guard, or had been set there by someone to watch ; 
however, it was no business of mine. And when she 
whispered : " Don't say a word ; go down again 
quietly ! " I obeyed, and went to my room. 

My window was open. I could hear the couple down 
among the bushes : they were drinking wine. And 
there was still light upstairs in Fruen's room. 

Ten minutes passed ; then the light went out. 

A moment later I heard someone hurrying up the 
stairs in the house, and looked down involuntarily to 



WANDERERS 163 

see if it was the Captain. But the Captain was sitting 
as before. 

Now came the same steps down the stairs again, 
and, a little after, others. I kept watch on the main 
entrance. First comes Ragnhild, flying as if for her 
life over towards the servants' quarters ; then comes 
Fru Falkenberg with her hair down, and the letter in 
her hand showing white in the gloom. After her 
comes the engineer. The pair of them move down 
towards the high road. 

Ragnhild comes rushing in to me and flings herself 
on a chair, all out of breath and bursting with news. 
Such things had happened this evening, she whispered. 
Shut the window ! Fruen and that engineer fellow 
never a thought of being careful 'twas as near as ever 
could be but they'd have done it. He was holding on 
to her when Ragnhild went in with the letter. Ugh ! 
Up in Fruen's room, with the lamp blown out. 

"You're mad," said I to Ragnhild. 

But the girl had both heard and seen well enough, 
it seemed. She was grown so used to playing the spy 
that she could not help spying on her mistress as well. 
An uncommon sort, was Ragnhild. 

I put on a lofty air at first, and would have none of 
her tale-bearing, thank you, listening at keyholes. Fie ! 

But how could she help it, she replied. Her orders 
were to bring up the letter as soon as her mistress put 
out the light, and not before. But Fruen's windows 
looked out to the shrubbery, where the Captain was 
sitting with Elisabeth from the vicarage. No place for 
Ragnhild there. Better to wait upstairs in the passage, 
and just take a look at the keyhole now and again, to 
see if the light was out. 

This sounded a little more reasonable. 

" But only think of it," said Ragnhild suddenly, 
shaking her head in admiration. " What a fellow he 



1 64 WANDERERS 

must be, that engineer, to get as near as that with 
Fruen." 

As near as what ? Jealousy seized me ; I gave up 
my lofty pose, and questioned Ragnhild searchingly 
about it all. What did she say they were doing? How 
did it all come about ? 

Ragnhild could not say how it began. Fruen had 
given her orders about a letter that was to be fetched 
from Lars Falkenberg's, and when it arrived, she was 
to wait till the light went out in Fruen's room, and 
then bring it up. " Very good," said Ragnhild. " But 
not till I put out the light, you understand," said Fruen 
again. And Ragnhild had set herself to wait for the 
letter. But the time seemed endless, and she fell to 
thinking and wondering about it all ; there was some- 
thing strange about it. She went up into the passage 
and listened. She could hear Fruen and the engineer 
talking easily and without restraint ; stooping down to 
the keyhole, she saw her mistress loosening her hair, 
with the engineer looking on and saying how lovely 
she was. And then ah, that engineer he kissed her. 

"On the lips, was it? . . ." 

Ragnhild saw 1 was greatly excited, and tried to 
reassure me. 

" Well, perhaps not quite. I won't be sure ; but 
still . . . and he's not a pretty mouth, anyway, to my 
mind. ... I say, though, you've shaved all clean this 
evening. How nice ! Let me see. ..." 

"But what did Fruen say to that? Did she slip 
away ? " 

"Yes, I think so; yes, of course she did and 
screamed." 

" Did she, though? " 

"Yes; out loud. And he said l Sh! y And every 
time she raised her voice he said 'Sh/' again. But 
Fruen said let them hear, it didn't matter ; they were 



WANDERERS 

n^'r "7' *"""er y the 

and Elisabeth fronthe V 4 '-I'' "" ' he Captain 
you can see them,' she sa^d Tnrf """"" ' There ' 



' I know. I 

* ~..w, says me ene-ineer < K,,f c TT 
sake, don't stand there with h ' Heaven's 

went over and g- o t her aw *?"* d Wn ! ' And he 
they said a whole heap ofthin * 6 W1 ' nd W ' Then 

you wouldn't shouvVe^s d U 'w Ud ^f'"' ' If On ^ 
quiet up here.' Then she We f c uld be ever so 

t there smiling at him W f, S . quiet for a b '> and just 
ever so fond of hfm'' "* ^^ a Word - She was 

"Was she?" 



h. Only fancy , . 
hands so-there OVer tOWards her - an " Put 

Fr en sat still and let him?" 



to 



r a tt0 h 
h 'm. I can't think ho, ^ "" and kisse d 

a bit nice, "' F ' 



go I ' she cried " ' * S ' r ng ' ' N > 



and I didn't see wh at ha ^ Came " P W " h the 
"ck. they'd turned the^ inl' ?"? ^ ' 
la rdly see at all But II ^ I Ck> so ' 

~ you doing N hea n rd FrUe " -y'-NT= 'Oh, 
*o, no, we mustn't ! ' She 



1 66 WANDERERS 

must have been in his arms then. And then at last she 
said: ' Wait, then ; let me get down a minute.' And 
he let her go. ' Blow out the lamp,' she said. And 
then it was all dark ... oh ! ... 

" But now I was at my wits' end what to do," Ragn- 
hild went on. " I stood a minute all in a flurry, and 
was just going 1 to knock at the door all at once " 

"Yes, yes; why didn't you? What on earth made 
you wait at all ? " 

"Why, if I had, then Fruen 'd have known in a 
moment I'd been listening outside," answered the girl. 
" No, I slipped away from the door and down the 
stairs, then turned back and went up again, treading 
hard so Fruen could hear the way I came. The door 
was still fastened, but I knocked, and Fruen came and 
opened it. But the engineer was just behind ; he'd 
got hold of her clothes, and was simply wild after her. 
' Don't go ! don't go ! ' he kept on saying, and never 
taking the slightest notice of me. But then, when I 
turned to go, Fruen came out with me. Oh, but only 
think ! It was as near as could be ! . . ." 

A long, restless night. 

At noon, when we men came home from the fields 
next day, the maids were whispering something about 
a scene between the Captain and his wife. Ragnhild 
knew all about it. The Captain had noticed his wife 
with her hair down the night before, and the lamp out 
upstairs, and laughed at her hair and said wasn't it 
pretty ! And Fruen said nothing much at first, but 
waited her chance, and then she said: "Yes, I know. 
I like to let my hair down now and again, and why 
not? It isn't yours! " She was none so clever, poor 
thing, at answering back in a quarrel. 

Then Elisabeth had come up and put in her word. 
And she was smarter prrr! Fruen did manage to 



WANDERERS 167 

say: "Well, anyhow we were in the house, but you 
two were sitting out among the bushes ! " And Elisabeth 
turned sharp at that, and snapped out : " We didn't put 
out the light!" "And if we did," said Fruen, "it 
made no difference ; we came down directly after." 

Heavens ! I thought to myself, why ever didn't she 
say they put the light out because they were going 
down? 

That was the end of it for a while. But then, later 
on, the Captain said something about Fruen being so 
much older than Elisabeth. "You ought always to 
wear your hair down," he said. "On my word, it 
made you look quite a girl ! " " Oh yes, I dare say I 
need it now," answered Fruen. But seeing Elisabeth 
turn away laughing, she flared up all of a sudden 
and told her to take herself off. And Elisabeth put her 
hands on her hips, and asked the Captain to order her 
carriage. " Right ! " says the Captain at that ; " and 
I'll drive you myself! " 

All this Ragnhild had heard for herself standing 
close by. 

I thought to myself they were jealous, the pair of 
them she, of his sitting out in the shrubbery, and he, 
of her letting her hair down and putting out the light. 

As we came out of the kitchen, and were going across 
for a rest, there was the Captain busy with Elisabeth's 
carriage. He called me up and said : 

" I ought not to ask you now, when you're having 
your rest, but I wish you'd go down and mend the door 
of the summer-house for me." 

"Right!" I said. 

Now that door had been wrong ever since the 
engineer burst it open several nights before. What 
made the Captain so anxious to have it put right just 
at this moment ? He'd have no use for the summer- 
house while he was driving Elisabeth home. Was it 



1 68 WANDERERS 

because he wanted to shut the place up so no one else 
should use it while he was away? It was a significant 
move, if so. 

I took some tools and things and went down to the 
shrubbery. 

And now I had my first look at the summer-house 
from inside. It was comparatively new ; it had not 
been there six years before. A roomy place, with pic- 
tures on the walls, and even an alarm clock now run 
down chairs with cushions, a table, and an upholstered 
settee covered in red plush. The blinds were down. 

I set a couple of pieces in the roof first, where I'd 
smashed it with my empty bottle ; then I took off the 
lock to see what was wrong there. While I was busy 
with this the Captain came up. He had evidently been 
drinking already that day, or was suffering from a 
heavy bout the night before. 

"That's no burglary," he said. "Either the door 
must have been left open, and slammed itself to bits, or 
someone must have stumbled up against it in the dark. 
One of the visitors, perhaps, that left the other day." 

But the door had been roughly handled, one could 
see : the lock was burst open, and the woodwork on 
the inside of the frame torn away. 

" Let me see ! Put a new bolt in here, and force the 
spring back in place," said the Captain, examining the 
lock. He sat down in a chair. 

Fru Falkenberg came down the stone steps to the 
shrubbery, and called : 

" Is the Captain there? " 

"Yes," said I. 

Then she came up. Her face was twitching with 
emotion. 

" I'd like a word with you," she said. " I won't keep 
you long." 

The Captain answered, without rising : 



WANDERERS 169 

" Certainly. Will you sit down, or would you rather 
stand ? No, don't run away, you ! I've none too much 
time as it is," he said sharply to me. 

This I took to mean that he wanted the lock mended 
so he could take the key with him when he went. 

" I dare say it wasn't I oughtn't to have said what I 
did," Fruen began. 

The Captain made no answer. 

But his silence, after she had come down on purpose 
to try and make it up, was more than she could bear. 
She ended by saying: "Oh, well, it's all the same ; I 
don't care." 

And she turned to go. 

" Did you want to speak to me? " asked the Captain. 

" Oh no, it doesn't matter. Thanks, I shan't 
trouble." 

"Very well," said the Captain. He smiled as he 
spoke. He was drunk, no doubt, and angry about 
something. 

But Fruen turned as she passed by me in the door- 
way, and said : 

" You ought not to drive down there to-day. There's 
gossip enough already." 

" You need not listen to it," he answered. 

" It can't go on like this, you know," she said again. 
" And you don't seem to think of the disgrace. . . ." 

" We're both a little thoughtless in that respect," he 
answered carelessly, looking round at the walls. 

I took the lock and stepped outside. 

"Here, don't go running away now!" cried the 
Captain. " I'm in a hurry ! " 

"Yes, you're in a hurry, of course," repeated Fruen. 
"Going away again. But you'd do well to think it 
over just for once. I've been thinking things over 
myself lately ; only you wouldn't see . . ." 

"What do you mean?" he asked, haughty and stiff 



1 70 WANDERERS 

as ever. " Was it your fooling about at night with 
your hair down and lights out you thought I wouldn't 
see ? Oh yes, no doubt ! " 

" I'll have to finish this on the anvil," said I, and 
hurried off. 

I stayed away longer than was needed, but when I 
came back Fruen was still there. They were talking 
louder than before. 

" And do you know what I have done? " said Fruen. 
" I've lowered myself so far as to show I was jealous. 
Yes, I've done that. Oh, only about the maid. ... I 
mean . . ." 

" Well, and what then? " said the Captain. 

"Oh, won't you understand? Well, have it your 
own way, then. You'll have to take the consequences 
later ; make no mistake about that ! " 

It was her last words, and it sounded like an arrow 
striking a shield. She stepped out and strode away. 

" Manage it all right ? " said the Captain as I came up. 
But I could see his thoughts were busy with other things ; 
he was trying to appear unconcerned. A little after, 
he managed to yawn, and said lazily : " Ugh, it's a long 
drive. But if Nils can't spare a hand I must go myself." 

I had only to fix the lock in its place, and set a new 
strip down the inside of the door-frame ; it was soon 
done. The Captain tried the door, put the key in his 
pocket, thanked me for the work, and went off. 

A little later he drove away with Elisabeth. 

" See you again soon," he called to Captain Bror 
and Engineer Lassen, waving his hand to them both. 
" Mind you have a good time while I'm away ! " 



IV 

Evening came. And what would happen now ? 
A great deal, as it turned out. 



WANDERERS 171 

It started early ; we men were at supper while they 
were having" dinner up at the house, and we could hear 
them carrying on as gaily as could be. Ragnhild was 
taking in trays of food and bottles, and waiting at table ; 
once when she came out, she laughed to herself and 
said to the other girls: "I believe Fruen's drunk 
herself to-night." 

I had not slept the night before, nor had my midday 
rest ; I was troubled and nervous after all that had 
happened the last two days. So, as soon as I had 
finished my supper, I went out and up to the woods to 
be alone. I stayed there a long while. 

I looked down towards the house. The Captain 
away, the servants gone to rest, the beasts in stable 
and shed fast asleep. Stout Captain Bror and his lady, 
too, had doubtless found a quiet corner all to themselves 
after dinner ; he was simply wild about the woman, 
for all he was old and fat and she herself no longer 
young. That left only Fru Falkenberg and the young 
engineer. And where would they be now? 

'Twas their affair. 

I sauntered home again, yawning and shivering a 
little in the cool night, and went up to my room. 
After a while Ragnhild came up, and begged me to 
keep awake and be ready to help in case of need. It 
was horrible, she said ; they were carrying on like 
mad things up at the house, walking about from one 
room to another, half undressed and drunk as well. 
Was Fruen drunk, too ? Yes, she was. And was she 
walking about half undressed ? No, but Captain Bror 
was, and Fruen clapped her hands .and cried " Bravo ! " 
And the engineer as well. It was one as bad as the 
other. And Ragnhild had just taken in two more 
bottles of wine, though they were drunk already. 

" Come over with me and you can hear them yourself," 
said Ragnhild. "They're up in Fruen's room now." 



i;2 WANDERERS 

"No," I said. "I'm going to bed. And you'd 
better go, too." 

" But they'll ring in a minute and be wanting some- 
thing if I do." 

" Let them ring! " 

And then it was Ragnhild confessed that the Captain 
himself had asked her to stay up that night in case 
Fruen should want her. 

This altered the whole aspect of affairs in a moment. 
Evidently the Captain had feared something might 
happen, and set Ragnhild on guard in case. I put 
on my blouse again and went across with her to the 
house. 

We went upstairs and stood in the passage ; we 
could hear them laughing and making a noise in 
Fruen's room. But Fruen herself spoke as clearly as 
ever, and was not drunk at all. "Yes, she is," said 
Ragnhild, "anyhow, she's not like herself to-night." 

I wished I could have seen her for a moment. 

We went back to the kitchen and sat down. But 
I was restless all the time ; after a little I took down 
the lamp from the wall and told Ragnhild to follow me. 
We went upstairs again. 

" No ; go in and ask Fruen to come out here to me," 
I said. 

"Why, whatever for?" 

" I've a message for her." 

And Ragnhild knocked at the door and went in. 

It was only at the last moment I hit on any message 
to give. I could simply look her straight in the face 
and say: "The Captain sent his kind regards." 1 
Would that be enough? I might say more: "The 

1 Kapteinen bad mig hilse Dem : literally, "The Captain bade 
me greet you." Such a message would not seem quite so 
uncalled for in Norway, such greetings (Hilsen) being given and 
sent more frequently, and on slighter occasion, than with us. 



WANDERERS 173 

Captain was obliged to drive himself, because Nils 
couldn't spare anyone to go." 

But a moment can be long at times, and thought a 
lightning flash. I found time to reject both these 
plans and hatch out another before Fruen came. 
Though I doubt if my last plan was any better. 

Fruen asked in surprise : 

" Well, what do you want ? " 

Ragnhild came up, too, and looked at me wonder- 
ingly. 

I turned the lamp towards Fruen's face and said : 

" I beg pardon for coming up so late. I'll be going 
to the post first thing to-morrow ; I thought if perhaps 
Fruen had any letters to go ? " 

" Letters? No," she answered, shaking her head. 

There was an absent look in her eyes, but she did 
not look in the least as if she had been drinking. 

" No, I've no letters," she said, and moved to go. 

" Beg pardon, then," I said. 

" Was it the Captain told you to go to the post?" 
she asked. 

" No, I was just going for myself." 

She turned and went back to her room. Before she 
was well through the door I heard her say to the 
others : 

"A nice pretext, indeed." 

Ragnhild and I went down again. I had seen her. 

Oh, but I was humbled now indeed ! And it did not 
ease my mind at all when Ragnhild incautiously let 
out a further piece of news. It seemed she had been 
romancing before ; it was not true about the Captain's 
having asked her to keep a look-out. I grew more 
and more convinced in my own mind : Ragnhild was 
playing the spy on her own account, for sheer love of 
the game. 

I left her, and went up to my room. What had my 



174 WANDERERS 

clumsy intrusion gained for me, after all ? A pretext, 
she had said ; clearly she had seen through it all. 
Disgusted with myself, I vowed that for the future I 
would leave things and people to themselves. 

I threw myself down fully dressed on the bed. 

After a while I heard Fru Falkenberg's voice outside 
in front of the house ; my window was open, and she 
spoke loudly enough. The engineer was with her, 
putting in a word now and again. Fruen was in 
raptures over the weather, so fine it was, and such a 
warm night. Oh, it was lovely out now ever so much 
nicer than indoors ! 

But her voice seemed a trifle less clear now than 
before. 

I ran to the window, and saw the pair of them 
standing by the steps that led down to the shrubbery. 
The engineer seemed to have something on his mind 
that he had not been able to get said before. "Do 
listen to me now," he said. Then followed a brief 
and earnest pleading, which was answered ay, and 
rewarded. He spoke as if to one hard of hearing, 
because she had been deaf to his words so long ; they 
stood there by the stone steps, neither of them caring 
for anyone else in the world. Let any listen or watch 
who pleased ; the night was theirs, the world was 
theirs, and the spring-time was about them, drawing 
them together. He watched her like a cat ; every 
movement of her body set his blood tingling ; he was 
ready to spring upon her in a moment. And when it 
came near to action there was a power of will in his 
manner towards her. Ay, the young spark ! 

" I've begged and prayed you long enough," he said 

breathlessly. "Yesterday you all but would; to-day 

you're deaf again. You think you and Bror and Tante x 

and the rest are to have a good time and no harm 

1 " Auntie." Evidently Captain Bror's lady is meant. 



WANDERERS 175 

done, while I look on and play the nice young man ? 
But, by Heaven, you're wrong ! Here's you yourself, 
a garden of all good things right in front of me, and a 
fence ... do you know what I'm going to do now 
with that silly fence ? " 

"What are you going to do? No, Hugo, you've 
had too much to drink this evening. You're so young. 
We've both drunk more than we ought," she said. 

"And then you play me false into the bargain, with 
your tricks. You send a special messenger for a letter 
that simply can't wait, and at the same time you're 
cruel enough to let me think ... to promise me . . ." 

" I'll never do it again, Hugo." 

"Never do it again? What do you mean by that? 
When you can go up to a man yes, to me, and kiss 
me like you did. . . . What's the good of saying 
you'll never do it any more? It's done, and a kiss like 
that's not a thing to forget. I can feel it still, and it's 
a mad delight, and I thank you for it. You've got 
that letter in your dress ; let me see it." 

"You're so excited, Hugo. No, it's getting late 
now. We'd better say good-night." 

" Will you show me that letter? " 

" Show you the letter ? Certainly not ! " 

At that he made a half-spring, as if to take it by 
force, but checked himself, and snapped out : 

"What? You won't? Well, on my word you 
are . . . Mean's not the word for it. You're some- 
thing worse. ..." 

"Hugo!" 

' ' Yes, you are ! " 

"If you -will see the letter, here it is ! " She thrust 
her hand into her blouse, took out her letter, opened it, 
and waved it at him, flourishing her innocence. " Here's 

the letter from my mother ; there's her signature 

look. From mother and now what do you say ? " 



1 76 WANDERERS 

He quailed as if at a blow, and only said : 

"From your mother? Why, then, it didn't matter 
at all ? " 

" No ; there you are. Oh, but of course it did 
matter in a way, but still ..." 

He leaned up against the fence, and began to work 
it out : 

" From your mother ... I see. A letter from 
your mother came and interrupted us. Do you know 
what I think ? You've been cheating. You've been 
fooling me all along. I can see it all now." 

She tried again. 

"It was an important letter. Mama is coming 
she's coming here to stay very soon. And I was 
waiting to hear." 

"You were cheating all the time, weren't you?" he 
said again. " Let them bring in the letter just at the 
right moment, when we'd put out the light. Yes, that's 
it. You were just leading me on, to see how far I'd go, 
and kept your maid close at hand to protect you." 

"Oh, do be sensible! It's ever so late; we must 
go in." 

" Ugh! I had too much to drink up there, I think. 
Can't talk straight now." 

He could think of nothing but the letter, and went 
on about it again : 

" For there was no need to have all that mystery 
about a letter from home. No ; I see it all now. Want 
to go in, you say? Well then, go in, Frue, by all 
means. Godnat, Frue. My dutiful respects, as from 
a son." 

He bowed, and stood watching her with a sneering 
smile. 

" A son? Oh yes," she replied, with sudden emotion. 
" I am old, yes. And you are so young, Hugo, that's 
true. And that's why I kissed you. But I couldn't be 



WANDERERS 177 

your mother no, it's only that I'm older, ever so much 
older than you. But I'm not quite an old woman yet, 
and that you should see if only . . . But I'm older than 
Elisabeth and everyone else. Oh, what am I talking 
about ? Not a bit of it. I don't know what else the 
years may have done to me, but they haven't made me 
an old woman yet. Have they ? What do you think 
yourself? Oh, but what do you know about it? . . ." 

" No, no," he said softly. " But is there any sense 
in going on like this ? Here are you, young as you are, 
with nothing on earth to do all the time but keep 
guard over yourself and get others to do the same. 
And the Lord in heaven knows you promised me a 
thing, but it means so little to you ; you take a pleasure 
in putting me off and beating me down with your great 
white wings." 

" Great white wings," she murmured to herself. 

" Yes, you might have great red wings. Look at 
yourself now, standing there all lovely as you are, and 
all for nothing." 

"Oh, I think the wine has gone to my head! All 
for nothing, indeed ! " 

Then suddenly she takes his hand and leads him down 
the steps. I can hear her voice : " Why should I care ? 
Does he imagine Elisabeth's so much better?" 

They pass along the path to the summer-house. 
Here she hesitates, and stops. 

" Oh, where are we going? " she asks. " Haha, we 
must be mad ! You wouldn't have thought I was mad, 
would you ? I'm not, either that is to say, yes, I am, 
now and again. There, the door's locked ; very well, 
we'll go away again. But what a mean trick to lock 
the door, when we want to go in." 

Full of bitterness and suspicion, he answered : 

" Now, you're cheating again. You knew well enough 
the door was locked." 
12 



1 78 WANDERERS 

" Oh, must you always think the worst of me? But 
why should he lock the door so carefully and have the 
place all to himself? Yes, I did know it was locked, 
and that's why I came with you. I dare not. No, 
Hugo, I won't, I mean it. Oh, are you mad ? Come 
back ! " 

She took his hand again and tried to turn back ; they 
stood struggling a little, for he would not follow. Then 
in his passion and strength he threw both arms round 
her and kissed her again and again. And she weakened 
ever more and more, speaking brokenly between the 
kisses : 

" I've never kissed any other man before never ! 
It's true I swear it. I've never kissed ..." 

" No, no, no," he answers impatiently, drawing her 
step by step the way he will. 

Outside the summer-house he looses his hold of her a 
moment, flings himself, one shoulder forward, heavily 
against the door, and breaks it open for the second 
time. Then in one stride he is beside her once more. 
Neither speaks. 

But even at the door, she checks again stands 
clinging to the door-posts, and will not move. 

" No, no, I've never been unfaithful to him yet. I 
won't ; I've never never . . ." 

He draws her to him suddenly, kisses her a full 
minute, two minutes, a deep, unbroken kiss ; she leans 
back from the waist, her hand slips where it holds, and 
she gives way. . . . 

A white mist gathers before my eyes. So ... they 
have come to it now. Now he takes her, has his will 
and joy of her. . . . 

A melancholy weariness and rest comes over me. I 
feel miserable and alone. It is late ; my heart has had 
its day. . . . 

Through the white mist comes a leaping figure ; it is 



WANDERERS 179 

Ragnhild coming 1 up from among the bushes, running 
with her tongue thrust out. 

The engineer came up to me, nodded Godmorgen, and 
asked me to mend the summer-house door. 

"Is it broken again ? " 

"Yes, it got broken last night." 

It was early for him to be about no more than half- 
past four ; we farm-hands had not yet started for the 
fields. His eyes showed small and glittering, as if they 
burned ; likely enough he had not slept all night. But 
he said nothing as to how the door had got broken. 

Not for any thought of him, but for Captain Falken- 
berg's sake, I went down at once to the summer-house 
and mended the door once again. No need for such 
haste, maybe ; the Captain had a long drive there and 
back, but it was close on twenty-four hours now since 
he started. 

The engineer came down with me. Without in the 
least perceiving how it came about, I found myself 
thinking well of him ; he had broken open that door 
last night quite so, but he was not the man to sneak 
out of it after. He and no other it was who had it 
mended. Eh, well, perhaps after all 'twas only my 
vanity was pleased. I felt flattered at his trusting to 
my silence. That was it. That was how I came to 
think well of him. 

" I'm in charge of some timber-rafting on the rivers," 
he said. " How long are you staying here? " 

" Not for long. Till the field-work's over for the 
season." 

" I could give you work if you'd care about it." 

Now this was work I knew nothing" of, and, what was 
more, I liked to be among field and forest, not with 
lumbermen and proletariat. However, I thanked him 
for the offer. 



1 80 WANDERERS 

" Very good of you to come and put this right. As a 
matter of fact, I broke it open looking for a gun. I 
wanted to shoot something, and I thought there might 
be a gun in there." 

I made no answer ; it would have pleased me better 
if he had said nothing. 

" So I thought I'd ask you before you started out to 
work," he said, to finish off. 

I put the lock right and set it in its place again, and 
began nailing up the woodwork, which was shattered as 
before. While I was busy with this, we heard Captain 
Falkenberg's voice ; through the bushes we could see 
him unharnessing the horses and leading them in. 

The engineer gave a start ; he fumbled for his watch, 
and got it out, but his eyes had grown all big and 
empty they could see nothing. Suddenly he said : 

"Oh, I forgot, I must . . ." 

And he hurried off far down the garden. 

" So he's going to sneak out of it, after all," I thought 
to myself. 

A moment later the Captain himself came down. He 
was pale, and covered with dust, and plainly had not 
slept, but perfectly sober. He called to me from a 
distance : 

" Hei ! how did you get in there ? " 

I touched my cap, but said nothing. 

" Somebody been breaking in again? " 

" It was only ... I just remembered I'd left out 
a couple of nails here yesterday. It's all right now. 
If Captain will lock up again . . ." 

Fool that I was ! If that was the best excuse I 
could find, he would see through it all at once. 

He stood for a few seconds looking at the door with 
half-closed eyes ; he had his suspicions, no doubt. 
Then he took out the key, locked up the place, and 
walked off. What else could he do ? 



WANDERERS 181 



All the guests are gone stout Captain Bror, the 
lady with the shawl, Engineer Lassen as well. And 
Captain Falkenberg is getting ready to start for 
manoeuvres at last It struck me that he must have 
applied for leave on very special grounds, or he would 
have been away on duty long before this. 

We farm-hands have been hard at work in the fields 
the last few days a heavy strain on man and beast. 
But Nils knew what he was doing ; he wanted to gain 
time for something else. 

One day he set me to work cleaning up all round 
outside the house and buildings. It took all the time 
gained, and more, but it made the whole place look 
different altogether. And that was what Nils wanted 
to cheer the Captain up a little before he left home. 
And I turned to of my own accord and fixed up a loose 
pale or so in the garden fence, straightened the door of 
a shed that was wry on its hinges, and such-like. And 
the barn bridge, too, needed mending. I thought of 
putting in new beams. 

"Where will you be going when you leave here?" 
asked the Captain. 

" I don't know. I'll be on the road for a bit." 
"I could do with you here for a while; there's a 
lot of things that want doing." 

"Captain was thinking of paintwork, maybe?" 
" Painting, too yes. I'm not sure about that, though ; 
it would be a costly business, with the outbuildings and 
all. No, I was thinking of something else. Do you 
know anything about timber, now? Could you mark 
down for yourself? " 

It pleased him, then, to pretend he did not recognise 
me from the time I had worked in his timber before. But 
was there anything left now to fell ? I answered him : 



1 82 WANDERERS 

"Ay, I'm used to timber. Where would it be this 
year? " 

"Anywhere. Wherever you like. There must be 
something left, surely." 

"Ay, well." 

I laid the new beams in the barn bridge, and when 
that was done, I took down the flagstaff and put on a 
new knob and line. Ovrebo was looking quite nice 
already, and Nils said it made him feel better only to 
look at it. I got him to talk to the Captain and put 
in a word about the paintwork, but the Captain had 
looked at him with a troubled air and said : " Yes, yes, 
I know. But paint's not the only thing we've got to 
think about. Wait till the autumn and see how the 
crops turn out. We've sowed a lot this year." 

But when the flagstaff stood there with the old paint 
all scraped off, and a new knob and halliards, the Captain 
could not help noticing it, and ordered some paint by 
telegraph. Though, to be sure, there was no such hurry 
as all that ; a letter by the post had been enough. 

Two days passed. The paint arrived, but was put 
aside for the time being ; we had not done with the 
field-work yet by a long way, though we were using 
both the carriage horses for sowing and harrowing, 
and when it came to planting potatoes, Nils had to ask 
up at the house for the maids to come and help. The 
Captain gave him leave, said yes to all that was asked, 
and went off to manoeuvres. So we were left to 
ourselves. 

But there was a big scene between husband and wife 
before he went. 

Every one of us on the place knew there was trouble 
between them, and Ragnhild and the dairymaid were 
always talking about it. The fields were coming on 
nicely now, and you could see the change in the grass- 
land from day to-day ; it was fine spring weather, and 



WANDERERS 183 

all things doing well that grew, but there was trouble 
and strife at Ovrebo. Fruen could be seen at times 
with a face that showed she had been crying ; or other 
times with an air of exaggerated haughtiness, as if she 
no longer cared for any encounter. Her mother came 
a pale, quiet lady with spectacles and a face like a 
mouse. She did not stay long only a few days ; then 
she went back to Kristianssand that was where she 
lived. The air here did not agree with her, she said. 

Ah, that great scene ! A bitter final reckoning that 
lasted over an hour Ragnhild told us all about it 
afterwards. Neither the Captain nor Fruen raised 
their voices, but the words came slow and strong. 
And in their bitterness the pair of them agreed to go 
each their own way from now on. 

44 Oh, you don't say so!" cried all in the kitchen, 
clasping their hands. 

Ragnhild drew herself up and began mimicking: 

1 You've been breaking into the summer-house again 
with someone ? ' said the Captain. Yes,' said Fruen. 
4 And what more ? ' he asked. ' Everything,' said she. 
The Captain smiled at that and said : ' There's some- 
thing frank and open about an answer like that ; you 
can see what is meant almost at once.' Fruen said 
nothing to that. ' What you can see in that young puppy, 
I don't know though he did help me once out of a 
fix.' Fruen looked at him then, and said: 'Helped 
you ? ' ' Yes,' said the Captain ; ' backed a bill for 
me once.' And Fruen said: 'I didn't know that.' 
Then the Captain : 'Didn't he tell you that?' Fruen 
shook her head. 'Well, what then?' he said again. 
'Would it have made any difference if he had?' 
'Yes,' said Fruen at first, and then No.' 'Are 
you fond of him?' he asked. And she turned on 
him at once. 'Are you fond of Elisabeth?' 'Yes,' 
answered the Captain ; but he sat smiling after that. 



1 84 WANDERERS 

' Well and good,' said Fruen sharply. Then there 
was a long silence. The Captain was the first to 
speak. ' You were right when you said that about 
thinking over things. I've been doing so. I'm not 
a vicious man, really ; queerly enough, I've never really 
cared about drinking and playing the fool. And yet I 
suppose I did, in a way. But there's an end of it now.' 
' So much the better for you,' she answered sullenly. 
' Quite so,' says he again. ' Though it would have 
been better if you'd been a bit glad to hear it.' ' You 
can get Elisabeth to do that,' says she. ' Elisabeth,' 
says he just that one word and shakes his head. 
Then they said nothing for quite a while. ' What are 
you going to do now?' asks the Captain. ' Oh, don't 
trouble yourself about me,' said Fruen very slowly. 
' I can be a nurse, if you like, or cut my hair short and 
be a school teacher, if you like.' ' If I like,' says he ; 
' no, decide for yourself.' ' I want to know what you 
are going to do first,' she says. ' I'm going to stay 
here where I am,' he answered, ' but you've turned 
yourself out of doors.' And Fruen nodded and said : 
'Very well.' ' 

" Oh," from all in the kitchen. " Oh but, Herregud! 
it will come right again surely," said Nils, looking 
round at the rest of us to see what we thought. 

For a couple of days after the Captain had gone, 
Fruen sat playing the piano all the time. On the third 
day Nils drove her to the station ; she was going to 
stay with her mother at Kristianssand. That left us 
more alone than ever. Fruen had not taken any of her 
things with her ; perhaps she felt they were not really 
hers ; perhaps they had all come from him originally, 
and she did not care to have them now. Oh, but it 
was all a misery. 

Ragnhild was not to go away, her mistress had 
said. But it was cook that was left in charge of 



WANDERERS 185 

everything, and kept the keys, which was best for all 
concerned. 

On Saturday the Captain came back home on leave. 
Nils said he never used to do that before. Fine and 
upright in his bearing he was, for all that his wife was 
gone away, and he was sober as could be. He gave me 
orders, very short and clear, about the timber ; came 
out with me and showed here and there. "Battens, 
down to smallest battens, a thousand dozen. I shall 
be away three weeks this time," he said. On the 
Sunday afternoon he went off again. He was more 
determined in his manner now more like himself. 

We were through with the field-work at last, and the 
potato-planting was done ; after that, Nils and the lad 
could manage the daily work by themselves, and I went 
up to my new work among the timber. 

Good days these were for me, all through. Warm 
and rainy at first, making the woods all wet, but I 
went out all the same, and never stayed in on that 
account. Then a spell of hot weather set in, and in 
the light evenings, after I got home from work, it was 
a pleasure to go round mending and seeing to little 
things here and there a gutter-pipe, a window, and 
the like. At last I got the escape ladder up and set to 
scraping the old paint from the north wall of the barn 
it was flaking away there of itself. It would be a 
neat piece of work if I could get the barn done this 
summer after all, and the paint was there all ready. 

But there was another thing that made me weary at 
times of the work and the whole place. It was not the 
same working there now as when the Captain and 
Fruen were at home ; I found here confirmation of the 
well-known truth that it is well for a man to have some- 
one over him at his work, that is, if he is not himself 
in charge as leading man. Here were the maids now, 



1 86 WANDERERS 

going about the place with none to look after them. 
Ragnhild and the dairymaid were always laughing and 
joking noisily at meal-times, and quarrelling now and 
again between themselves ; cook's authority was not 
always enough to keep the peace, and this often made 
things uncomfortable. Also, it seemed that someone 
must have been talking to Lars Falkenberg, my good 
old comrade that had been, and made him suspicious of 
me now. 

Lars came in one evening and took me aside ; he had 
come to say he forbade me to show myself on his place 
again. His manner was comically threatening. 

Now, I had not been there more than a few times with 
washing maybe half a dozen times in all ; he had been 
out, but Emma and I had talked a bit of old things 
and new. The last time I was there Lars came home 
suddenly and made a scene the moment he got inside 
the door, because Emma was sitting on a stool in her 
petticoat. " It's too hot for a skirt," she said. " Ho, 
yes, and your hair all down your back too hot to put it 
up, I suppose?" he retorted. Altogether he was in a 
rage with her. I said good-night to him as I left, but 
he did not answer. 

I had not been there since. Then what made him 
come over like this all of a sudden? I set it down as 
more of Ragnhild's mischievous work. 

When he had told me in so many words he forbade 
me to enter his house, Lars nodded and looked at me ; 
to his mind, I ought now to be as one dead. 

" And I've heard Emma's been down here," he went 
on. " But she'll come no more, I fancy, after this." 

"She may have been here once or twice for the 
washing." 

" Ho, yes, the washing, of course. And you coming 
up yourself Heaven knows how many times a week 
more washing ! Bring up a shirt one day and a 



WANDERERS 187 

pair of drawers the next, that's what you do. But you 
can get Ragnhild to do your washing now." 

" Well and good." 

"Aha, my friend, I know you and your little ways. 
Going and visiting and making yourself sweet to folk 
when you find them all alone. But not for me, thank 
you ! " 

Nils comes up to us now, guessing, no doubt, what's 
the trouble, and ready to put in a word for me, like the 
good comrade he is. He catches the last words, and 
gives me a testimonial on the spot, to the effect that 
he's never seen anything wrong about me all the time 
I've been in the place. 

But Lars Falkenberg bridles up at once and puts on 
airs, looking Nils up and down with contempt. He 
has a grudge against Nils already. For though Lars 
had managed well enough since he got his own little 
place up in the wood, he had never equalled Nils's work 
here on the Captain's land. And Lars Falkenberg feels 
himself aggrieved. 

"What have you got to come cackling about?" he 
asks. 

" I'm saying what is the truth, that's all," answers 
Nils. 

" Ho, are you, you goat? If you want me to wipe 
the floor with you, I'll do it on the spot ! " 

Nils and I walked away, but Lars still shouted after 
us. And there was Ragnhild, of course, sniffing at the 
lilacs as we passed. 

That evening I began to think about moving on 
again as soon as I had finished my work in the timber. 
When the three weeks were up, the Captain came back 
as he had said. He noticed I had scraped the northern 
wall of the barn, and was pleased with me for that. 
" End of it'll be you'll have to paint that again, too," 
he said. I told him how far I had got with the timber ; 



1 88 WANDERERS 

there was not much left now. " Well, keep at it and 
do some more," was all he said. Then he went back 
to his duty again for another three weeks. 

But I did not care to stay another three weeks at 
0vreb0 as things were now. I marked down a few 
score dozen battens, and reckoned it all out on my 
paper that would have to do. But it was still too 
early for a man to live in the forests and hills ; the 
flowers* were come, but there were no berries yet. 
Song and twitter of birds at their mating, flies and 
midges and moths, but no cloudberries, no angelica. 

In town. 

I came in to Engineer Lassen, Inspector of Rafting 
Sections, and he took me on as he had promised, though 
it was late in the season now. To begin with, I am to 
make a tour of the water and see where the logs have 
gathered thickest, noting down the places on a chart. 
He is quite a good fellow, the engineer, only still very 
young. He gives me over-careful instructions about 
things he fancies I don't know already. It makes him 
seem a trifle precocious. 

And so this man has helped Captain Falkenberg out 
of a mess? The Captain was sorry for it now, no 
doubt, anxious to free himself from the debt that was 
why he was cutting down his timber to the last lot of 
battens, I thought. And I wished him free of it myself. 
I was sorry now I had not stayed on marking down 
a few more days, that he might have enough and to 
spare. What if it should prove too little, after all ? 

Engineer Lassen was a wealthy man, apparently. 
He lived at an hotel, and had two rooms there. I never 
got farther than the office myself, but even there he 
had a lot of costly things, books and papers, silver 
things for the writing-table, gilt instruments and 
things ; a light overcoat, silk-lined, hung on the wall. 



WANDERERS 189 

Evidently a rich man, and a person of importance in 
the place. The local photographer had a large-sized 
photograph of him in the show-case outside. I saw 
him, too, out walking in the afternoons with the young 
ladies of the town. Being in charge of all the timber 
traffic, he generally walked down to the long bridge 
it was four hundred and sixty feet across the rapids, 
halted there, and stood looking up and down the river. 
Just by the bridge piers, and on the flat rocks below 
them, was where the logs were most inclined to jam, 
and he kept a gang of lumbermen regularly at hand for 
this work alone. Standing on the bridge there, watch- 
ing the men at work among the logs, he looked like an 
admiral on board a ship, young and strong, with power 
to command. The ladies with him stopped willingly, 
and stood there on the bridge, though the rush of water 
was often enough to make one giddy. And the roar of 
it was such that they had to put their heads together 
when they spoke. 

But just in this position, at his post on the bridge, 
standing there and turning this way and that, there 
was something smallish and unhandsome about his 
figure; his sports jacket, fitting tightly at the waist, 
seemed to pinch, and showed up over-heavy contours 
behind. 

The very first evening, after he'd given me my orders 
to start off up the river next day, I met him out walk- 
ing with two ladies. At sight of me he stopped, and 
kept his companions waiting there, too, while he gave 
me the same instructions all over again. "Just as well 
I happened to meet you," he said. " You'll start off 
early, then, to-morrow morning. Take a hooking pole 
with you, and clear all the logs you can manage. If 
you come across a big jam, mark it down on the chart 
you've got a copy of the chart, haven't you ? And 
keep on up river till you meet another man coming 



190 WANDERERS 

down. But remember to mark in red, not blue. And 
let me see how well you can manage. A man I've got to 
work under me," he explained to the ladies. " I really 
can't be bothered running up and down all the time." 

So serious he was about it all ; he even took out a 
notebook and wrote something down. He was very 
young, and could not help showing off a little with two 
fair ladies to look on. 

Next morning I got away early. It was light at 
four, and by that time I was a good way up the river. 
I carried food with me, and my hooking pole which is 
like a boat-hook really. 

No young, growing timber here, as on Captain Fal- 
kenberg's land ; the ground was stony and barren, 
covered with heather and pine needles for miles round. 
They had felled too freely here ; the sawmills had taken 
over-much, leaving next to no young wood. It was a 
melancholy country to be in. 

By noon I had cleared a few small jams, and marked 
down a big one. Then I had my meal, with a drink of 
water from the river. A bit of a rest, and I went on 
again, on till the evening. Then I came upon a big 
jam, where a man was already at work among the logs. 
This was the man I had been told to look out for. I 
did not go straight up to him at first, but stopped to 
look at him. He worked very cautiously, as if in terror 
of his life ; he was even afraid of getting his feet wet. 
It amused me to watch him for a little. The least 
chance of being carried out into the stream on a 
loosened log was enough to make him shift at once. 
At last I went up close and looked at him why . . . 
yes, it was my old friend, Grindhusen. 

Grindhusen, that I had worked with as a young man 
at Skreia my partner in the digging of a certain well 
six years before. 

And now to meet him here. 



WANDERERS 191 

We gave each other greeting, and sat down on the 
logs to talk, asking and answering for an hour or more. 
Then it was too late to get any more done that day. 
We got up and went back a little way up the river, 
where Grindhusen had a bit of a log hut. We crept in, 
lit a fire, made some coffee, and had a meal. Then, 
going outside again, we lit our pipes and lay down in 
the heather. 

Grindhusen had aged, and was in no better case than 
I myself; he did not care to think of the gay times in 
our youth, when we had danced the whole night 
through. He it was that had once been as a red-haired 
wolf among the girls, but now he was thoroughly 
cowed by age and toil, and had not even a smile. If 
I had only had a drop of spirits with me it might have 
livened him up a little, but I had none. 

In the old days he had been a stiff-necked fellow, 
obstinate as could be ; now he was easy-going and 
stupid. "Ay, maybe so," was his answer to every- 
thing. "Ay, you're right," he would say. Not that 
he meant it ; only that life had taught him to seek the 
easiest way. So life does with all of us, as the years 
go by but it was an ill thing to see, meeting him so. 

Ay, he got along somehow, he said, but he was not 
the man he used to be. He'd been troubled with gout 
of late, and pains in the chest as well. His pains in 
the chest were cardialgic. But it was none so bad as 
long as he'd the work here for Engineer Lassen. He 
knew the river right up, and worked here all spring 
and early summer in his hut. And as for clothes, he'd 
nothing to wear out save breeches and blouse all the 
year round. Had a bit of luck, though, last year, he 
said suddenly. Found a sheep with nobody to own it 
Sheep in the forest? Up that way, he said, pointing.' 
He'd had meat on Sundays half through the winter 
off that sheep. Then he'd his folks in America as good 



192 WANDERERS 

as anyone else : children married there and well-to-do. 
They sent him a little to help the first year or so, but 
now they'd stopped ; it was close on two years now 
since he'd heard from them at all. Eyah ! well, that's 
how things were now with him and his wife. And 
getting old. . . . 

Grindhusen lapsed into thought. 

A dull, rushing sound from the forest and the river, 
like millions of nothings flowing and flowing on. No 
birds here, no creatures hopping about, but if I turn up 
a stone, I may find some insect under it. 

" Wonder what these tiny things live on ? " I say. 

"What tiny things?" says Grindhusen. "Those? 
That's only ants and things." 

" It's a sort of beetle," I tell him. " Put one on the 
grass and roll a stone on top of it, and it'll live." 

Grindhusen answers : " Ay, maybe so," but thinking 
never a word of what I've said, and I think the rest to 
myself ; but put an ant there under the stone as well, 
and very soon there'll be no beetle left. 

And the rush of the forest and river goes on : 'tis one 
eternity that speaks with another, and agrees. But in 
the storms and in thunder they are at war. 

" Ay, so it is," says Grindhusen at last. " Two years 
come next fourteenth of August since the last letter 
came. There was a smart photograph in, from Olea, 
it was, that lives in Dakota., as they call it. A mighty 
fine photograph it was, but I never got it sold. Eyah, 
but we'll manage somehow, please the Lord," says 
Grindhusen, with a yawn. " What was I going to say 
now ? . . . What is he paying for the work ? " 

" I don't know." 

But Grindhusen looks at me suspiciously, thinking it 
is only that I will not say. 

"Ay, well, 'tis all the same to me," he says. "I 
was only asking." 



WANDERERS I93 

To please him, I try to guess a wage. " I dare say 
he'll give me a couple of Kroner a day, or perhaps three, 
d you think?" 

"Ay, dare say you may," he answers enviously. 

Two Kroner's all I get, and I'm an old hand at the 
work." 

Then fancying, perhaps, I may go telling of his 
grumbling, he starts off in praise of Engineer Lassen 
saying what a splendid fellow he is in every way' 

He'll do what's fair by me, that I know. Trust him 
for that ! Why, he's been as good as a father to me, 
and that's the truth ! " 

It sounds quaint, indeed, to hear Grindhusen, half his 
teeth gone with age, talking of the young engineer as a 
father. I felt pretty sure I could find out a good deal 
about my new employer from this quarter, but I did 
not ask. 

" He didn't say anything about me coming down into 
town ? " asked Grindhusen. 

" No." 

" He sends up for me now and again, and when I 
get there, it's not for anything particular only wants 
to have a bit of a chat with me, that's all. Ay, a fine 
fellow is the engineer ! " 

It is getting late. Grindhusen yawns again, creeps 
into the hut and lies down. 

Next morning we cleared the jam. Come up with 
me my way a bit," says Grindhusen. And I went. 
After an hour's walking, we sighted the fields and 
buildings of a hill farm up among the trees. And 
suddenly I recollect the sheep Grindhusen had found. 

^ Was it up this way you found that sheep ? " I ask. 

Grindhusen looks at me. 

" Here ? No, that was ever so far away right over 
towards Trovatn." 



194 WANDERERS 

" But Trovatn's only in the next parish, isn't it?" 

" Yes, that's what I say. It's ever so far away from 
here." 

But now Grindhusen does not care to have my com- 
pany farther ; he stops, and thanks me for coming up 
so far. I might just as well go up to the farm with 
him, and I say so ; but Grindhusen, it seems, is not 
going up to the farm at all he never did. And I'd 
just have an easy day back into town, starting now. 

So I turned and went back the way I had come. 

VI 

It was no sort of work this for a man ; I was not 
satisfied. Nothing but walk, walk up and down the 
river, clearing a few logs here and there, and then on 
again. And after each trip, back to my lodging-house 
in the town. All this time I had but one man to talk 
to the boots or porter at the hotel where the engineer 
was staying. He was a burly fellow, with huge fists, 
and eyes like a child's. He had fallen down and hurt 
his head as a youngster, he said, and never got on in 
life beyond hauling things and carrying heavy loads. 
I had a talk with him now and again, but found no one 
else to talk to in the town. 

That little town ! 

When the river is high, a mighty roar of sound goes 
rushing through the place, dividing it in two. Folk 
live in their little wooden houses north or south of the 
roar, and manage, no doubt, to make ends meet from 
day to day. Of all the many children crossing the 
bridge and running errands to the shops, there is none 
that goes naked, probably few that suffer want, and 
all are decent looking enough. And here are big, tall, 
half-grown girls, the quaintest of all, with their awk- 
ward movements, and their laughter, and their earnest 



WANDERERS 

occupation with their own little affair* w 

nude one **" *" e ' S ^ and 



nudge one another andgo o 
But there are no birds here 



Strange, that there should be no birds' 

" 



even 

eent that 



promenades 



packet. Living- in Vestlanrf Jf u ^ P sU 



ni.htP e 

day? Oh, we are all so interest I ? S '' 

little railway as well but th ' We have a 

The line ends here it run, f ' C Unt f r much ' 
stops, Bk. a cork "j^e far A a n S d '' Can P> and th - 
cosy and pleasant about th^v ' SOmethin ? 



196 WANDERERS 

then there's the sawmills and works by the riverside. 
But as for grocery shops and stores, there's more than 
you'd believe. 

We've so many things altogether. I am a stranger 
here myself as indeed I am everywhere yet I could 
reckon up a host of things we have besides the river. 
Was the town a big place once upon a time ? No, it 
has been a little town for two hundred and fifty years. 
But there was once a great man over all the smaller 
folk one who rode lordly fashion with a servant behind 
him a great landowner. Now we are all equal ; saving, 
perhaps, with Engineer Lassen, this something-and- 
t wen ty- year-old Inspector of Rafting Sections, who can 
afford two rooms at his hotel. 

I have nothing to do, and find myself pondering over 
the following matter : 

Here is a big house, somewhere about a couple of 
hundred years old, the house of the wealthy Ole Olsen 
Ture. It is of enormous size, a house of two stories, 
the length of a whole block ; it is used as a depot now. 
In the days when that house was built there was no 
lack of giant timber hereabouts ; three beams together 
make the height of a man, and the wood is hard as 
iron ; nothing can bite on it. And inside the building 
are halls and cells as in a castle. Here Ture the Great 
ruled like a prince in his day. 

But times changed. Houses were made not only 
big, not only to live in for shelter from cold and rain, 
but also to look on with pleasure to the eye. On the 
opposite side of the river stands an old archaic building 
with carefully balanced verandah in the Empire style, 
pillars, fronton, and all. It is not faultless, but hand- 
some all the same ; it stands out like a white temple on 
the green hillside. One other house I have seen and 
stopped to look at ; one near the market-place. Its 
double street door has old handles and carved rococo 



WANDERERS ig? 

mirrors, but the frames cannelated in the style of 
Louis xvr. The cartouche above the doorway bears 
the date 1795 m Arabic numerals that was our transi- 
tion period here ! So there were folk here at that time 
who kept in touch with the times, without the aid of 
steam and telegraph. 

But later on, again, houses were built to keep off- 
ram and snow and nothing else. They were neither 
big nor beautiful to look at. The idea was to put up 
some sort of a dwelling-, Swiss fashion-a place to keep 
a wife and children in, and that was all. And we 
learned from a miserable little people up in the Alps, 
a people that throughout its history has never been or 
done anything worth speaking of-we learned to pay 
heed to what a homestead really looked like, as 
long as it met with the approval of loafing tourists Is 
there something of the calm and beauty of a temple 
about that white building on the hillside ? And pray 
what's the use of it if there is? And the great big 
house that dates from the time of Ole Olsen Ture, why 
hasn tit been pulled down long ago ? There would be 
>m for a score of cheap dwellings on the site 
Things have gone downhill, gone to the depths 
And now the little cobbler-soul can rejoice-not because 
we re all grown equally great, but because we're all 
equally small. 'Tis our affair ! 

The long bridge is pleasant to walk on because it is 
paved with planks, and even as a floor; all the young 
ad.es can walk gracefully here. And the bridge is 
light and open at the sides, making an excellent look- 
out place for us inquisitive folk. 

Down on the raft of tangled logs the men are shout- 
ing, as they strain to free the timber that has caught and 
=tuck fast among the rocks and boulders in the river- 
Bd. Stick after stick comes floating down and joins 
e mass already gathered ; the jam grows and grows ; 



193 WANDERERS 

at times there may be a couple of hundred dozen baulks 
hung up at one spot. But if all goes well, the gang 
can clear the jam in time. And if fate will have it ill, 
some unlucky lumberman may be carried down as well, 
down the rapids to his death. 

There are ten men with boat-hooks on the jam, all 
more or less wet from falling in. The foreman points 
out the log next to be freed, but we, watching from the 
bridge, can see now and again that all the gang are not 
agreed. There is no hearing what is said, but we can 
see some of them are inclined to get another log out first ; 
one of the old hands protests. Knowing his speech as 
I do, I fancy I can hear him saying stubbornly and 
calmly: "I doubt we'd better see and get that one 
clear first." Ten pairs of eyes are turned towards the 
stick he has chosen, tracing the lie of it in among 
its tangled fellows ; jif the men agree, ten boat-hooks 
are thrust into it. Then for a moment the poles stand 
out from the log like the strings of a harp ; a mighty 
"ffbf" from the gang, a short, tense haul, and it 
moves a trifle forward. A fresh grip, another shout, 
and forward again. It is like watching half a score of 
ants about a twig. And at last the freed log slides out 
and away down the rapids. 

But there are logs that are almost immovable, and 
often it is just one of the worst that has to be cleared 
before anything else can be done. Then the men 
spread out and surround it, fixing their hooks wherever 
they can get a sight of it in the tangle, some hauling, 
others thrusting outward ; if it is dry, they splash 
water over it to make it slippery. And here the poles 
are nowise regularly set like harp-strings, but lie cross- 
wise at all angles like a cobweb. 

Sometimes the shouting of the gang can be heard 
all day long from the river, silenced only for meals ; 
ay, it may happen that it goes on for days together. 



WANDERERS 199 

Then suddenly a new sound falls on the ear : the 
stroke of the axe ; some devil of a log has fixed itself 
so cunningly there is no hauling it free, and it has 
to be cut through. It does not take many strokes 
to do it, for the pressure on it already is enormous ; 
soon it breaks, the great confused mass yields, and 
begins to move. All the men are on their guard 
now, holding back to see what is coming next ; if the 
part they are standing on shows signs of breaking loose, 
they must leap with catlike swiftness to a safer spot. 
Their calling is one of daily and hourly peril ; they 
carry their lives in their hands. 

But the little town is a living death. 

It is pitiful to see such a dead place, trying to 
pretend it is alive. It is the same with Bruges, the 
great city of the past, and with many cities in Holland, 
in South Germany, the north of France, the Orient. 
Standing in the market-place of such a town one 
cannot but think: "Once, once upon a time this 
was a living place ; there are still human beings 
walking in the streets ! " 

Strange, this town of ours is hidden away, shut 
in by the hills and yet for all that it has no doubt 
its local feminine beauty and its local masculine 
ambition just as all other towns. Only it is such a 
queer, outlandish life that is lived here, with little 
crooked fingers, with eyes as of a mouse, and ears 
filled day and night with the eternal rushing of the 
waters. A beetle on its way in the heather, a stub 
of yellow grass sticks up here and there huge trees 
they seem to the beetle's eye ! Two local merchants 
walk across the bridge. Going to the post, no doubt. 
They have this very day decided to go halves in a 
whole sheet of stamps, buying them all at once for the 
sake of the rebate on a quantity ! 



200 WANDERERS 

Oh, those local tradesmen ! 

Each day they hang out their stocks of ready-made 
clothes, and dress their windows with their stuffs 
and goods, but rarely do I see a customer go in. I 
thought to myself at first : But there must surely be 
someone now and then a peasant from somewhere 
up the valley, coming into town. And I was right ; 
I saw that peasant to-day, and it was strange and 
pleasant to see him. 

He was dressed like the pictures in our folk-tales 
a little short jacket with silver buttons, and grey 
breeches with a black leather seat. He was driving 
a tiny little haycart with a tiny little horse, and up in 
the cart was a little red-flanked cow on its way to 
the butcher's, I suppose. All three man, horse, and 
cow were undersized ; palaeolithic figures ; dwarf 
creatures from the underworld on a visit to the 
haunts of men. I almost looked to see them vanish 
before my eyes. All of a sudden the cow in its 
Lilliputian cart utters a throaty roar and even that 
unromantic sound was like a voice from another 
world. 

A couple of hours later I come upon the man again, 
minus horse and cow ; he is wandering round among 
the shops on his errands. I follow him to the saddler's 
saddler and harness-maker Vogt is also a glazier, 
and deals in leather as well. This merchant of many 
parts offers to serve me first, but I explain that I 
must look at a saddle, and some glass, and a trifle 
of leather first, I am in no hurry. So he turns to the 
elfin countryman. 

The two are old acquaintances. 

" So here's you come to town ? " 

" Ay, that's the way of it." 

And so on through the whole rigmarole ; wind and 
weather, and the state of the roads ; wife and children 



WANDERERS 201 

getting on as usual ; season and crops ; river's fallen 
so much the last week ; butchers' prices ; hard times 
nowadays, etc. Then they begin trying the leather, 
pinching and feeling and bending it about and talking 
it over. And when at last a strip is cut off and 
weighed, the mannikin finds it a marvel, sure, that 
ever it could weigh so much ! Reckon it at a round 
figure, those little bits of weights aren't worth count- 
ing! And the two of them argue and split over this 
for a good solid while, as is right and proper. When 
at last it comes to paying for the goods, a fantastic 
leather purse is brought to light, a thing out of a fairy 
tale. Slowly and cautiously the heavy fist draws forth 
the coins, one shilling after another ; both parties count 
the money over again and again, then the mannikin 
closes his purse with an anxious movement ; that is 
all he has ! 

" Why, you've coin and paper too ; I saw a note 
in there." 

" Nay, I'll not break the note." 

More reckoning and arguing a long business this ; 
each gives way a little, they split the difference and 
the deal is over. 

"And a terrible heap to pay for a bit of leather," 
says the purchaser. And the dealer answers : 

" Nay, you've got it a bargain. But don't forget me 
next time you're in town." 

Towards evening I meet the mannikin once more, 
driving home again after his venture into the world. 
The cow has been left behind at the butcher's. There 
are parcels and sacks in the cart, but the little man him- 
self jogs along behind, the leather seat of his breeches 
stretching to a triangle at every step. And whether 
for thoughtlessness, or an overweight of thought after 
all these doings and dealings, he wears a rolled-up 
strip of sole leather like a ring about one arm. 



202 WANDERERS 

So money has flowed into the town once more ; a 
peasant has come in and sold his cow, and spent the 
price of it again in goods. The event is noticed every- 
where at once : the town's three lawyers notice it, the 
three little local papers notice it ; money is circulating 
more freely of late. Unproductive but it helps the 
town to live. 

Every week the little local papers advertise town 
properties for sale ; every week a list is issued by the 
authorities of houses to be sold in liquidation of the 
unpaid tax. What then? Ah, but mark how many 
properties come on the market that way ! The barren, 
rocky valley with its great river cannot feed this 
moribund town ; a cow now and again is not enough. 
And so it is that the properties are given up, the 
Swiss-pattern houses, the dwellings and shelters. Out 
Vestland way, if ever a house in one of the little towns 
should chance to come up for sale, it is a great event ; 
the inhabitants flock together on the quay to talk it 
over. Here, in our little town beyond all hope, it 
occasions no remark when another wearied hand leaves 
hold of what it had. My turn now 'twill be another's 
before long. And none finds it worth while sorrowing 
much for that. 

Engineer Lassen came to my lodging and said : 

" Put on your cap and come with me to the station 
to fetch a trunk." 

" No," said I. " I'm not going to do that." 

" Not going to . . ." 

" No. There's a porter at the hotel for that sort of 
thing. Let him earn the money." 

It was quite enough. The engineer was very young ; 
he looked at me and said nothing. But, being obstinate 
by nature, he would not give up at once ; he changed 
his tone. 



WANDERERS 203 

" I'd rather have you," he said. " I've a reason for 
it, and I wish you would." 

"That's a different matter. Then I will." 

I put on my cap, and I am ready ; he walks on ahead, 
and I follow behind. Ten minutes' waiting at the 
station, and the train comes in. It consists of three 
toy carriages, and a few passengers tumble out. In 
the rear carriage is a lady trying to alight ; the 
engineer hurries to assist her. 

I paid no great heed to what was happening. The 
lady was veiled and wore gloves ; a light coat she 
handed to her escort. She seemed embarrassed at 
first, and said only a few words in a low voice, but he 
was quite the reverse, talking loudly and freely all the 
time. And when he begged her to take off her veil, 
she grew bolder, and did as he said. 

" Do you know me now?" she said. And suddenly 
I pricked up my ears ; it was Fru Falkenberg's voice. 
I turned round and looked her in the face. 

It is no easy matter to be old and done with and 
behave as such. The moment I realised who it was 
standing there I could think of nothing but my age- 
worn self, and how to stand and bow with ease and 
respect. Now, I had among my possessions a blouse, 
and breeches of brown corduroy such as labourers wear 
in the south ; an excellent, well-looking suit, and new. 
But, alas 1 I had not put it on to-day. And the lack of 
it at that moment irked me. I was down-hearted at 
the thought. And, while the two stood there talking, 
I fell to wondering why the engineer had wanted me so 
particularly to come with him to the station. Could it 
be for the matter of a few shilling to the porter ? Or 
was it to show off with a servant at his heels? Or had 
he thought that Fruen would be pleased to have 
someone she knew in attendance? If the last, then 
he was greatly mistaken ; Fruen started in evident 



204 WANDERERS 

displeasure at finding me here, where she had thought, 
perhaps, to be safely concealed. I heard the engineer 
say: "I've got a man here, he'll take your luggage 
down. Have you the ticket ? " But I made no sign 
of greeting. I turned away. 

And afterwards I triumphed over him in my miserable 
soul, thinking how annoyed she would be with him for 
his want of tact. He brought up with him a man who 
had been in her employ when she had a home ; but 
that man had some delicacy of feeling, he turned away, 
pretending not to know her ! Lord knows what the 
women found to run after in this tight-waisted youth 
with the heavy contours behind. 

There are fewer people on the platform now ; the 
little toy waggons are rolled away and shunted about 
to build another train ; at last we are left with the 
whole place to ourselves. Fruen and the engineer 
stand talking. What has she come for? Heaven 
knows ! Young Lovelace, perhaps, has had a spasm 
of longing and wants her again. Or is she come of 
her own accord to tell him what has happened, and 
ask his advice ? Like as not the end of it will be they 
fix things up and get married some day. Mr. Hugo 
Lassen is, of course, a chivalrous gentleman, and she 
his one and only love. And then comes the time when 
she should walk on roses and live happily ever after ! 

" No, really, it would never do ! " he exclaims, with a 
laugh. " If you won't be my aunt, then you'll have to 
be my cousin." 

" S-sh ! " whispers Fruen. "Can't you get rid of 
that man there ? " 

Whereupon the engineer comes up to me with the 
luggage receipt in his hand, and in his lordliest 
manner, as an Inspector addressing a gang of lumber- 
men, he says : 

" Bring this along to the hotel." 



WANDERERS 205 

" Very good," I answer, touching my cap. 

I carried down the trunk, thinking as I went. He 
had actually invited her to pass as his aunt ! Visibly 
older she might be than he ; still, here again he had 
shown himself wanting in tact. I would not have said 
such a thing myself. I would have declared to all and 
sundry: " Behold, here is come a bright angel to visit 
King Hugo ; see how young and beautiful she is ; 
mark the slow, heavy turn of her grey eyes ; ay, a 
weighty glance ! But there is a shimmer of sea-fire in 
her hair I love her ! Mark her, too, when she speaks, 
a mouth good and fine, and with ever and again a little 
helpless look and smile. I am King Hugo this day, 
and she is my love ! " 

The trunk was no heavier than many another burden, 
but there were bronzed iron bands round, and one of 
them tore a hole in my blouse at the back. So I 
thanked my stars I had not worn my better one to 
spoil. 

VII 

Some days passed. I was growing tired of my 
empty occupation, which consisted in doing nothing 
but loaf about the place. I went to the foreman of the 
gang and asked him to take me on as a lumberman, 
but he refused. 

These gentlemen of the proletariat think a good deal 
of themselves ; they look down on farm-workers, and 
will have nothing to do with them. They are ever on 
the move, going from one waterway to another, draw- 
ing their wages in cash, and spending a fair part of 
the same in drink. Then, too, they are more popular 
among the girls. It is the same with men working on 
roads or railways, with all factory-hands ; even the 
mechanic is looked down upon, and as for the farm 
hand, he is a very slave ! 



206 WANDERERS 

Now, I knew I could be pretty sure of a place in the 
gang any day if I cared to ask the engineer. But, in 
the first place, I had no wish to be further indebted to 
him, and in the second, I might be sure that if I did, 
my friends the lumbermen would make my life a misery 
until I had gone through all the trouble of making 
myself respected for my deserts. And that might take 
longer than I cared about. 

And then one day the engineer came to me with 
instructions that I was to observe with care. He spoke 
politely and sensibly this time : 

" We've had no rain for a long time now ; the river's 
getting steadily lower, and the logs are piling up on the 
way down. I want you to tell the man above and the 
one below to be extra careful about their work just 
now, and you yourself, of course, will do the same." 

" We're sure to get rain before long," I said, for the 
sake of saying something. 

''That may be," he answered, with the intense 
earnestness of youth, " but I must act all the same as 
if there were never to be rain again. Now remember 
every word I've said. I can't be everywhere at once 
myself, more especially now that I've a visitor." 

I answered him with a face as serious as his own 
that I would do my very best. 

So I was still bound to my idling occupation after 
all, and wandered up and down the river as before with 
my boat-hook and my rations. For my own satisfaction 
I cleared away bigger and bigger jams unaided, sang 
to myself as if I were a whole gang, and worked hard 
enough for many men ; also I carried the new instruc- 
tions to Grindhusen, and frightened him properly. 

But then came the rain. 

And now the sticks went dancing down through 
channel and rapids, like huge, pale serpents hurrying, 
hurrying on, now head, now tail in air. 



WANDERERS 207 

Easy days these for my engineer ! 
For myself, I was ill at ease in the town and in my 
lodging there. I had a little room to myself, but one 
could hear every sound in the place, and there was 
little rest or comfort. Moreover, I found myself out- 
done in everything by the young lumbermen who lodged 
there. 

I patrolled the river-bank regularly those days, 
though there was little or nothing for me to do there. 
1 would steal away and sit in hiding under an over- 
hanging rock, hugging the thought of how I was old, 
and forsaken by all ; in the evenings I wrote many 
letters to people I knew, just to have someone to talk 
to ; but I did not send the letters. Joyless days were 
these. My chief pleasure was to go about noticing 
every little trifle in the town, wherever it might be, and 
thinking a little upon each. 

But was my engineer so free from care ? I began to 
doubt it. 

Why was he no longer to be seen out early and late 
with this new cousin of his ? He would even stop 
another young lady on the bridge and pass the time of 
day a thing he had not done this fortnight gone. I 
had seen him with Fru Falkenberg once or twice ; she 
looked so young and prettily dressed, and happy a 
little reckless, laughing out loud. That's what it's 
like when a woman first steps aside, I thought to 
myself ; but to-morrow or the day after it may be 
different ! And when I saw her again later on I was 
annoyed with her ; there was something overbold about 
her dress and manner, the old charm and sweetness 
were gone. Where was the tenderness now in her 
eyes? Nothing but bravado ! And furiously I told 
myself that her eyes shone like a pair of lamps at the 
door of a music hall. 

By the look of things the couple had begun to weary 



208 WANDERERS 

of each other, since he had taken to going out alone, 
and she spent much of her time sitting looking out of 
the window in the hotel. And this, no doubt, was why 
stout Captain Bror made his appearance once again ; 
his mission was perhaps to bring jollity and mirth to 
others besides himself. And this jovial lump of de- 
formity certainly did his best ; his guffaws of laughter 
rang through the little town one whole night long. 
Then his leave expired, and he had to go back to drill 
and duty Fru Falkenberg and her Hugo were left to 
themselves once more. 

One day, while I was in a shop, I heard that there 
had been some slight difference of opinion between 
Engineer Lassen and his cousin. A commercial tra- 
veller was telling the shopkeeper all about it. But so 
great was the general respect for the wealthy engineer 
throughout the town that the shopman would hardly 
believe the story, and questioned the scandal- monger 
doubtingly. 

" It must have been in fun, I'm sure. Did you hear 
it yourself? When was it ? " 

The traveller himself did not dare to make more of it. 

"My room's next to his," he said, "so I couldn't 
help hearing it last night. They were arguing ; I don't 
say it was a quarrel lord, no ! as delicate as could be. 
She only said he was different now from what he had 
been ; that he'd changed somehow. And he said it 
wasn't his fault, he couldn't do as he liked here in town. 
Then she asked him to get rid of somebody she didn't 
like one of his men, a lumberman, I suppose. And 
he promised he would." 

" Well, there you are just nothing at all," said the 
shopkeeper. 

But the traveller had heard more, I fancy, than he 
cared to say. I could tell as much by his looks. 

And had I not noticed myself how the engineer had 



WANDERERS 209 

changed ? He had talked out loud so cheerfully at the 
station that first day ; now he could be obstinately 
silent when he did go so far as to take Fruen for a walk 
down to the bridge. I could see well enough how they 
stood looking each their separate ways. Lord God in 
heaven, but love is a fleeting thing ! 

All went well enough at first. She said, no doubt, 
that it was quite a nice little place, with the great big 
river and the rapids, and so strang'e to hear the roar of 
the waters all the time ; and here was a real little town 
with streets and people in " And then you here, too ! " 
And he, of course, would answer: "Yes, and you! " 
Oh, they were everything to each other at first ! But 
then they grew weary of good things ; they took too 
much took love in handfuls, such was their foolish- 
ness. And more and more clearly he realised that 
things were getting awry ; the town was such a little 
place, and this cousin of his a stranger he could not 
keep on being her attendant squire for ever. No, they 
must ease off a little gradually ; now and then, perhaps 
only occasionally, of course it would be as well to 
have their meals at different times. If not, some of 
those commercial travellers would be getting ideas into 
their heads about the loving cousins. Remember, in a 
little place like this and she . . . how could she 
understand it ? A little place yes, but surely it was 
no smaller now than it had been at first ? No, no, my 
friend, it is you that have changed ! 

There had been plenty of rain, and the timber was 
coming down beautifully. Nevertheless, the engineer 
took to going off on little trips up or down the river. 
It seemed as if he were glad to get away ; he looked 
worried and miserable altogether now. 

One day he asked me to go up and tell Grindhusen 
to come in to town. Was it Grindhusen, I wondered, 
14 



210 WANDERERS 

that was to be dismissed? But Fruen had never so 
much as set eyes on Grindhusen since she came ; what 
could he have done to offend her ? 

I fetched Grindhusen in accordingly. He went up to 
the hotel at once to report, and the engineer put on his 
things and went out with him. They set off up river 
and disappeared. 

Later in the day Grindhusen came to my lodging, 
and was ready enough to tell, but I asked him nothing. 
In the evening the lumbermen gave him Brcendevin, 
and the spirit loosened his tongue. What about this 
cousin, or something, engineer had got with him ? How 
much longer was she going to stay ? As to this, nobody 
could say; and, anyhow, why shouldn't she stay? 
"'Tis naught but fooling and trouble with such-like 
cousin business," Grindhusen declared. " Why couldn't 
he bring along the girl he's going to marry? and I 
told him so to his face." 

" You told him ? " asked one of the men. 

"Ay, I did that. You may not know it, but Inspector 
and I we sit there talking as it might be me and you," 
said Grindhusen, looking mighty big and proud. "What 
d'you suppose he sent to fetch me for? You'd never 
guess if you sat there all night. Why, he sent for me 
just to have a talk over things. Not that there's any- 
thing new or strange about that ; he's done the same 
before now ; but, anyhow, that's what it was." 

" What'd he want to talk to you about?" asked 
one. 

Grindhusen swelled, and was not to be drawn at once. 
" Eh, I'm not such a fool, but I know how to talk with 
a man. And it's not my way to be contrary neither. 
4 You know a thing or two, Grindhusen,' says the 
Inspector, ' and there's two Kroner for you,' says he. 
Ay, that's what he said. And if you don't believe me, 
why, here's the money, and you can see. There ! " 



WANDERERS 211 

" But what was it all about?" asked several voices 
at once. 

" He'd better not say, if you ask me," I said. 

It struck me that the engineer must have been miser- 
able and desperate when he sent me to fetch Grind- 
husen. He was so little used to trouble that the 
moment anything went wrong he felt the need of some- 
one to confide in. And now when he was going about 
day after day, thoroughly disheartened and full of pity 
for himself, as if he wanted everyone to know how 
miserable he was at being checked in his play. This 
sportsman, with his figure moulded in the wrong place, 
was a travesty of youth, a Spartan in tears. What 
sort of upbringing could his have beqn ? 

Ah, well, if he had been an old man I had found 
reason and excuse for him enough ; if the truth were 
known, it was perhaps but hatred of his youth that 
moved me now. Who can say ? But I know I looked 
upon him as a travesty, a caricature. 

Grindhusen stared at me when I had spoken my few 
words ; the others, too, looked wonderingly. 

" I'll not say but it might be better not," said 
Grindhusen submissively. 

But the men were not to be put off. 

"And why shouldn't he tell? We're not going to 
let it go farther." 

"No, that we shan't," said another. "But you 
might be one of that sort yourself, and go telling tales 
to the Inspector." 

Grindhusen took courage at this, and said : 

"I'll say what I like, so don't you trouble yourself! 
Tell just as much as I please. For I'm saying no 
more than's true. And in case you'd care to know, 
I can tell you the Inspector's got a word to say to you 
very soon. Ay, that he has, or hearing goes for nothing. 
So you've no call to be anyway stuck up yourself. And 



212 WANDERERS 

as for me telling or not telling things, I'm saying never 
a thing but what's the truth. Just remember that. 
And if you knew as much as I do, she's nothing but 
a plague and a burden to him all the time, and won't 
let him out of her sight. D'you call that cousins, 
going on like that ? " 

" Nay, surely ; nay, surely ! " said the men en- 
couragingly. 

"What d'you think he sent for me about? Ay, 
there's the pretty fellow he sent up with the message ! 
But there'll be a message for him one of these days : 
I gathered as much from the Inspector himself. I'll 
say no more than that. And as for me telling things, 
here's Inspector's been like a father to me, and I'd be 
a stock and a stone to say otherwise. ' I'm all upset 
and worried these days, Grindhusen,' says he to me. 
' And what's a man to do ; can you tell me that now ? ' 
' No,' says I, ' but Inspector knows himself,' says I. 
Those very words I said. ' I wish to Heaven I did,' 
says he again. ' But it's all these wretched women,' 
says he. ' If it's women,' says I, ' why, there's no 
doing anything with them,' says I. ' No, indeed, 
you're right there ! ' says he. ' The only way's to 
give them what they were made for, and a good round 
slap on the backside into the bargain,' says I. 'By 
Heaven, I believe you're right there, Grindhusen,' says 
the Inspector, and he brightened up no end. I've 
never seen a man so brightened up and cheerful just 
for a word or so. It was a sight to see. And you can 
take and drown me if it isn't gospel truth every single 
bit I've said. I sat there just as I'm sitting now, and 
Inspector as it might be there. ..." 

And Grindhusen rambled on. 

Next morning early, before it was fairly light, 
Engineer Lassen stopped me in the street. It was 



WANDERERS 2 1 3 

only half-past three. I was all fitted out for a tramp 
up the river, with my boat-hook and a store of food. 
Grindhusen was having a drinking-bout in town, and 
I was going to do his beat as well as my own. That 
would take me right up to the top of the hills, and 
I had packed a double stock of food accordingly. 

The engineer was evidently coming down from a 
party somewhere ; he was laughing and talking loudly 
with a couple of other men, all of them more or less 
drunk. 

"Go on ahead a bit," he said to the others. And 
then, turning to me, he asked: "Where are you 
off to ? " 

I told him what I had in mind. 

"H'm! I don't know about that," said he. "No, 
I think you'd better not. Grindhusen can manage all 
right by himself. And, besides, I'm going to inspect 
myself. You've no business to go off doing things 
like that without asking me first." 

Well, he was right, of course, so far as that went, 
and I begged his pardon. And, indeed, knowing as 
I did how he was set on playing the master and lording 
it over his men, I might have had more sense. 

But begging his pardon only seemed to egg him on ; 
he felt deeply injured, and grew quite excited over it, 

"I'll have no more of this!" he said. "My men 
are here to carry out my orders ; that's all they've got 
to do. I took you on to give you a chance, not because 
I'd any use for you myself. And I've no use for you 
now, anyhow." 

I stood there staring at him, and said never a word. 

"You can come round to the office to-day and get 
your wages," he went on. And then he turned to go. 

So I was the one to be dismissed ! Now I under- 
stood what Grindhusen had meant with his hints about 
me. Fru Falkenberg, no doubt, had come to hate the 



214 WANDERERS 

sight of me by now, reminding her, as it must, of her 
home, and so she had got him to turn me off. But hadn't 
I been the very one to show delicacy of feeling towards 
her at the station, turning away instead of recognising 
her? Had I ever so much as lifted my cap to her 
when I passed her in the street? Surely I had been 
considerate enough to deserve consideration in return ? 

And now here was this young engineer turning me 
off at a moment's notice, and that with unnecessary 
vehemence. I saw it all in my mind : he had been 
worrying himself for days over this dismissal, shirking 
it all the time, until at last he managed to screw his 
courage up by drinking hard all night. Was I doing 
him an injustice ? It might be so ; and I tried to 
combat the thought myself. Once more I called to 
mind that he was young and I was old, and my heart, 
no doubt, full of envy on that account. So I gave him 
no sarcastic answer now, but simply said : 

"Ay, well, then, I can unpack the things I was 
taking along." 

But the engineer was anxious to make the most of 
his chance now he was fairly started ; he dragged in 
the old story about the time he'd wanted me to go 
and fetch a trunk. 

"When I give an order, I don't expect the man to 
turn round and say no, he won't. I'm not used to that 
sort of thing. And as there's no knowing it may not 
occur again, you'd better go." 

" Well and good," said I. 

I saw a figure in a white dress at a window in the 
hotel, and fancied it must be Fru Falkenberg watching 
us, so I said no more. 

But then the engineer seemed suddenly to remember 
that he couldn't get rid of me once and for all on the 
spot ; he would have to see me again to settle up. So 
he changed his tone and said: "Well, anyhow, come 



WANDERERS 2 1 5 

up sometime to-day and get your money. Have you 
thought over how much it ought to be? " 

" No. That'll be for engineer himself to decide." 

"Well, well," he said in a kindlier voice, " after all, 
you've been a good man to have, I will say that for 
you. But, for various reasons and it's not only for 
myself: you know what women that is, I mean, the 
ladies " 

Oh, but he was young indeed. He stopped at 
nothing. 

" Well good morning ! " He nodded abruptly, and 
turned away. 

But the day proved all too short for me ; I went up 
into the woods, and stayed roaming about there all by 
myself so long that I didn't get to the office to draw 
my money. Well, there was no hurry ; I had plenty 
of time. 

What was I to do now ? 

I had not cared much for the little town before, but 
now it began to interest me ; I would gladly have 
stayed on a while. There were complications arising 
between two people whom I had been following atten- 
tively for some weeks past ; something fresh might 
happen any moment now, there was no saying. I 
thought of going as apprentice to a blacksmith, just 
for the sake of staying in the place, but then, if I did, 
I should be tied to the smithy all day and hampered 
in my movements altogether ; apart from which, the 
apprenticeship would take too many years of my life. 
And years were the thing I least of all could spare. 

So I let the days pass, one after another ; the 
weather changed round again to dry, sunny days. 
I stayed on at the lodging-house, mended my clothes, 
and got some new ones made at a shop. One of the 
maids in the house came up one evening and offered to 



216 WANDERERS 

do some mending for me, but I was more in the mood 
for fooling", and showed her how well I managed the 
work myself. 

"Look at that patch, there, now and that!" 
After a while a man came up the stairs and tried 
the door. " Open, you in there ! " he said. 

" It's Henrik, one of the lumbermen," said the girl. 

"Is he your sweetheart? " I asked. 

"No, indeed, I should think not," she answered. 
" I'd rather go without than have a fellow like him." 

" Open the door, d'you hear!" cried the man outside 
But the girl was not frightened in the least. " Let 
him stay outside," she said. And we let him stay 
outside. But that door of mine bent inwards in a 
great curve every now and then, when he pushed his 
hardest. 

At last, when we'd finished making fun about my 
needlework and her sweethearts, I had to go out and 
see the passage was clear before she would venture 
downstairs. But there was no man there. 

It was late now; I went down to the parlour for 
a bit, and there was Grindhusen drinking with some of 
the gang. "There he is!" said one of them, as I 
came in. It was Henrik who spoke ; he was trying 
to get his mates against me. Grindhusen, too, sided 
with the rest of them, and tried all he could to 
annoy me. 

Poor Grindhusen ! He was stale-drunk all the time 
now, and couldn't get clear of it. He had had another 
meeting with Engineer Lassen ; they had walked up 
the river as before and sat talking for an hour, and 
when Grindhusen came back he showed a new two- 
Kroner piece he'd got. Then he went on the drink 
again, and gabbled about being in the engineer's 
confidence. This evening, too, he was all high-and- 
mightiness, not to be outdone by anybody. 



WANDERERS 217 

" Come in and sit down," he said to me. 

But one or two of the other men demurred ; they 
would have nothing to do with me. And at this Grind- 
husen changed front ; for sheer devilment he fell to 
again about the engineer and his cousin, knowing it 
would annoy me. 

"Well, has he turned you off?" he asked, with a 
side glance at the others, as if to bid them watch what 
was coming. 

"Yes," said I. 

"Aha! I knew all about it days ago, but I never 
said a word. I don't mind saying I knew about it 
before any other single soul in the world of us here, 
but did I ever breathe a word of it? Inspector he 
says to me : ' I want to ask you something, Grindhusen,' 
says he, ' and that is, if you'll come down and work in 
the town instead of the man I've got there now. I 
want to get rid of him,' says he. ' Why, as to that,' 
says I, 'it's just as Inspector's pleased to command.' 
That was my very words, and neither more nor less. 
But did I ever breathe a syllable? " 

"Has he turned you off?" asked one of the other 
men then. 

"Yes," I answered. 

" But as for that cousin of his," Grindhusen went on, 
" he asked me about her, too. Ay, Inspector he asks 
my advice about all sorts of things. And now, this last 
time we were up river together, he slapped his knee 
when he talked of her. So there. And you can guess 
for yourselves till to-morrow morning if you like. 
Everything of the best to eat and drink and every way, 
and costing a heap of money each week ; but she stays 
on and on. Fie and for shame, say I, and I mean it 
too." 

But now it seemed as if the scale had turned in my 
favour at the news of my dismissal ; some of the men 



2 1 8 WANDERERS 

perhaps felt sorry for me, others were glad to learn 
that I was going. One of them offered me a drink 
from his own bottle, and called to the maid for 
"another glass a clean one, you understand ! " Even 
Henrik no longer bore me any grudge, but drank with 
me and was friendly enough. And we sat there gossip- 
ing over our glasses quite a while. 

" But you'd better go up and see about that money 
of yours," said Grindhusen. " For from what I've 
heard, I don't fancy you'll get the Inspector to come 
down here with it after you. He said as much. 
'There's money owing to him,' that was what he said, 
' but if he thinks I'm going to run after him with it, 
you can tell him it's here,' he said." 

VIII 

But the engineer did come down after me, as it 
turned out, though it was queer it should be so. 
Anyhow, it was a triumph I had not sought, and I 
cared nothing for it. 

He came to the lodging-house to see me, and said : 
" I want you to come back with me, if you please, and 
get your money. And there's a letter come for you by 
the post." 

When we stepped into the office, Fru Falkenberg 
was there. I was taken aback at finding her there 
I made a bow and stood over by the door. 

" Sit down, won't you? " said the engineer, going to 
the table for my letter. "Here you are. No, sit 
down and read your letter while I'm reckoning up 
your pay." 

And Fru Falkenberg herself motioned me to a 
chair. 

Now, what were they looking so anxious about ? 
And what was the meaning of this sudden politeness 



WANDERERS 219 

and " Won't you sit down? " and all the rest? I had 
not to wait long to find out : the letter was from 
Captain Falkenberg. 

" Here, you can use this," said Fruen very obligingly, 
handing me a letter-opener. 

A simple, ordinary letter, nothing more ; indeed, it 
began almost jestingly : I had run away from 0vreb0 
before he knew I was going, and hadn't even waited 
for my money. If I imagined he was in difficulties and 
would not be able to pay me before the harvest was in 
if that was why I had left in such a hurry, why, he 
hoped I had found out I was mistaken. And now he 
would be very glad if I would come back and work for 
him if I wasn't fixed up elsewhere. The house and 
outbuildings wanted painting, then there would be the 
harvesting, and, after that, he would like to have me 
for work among the timber. Everything looking well 
here, fields nice and tall, meadows nice and thick. 
Glad to hear as soon as you can in answer to this. 
Yours, FALKENBERG. 

The engineer had finished his reckoning. He turned 
on his chair and looked over at the wall. Then, as if 
suddenly remembering something, he turned sharply to 
the table again. Nervousness, that was all. Fruen 
stood looking at her rings, but I had a feeling she 
was stealthily watching me all the time thoroughly 
nervous, the pair of them ! 

Then said the engineer : 

"Oh, by the way, I noticed your letter was from 
Captain Falkenberg. How are things going there ? I 
knew the writing at once." 

"Would you like to read the letter?" I said 
promptly, offering it as I spoke. 

" No oh no. Thanks, all the same. Not in the 
least. I was only ..." 

But he took the letter, all the same. And Fruen 



220 WANDERERS 

came across to him and stood looking over his shoulder 
as he read. 

" H'm ! " said the engineer, with a nod. " Everything 
going on nicely, it seems. Thanks." And he held 
out the letter to give it back. 

Fruen's manner was different. She took the letter 
from him and began studying it herself. Her hand 
shook a little. 

" Well, now, about the money," said the engineer. 
" Here you are ; that's what I make it. I hope you're 
satisfied all right ? " 

" Yes, thank you," said I. 

He seemed relieved to find that Captain Falkenberg's 
letter was only about myself and made no mention of 
anyone else. And again he tried to soften down my 
dismissal. 

" Well, well," he said. " But if you should happen 
to be in these parts any time, you know where to find 
me. We've all but finished now for this year there's 
been too much drought just lately." 

Fruen was still holding the letter. Then I saw she 
had finished reading, for her eyes never moved ; but 
she stood there, staring at the letter, thinking. What 
was in her mind, I wondered ? 

The engineer glanced at her impatiently. 

"Are you learning it off by heart? " he said, with a 
half-smile. "Come, dear, he's waiting." 

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Fruen quickly. " I 
forgot." And she handed me the letter. 

" So it seems," observed the engineer. 

I bowed, and went out. 

On a summer evening the bridge is crowded with 
people out walking school teachers and tradespeople, 
young girls and children. I watch my time when it is 
getting late, and the bridge is deserted ; then I can 



WANDERERS 221 

lounge over that way myself, and stay for an hour or 
so in the midst of the roar. No need to do anything 
really but listen ; only my brain is so over-rested with 
idleness and good sound sleep, it finds no end of things 
to busy itself about. Last evening I determined in all 
seriousness to go to Fru Falkenberg and say: "Go 
away from here, Frue ; leave by the first train that 
goes." To-day I have been calling myself a fool for 
entertaining such a ridiculous thought, and set in its 
place another: "Get out of this yourself, my good 
man, by the first train that goes. Are you her equal, 
her adviser ? Very well, then ; see that what you do is 
not too utterly at variance with what you are ! " 

And this evening I am still treating myself as I 
deserve. I fall to humming a little tune, but can 
scarcely hear it myself ; the sound is crushed to death 
in the roar of the water. "That's right," I say to 
myself scornfully. " You ought always to stand by a 
deafening water when you feel like humming a tune." 
And I laugh at myself again. With such-like childish 
fancies do I pass the time. 

The noise of the rapids anywhere inland is as useful 
to the ear as the noise of breakers on the shore. But 
the voice of the breakers is louder and fainter by turns. 
The roar of waters in a river-bed is like an audible 
fog, a monotony of sound beyond reason, contrary to 
all sense, a miracle of idiocy. "What is the time, do 
you know?" "Yes, isn't it?" "Day or night?" 
" Yes ! " As if someone had laid a stone on six keys 
of an organ, and walked off and left it there. 

With such childish fancies do I while away the time. 

" Godaften!" says Fru Falkenberg, and there she 
is beside me. 

I hardly felt surprised ; it was almost as if I had 
expected her. After her behaviour with her husband's 
letter, she might well go a little farther. 



222 WANDERERS 

Now I could think two ways about her coming" : 
either she had turned thoroughly sentimental at being 
reminded so directly of her home once more, or she 
wanted to make her engineer jealous ; he might 
perhaps be watching us from his window that very 
moment, and I had been sent for to go back to 0vreb0. 
Possibly she was thoroughly calculating, and had been 
trying to work on his jealousy even yesterday, when 
she studied the letter so attentively. 

It seemed, however, that none of my clever theories 
was to be confirmed. It was me she wanted to see, 
and that only to make a sort of apology for getting 
me dismissed. That she should ever care about such 
a trifle ! Was she so incapable of thinking seriously 
that she could not see what a miserable position she 
herself was in ? What in the devil's name had she to 
do with my affairs ? 

I had thought to say a brief word or so and point 
to the train, but something made me gentle, as if I 
were dealing with an irresponsible, a child. 

"You'll be going back to 0vreb0 now, I suppose?" 
she said. "And I thought I'd like . . . H'm ! . . . 
You're sorry to be leaving here, perhaps ? No ? No, 
no, of course not. But I must tell you something : It 
was I that got you dismissed." 

"It doesn't matter." 

" No, no. Only, I wanted to tell you. Now that 
you're going back to 0vreb0. You can understand it 
was a little unpleasant for me at times to . . ." 

She checked herself. 

"To have me about the place. Yes, it would be 
unpleasant." 

"To see you here. A little unpleasant; I mean, 
because you knew about me before. So I asked the 
engineer if he couldn't send you away. Not that he 
wanted to himself, you understand. Quite the reverse, 



WANDERERS 223 

in fact, but he did at last. I'm glad you're goine 
back to Ovrebo." 

"So?" said I. "But when Fruen comes home 
again surely it will be just as unpleasant to see me 
then?" 

" Home ? " she repeated. " I'm not going home." 
Pause. She had frowned as she spoke. But now 

she nodded, and even smiled a little, and turned to go. 
' Well, well, you'll pardon me, then, I know " 

she said. 

" Have you any objection to my going back to 
Captain Falkenberg ? " I asked. 

She stopped, and looked me full in the face. Now 
what was the right thing here? Three times she had 
spoken of 0vrebo. Was it with the idea that I might 
put in a word for her if opportunity offered, when I 
got back there ? Or was she unwilling to ask of me as 
a favour not to go ? 

"No, no, indeed I've not!" she answered. "Go 
there, by all means." 

And she turned and left me. 

Neither sentimental nor calculating, as far as I 
could see. But she might well have been both. And 
what had I gained by my attempt at a confidential 
tone? I should have known better than to try, 
whether she stayed here or went elsewhere. What 
business was it of mine ? 'Twas her affair. 

You're playing and pretending, I said to myself 
All very well to say she's literature and no more, but 
that withered soul of yours showed good signs of life 
when she was kind to you and began looking at you 
with those two eyes of hers. I'm disappointed ; I'm 
ashamed of you, and to-morrow you go ! 

But I did not go. 

And true it is that I went about spying and listen- 
ing everywhere for anything I could learn of Fru 



224 WANDERERS 

Falkenberg ; and then at times, ay, many a night, 
I would call myself to account for that same thing, 
and torture myself with self-contempt. From early 
morning I thought of her : Is she awake yet ? Has she 
slept well? Will she be going back home to-day ? And 
at the same time all sorts of ideas came into my head. 
I might perhaps get work at the hotel where she was 
staying. Or I might write home for some clothes, 
turn gentleman myself, and go and stay at that same 
hotel. This last, of course, would at once have cut 
the ground from under my feet and left me farther 
removed from her than ever, but it was the one that 
appealed to me most of all, fool that I was. I had 
begun to make friends with the hotel porter, already, 
merely because he lived nearer to her than I. He was 
a big, strong fellow, who went up to the station every 
day to meet the trains and pick up a commercial 
traveller once a fortnight. He could give me no news ; 
I did not ply him with questions, nor even lead him on 
to tell me things of his own accord ; and, besides, he 
was far from intelligent. But he lived under the same 
roof with Fruen ah yes, that he did. And one day it 
came about that this acquaintance of mine with the 
hotel porter brought me a piece of valuable information 
about Fru Falkenberg, and that from her own lips. 

So they were not all equally fruitless, those days in 
the little town. 

One morning I came back with the porter from the 
station ; he had picked up a traveller with a heap of 
luggage, and had to take horse and cart to fetch 
the heavy grey trunks. 

I had helped him to get them loaded up at the 
station, and now, as we pulled up at the hotel, he 
said: "You might lend a hand getting these things 
in ; I'll stand you a bottle of beer this evening." 

So we carried in the trunks together. They were to 



WANDERERS 



225 



be taken up at once to the big luggage-room upstairs 
the owner was waiting for them. It was an easy 
job for the two of us, big, strong fellows both. 

We had got them up all but one-that was still in the 
cart-when the porter was called back uostair, 
traveller was giving him instructions aboTt 

a " ime 






whether they did not notice me, or took me for 

they went n with w -* 



" And if w '' be 
OU '- P" to fee, 

;| Oh, you know well enough ! she answered. 
more c'heert".'' "' ' d<> thi " k ^" "^ ^e a little 

" You wouldn't like it if I 
me stay as , am, miserable 
don t care for me any more." 

He stopped on the stairs abruptly. R ea llv I 
you must be mad," he said. 7 ' 

" I dare say I am," she answered. 

How poorly she held her own in a quarrel It v 
always so with her. Why could she nY be C ar Jof 



on the stair-rail and 
" So you think it pleases me to have things going on 



226 WANDERERS 

like this? I tell you it hurts me desperately has done 
for a long time past." 

"And me," she answered. "But now I'll have no 
more of it." 

"Oh, indeed! You've said that before. You said 
it only a week ago." 

"Well, I am going now." 

He looked up at her. 

" Going away? " 

" Yes. Very soon." 

But he saw that he had betrayed himself in grasping 
so eagerly, delightedly, at the suggestion, and tried now 
to smooth it over. 

"There, there!" he said. "Be a nice sensible 
cousin now, and don't talk about going away." 

" I am going," she said, and, slipping past him, went 
down the stairs by herself. He followed after. 

Then the porter came out and we went down 
together. The last box was smaller than the others. 
I asked him to carry it up himself, pretending I had 
hurt my hand. I helped him to get it on his back, 
and went off home. Now I could go away the follow- 
ing day. 

That afternoon Grindhusen, too, was dismissed. The 
engineer had sent for him, given him a severe talking- 
to for doing no work and staying in town and getting 
drunk ; in a word, his services were no longer 
needed. 

I thought to myself: It was strangely sudden, this 
new burst of courage on the part of the engineer. He 
was so young, he had needed someone to back him up 
and agree to everything he said ; now, however, seeing 
that a certain troublesome cousin was going away, he 
had no further need of comfort there. Or was my 
withered soul doing him an injustice ? 

Grindhusen was greatly distressed. He had reckoned 



WANDERERS 22; 

on staying- in town all the summer, as general handy- 
man to the Inspector himself; but all hope of that was 
gone now. The Inspector was no longer as good as a 
father to him. And Grindhusen bore the disappoint- 
ment badly. When they came to settle up, the In 
spector had been going to deduct the two-Kroner pieces 
he had given him, saying they had only been meant 
as payment in advance. Grindhusen sat in the general 
room at the lodging-house and told us all about it 
adding that the Inspector was pretty mean in the 
natter of wages after all. At this, one of the men 
burst out laughing, and said : 

'No ; did he, though? He didn't take them back 
really ? 

" Nay," said Grindhusen. He didn't dare take off 
more than the one." 

There was more laughter at this, and someone else 
asked ~. 

"No, really? Which one was it ? Did he knock off 
the first two-Kroner or the second ? Ha, ha, ha ! That's 
the best I've heard for a long time." 

But Grindhusen did not laugh ; he grew more and 
ore sullen and despairing. What was he to do now ? 
Farm labourers for the season's work would have been 
taken on everywhere by now, and here he was He 
asked me where I was going, and when I told him he 
begged me to put in a word for him with the Captain 
and see if I couldn't get him taken on there for the 
ummer Meantime, he would stay on in the town, and 
wait till he heard from me. 

But I knew there would soon be an end of Grind 
husen's money if he stayed on in the town. The end of 
t was, I took him along with me, as the best thing to 
be done He had been a smart hand at paintwork 
once had Grindhusen ; I remembered how he had done 
up old Gunhild's cottage on the island. He could come 



228 WANDERERS 

and help me now, for the time being ; later on, we 
would surely find something else for him to do ; there 
would be plenty of field-work in the course of the 
summer where he might be useful. 

The i6th July found me back at 0vreb0. I remember 
dates more and more distinctly now, partly by reason of 
my getting old and acquiring the intensified interest of 
senility in such things, partly because of being a 
labourer, and obliged to keep account of my working 
days. But an old man may keep his dates in mind 
and forget all about far more important things. Up to 
now, for instance, I have forgotten to mention that the 
letter I had from Captain Falkenberg was addressed to 
me care of Engineer Lassen. Well and good. But 
the point appeared significant : the Captain, then, had 
ascertained whom I was working for. And it came 
into my mind that possibly the Captain was also aware 
of who else had been in the care of Engineer Lassen 
that summer ! 

The Captain was still away on duty when I arrived ; 
he would be back in a week. As it was, Grindhusen 
was very well received ; Nils was quite pleased to find 
I had brought my mate along, and refused to let me 
keep him to help with the painting, but sent him off on 
his own responsibility to work in the turnip and potato 
fields. There was no end of work weeding and thinning 
out and Nils was already in the thick of the hay- 
making. 

He was the same splendid, earnest farmer as ever. 
At the first rest, while the horses were feeding, he took 
me out over the ground to look at the crops. Every- 
thing was doing well ; but it had been a late spring that 
year, and the cat's-tail was barely forming as yet, while 
the clover had just begun to show bloom. The last rain 
had beaten down a lot of the first-year grass, and it could 



WANDERERS 229 

not pick up again, so Nils had put on the mowing- 
machine. 

We walked back home through waving grass and 
corn ; there was a whispering in the winter rye and the 
stout six-rowed barley. Nils, who had not forgotten 
his schooling, called to mind that beautiful line of 
Bjornson's : 

" Beginning like a whisper in the corn one summer day." 

"Time to get the horses out again," said Nils, 
stepping out a little. And waving his hand once more 
out over the fields, he said: "What a harvest we'll 
have this year if we can only get it safely in ! " 

So Grindhusen went off to work in the fields, and I 
fell to on the painting. I started with the barn, and 
all that was to be red ; then I did over the flagstaff 
and the summer-house down among the lilacs with a 
first coat of oil. The house itself I meant to leave till 
the last. It was built in good old-fashioned country 
style, with rich, heavy woodwork and a carved border, 
a la grecque> above the doorway. It was yellow as it 
was, and a new lot of yellow paint had come in to do it 
with this time. I took upon myself, however, to send 
the yellow back, and get another colour in exchange. 
In my judgment the house ought to be stone-grey, 
with doors and window-frames and verge-boards white. 
But that would be for the Captain to decide. 

But though everyone on the place was as nice as 
could be, and the cook in authority lenient, and Ragn- 
hild as bright-eyed as ever, we all felt it dull with the 
master and mistress away. All save Grindhusen, honest 
fellow, who was quite content. Decent work and good 
food soon set him up again, and in a few days he was 
happy and waxing fat. His one anxiety was lest the 
Captain should turn him off when he came home. But 
no such thing Grindhusen was allowed to stay. 



230 WANDERERS 

IX 

The Captain arrived. 

I was giving the barn its second coat ; at the sound 
of his voice I came down from the ladder. He bade 
me welcome. 

"Running away from your money like that!" he 
said. And I fancied he looked at me with some 
suspicion as he asked : " What did you do that for? " 

I answered simply that I had no idea of presuming 
to make him a present of my work ; the money could 
stand over, that was all. 

He brightened up at that. 

"Yes, yes, of course. Well, I'm very glad you 
came. We must have the flagstaff white, I suppose? " 

I did not dare tell him at once all I wanted done in 
white, but simply said : 

" Yes. I've got hold of some white paint." 

" Have you, though? That's good. You've brought 
another man up with you, I hear ? " 

" Yes. I don't know what Captain thinks . . ." 

" He can stay. Nils has got him to work out in the 
fields already. And anyhow, you all seem to do as you 
like with me," he added jestingly. "And you've been 
working with the lumbermen, have you? " 

"Yes." 

" Hardly the sort of thing for you, was it? " Then, 
as if anxious not to seem curious about my work 
with Engineer Lassen, he broke off abruptly and said : 
" When are you going to start painting the house ? " 

"I thought of beginning this afternoon. It'll need 
scraping a bit here and there." 

"Good. And if you find the woodwork loose any- 
where, you can put in a nail or so at the same time. 
Have you had a look at the fields? " 

"Yes." 



WANDERERS 231 

Everything's looking very nice. You men did good 
work last spring. Do no harm now if we had a h 
rain for the upper lands." 

"Grindhusen and I passed lots of places on the way 
up that needed rain more than here. It's clay bott. 
here, and far up in the hills." 

"That's true. How did you know that, by 1 

way ? " . ,, i 

" I looked about when I was here in the spring, 
answered, "and I did a little digging here and there. 
I'd an idea you'd be wanting to have water laid on t 
the house some time or other, so I went prospecting 

1 "Water laid on? Well, yes, I did think of it at 
one time, but ... Yes, I was going to have it 
some years back ; but I couldn't get everything done 
at once, and then it was held up. And just now 1 
shall want the money for other things." 

A wrinkle showed between his eyes for a moment ; 
he stood looking down in thought. 

Well well, that thousand dozen battens ought 
do it, and leave something over," he said suddenly. 
"Water? It would have to be laid on to the 
buildings as well. A whole system of pipes." 
" There'd be no rock- work though, no blasting. 
" Eh? Oh, well, we'll see. What was I going to 
say?^ Did you have a good time down there in the 
town? Not a big place, but you do see more people 
there. And the railway brings visitors now and again, 

no doubt." , 

"Aha," I thought to myself, "he knows well enough 

what visitor came to stay with Engineer Lassen this 

summer!" I answered that I did not care much 

the place which was perfectly true. 
" No, really?" 
He seemed to find something to ponder over in tl 



232 WANDERERS 

he stared straight in front of him, whistling softly to 
himself. Then he walked away. 

The Captain was in good spirits ; he had been more 
communicative than ever before ; he nodded to me as 
he went off. Just as of old he was now quick and 
determined, taking an interest in his affairs once more, 
and sober as water. I felt cheered myself to see him 
so. He was no wastrel ; he had had a spell of foolish- 
ness and dissipation, but it needed only his own resolu- 
tion to put an end to that. An oar in the water looks 
broken to the eye, but it is whole. 

It set in to rain, and I had to stop work on the 
painting. Nils had been lucky enough to get in all 
the hay that was cut ; we got to work now on the 
potatoes, all hands out in the fields at once, with the 
womenfolk from the house as well. 

Meanwhile the Captain stayed indoors all alone ; it 
was dull enough ; now and again he would touch the 
keys of Fruen's piano. He came out once or twice to 
where we were at work, and he carried no umbrella, 
but let himself get drenched to the skin. 

"Grand weather for the crops! " he would say ; or 
again, " Looks like being an extra special harvest this 
year ! " But when he went back to the house there 
was only himself and loneliness to meet him. " We're 
better off ourselves than he is now," said Nils. 

So we worked away at the potatoes, and when 
they were done there were the turnips. And by the 
time we were through with them the weather began 
to clear. Ideal weather, all that one could wish for. 
Nils and I were as proud of it all as if we owned the 
place. 

And now the haymaking began in earnest : the maids 
were out, spreading in the wake of the machine, and 
Grindhusen was set to work with a scythe in the 



WANDERERS 233 

corners and awkward parts where the machine could 

not go. And I got out my stone-grey paint and set 

about the house. 

The Captain came up. " What colour's that you've 

got there ? " he asked. 

What could I say to that ? I was nervous, I know, 

but my greatest fear was lest I should not be allowed 

to paint it grey after all. As it was, I said : 

" Oh, it's only some ... I don't know ... it 

doesn't matter what we put on for the first coat. ..." 
That saved me for the time being, at any rate. The 

Captain said no more about it then. 

When I had done the house all grey, and doors and 

windows white, I went down to the summer-house and 

did that the same. But it turned out horrible to look 
at ; the yellow underneath showed through and made 
it a ghastly colour. The flagstaff I took down and 
painted a clean white. Then I put in a spell of field- 
work with Nils and was haymaking for some days. 
Early in August it was. 

Now, when I went back to my painting again I had 
settled in my mind to start on the house as early as 
possible, so as to be well on the way with it before the 
Captain was up too far, if I could manage it, to go 
back ! I started at three in the morning ; there was a 
heavy dew, and I had to rub the woodwork over with a 
bit of sack. I worked away for an hour, and then had 
coffee, then on again till eight. I knew the Captain would 
be getting up then, so I went off to help Nils for an hour 
and be out of the way. I had done as much as I 
wanted, and my idea now was to give the Captain time 
to get over the shock of my grey, in case he should 
have got up in an irritable mood. 

After breakfast I went back to work, and stood there 
on my ladder painting away, as innocently as could be, 
when the Captain came up. 



234 WANDERERS 

"Are you doing it over with grey again?" he 
called up. 

" Godmorgen! Yes. I don't know if . . ." 

" Now what's the meaning of all this? Come down 
off that ladder at once ! " 

I clambered down. But I was not anxious now. 
I had thought out something to say that I fancied 
would prove effective at the right moment unless 
my judgment was altogether at fault. 

I tried first of all to make out it didn't matter really 
what colour we used for the second time either, but the 
Captain cut me short here and said : 

" Nonsense ! Yellow on top of that grey will look 
like mud ; you can see that for yourself, surely." 

" Well, then, we might give it two coats of yellow," 
I suggested. 

" Four coats of paint ? No, thank you ! And all that 
white you've been wasting ! It's ever so much dearer 
than the yellow." 

This was perfectly true, and the very argument I 
had been fearing all along. I answered now straight- 
forwardly : 

" Let me paint it grey." 

" What?" 

" It would look better. There's something about 
the house . . . and with the green of the woods 
behind . . . the style of the place is . . . ' 

" Is grey, you mean? " He swung off impatiently a 
few steps and came back again. 

And then I faced him, more innocently than ever, 
with an inspiration surely sent from above : 

"Now I remember! Yes . . . I've always seen it 
grey in my mind, ever since one day it was Fruen that 
said so ..." 

I was a watching him closely ; he gave a great start 
and stared at me wide-eyed for a moment ; then he 



WANDERERS 235 

took out his handkerchief and began fidgeting with it 
at one eye as if to get out a speck or something. 

" Indeed ! " he said. " Did she say so ? " 

" Yes, I'm almost sure it was that. It's a long time 
back now, but ..." 

" Oh, nonsense ! " he broke out abruptly, and strode 
away. I heard him clearing his throat hard as he 
crossed the courtyard behind. 

I stood there limply for a while, feeling anything 
but comfortable myself. I dared not go on with the 
painting now, and risk making him angry again. I 
went round to the back and put in an hour cutting 
firewood. When I came round again, the Captain 
looked out from an open window upstairs and called 
down : 

" You may as well go on with it now you've got so 
far. I don't know what possessed you, I'm sure. But 
get on with it now." 

The window had been open before, but he slammed it 
to and I went on with the work. 

A week passed. I spent my time between painting 
and haymaking. Grindhusen was good enough at hoe- 
ing potatoes and using a rake here and there, but not 
of much account when it came to loading hay. Nils 
himself was a first-rate hand, and a glutton for work. 

I gave the house a third coat, and the delicate grey, 
picked out with white, made the place look nobler 
altogether. One afternoon I was at work, the Captain 
came walking up from the road. He watched me for 
a bit, then took out his handkerchief as if the heat 
troubled him, and said : 

" Yes, better go on with it now you've got so far. 
I must say she wasn't far wrong about the colour. All 
nonsense though, really ! H'm ! " 

I made no answer. The Captain used his handker- 
chief again and said : 



236 WANDERERS 

"Hot again to-day puh ! What was I going to 
say ? . . . yes, it doesn't look so bad after all. No, she 
was right that is, I mean, you were right about the 
colour. I was looking at it from down there just now, 
and it makes quite a handsome place. And anyhow, 
it's too late to alter it now." 

" I thought so too," I said. " It suits the house." 

"Yes, yes, it suits the house, as it were. And what 
was it she said about the woods behind my wife, I 
mean? The background, or something?" 

" It's a long time ago now, but I'm almost 
sure ..." 

" Yes, yes, never mind. I must say I never thought 
it would turn out like that turn out so well. Will 
you have enough white, though, to finish ? " 

" Well . . . yes, I sent back the yellow and got 
some white instead." 

The Captain smiled, shook his head, and walked 
away. So I had been right after all ! 

Haymaking took up all my time now till it was 
done, but Nils lent me a hand in return, painting at 
the summer-house in the evening. Even Grindhusen 
joined in and took a brush. He wasn't much of a 
painter, he said, but he reckoned he could be trusted 
to paint a bit of a wall. Grindhusen was picking up 
fast. 

At last the buildings were finished ; hardly recognis- 
able, they were, in their new finery. And when we'd 
cleaned up a bit in the shrubbery and the little park 
this was our own idea the whole place looked 
different altogether. And the Captain thanked us 
specially for what we'd done. 

We started on the rye then, and at the same time 
the autumn rain set in ; but we worked away all we 
knew, and there came a spell of sunshine in between 
whiles. There were big fields of thick, heavy rye, 



WANDERERS 237 

and big fields again of oats and barley, not yet ripe. 
It was a rich landscape to work in. The clover was 
seeding, but the turnips were somewhat behindhand. 
A good soaking would put them right, said Nils. 

The Captain sent me up to the post from time to 
time ; once he gave me a letter for his wife. A whole 
bundle of letters there were, to different people, and 
hers in the middle. It was addressed care of her 
mother in Kristianssand. When I came back in the 
evening and took in the incoming post, the Captain's 
first words were : " You posted the letters all right ? " 

" Yes," I said. 

Time went on. On wet days, when there was little 
we could do out of doors, the Captain wanted me to 
paint a bit here and there about the house inside. He 
showed me some fine enamels he had got in, and said : 

" Now here's the staircase to begin with. I want 
that white, and I've ordered a dark red stair-carpet 
to put down. Then there'll be doors and windows. 
But I want all this done as soon as possible, really ; 
it's been left too long as it is." 

I quite agreed that this was a good idea of the 
Captain's. He had lived carelessly enough for years 
past now, never troubling about the look of his house ; 
now he had begun to take an interest in it again ; it 
was a sort of reawakening. He took me over the 
place, upstairs and down, and showed me what was 
to be done. I noticed the pictures and sculpture in 
the rooms ; there was a big marble lion, and paintings 
by Askevold and the famous Dahl. Heirlooms, I 
supposed they would be. Fruen's room upstairs looked 
just as if she were at home, with all sorts of little 
trifles neatly in their places, and clothes hanging still on 
the pegs. It was a fine old house, with moulded ceil- 
ings, and some of the walls done in costly style, but 
the paintwork everywhere was faded or flaking off. 



238 WANDERERS 

The staircase was broad and easy, with seats, and a 
mahogany handrail. 

I was painting indoors one day when the Captain 
came in. 

" It's harvest-time, I know, but this indoor work's 
important too. My wife will be back soon. I don't 
know what we're to do, really ! I'd like to have the 
place thoroughly cleaned up." 

So that letter was asking her to come back ! I thought 
to myself. But then, again, it was some days since he 
had written, and I had been to the post several times 
myself, after, but no answer had come. I knew 
Fruen's writing. I had seen it six years before. But 
the Captain thought perhaps that he had only to say 
"Come," and she would obey. Well, well, he might 
be right ; she was taking a little time to get ready, 
that was all. . . . How was I to know? 

The painting had grown so important now, that the 
Captain went up himself to the clearing and got Lars to 
come down and help with the field-work in my place. 
Nils was by no means pleased with the exchange, for 
Lars was not over willing under orders on the place 
where he had been in charge himself in days gone by. 

But there was no such need of hurry about the 
painting, as it turned out. The Captain sent the lad 
up twice to the post, but I watched for him on the 
way back both times, and found he had no letter from 
Fruen. Perhaps she was not coming after all ! Ay, it 
might be as bad as that. Or she felt herself in a false 
position, and was too proud to say yes because her 
husband called. It might be that. 

But the paint was on and had time to dry ; the red 
stair-carpet came and was laid down with brass rods ; 
the staircase looked wonderfully fine ; wonderfully fine, 
too, were the doors and windows in the rooms upstairs. 
But Fruen did not come no. 



WANDERERS 239 

We got through with the rye, and set to work in 
good time on the barley ; but Fruen did not come. 
The Captain went out and gazed down the road, 
whistling to himself; he was looking thinner now. 
Often and often he would come out to where we were 
at work, and keep with us, looking on all the time 
without a word. But if Nils happened to ask him 
anything, he did not start as if his thoughts had been 
elsewhere, but was quick and ready as could be. 
did not seem dejected, and as for looking thin, that 
was perhaps because he had got Nils to cut his hair. 
Then I was sent up to the post again, and this t 
there was a letter. Fruen's hand, and postmarked 
Kristianssand. I hurried back, laid the letter in among 
the rest of the post, and handed the whole bundle to 
the Captain outside the house. He took it with a 
careless word of thanks, showing no eagerness to see 
what there was ; he was used to being disappointed. 

"Corn coming in everywhere, I suppose? " he asked 
casually, glancing at the letters one ^r a , nO T ther ' 
- What was the road like ? All right ? " While I was 
telling him, he came upon Fruen's letter, and at once, 
packing up the whole bundle together, he turned to me 
with a sudden intensified interest in other people's 
crops and the state of the roads. Keeping himself well 
in hand ; he was not going to show feeling openly. 
He nodded as he walked off, and said "Thank you 

once more. 

Next day the Captain came out and washed and 
greased the carriage himself. But it was two days 
more before he used it. We were sitting at supper 
one evening when the Captain came into the kitchen 
and said he wanted someone to drive him to the 
station to-morrow. He could have driven himself, but 
he was going to fetch his wife, who was coming home 
from abroad, and he would have to take the landau in 



240 WANDERERS 

case it rained. Nils decided, then, that Grindhusen had 
better drive, he being" the one who could best be spared. 
The rest of us went on with our field-work while 
they were away. There was plenty to do ; besides the 
rye and barley not yet in, there were still potatoes to 
hoe and turnips to see to. But Ragnhild and the 
dairymaid both lent a hand ; all youth and energy 
they were. 

It might have been pleasant enough to work side by 
side with my old mate Lars Falkenberg once more, 
but he and Nils could not get on together, and instead 
of cheerful comradeship, a gloomy silence hung over 
the fields. Lars seemed to have got over his late 
ill-will towards me in some degree, but he was short 
and sullen with us all on account of Nils. 

At last Nils decided that Lars should take the pair of 
chestnuts and get to work on the autumn ploughing. 
Lars was offended, and said crossly : No. He'd never 
heard of doing things that way before, he said, starting 
to plough your land before you'd got the harvest off it. 
"That may be," said Nils, " but I'll find you land that 
has been reaped enough to keep you going." 

There were more words over that. Lars found 
everything all wrong somehow at 0vreb0. In the old 
days he used to do his work and sing songs after for 
the company at the house ; now, it was all a mess and 
a muddle, and no sense in any way of doing things. 
Ploughing, indeed ! Not if he knew it. 

"You don't know what you're talking about," said 
Nils. "Nowadays you'll see folk ploughing between 
the corn-poles and the hay-frames." 

" I've not seen it yet," said Lars. " But it seems 
you've seen a lot. Of all the silly goats ..." 

But the end of it was that Lars gave way, Nils 
being head man there, and went on ploughing till 
the Captain came home. 



WANDERERS 241 

It crossed my mind that I had left some washing 
behind with Emma when I went away, before. But I 
judged it best not to go up to the clearing after it now, 
while Lars was in his present mood. 

X 

The Captain and his wife came next day. Nils and 
I had talked over whether to hoist the flag ; I dared 
not myself, but Nils was less cautious, and said we 
must. So there it was, flapping broad and free from 

its white staff. 

I was close at hand when the carriage drove up and 
they got out. Fruen walked out far across the court- 
yard, looked at the house, and clapped her hands. I 
heard her, too, loud in wonder as she entered the hall 
-at sight of the stairs, no doubt, and the new red 

carpet. 

Grindhusen had no sooner got the horses in than he 
came up to me, all agape with astonishment over some- 
thing, and drew me aside to talk. 

" There must be something wrong," he said. That's 
not Fru Falkenberg, surely ? Is she married to him- 
the Captain, I mean?" 

"Why, yes, Grindhusen, the Captain's wife is 
married to the Captain. What makes you ask ? " 

But it's that cousin girl ! I'll stake my life on it if 
it's not the very same one. The Inspector's cousin that 

was there." 

Not a bit of it, Grindhusen. But it might be her 

sister." 

"But I'll stake my life on it. I saw her with him 
myself I don't know how many times." 

" Well, well, she may be his cousin as far as that 
goes, but what's it to do with us ? " 
5 " I saw it the moment she got out of the tram. And 
16 



242 WANDERERS 

she looked at me, too, and gave a start. I could see 
her breathing" quickly after. Don't come telling 1 me. 
. . . But I can't make out. ... Is she from here?" 

"Was Fruen pleased, or did she look unhappy ?" I 
asked. 

" Nay, I don't know. Yes, I think she was." 
Grindhusen shook his head, still marvelling how this 
could be the Captain's wife. "You must have seen 
her with the Inspector yourself," he said. " Didn't you 
recognise her again ? " 

" Was she pleased, did you say? " 

" Pleased? Why, yes, I suppose so. I don't know. 
They talked such a lot of queer stuff the pair of them, 
driving home began in the station, the minute she 
got out. There was a whole lot I couldn't make out 
at all. ' I don't know what to say,' said she, ' but I 
beg you so earnestly to forgive me for it all.' 'And so 
do I,' says he. Now did you ever hear such a thing? 
And they were both of them crying, I believe, in the 
carriage after. ' I've had the place painted and done 
up a bit,' said the Captain. 'Have you?' says she. 
And then he went on talking about all her things, and 
how they were still there and never been touched. I 
don't know what things he meant, but he thought she'd 
find everything still in its place, he said. Did you ever 
hear the like? 'All your things,' he said. And then 
he went on about somebody Elisabeth, and said he never 
gave her a thought, and never had been, I think he 
said. And she cried like anything at that, and was all 
upset. But she didn't say a word about being abroad, 
as the Captain said. No, I'll stake my life she'd come 
from the Inspector." 

I began to fear I had made a grave mistake in 
bringing Grindhusen to 0vreb0. It was done now, but 
I wished it undone. And I told Grindhusen himself 
as much, and that pretty plainly. 



WANDERERS 24 3 

"Fruen here's the mistress of the place, and good 

and kind as could be to everyone, and the Captain as 

well, remember that. But you'll find yourself whipped 

t of here, and at once, if you go gossiping and 

Jllmg tales. Take my advice and be careful. You've 

got a good job here, with good pay and decent food. 

Junk of that, and keep quiet while you're here." 

' Yes, yes, you're right," said Grindhusen meekly 
enough. -I don't say a word; only, that she's the 
very image of that cousin down there. And did I ever 
say more than that ? I don't know what you've got to 
make such a fuss about, and as for that, maybe she's a 
bit fairer than the cousin. I won't swear it's the same 
sort of hair. And I never said it was. But if you 
want to know what I thought, I'll tell you straight out 
I was thinking she was too good to be that cousin girl 
That was my very thought. 'T would be a shame for 
her to be cousin to a fellow like that, and I can't think 
how anybody ever could. I'm not thinking about the 
money now ; you know as well as I do I'm not the man 
to make a fuss over losing a two-Kroner piece, no more 
an you yourself, but it was a mean thing to do, all the 
same, giving me the money one day and taking it back 
the next. Ay, that it was. I say no more than that. 
I don't know what's the matter with you lately 
flying out the least word a man says. And what have 
[ said, anyway? A mean lot, that he was; paid me 
two Kroner a day and find my own food, and always 
niggling and haggling over every little thing. I've had 
enough of your talk anyhow, but I'll tell you what was 
my very thought, if you want to know. ..." 

But all his flow of talk did not avail to hide the fact 
that he had recognised Fruen at once, and was still 
convinced that he was right. 

All things in order now, the Captain and Fruen at 



244 WANDERERS 

home, bright days and a rich harvest. What more 
could any wish for ? 

Fruen greets me with a kindly glance, and says : 

"The place looks different altogether after the way 
you've painted it so nicely. The Captain's ever so 
pleased." 

She seemed calmer now than when I had seen her 
last, on the stairs of the hotel in the town. She did 
not start and breathe quickly at sight of me as she had 
with Grindhusen, and that could only mean she was not 
displeased at seeing me again ! So I thought to my- 
self, and was glad to think so. But why had she not 
left off that unsteady glance, that flutter of the eyes, 
she had fallen into of late ? If I were the Captain, now, 
I would speak to her about it. And her complexion, 
too, was not what it had been. There were some 
curious little spots about the temples. But what 
matter? She was no less pretty for that. 

"I'm afraid, though," she went on, "it wasn't 
my idea at all with the lovely grey for the house. 
You must have made a mistake in thinking I said 
so." 

" Well, then, I can't make it out. But, anyhow, it's 
no matter ; the Captain himself decided to have it." 

"The staircase is simply splendid, and so are the 
rooms upstairs. It's twice as bright as before. . . ." 

Twas Fruen herself was trying to be twice as bright 
and twice as good as before. I knew that well enough. 
And she fancied she owed me these little marks of 
kindliness, for something or other. Well and good, 
but now it was enough. Best let it be. 

Autumn drawing on, the scent of the jasmine all 
importunate down in the shrubbery, and red and yellow 
showing up long since on the wooded hills. Not a 
soul in the place but is glad to have Fruen at home 
again ; the flag, too, does its part. 'Tis like a Sunday ; 



WANDERERS 245 

the maids have put clean aprons on, fresh from the 

ironing. 

In the evening I went down by the little stone steps 
to the shrubbery and sat there awhile. The jasmines 
were pouring out waves of perfume after the heat ot 
the day. After awhile Nils came down, looking for 

me. 

" No visitors here now," says Nils. " And no hjgh 
goings-on at nights. Have you heard anything of that 
sort at night now, since the Captain first came back?" 

"No." 

" And that's full ten weeks ago now. What d you 
say if I tore off this thing now? " And he pointed to 
his temperance badge. " Captain's given up drinking, 
here's Fruen home again, and no call to be unfriendly 
anyway to either of them." 

He handed me a knife, and I cut the badge away. 

We talked for a bit about the farm- work Nils 
thought of nothing else. "We'll have most of the 
corn under shelter by to-morrow night," he says. 
"And thank goodness for that! Then we'll sow the 
winter rye. Queer thing, isn't it? Here's Lars went 
on year after year sowing by machine, and thought it 
good enough. Not if I know it ! We'll sow ours by 
hand." 

"But why?" 

" On land like ours ! Now just take the man over 
there, for instance ; he sowed by machine three weeks 
ago, and some's come up and some not. No. The 
machine goes too deep in the soil." 

" H'm ! Don't the jasmines smell fine to-night ? " 
" Yes. There's been a big difference with the barley 
and oats these last few days. Getting on time for bed, 
though, now!" 

He got up, but I did not move. " Looks like being 
fine again to-morrow," says Nils, glancing at the sky. 



246 WANDERERS 

And then he went on about the grass in the garden ; 
worth cutting, he said it was. 

"You going to stay down here long?" he asked 
suddenly. 

"Yes, for a bit; why not? Oh, well, perhaps I'd 
better go up too." 

Nils walked off a few paces, then came back again. 

" Better not stay here any longer," he said. " Come 
along up here with me." 

"Think so?" I said, and rose at once. Evidently 
Nils had something in his mind, and had come down 
here on purpose to fetch me. 

Had he found me out ? But what was there to find 
out? 

Did I know myself what I had gone down to the 
shrubbery for ? I remember now that I lay face down- 
wards, chewing a stalk of grass. There was light in 
a certain upstairs window of the house. I was looking 
at that. And that was all. 

" Not being inquisitive now, but what's the matter ? " 
I asked. 

"Nothing," said Nils. "The girls said you were 
down here, so I just came along. Why, what else ? " 

So the maids had found me out, I thought to myself, 
and was ill-pleased at the thought. Ragnhild it must 
be, a devil of a girl, sharp as a needle ; she must have 
said a lot more than Nils was willing to confess. And 
what if Fruen herself had seen me from the window ! 

I resolved now to be cold and indifferent as ice hence- 
forward all the days of my life. 

Ragnhild is properly in clover. The thick stair 
carpet muffles every step ; she can run upstairs when- 
ever she pleases and slip down again in a moment 
without a sound. 

"I can't make it out about Fruen," says Ragnhild. 



WANDERERS 247 

"Here she's come back, and ought to be happy and 
good-tempered as could be, and instead she's all tears 
and frowning. I heard the Captain telling her to-day : 
' Now do be a little reasonable, Lovise,' he said. < I'm 
sorry, I won't do it any more,' says Fruen ; and then 
she cried because she'd been unreasonable. But that 
about never doing it any more she's said that now every 
day since she came back, but she's done it again, all the 
same. Poor dear, she'd a toothache to-day ; she was 
simply crying out with the pain. . . ." 

"Go and get on with the potatoes, Ragnhild," 
said Nils quickly "We've no time for gossiping 



now. 



We'd all of us our field-work now ; there was much 
to be done. Nils was afraid the corn would spoil if he 
left it too long at the poles ; better to get it in as it 
was. Well and good ; but that meant threshing the 
worst of it at once, and spreading the grain over the 
floor of every shed and outhouse. Even in our own 
big living-room there was a large layer of corn drying 
on the floor. Any more irons in the fire ? Ay, indeed, 
and all the while hot and waiting. Bad weather has 
set in, and all the work ought to be done at once. 
When we've finished threshing, there's the fresh straw 
to be cut up and salted down in bins to keep it from 
rotting. That all ? Not by a long way : irons enough 
still glowing hot. Grindhusen and the maids are 
pulling potatoes. Nils snatches the precious time after 
a couple of dry days to sow a patch of rye and send 
the lad over it with the harrow. Lars Falkenberg is 
still ploughing ; he has given way altogether and 
turned out a fine ploughman since the Captain and 
Fruen came back. When the corn-land's too soft he 
ploughs the meadows ; then, when sun and wind 
have dried things a bit, he goes on to the corn-land 
again. 



248 WANDERERS 

The work goes on steadily and well ; in the afternoon 
the Captain himself comes out to lend a hand. The 
last load of corn is being" brought in. 

Captain Falkenberg is no child at the work, big and 
strong he is, and with the right knack of it. See him 
loading up oats from the drying-frames: his second load 
now. 

Just then Fruen comes along down the road, and 
crosses over to where we are at work. Her eyes are 
bright. She seems pleased to watch her husband 
loading up corn. 

" Signe Arbejdet! " l she says. 

" Thanks," says the Captain. 

"That's what we used to say in Nordland." 

"What?" 

" That's what we used to say in Nordland " 

"Oh yes." 

The Captain is busy with his work, and in the rustle 
of the straw he does not always hear what she says, 
but has to look up and ask again, and this annoys them 
both. 

"Are the oats ripe? " she asks. 

" Yes, thank goodness ! " 

" But not dry, I suppose? " 

"Eh? I can't hear what you say." 

" Oh, I didn't say anything." 

A long, uncomfortable silence after that. The Cap- 
tain tries once or twice with a good-humoured word, 
but gets no answer. 

"So you're out on a round of inspection," he says 
jestingly. " Have you seen how the potatoes are 
getting on? " 

" No," she answers. " But I'll go over there, by all 
means, if you can't bear the sight of me here." 

It was too dreadful to hear them going on like this 
1 " A blessing on the work." 



WANDERERS 249 

I must have frowned unconsciously shown some such 
feeling. Then, suddenly remembering that for certain 
reasons I was to be cold as ice, I frowned the 
more. 

Fruen looked straight at me and said : 

" What are you scowling at ? " 

" Scowling, eh ? " says the Captain, joining in, with a 
forced laugh. 

Fruen takes him up on the instant. 

" Ah ! you managed to hear that time ! " 

" Really, Lovise . . ." 

Fruen's eyes dimmed suddenly ; she stood a moment, 
then ran, stooping forward, round behind the frames, 
and sobbed. 

The Captain went over to her. " What is it, Lovise, 
tell me?" 

" Oh, nothing, nothing ! Go away." 
She was sick ; we could hear it. And moaning and 
saying : " Heaven help me ! " 

" My wife's not very well just now," says the Captain 
to me. " We can't make out what it is." 

'There's sickness in the neighbourhood," I sug- 
gested, for something to say. " Sort of autumn fever. 
I heard about it up at the post office." 

" Is there, though ? Why, there you are, Lovise," he 
calls out. " There's some sort of fever about, it seems 
That's all it is." 

Fruen made no answer. 

We went on loading up, and Fruen moved farther 
and farther away as we came up. At last the frames 
were cleared, and she stood there guiltily, very pale 
after her trouble. 

"Shall I see you back to the house?" asked the 
Captain. 

"No, thank you, I'd rather not," she answered, 
walking away. 



250 WANDERERS 

The Captain stayed out and worked with us till 
evening. 

So here was everything- gone wrong again. Oh, but 
it was hard for them both ! 

And it was not just a little matter that could be got 
over by a little give and take on either side, as folk 
say ; no, it was a thing insuperable, a trouble rooted 
deep. And now it had come to mutiny, no less : Fruen 
had taken to locking her door at night. Ragnhild had 
heard the Captain, highly offended, talking to her 
through the wall. 

But that evening the Captain had demanded to speak 
with her in her room before she went to bed. Fruen 
agreed, and there was a further scene. Each was will- 
ing and anxious, no doubt, to set matters right, but it 
was hopeless now ; it was too late. We sat in the 
kitchen, Nils and I, listening to Ragnhild's story. I 
had never seen Nils look so miserable before. 

"If things go wrong again now, it's all over," he 
said. " I thought to myself last summer that perhaps 
a good, sound thrashing would do her good. But that 
was just foolishness, I can see now. Did she talk about 
running away again ? " 

"She said something about it," answered Ragnhild. 
And then she went on something like this : "It began 
with the Captain asking if she didn't think it was this 
local sickness she had got. Fruen answered it could 
hardly be any local sickness that had turned her against 
him so. 'Turned you against me?' 'Yes. Oh, I 
could scream sometimes. At table, for instance, the 
way you eat and eat. . . .' ' Do I ? ' says the Captain. 
' Well, I can't see there's anything very wrong in that ; 
it's just natural. There's no rule for how much one 
ought to eat at a meal.' ' But to have to sit and look 
at you it makes me sick. It's that that makes me ill.' 



WANDERERS 251 

' Well, anyhow, you can't say I drink too much now,' 
said he. < So it's better than it was.' ' No, indeed, it's 
worse ! ' Then says the Captain : < Well, really, I do 
think you might make allowances for me a little, after 
I've I mean, considering what you did yourself this 
summer.' ' Yes, you're right,' says Fruen, beginning 
to cry. ' If you knew how it hurts and plagues me 
night and day, thinking of that. . . . But I've never 
said a word.' ' No, I know,' says she, crying all the 
more. < And I asked you myself to come back,' he 
said. But at that she seemed to think he was taking 
too much credit to himself; she stopped crying, and 
answered, with a toss of her head : < Yes, and it would 
have been better if you'd never asked me back, if it 
was only to go on like this.' 'Like what?' says he. 
' You've your own way in everything now. The same 
as before, only you don't care for anything at all. You 
never touch the piano, even ; only go about cross and 
irritable all the time ; there's no pleasing you with 
anything. And you shut your door at night and lock 
me out. Well and good ; lock me out if you like ! ' 
' It's you that are hard to please, if you ask me,' she 
said. There's never a night and never a morning but 
I'm worried out of my life lest you shall be thinking of 
this summer. You've never said a word about it, 
you say. Oh, don't you, though ! I'm never left long 
in peace without you throwing it in my teeth. I 
happened to say "Hugo" one day, by a slip of the 
tongue, and what did you do ? You might have been 
nice and comforted me to help me over it, but you only 
scowled and said you were not Hugo. No. I knew 
well enough, and I was ever so sorry to have said it.' 
' That's just the point,' said the Captain. ' Were you 
really sorry ? ' Yes, indeed,' said Fruen ; ' it hurt me 
ever so.' 'Well, I shouldn't have thought it; you 
don't seem very upset. about it.' Ah, but what about 



252 WANDERERS 

you ? Haven't you anything to be sorry for ? ' ' You've 
got photos of Hugo on your piano still ; I haven't seen 
you move them away yet, though I've shown you not 
once but fifty times I wished you to yes, and begged 
you to do it.' ' Oh, what a fuss you make about those 
photos ! ' said she. ' Oh, don't make any mistake ! 
I'm not asking you now. If you went and shifted 
them now, it would make no difference. I've begged 
and prayed of you fifty times before. Only, I think it 
would have been a little more decent if you'd burned 
them the day you came home. But, instead of that, 
you've books here lying about in your room with his 
name in. And there's a handkerchief with his initials 
on, I see.' ' Oh, it's all your jealousy,' answered 
Fruen. ' I can't see what difference it makes. I can't 
kill him, as you'd like me to, and Papa and Mama say 
the same. After all, I've lived with him and been 
married to him.' ' Married to him ! ' ' Yes, that's 
what I say. It isn't everyone that looks at Hugo and 
me the way you do.' The Captain sat awhile, shaking 
his head. 'And it's all your own fault, really,' Fruen 
went on, ' the way you drove off with Elisabeth that 
time, though I came and asked you not to go. It was 
then it happened. And we'd been drinking that even- 
ing. I didn't quite know what I was doing.' Still, the 
Captain said nothing for a while ; then at last he said : 
'Yes, I ought not to have gone off like that.' 'No, 
but you did,' said Fruen, and started crying again. 
' You wouldn't hear a word. And you're always throw- 
ing it in my teeth about Hugo, but you never think of 
what you've done yourself.' 'There's just this differ- 
ence,' says the Captain, 'that I've never lived with the 
lady you mention, never been married to her, as you 
call it.' Fruen gave a little scornful laugh. ' Never ! ' 
said the Captain, striking the table with his hand. 
Fruen gave a start, and sat staring at him. 'Then 



WANDERERS 253 

I don't understand why you were always running after 
her and sitting- out in the summer-house and lurking 
in corners,' said she. ' It was you that sat out in the 
summer-house,' he answered. ' Oh yes, it's always me,' 
said she. ' Never you by any chance ! ' 'As for my 
running after Elisabeth,' said the Captain, 'it was solely 
and simply in the hopes of getting you back. You'd 
drifted away from me, and I wanted you.' Fruen sat 
thinking over that for a minute, then she sprang up and 
threw her arms around him and said : Oh, then you 
cared for me all the time ! And I thought it was all 
over. You'd drifted away from me, too ; it was years 
since. And it all seemed so hopeless. I never thought 
I never knew. . . . And then it was me you cared 
for all the time ! Oh, my dear, then it's all come right 
again.' ' Sit down,' said he. ' You seem to forget that 
something else has happened since. ' ' Something else ? ' 
' There you are, you've forgotten all about it. May I 
ask you, are you sorry enough for what's happened 
since ? ' At that Fruen turned hard again and said : 
' Oh, you mean about Hugo ? That's done and can't 
be altered.' 'That doesn't answer the question.' 'If 
I'm sorry enough? What about you; are you so 
innocent yourself?' At this the Captain got up and 
began walking up and down. 'The trouble is that 
we've no children,' said Fruen. ' I haven't a daughter 
that I could teach and bring up to be better than I 
am.' 'I've thought of that,' said the Captain; 'per- 
haps you're right.' Then he turned straight towards 
her and said : ' It's a nasty crash that's come over us, 
Lovise like a landslide. But don't you think now we 
might set to work and shift away all the wreckage 
that's been burying us for years, and get clear and 
breathe again ? You might have a daughter yet ! ' 
At that Fruen got up and made as if to say something, 
but couldn't. * Yes,' was all she said, and ' Yes,' she 



254 WANDERERS 

said again. ' You're tired and nervous, I know,' he 
said. ' But think a little over what I've said. Another 
time.' 'Good-night,' said she." 



XI 

The Captain spoke to Nils about the timber ; he 
thought of disposing of the whole lot, or selling it 
standing. Nils took this to mean that he didn't like 
the idea of having more new folk about the place. "It 
looks like things are as bad as ever with him and 
Fruen," said Nils. 

We are getting in the potatoes now, and now that 
we are thus far there is less hurry and anxiety about 
the work. But there is still much to be done. The 
ploughing is behindhand, and Lars Falkenberg and I 
are both at it, field and meadow land. 

Nils, queer creature that he was, began to find 
things intolerable at Ovrebo again, and talked of 
throwing up his place and going off altogether. But 
he couldn't bear the disgrace of leaving his service 
like that. Nils had his own clear notions of honour, 
handed down through many generations. A young 
man from a big farm could not behave like a lad from 
a cottar's holding. And then he hadn't been here long 
enough yet ; 0vreb0 had been sadly ill-managed before 
he came : it would take some years to bring it round 
again. It was only this year, when he'd had more 
help with the work, that he'd been able to do anything 
properly. But from now onward he might begin to 
look for some result of his work ; look at this year's 
harvest, the fine heavy grain ! The Captain, too, had 
looked at the crops with wonder and thankfulness 
the first time for many years. There would be plenty 
to sell. 

All things considered, then, it was senseless for Nils 



WANDERERS 255 

to think of leaving 0vreb0. But he must go home for 
a couple of days to his people they lived a little way 
north of us. So he gave himself two days' leave as 
soon as the potatoes were all out of the ground. No 
doubt he'd good reason for going perhaps to see his 
sweetheart, we thought and when he came back he 
was bright and full of energy as ever, and took up 
work again at once. 

We were sitting at dinner in the kitchen one day 
when out comes Fruen from the front door of the 
house, and goes tearing down the road, all wild and 
excited. Then the Captain came out, calling after 
her: Lovise, what is it, Lovise? Where are you 
going?" But Fruen only called back: "Leave me 
alone ! " 

We looked at one another. Ragnhild rose from the 
table ; she must go after her mistress, she said. 

"That's right," said Nils, calm as ever. " But go 
indoors first and see if she's moved those photographs." 

" They re still there," said Ragnhild as she went out. 

Outside, we heard the Captain telling her to go and 
look after her mistress. 

There was no one but took thought for Fruen in her 
distress. 

We went out to the fields again. Said Nils to me : 

"She ought to take away those photos; it's not 
right of her to leave them there. I don't know what 
she can be thinking of to do it." 

What do you know about it ? I thought to myself. 
3h, I was so clever with my knowledge of the world,' 
and all I'd learned on my wanderings, I thought I 
would try him now ; perhaps he was only showing off 

I can't understand why the Captain hasn't taken 
and burnt them long ago," said I. 

"No, that's all wrong," said Nils. "I wouldn't 
have done that either." 



256 WANDERERS 

"Oh, indeed !" 

" It wouldn't be for me to do it, but for her." 

We walked on a little. And then Nils said a thing 
that showed his sound and right instinct. 

"Poor lady!" he said. "She's not got over that 
slip of hers this summer ; it's troubling her still, 
from all I can see, there's some people pick up again 
all right after a fall, and go on through life with no 
more than the mark of a bruise. But there's some 
that never get over it." 

" Fruen seems to be taking it easy enough," said I, 
still trying him. 

"How can we tell? She's been unlike herself, 
to my mind, ever since she's been back," he answered. 
" She's got to live, of course, but she's lost all 
harmony, perhaps. I don't know much about it, but 
harmony, that's what I mean. Oh yes, she can eat 
and laugh and sleep, no doubt, but ... I followed 
one such to the grave, but now . . ." 

And at that I was no longer cold and wise, but 
foolish and ashamed, and only said : 

" So it was that ? She died, then ?" 

" Yes. She wished it so," said Nils. And then 
suddenly : " Well, you and Lars get on with the 
ploughing. We ought soon to be through with things 
now." 

And we went each our separate way. 

I thought to myself: a sister of his, perhaps, that 
had gone wrong, and he'd been home and followed 
her to the grave. Herregud! there are some that 
never get over it ; it shakes them to their founda- 
tions ; a revolution. All depends on whether 
they're coarse enough. Only the mark of a bruise, 
said Nils. A sudden thought came to me, and 1 
stopped : perhaps it was not his sister, but his sweet- 
heart. 



WANDERERS 257 

Some association of ideas led me to think of my 
washing. I decided to send the lad up for it. 

It was evening. 

Ragnhild came to me and begged me to keep awake 
again ; there was dreadful trouble up at the house. 
Ragnhild herself was greatly upset, and dared not sit 
anywhere now in the half-dark but upon my knees. 
It was always so with her ; emotion made her frightened 
and tender frightened and tender, yes. 

"But can you be away like this? Is there anyone 
in your place in the kitchen ? " I asked. 

"Yes. Cook's going to listen for the bell. You 
know, I side with the Captain," she declared. I've 
sided with him all along." 

" Oh, that's only because he's a man." 
" No, it's not." 

' You'd much better side with Fruen." 
' You only say that because she's a woman," 
answered Ragnhild in her turn. But you don't know 
all I do. Fruen's so unreasonable. We didn't care 
a bit about her, she said, and left her all to herself, 
whatever might happen. Did you ever hear such a 
thing, when I'd just gone after her. And then there's 
another dreadful thing. ..." 

" I don't want to hear any more," I said. 
" But I haven't been listening outside what are you 
thinking of? I was there in the same room, and 
heard them." 

"Did you? Well, well, stay here till you've 
calmed down a little ; then we'll go and find 
Nils." 

And so frightened and tender was Ragnhild that she 
threw her arms round me because I was kind to her. 
A strange girl ! 

Then we went down^to Nils. 
17 



a 



258 WANDERERS 

" Ragnhild thinks that somebody ought to keep 
awake for a bit," I said. 

"Yes," said Ragnhild. "Oh, it's so dreadful 
worse than ever it's been ! Heaven knows what the 
Captain '11 do ! Perhaps he won't go to bed at all. Oh, 
she's fond of him and he's fond of her, too; only, 
everything's all wrong ! When she went running off 
like that to-day, the Captain was standing outside the 
house, and said to me : ' Go and look after your 
mistress, Ragnhild,' and I went after her, and there 
she was, standing behind a tree down the road, and she 
just stood there, crying, and smiled at me. I tried to 
get her to come in again, but she said we didn't care 
about her ; it didn't matter where she went. ' The 
Captain sent me after you,' said I. ' Did he, though ? ' 
she asked. 'Now? Was it just now?' 'Yes,' said I. 
' Wait, then,' she said, and stood quite a while. ' Take 
those hateful books that are lying in my room and 
burn them,' she said ; and then : ' Oh no, I'll do it 
myself, but I'll ring for you after supper, and then you 
must come up at once.' ' I will,' said I, and then I 
got her to come in." 

" And you know," said Ragnhild suddenly, " she's 
going to have a child." 

We looked at one another. Nils' face grew, as it 
were, veiled beneath a film of something indistinct. 
All expression faded, the eyes asleep. But why should 
it affect him so ? For the sake of saying something, 
I turned to Ragnhild and asked : 

" Fruen was going to ring for you, you said ? " 

"Yes, and so she did. There was something she 
wanted to tell the Captain, but she was afraid, and 
wanted to have me there. ' Light a candle and pick 
up all this host of buttons I've upset/ she said. And 
then she called out to the Captain in his room. I lit 
the candle and began picking up buttons ; dozens of 



WANDERERS 



them there were, all sorts. The Captain came in. 
I only wanted to tell you,' says Fruen at once, 'that 
t was kind of you to send Ragnhild after me to-day 
Heaven bless you for that ! ' < Never mind about that! 
my dear, says he. ' Y ou were nervous, you know.' 
Yes, Im all nerves just now,' she answered, 'but 
hope : lt 11 get better in time. No, the trouble is 
that I haven t a daughter I could bring up to be really 
good. There s nothing I can do ! ' The Captain sat 
down on a chair. Oh yes, there is,' he said 'Yes 
you say? Oh, I know it says in that book there 
3h those hateful books !-Ragnhild, take them away 
and burn them,' she says. No, wait, I'll tear them to 
>its now myself and put them in the stove here.' And 
then she started pulling them to pieces, taking ever so 
many pages at a time and throwing them in the stove 
Don t be so excited, Lovise,' said the Captain! 
The Nunnery, she said-that was one of the books. 

A C xu g Int a nunner y- There's nothing I 
can do. When I laugh, you think I'm laughing,' she 
said to the Captain, 'but I'm miserable all the time 
and not laughing a bit.' 'I s your toothache any 
> er? he asked. 'Oh, that toothache won't be 
better for a long time to come ! ' she said ; < you know 

hat well enough.' ' No, indeed, I don't.' 'You don't 
kn OW? ' < No .' 'But, heavens I can't you see what's 

he matter wzth me? 'said Fruen. The Captain only 
ooked at her and did not answer. ' I'm-oh" you said 
to-day I rmght have a daughter after all, don't yo 

'' haen 



.. . 

Ragnhild smiled and shook her head; then she went on 

leaven forg!ve me for smiling, but the Captain's 

face was so queer ; he stood there like a sheep. 'Didn't 

you guess as much before ? ' asked Fruen. The Captain 

looked over at me and said : ' What's that you're doing 



260 WANDERERS 

there all this time ? ' 'I asked her to pick up those 
buttons for me,' said Fruen. 'I've finished now,' said 
I. * Have you? ' said Fruen, getting- up. ' Let me see.' 
And she took the box and dropped them again all over 
the floor. Oh, they went rolling all over the place, 
under the table, under the bed and the stove ! ' There, 
now, did you ever see such a mess ? ' said Fruen. But 
then she went off again at once talking about herself, 
and said again : ' But I can't understand you didn't see 
I was didn't see what was the matter with me.' 
'Can't those buttons wait till to-morrow?' said the 
Captain. ' Why, yes, perhaps they can,' said Fruen. 
' But then I'll be treading on them everywhere. I 
can't . . . I'm rather afraid of stooping just now. . . . 
But, never mind, we'll leave them for now,' she said, 
and stroked his hand. 'Oh, my dear, my dear!' she 
says. But he drew his hand away. ' Oh, so you're 
angry with me ! ' she said. ' But then, why did you 
write and ask me to come back ? ' ' My dear Lovise, 
we're not alone here,' he says. ' But surely you must 
know what made you write?' ' I suppose it was because 
I hoped things would come right again.' 'And they 
didn't?' 'Well, no!' 'But what was in your mind 
when you wrote ? Were you thinking of me ? Did you 
want me again ? I can't make out what was in your 
mind.' ' Ragnhild's finished, I see,' said the Captain. 
' Good-night, Ragnhild ! ' " 

"And then you came away ? " 

" Yes, but I dare not go far because of Fruen. You 
may be sure it wasn't nice for her when I was out of 
the room, so I had to be somewhere at hand. And if 
the Captain had come and found me and said anything, 
I'd have told him straight out I wasn't going farther 
away with Fruen in the state she was. As it happened, 
he didn't come at all, but they began again in there. 
' I know what you're thinking of,' said Fruen ' that 



WANDERERS 261 

perhaps it's not ... it wouldn't be your child. Oh 
yes, indeed it might be so ! But, God knows, I can't 
find words this moment to make you forgive me ! ' she 
said,^ all crying. ' Oh, my dear, forgive me, forgive 
me ! ' said Fruen, and went down on her knees on the 
floor. ' You've seen what I did with the books, and that 
handkerchief with the initials on I burnt that before, 
and the books, you know. . . .' ' Yes, and here's another 
handkerchief with the same initials on,' says the Captain. 
' Oh, heavens ! yes, you're ever so considerate, Lovise.' 
Fruen was all upset at that. 'I'm sorry you should 
have seen it,' she said. 'It must be one I brought 
back with me when I came home. I haven't looked 
through my things properly since. But does it really 

matter so very much? Surely ' 'Oh no,' said 

he. 'And if you'd only listen to me,' she went on, 

' I'm almost certain it's you that ... I mean, that 

the child is yours. Why should it not be? Oh, I 

don't know how to say it!' 'Sit down again,' said 

the Captain. But Fruen must have misunderstood ; 

she got up and said: 'There you are! You won't 

listen to me. Really, I can't make out why you ever 

wrote to me at all. You might just as well have left 

me alone.' Then the Captain said something about 

being in prison ; if a man grew up in a prison yard, he 

said, and you take him out, he'll long to be back in his 

prison yard again, he said. It was something like that, 

anyway. ' Yes, but I was with Papa and Mama, and 

they weren't hard like you; they said I had been 

married to him, and weren't unkind to me at all. It 

isn't everyone that looks at things like you do.' ' You 

don't want that candle alight now Ragnhild's gone, do 

you ? ' said the Captain. ' It looks so out of place to 

have it burning there beside the lamp as if it were 

ashamed.' ' Ashamed of me,' she says quickly. 'Oh 

yes, that was what you meant. But you've been to 



262 WANDERERS 

blame as well.' ' Don't misunderstand me,' he says. 
' I know I've been to blame. But that doesn't make 
your part any better.' ' Oh, you think not? Well, of 
all the ... So yours doesn't count, then ? ' ' Yes, I 
say I've been to blame, not in the way you mean, but 
in other ways in old thing's and new.' ' Oh, indeed ! ' 
' Yes, but I don't come home bringing 1 the fruits of it 
under my heart to you.' ' No,' says Fruen, ' but you 
know it was you all along that wouldn't . . . that 
didn't want us to have children. And 1 didn't want it, 
either, but you ought to have known better. And they 
said the same thing at home. If only I'd had a 
daughter. . . .' ' Oh, don't let's go over all that 
again,' says the Captain he called it something or 
other a romance, I think it was. ' But it's true,' says 
Fruen, ' and I can't think how you can deny it.' ' I'm 
not denying anything. Do sit down, now, Lovise, and 
listen to me. All this about having children, and a 
daughter to bring up and so on, it's something you've 
picked up lately. And you snatched at the idea at 
once, to save yourself. But you never said a word 
about wanting children before not that I ever heard.' 
' Yes, but you ought to have known better.' ' There 
again, that's something you've heard, something new. 
But it doesn't matter : quite possibly things might have 
been different if we'd had children. I can see that 
myself now, but now it's too late, more's the pity. And 
here you are now like that. . . .' ' Oh, heavens, yes ! 
But I tell you it may be yours after all I don't 
know. . . . Oh! . . .' 'Mine?' said the Captain, 
shaking his head. ' Well, the mother should be the 
one to know. But in this case, it seems, she doesn't. 
The woman I'm married to doesn't know or do you ? ' 
But Fruen did not answer. ' Do you know ? I ask 
you ! ' Oh, but again she could not answer, only 
slipped down to the floor again and cried. Really, I 



WANDERERS 263 

don't know but perhaps I'm on her side after all ; it 
was dreadful for her, poor thing. And then I was just 
going to knock at the door and go in, but then the 
Captain went on again. ' You can't say it,' he said. 
' But that's an answer in itself, and plain enough.' ' I 
can't say more,' said Fruen. She was still crying. 
' I'm fond of you for lots of things, Lovise,' says the 
Captain, 'and one of them's because you're truthful.' 
' Thank you,' she says. ' They haven't taught you to 
lie as yet. Get up, now.' And he helped her up 
himself, and set her in the chair. But it was pitiful to 
see her crying so. ' Don't cry, now,' he says. ' I want 
to ask you something. Shall we wait and see what it's 
like when it comes what sort of eyes it has, and so 
on ? ' ' Oh, heaven bless you, yes, if you would ! Oh, 
my dear, God bless you, God bless you ! ' ' And I'll 
try to bear with things as they are. It's an aching 
misery all the time, but I'll try. And I've been to 
blame as well.' ' God bless you, God bless you ! ' she 
said again. 'And you,' he said. 'And now good- 
night until to-morrow.' Then Fruen leaned down over 
the table and cried and cried so dreadfully. ' What 
are you crying for now?' he asked. 'You're going,' 
she said. ' Oh, I was afraid of you before, but now I 
can't bear to be without you ! Couldn't you stay a 
little ? ' ' Stay here, with you, now ? ' he asked. ' Oh 
no, I didn't mean ... it wasn't that . . . only, it's so 
lonely. I didn't mean . . .' ' No,' said the Captain. 
' You can understand I don't feel like staying any 
longer now. Ring for the maid ! ' ' 

"And then I had to run," Ragnhild concluded. 

Said Nils, after a while: "Have they gone to bed 
now ? " 

Ragnhild could not say. Yes. Perhaps. Anyhow, 
Cook was there in case. " But, only think of it, how 
dreadful ! I don't suppose Fruen can sleep." 



264 WANDERERS 

"You'd better go and see if there's anything you 
can do." 

" Yes," said Ragnhild, getting up. " But I side 
with the Captain after all, and no mistake, whatever 
you say. Yes, that I do." 

" It's none so easy to know what's right." 

" Only think of letting that engineer creature . . . 
How she ever could, I don't know ! And then to go 
down and stay with him there, after, as she did ; what 
a thing to do ! And she's all those handkerchiefs of 
his, ever so many, and a lot of her own are gone ; I 
suppose they used each other's anyhow. Lived with 
him, she said ! And she with a husband of her 
own ! " 



XII 

The Captain has done as he said about the timber ; 
there's a cracking and crashing in the woods already. 
And a mild autumn, too, with no frost in the ground 
as yet to stop the ploughing ; Nils grasps at the time 
like a miser, to save as much as possible next spring. 

Now comes the question whether Grindhusen and I 
are to work on the timber. It crosses my mind that 
I had intended really to go off for a tramp up in the 
hills and over the moors while the berries were there ; 
what about that journey now? And another thing, 
Grindhusen was no longer worth his keep as a wood- 
cutter ; he could hold one end of a saw, but that was 
about all he was good for now. 

No, for Grindhusen was changed somehow ; devil 
knows how it had come about. He had not grown 
bald at all ; his hair was there, and thick and red as 
ever. But he had picked up a deal at 0vreb0, and 
went about bursting with health and good feeding ; 
well off here ? He had sent good sums of money home 



WANDERERS 265 

to his family all that summer and autumn, and was 
full of praise for Captain and Fruen, who paid such 
good wages and treated their folk so well. Not like 
the Inspector, that weighed and counted every miserable 
Shilling, and then, as true as God's in heaven, go and 
take off two Kroner that he'd given as clear as could 
be ... ugh! He, Grindhusen, was not the man to 
make a fuss about a wretched two Kroner, as long 
as it was a matter of any sense or reason, but to go 
and take it off like that-; fy Fan! Would you ever 
find the Captain doing such a thing? 

But Grindhusen was grown so cautious now, and 
wouldn't even get properly angry with anyone. Even 
yet, perhaps, he might go back and work for the 
Inspector on the river at two Kroner a day, and 
humbly agree with all his master said. Age, time, 
had overtaken him. 
It overtakes us all. 
Said the Captain : 

"That water-supply you spoke about is it too late 
to do anything with it this year ? " 
" Yes," I answered. 
The Captain nodded and walked away. 
I ploughed one day more, then the Captain came to 
me again. He was out and about everywhere these 
days, working hard, keeping an eye on everything. 
He gave himself barely time for a proper meal, but 
was out again at once, in the fields, the barn, the 
cattle-sheds, or up in the woods where the men were 
at work. 

;< You'd better get to work on that water-supply," 
he said. "The ground's workable still, and may stay 
so for a long time yet. What help will you want ? " ' 

'Grindhusen can help," I said. " But 

' Yes, and Lars. What were you going to say ? " 

4 The frost may set in any day now." 



266 WANDERERS 

" Well, and then it may snow and soften the ground 
again. We're not frost-bound here every year," said 
the Captain. "You'd better take a few extra hands, 
and set some of them to digging, the rest to the 
masonry work. You've done all this before, I think 
you said ? " 

"Yes." 

"And I've spoken to Nils myself," he said, with a 
smile. "So you'll have no trouble in that way. You 
can put the horses in now." 

So bravely cheerful he was, I could not help feeling 
the same, and wanted to begin at once ; I hurried back 
with the horses, almost at a run. The Captain seemed 
quite eager about this water-supply, now that the 
place looked so nice with its new paint, and after the 
fine harvest we'd had. And now he was cutting a 
thousand dozen battens in the woods, to pay off his 
debts and leave something over I 

So I went off up the rising ground, and found the 
old place I had marked down long before for the 
reservoir, took the depth down to the house, pacing 
and measuring this way and that. There was a 
streamlet came down from the hillside far above, with 
such a depth and fall that it never froze in winter ; 
the thing would be to build a small stone reservoir 
here, with openings at the sides for the overflow in 
autumn and spring. Oh, but they should have their 
water-supply at 0vreb0 1 As for the masonry work, 
we could break out our stone on the site itself ; there 
was layer on layer of granite there. 

By noon next day we were hard at work, Lars 
Falkenberg digging the trench for the pipe - line, 
Grindhusen and I getting stone. We were both well 
used to this work from the days when we had been 
road-making together at Skreia. 

Well and good. 



WANDERERS 267 

We worked four days ; then it was Sunday. I 
remember that Sunday, the sky clear and far, the leaves 
all fallen in the woods, and the hillside showing only 
its calm winter green ; smoke rose from the chimney 
up in the clearing. Lars had borrowed a horse and cart 
that afternoon to drive in to the station ; he had killed 
a pig and was sending it in to town. He was to fetch 
letters for the Captain on the way back. 

It occurred to me that this evening would be a good 
time to send the lad up to the clearing for my washing : 
Lars was away, and no one could take offence at that 
washing business now. 

Oh yes, I said to myself, you're very careful to do 
what's right and proper, sending the lad up to fetch 
that washing. But you'll find it isn't that at all. 
Right and proper, indeed ; you're getting old, that's 
what it is. 

I bore with this reproach for an hour. Then well, 
it was all nonsense, like as not, and here was a lovely 
evening, and Sunday into the bargain, nothing to do, 
no one to talk to down here. . . . Getting old, was I ? 
Afraid of the walk uphill ? 
And I went up myself. 

Early next morning Lars Falkenbergcame over again. 
He drew me aside, as he had done once before, and 
with the same intent: I had been up at the clearing 
yesterday, it seemed ; it was to be the last time, and 
would I please to make no mistake about that ! 
" It was the last of my washing, anyhow," I said. 
" Oh, you and your washing ! As if I couldn't have 
brought along your miserable shirt a hundred times 
since you've been here ! " 

Now, by what sort of magic had he got to know of 
my little walk up there already ? Ragnhild, of course, 
at her old tricks again it could be no one else. 
There was no doing anything with that girl. 



268 WANDERERS 

But now, as it happened, Nils was at hand this time, 
as he had been the time before. He came strolling 
over innocently from the kitchen, and in a moment 
Lars' anger was turned upon him instead. 

" Here's the other scarecrow coming up, too," says 
Lars, " and he's a long sight worse than you." 

" What's that you say ? " said Nils. 

"What's that you say!" retorted Lars. " You go 
home and rinse your mouth with a mixture or some- 
thing, and see if you can talk plain," said he. 

Nils stopped short at this, and came up to see what 
it was all about. 

" I don't know what you're talking about," said he. 

" No, of course not. You don't know anything 
that's any sense. But you know all about ploughing 
in standing crops, don't you ? There's not many can 
beat you at that." 

But here Nils grew angry for once, and his cheeks 
paled. 

"What an utter fool you are, Lars! Can't you 
keep your mouth shut with that nonsense ? " 

"Fool, eh? Hark at the silly goat!" said Lars, 
turning to me. " Thinks himself mighty fine, doesn't 
he? ' Utter,' he says and goes white about it. I've 
been more years than you at 0vreb0, and asked in to 
sing up at the house of an evening more than once, let 
me tell you. But things have changed since then, and 
what have we got instead? You remember," he said, 
turning to me, "what it was like in the old days. It 
was Lars here and Lars there, and I never heard but 
the work got done all right. And after me it was 
Albert, that was here for eighteen months. But then 
you, Nils, came along, and now it's toil and moil and 
ploughing and carting manure day and night, till a 
man's worn to a thread with it all." 

Nils and I could not help laughing at this. And 



WANDERERS 269 

Lars was in no way offended ; he seemed quite pleased 
at having- said something funny, and, forgetting his 
ill-will, joined in the laugh himself. 

"Yes, I say it straight out," said he. "And if it 
wasn't for you being a friendly sort between whiles no, 
friendly I won't say, but someways decent and to get on 
with after a fashion . . . if it wasn't for that . . ." 
"Well, what then?" 

Lars was getting more and more good humoured. 
"Oh," he said, with a laugh, " I could just pick you 
up and stuff you down in your own long boots." 
" Like to feel my arm ? " said Nils. 
" What's going on here ? " asked the Captain, coming 
up. It was only six o'clock, but he was out and about 
already. 

" Nothing," said Lars and Nils as well. 
" How's the reservoir getting on?" asked the Cap- 
tain. This was to me, but before I could answer he 
turned to Nils. " I shall want the boy to drive me to 
the station," he said. " I'm going to Christiania." 

Grindhusen and I went off to our work on the reser- 
voir, and Lars to his digging. But a shadow seemed 
to have fallen over us all. 

Grindhusen himself said openly : " Pity the Captain's 
going away." 

I thought so, too. But he was obliged to go in on 
business, no doubt. There were the crops as well as 
the timber to be sold. But why should he start at that 
hour of the day ? He couldn't catch the early train in 
any case. Had there been trouble again ? Was he 
anxious to be out of the way before Fruen got up ? 

Trouble there was, often enough. 

It had gone so far by this time that the Captain and 
Fruen hardly spoke to one another, and whenever they 
did exchange a word it was in a careless tone, and 



270 WANDERERS 

looking all the other way. Now and again the Captain 
would look his wife properly in the face, and say she 
ought to be out more in the lovely air ; and once when 
she was outside he asked if she wouldn't come in and 
play a little. But this, perhaps, was only to keep up 
appearances, no more. 

It was pitiful to see. 

Fruen was quiet and nice. Now and again she 
would stand outside on the steps looking out towards 
the hills ; so soft her features were, and her reddish 
yellow hair. But it was dull for her now no visitors, no 
music and entertaining, nothing but sorrow and shame. 

The Captain had promised to bear with things as 
they were, and surely he was bearing all he could. 
But he could do no more. Disaster had come to the 
home, and the best will in the world could not shoulder 
it off. If Fruen happened to be hasty, as she might 
now and then, and forgot to be grateful, the Captain 
would look down at the floor, and it would not be long 
before he put on his hat and went out. All the maids 
knew about it, and I had seen it myself once or twice. 
He never forgot what she had done how could he? 
though he could keep from speaking of it. But could 
he keep from speaking of it when she forgot herself and 
said : 

" You know I'm not well just now ; you know I can't 
walk far like I used to I " 

" S sh, Lovise I " he would say, with a frown. And 
then the mischief was there as bad as ever. 

" Oh, of course you must bring that up again ! " 

" No, indeed 1 It's you that brought it up yourself 
You've lost all sense of modesty, I think ; you seem to 
have no shame left." 

"Oh, I wish I'd never come back at all! I was 
better off at home ! " 

" Yes, or living with that puppy, I dare say." 



WANDERERS 271 

"You said he'd helped you once yourself. And I 
often wish I were back there with him again. Hugo's 
a great deal better than you are." 

She was all irresponsible in her words, going, per- 
haps, further than she meant. But she was changed 
out of knowledge to us all, and spoiled and shameless 
now. Fru Falkenberg shameless ! Nay, perhaps not ; 
who could say ? Yet she was not ashamed to come out 
in the kitchen of an evening and say nice things to Nils 
about how young and strong he was. I was jealous 
again, no doubt, and envied Nils for his youth, for I 
thought to myself: Is everyone gone mad? Surely we 
older ones are far to be preferred ! Was it his inno- 
cence that attracted her ? Or was she merely trying to 
keep up her spirits a little trying to be younger than 
she was ? But then one day she came up to the reser- 
voir where Grindhusen and I were at work, and sat 
watching us for a while. It was easy work then for 
half an hour ; the granite turned pliable, and yielded to 
our will ; we built away like giants. Oh, but Fruen 
sat there irresponsible as ever, letting her eyes play 
this way and that. Why could she not rid herself of 
this new habit of hers ? Her eyes were too earnest for 
such playing ; it did not suit her. I thought to myself, 
either she was trying to make up for her foolishness 
towards Nils by favouring us in turn, or starting a new 
game altogether which would it be? I could not 
make it out, and as for Grindhusen, he saw nothing in 
it at all, but only said, when Fruen had gone : " Eh, 
she's a strange kind-hearted soul, is Fruen. Almost 
like a mother. Only fancy going and feeling if the 
water wasn't too cold for us ! " 

One day, when I was standing by the kitchen 
entrance, she said : 

" Do you remember the old days here when you first 
came ? " 



272 WANDERERS 

She had never once spoken of this till now, and I did 
not know what to say. I stammered out : Yes, I 
remembered. 

"You drove me down to the Vicarage once," she 
said. 

Then I half fancied that perhaps she was not 
disinclined to talk to me and occupy her mind a 
little ; I felt I must help -her, make it easier for her. 
And perhaps I was a little touched myself at the 
thought. 

" Yes," I said, " I remember. It was a glorious 
drive. But Fruen must have found it cold towards the 
last." 

"It was you that must have felt cold," she answered. 
" You lent me your own rug from the box. Oh, you 
poor thing ! " 

I was even more moved at this, and foolish ideas 
came into my head. Ah, then she had not forgotten 
me ! The few years that had passed since then had not 
made so much difference in me after all ! 

" Fruen must be mistaken about the rug, I think," 
said I. " But I remember we stopped at a cottage to 
eat, and the woman made coffee, and you gave me 
things yourself." 

As I spoke, I leaned up against the fence, with my 
arms round a post. Perhaps this somehow offended 
her, looking as if I expected her to stand gossiping 
there with me. And then I had said, " We stopped at 
a cottage," as if we had been equals. It was a bad 
mistake on my part, of course, but I had got a little 
out of hand after all these vagabond months. 

I stood up straight again the moment I saw she was 
displeased, but it was too late. She was just as kind 
as ever, but she had grown suspicious and easily hurt 
with all her trouble, and found rudeness in what was 
merely awkwardness of mine. 



WANDERERS 27 3 

"Well, well," she said, " I hope you find yourself as 
comfortable now at 0vreb0 as before." 
And she nodded and walked away. 

Some days passed. The Captain had not come back, 
but he had sent a post card, with a kind message, to 
Fruen: he hoped to be home again next week. He 
was also sending pipes, taps, and cement for the water- 
supply. 

Fruen showed me that card. " Here," she said, 
" the Captain has sent these things for your work! 
You had better get them down from the station." 

We stood there together, looking at the card ; mid- 
day, it was, and we were just outside the house. I 
can't say how it was, but I was standing there quite 
close to her, with my head bent in towards hers, and 
it made me feel happy all through. When she had 
finished reading she looked up at me. No play of her 
eyes now ; but she must have caught some expression 
in my face, for she looked at me still. Did she feel my 
presence as I felt hers ? Those two heavy eyes raised 
towards mine and held there were loaded to the brim 
with love. She could not be responsible for her actions 
now. There was a pathological depth in her glance, 
an influence from far within, from the life she bore 
under her heart. Her breath came heavily, her face 
flushed dark all over, then she swung round and walked 
slowly away. 

There I stood, with the card in my hand. Had she 
given it to me ? Had I taken it ? 

"Your card," I said. "Shall I ..." 
She held out her hand without looking round, and 
walked on. 

This little episode occupied my mind a great deal for 
some days. Ought I to have gone after her when she 
walked away? Oh, I might have tried, might have 
18 



274 WANDERERS 

made the attempt her door was not far off. Patho- 
logical ? But what had she brought me the card for at 
all ? She could have told me by word of mouth what 
there was to say. I called to mind how six years before 
we had stood in just that same way reading a telegram 
the Captain had sent her. Did she find pleasure in 
situations of that sort, and go out of her way to seek 
them? 

Next time I saw her there was no trace of any 
embarrassment in her manner she was kind and cold. 
So I had to let it drop altogether. And, anyhow, what 
did I want with her at all ? No, indeed ! 

Some visitors came to see her one day a neighbour's 
wife, with her daughter. They had heard, no doubt, 
that the Captain was away, and thought she might be 
glad of a little society ; or perhaps they had come out 
of curiosity. They were well received ; Fru Falken- 
berg was amiable as ever, and even played the piano 
for them. When they left, she went with them down 
to the road, talking sensibly of practical affairs, though 
she might well have had other things in her head than 
coops and killing pigs. Oh, she was full of kindly 
interest in it all ! " Come again soon or you, at any 
rate, Sofie. . . ." " Thanks, thanks. But aren't you 
ever coming over to us at Nedrebo?" "Oh, I? Of 
course yes. I'd walk down with you now if it weren't 
so late." "Well, to-morrow, then?" "Yes, perhaps 
I might come over to-morrow. Oh, is that you?" 
This was to Ragnhild, who had come down with a 
shawl. "Oh, what an ideal did you think I should 
catch cold ? " 

Altogether things were looking brighter now at 
0vreb0 ; we no longer felt that shadow of uneasiness 
over us all. Grindhusen and I worked away at our 
famous reservoir, and Lars was getting on farther every 
day with his trench. Seeing the Captain was away, I 



WANDERERS 275 

wanted to make the most of the time, and perhaps 
have the work nearly done by the time he came back ; 
it would be a grand thing if we could get it finished 
altogether ! He would be all the better for a pleasant 
little surprise, for yes, there had been something of a 
scene the night before he left. Some new reminder, no 
doubt, of the trouble that had come upon his house ; a 
book, perhaps, still unburnt, lying about in Fruen's 
room. He had ended up by saying: "Anyhow, I'm 
cutting timber now to pay it off. And the harvest we've 
got in means a lot of money. So I hope the Lord will 
forgive me as I do him. Good-night, Lovise." 

When we had laid the last stone of the reservoir, 
and cement over all, I went down with Grindhusen to 
help Lars with the trench we took a section each. 
The work went on easily and with a will here and 
there a stone had to be blasted out, or a tree felled 
up in the woods; but the trench moved steadily 
upwards, until we had a long black line from the house 
to the reservoir itself. Then we went back again and 
dug it out to the proper depth. This was no orna- 
mental work, but a trench an underground resting, 
place for some pipes that were to be buried on the 
spot. All we were concerned with was to get down 
below the reach of frost, and that before the frost 
itself came to hinder us. Already it was coating the 
fields at night. Nils himself left all else now, and 
came to lend a hand. 

But masonry and digging trenches are but work for 
the hands ; my brain in its idleness was busy all the 
while with every conceivable idea. As often as I 
thought of that episode with the post card, it sent, as 
it were, a glow all through me. Why should I think 
any more about it? No, of course not. And I had 
not followed her to the door after all. 

But there she stood, and you there. Her breath 



276 WANDERERS 

came towards you a taste of flesh. Out of a darkness 
she was, nay, not of earth. And her eyes did you 
mark her eyes ? 

And each time something in me turned at the 
thought a nausea. A meaningless succession of 
names poured in upon me, places of wild and tender 
sound, whence she might be : Uganda, Antananarivo, 
Honolulu, Venezuela, Atacama. Verse ? Colours ? I 
knew not what to do with the words. 



XIII 

Fruen has ordered the carriage to drive her to the 
station. 

No sign of haste in her manner ; she gives orders 
to the cook about packing up some food for the 
journey, and when Nils asks which carriage he is to 
take, she thinks for a moment, and decides to take 
the landau and pair. 

So she went away. Nils himself drove for her. 

They came back the same evening ; they had turned 
back when half-way out. 

Had Fruen forgotten something? She ordered 
fresh horses, and another hamper of food ; she was 
going off again at once. Nils was uneasy, and said so ; 
it was almost night, they would be driving in the dark ; 
but Fruen repeated her order. Meantime, she sat in- 
doors and waited ; she had not forgotten anything ; 
she did nothing now but sit staring before her. 
Ragnhild went in and asked if there was anything 
she could do. No, thank you. Fruen sat bowed 
forward as if weighed down by some deadly grief. 

The carriage was ready, and Fruen came out. 

Seeing Nils himself ready to drive again, she took 
pity on him, and said she would have Grindhusen to 
drive this time. And she sat on the steps till he came. 



WANDERERS 277 

Then they drove off. It was a fine evening, and nice 
and cool for the horses. 

"She's past making out now," said Nils. "I can't 
think what's come to her. I'd no idea of anything, 
when suddenly she taps at the window and says turn 
back. We were about half-way there. But never a 
word of starting out again at once." 

But she must have forgotten something, surely ? " 
"Ragnhild says no. She was indoors, and I 
thought for a moment of those photograph things, it 
she was going to burn them ; but they're still there. 
No, she didn't do a single thing while she was back." 
We walked across the courtyard together. 
" No," Nils went on, " Fruen's in a bad way; she's 
lost all harmony for everything. Where's she going 
off to now, do you think? Heaven knows; she 
doesn't seem to be altogether sure of it herself. When 
we stopped to breathe the horses, she said something 
about being in such a hurry, and having to be in different 
places at once and then she ought not really to be away 
from home at all. < Best for Fruen not to hurry about 
anything,' I said, ' but just keep quiet.' But you know 
how she is nowadays ; there's no saying a word to her. 
She just looked at her watch and said go on again." 
" Was this on the way to the station? " 
" No, on the way back. She was quite excited, I 
thought." 

" Perhaps the Captain sent for her? " 

Nils shook his head. "No. But perhaps Lord 
knows. What was I going to say it's to-morrow's 
Sunday, isn't it?" 

"Yes; what then?" 

" Oh, nothing. I was only thinking I'd use the day 
off to mark out firewood for the winter. I've been 
thinking of that a long while. And it's easier now 
than when the snow's about." 



278 WANDERERS 

Always thinking of his work, was Nils. He took a 
pride in it, and was anxious now, moreover, to show 
his gratitude for the Captain's having raised his wages 
since the harvest. 

It is Sunday. 

I walked up to have a look at the trench and the 
reservoir ; a few more good days now, and we should 
have the pipes laid down. I was quite excited about it 
myself, and could hardly wait for to-morrow's working- 
day to begin again. The Captain had not interfered in 
the arrangements, not with a single word, but left all 
to me, so that it was no light matter if the frost came 
now and upset it all. 

When I got back, there was the landau outside the 
house the horses had been taken out. Grindhusen 
would about have had time to get back, I thought ; but 
why had he pulled up in front of the steps to the house ? 

I went into the kitchen. The maids came towards 
me ; Fruen was in the carriage, they said ; she had 
come back once again. She had just been to the 
station, but now she was going there again. Could I 
make out what was the matter with her, now? 

" Nervous, I expect," said I. " Where's Nils ? " 

" Up in the woods. Said he'd be away some time. 
There's only us here now, and we can't say more to her 
than we have." 

" And where's Grindhusen ? " 

" Changing the horses again. And Fruen's sitting 
there in the carriage and won't get out. You go and 
speak to her." 

"Oh, well, there's no great harm in her driving 
about a bit. Don't worry about that." 

I went out to the carriage, my heart beating fast. 
How miserable and desperate she must be ! I opened 
the carriage door, and asked respectfully if Fruen 
would let me drive this time. 



WANDERERS 279 

She looked me calmly in the face. " No. What 
for ? " she said. 

"Grindhusen might be a little done up, perhaps I 
don't know . . ." 

"He promised to drive," she said. "And he's not 
done up. Isn't he nearly ready ? " 

" I can't see him," I answered. 

"Shut the door again, and tell him to come," she 
commanded, wrapping herself more closely as she 
spoke. 

I went over to the stables. Grindhusen was harness- 
ing a fresh pair of horses. 

"What's all this ? " I asked. " Going off again, are 
you?" 

"Yes that is, I thought so," said Grindhusen, 
stopping for a moment as if in doubt. 

" It looks queer. Where's Fruen going to, do you 
know?" 

"No. She wanted to drive back again last night 
as soon as we got to the station, but I told her that 
it was too much for either of us to drive back then. 
So she slept at the hotel. But this morning it was 
home again, if you please. And now she wants to 
go to the station again, she says. I don't know, I'm 
sure ..." 

Grindhusen goes on harnessing up. 

" Fruen said you were to make haste," I said. 

"All right, I'm coming. But these girths are the 
very devil." 

" Aren't you too tired to drive all that way again 
now?" 

" No. You know well enough I can manage it all 
right. And she's given me good money, too. Extra." 

"Did she, though?" 

"Ay, that she did. But she's a queer sort, is 
Fruen." 



28o WANDERERS 

Then said I : "I don't think you ought to go off 
again now." 

Grindhusen stopped short. "You think so? Well, 
now, I dare say you're right." 

Just then came Fruen's voice from outside she had 
come right over to the stable door. 

"Aren't you ready yet? How much longer am I 
to sit waiting? " 

"Ready this minute," answered Grindhusen, and 
turned to again, busier than ever. " It was only these 
girths." 

Fruen went back to the carriage. She ran, and the 
thick fur coat she had on was too heavy for her, she 
had to balance with her arms. It was pitiful to see ; 
like a hen trying to escape across a barnyard, and 
flapping its wings to help. 

I went over to the carriage again, politely, even 
humbly. I took off my cap, and begged Fruen to give 
up this new journey. 

" You are not driving me ! " she answered. 
" No. But if Fruen would only give it up and stay 
at home ..." 

At this she was offended ; she stared at me, looked 
me up and down, and said : 

" Excuse me, but this is no business of yours. 
Because I got you dismissed once ..." 

" No, no, it's not that ! " I cried desperately, and 
could say no more. When she took it that way I 
was helpless. 

Just for one moment a wave of fury came over me ; I 
had only to put out my arms and I could lift her out 
of the carriage altogether, this child, this pitiful hen ! 
My arms must have twitched at the thought, for she 
gave a sudden frightened start, and shifted in her 
seat. Then all at once the reaction took me ; I turned 
foolish and soft, and tried once more : 



WANDERERS 281 

"It'll be so dismal for us all here if you go. Do 
let us try if we can't hit on something between us 
to pass the time for you ! I can read a little, reading 
aloud, and there's Lars can sing. Perhaps I might tell 
stories tell of something or other. Here's Grindhusen 
coming ; won't you let me tell him you're not going 
after all ? " 

She softened at this, and sat thinking for a little. 
Then she said 

" You must be making a mistake altogether, I think. 
I am going to the station to meet the Captain. He 
didn't come the first day, or yesterday either, but he's 
sure to come some time. I'm driving over to meet 
him." 
"Oh!" 

" There you are. Now go. Is Grindhusen there ? " 
It was like a slap in the face for me. She was right ; 
it sounded so natural oh, I had made a fool of myself 
again ! 

"Yes, here he is," I answered. There was no more 
to be said. 

And I put on my cap again, and helped Grindhusen 
myself with the harness. So confused and shamed 
was I that I did not even ask pardon, but only 
fretted this way and that way seeing to buckles and 
straps. 

"You are driving then, Grindhusen ?" called Fruen 
from the carriage. 

" Me? Yes, surely," he answered. 
Fruen pulled the door to with a bang, and the 
carriage drove off. 

"Has she gone?" asked the maids, clasping their 
hands. 

"Gone yes, of course. She's going to meet her 
husband." 



282 WANDERERS 

I strolled up to the reservoir again. Grindhusen 
away meant one man less ; why, then, the rest of us 
must work so much the harder. 

But I had already come to realise that Fru Falken- 
berg had only silenced me with a false excuse when 
she declared she was going to meet her husband. 
What matter ? The horses were rested ; they had done 
no work the days Nils had been helping us with the 
trench. But I had been a fool. I could have got up 
on the box myself without asking leave. Well, and 
what then ? Why, then at least any later follies would 
have had to pass by way of me, more or less, and I 
might have stopped them. He, he ! infatuated old 
fool ! Fruen knew what she was doing, no doubt ; she 
wanted to pay off old scores, and be away when her 
husband came home. She was all indecision, would 
and would not, would and would not, all the time ; 
but the idea was there. And I, simple soul I had not 
set out a-wandering on purpose to attend to the par- 
ticular interests of married folk in love or out of it. 
'Twas their affair ! Fru Falkenberg had changed for 
the worse. There was no denying it ; she had suffered 
damage, and was thoroughly spoiled now ; it hardly 
mattered any longer what she did. Ay, and she had 
taken to lying as well. First, music-hall tricks with 
her eyes, then on till it got to lying. A white lie 
to-day, to-morrow a blacker one, each leading to 
another. And what of it? Life could afford to waste 
her, to throw her away. 

We put in three days' work at the trench ; only a 
few feet left now. There might be three degrees of 
frost now at nights, but it did not stop us ; we went 
steadily on. Grindhusen had come back, and was set 
to tunnelling under the kitchen where the pipes were 
to go ; but the stable and cowshed were more important, 
and I did the underground work for these myself. 



WANDERERS 283 

Nils and Lars ran the last bit of trench up meanwhile, 
the last bit of way to the reservoir. 

To-day, at last, I questioned Grindhusen about Fruen. 

"So you didn't bring Fruen back with you again 
this last time?" 

" No. She went off by train." 

" Off to her husband, I suppose ? " 

But Grindhusen has turned cautious with me ; these 
two days past he has said never a word, and now he 
only answers vaguely : 

"Ay, that would be it, no doubt. Ay, surely, yes. 
Why, you might reckon that out yourself, she would. 
Her own husband and all. . . ." 

" I thought perhaps she might have been going up to 
her own people at Kristianssand." 

"Why, that might be," says Grindhusen, thinking 
this a better way. "Lord, yes, that would be it, of 
course. Just for a visit, like. Well, well, she'll be 
home again soon, for sure." 

"Did she tell you so?" 

" Why, 'twas so I made out. And the Captain's not 
home himself yet, anyway. Eh, but she's a rare open- 
handed one, she is. < Here's something for food and 
drink for yourself and the horses,' she says. 'And 
here's a little extra,' she says again. Eh, but there's 
never her like ! " 

But to the maids, with whom he felt less fear, 
Grindhusen had said it didn't look as if they'd be see- 
ing Fruen back again at all. She had been asking him 
all the way, he said, about Engineer Lassen ; she must 
have gone off to him after all. And, surely, she'd be 
well enough with him, a man with any amount of 
money and grand style and all. 

Then came another card for Fruen from the.Captain, 
this time only to say would she please send Nils to 
meet him at the station on Friday, and be sure to bring 



284 WANDERERS 

his fur coat. The post card had been delayed it was 
Thursday already. And this time it was fortunate, 
really, that Ragnhild happened to look at the post card 
and see what it said. 

We stayed sitting in Nils's room, talking about the 
Captain what he would say when he got back, and 
what we should say, or if we ought to say anything at 
all. All three of the maids were present at this council. 
Fruen would have had plenty of time to get to Kris- 
tiania herself by the day the Captain had written his 
card ; she had not, it seemed she had gone somewhere 
else. It was more than pitiful altogether. 

Said Nils : 

"Didn't she leave a note or anything when she 
went ? " 

But no, there was nothing. Ragnhild, however, had 
done a thing on her own responsibility which perhaps 
she ought not to have done she had taken the photos 
from the piano and thrown them in the stove. " Was 
it wrong, now ? " 

" No, no, Ragnhild ! No ! " 

She told us, also, that she had been through Fruen's 
wardrobe and sorted out all handkerchiefs that were 
not hers. Oh, she had found lots of things up in her 
room a bag with Engineer Lassen's initials worked 
on, a book with his full name in, some sweets in an 
envelope with his writing and she had burnt it all. 

A strange girl, Ragnhild yes ! Was there ever 
such an instinct as hers ? It was like the devil turned 
monk. Ragnhild, who made such use herself of the 
thick red stair-carpet and the keyholes everywhere ! 

It suited me and my work well enough that the Cap- 
tain had not ordered the carriage before ; we had got 
the trench finished now all the way up, and I could 
manage without Nils for laying the pipes. I should 
want all hands, though, when it came to filling in 



WANDERERS 285 

again. It was rain again now, by the way ; mild 
weather, many degrees of warmth. 

It was well for me, no doubt, these days that I had 
this work of mine to occupy my thoughts as keenly as 
it did ; it kept away many a fancy that would surely 
otherwise have plagued me. Now and again I would 
clench my fists as a spasm of pain came over me ; and 
when I was all alone up at the reservoir I could some- 
times cry aloud up at the woods. But there was no 
possibility of my getting away. And where should I 
go if I did ? 

The Captain arrived. 

He went all through the house at once into the par- 
lour, out into the kitchen, then to the rooms upstairs- 
all in his fur coat and overboots. 

" Where's Fruen?" he asked. 

" Fruen went to meet Captain," answered Ragnhild. 
" We thought she'd be coming back now as well." 

The Captain's head bowed forward a little. Then 
cautiously he began questioning. 

" You mean she drove with Nils to the station ? 
Stupid of me not to have looked about while I was 
there ! " 

" No," said Ragnhild ; " it was Sunday Fruen went." 

At this the Captain pulled himself together. " Sun- 
day?" he said. "Then she must have been going 
to meet me in Kristiania. H'm ! We've managed to 
miss each other somehow. I had to make another 
little journey yesterday, out to Drammen no, Frederik- 
stad, I mean. Get me something to eat, will you ? " 

" Vcersaagod, it's all ready laid." 

"It was the day before yesterday, by the way, I 
went out there. Well, well, she'll have had a little 
outing, anyhow. And how's everything going on? 
Are the men at work on the trench?" 



286 WANDERERS 

" They've finished it, I think." 

The Captain went in, and Ragnhild came running at 
once to tell us what he had said, that we might know 
what to go by now, and not make things worse. 

Later in the day he came out to where we were at 
work, greeted us cheerily, in military fashion, and was 
surprised to find the pipes already laid ; we had begun 
filling in now. 

" Splendid ! " he said. " You fellows are quicker at 
your work than I am." 

He went off by himself up to the reservoir. When 
he came back his eyes were not so keen ; he looked a 
little weary. Maybe he had been sitting there alone 
and thinking of many things. He stood watching us 
now with one hand to his chin. After a little he said 
to Nils : 

" I've sold the timber now." 
" Captain's got a good price for it, maybe? " 
"Yes, a good price. But I've been all this time 
about it. You've been quicker here." 

" There were more of us here," I said. " Four of us 
sometimes." 

And at that he tried to jest. " Yes," he said ; " I know 
you're an expensive man to have about the place ! " 

But there was no jest in his face ; his smile was 
hardly a smile at all. The weakness had gripped him 
now in earnest. After a little, he sat down on a stone 
we had just got out, all over fresh clay as it was, and 
watched us. 

I took up my spade and went up, thinking of his 
clothes. 

" Hadn't I better scrape the stone a bit clean ? " 
" No, it doesn't matter," he said. 
But he got up all the same, and let me clean it a 
little. 

It was then that Ragnhild came running up to us, 



WANDERERS 



287 



following- the line of the trench. She had something in 
her hand a paper. And she was running, running. 
The Captain sat watching her. 

" It's only a telegram ! " she said breathlessly. It 
came on by messenger." 

The Captain got up and strode quickly a few paces 
forward towards this telegram that had come. Then he 
tore it open and read. 

We could see at once it must be something impor- 
tant. The Captain gave a great gasp. Then he began 
walking down, running down, towards the house. A 
little way off he turned round and called to Nils : 

' The carriage at once ! I must go to the station ! " 

Then he ran on again. 

So the Captain went away again. He had only been 
home a few hours. 

Ragnhild told us of his terrible haste and worry, poor 
man ; he was getting into the carriage without his fur 
coat, and would have left the food behind him that was 
packed all ready. And the telegram that had come was 
lying all open on the stairs. 

" Accident," it said. " Your wife. Chief of Police." 
What was all this ? 

"I thought as much," said Ragnhild, "when they 
sent it on by messenger." Her voice was strange, and 
she turned away. "Something serious, I dare say" 
she said. 

"No, no I" said I, reading and reading again 
| 'Look, it's not so very bad 1 Hear what it says: 
' Request you come at once accident to your wife.' " 

It was an express telegram from the little town, the 
little dead town. Yes, that was it a town with a roar 
of sound through it, and a long bridge, and foaming 
waters ; all cries there died as they were uttered none 
could hear. And there were no birds. 



288 WANDERERS 

But all the maids spoke now in changed voices ; 'twas 
nothing but misery amongst us now ; I had to appear 
steady and confident myself, to reassure them. Fruen 
might have had a fall, perhaps, she was not so active 
of late. But she could, perhaps, have got up again and 
walked on almost as well as ever just a little bleeding. 
. . . Oh, they were so quick with their telegrams, these 
police folk ! 

" No, no ! " said Ragnhild. " You know well enough 
that when the Chief of Police sends a telegram it's 
pretty sure to mean Fruen's been found dead some- 
where ! Oh, I can't I can't can't bear it ! " 

Miserable days ! I worked away, harder than ever, 
but as a man in his sleep, without interest or pleasure. 
Would the Captain never come ? 

Three days later he came quietly and alone. The 
body had been sent to Kristianssand ; he had only come 
back to fetch some clothes, then he was going on there 
himself, to the funeral. 

He was home this time for an hour at most, then off 
again to catch the early train. I did not even see him 
myself, being out at work. 

Ragnhild asked if he had seen Fruen alive. 

He looked at her and frowned. 

But the girl would not give up ; she begged him, for 
Heaven's sake, to say. And the two other maids stood 
just behind, as desperate as she. 

Then the Captain answered, but in a low voice as if 
to himself: 

" She had been dead some days when I got there. It 
was an accident ; she had tried to cross the river and 
the ice would not bear. No, no, there was no ice, but 
the stones were slippery. There was ice as well, 
though." 

Then the maids began moaning and crying ; but this 
was more than he could stand. He got up from the 



WANDERERS 2 Sg 

chair where he was sitting, cleared his throat hard, and 
said: 

"There, there, it's all right, girls, go along now. 
Kagnhild, a minute." And then to Ragnhild, when the 
others had gone: "What was I going to say, now? 
you haven't moved some photos, have you, that were 
on the piano here ? I can't make out what's happened 
to them." 

Then Ragnhild spoke up well and with spirit and 

may Heaven bless her for the lie ! 

" I ? No, indeed, 'twas Fruen herself one day." 
"Oh? Well, well. I only wondered how it was 

they had gone." 

Relieved relieved the Captain was to hear it. 
As he was leaving he told Ragnhild to say I was not 
to go away from Ovrebo till he returned. 

XIV 

No, I did not go away. 

I worked on, tramped through the weariest days of 
my life to their end, and finished laying the pipes It 
was a bit of a change for us all on the place the 'first 
time we could draw water from a tap, and we were 
none the worse for something new to talk about for a 
while. 

Lars Falkenberg had left us. He and I had got rid 
)f all disagreement between us at the last, and were as 
we had been in the old days when we were mates and 
tramped the roads together. 

He was better off than many another, was Lars 
light of heart and empty of head ; and thereto uncon' 
scionably sound and strong. True, there would be no 
lore singing up at the house for him now or ever after 
but he seemed to have grown a trifle doubtful of his 
voice himself the last few years, and contented himself 
19 



290 WANDERERS 

now for the most part with the thing's he had sung 1 
once upon a time at dances and gentlefolk's parties. 
No, Lars Falkenberg was none so badly off. He'd his 
own little holding, with keep for two cows and a pig ; 
and a wife and children he had as well. 

But what were Grindhusen and I to turn our hands 
to now? I could go off wandering anywhere, but 
Grindhusen, good soul, was no wanderer. All he could 
do was to stay on at one place and work till he was 
dismissed. And when the stern decision came, he was 
so upset that he could not take it easily, but felt he was 
being specially hardly used. Then after a while he 
grew confident again, and full of a childlike trust not 
in himself, but in Fate, in Providence sat down 
resignedly, and said: "Ay, well, 'twill be all right, 
let's hope, with God's help." 

But he was happy enough. He settled down with 
marvellous ease at whatever place he came to, and 
could stay there till he died if it rested with himself. 
Home he need not go ; the children were grown up now, 
and his wife never troubled him. No, this red-haired 
old sinner of former days all he needed now was a 
place, and work. 

" Where are you going after this ? " he asked me. 
" A long way, up in the hills, to Trovatn, to a forest." 
He did not believe me in the least, but he answered 
quickly and evasively : 
"Ay, I dare say, yes." 

After we had finished the pipes, Nils sent Grindhusen 
and myself up cutting wood till the Captain returned. 
We cut up and stacked the top-ends the woodmen had 
left ; neat and steady work it was. 

"We'll be turned off, both of us," said Grindhusen, 
" when Captain comes, eh ? " 

"You might get work here for the winter," I said. 
"A thousand dozen battens means a lot of small stuff 



WANDERERS 291 

left over that you could saw up for a reasonable 
wage. " 

" Well, talk to the Captain about it," he said. 

And the hope of regular work for the winter made this 
man a contented soul. He could manage well enough. 
No, Grindhusen had nothing much to trouble about. 

But then there was myself. And I felt but little 
worth or use to myself now, Heaven help me ! 

That Sunday I wandered restlessly about. I was 
waiting for the Captain ; he was to be back to-day. To 
make sure of things as far as I could, I went for a long 
walk up along the stream that fed our reservoir. I 
wanted to have another look at the two little waters up 
the hillside "the sources of the Nile." 

Coming down on the way back, I met Lars Falken- 
berg; he was going home. The full moon was just 
coming up, red and huge, and turned things light all 
round. A touch of snow and frost there was, too ; it 
was easy breathing. Lars was in a friendly mood : 'he 
had been drinking Brandevin somewhere, and talked 
a great deal. But I was not altogether pleased at 
meeting him. 

I had stood there long up on the wooded hillside, 
listening to the soughing of earth and sky, and there 
was nothing else to hear. Then there might come a 
faint little rustling, a curled and shrunken leaf rolling 
and rustling down over the frozen branches. It was 
like the sound of a little spring. Then the soughing 
of earth and sky again. A gentleness came over me ; 
a mute was set on all my strings. 

Lars Falkenberg wanted to know where I had been 
and where I was going. Reservoir? A senseless 
business that reservoir thing. As if people couldn't 
carry water for themselves. The Captain went in too 
much for these new-fangled inventions and ploughing 



292 WANDERERS 

over standing crops and such-like ; he'd find himself 
landed one day. A rich harvest, they said. Ho, yes, 
but they never troubled to think what it must cost, with 
machines for this and that, and a pack of men to every 
machine again. What mustn't it have cost, now, for 
Grindhusen and me that summer ! And then himself 
this autumn. In the old days it had been music and 
plenty at 0vreb0, and some of us had been asked into 
the parlour to sing. "I'll say no more," said Lars. 
" And now there's hardly a sizable stick of timber left 
in the woods." 

"A few years' time and it'll be as thick as ever." 

"A few years ! A many years, you mean. No, it's 
not enough to go about being Captain and commanding 
brrrr! and there it is! And he's not even spokesman 
for the neighbours now, and you never see folk coming 
up now to ask him what he'd say was best to do in this 
or that. ..." 

"Did you see the Captain down below? Had he 
come back yet? " I broke in. 

" He's just come back. Looked like a skeleton, he 
did. What was I going to say? . . . When are you 
leaving? " 

" To-morrow," I said. 

" So soon? " Lars was all friendliness, and wishing 
me good luck now ; he had not thought I should be 
going off at once. 

"It's all a chance if I see you again this time," he 
said. " But I'll tell you this much, now : you'd do well 
to stop frittering your life away any more, and never 
staying on a place for good. And I say as much here 
and now, so mark my words. I dare say I haven't got 
on so grandly myself, but I don't know many of our likes 
have done better, and anyway not you. I've a roof over 
my head at the least, and a wife and children, and two 
cows one bears autumn and one spring and then a 



WANDERERS 293 

pig, and that's all I can say I own. So better not 
boast about that. But if you reckon it up, it amounts 
to a bit of a holding after all." 

" It's all very well for you, the way you've got on," 
said I. 

Lars is friendlier than ever after this appreciation ; 
he wishes me no end of good, and goes on : 

' There's none could get on better than yourself, for 
that matter. With the knack you've got for all kinds 
of work, and writing and figuring into the bargain, 
it's your own fault. You might have done as I 
told you these six, seven years ago, and taken one of 
the other girls on the place, like I did with Emma, and 
settled down here for good. Then you wouldn't be 
going about now from place to place. But I say the 
same again now." 

" It's too late," I answered. 

"Ay, you're terribly grey. I don't know who you 
could reckon to get now about here. How old are 
you now? " 

"Don't ask me !" 

"Not exactly a young one, perhaps, but still 

What was I going to say? Come up with me a little, 
and maybe I'll remember." 

I walked up, and Lars went on talking all the way 
He offered to put in a word for me with the Captain 
so I could get a clearing like he had. 

"Funny to go and forget a thing like that," he said. 
it s gone clean out of my head. But come up home 
now. I'll be sure to hit on it again." 

All friendliness he was now. But I had one or two 
things to do myself, and would not go farther. 
; ' You won't see the Captain to-night, anyway." 
No, but it was late. Emma would be in bed, and 
would only be a trouble. 

" Not a bit of it," said Lars. And if she has gone 



294 WANDERERS 

to bed, what of it? I shouldn't wonder, now, if there 
was a shirt of yours up there, too. Better come up 
and take it with you, and save Emma going all the 
way down herself." 

But I would not go up. I ventured, however, to 
send a greeting to Emma this time. 

"Ay, surely," said Lars. "And if so be as you 
haven't time to come up to my bit of a place now, why, 
there it is. You'll be going off first thing to-morrow, 
I suppose ? " 

It slipped my mind for the moment that I should not 
be able to see the Captain that evening, and I answered 
now that I should be leaving as early as could be. 

" Well, then, I'll send Emma down with that shirt of 
yours at once," said Lars. " And good luck to you. 
And don't forget what I said." 

And that was farewell to Lars. 

A little farther down I slackened my pace. After all, 
there was no real hurry about the few things I had to 
pack and finish off. I turned back and walked up 
again a little, whistling in the moonlight. It was a 
fine evening, not cold at all, only a soft, gentle calm 
all over the woods. Half an hour passed, and then 
to my surprise came Emma, bringing my shirt. 

Next morning neither Grindhusen nor I went to the 
woods. Grindhusen was uneasy. 

"Did you speak to the Captain about me?" he 
asked. 

" I haven't spoken to him." 

" Oh, I know he'll turn me off now, you see ! If he 
had any sense, he'd let me stay on to cut up all that 
cordwood. But what's he know about things? It's 
as much as he can manage to keep a man at all." 

"Why, what's this, Grindhusen? You seemed to 
like the Captain well enough before." 



WANDERERS 295 

"Oh yes, you know! Yes, of course. He's good 
enough, I dare say. H'm ! I wonder, now, if the 
Inspector down on the river mightn't have some little 
scrap of a job in my line. He's a man with plenty of 
money, is the Inspector." 

I saw the Captain at eight o'clock, and talked with 
him a while ; then a couple of neighbours came to 
call offering sympathy in his bereavement, no doubt. 
The Captain looked fatigued, but he was not a broken 
man by any means ; his manner was firm and steady 
enough. He spoke to me a little about a plan he had 
in mind for a big drying-house for hay and corn. 

No more of things awry now, at 0vreb0, no more 
emotion, no soul gone off the rails. I thought of it 
almost with sadness. No one to stick up impertinent 
photographs on the piano, but no one to play on that 
piano, either ; dumb now, it stands, since the last note 
sounded. No, for Fru Falkenberg is not here now ; 
she can do no more hurt to herself or any other. 
Nothing of all that used to be here now. Remains, 
then, to be seen if all will be flowers and joy at 0vrebo 
hereafter. 

"If only he doesn't take to drinking again," I said 
to Nils. 

"No, surely," he said. "And I don't believe he 
ever did. It was just a bit of foolery; if you ask me, 
his going on like that just for the time. But talking 
of something else will you be coming back here in 
the spring?" 

" No," I answered. " I shall not come again now." 

Then Nils and I took leave of each other. Well I 
remember that man's calm and fairness of mind ; I 
stood looking after him as he walked away across 
the yard. Then he turned round and said : 

"Were you up in the woods yesterday? Is there 
snow enough for me to take a sledge up for wood ? " 



296 WANDERERS 

" Yes," I answered. 

And he went off, relieved, to the stables, to harness up. 

Grindhusen, too, comes along, on the way to the 
stable. He stops for a moment to tell me that the 
Captain has himself offered him work cutting- wood. 
" ' Saw up all the small stuff you can,' he said ; ' keep 
at it for a while. I dare say we can agree all right 
about wages.' ' Honoured and thank you, Captain,' 
says I. ' Right! Go and tell Nils,' he says. Oh, but 
he's a grand open-handed sort, is the Captain ! There's 
not many of his like about." 

A little while after, I was sent for up to the Captain's 
room. He thanked me for the work I had done both 
indoors and out, and went on to settle up. And that 
was all, really. But he kept me there a little, asking 
one or two things about the drying-shed, and we 
talked over that for a bit. Anyhow it would have to 
wait till after Christmas, he said. But when the time 
came, he'd be glad to see me back. He looked me in 
the face then, and went on : 

" But you won't come back here again now, I 
suppose ? " 

I was taken by surprise. But I faced him squarely 
in return, and answered : 

"No." 

As I went down, I thought over what he had said. 
Had he seen through me, then? If so, he had shown 
a degree of trust in me that I was glad to think of. 
At least, he was a man of good feeling. 

Trust me? And why should he not? Played out 
and done with as I was. Suffered to go about and do 
and be as I pleased, by virtue of my eminent incapacity 
for harm. Yes, that was it. And, anyhow, there was 
nothing to see through after all. 

I went round, upstairs and down, saying good-bye to 
them all, to Ragnhild and the maids. Then, as I was 



WANDERERS 297 

coming in front of the house with my pack on my 
shoulder, the Captain called to me from the steps : 

" Wait ! I just thought if you're going to the 
station, the lad could drive you in." 

Thoughtful and considerate again! But I thanked 
him and declined. I was not so played out but that I 
could surely walk that way. 

Back in my little town again. And if I have come 
here now, it is because the place lies on my way to 
Trovatn, up in the hills. 

All is as it was before here now, save for thin ice 
on the river above and below the rapids, and snow 
on the ice again. 

I take care to buy clothes and equipment here in 
the town, and, having got a good pair of new shoes, I 
take my old ones to the cobbler to be half-soled. The 
cobbler is inclined to talk, and begs me to sit down. 
'And where's this man from, now?" he asks. In 
a moment I am enveloped by the spirit of the town. 

I walk up to the churchyard. Here, too, care has 
been taken to provide equipment for the winter. 
Bundles of straw have been fastened round plants and 
bushes ; many a delicate monument is protected by a 
tall wooden hood. And the hoods again armoured 
with a coat of paint. As if some provident soul had 
thought: Well, now, I have this funeral monument 
here; with proper care it may be made to last for 
generations ! 

There is a Christmas Fair on, too, and I stroll along 
to see. Here are ski and toboggans, butter scoops 
and log chairs from the underworld, rose-coloured 
mittens, clothes' rollers, foxes' skins. And here are 
horse-dealers and drovers mingling with drunken folk 
from up the valley. Jews there are, too, anxious to 
palm off a gaudy watch or so, for all there is no money 



298 WANDERERS 

in the town. And the watches come from that country 
up in the Alps, where Bocklin did not come from ; 
where nothing and nobody ever came from. 

But in the evening there is brave entertainment for 
all. Two dancing-halls there are, and the music is 
supplied by masters on the hardingfele, and wonderful 
music it is, to be sure. There are iron strings to it, 
and it utters no empty phrases, but music with a sting 
in its tail. It acts differently upon different people : 
some find it rich in national sweetness ; some of us 
are rather constrained to grit our teeth and howl in 
melancholy wise. Never was stinging music delivered 
with more effect. 

The dance goes on. 

In one of the intervals the schoolmaster sings 
touching verses about an 

"ag-ed mother, worn with toil 
And sweating as 'twere blood. ..." 

But some of the wild youths insist on dancing and 
nothing else. What's this ! Start singing, when 
they're standing here with the girls all ready to dance 
it's not proper ! The singer stops, and meets the 
protest in broadest dialect: What? Not proper? 
Why, it's by Vinje himself! Heated discussion, pro 
and contra, arguing and shouting. Never were verses 
sung with more effect. 

The dance goes on. 

The girls from the valley are armoured five layers 
thick, but who cares for that ! All are used to hard 
work. And the dance goes on ay, the thunder goes 
on. Brcendevin helps things bravely along. The 
witches' cauldron is fairly steaming now. At three in 
the morning the local police force appears, and knocks 
on the floor with his stick. Finis. The dancers go off 
in the moonlight, and spread out near and far. And 



WANDERERS 299 

nine months later, the girls from the valley show proof 
that after all they were one layer of armour short. 
Never was such an effect of being one layer short. 

The river is quieter now not much of a river to look 
at : the winter is come upon it now. It drives the mills 
and works that stand on its banks, for, in spite of all, 
it is and will be a great river still, but it shows no life. 
It has shut down the lid on itself. 

And the rapids have suffered, too. And I who stood 
watching them once and listening, and thought to 
myself if one lived down there in the roar of it for ever, 
what would one's brain be like at last ? But now the 
rapids are dwindled, and murmur faintly. It would be 
shame to call it a roar. Herregud! 'tis no more than 
a ruin of what it was. Sunk into poverty, great rocks 
thrust up all down the channel, with here and there 
a stick of timber hung up thwart and slantwise ; one 
could cross dry-shod by way of stick and stone. 

I have done all I have to do in the town, and my 
pack is on my shoulders. It is Sunday, and a fine 
clear day. 

I look in at the hotel, to see the porter ; he is going 
with me a bit of the way up the river. The great 
good-hearted fellow offers to carry my things as if 
I could not carry them myself. 

We go up along the right bank, but the road itself 
lies on the left ; the way we are taking is only a 
summer path, trodden only by the lumbermen, and 
with some few fresh tracks in the snow. My com- 
panion cannot make out why we do not follow the 
road : he was always dull of wit ; but I have been up 
this path twice before these last few days, and I am 
going up it once again. It is my own tracks we can 
see all the time. 

I question him : 



300 WANDERERS 

"That lady you told me about once the one that 
was drowned was it somewhere about here ? " 

"Eh? Oh, the one that fell in! Yes. Ay, it was 
close by here. Dreadful it was. There must have 
been twenty of us here, with the police, searching 
about." 

" Dragging the channel ? " 

"Yes. We got out planks and ladders, but they 
broke through under us ; we cut up all the ice in the 
end. Here" he stopped suddenly "you can see 
the way we went." 

I can see the dark space where the boats had 
moved out and broken through the ice to drag the 
depth ; it was frozen over again now. 

The porter goes on : 

"We found her at last. And a mercy it was, I 
dare say, the river was low as it was. Gone right 
down at once, she had, and got stuck fast between 
two stones. There was no current to speak of; if it 
had been spring, now, she'd have travelled a long 
way down." 

" Trying to cross to the other side, I suppose ? " 

" Ay. They're always getting out on the ice as 
soon as it comes ; a nasty way it is. Somebody had 
been over already, but that was two days before. She 
just came walking down on this side where we are, 
and the engineer, he was coming down the road on the 
other side he'd been out on his bicycle somewhere. 
Then they caught sight of each other and waved or 
made a sign or something, for they were cousins or 
something, both of them. Then the lady must have 
mistaken him somehow, the engineer says, and thought 
he was beckoning, for she started to come across. He 
shouted at her not to, but she didn't hear, and he'd [got 
his bicycle and couldn't move, but, anyhow, someone 
had got across before. The engineer told the police 



WANDERERS 30 1 

all about how it happened, and it was written down, 
every word. Well, and then when she's half-way 
across, she goes down. A rotten piece of ice it must 
have been where she trod. And the engineer, he 
comes down like lightning on his bicycle through the 
town and up to the hotel and starts ringing. I never 
heard the like, the way he rang. < There's someone in 
the river ! ' he cries out. My cousin's fallen in ! ' Out 
we went, and he came along with us. We'd ropes and 
boat-hooks, but that was no use. The police came 
soon after, and the fire brigade ; they got hold of a 
boat up there and carried it between them till they got 
to us ; then they got it out and started searching about 
with the drag. We didn't find her the first day, but 
the day after. Ay, a nasty business, that it was." 
" And her husband came, you said. The Captain ? " 
; 'Yes, the Captain, he came. And you can reckon 
for yourself the state he was in. And we were all the 
same, for that matter, all the town was. The engineer, 
he was out of his senses for a long while, so they told 
us at the hotel, and when the Captain arrived, the 
engineer went off inspecting up the river, just because 
he couldn't bear to talk any more about it." 
' So the Captain didn't see him, then? " 
" No. H'm ! Nay, I don't know,".^aid the porter, 
looking around. No, I don't know anything about 
that no." 

His answer was so confused, it was evident that he 
did know. But it was of no importance, and I did not 
question him again. 

"Well, thanks for coming up with me," I said, and 
shared a little money with him for a winter wrap or 
something of the sort. And I took leave of him, and 
wanted him to turn back. 

He seemed anxious, however, to go on with me a 
ttle farther. And, to get me to agree, he suddenly 



302 WANDERERS 

confesses that the Captain had seen the engineer while 
he was here yes. The porter, good foolish creature, 
had understood enough of the maids' gossip in the 
kitchen to make out that there was something wrong 
about the engineer and this cousin of his who had 
come to stay ; more than this, however, he had not 
seen. But, as regards the meeting between the two 
men, it was he himself who had acted as guide to the 
Captain on his way up to find the engineer. 

" He said he must find him, and so we went up 
together. And the Captain, he asked me on the way, 
what could there be to inspect up the river now it was 
frozen over? And I couldn't see myself, I told him. 
And so we walked up all day to about three or four in 
the afternoon. ' We might see if he's not in the hut 
here,' I said, for I'd heard the lumbermen used the 
place. Then the Captain wouldn't let me go on with 
him any farther, but told me to wait. And he walked 
up to the hut by himself, and went in. He'd not been 
in the place more than a bare couple of minutes, when 
out he comes, and the engineer with him. There was 
a word or so between them I didn't hear ; then all of 
a sudden the Captain flings up one arm like that, and 
lands out at the engineer, and down he goes. Lord ! 
but he must have felt it pretty badly. And not content 
with that, he picks him up and lands out at him again 
as hard as before. Then he came back to me and said 
we'd be going home." 

I grew thoughtful at this. It seemed strange that 
this porter, a creature who bore no grudge or ill-will to 
anyone, should leave the engineer up there at the hut 
without aid. And he had shown no disapproval in his 
telling of the thrashing. The engineer must have been 
miserly with him, too, I thought, and never paid him 
for his services, but only ordered him about and laughed 
at him, puppy that he was. That would be it, no 



WANDERERS 303 

doubt. And this time, perhaps, I was not misled by 
jealous feelings of my own. 

"But the Captain he was free with his money, if 
you like," said the porter at last. " I paid off all my 
owings with what he gave me ay, indeed I did." 

When at last I had got rid of the man, I crossed the 
river; the ice was firm enough. I was on the main 
road now. And I walked on, thinking over the porter's 
story. That scene at the hut what did it amount to, 
after all ? It merely showed that one of the two men 
was big and strong, the other a little, would-be sports- 
man heavily built behind. But the Captain was an 
officer it was something of that sort, perhaps, he had 
been thinking. Perhaps he ought to have thought a 
little more in other ways while there was yet time who 
can say? It was his wife who had been drowned. 
The Captain might do what he pleased now ; she would 
never come again. 

But if she did, what then? She was born to her 
fate, no doubt. Husband and wife had tried to patch 
up the damage, but had failed. I remember her as she 
was six or seven years back. She found life dull, and 
fell in love a trifle here and there perhaps, even then 
but she was faithful and delicate-minded. And time 
went on. She had no occupation, but had three maid- 
servants to her house ; she had no children, but she 
had a piano. But she had no children. 

And Life can afford to waste. 

Mother and child it was that went down. 



EPILOGUE 

A WANDERER plays with muted strings when 
he comes to fifty years. Then he plays with 
muted strings. 

Or I might put it this way. 

If he comes too late for the harvest of berries in 
autumn, why, he is come too late, that is all ; and if 
one fine day he finds he can no longer be gay and 
laugh all over his face in delight of life, 'tis because he 
is old, no doubt ; blame him not for that ! And there 
can be no doubt that it requires a certain vacuity of 
mind to go about feeling permanently contented with 
oneself and all else. But we have all our softer 
moments. A prisoner is being driven to the scaffold 
in a cart. A nail in the seat irks him ; he shifts aside 
a little, and feels more at ease. 

A Captain should not pray that God may forgive him 
as he forgives his God. It is simply theatrical. A 
wanderer who cannot reckon every day on food and 
drink, clothes and boots, and house and home, feels 
just the right degree of privation when all these luxuries 
are lacking. If you cannot manage one way, why, 
there will be another. But if the other way should 
also fail, then one does not forgive one's God, but 
takes up the responsibility oneself. Shoulder against 
what comes that is, bow to it. A trifle hard for 
flesh and blood, and it greys a man's hair sadly. 
But a wanderer thanks God for life ; it was good 
to live! 



WANDERERS 3 o 5 

I might put it that way. 

For why these high demands on life? What hav* 
we earned? All the boxes of sweetmeats a sweet 
tooth could wish for? Well and good. But Tave 
we not had the world to look upon each day, and 
the soughmg of the woods to hear? There is nothing 

wood" m aU the W rld aS that V ice 



There was a scent of jasmine in a shrubbery, and one 
I know thnlled with joy, not for the jasmines' seen"! 
but for all there was-for the light in a window a 
memo,* the whole of life. He wi called awayfrom 

but he had been paid 



And so it is ; the mere grace that we are given life 
at a generous payment in advance for all the miseries 
life for every one of them. 
No, do not think we have the right to more sweet- 



at anyone who can be so comical. I remember e 

fire Thi T *** "" ""' " hiS '" He S ' arted ' *V* 
in his stove at noon, and by evening he got it to 

leave 



ed 

bed, but sat there till other people got up, lest 

WaSted ' A N rWegian ^ f - 
I have wandered about a good deal in my time and 

n hTnT, 00 " Sh n W ' and Ut of blo - But I do 
not hold the perverse belief of old men 



vse t ow 

Ufc ft is n a t S r deCrepitude - If I 'hank God for 

te, ,1 ,s not by v.rtue of any riper wisdom that ha- 
come to me with age, but because I have a,ways take" 



306 WANDERERS 

a pleasure in life. Age gives no riper wisdom ; age 
gives nothing but age. 

I was too late for the berries this year, but I am 
going up that way all the same. I am allowing myself 
this little treat, by way of reward for having worked 
well this summer. And 1 reached my goal on the I2th 
of December. 

It is true, no doubt, that I might have stayed down 
among the villages. I could have managed somehow, 
no doubt, as did all the others who had found it time 
to settle down. And Lars Falkenberg, my colleague 
and mate, he had urged me to take up a holding with 
keep for a wife and two cows and a pig. A friend's 
advice ; vox populi. And then, why, one of the cows 
might be an ox to ride, a means of transport for my 
shivering age ! But it came to naught it came to 
naught ! My wisdom has not come with age ; here am 
I going up to Trovatn and the waste lands to live in a 
wooden hut ! 

What pleasure can there be in that? At, Lars Fal- 
kenberg, and ai, everyone else, have no fear ; I have a 
man to come up with things I need. 

So I drift about and about by myself, looking after 
myself, living alone. I miss that seal of Bishop Pavel's. 
One of his descendants gave it to me, and I had it in 
my waistcoat pocket this summer, but, looking for it 
now, I find I have lost it. Well, well ; but, anyhow, I 
have been paid in advance for that mishap, in having 
owned it once. 

But I do not feel the want of books to read. 

The 1 2th of December I can keep a date in mind, 
and carelessly forget things more important. It is 
only just now I remember about the books that Captain 
Falkenberg and his wife had many books in their 



WANDERERS 307 

house novels and plays a whole bookcase full. I 
saw it one day when I was painting windows and doors 
at 0vreb0. Whole series of authors they had, and 
authors' whole series thirty books. Why the whole 
series ? I do not know. Books one, two, three, ten, 
thirty. They had come out each Christmas novels, 
thirty volumes the same novel. They read them, no 
doubt, the Captain and his wife ; knew every time what 
they should find in the poets of the home ; there was 
always such a lot about all coming right in the end. 
So they read them, no doubt. How should I know? 
Heavens, what a host of books ! Two men could not 
shift the bookcase when I wanted to paint behind ; it 
took three men and a cook to move it. One of the 
men was Grindhusen ; he flushed under the weight of 
those poets of the home, and said: "I can't see what 
folk want with such a mighty crowd of books ! " 

Grindhusen ! As if he knew anything about it ! The 
Captain and his wife had all those books, no doubt, 
that none should be lacking; there they were all 
complete. It would make a gap to take away a single 
one; they were paired each with the rest, uniform 
poetry, the same story throughout. 

An elk-hunter has been up here with me in the hut. 
Nothing much ; and his dog was an ill-tempered brute. 
I was glad when he went on again. He took down 
my copper saucepan from the wall, and used it for his 
cooking, and left it black with soot. 

It is not my copper saucepan, but was here in the 
hut, left by someone who was here before. I only 
rubbed it with ashes and hung it up on the wall as a 
weather-guide for myself. I am rubbing it up again 
now, for it is a good thing to have; it turns dim 
unfailingly when there is rain or snow coming on. 

If Ragnhild had been here, now, she would have 



308 WANDERERS 

polished up that saucepan herself. But then, again, 1 
tell myself, I would rather see to my own weather- 
guides ; Ragnhild can find something else to do. And 
if this place up in the woods were our clearing, then 
she would have the children, and the cows, and the 
pig. But my copper things I prefer to do myself, 
Ragnhild. 

I remember a lady, the mistress of a house : she 
did no work at all, and saw to nothing, least of all to 
herself. And ill she fared in the end. But six or seven 
years back I had never believed anyone could be so 
delicate and lovely to another as she. I drove her once, 
upon a journey, and she was shy with me, although 
she was a lady, and above me. She blushed and 
looked down. And the strange thing was that she 
made me feel a kind of shyness myself, although I was 
only her servant. Only by looking at me with her two 
eyes when she spoke to me, she showed me treasures 
and beauty beyond what I knew before ; I remember it 
still. Ay, here I sit, remembering it yet, and I shake 
my head and say to myself how strange it was how 
strange ! And then she died. And what more ? Nothing 
more. I am still here, but she is gone. But I should 
not grieve at her death. I had been paid beforehand, 
surely, for that loss, in that she looked at me with her 
two eyes a thing beyond my deserts. Ay, so it must be. 

Woman what do the sages know of woman ? 

I know a sage, and he wrote of woman. Wrote of 
woman in thirty volumes of uniform theatre-poetry : I 
counted the volumes once in a big bookcase. And at 
last he wrote of the woman who left her own children 
to go in search of the wonderful ! But what, then, 
were the children ? Oh, it was comical : a wanderer 
laughs at anything so comical. 

What does the sage know of woman ? 

To begin with, he was not a sage at all till he grew 



WANDERERS 309 

old, and all he knew of woman then was from memory. 
But then, again, he can have no memory of her, seeing 
he never knew her. The man who has an aptitude for 
wisdom busies himself jealously with his little aptitude 
and nothing else ; cultivates and cherishes it ; holds it 
forth and lives for it. We do not turn to woman for 
wisdom. The four wisest heads in the world, who 
have delivered their findings on the subject of woman, 
simply sat and invented her out of their own heads- 
octogenarians young or old they were, that rode on 
oxen. They knew nothing of woman in holiness, 
woman in sweetness, woman as an indispensable, but 
they wrote and wrote about her. Think of it ! Without 
finding her. 

Heaven save me from growing wise! And I will 
mumble the same to my last turn: Heaven save me 
from growing wise ! 

Just cold enough now for a little outing I have had in 
mind : the snow-peaks lie rosy in the sun, and my 
copper saucepan points to fair. It is eight in the 
morning. 

Knapsack and a good stock of food, an extra lashing 
in my pocket in case anything should break, and a note 
on the table for the man with supplies in case he should 
come up while I am away. 

Oh, but I have been showing off nicely all to myself: 
pretending I was going far, and needed to equip 
myself with care, had occasion for all my presence of 
mind and endurance. A man can show off like that 
when he is going far ; but I am not. I have no errand 
anywhere, and nothing calls me ; I am only a wanderer 
setting forth from a hut, and coming back to it again ; 
it does not matter where I am. 

It is quiet and empty in the woods ; all things deep 
in snow, holding their breath as I come. At noon, 



310 WANDERERS 

looking back from a hill, I can see Trovatn far behind ; 
white and flat it lies, a stretch of chalk, a desert of 
snow. After a meal I go on again, higher and higher, 
nearing the fjeld now, but slowly and thoughtfully, 
with hands in my pockets. There is no hurry ; I have 
only to find a shelter for the night. Later on in the 
afternoon I sit down again to eat, as if I needed a meal 
and had earned it. But it is only for something to do ; 
my hands are idle, and my brain inclined to fancies. 
It gets dark early : well to find a sheltered cleft in the 
hillside here ; there are fallen firs enough lying about 
for a fire. 

Such are the things I tell of now, playing with muted 
strings. 

I was out early next morning, as soon as it began to 
get light. A quiet, warm snowfall came on, and there 
was a soughing in the air. Bad weather coming, I 
thought to myself; but who could have foreseen it? 
Neither I nor my weather-guide looked for it twenty- 
four hours ago. 

I left my shelter and went on again over moor and 
heath ; full day again now, and snowing. It was not 
the best of shelters I had found for the night : passably 
soft and dry, with branches of fir to lie on, and I had 
not felt the cold, but the smoke from my fire drifted in 
over me and troubled my breathing. 

But now, this afternoon, I found a better place a 
spacious and elegant cave with walls and roof complete. 
Room here for me and my fire, and the smoke went up. 
I nodded at this, and decided to settle down here, 
though it was early yet, and still quite light ; I could 
distinctly make out the hills and valleys and rocks on a 
naked fjeld straight ahead some few hours' march away. 
But I nodded, as if I had reached my goal, and set to 
work gathering firewood and bedding for the night. 

I felt so thoroughly at home here. It was not for 



WANDERERS 311 

nothing- I nodded and took off my knapsack. "Was 
this the place you were making for ? " I say, talking to 
myself in jest. ' < Yes, " I answer. 

The soughing in the air grew stronger ; it was not 
snow that was falling now, but rain. Strange a great 
wet rainfall down over the cave, over all the trees 
outside, and yet it was the cold Christmas month- 
December. A heat-wave had taken it into its head to 
visit us. 

It rained and rained that night, and there was a 
soughing all through the trees outside. It was like 
spring ; it filled my sleep at last with so rich an ease, 
that I slept on sound and deep till it was broad day. 
Ten o'clock. 

The rain has ceased, but it is still warm. I sit 
looking out of the cave, and listening to the bend and 
whisper of the trees. Then a stone breaks loose on 
the fjeld opposite ; it butts against a rock and brings 
that down as well ; a few faint thuds are heard. Then 
a rumble: I see what is happening, and the sound 
echoes within me; the rock loosened other rocks, an 
avalanche goes thundering down the mountain-side, 
snow and earth and boulders, leaving a smoky cloud in 
its wake. The stream of rubble seems in a living rage ; 
t thrusts its way on, tearing down other masses with 
it, crowding, pouring, pouring, fills up a chasm in the 
valley and stops. The last few boulders settle slowly 
to rest, and then no more ; the thunder over, there is 
silence, and within myself is only a breathing as of a 
slowly descending bass. 

And so I sit once more, listening to the soughing of 
the woods. Is it the beating of the ^Egean Sea that I 
can hear, or the waters of Glimma? I grow weak with 
listening ; memories well up within me from my life a 
thousand joys, music, the glance of the eye flowers. 
There is no splendour like the soughing of the woods ; 



3 1 2 WANDERERS 

it is like swinging, rocking a madness ; Uganda, 
Antananarivo, Honolulu, Atacama, Venezuela. 

But it is all the years, no doubt, that make me so 
weak, and my nerves that join in the sounds I hear. I get 
up and stand by the fire to get over it ; now I think of 
it, I feel I could talk to the fire a little, make a speech 
to the dying fire. I am in a fire-proof house here, and 
the acoustic conditions are good. H'm ! 

Then the cave is darkened ; it is the elk-hunter again 
with his dog. 

It begins to freeze as I trudge along homeward to 
my hut. The frost soon hardens the ground, moor 
and heath, making it easy walking. I trudge along 
slowly and carelessly, hands in my pockets. There is 
no hurry now ; it matters little where I am. 



PRINTED BY MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH 



Other Works by KNUT HAMSUN 

(Norwegian) 
(NOBEL PRIZE, 1920) 

Translated by W. WORSTER, M.A. 

PAN 

A Love Story 

Crown Svo Cloth 75. 6d. net 

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' Growth of the Soil ' has already won. . . . The introduction of a 
new note into our literature . . . an extraordinary fascination." 

Daily Telegraph. 

A great novel ... a merciless piece of self-revelation . . . 
a book that has few equals in any literature." Evening Standard. 

"Simple and powerful . . . strong and absorbing in its insight 
into the vital springs of human passion." Scotsman. 

"This beautiful work." Glasgow Herald. 

" A love^ story of a most unusual type, with a rare, wistful charm 
. . . a book which no reader should miss." Weekly Dispatch. 

" Is marked by flashes of rare poetic beauty ... a wonderful bit of 
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. . . a draught of intellectual wine. A gem." Sportsman. 
"A great treat, like a bottle of rare old wine discovered at an inn." 

Ladies' Field. 
'A skilful piece of diversion, with touches of sober poetic beauty." 

Observer. 

"... altogether fresh and delightful." Daily News. 

" A charming comedy, humorous and natural . . . may delight the 
taste of an epicure." Liverpool Daily Post. 

"Quite charming . . . written with the hand of one to whom 
human feeling is precious." Manchester Guardian. 

"A masterpiece." Scotsman. 



A POPULAR EDITION OF 

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" Hamsun . . . has the godlike qualities that belong to the very great." 

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"... indescribably calm and tremendous ... so entirely human, 
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" New novels of lasting value have been very rare of late. Here, 
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THE MIRACLES OF 
CLARA VAN HAAG 

By JOHANNES BUCHHOLTZ (Danish) 

Translated by W. WORSTER, M.A. 

Crown %vo Cloth 8s. 6d. net 

"Powerful," " admirable," "remarkable," "weird 
and amusing," "strikingly interesting," "great 
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In the present work the author gives us the fantastic 
humour and remarkable insight of the first, with a new 
and delightful creation of particular charm in the figure 
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Readers who have already become acquainted with 
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