A Happy Boy
Of Oyvind's further progress until a year before confirmation there is not much to
report. He studied in the morning, worked through the day, and played in the
As he had an unusually sprightly disposition, it was not long before the
neighboring children fell into the habit of resorting in their playtime to where he
was to be found. A large hill sloped down to the bay in front of the place,
bordered by the cliff on one side and the wood on the other, as before described;
and all winter long, on pleasant evenings and on Sundays, this served as
coasting-ground for the parish young folks. Oyvind was master of the hill, and he
owned two sleds, "Fleet-foot" and "Idler;" the latter he loaned out to larger
parties, the former he managed himself, holding Marit on his lap.
The first thing Oyvind did in those days on awaking, was to look out and see
whether it was thawing, and if it was gray and lowering over the bushes beyond
the bay, or if he heard a dripping from the roof, he was long about dressing, as
though there were nothing to be accomplished that day. But if he awoke,
especially on a Sunday, to crisp, frosty, clear weather, to his best clothes and no
work, only catechism or church in the morning, with the whole afternoon and
evening free--heigh! then the boy made one spring out of bed, donned his
clothes in a hurry as if for a fire, and could scarcely eat a mouthful. As soon as
afternoon had come, and the first boy on skees drew in sight along the road-side,
swinging his guide-pole above his head and shouting so that echoes resounded
through the mountain-ridges about the lake; and then another on the road on a
sled, and still another and another,--off started Oyvind with "Fleet-foot," bounded
down the hill, and stopped among the last-comers, with a long, ringing shout that
pealed from ridge to ridge all along the bay, and died away in the far distance.
Then he would look round for Marit, but when she had come he payed no further
attention to her.
At last there came a Christmas, when Oyvind and Marit might be about sixteen or
seventeen, and were both to be confirmed in the spring. The fourth day after
Christmas there was a party at the upper Heidegards, at Marit's grandparents',
by whom she had been brought up, and who had been promising her this party
for three years, and now at last had to give it during the holidays. Oyvind was
invited to it.
It was a somewhat cloudy evening but not cold; no stars could be seen; the next
day must surely bring rain. There blew a sleepy wind over the snow, which was
swept away here and there on the white Heidefields; elsewhere it had drifted.
Along the part of the road where there was but little snow, were smooth sheets of
ice of a blue-black hue, lying between the snow and the bare field, and glittering