A Happy Boy
The next morning, when Oyvind opened his eyes, it was from a long, refreshing
sleep and happy dreams. Marit had been lying on the cliff, throwing leaves down
on him; he had caught them and tossed them back again, so they had gone up
and down in a thousand colors and forms; the sun was shining, and the whole
cliff glittered beneath its rays. On awaking Oyvind looked around to find them all
gone; then he remembered the day before, and the burning, cruel pain in his
heart began at once. "This, I shall never be rid of again," thought he; and there
came over him a feeling of indifference, as though his whole future had dropped
away from him.
"Why, you have slept a long time," said his mother, who sat beside him spinning.
"Get up now and eat your breakfast; your father is already in the forest cutting
Her voice seemed to help him; he rose with a little more courage. His mother was
no doubt thinking of her own dancing days, for she sat singing to the sound of the
spinning-wheel, while he dressed himself and ate his breakfast. Her humming
finally made him rise from the table and go to the window; the same dullness and
depression he had felt before took possession of him now, and he was forced to
rouse himself, and think of work. The weather had changed, there had come a
little frost into the air, so that what yesterday had threatened to fall in rain, to-day
came down as sleet. Oyvind put on his snow-socks, a fur cap, his sailor's jacket
and mittens, said farewell, and started off, with his axe on his shoulder.
Snow fell slowly, in great, wet flakes; he toiled up over the coasting hill, in order
to turn into the forest on the left. Never before, winter or summer, had he climbed
this hill without recalling something that made him happy, or to which he was
looking forward. Now it was a dull, weary walk. He slipped in the damp snow, his
knees were stiff, either from the party yesterday or from his low spirits; he felt that
it was all over with the coasting-hill for that year, and with it, forever. He longed
for something different as he threaded his way in among the tree-trunks, where
the snow fell softly. A frightened ptarmigan screamed and fluttered a few yards
away, but everything else stood as if awaiting a word which never was spoken.
But what his aspirations were, he did not distinctly know, only they concerned
nothing at home, nothing abroad, neither pleasure nor work; but rather something
far above, soaring upward like a song. Soon all became concentrated in one
defined desire, and this was to be confirmed in the spring, and on that occasion
to be number one. His heart beat wildly as he thought of it, and before he could
yet hear his father's axe in the quivering little trees, this wish throbbed within him
with more intensity than anything he had known in all his life.