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A Happy Boy

CHAPTER VII.
The school-master had judged the boy correctly when he asked the priest to try
whether Oyvind could bear to stand number one. During the three weeks which
elapsed before the confirmation, he was with the boy every day. It is one thing for
a young, tender soul to yield to an impression; what through faith it shall attain is
another thing. Many dark hours fell upon Oyvind before he learned to choose the
goal of his future from something better than ambition and defiance. Often in the
midst of his work he lost his interest and stopped short: what was it all for, what
would he gain by it?--and then presently he would remember the school-master,
his words and his kindness; and this human medium forced him to rise up again
every time he fell from a comprehension of his higher duty.
In those days while they were preparing at Pladsen for the confirmation, they
were also preparing for Oyvind's departure for the agricultural school, for this was
to take place the following day. Tailor and shoemaker were sitting in the family-
room; the mother was baking in the kitchen, the father working at a chest. There
was a great deal said about what Oyvind would cost his parents in the next two
years; about his not being able to come home the first Christmas, perhaps not
the second either, and how hard it would be to be parted so long. They spoke
also of the love Oyvind should bear his parents who were willing to sacrifice
themselves for their child's sake. Oyvind sat like one who had tried sailing out
into the world on his own responsibility, but had been wrecked and was now
picked up by kind people.
Such is the feeling that humility gives, and with it comes much more. As the great
day drew near he dared call himself prepared, and also dared look forward with
trustful resignation. Whenever Marit's image would present itself, he cautiously
thrust it aside, although he felt a pang in so doing. He tried to gain practice in
this, but never made any progress in strength; on the contrary, it was the pain
that grew. Therefore he was weary the last evening, when, after a long self-
examination, he prayed that the Lord would not put him to the test in this matter.
The school-master came as the day was drawing to a close. They all sat down
together in the family-room, after washing and dressing themselves neat and
clean, as was customary the evening before going to communion, or morning
service. The mother was agitated, the father silent; parting was to follow the
morrow's ceremony, and it was uncertain when they could all sit down together
again. The school-master brought out the hymn-books, read the service, sang
with the family, and afterwards said a short prayer, just as the words came into
his mind.
These four people now sat together until late in the evening, the thoughts of each
centering within; then they parted with the best wishes for the coming day and
 
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