A Happy Boy
One afternoon later in the summer, as his mother and a girl were raking hay,
while Oyvind and his father were carrying it in, there came a little barefooted and
bareheaded boy, skipping down the hill-side and across the meadows to Oyvind,
and gave him a note.
"You run well, my boy," said Oyvind.
"I am paid for it," answered the boy.
On being asked if he was to have an answer, the reply was No; and the boy took
his way home over the cliff, for some one was coming after him up on the road,
he said. Oyvind opened the note with some difficulty, for it was folded in a strip,
then tied in a knot, then sealed and stamped; and the note ran thus:--
"He is now on the march; but he moves slowly. Run into the woods and hide
yourself! THE ONE YOU KNOW."
"I will do no such thing," thought Oyvind; and gazed defiantly up the hills. Nor did
he wait long before an old man appeared on the hill-top, paused to rest, walked
on a little, rested again. Both Thore and his wife stopped to look. Thore soon
smiled, however; his wife, on the other hand, changed color.
"Do you know him?"
"Yes, it is not very easy to make a mistake here."
Father and son again began to carry hay; but the latter took care that they were
always together. The old man on the hill slowly drew near, like a heavy western
storm. He was very tall and rather corpulent; he was lame and walked with a
labored gait, leaning on a staff. Soon he came so near that they could see him
distinctly; he paused, removed his cap and wiped away the perspiration with a
handkerchief. He was quite bald far back on the head; he had a round, wrinkled
face, small, glittering, blinking eyes, bushy eyebrows, and had lost none of his
teeth. When he spoke it was in a sharp, shrill voice, that seemed to be hopping
over gravel and stones; but it lingered on an "r" here and there with great
satisfaction, rolling it over for several yards, and at the same time making a
tremendous leap in pitch. He had been known in his younger days as a lively but
quick-tempered man; in his old age, through much adversity, he had become
irritable and suspicious.
Thore and his son came and went many times before Ole could make his way to
them; they both knew that he did not come for any good purpose, therefore it was
all the more comical that he never got there. Both had to walk very serious, and