Tales From Two Hemispheres
Truls, The Nameless
HE was born in the houseman's lodge; she in the great mansion. He did not
know who his father was; she was the daughter of Grim of Skogli, and she was
the only daughter he had. They were carried to baptism on the same day, and he
was called Truls, because they had to call him something; she received the name
of Borghild, because that had been the name of every eldest born daughter in the
family for thirty generations. They both cried when the pastor poured the water
on their heads; his mother hushed him, blushed, and looked timidly around her;
but the woman who carried Borghild lifted her high up in her arms so that
everybody could see her, and the pastor smiled benignly, and the parishioners
said that they had never seen so beautiful a child. That was the way in which
they began life--he as a child of sin, she as the daughter of a mighty race.
They grew up together. She had round cheeks and merry eyes, and her lips were
redder than the red rose. He was of slender growth, his face was thin and pale,
and his eyes had a strange, benumbed gaze, as if they were puzzling
themselves with some sad, life-long riddle which they never hoped to solve. On
the strand where they played the billows came and went, and they murmured
faintly with a sound of infinite remoteness. Borghild laughed aloud, clapped her
hands and threw stones out into the water, while he sat pale and silent, and saw
the great white-winged sea-birds sailing through the blue ocean of the sky.
"How would you like to live down there in the deep green water?" she asked him
one day, as they sat watching the eider-ducks which swam and dived, and stood
on their heads among the sea-weeds.
"I should like it very well," he answered, "if you would follow me."
"No, I won't follow you," she cried. "It is cold and wet down in the water. And I
should spoil the ribbons on my new bodice. But when I grow up and get big and
can braid my hair, then I shall row with the young lads to the church yonder on
the headland, and there the old pastor will marry me, and I shall wear the big
silver crown which my mother wore when she was married."
"And may I go with you?" asked he, timidly.
"Yes, you may steer my boat and be my helmsman, or--you may be my
bridegroom, if you would like that better."
"Yes, I think I should rather be your bridegroom," and he gave her a long, strange
look which almost frightened her.
The years slipped by, and before Borghild knew it, she had grown into
womanhood. The down on Truls's cheeks became rougher, and he, too, began to
suspect that he was no longer a boy. When the sun was late and the breeze
murmured in the great, dark-crowned pines, they often met by chance, at the
well, on the strand, or on the saeter-green. And the oftener they met the more
they found to talk about; to be sure, it was she who did the talking, and he looked
at her with his large wondering eyes and listened. She told him of the lamb which
had tumbled down over a steep precipice and still was unhurt, of the baby who
pulled the pastor's hair last Sunday during the baptismal ceremony, or of the
lumberman, Lars, who drank the kero- sene his wife gave him for brandy, and