A Happy Boy
Several years have passed since the last scene.
It is well on in the autumn. The school-master comes walking up to Nordistuen,
opens the outer door, finds no one at home, opens another, finds no one at
home; and thus he keeps on until he reaches the innermost room in the long
building. There Ole Nordistuen is sitting alone, by the side of his bed, his eyes
fixed on his hands.
The school-master salutes him, and receives a greeting in return; he finds a
stool, and seats himself in front of Ole.
"You have sent for me," he says.
The school-master takes a fresh quid of tobacco, glances around the room, picks
up a book that is lying on the bench, and turns over the leaves.
"What did you want of me?"
"I was just sitting here thinking it over."
The school-master gives himself plenty of time, searches for his spectacles in
order to read the title of the book, wipes them and puts them on.
"You are growing old, now, Ole."
"Yes, it was about that I wanted to talk with you. I am tottering downward; I will
soon rest in the grave."
"You must see to it that you rest well there, Ole."
He closes the book and sits looking at the binding.
"That is a good book you are holding in your hands."
"It is not bad. How often have you gone beyond the cover, Ole?"
"Why, of late, I"--
The school-master lays aside the book and puts away his spectacles.