The Troll Garden and Selected Stories HTML version

The Bohemian Girl
The transcontinental express swung along the windings of the Sand River Valley, and in
the rear seat of the observation car a young man sat greatly at his ease, not in the least
discomfited by the fierce sunlight which beat in upon his brown face and neck and strong
back. There was a look of relaxation and of great passivity about his broad shoulders,
which seemed almost too heavy until he stood up and squared them. He wore a pale
flannel shirt and a blue silk necktie with loose ends. His trousers were wide and belted at
the waist, and his short sack coat hung open. His heavy shoes had seen good service. His
reddish-brown hair, like his clothes, had a foreign cut. He had deep-set, dark blue eyes
under heavy reddish eyebrows. His face was kept clean only by close shaving, and even
the sharpest razor left a glint of yellow in the smooth brown of his skin. His teeth and the
palms of his hands were very white. His head, which looked hard and stubborn, lay
indolently in the green cushion of the wicker chair, and as he looked out at the ripe
summer country a teasing, not unkindly smile played over his lips. Once, as he basked
thus comfortably, a quick light flashed in his eves, curiously dilating the pupils, and his
mouth became a hard, straight line, gradually relaxing into its former smile of rather
kindly mockery. He told himself, apparently, that there was no point in getting excited;
and he seemed a master hand at taking his ease when he could. Neither the sharp whistle
of the locomotive nor the brakeman's call disturbed him. It was not until after the train
had stopped that he rose, put on a Panama hat, took from the rack a small valise and a
flute case, and stepped deliberately to the station platform. The baggage was already
unloaded, and the stranger presented a check for a battered sole-leather steamer trunk.
"Can you keep it here for a day or two?" he asked the agent. "I may send for it, and I may
"Depends on whether you like the country, I suppose?" demanded the agent in a
challenging tone.
"Just so."
The agent shrugged his shoulders, looked scornfully at the small trunk, which was
marked "N.E.," and handed out a claim check without further comment. The stranger
watched him as he caught one end of the trunk and dragged it into the express room. The
agent's manner seemed to remind him of something amusing. "Doesn't seem to be a very
big place," he remarked, looking about.
"It's big enough for us," snapped the agent, as he banged the trunk into a corner.
That remark, apparently, was what Nils Ericson had wanted. He chuckled quietly as he
took a leather strap from his pocket and swung his valise around his shoulder. Then he
settled his Panama securely on his head, turned up his trousers, tucked the flute case
under his arm, and started off across the fields. He gave the town, as he would have said,
a wide berth, and cut through a great fenced pasture, emerging, when he rolled under the