TRANSLATED FROM THE NORWEGIAN OF HANS AANRUD
LAURA E. POULSSON
GINN AND COMPANY BOSTON . NEW YORK . CHICAGO . LONDON ATLANTA . DALLAS . COLUMBUS . SAN FRANCISCO
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY LAURA E. POULSSON
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The Athenaeum Press GINN AND COMPANY . PROPRIETORS . BOSTON . U.S.A.
Hans Aanrud's short stories are considered by his own countrymen as belonging to the most original and artistically finished life pictures that have been produced by the younger literati of Norway. They are generally concerned with peasant character, and present in true balance the coarse and fine in peasant nature. The style of speech is occasionally over-concrete for sophisticated ears, but it is not unwholesome. Of weak or cloying sweetness—so abhorrent to Norwegian taste—there is never a trace.
Sidsel Sidsaerk was dedicated to the author's daughter on her eighth birthday, and is doubtless largely reminiscent of Aanrud's own childhood. If I have been able to give a rendering at all worthy of the original, readers of Lisbeth Longfrock will find that the whole story breathes a spirit of unaffected poetry not inconsistent with the common life which it depicts. This fine blending of the poetic and commonplace is another characteristic of Aanrud's writings.
While translating the book I was living in the region where the scenes of the story are laid, and had the benefit of local knowledge concerning terms used, customs referred to, etc. No pains were spared in verifying particulars, especially through elderly people on the farms, who could best explain the old-fashioned terms and who had a clear remembrance of obsolescent details of saeter life. For this welcome help and for elucidations through other friends I wish here to offer my hearty thanks.
Being desirous of having the conditions of Norwegian farm life made as clear as possible to young English and American readers, I felt that several illustrations were necessary and that it would be well for these to be the work of a Norwegian. To understand how the sun can be already high in the heavens when it rises, and how, when it sets, the shadow of the western mountain can creep as quickly as it does from the bottom of the valley up the opposite slope, one must have some conception of the narrowness of Norwegian valleys, with steep mountain ridges on either side. I felt also that readers would be interested in pictures showing how the dooryard of a well-to-do Norwegian farm looks, how the open fireplace of the roomy kitchen differs from our fireplaces, how tall and slender a Norwegian stove is, built with alternating spaces and heat boxes, several stories high, and how Crookhorn and the billy goat appeared when about to begin their grand tussle up at Hoel Saeter.
Sidsel Sidsaerk has given much pleasure to old and young. I hope that Lisbeth Longfrock may have the same good fortune.
LAURA E. POULSSON
I. LISBETH LONGFROCK GOES TO HOEL FARM 1
II. LISBETH LONGFROCK AS SPINNING WOMAN 12
III. LEAVING PEEROUT CASTLE 22
IV. SPRING: LETTING THE ANIMALS OUT TO PASTURE 33
V. SUMMER: TAKING THE ANIMALS UP TO THE SAETER 52
VI. THE TAMING OF CROOKHORN 68
VII. HOME FROM THE SAETER 84
VIII. ON GLORY PEAK 98
IX. THE VISIT TO PEEROUT CASTLE 113
X. SUNDAY AT THE SAETER 129
XI. LISBETH APPOINTED HEAD MILKMAID 139
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LISBETH LONGFROCK Frontispiece
HOEL FARM 4
THE BIG KITCHEN AT HOEL FARM 12
LISBETH'S ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS 34
THE VALLEY AND THE FARMS 52
UP AT THE SAETER 68
LISBETH LONGFROCK GOES TO HOEL FARM
Bearhunter, the big, shaggy old dog at Hoel Farm, sat on the stone step in front of the house, looking soberly around the spacious dooryard.
It was a clear, cold winter's day toward the beginning of spring, and the sun shone brightly over the glittering snow. In spite of the bright sunshine, however, Bearhunter would have liked to be indoors much better than out, if his sense of responsibility had permitted; for his paws ached with the cold, and he had to keep holding them up one after another from the stone slab to keep from getting the "claw ache." Bearhunter did not wish to risk that, because "claw ache" is very painful, as every northern dog knows.
But to leave his post as watchman was not to be thought of just now, for the pigs and the goats were out to-day. At this moment they were busy with their separate affairs and behaving very well,—the pigs over on the sunny side of the dooryard scratching themselves against the corner of the cow house, and the goats gnawing bark from the big heap of pine branches that had been laid near the sheep barn for their special use. They looked as if they thought of nothing but their scratching and gnawing; but Bearhunter knew well, from previous experience, that no sooner would he go into the house than both pigs and goats would come rushing over to the doorway and do all the mischief they could. That big goat, Crookhorn,—the new one who had come to the farm last autumn and whom Bearhunter had not yet brought under discipline,—had already strayed in a roundabout way to the very corner of the farmhouse, and was looking at Bearhunter in a self-important manner, as if she did not fear him in the least. She was really an intolerable creature, that goat Crookhorn! But just let her dare—!
Bearhunter felt that he must sit on the cold doorstep for some time longer, at any rate. He glanced up the road occasionally as if to see whether any one was coming, so that the pigs and goats might not think they had the whole of his attention.
He had just turned his head leisurely toward the narrow road that came down crosswise over the slope from the Upper Farms, when—what in the world was that!
Something was coming,—a funny little roly-poly something. What a pity, thought Bearhunter, that his sight was growing so poor! At any rate, he had better give the people in the house warning.
So he gave several deep, echoing barks. The goats sprang together in a clump and raised their ears; the pigs stopped in the very midst of their scratching to listen. That Bearhunter was held in great respect could easily be seen.
He still remained sitting on the doorstep, staring up the road. Never in his life had he seen such a thing as that now approaching. Perhaps, after all, it was nothing worth giving warning about. He would take a turn up the road and look at it a little nearer. So, arching his bushy tail into a handsome curve and putting on his most good-humored expression, he sauntered off.
Yes, it must be a human being, although you would not think so. It began to look very much like "Katrine the Finn," as they called her, who came to the farm every winter; but it could not be Katrine—it was altogether too little. It wore a long, wide skirt, and from under the skirt protruded the tips of two big shoes covered with gray woolen stocking feet from which the legs had been cut off. Above the skirt there was a round bundle of clothes with a knitted shawl tied around it, and from this protruded two stumps with red mittens on. Perched on the top of all was a smaller shape, muffled up in a smaller knitted shawl,—that, of course, must be the head. Carried at the back was a huge bundle tied up in a dark cloth, and in front hung a pretty wooden pail, painted red.
Really, Bearhunter had to stand still and gaze. The strange figure, in the meantime, had become aware of him, and it also came to a standstill, as if in a dilemma. At that, Bearhunter walked over to the farther side of the road and took his station there, trying to look indifferent, for he did not wish to cause any fright. The strange figure then made its way carefully forward again, drawing gradually closer and closer to its own side of the road. As it came nearer to Bearhunter the figure turned itself around by degrees, until, when directly opposite to him, it walked along quite sidewise.
Then it was that Bearhunter got a peep through a little opening in the upper shawl; and there he saw the tip of a tiny, turned-up red nose, then a red mouth that was drawn down a little at the corners as if ready for crying, and then a pair of big blue eyes that were fastened upon him with a look of terror.
Pooh! it was nothing, after all, but a little girl, well bundled up against the cold. Bearhunter did not know her—but wait a bit! he thought he had seen that pail before. At any rate it would be absurd to try to frighten this queer little creature.
His tail began to wag involuntarily as he walked across the road to take a sniff at the pail.
The little girl did not understand his action at once. Stepping back in alarm, she caught her heels in her long frock and down she tumbled by the side of the road. Bearhunter darted off instantly; but after running a short distance toward the house he stopped and looked at her again, making his eyes as gentle as he could and wagging his tail energetically. With Bearhunter that wagging of the tail meant hearty, good-natured laughter.
Then the little girl understood. She got up, smiled, and jogged slowly after him. Bearhunter trotted leisurely ahead, looking back at her from time to time. He knew now that she had an errand at Hoel Farm, and that he was therefore in duty bound to help her.
Thus it was that Lisbeth Longfrock of Peerout Castle made her entrance into Hoel Farm.
* * * * *
Peerout Castle was perched high above the Upper Farms, on a crag that jutted out from a barren ridge just under a mountain peak called "The Big Hammer." The real name of the little farm was New Ridge, and "Peerout Castle" was only a nickname given to it by a joker because there was so fine an outlook from it and because it bore no resemblance whatever to a castle. The royal lands belonging to this castle consisted of a little plot of cultivated soil, a bit of meadow land here and there, and some heather patches where tiny blueberry bushes and small mountain-cranberry plants grew luxuriantly. The castle's outbuildings were a shabby cow house and a pigsty. The cow house was built against the steep hillside, with three walls of loosely built stone, and its two stalls were dug half their length into the hill. The tiny pigsty was built in the same fashion.
 It is customary in Norway for each farm, however small, to have a name.
As for the castle itself, that was a very, very small, turf-roofed cabin lying out on the jutting crag in the middle of the rocky ridge. It had only one small window, with tiny panes of glass, that looked out over the valley. And yet, in whatever part of the surrounding country one might be, by looking in that direction—and looking high enough—one could always see that little castle, with its single window peering out like a watchful eye over the landscape.
Since the castle from which Lisbeth Longfrock came was no more magnificent than this, it may easily be understood that she was no disguised princess, but only a poor little girl. Coming to Hoel Farm for the first time was for her like visiting an estate that was, in very truth, royal; and besides, she had come on an important "grown-up" errand. She was taking her mother's place and visiting Hoel as a spinning woman.
Lisbeth's mother, whose name was Randi, had worked hard for the last four years to get food for herself and her children up at Peerout Castle. Before that the family had been in very comfortable circumstances; but the father had died, leaving the mother with the castle, one cow, and the care of the two children. The children were Jacob, at that time about six years old, and Lisbeth, a couple of years younger. Life was often a hard struggle for the mother; but they had, at any rate, a house over their heads, and they could get wood without having to go very far for it, since the forest lay almost within a stone's throw.
 (In the original, Roennaug.) This was the mother's first name. Her full name would be Randi Newridge, or Randi Peerout.
In the summer Randi managed to dig up her tiny plots of ground after a fashion, so that she could harvest a few potatoes and a little grain. By cutting grass and stripping off birch leaves she had thus far managed each year to give Bliros, their cow, enough to eat. And where there is a cow there is always food.
In the winter she spun linen and wool for the women on the farms far and near, but as she had lived at Hoel Farm as a servant before she was married, it was natural that most of her spinning should be for Kjersti Hoel.
In such ways had Randi been able to care for her family. Meanwhile Jacob, now ten years old, had grown big enough to earn his own living. In the spring before the last a message had come from Nordrum Farm that a boy was needed to look after the flocks, and Jacob had at once applied and been accepted. He and Lisbeth had often knelt on the long wooden bench under the little window at Peerout Castle, and gazed upon the different farms, choosing which they would work on when they were big enough. Jacob had always chosen Nordrum Farm,—probably because he had heard Farmer Nordrum spoken of as the big man of the community; while Lisbeth had always thought that it would be pleasanter at Hoel Farm because it was owned by a woman.
When autumn came Farmer Nordrum had concluded that he would have use for such a boy as Jacob during the winter also, and so Jacob had stayed on. This last Christmas, however, he had gone home for the whole day and had taken with him a Christmas present for his sister from a little girl at Nordrum. The present was a gray woolen frock,—a very nice one.
Jacob had grown extremely pleasant and full of fun while at Nordrum, Lisbeth thought. When she tried the frock on and it reached way down to the ground before and behind, he called her "Lisbeth Longfrock" and Lisbeth Longfrock she had remained from that day.
After Christmas, times had been somewhat harder at Peerout Castle. Bliros, who generally gave milk the whole year round, had become dry, and would not give milk for several months. She was to have a calf in the early summer. During the last few weeks there had not been milk enough even for Randi's and Lisbeth's coffee.
To go to Svehaugen, the nearest farm, for milk was no short trip; and milk was scarce there too, as Randi well knew. Besides, she could not spare the time to go. She had to finish spinning Kjersti Hoel's wool. When she once got that off her hands, they could have plenty of milk for their coffee, and other good things besides. What a relief it would be when that time came!
So Randi worked steadily at her spinning, Lisbeth being now big enough to help in carding the wool. For a week she spun almost without ceasing, scarcely taking time for meals, but drinking a good deal of strong black coffee. Not until very late one evening was Kjersti Hoel's wool all spun and ready. By that time Randi was far from well. Whether or not her illness was caused, as she thought, by drinking so much black coffee, certain it is that when Kjersti Hoel's wool was all spun Randi felt a tightness in her chest, and when she got up the next morning and tried to get ready to go to Hoel with the spinning, she was seized with such a sudden dizziness that she had to go back to bed again. She was too weak for anything else.
Now it was the custom in Norway for the spinning woman to take back to the different farms the wool she had spun, and for the farmers' wives to praise her work, treat her to something good to eat and drink, pay her, and then give her directions about the way the next spinning was to be done. All this Randi would have to give up for the present—there was no help for it; but she wondered how it would do to send Lisbeth to Hoel Farm in her stead. The little girl would find her way safely, Randi was sure, although Randi had never as yet taken her to that farm because it was so far off. The payment for the spinning was to be in eatables as well as money, and Lisbeth could bring home part of what was due. Then, though they still might lack many things, their drop of coffee could have cream in it, as coffee ought to have. The remainder of the payment and the directions for the next spinning Randi herself could get when she was better.
If she could only be sure that Lisbeth would behave properly and not act like a changeling, a troll child!
Lisbeth eagerly promised that if her mother would allow her to go she would behave exactly as a spinning woman should,—she would, really! And she remembered perfectly well just how everything was done that time she had gone with her mother to one of the nearer farms.
So Lisbeth put on her long frock, which was used only for very best, and her mother wrapped her up snugly in the two shawls. Then the bundle of yarn was slung over her back, the pail was hung in front, many directions were given to her about the road, and off she started.
And that is the way Lisbeth Longfrock happened to come toddling after Bearhunter to Hoel Farm on that clear, cold winter's day toward the beginning of spring.
LISBETH LONGFROCK AS SPINNING WOMAN
When Lisbeth found herself in the farm dooryard, with the different buildings all about her, she really had to stand still and gaze around. Oh, how large everything was!—quite on another scale from things at home. Why, the barn door was so broad and high that Peerout Castle could easily go right through it, and each windowpane in the big house was as large as their own whole window. And such a goat!—for just then she caught sight of Crookhorn, who had come warily up to the doorway, and who only saw fit to draw back as Bearhunter approached. Not that Crookhorn was afraid of Bearhunter,—no, indeed!
The goat was larger than most goats,—about as large as a good-sized calf. If the cows belonging to Hoel Farm were as much larger than ordinary cows, thought Lisbeth, they would be able to eat grass from the roof of Peerout Castle while standing, just as usual, on the ground. She glanced searchingly at the cow-house door. No, it was not larger than such doors usually were, so the cows were evidently no bigger than other cows.
 Norwegian children in country districts are accustomed to see goats walking about on the roofs of turf-covered huts, nibbling the herbage; but the idea of a creature so large as to be able to eat from the roof while standing on the ground was very astonishing to Lisbeth.
Bearhunter had followed after Crookhorn until the latter was well out of the way; then he had come back again, and now stood wagging his tail and turning toward the house door as if coaxing Lisbeth to go in. Yes, she must attend to her errand and not stay out there staring at everything.
So she followed after Bearhunter and went into the hall way. She lifted the latch of the inner door, turned herself around carefully as she went in so as to make room for her bundle, fastened the door behind her—and there she stood inside the big kitchen at Hoel!
There were only two people in the kitchen,—one a young servant maid in the middle of the room spinning, and the other the mistress herself, Kjersti Hoel, over by the white wall of the big open fireplace, grinding coffee.
Both looked up when they heard the door open.
Lisbeth Longfrock stood still for a moment, then made a deep courtesy under her long frock and said in a grown-up way, just as she had heard her mother say, "Good day, and God bless your work."
Kjersti Hoel had to smile when she saw the little roly-poly bundle over by the door, talking in such a grown-up fashion. But she answered as soberly as if she also were talking to a grown-up person: "Good day. Is this a young stranger out for a walk?"
"And what is the stranger's name, and where is she from? I see that I do not know her."
"No, you could not be expected to. My mother and Jacob call me Lisbeth Longfrock, and I am from Peerout Castle. Mother sent me here with the woolen yarn she has spun for you. She told me to say that she could not come with it before, for she did not get the last spool wound until late last night."
"Indeed! Can it be a spinning woman we have here? And to think that I wholly forgot to ask you to sit down after your long walk! You really must take off your things and stay awhile."
What a pleasant woman Kjersti Hoel was! She got up from her own chair and set one forward for Lisbeth.
"Thank you; I shall be glad to sit down," said Lisbeth.
She took off the pail and the bundle of wool and put them down by the door, and then began to walk across the floor over to the chair. It seemed as if she would never get there, so far was it across the big kitchen,—nearly as far as from their own door to the cow-house door at Peerout Castle. At last, however, she reached the chair; but it was higher than the seats she was accustomed to and she could barely scramble up on one corner of it.
Kjersti Hoel came toward her.
"I really think I must open this roly-poly bundle and see what is in it," said she; and she began to take off Lisbeth's red mittens and to undo the knitted shawls. Soon Lisbeth sat there stripped of all her outer toggery, but nevertheless looking almost as plump and roly-poly as ever; for not only did her long frock barely clear the ground at the bottom, but its band reached almost up under her arms.
Kjersti stood and looked at her a moment.
"That is just what I thought,—that I should find a nice little girl inside all those clothes. You look like your mother."
At this Lisbeth grew so shy that she forgot all about being a spinning woman. She cast down her eyes and could not say a word.
"But what is the matter with Randi, your mother?" continued Kjersti. "Why could she not come herself?"
"She was a little poorly to-day."
"Indeed! Randi not well? And her health is generally so good. What ails her?"
"Oh, she thought that very likely drinking strong coffee without milk had not been good for her."
"So you have no milk at your house. Perhaps that is why you have brought a pail with you."
"Yes; what do you think! Bliros has stopped giving us milk this winter."
"Has she, indeed! That is rather inconvenient, isn't it? How long before she can be milked again?"
"Not until the beginning of summer, after she has had her calf."
"H'm," said Kjersti thoughtfully. By and by, as if to herself, she said: "I have often thought of going to see Randi, but have never done so. Before this spring is over, I must surely pay her a visit."
* * * * *
Lisbeth Longfrock stayed a long time at Hoel that day. Although she had come in the important character of spinning woman, she had never imagined that a great person like Kjersti Hoel would be so pleasant and kind to her. Kjersti treated her to coffee and cakes and milk and other good things, just as if she had been an invited guest, and chatted with her in such a way that Lisbeth forgot all about being shy. And oh, how many curious things Kjersti showed her!
The cow house was the finest of them all. There were so many cows that Lisbeth could scarcely count them. And then the pigs and sheep and goats! and hens, too, inside a big latticework inclosure,—nearly as many of them as there were crows in autumn up at Peerout!
And Kjersti wanted to know about everything,—whether Lisbeth could read and write (she could do both, for Jacob had taught her), and how they managed about food up at Peerout Castle, and how it went with the farming.
Lisbeth could tell her that in the autumn they had gathered three barrels of potatoes, and one barrel and three pecks of mixed grain; and that they had stripped off so many birch leaves that they had fodder enough to carry Bliros through the winter,—in fact, much more than enough.
When Kjersti had shown Lisbeth the sheep and the goats, she declared that she should certainly need a little girl to look after her flocks when spring came; and then Lisbeth, before she knew what she was saying, told Kjersti how she and Jacob used to look at the farms from the window at home, and how she had always chosen Hoel as the place where she should like to work when she was big enough.
"Should you really like to go out to work?" Kjersti inquired.
"Yes, indeed," Lisbeth said, "if it were not for leaving mother."
"Well, we will not think about that any more at present," said Kjersti, "but I will go up and talk with your mother about it some time in the spring. We certainly ought to go into the house now, so that you can have time to take a little food before leaving. It is drawing toward evening and you will have to start for home soon."
So they went into the house again, and Lisbeth had another feast of good things. While she was eating she noticed that Kjersti brought from the cellar some butter and cheese and other things and packed them in the dark cloth in which the wool had been tied. The milk pail she did not touch at all; but Lisbeth saw that she said something about it softly to the servant maid, after which the maid left the room.
When Lisbeth had eaten and had said "Thanks and praise for both food and drink," Kjersti remarked: "Now you must lift the bundle over there and see if you can carry it."
The bundle was rather heavy. Still, Lisbeth thought she could manage it. But the pail! Not a word did Kjersti say, even now, about the pail! She only added, kindly, "Come, and I will help you put on your things."
She drew on Lisbeth's mittens, wrapped her up snugly in the two little shawls, and, in a trice, there stood Lisbeth Longfrock looking exactly as she did when she had come to Hoel that morning.
Slowly and reluctantly Lisbeth went toward the door, where the pail still stood. How strange that Kjersti had not even yet said a single word about it! Lisbeth stood for a moment in doubt. After receiving so much, it would never do to remind Kjersti about the pail; but she would much rather have gone without the good things she herself had been treated to than to go home without any milk for her mother's coffee.
She took up the bundle, drew her face with its turned-up nose tip back into its little shawl as far as she could so that Kjersti should not see the tears in her eyes, and then bent down and lifted the pail.
At that Kjersti said: "Oh, yes! the pail! I quite forgot it. Are you willing to exchange pails with me if I give you one that will never get empty?"
Lisbeth dropped her pail plump on the floor. She had seen and heard many curious things on this eventful day,—things she had never seen or thought of before; but that Kjersti, besides everything else, had a pail that would never get empty! She stood and stared, open-mouthed.
"Yes, you must come and see it," said Kjersti. "It stands just outside the door."
Lisbeth was not slow in making her way out. Kjersti followed her. There stood the servant maid, holding the big goat, Crookhorn, by a rope.
"The goat is used to being led," said Kjersti, "so you will have no trouble in taking it home. Give my greetings to your mother, and ask her if she is satisfied with the exchange of pails."
Kjersti was not a bit displeased because Lisbeth Longfrock forgot to express her thanks as she started off with Crookhorn. Bearhunter followed the little girl and the goat a long distance up the road. He did not understand matters at all!
* * * * *
It is not to be wondered at that Randi, too, was greatly surprised when she saw Crookhorn following after Lisbeth as the little girl approached the castle.
There was not time for Lisbeth to tell about everything at the very first, for her mother and she had to clear up the stall next to the one Bliros occupied, and put Crookhorn into it. When this was done they felt exactly as if they had two cows. The goat took her place in the stall with a self-important, superior air, quite as if she were a real cow and had never done anything else but stand in a cow stall. Bliros became offended at this remarkable newcomer, who was putting on such airs in the cow house that had always belonged to herself alone, and so she made a lunge with her head and tried to hook the goat with her horns; but Crookhorn merely turned her own horns against those of Bliros in the most indifferent manner, as if quite accustomed to being hooked by cows.
Bliros gazed at her in astonishment. Such a silly goat! She had never seen such a silly goat. And with that she turned her head to the wall again and did not give Crookhorn another look.
That evening Lisbeth Longfrock had so many things to tell her mother that she talked herself fast asleep!
LEAVING PEEROUT CASTLE
The next time Lisbeth Longfrock came to Hoel Farm, she did not come alone; and she came—to stay!
All that had happened between that first visit and her second coming had been far, far different from anything Lisbeth had ever imagined. It seemed as if there had been no time for her to think about the strange events while they were taking place. She did not realize what their result would be until after she had lived through them and gone out of the gate of Peerout Castle when everything was over. So much had been going on in those last sad, solemn days,—so much that was new to see and to hear,—that although she had felt a lump in her throat the whole time, she had not had a real cry until at the very end. But when she had passed through the gate that last day, and had stopped and looked back, the picture that she then saw had brought the whole clearly before her, with all its sorrow. Something was gone that would never come again. She would never again go to Peerout Castle except as a stranger. She had no home—no home anywhere. And at that she had begun to weep so bitterly that those who had been thinking how wisely and quietly she was taking her trouble could but stand and look at her in wonder.
* * * * *
The last two months of the winter had passed so quickly up at Peerout Castle that Lisbeth really could not tell what had become of them; and this was owing not a little to the fact that, besides all her other work, she had so much to do in the cow house.
Crookhorn had become, as it were, Lisbeth's cow, and consequently had to be taken care of by her. Bliros showed very plainly that she would not like at all to have Randi's attentions bestowed upon a rascally goat. That would make it seem as if the goat were fully as important a person in the cow house as Bliros herself; whereas the whole cow house, in reality, belonged to her, and that other creature was only allowed there as a favor.
So Lisbeth took care of Crookhorn exactly as she saw her mother take care of Bliros. In fact, before long she had more to do in the cow house than her mother had; for she soon learned to milk Crookhorn, while Bliros, her mother's cow, could not then be milked.
And Crookhorn gave so much milk! Three times a day Lisbeth had to milk her. There was no longer any scarcity of cream for coffee or milk for porridge. Indeed, there was even cream enough to make waffles with now and then.
Springtime came. It always came early up at Peerout Castle. The slopes of heather, directly facing the sun, were the first in the whole valley to peep up out of the snow. As soon as the heathery spots began to show themselves, Lisbeth was out on them, stepping here and there with a cautious foot. It seemed so wonderful to step on bare earth again instead of snow! Day by day she kept track of the different green patches, watching them grow larger and larger, and seeing how the snow glided slowly farther and farther downward,—exactly as her own frock did when she loosened the band and let it slip down and lie in a ring around her feet. When the snow had slipped as far down as the big stone where she and Jacob used to have their cow house (using pine cones for cows and sheep), the outermost buds on the trees would swell and be ready to burst,—she knew that from the year before; and when the buds had really opened (she kept close watch of them every day now), then, then would come the great day when Crookhorn could be let out. Lisbeth's mother had said so.
That great day was what she was waiting for, not only because it would be so pleasant for Crookhorn to be out, but because no food was equal to the first buds of spring for making goats yield rich milk.
Lisbeth's mother had been far from well ever since the day that Lisbeth went over to Hoel Farm for the first time. But Lisbeth thought that as soon as Crookhorn had fresh buds to eat and gave richer milk, her mother would of course get entirely well.
It is very possible that a little streak of snow was still lying by the upper side of the big stone (in spite of Lisbeth's having scattered sand there to make the snow melt faster) on the bright spring day when Lisbeth went into the cow house, unfastened Crookhorn, and led her out of the stall.
As for Crookhorn, she followed her little mistress very sedately until they reached the cow-house door. There she stopped short, looking around and blinking at the sun. Lisbeth pulled at the rope, trying to drag her over to the part of the ridge where the birch tree with the fullest leaf buds stood. But Crookhorn would not budge. She merely stood stock-still as if nothing were being done to her; for she was so strong that, however hard Lisbeth pulled, it did not even make her stretch her neck. Lisbeth then went nearer, thinking that she could pull better without such a length of rope between her and the goat; but at that, quick as a wink, Crookhorn lowered her head and butted Lisbeth, causing the little girl to fall back against the hillside with a whack. Upon which, Crookhorn stalked in an indifferent manner across the road.
Lisbeth picked herself up and started to go after her charge; but, if you please, as soon as she came near enough and tried to seize Crookhorn, away would that naughty goat dart, not galloping as a goat usually does, but trotting like a cow or an elk. She trotted by the house and turned off on the road leading to Svehaugen Farm. Lisbeth pursued swiftly; but, run as she might, she could not gain upon Crookhorn. At last, stumbling over a stone, the little girl fell at full length, having barely time, while falling, to look up and catch a glimpse of Crookhorn's back as the goat, trotting swiftly, disappeared over the brow of a hill.
There was no other way out of it,—Lisbeth would have to run home and get her mother to help her. This she did, and they both set out in full chase. It was a long run, for they did not overtake Crookhorn until they had reached the Svehaugen gate. There stood the goat gazing unconcernedly through the palings. She evidently felt herself superior to jumping over fences,—she who imagined herself to be a cow!
Randi had become much overheated from running, and at night, when she went to bed, she said she felt cold and shivery. That seemed very strange indeed to Lisbeth, for when she laid her face against her mother's neck, it was as hot as a burning coal.
In the morning Lisbeth's mother woke her and told her to get up and go over to Kari Svehaugen's and ask Kari to come to Peerout Castle. Randi felt so poorly that there was no use in her even trying to get up. She was not able.
Not able to get up! That also seemed very strange to Lisbeth, for never before had she seen her mother with cheeks so red and eyes so shining. The child did not say anything, however, but got up, dressed herself quickly and quietly, and ran off to Svehaugen.
After that there came several wonderful days at Peerout Castle. When Lisbeth Longfrock thought about them afterward, they seemed like a single long day in which a great many things had happened that she could not separate from one another and set in order. In her remembrance it was as if shadows had glided to and fro in an ugly yellow light, while the sound of a heavy, painful breathing was constantly heard, penetrating all other sounds.
She seemed dimly to see Kari Svehaugen gliding about and taking care of things in the home and out in the cow house. She herself had climbed a birch tree several times and picked leaf buds for the animals to eat. One day Lars Svehaugen had flitted along the road in front of the house, swiftly, as if he had not a moment to spare. Soon after this, some one dressed in furs and with big boots on came driving to the house, and all the neighbors flocked around him, listening to what he said. And he brought such a curious smell with him! It filled the whole house, so that, even after he had gone away, he seemed to be still there.
She thought, too, that once she had seen Kjersti Hoel sitting on a chair, taking many good things out of a big basket, and Jacob standing by Kjersti's side with a great slice of raisin cake in his hand. And Jacob had kept chewing and chewing on his raisin cake, as if it was hard work to get it down. What she remembered chiefly, though, was Jacob's eyes,—they looked so big and strange.
Then one morning she had awakened in a clear gray light, and from that time she remembered everything very distinctly. She was lying in the little trundle-bed that Jacob had slept in when he lived at home,—she must, of course, have slept in it all these nights,—and Kari Svehaugen was standing beside it, looking down upon her. The house was oh! so still,—she did not hear the heavy, painful breathing any longer. The only sound was a slight crackling in the fireplace, out of which a stream of warmth issued.
Kari said very quietly: "Your mother is comfortable and happy now, little Lisbeth; better off than she has ever been before. So you must not cry."
And Lisbeth did not cry. She merely got up and went about the house very, very quietly all that first day. Afterwards there were so many preparations being made for some solemn festival that she did not seem to get time to think about the great change that had taken place.
Lars Svehaugen came from the storekeeper's with ever so much fine white, shining cloth,—she had never seen the like. Then a woman came to help Kari cut out and sew, and they made pillows and a fine white garment that mother was to have on when she lay upon the pillows. And Lars Svehaugen began to make a new wooden bed for mother to lie in; and Bliros had her calf, and the calf was slaughtered; and Lars Svehaugen brought some small pine trees and nailed them at the gateposts and outside the house door, one at each side, and he strewed pine branches all the way from the door to the gate. And there came presents of food—oh! so many good things—from Kjersti Hoel and others. Lisbeth had never tasted such delicious food before.
Then came the day when mother was to be taken to the church and buried. Many people came to the house that day,—among them Jacob in a bright new suit of gray woolen homespun; and there was a feast for them all, and everything was very still and solemn. Even the schoolmaster came; and oh, how beautifully he sang when Lars Svehaugen and three other men carried mother out through the door and set her couch upon a sledge.
Then they all went slowly away from the house, down the hill,—the sledge first and the people walking slowly behind. But down at the bottom of the hill, in the road, there stood two horses and wagons waiting; and, just think! Lisbeth and Jacob were invited to sit up in Kjersti Hoel's broad wagon and drive with her.
Then they came to the white church; and as they carried mother in through the big gateway the church bells up in the tower rang, oh, so beautifully!
After that Lisbeth did not see things quite so clearly, but they lowered mother down into the earth in the churchyard and strewed wreaths of green heather over her, and then the schoolmaster sang again, and all the men took off their hats and held them a long time before their faces.
After that the people went out of the churchyard, and Lisbeth and Jacob climbed into Kjersti Hoel's broad wagon again and drove away,—only this time they drove much faster. It looked as if the boards in the fences ran after each other in an opposite direction from the one in which she and Jacob were going. They both tried to count them, but could not.
All the people came back with them to Peerout Castle,—Kjersti Hoel, too. Kari Svehaugen, who had not gone to the church, had covered the table with a white tablecloth, and set it with plates and good things to eat. And all the people ate and talked,—but they did not talk very loudly.
When the meal was over, Lisbeth got Jacob to go out into the cow house to look at Crookhorn. Jacob conceded that the goat was an extremely fine animal, but she was a vixen, he was sure,—he could tell that by her eyelids.
Then they went over to the hill to look at the mill wheel that Jacob used to have there; but it had fallen into complete decay because he had been away from home so long. Such things need a boy's personal attention.
After that they were called into the house again and everybody drank coffee. When they had finished the coffee drinking, Kari began packing into baskets the food that was left; and when that was done, Kjersti Hoel said: "Well, now we have done everything that we can here. You may bring Crookhorn with you, Lisbeth, and come to live with me. That was the last thing I promised your mother."
Thus had it come about that Lisbeth Longfrock, holding Crookhorn by a rope, stood outside the gate at Peerout Castle with Kjersti Hoel and Bearhunter; and then it was that she looked behind her and began to cry.
On one road she saw Kari Svehaugen with a big basket on her arm and Bliros following her; and on the other she saw the back of Jacob, with whom she had just shaken hands, saying, "May you fare well." He looked singularly small and forlorn.
Last of all she saw Lars Svehaugen put a pine twig in the door latch as a sign that Peerout Castle was now closed, locked, and forsaken.
SPRING: LETTING THE ANIMALS OUT TO PASTURE
One morning, a few weeks after the sad departure from Peerout Castle, Lisbeth Longfrock awoke early in the small sleeping room built under the great staircase at Hoel. She opened her eyes wide at the moment of waking, and tried to gather her thoughts together. She was conscious of a delightful, quivering expectancy, and felt that she had awakened to something great and new,—something that she had waited for and been exceedingly glad over; but she could not at once remember just what it was.
The little room, whose only furniture consisted of a bed, a chair, a stove, and a small wooden shelf with a mirror over it, was filled with daylight in spite of the early hour. The sun fell slanting down through a window set high up in the wall directly over Lisbeth's bed, and the windowpanes were pictured in bright yellow squares on the floor near the tiny stove. The corner of one square spread itself against the stove, and Lisbeth traced it with her eyes as she lay in bed. At the tip of the corner glimmered something light-green and shiny. Was it from there that a fine, wonderful fragrance came floating toward her? She sniffed a little. Yes, indeed! now she remembered. The fragrance came from the fresh birch twigs she had decorated the room with yesterday. Out of doors it was spring,—the sprouting, bursting springtime. To-day the cattle were to be let out and the calves named. To-day she would begin work in earnest and be a responsible individual. In short, she would be the herd girl at Hoel Farm.
It was now a month since Lisbeth had come to Hoel Farm, but up to this time she had been treated merely as company. She had walked about the place, sauntered after Kjersti here and there in the house, ground the coffee, and brought out from a bowl in the pantry the small cakes that they ate with their coffee every afternoon. Frequently, too, she had had pleasant talks with Kjersti.
As for helping with the animals,—the sheep and the goats had been let out, to be sure, but nevertheless they did not need her care because they were allowed, so early in the season, to run about everywhere except in the garden, and that Bearhunter stood guard over. In the cow house there was nothing for her to do, for a milkmaid and an under-milkmaid did the work there. Of course the girl who tended the flocks ought really to be able to help in milking the cows; but it was thought that Lisbeth had better wait a year before she tried to do that,—her hands being rather too small as yet. Lisbeth had kept measuring her hands every now and then and pulling her fingers to make them grow; and after a while she had asked the milkmaid if she did not think they had grown large enough, but the milkmaid did not see that they were any larger. She could not have very good eyes!
Lisbeth had, of course, expected to take care of Crookhorn,—Kjersti and she both thought she ought to do that; but it had proved to be impossible. Crookhorn had become so freakish that sometimes they almost thought her out of her wits. In the building shared by the sheep and goats she ranged back and forth from wall to wall, knocking against the sheep and the other goats so hard as she went that their ribs rattled. At last she had to be tied to one of the walls, and with the shortest rope possible at that. Nor would she allow herself to be milked peaceably in that building. The first time Lisbeth tried it, Crookhorn, with a toss of the head, gave a kick that sent Lisbeth and the pail rolling off in different directions. Afterward the milkmaid herself took Crookhorn in hand at milking time; but even for her it was always a feat of strength, and she had to have some one to help her by holding the goat's horns.
When Crookhorn was let out with the other goats, would she ramble with them over the fields and meadows, seeking food? No, indeed! She would station herself poutingly by the cow-house door and stand there the livelong day,—"bellowing like a cow" the farm boy said; and then in the evening, when the other goats came home plump and well fed, there Crookhorn would stand as thin and hungry as a wolf.
Lisbeth thought that Crookhorn, if provided with a stall in the cow house, would act like a reasonable creature again. But neither Kjersti nor the milkmaid would consent to the removal; they thought a goat ought not to be humored in such unreasonable fancies.
Thus it was that Lisbeth had not had much to do during her first month at Hoel Farm. The only thing that Kjersti had required of her was to keep her own little room under the hall staircase in nice order, and that she had done. Every day she had made the bed herself, and every Saturday she had washed the floor and the shelf, and spread juniper twigs about. Last Saturday Kjersti had come out to take a look at it, and had said to her that she kept her room in better order than the grown-up girls in the south chamber kept theirs; and Lisbeth knew that this was true, for she had noticed it herself.
But now everything was going to be different. Kjersti Hoel had come to Lisbeth's room the night before and said that the cows were to be let out early in the morning, and that Lisbeth, like all the rest of the Hoel Farm people, must be up early to help. Later in the day the calves that had been born in the cow house during the winter were to be let out for the first time, and Lisbeth would have to look after them for that afternoon at any rate. Kjersti had said also that Lisbeth was to be allowed to give the calves their names,—names that they would keep all their lives, even after they had grown to be full-sized cows.
The next day after the letting out of the animals Lisbeth was to take a lunch bag and begin her spring work of going into the forest all day to watch the sheep and goats. It would not do to have them running about the fields at home any longer, Kjersti said.
Suddenly Lisbeth recollected what it was that she had pondered over so long as she lay awake the evening before,—it was the names of the calves. In spite of all her pondering she had got no farther than to wonder whether the cow with the red sides and white head and the gentle but bright-looking face should not be called Bliros. That idea, however, she had given up; it seemed to her that only one cow in the world could be called Bliros. Then she had determined to think no longer about Bliros or the names of the calves, and so had fallen asleep.
What if she had overslept herself now! She hoped not, with all her heart, for she had heard Kjersti Hoel say that she did not like girls to lie abed late and dally in the morning. How mortifying it would be for her not to be on the spot as early as the others to-day, her very first working day!
Wide-awake now, Lisbeth hopped quickly out of bed and popped into her long frock. Then, having made her bed with all haste, she opened the door, went out through the hall way, and stood on the outside steps.
 Lisbeth meant to be very neat and tidy, but she should have let her bed air longer before making it!
The sun had just risen above the highest spruce tops over the edge of the eastern hills, and the light was flooding the sides of the valley like a waterfall. In the meadows and on the sloping fields the sunbeams quivered in the dew. They sifted in gold, they glittered in green, they silvered the clear brooks that babbled down the hills. From every bush came a twittering and chirping and clapping of wings. From everything, everywhere, came a message of joy and activity and sprouting life. Mingled in one great morning effervescence, single sights and sounds were lost; only the call of the cuckoo, far up on the birch-clad slope, was heard above the other sounds, and from every shining window glanced a big, serene eye of reflected sun rays.
And just as there were thousands of different sounds, so were there also thousands of different odors,—from the steaming earth, from the growing grass, from buds and blossoms; and above them all, like the cuckoo's call that was heard above the thousands of blended sounds, rose the fine, penetrating fragrance of newly sprouted birch trees.
Lisbeth stood still awhile, drawing deep breaths and letting the sweet air and the effervescence of spring stream in upon her. Then she looked around at the different farm buildings. Quiet brooded within them and every door was shut. Of all the living creatures belonging to the farm, not one was to be seen except Bearhunter, who got up slowly from the flat stone where he had been lying, comfortably sunning himself, and came over to her, looking up into her face and wagging his tail.
Truly, she believed she was the first one up on the whole farm to-day.
Well, of course she would have to wait. So she sat herself down on the steps.
Oh, no; it was just as she might have known it would be. Kjersti Hoel was up. Lisbeth heard her come out of her own room into the kitchen, take a big stick, and knock three times on the ceiling to waken the girls in the south chamber.
In a moment Lisbeth heard a thump! thump! as the girls hopped out of bed, and then a clattering noise as they put on their shoes. Soon Kjersti came out of the house. She was going over to the building where the men slept to waken them.
Catching sight of Lisbeth, she exclaimed: "No! this cannot be Lisbeth already up. What a wide-awake little girl! I think I shall have to make you head milkmaid."
At this Lisbeth became so shy that she could not raise her eyes to look at Kjersti; but it must be acknowledged that when the head milkmaid and the other girls came downstairs a certain small nose was tilted a little higher than usual.
Soon there was life and motion over the whole farm. The activity was very different from that of ordinary days, for everything was done with extra haste, and all that was done seemed to have some connection with the cow house. The doors at both ends of this building stood wide open, and every one seemed to have an errand which obliged him to pass through. The spring air streaming in made the cows turn around in their stalls, stretch their nostrils, and look out. When Kjersti herself appeared on the scene, after the girls had begun milking, and talked to the cows and patted the neck of the bell cow, the creatures at once realized what day it was. The bell cow threw up her head and bellowed till the cow house echoed. That was a signal for all the other cows. They pulled at their chains, swung their tails, and one after another, along the whole row, joined in a manifold bellow of joyful expectancy that shook the entire cow house and seemed as if it would never end. Above the many-voiced chorus could be heard the bellowing of the big bull, deep and even and good-natured, as if he did not need to exert himself in the least in order to be heard.
Although everything went so much more speedily to-day than usual, the time seemed long to Lisbeth Longfrock. When the farm people went into the house to eat their early breakfast, she could not understand how they could sit at the table so long. She finished her meal very quickly and asked if she might not go and let out the smaller animals,—the sheep and the goats,—so that that would be done. Yes, Kjersti said she might. In a trice, therefore, she had them out, and as usual they scattered in every direction, leaping and capering,—all except Crookhorn, who seized her chance to slink into the cow house through the open door; but Lisbeth was so busy that she did not notice this.
All at once there came an instant's stillness, as if everything listened. Then from the farmhouse the tuneful clanging of a deep-toned bell was heard, and in a moment this was answered by such a joyful lowing and bellowing, such a sniffing and rattling of chains, that it seemed as if a thunderstorm were passing over the farm; for when the animals recognized the sound of that deep-toned bell, which they had not heard since they were shut up in the cow house the autumn before, they knew that the time for being let out into the open air was close at hand.
A formal procession now issued from the farmhouse. Kjersti marched at the front, carrying the big iron-bound cow collar to which the deep-toned bell was fastened; next came the head milkmaid, followed by the under-milkmaid; then the girls who worked in the farmhouse; and then the two farm hands, with thick sticks, which they afterwards dealt out to the company, giving one to Lisbeth as well as to the rest. Last of all came Bearhunter, who also wanted to have a part in what was going on.
When the procession reached the cow house there was again a sudden silence. The cows, one and all, turned their heads toward the people as they came in, and looked at them with large, expectant eyes.
The procession then divided into groups, and definite work was assigned to each person. The head milkmaid was to unfasten the cows; Lisbeth and the under-milkmaid and the housemaids, each with her stout stick, were to steer the cows out through the door; the farm hands were to stand in the cow lane to meet the creatures and guide them into the right road (they were to be pastured up in the north meadow) and to separate those who fought with each other; and Kjersti and Bearhunter were to watch everything from the gateway.
All was ready. The moment for the start had come.
Kjersti went into the stall of the cow who was to wear the bell. The cow straightened herself up, lifted her head as high as she could, and then stood stock-still. She knew very well that she was the principal cow of the herd, and that the first place when they went out and in through the cow-house door belonged to her; but she knew also that even she had to be on her best behavior when Kjersti, the mistress of the whole farm, did her the honor of clasping around her neck the cow collar with its bell,—emblem of dignity and power,—and of unfastening the chain that held her in the stall. Kjersti clasped on the bell and unloosed the chain, which fell rattling to the floor; and then the bell cow swung slowly and deliberately out of the stall, like a big, heavy ship out of its dock, and wended her way with solemn dignity toward the door. She carried her head so high and so stiffly that you could not see the least swaying of her horns, and her bell gave only a single decided stroke at each step.
The next to be let out was the big bull. The head milkmaid unloosed him, and he sailed out just as stiffly and heavily as the bell cow had done, with horns so high that they nearly touched the cow-house roof, and so wide apart that they seemed to stretch across the whole passageway. Lisbeth had never realized before how large the bull was.
And then, one by one, in regular turn, the rest of the cows marched out. They were Brindle, Morlik (which means "like its mother"), Goldie, Speckle, Blackie, Pusher, Summer-Leaf, Darkey, Wee Bonny, Trot-About, Wreathie, and Moolley. Wreathie was so named because the white marks on her hide looked something like a wreath.
 Mulley (cow without horns).
Beyond the cow stalls, now empty, were the stalls of the heifers, whose names no one quite remembered as yet, and of the half-grown bulls, who did not have any names at all.
When it came to the unloosing of the heifers and young bulls, the scene grew livelier and livelier. They stretched their necks and rubbed against their chains. They fell on their knees as soon as the unlooped chains slipped from their necks, and as they sprang up again you could hear their legs creak,—so stiff were they from standing in the stall all winter. They ran plump against the side wall or up into the wrong passageway. They dashed noisily against the door, two reaching it at the same time and trying to rush through together but getting wedged by their fat sides; while those who had been set free after them came close on their heels, pushing, clashing their horns, butting and bellowing,—until suddenly, the blockade being broken, out rushed the whole throng.
Directly in the wake of the heifers and young bulls, to Lisbeth's extreme surprise, followed Crookhorn, who, kicking up her heels, made a swift dash out through the doorway.
Outside the cow house, too, all was life and stir. As the animals came into the lane, they lifted their heads, sniffed the air from the mountain side, and became eager and excited. Stiff-legged old cows, as well as young calves, kicked up their hind legs and made frolicsome leaps this way and that. They rushed playfully or angrily at each other, clashing their horns, and giving a short bellow if worsted in the tussle; then they dashed off to assail other members of the crowd. Everything combined to form a hubbub of lowing and bellowing, horn clashing and fence creaking, whacking of sticks and shouting of people; while back and forth through all the confusion, with his horns high above all the other horns, went the big bull, like a great heavy snowplow, clearing the way. Of the whole herd, only one cow stood undisturbed amid the wild uproar, calmly waiting and looking about. That was the bell cow, whom, of course, none of the other cows dared to disturb.
At last the head milkmaid came to the front and gave a call. The bell cow threw up her head and with a loud, echoing bellow started to follow her. Next came Brindle, still sniffing with anger after her many encounters. She had got the best of all who were worth getting the best of, and if she could not be the bell cow, she would, at any rate, stand next to her.
Directly after Brindle came Crookhorn, with a self-important air and making herself as tall as possible. But Brindle was in no mood for seeing the funny side of things to-day, so she lunged out with one of her long hind legs and gave Crookhorn a blow on the head that made the prideful goat see stars. But Crookhorn merely tossed her head and went on as if nothing had happened. Such actions, she thought, were probably customary among cows.
The head milkmaid kept on calling, and the cows, one after another, hearing her voice, started toward her. Soon the whole noisy herd, led by the deep-toned bell and urged by shouts and flourishing of sticks, was going in full swing toward the north meadow.
Up in the meadow, which they reached after a while, the ground was level and there was plenty of room, so that the danger of collisions and other accidents was lessened. The young creatures danced around in wild play, and those of the cows who had not settled the question of mastery fought now a battle that was to be decisive for the whole summer. Soon, however, everything became quiet again, and in a couple of hours all of the animals, even the worst combatants, were grazing placidly side by side.
After this the farm people began to go home,—all except the head milkmaid and Lisbeth, who were to remain a while longer so as to be on hand in case anything happened. And something did happen. Brindle, whose quiet behavior had been only temporary, soon began to rove uneasily back and forth, sniffing hard. She was really the one who ought to be wearing the bell, she sniffed to herself; and then suddenly, with a violent rush, she hurled herself at the bell cow. Such a fight as there was then! The turf flew in all directions. Soon a sharp crack was heard, and a short, wild bellow, and one of Brindle's horns hung dangling.
Brindle shook her head till the blood splashed; then, giving another bellow, she turned and ran the shortest way home as fast as her legs could carry her, never stopping until she had reached the cow-house door. There she gave vent to a terrible bellowing, as if she wanted to bring all the farm buildings down over the people's ears.
* * * * *
After dinner the calves were let out. Lisbeth had finally named the three cow calves Yellow Speckle, Redsides, and Young Moolley, but as yet she had found no name to suit her for the bull calf. Lisbeth saw plainly that Kjersti wondered why she had not called any of the calves after Bliros (Gentle Cow), but she gave no sign of having noticed Kjersti's thought.
This is the way the calves were induced to leave their pen and to cross the cow-house floor. To begin with, a good-sized pail with a little milk in it was held out to each calf. In their eagerness to get the milk the calves thrust their heads clear into the pails; and when the persons holding these began to run, the calves ran too, with the pails over their heads like hats. Outside the cow-house door the pails were snatched off and there stood the calves, who had never before been beyond their pen, in the very midst of the great, wonderful new world.
The startled creatures gave an amazed look and then began to back, just as if they felt themselves suddenly standing at the head of a steep stairway; but soon they ventured to put one foot carefully forward, then another, and another. It was slow work, one step at a time; but at length they found that there was firm ground in this new region. They concluded that the world was only a larger calf pen, after all; but it was a wonderfully light calf pen, and its walls were certainly a long way off. Swish! up went their tails into the air and away they scampered like the wildest of forest animals.
Then began a great race in the big field,—from fence to fence, this way and that, crosswise, and round and round. Every time the calves jumped over a hillock Kjersti and Lisbeth saw their tails stand straight up against the sky like tillers. Lisbeth thought she had never seen anything so funny. But they could not keep together long. They soon ran off in various directions, and in the evening Lisbeth had to go to the farthest corners of the field with a pail and coax them home one by one; for of course they did not have sense enough to know when to go home,—they who were out in the world for the first time!
* * * * *
Lisbeth was lying again in her little room. It was the evening of her first working day. She had said her simple evening prayer, as usual, and then stretched herself out on the bed, feeling how good it was to rest, for her body was tired through and through.
What a day it had been! A long day, too, she knew; nevertheless, she could not imagine where it had gone. She felt that she must think over all that had happened. But drowsiness came stealing upon her and threw the scenes of the day into confusion. She saw a pair of big horns that plowed like a snow plow through a swarming crowd, and then she saw Brindle standing in her stall with her head on one side and a big bandage over one of her horns, looking exactly like an old peasant woman with a kerchief tied around her head for a headache; and then she thought she saw, written in the air, a couplet that she had once heard:
Rearing its tail against the sky, Danced the calf on the hilltop high.
And then Lisbeth Longfrock fell asleep.
* * * * *
The next day, with the lunch bag upon her back, Lisbeth Longfrock set out for a forest that lay not far off, taking the sheep and goats with her. She had not succeeded in getting Crookhorn to go along, however. The self-willed goat had taken the shortest cut up to the north meadow, where the cows were again pastured.
Lisbeth's second working day, like her first, seemed a very long one, for the forest was wonderfully lonesome and still. The little girl had time to think of many, many things,—of her mother and Jacob and Peerout Castle; and it must be acknowledged that she cried a wee bit, too.
SUMMER: TAKING THE ANIMALS UP TO THE SAETER
Upward over the open slope across the valley from Hoel Farm a lengthy procession was taking its way.
Kjersti Hoel stood at the window of her room, following the procession with her eyes as long as she could, for soon it would vanish from the open slope into the wooded part of the mountain. The herds belonging to Hoel Farm were that day being taken up to the saeter, to spend the summer grazing on the rich grass which grows in sunny spaces here and there on the mountain heights.
 Pronounced (approximately) say'ter.
At the head of the procession rode the milkmaid on the military horse, which for this occasion had a woman's saddle upon its back. The saddle had a high frame, so that it looked almost like an easy-chair; and the milkmaid sitting aloft on it, dressed in her best, and with a white linen kerchief on her head, was rosy, plump, and also somewhat self-conscious, for was not she the most important person in the company, the one who was to give all the commands?
 In some districts of Norway the farmers are required to keep one or more horses subject to the needs of the government, under certain conditions of use and payment.
After her came two farm hands, each leading a horse whose back fairly curved in under its heavy load. Then followed the herds in order of rank. First came the bell cow, then Brindle with her wounded horn that had grown on awry, then Crookhorn, then Darkey, and behind Darkey the whole long train of cows,—all except two, old Moolley and the pet, Wee Bonny, who were to stay at home to furnish milk for the people there and to teach the new calves to follow. After the cows stalked the big bull, as if acting as rear guard for his herd.
Next came the goats, hurrying along and trying to get ahead; then the sheep in a tight clump; and behind these, four great pigs and a few calves; while at the very end of the train came the under-milkmaid, and Lisbeth Longfrock with her lunch bag on her back.
In the beginning all had gone as gayly as a dance, for almost every one had pleasant memories of the summer before, and it seemed impossible to reach the mountain top quickly enough; but as they mounted, the way became steeper and steeper, and the sun rose higher and higher, burning their backs. The pigs began to lag behind, trying to branch off at every side path so as to get a little nap in the shade or cool themselves in a mudhole. The sheep and goats, feeling the need of something in their stomachs, slipped aside whenever they spied a young birch tree whose leaves they could nibble, or a fence to peep through, or a plot of green grass. The last year's calves, who had not been to the saeter before, saw no reason at all for hurrying, and made no attempt at it except when the stick was used upon them.
So Lisbeth Longfrock had to keep rushing off the road into side paths, behind bushes, into forest thickets and boggy marshes, to drag the various creatures back into line; and scarcely did she get them safely into the road from one side before they slipped out again on the other.
She had to take off one of her long knitted garters and tie it around her waist so that she could tuck her long frock up out of the way; for she was constantly on the run, coaxing, shouting, and circumventing.
It was a hard struggle. Her light hair became dripping wet and her face was as red as a half-ripe mountain cranberry; but Lisbeth did not notice her discomfort, so absorbed was she in what she had to do. The under-milkmaid would return to the farm with the men when the saeter was reached. It was Lisbeth who was to have the responsibility for the smaller animals during the whole summer, and who was to bring them home in the autumn fat and glossy. She and the head milkmaid had their special responsibilities, each at her own end of the line, as it were; and even if Lisbeth's was only the tail end, she did not wish to have the disgrace of being unable to keep it in order.
The procession continued mounting higher and higher, and soon the whole valley lay below, deep and wide and delicately green. The fir trees became smaller and more scattered, the slender birches grew closer together. Before long the first specimens of black crowberries and "old woman's switches" (dwarf birch trees) were seen; and with that the procession was up over the crest of the mountain side.
Then, all at once, it seemed as if a heavy weight slipped off; as if all weariness was smoothed away from man and beast. The whole mountain sent its freshness and peace streaming over them. They were in a new world. Before them, with its boundless surface broken into level spaces and undulating slopes, lay the mountain top, stretching itself far, far away, until lost in the deepening blue of a snow-streaked summit. If they looked back, the valley seemed to have sunk out of sight; but on the mountain top across the valley they could see wide expanses of open land dotted with shining water and grassy saeter districts.
Drawing a long breath, all gazed silently around. What a tranquillity lay over everything! Of their own accord the animals fell into order along the stony road curving endlessly beyond them. They made no more attempts to branch off into side paths, but walked slowly along at an even pace. That gave Lisbeth a little time to view her surroundings. She had never seen a place so broad and open. And up here she was to spend the whole bright summer.
All at once, in the midst of this vastness and space, Lisbeth felt herself so wonderfully little! But she was not at all terrified; she only felt very solemn and peaceful.
She began to think of the future,—of the rest of the day, the coming summer, and the many summers that would follow. Sometime she herself would be big and grown up, like the head milkmaid, whom she could now see sitting on the high saddle far ahead. Sometime she herself would sit up there, perhaps, and ride at the front.
The pack horses refused to go slowly now, even under their heavy loads. They forged ahead, passed the mounted milkmaid, and soon disappeared over a distant ridge. The procession followed slowly. Hour after hour it wound its curving way over ridges and brooks, past saeters and shining mountain lakes. Lisbeth had the honor of sitting up in the saddle and riding awhile, the milkmaid feeling that she would gladly walk a little.
Evening began to draw nigh. They took their way high up through a gap in the mountain which they had seen in the distance early in the morning. After that the road began to descend. They met with birch trees again and one single warped fir tree; and from below they heard the rushing sound of a large river.
They reached at last the edge of the saeter valley to which they were bound, and stood still to look down. Below them lay a comparatively level space, peaceful and green, with its three saeter huts, belonging to Hoegseth, Lunde, and Hoel farms. From the chimneys of two of the huts smoke was ascending in the still afternoon air.
 Pronounce the oe like the e in her and th like t.
 Loond'eh (oo as in good).
The gazers were filled with delight. This, then, was the spot where they were to spend the summer! The cows began to bellow. The smaller animals, one and all, started on a run past the cows and down the hill.
* * * * *
Early the next morning Lisbeth was on her way across the mountain pasture with the small animals in her charge. She did not have the lunch bag on her back now, for while she was up at the saeter she was to take dinner at the hut every noon.
The sunshine was brilliant. The cows had been turned loose and were walking away on the nearest cow path, going in single file as if strung on a line. The leader's bell rang deeply and regularly, its tone mingling with others quite as deep from the neighboring saeters; and in upon this solemn ringing broke the delicate, brisk dingle-dangle of the smaller creatures' bells.
The time had now come when Lisbeth Longfrock was to make her first entrance into the vast unknown. The milkmaid had told her that while tending her animals this first day she should not wander too far, lest she might not be able to find her way back. She was to listen to the other herders and keep near them. The milkmaid did not know whether the other herders were boys or girls this year.
Lisbeth kept looking back every now and then to keep track of the way she had come, and was apparently loath to lose sight of the hut; but the animals drifted rapidly off in the distance and she had to follow so as not to lose sight of them altogether, and after a while, when she looked back, the hut could not be seen. Around her were only the unending wastes of hill and marsh and the faraway mountain peaks. How spacious and silent it was! Not a sound was to be heard except that of the bells; not even the river's rushing harmonies reached up to where she stood.
She suddenly felt herself so utterly alone and remote and had such a longing to caress some living creature that she went among the flock and petted now this one and now that. The bell goat became so envious that it butted the others out of the way and stood rubbing itself against her.
All at once there came a call, "Ho-i-ho! ho-i-ho!" so loud and clear that the mountains echoed with it. The goats pricked up their ears, and Lisbeth, too, listened breathlessly. The call was so unexpected that she had not distinguished from what quarter it came. It sounded near, and yet, because of the echoes, from all directions.
"Ho-i-ho! ho-i-ho!" This time the call was still louder. Presently she heard bells, several bells, and then she saw a large flock of sheep and goats come straggling over the crest of a hill.
Very likely it was the other herders who were calling. Lisbeth saw two straw hats rise above the hill, and by degrees two tall boys seemed to grow up out of the hilltop,—boys about as big as Jacob.
At sight of them Lisbeth felt so shy that she kneeled down and hid herself behind a bushy little mound.
The boys shaded their eyes with their hands and looked down from the hilltop.
"Ho-i-ho!" they called, and then listened. "Ho-i-ho!"
No answer. All was still.
Then one of the boys cried out:
Oh, ho! you boy from Hoel, don't you hear? If you have pluck, we call you to appear!
They stood awhile, watching. Then they darted forward, turned two or three somersaults, and ran down the hill toward her, repeating their call and shouting. Again they stopped and listened, as if uncertain.
"Ho-i-ho!" Again they challenged:
If you lie hid behind some bush or stone, Come out and show there's marrow in your bone!
Then the two boys came to the bottom of the hill, where Lisbeth's flock was, and looked around. No, they did not see any one. The new herder from Hoel, who dared to lose track of his flock the first day, must be a reckless young scamp—a fellow it might be fun to get acquainted with. Very likely he had heard of their bathing place in the Sloping Marsh. Probably that was where he had gone now.
Well, they would take his animals with them and go there themselves; but first they would give another call. Perhaps he was not so far away but that he might hear if they gave a good loud one.
"Ho-i-ho!" From far away echo repeated the sounds in "dwarf language," as the Norwegian boys call it.
When all was still again, there sounded close at hand, as thin and clear as the peep of a bird, "Ho-i-ho!"
This was from Lisbeth, who, when she heard that they were going to take her flock away, felt that she ought to call out, although it was extremely embarrassing.
The boys stopped short, greatly astonished. From behind the bushy little mound there arose something small, just like a tiny "hill woman," in a plaid neckerchief and a long frock, who stood stock-still and looked at them with large, shy eyes.
At sight of her the boys were somewhat abashed. It was a little embarrassing for them to find that their boastful, taunting rhymes had been directed against a poor timorous "young one," and a girl at that; but it was exasperating, too, for they had expected to see a comrade of their own size.
Humph! any one could see that Hoel Farm had women folk at the head of it. The mistress was not willing that even the herder should be a boy.
If the "young one" had only been bigger,—bigger than themselves,—they could have shown their contempt for her and chased her; but that little midget! no, indeed, grown-up fellows like them did not waste either words or blows on such small fry! It would be a good plan, however, to talk with her a bit and hear whether another herder was not coming to take her place. After that they would have nothing more to do with her. They could get along by themselves for one summer. All that was necessary was to frighten her a little, so that she would keep out of their way.
They came over to Lisbeth and stood before her, big-boy-like, with their hands in their pockets. Then one of them said, "Are you going to be the Hoel herder this summer?"
"Yes," answered Lisbeth. Then, as if to excuse herself, she added quickly, "Kjersti wanted me to."
"What is your name?"
"Lisbeth; and Jacob calls me Longfrock."
"Where are you from?"
"Are you Jacob Peerout's sister? We went to school with him last winter."
"Yes, I am."
"What a nuisance that Jacob himself did not come! We haven't any use at all for young ones like you up here."
The speaker, who was the larger of the two boys, stood awhile waiting for a reply; but Lisbeth did not know what answer to make to his remark and therefore said nothing. So he continued: "Well, we only wanted to say to you—I'm Ole Hoegseth and that fellow over there is Peter Lunde—that you must keep out of our way. You must not dare to come a step beyond a line running from Pancake Stone down around the Sloping Marsh to the Pointing Stump near the Hoegseth cow path. If you let your animals graze beyond that line, your brother Jacob, next winter, shall get all the thrashings you ought to have this summer."
Lisbeth was dreadfully frightened and her mouth began to tremble. Then the second boy said to the larger one, "Yes, but Jacob is so strong that he will get the best of you."
"Not when I have brought myself into good training. Hoi!" and he turned a handspring.
"Now you know what Jacob may expect, so take care what you do! We boys are going up to the Sloping Marsh to bathe. Ho-i-ho!"
With shout and call they took their way up over the hill again. At the top they looked back and then glanced a little dubiously at each other. Lisbeth Longfrock was still standing where they had left her, and—she was crying!
Lisbeth felt very small and forlorn as she stood there. She certainly did not want to do anything that Jacob would get a thrashing for. If she only knew where it was that she was not allowed to go! but she had not the least idea where either the Pointing Stump or the Sloping Marsh lay. All that she could do would be to keep with her animals and find out about these places later.
Sometime afterwards, when Lisbeth had mounted a small round hill, she heard the bells of the boys' flocks again. That gave her a fright, and she began to chase her animals off in another direction. But as she turned around to do so she saw, far, far down the marsh, two white figures running, jumping, and playing leapfrog in the sunshine beside a gleaming pond. The boys had let their flocks stray away from them!
Lisbeth dreaded incurring more displeasure, but surely something ought to be done. There was no help for it; she would really have to take care of the stray animals for a while. The boys could not be angry at that, she knew, because the greatest disgrace that can befall a herder is the losing of his flock, and for boys so big as these to go back to the saeter without any animals would be especially humiliating.
So Lisbeth went to work gathering the flocks together, jumping up on a mound every now and then to see if the boys were not ready to come; but they appeared to have forgotten everything except their play.
At length she saw that the boys suddenly stood still and listened, peering about in all directions. Then they started into activity again, snatched up their clothes, put them on in great haste, and started off on a run toward the opposite edge of the marsh. Every little while they would stop and listen, and then run on again. They were so far off that there was no use in Lisbeth's shouting to them or trying to give the call "Ho-i-ho!"
When the boys reached a round hill that lay on the other side of the marsh, they ran to the top and again peered in all directions for a long time. Then, as fast as their legs could carry them, they made their way back across the marsh straight toward the small round hill where Lisbeth was. As they neared it Lisbeth thought that now was the time to give the herder's call, for the flocks were on the other side of the hill and their bells could not be heard by the boys. Her first call was too weak. She gave another somewhat stronger.
The boys stopped and answered.
Lisbeth called again, "Ho-i-ho!" and then the boys came up the hill. They found it a little difficult to break the silence. It was rather annoying to be obliged to question that "young one" about their flocks; but there was no other way.
"Have you seen our animals?"
Lisbeth looked at them pleadingly. "They are here at the foot of the hill. I have been taking care of them, but you must not thrash Jacob for it."
The boys looked as they felt,—rather crestfallen. But they had to say something, so Ole remarked, as they turned and left her, "Oh, well, we 'll let him off for this one time."
* * * * *
When Lisbeth went to fasten the gate of the fold that evening Peter Lunde came bobbing along outside the fence.
"You haven't a strange sheep here, have you?"
"No; I have counted mine."
"Well, perhaps I counted mine wrong. Very likely they are all there."
The two stood looking at each other for a while; then both grew shy and had to turn their eyes away. At last Peter said: "Lisbeth, if you want to, you may tend your flock wherever we tend ours, and you may come to our pond. I understood Ole to say that he is willing, too; but if he makes any fuss about it, why I can thrash him if I really want to."
"Yes, I will come gladly, you may be sure."
"Well, then, I will come after you to-morrow morning, back of the hill here."
Lisbeth did not get a chance to say anything more, for Peter was off like a flash around the corner. He had seen Ole coming.
Ole came lounging along in his usual fashion, with his hands in his pockets.
"You haven't seen a strange sheep, have you?"
"Is one of yours missing?"
"Oh, I don't know exactly. Humph! I thought I would tell you that you need not bother yourself about what I said to-day. I did not mean anything by it. It was Peter that made me say it; and if you want me to, I can thrash him for it to-morrow."
THE TAMING OF CROOKHORN
It was early morning in the latter part of the summer, and the sun was shining brightly over Hoel Saeter.
Lisbeth was alone inside the fold, milking goats. All was quiet and peaceful. Not a bell was heard. The only sounds were the gentle rush of the river far below and an occasional soft thud from the cow house when a cow bumped her horns against the wall in getting up. The milkmaid was inside the cow house, milking the cows. Lisbeth's hands were still too small for that work, so it had been arranged that she should have entire charge of the goats instead of helping with the larger animals.
Suddenly from the hill above the saeter rang out "Ho-o-i-ho!" and in a few minutes the call was answered a little farther off with a touch of irritation in the tone, "Ho-o-i-ho!"
Lisbeth looked up and listened. Then with a smile of happy satisfaction she went over to the fence and called, "Ho-o-i-ho!" Now she could send out the tones with vigor, so that they rang back from all the hills around; her voice no longer trembled when she answered the big boys' call.
To-day she knew that they were calling especially to summon her, and that they dared to come close to the saeter with their animals because they had an errand,—something that they had planned with the milkmaid and Lisbeth.
By the sound of the bells she could tell that the boys were driving the animals as fast as they could. The boy that was behind—Peter, of course—was provoked at not being first.
But, if you please, they would have to wait until she had finished her work. They were out extremely early to-day!
* * * * *
However strange it may seem, Lisbeth Longfrock, soon after her arrival at Hoel Saeter, had become a prime favorite with the other herders. The day after her first painful experiences the boys, as proposed, had met her behind the hill, Peter first and then Ole. No reference was made to the previous day; it was merely taken for granted that in future she would be with them. Ole said that she could look after their animals, together with her own, while they went off to bathe. Peter thought she could, too. So she agreed to the arrangement.
But the boys did not play very long on the bank of the pond that day when they had finished bathing. It was not much fun, after all, to be down there by themselves.
So it had come to pass that Lisbeth and her animals never came strolling over the hill in the morning without meeting the boys. They generally came at nearly the same time, each from the direction of his own saeter, apparently trying to see who could be the first to give the call. But when they met each did his best to make out to the other that he had come there by the merest chance, both sheepishly realizing that the very evening before they had put on big-boy airs about "that young one whom they could never get rid of," and had said that they would go off in an entirely different direction the next day, to avoid her if possible.
Often the boys would have athletic contests, turning handsprings and wrestling from one meal-time to another because neither boy was willing to give up beaten. More than once in a single morning or afternoon would Lisbeth have to remind them to look after their animals, because, completely forgotten by the boys, the flocks had strayed nearly out of sight.
Occasionally it happened that one boy would reach Hoel Saeter ten or fifteen minutes before the other and would find Lisbeth ready to set out. In that case the first comer would insist that he and Lisbeth should start out by themselves, urging that the other boy had probably gone somewhere else that day. Such times were almost the pleasantest, Lisbeth thought, for then the one boy had always so much to show her that the other boy did not know about,—a marshy ledge, white as snow with cloudberry blossoms, where there would be many, many berries in the autumn (that ledge they could keep for themselves,—it was not worth while to let the other boy know about everything they found); or a ptarmigan nest with thirteen big eggs in it; or a ridge where scouring rushes grew unusually long and thick.
 A species of horsetail rush (Equisetum hyemale), having a rough, flinty surface. It is used for scouring and polishing.
Each boy talked more with her, too, when by himself, and was less boastful and rough. And the one boy would climb trees and get spruce gum for her, while she would seek scouring rush for him. Scouring rush is something that requires a special knack in the one who is to discover it, and the boys had never seen Lisbeth's equal in spying it out. Peter said that if there was a single spear growing anywhere, you might be sure that she would find it; to which Ole jokingly responded that, for his part, he believed she could find one even where there wasn't any!