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innkeeper is that — you can't help admitting that we all
want to have children — most of us anyhow. They
must have done quite a lot for it; I've been told the inn-
keeper and his chapel folk used to kneel and pray to
the Lord that he would look down in his mercy and
bless her womb. But the Lord don't seem to have
thought a child would be very w'ell off in their care —
something of the sort; anyway nothing came of all their
hocus-pocus. And then it was that fellow came last
autumn — the missionary the innkeeper brought down
here to lead revival meetings. And so he and the wife
prayed together in private and he laid hands on her and
blessed her. And, one way or another, she was got
with child."

"Then it was a miracle !" said Ditte solemnly.



DITTE VISITS HOME 53

"Yes, p'raps you can call it that — there's lots of
things it isn't easy to grasp. All the same the innkeeper
can't have had the right kind of faith when it came to
the point, for he wasn't going to believe in any miracles.
You know he was never very kind to her, but now he
turned real bad. He beat her and kicked her, I'm told,
and he did it in the nastiest way; they say he always
went for the part of her body where she carried the
child."

Ditte gave a moan. "How could he?" she whis-
pered, shrinking together. Her voice was hoarse.

"Yes, how could he? He was jealous of course —
and you know what a devil he is when anything crosses
him. It made her sick — and she died; and they say
that when she was laid in her coffin, he wouldn't allow
them to give her linen and thread in her grave so that
she could deliver the child when her time came. That's
always the custom when any one dies and is buried with
a child unborn; but he was the hardest of the hard.
*Let her stay as she Is till Doomsday!' that's what
he said.

"And now it's on his own head, as is only just, since
he's but a man — for all the talk of his fearing neither
God nor the Devil. Folks that pass the churchyard at
night have heard her complaining, ever since she was
buried. And a week ago the innkeeper was driving home
from town at night and couldn't get the horses past the
churchyard. They stood there shaking with terror, and
the sweat was steaming off them, and a voice kept calling
from the grave for 'swaddling-clothes — swaddling
clothes !' He had to tear his shirt Into strips and lay



54 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

them on the grave before the voice stopped and he
could get past with his horses. But he's been in a bad
way since. Of course he's always running round as
usual, but he's not the same man."

"Poor, poor woman," said Ditte. There were big
tears in her eyes.

"Yes, you may well say that — there's a lot of evil in
the world. But to keep up a quarrel beyond the grave
— that's about the worst thing I've come across ! —
Well, but we mustn't make ourselves miserable over
it," Lars Peter raised his voice. "Slip out now to the
children — I know they want you. I'll have to go down
and get the boat ready for to-night."

Ditte took Povl and Else by the hand and went out
to visit friends and acquaintances. She would rather
have left it undone, but that wouldn't do — they might
have said she was too proud. The old folks at "Gin-
gerbread House" were glad to see her. "My, how big
you've grown !" they said, feeling her up and down. As
for them, they were smaller than ever; those two dear
people seemed to grow the wrong way. There was
the usual smell of apples and lavender about the place.

They paid a visit to Lars Jensen's widow too. She
was not a widow any longer, by the way, as the inn-
keeper had paired her off with a new fisherman who had
arrived at the village — his way of getting over the
housing difficulty. But the children never called her
anything but Lars Jensen's widow. She was quite
touched by the visit, good soul. "Well, I couldn't be
a mother to you, you see," she said, "but it's nice to see
you so friendly all the same. For now I've got a hus-



DITTE VISITS HOME 55

band of my own on my hands, as you may have heard.
1 can't tell you exactly what he's like, for I've scarcely
got acquainted with him yet, I haven't. It seems a bit
strange to have a perfect stranger shoved in on one like
that; to begin with you bite and kick and won't have
anything to do with one another. But that passes off
too — like everything else in this world." They had to
stay and have coffee, and then went on with their round.
It was fun to go round like this and be treated like a
grown-up and made a fuss of; Ditte quite felt that she
was somebody.

But there had to be an end of this showing-off. It
was Saturday and the house wanted properly putting in
order; Else could only manage the most necessary
everyday work. Ditte put on an old skirt and a rough
apron and set to work at the house-cleaning.

It did her good to be at home again; it was unspeak-
ably soothing to be looked at with eyes beaming with
affection and pride — and admiration! How stout she
had got and how rosy her cheeks were, and how she
had grown and filled out. "You'll soon be a grown-up
girl," said Lars Peter proudly; "before one can look
round you'll be here with a sweetheart on your arm."
The children hung round her, glad and boastful to have
a grown-up sister who came home with the air of a
strange world about her and talked big about things.
Povl was the one who clung to her most, so that she
could scarcely get on with her work; he wanted to be
on her lap the whole time. He had to make up for all
the months when he had missed her. And it satisfied
something in Ditte's heart to have him about her again



S6 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

and be able to help him; his little body was grateful to
her touch and she loved his continual "Oh, but Ditte
must!" whenever he wanted something done.

Of course they would all sleep in the same bed.
"You'll never manage it," said their father; "remember
you've all grown." But Ditte was just as bent on it as
the others, she was a regular child. "Aren't you com-
ing?" they called out from the bed, and Ditte longed
to crawl in among them. But she also wanted to sit up
a little while and have some grown-up talk with her
father.

"Well, how are you getting on?" he asked, when
they had got rid of the others. "You look strong and
healthy, so you can't be starved or overworked."

No, Ditte had nothing to complain of — as far as that
went. But all the same she would like to come home
and stay the winter; there was plenty for her to do
here, and the Hill Farm was so far away.

"Yes, to be sure, we miss you every day — in more
ways than one," said Lars Peter. "But as to bringing
you home — a girl of your age — that would never do
for poor people like us. Folks wouldn't like it."

"But Rasmus Olsen's Martha has always been at
home," Ditte objected.

"Well, it's another thing with her," said Lars Peter
hesitatingly; "and she's had to give up things for it too,
I'm sure. No, the innkeeper doesn't like poor people
being helped by their children; he couldn't even stand
the sight of Kristian at home here. But if it's too far
off, perhaps we can find you a place nearer home.
There's a talk that the innkeeper's going to fit up a hotel



DITTE VISITS HOME 57

and bring holiday visitors, like they have in other
places. Perhaps you could get a job there."

No; then Ditte would rather stay where she was.

"And for another thing, it's too soon to be changing
your place," said Lars Peter, "it gives you a bad name
— whether you deserve it or not. Farmers never like
those that change too often."

"But why not — when they're the cause of it them-
selves?"

"Because it shoAvs too much independence — and
that's what they can't stand. But if you keep the same
place a long time, it shows that you're ready to put up
with a good deal — and that they always like. — But to
talk about something else, do you ever see anything of
Uncle Johannes? I hear he's not a stranger at the
Hill Farm."

Ditte had only seen him once and didn't think he had
been there oftener. "Is there anything between
him and Karen Bakkegaards perhaps?" she asked
inquisitively.

"Well, at any rate the gossip goes that he's courting
your mistress — and that she doesn't altogether dislike
him. Whether it's true or not I can't guarantee ; but he
has cheek enough to aim that high. It'll be a case of
young and old; and that's not a good thing, they say.'*

Ditte was waked the next m.orning by somebody pull-
ing her nose. She opened her eyes in bewilderment;
Kristian and Povl were leaning over the bed, staring at
her with mischief in their eyes, and Sister Else stood by
the bedside with coffee. "You're going to have coffee



58 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

in bedl" they cried, laughing heartily at her confused
expression. She was not used to being called in
that way.

It was getting late — she could see that by the sun.
The little rascals had arranged the day before that she
was to have a long sleep, and they slipped out of the
bedclothes without her noticing it. "You are a nice
lot!" she said, sitting up in bed; "I wanted to get up
early and put the house straight."

"But it is straight!" they cried, delighted at the way
they had taken her in.

While Ditte was dressing she had to tell them all
about the Hill Farm and the cattle and the cat that was
like Pers and the elderly laborer with his tobacco-
stained mouth and black horse's teeth. "And then he's
so fond of kissing," said Ditte — "he can hardly let one
alone."

"Ugh, what a beast!" Kristian had to go and spit
out of the open window. In doing so he caught sight of
the boats out at sea. "Father's coming!" he cried, and
rushed away — out of the kitchen door and down across
the sandhills with loud yells of joy. The other two
were also on the move ; but Povl, who imitated every-
thing Kristian did, had to go and spit out of the window
before he did anything else. He had to crawl up on
the bedstead to reach — and then got it all down his
clothes; Ditte of course had to wipe him, and all that
delayed them. At last he escaped and toddled off to
the harbor — Ditte could follow him from the window;
he stumbled and rolled every moment, he was in such a
hurry. He was the same funny little fatty as ever.



DITTE VISITS HOME 59

Ditte would have gone down to the beach too, but
there was a knock on the wall. It was Mother Doriom;
Ditte went in to her. "I could hear you were come,"
she sneezed — "I could hear your voice." She coughed
between every word and the phlegm gurgled in her like
a pot of potatoes on the boil. She was lying in a fear-
ful state as usual; Ditte tried to prop her head up a
little, and the pillows were like clammy oilcloth to the
touch.

"Well, here one has to lie and rot and yet can't man-
age to die," she complained. "There's nobody to look
after one, and one's no use to anybody. The son's
away at sea and never comes home, and his wife does
nothing but gad about. She's in the family way again,
they say — my eyes aren't good enough to see such
things. And what does it matter — if only one could die
soon. If it wasn't for Fore-and-Aft Jakob I might lie
here and perish; he's the only one that looks after me.
Come here and I'll tell you something, but don't you
breathe a word to anybody. Jakob's going to find the
word soon — and then he'll shoot the Ogre."

"I wish he would," said Ditte. "Then we'd be free
of him."

"Yes, that's right. But don't you say anything about
it, or you may spoil it all."

"Shan't I open the window a little?" Ditte was
nearly choked with the stench.

"Oh, no, oh no, don't !" The old woman had a fit of
coughing at the bare idea.

Ditte looked round helplessly; she thought she ought
to lend a hand here, but there was neither beginning



6o DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

nor end to it. "You just leave it all alone," said the old
woman. "I'm used to it now and it suits me best."
Ditte was on the point of being sick, but she didn't see
how she could go off and leave the old woman lying like
that. It wasn't her way to shirk things. But just then
she heard her father's voice calling her from the day-
light outside.

"You're gasping for breath, aren't you?" he said.
"Some of us that can stand a lot get seasick if we put
our head in at the door. But there's nothing to be
done. Every now and then the place is cleaned out,
but it's just the same again directly. She ought properly
to go to the hospital, but the innkeeper won't have it.
Of course he's afraid of people finding out what a state
she's in. They say she's got great holes in her from the
dirt and vermin and her thighs have grown quite
together."

"Where are the twins?" asked Ditte.

"Oh, one of them fell into the harbor the other day
and was drowned. The mother was down there at the
slip rinsing clothes and it must have happened right be-
side her. But she didn't notice anything and went home
thinking the child hadn't been with her — she's as care-
less as that. He was found afterwards under a lighter;
and the other we took and sent up country for a while
to some of their relations."

"But why won't the innkeeper help them at all?"

"Oh, you see, he hates them because the son went to
sea instead of stopping here to work."

But to-day was Sunday — everything showed it. The
sun spread a holiday brilliance over the sandhills, the



DITTE VISITS HOME 6i

harbor and the water; the fishermen's cabins glistened
in the calm sunshine. The poles for drying nets stood
idly against the blue sky, like fellows who were keeping
Sunday with their hands in their pockets. It was one of
those days that call for something really out of the way
— an excursion ! Lars Peter gave up his sleep. "Oh
come !" he answered gaily to Ditte's objections. "A
sleep more or less, what's it matter? In one's young
days one thought nothing of it. And there's time
enough to sleep when one's dead."

It would be fine to make a trip inland to Lake Arre;
then they could see the "Crow's Nest" at the same
time — there were a lot of attractions in that direction.
Lars Peter was all for it; but the children wanted
to go somewhere they had never been before.
There was to be a fete at a fishing hamlet about
eight miles to the south — to raise money for the
harbor,

Lars Peter caught at the idea at once; perhaps there
would be a chance of finding something or other — he
was pretty tired of being here, "And then we shall
see the holiday folks too," he said delightedly. "I've
heard there are so many of them down there that the
fishermen have had to give up their huts to them and
take to the sheds and pigstyes. And they must be a
queer lot. They eat their fish with two forks, I'm
told, and they have breakfast when we have dinner,
and dinner when we have supper. So I suppose their
supper comes about the time we're drinking our morn-
ing coffee!" The children laughed; it sounded crazy
to them. "Yes, and then they've got nothing to do



62 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

but go courting each other's wives. It must be quite
the thing, too, for it doesn't seem to make them any
the worse friends. And they're always in the way!
The fishermen down there are not altogether pleased,
but of course it brings money to the place." It all
sounded very promising.

But how were they to get there? Sailing was the
easiest and most natural way, but the girls were not
specially keen on that. And it was too far to walk.
So it had to be seen whether they could borrow Big
Klaus; Lars Peter thought it was worth trying. The
innkeeper had been a little more amenable since that
affair of the churchyard.

Ah, a drive ! to have a drive again with Big Klaus — •
that was something worth talking about ! The girls
said "Ah" and made big eyes, and the two boys frisked
about like young colts. Kristian was sent off to ask
for the trap, and before they knew where they were
he had brought it to the door.

Well, now they had to hurry up. The children were
In their best clothes, but had to be gone over once
more; they did their best to keep tidy, but one never
knew how it would be. Kristian's knees were black,
quite rough and scabby; it wouldn't come off, he said.
"Come here, I'll get it off fast enough," said Ditte, get-
ting out the soft soap and scrubbing-brush; but Kris-
tian made a bolt.

"Do you think I want to have legs like a girl?" he
asked in a hurt tone.

Ditte packed a basket with bread, butter and fat
in pots, cold fish and whatever else there was to be



DITTE VISITS HOME 63

found. "Now we only want a couple of bottles of
beer," she said.

"We'll buy them down there — and coffee too!" said
her father with careless generosity. "We're going to
have a good time to-day."

"But you haven't any money!" Ditte objected pru-
dently.

Faith, that was true enough, Lars Peter had never
thought of that. "You get so used never to have
a penny in your pocket, that it's like a vice," he said
with a laugh. "Oh, Kristian, just run across to Rasmus
Olsen's and ask them to lend your father a dollar."

"I wonder if they've got it," said Ditte, glancing
over to Rasmus Olsen's cabin.

"Yes, that's all right; you see, Rasmus Olsen's crew
fell in with a boat from Hundested under Hesselo last
night and sold them some of their catch," said Lars
Peter under his breath. "You have to play a trick like
that once in a while to get a bit of ready money."

Kristian came running back; they could see by his
pace that he had succeeded. He held a clear bottle
in his hand, sparkling in the sun. "If it isn't a dram!'*
said Lars Peter warmly. "My word, that's decent of
Rasmus Olsen, though !"

"And what do you think?" said Povl, pulling Ditte
by the skirt; "over in 'Gingerbread House' they're
making doughnuts, and I believe they're for us." Yes,
Ditte had already smelt them.

"But how do they know we're going for a picnic?"
she asked in surprise.

It was no secret. The trap was surrounded by



64 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

children, and women put their heads out of all the
doors to see what was going on. It wasn't every day
that such a swell turn-out could be seen in the hamlet.

It was quite strange to see Big Klaus again. He was
old — and ill-used; he had lost a lot of flesh since Ditte
last saw him. She found one or two hunks of stale
bread for him, but Big Klaus only smelt at it; it had
to be soaked in water before he could chew it. But
he knew them still, and he was specially pleased to see
Lars Peter. Every time he came near, the old horse
whinnied — it was quite touching. "He'd like to be
petted all the time," he said mournfully, patting his
nose. Then Big Klaus shoved his head in between his
arm and his chest and stood perfectly still.

The children really felt a little sorry for him at
the thought of the long drive; there seemed to be no
life in him, his big frame was like an old house that
might collapse at any moment. But Lars Peter said
it would be all right, and as soon as they were in the
trap the horse began to pull quite well. Lars Peter
walked at the side until they were out of the loose sand
of the dunes; and Fore-and-Aft Jakob, who had turned
up on the scene, pushed behind of his own accord. It
was quite clever of him.

"But the doughnuts !" said Povl, when they stopped
at the end of the dunes for their father to get in.
"We've forgotten all about them." Ditte looked back
at the house ; she had remembered them, but it wouldn't
have done to go and ask for them, even if they knew
they were meant for them. But at that moment the
little woman appeared in the doorway, beckoning.



DITTE VISITS HOME 65

Kristian was out of the trap in a jiffy, and came back
laden with a heavy basket. "There's gooseberry fool
in it as well," he said. "And I was to wish you all a
happy outing."

So they went on, slowly but surely. As soon as Big
Klaus had got some warmth in his joints he went along
very well; he had still some of his old pace left, which
got rid of the miles better than many a canter.

It was grand to be out in the country again, and
driving too. There were cornfields on every side,
small holdings each with its homestead and telling its
tale of a busy life. Now and then they had a glimpse
of the surface of Lake Arre far away, and it reminded
them of the "Crow's Nest." Time had done its work,
had wiped out all that was casual, leaving only the
essential behind. It had been a property after all,
the "Crow's Nest" had, with its land, however poor,
with cow and pig and hens that laid eggs. One had
been one's own master, so long as one kept out of debt.
They didn't talk about it, but all had the same thoughts;
that could be seen by the way they stretched their necks
on reaching the top of a hill, trying to get a glimpse of
the smoke of the "Crow's Nest." If it hadn't been for
Big Klaus, Lars Peter would have gone round that way.
"Perhaps we ought to have stayed there," he said half
aloud. He was not addressing any one, but the chil-
dren thought much the same. Even little Povl sat
quite still, as though he felt at home again. — After
all the land was something different from the sea.

On the way down to the fishing hamlet stood a huge
building, hung all over with wooden birdcages right up



66 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

to the roof. "That's the bathing hotel," explained
Lars Peter — "it's one like that the innkeeper wants to
build at home. Goodness knows how it can pay — it's
only open about a month in the year." Big Klaus
had to stop while they took a look at it.

"What are all those funny birdcages for?" asked
Ditte.

"Those? They're what they call ferandahs. They
lie about in them when they're too lazy to move."

"Does it cost much to live there?" asked Kristian
when they had started again.

"What are you thinking of, boy? They pay more
a day for one person than we spend in a week — the
whole lot of us."

"Where do they get all the money from?" Else then
asked.

"Ah, where do they get it from, tell m.e that. The
likes of us have hard work to scrape together enough
for what's barely necessary. But there's some folks
that have an easy time of It all through."

They kept on asking questions, endlessly; Lars Peter
could hardly keep pace with them. Only little Povl
never spoke but used his eyes. "What a lot that boy
sees!" said Ditte, giving him a kiss.

They did not put up at the inn but drove in among
the dunes and took the horse out. "They generally
steal some of your chaff at the inn," said Lars Peter
in explanation; but the real reason was that he wanted
to save the tip. Big Klaus got his nosebag on and a
cloth over him to keep off the flies, and they went on
to look about them.



DITTE VISITS HOME 67

The harbor was not so good as the one at home,
but the beach was finer. It stretched on both sides
like a half-moon, ending in high promontories; the
sand was like a floor to walk on. On the sands were
little wooden houses on wheels, to be driven out into
the water when any one wanted to bathe. "They're
for those who are so particular that they'd die if
anybody saw them undressed," said Lars Peter, laugh-
ing. "But they're not all so squeamish as that."

No indeed they were not, for there were people
lying stretched on the sands with nothing on but a
cloth about their loins, men and women together; some
of them had burrowed right into the sand like pigs or
hens. And down by the water there were naked cou-
ples walking arm in arm. Some of the brown naked
men had nobody on their arm but went about strutting
like cocks, with their arms crossed, showing off their
muscles. Every moment they flung out their arms,
worked the muscles, and then crossed them again. It
was quite comical. But the funniest thing of all was
a naked man who ran along the beach as fast as he
could, backwards and forwards. He kept his elbows
in to his sides and his head thrown back, and his wet
hair hung down his back.

The children laughed aloud. "He can't be right
in the head," they said.

"And he knows it himself," answered their father.
"You can see he's doing it for his health. But that's
what they're like — a lot of half-crazy chaps, most of
them. It'll upset things in our hamlet when we get the
likes of them to deal with."



68 DITTE: DAUGHTER OF MAN

The fete itself was nothing much. They had made
some ropes of green and hung them between poles so
as to make a square, and inside the square was a pulpit
where a man stood and shouted something about The
Danish Path to Fame and Might! He was bare-
headed and sweating; the sun gleamed on his big bald
forehead. Booths and trials of strength and suchlike
that they were accustomed to see at fairs, were not to


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