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{Trans, from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from, Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


{Trans, from Swedish by Pauline Bancroft Flach)


(Trans, from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from Swedish by V elma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from Swedish by Pauline Bancroft FlacW)


(Trans, from Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard)


(Trans, from Swedish by Jessie Brochner)


{Trans, from Swedish by Pauline Bancroft Flach)


(Trans, from Swedish by Anna Barwell)

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Garden City New York



Copyright, i8gg, by

All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign languages

<3 'I 6 T



The Spirit of Fasting and Petter Nord .... 3

The Legend of the Bird's Nest 59

The King's Grave 71

>^ The Outlaws 99

t^ The Legend of Reor 127

t^^ V'^aldemar Atterdag 137


Mamsell Fredrika 147

The Romance of a Fisherman's Wife 161

Mother's Portrait 175

2\ A Fallen King 185

^ A Christmas Guest 215

Uncle Reuben 229

Downie . 243

X Among the Climbing Roses 281





I CAN see before me the little town, friendly as a
home. It is so small that I know its every hole
and corner, am friends with all the children and
know the name of every one of its dogs. Who ever
walked up the street knew to which window he must
raise his eyes to see a lovely face behind the panes,
and who ever strolled through the town park knew
well whither he should turn his steps to meet the
one he wished to meet.

One was as proud of the beautiful roses in the gar-
den of a neighbor, as if they had grown in one's own.
If anything mean or vulgar was done, it was as great
a shame as if it had happened in one's own family;
but at the smallest adventure, at a fire or a fight in
the market-place, one swelled with pride and said :
" Only see what a community ! Do such things ever
happen anywhere else.'' What a wonderful town ! "

In my beloved town nothing ever changes. If I
ever come there again, I shall find the same houses
and shops that I knew of old ; the same holes in the
pavements will cause my downfall ; the same stiff
hedges of lindens, the same clipped lilac bushes will


captivate my fascinated gaze. Again shall I see the
old Mayor who rules the whole town walking down
the street with elephantine tread. What a feeling
of security there is in knowing that you are walking
there! And deaf old Halfvorson will still be dig-
ging in his garden, while his eyes, clear as water,
stare and wander as if they would say : " We have
investigated everything, everything; now, earth, we
will bore down to your very centre."

But one who will not still be there is little, round
Petter Nord : the little fellow from Varmland, you
know, who was in Halfvorson's shop; he who amused
the customers with his small mechanical inventions
and his white mice. There is a long story about
him. There are stories to be told about everything
and everybody in the town. Nowhere else do such
wonderful things happen.

He was a peasant boy, little Petter Nord. He
was short and round; he was brown-eyed and smil-
ing. His hair was paler than birch leaves in the
autumn; his cheeks were red and downy. And he
was from Varmland. No one, seeing him, could
imagine that he was from any other place. His
native land had equipped him with its excellent
qualities. He was quick at his work, nimble with
his fingers, ready with his tongue, clear in his
thoughts. And, moreover, full of fun, good-natured
and brave, kind and quarrelsome, inquisitive and a
chatterbox. A madcap, he never could show more
respect to a burgomaster than to a beggar ! But
he had a heart; he fell in love every other day, and
confided in the whole town.

This child of rich gifts attended to the work in the
shop in rather an extraordinary manner. The cus-


tomers were waited on while he fed the white mice.
Money was changed and counted while he put wheels
on his little automatic wagons. And while he told
the customers of his very last love-affair, he kept his
eye on the quart measure, into which the brown
molasses was slowly curling. It delighted his admir-
ing listeners to see him suddenly leap over the
counter and rush out into the street to have a brush
with a passing street-boy; also to see him calmly
return to tie the string on a package or to finish
measuring a piece of cloth.

Was it not quite natural that he should be the
favorite of the whole town.-* We all felt obliged to
trade with Halfvorson, after Petter Nord came there.
Even the old Mayor himself was proud when Petter
Nord took him apart into a dark corner and showed
him the cages of the white mice. It was nervous
work to show the mice, for Halfvorson had forbiddev
him to have them in the shop.

But then in the brightening February there came
a few days of warm, misty weather. Petter Nord
became suddenly serious and silent. He let the
white mice nibble the steel bars of their cages with-
out feeding them. He attended to his duties in the
most irreproachable way. He fought with no more
street boys. Could Petter Nord not bear the change
in the weather.-*

Oh no, the matter was that he had found a fifty-
crown note on one of the shelves. He believed that
it had got caught in a piece of cloth, and without
any one's seeing him he had pushed it under a roll
of striped cotton which was out of fashion and was
never taken down from the shelf.

The boy was cherishing great anger in his heart


against Halfvorson. The latter had destroyed a
whole family of mice for him, and now he meant to
be revenged. Before his eyes he still saw the white
mother with her helpless offspring. She had not
made the slightest attempt to escape; she had re-
mained in her place with steadfast heroism, staring
with red, burning eyes on the heartless murderer.
Did he not deserve a short time of anxiety."* Fetter
Nord wished to see him come out pale as death from
his office and begin to look for the fifty crowns.
He wished to see the same despair in his watery
eyes as he had seen in the ruby red ones of the white
mouse. The shopkeeper should search, he should
turn the whole shop upside down before Fetter Nord
would let him find the bank-note.

But the fifty crowns lay in its hiding-place all day
without any one's asking about it. It was a new
note, many-colored and bright, and had big numbers
in all the corners. When Fetter Nord was alone in
the shop, he put a step-ladder against the shelves and
climbed up to the roll of cotton. Then he took out
the fifty crowns, unfolded it and admired its beauties.

In the midst of the most eager trade he would
grow anxious lest something should have happened
to the fifty crowns. Then he pretended to look for
something on the shelf, and groped about under the
roll of cotton till he felt the smooth bank-note rustle
under his fingers.

The note had suddenly acquired a supernatural
power over him. Might there not be something liv-
ing in it .•* The figures surrounded by wide rings
were like magnetic eyes. The boy kissed them all
and whispered: "I should like to have many, verjf
many like you."


He began to have all sorts of thoughts about the
note, and why Halfvorson did not inquire for it.
Perhaps it was not Halfvorson's? Perhaps it had
lain in the shop for a long time? Perhaps it no
longer had any owner?

Thoughts are contagious. — At supper Halfvorson
had begun to speak of money and moneyed-men.
He told Petter Nord about all the poor boys who had
amassed riches. He began with Whittington and
ended with Astor and Jay Gould. Halfvorson knew
all their histories; he knew how they had striven
and denied themselves ; what they had discovered
and ventured. He grew eloquent when he began on
such tales. He lived through the sufferings of those
young people; he followed them in their successes;
he rejoiced in their victories. Petter Nord listened
quite fascinated.

Halfvorson was stone deaf, but that was no obstacle
to conversation, for he read by the lips everything
that was said. On the other hand, he could not
hear his own voice. It rolled out as strangely mon-
otonous as the roar of a distant waterfall. But his
peculiar way of speaking made everything he said
sink in, so that one could not escape from it for
many days. Poor Petter Nord !

"What is most needed to become rich," said Half-
vorson, " is the foundation. But it cannot be earned.
Take note that they all have found it in the street or
discovered it between the lining and cloth of a coat
which they had bought at a pawnbroker's sale; or
that it had been won at cards, or had been given to
them in alms by a beautiful and charitable lady.
After they had once found that blessed coin, every-
thing had gone well with them. The stream of gold


welled from it as from a fountain. The first thing
that is necessary, Petter Nord, is the foundation."

Halfvorson's voice sounded ever fainter and
fainter. Young Petter Nord sat in a kind of trance
and saw endless vistas of gold before him. On the
dining table rose great piles of ducats; the floor
heaved white with silver, and the indistinct pat-
terns on the dirty wall-paper changed into bank-
notes, big as handkerchiefs. But directly before
his eyes fluttered the fifty-crown note, surrounded
by wide rings, luring him like the most beautiful
eyes. "Who can know," smiled the eyes, "perhaps
the fifty crowns up on the shelf is just such a founda-
tion ? "

"Mark my words," said Halfvorson, "that, after
\he foundation, two things are necessary for those
who wish to reach the heights. Work, untiring
work, Petter Nord, is one; and the other is renun-
ciation. Renunciation of play and love, of talk and
laughter, of morning sleep and evening strolls. In
truth, in truth, two things are necessary for him who
would win fortune. One is called work, and the
other renunciation."

Petter Nord looked as if he would like to weep.
Of course he wished to be rich, naturally he wished
to be fortunate, but fortune should not be so anx-
iously and sadly won. Fortune ought to come of
herself. Just as Petter Nord was fighting with the
street boys, the noble lady should stop her coach at
the shop-door, and invite the Varmland boy to the
place at her side. But now Halfvorson's voice still
rolled in his ears. His brain was full of it. He
thought of nothing else, knew nothing else. Work
and renunciation, work and renunciation, that was


life and the object of life. He asked nothing else,
dared not think that he had ever wished anything

The next day he did not dare to kiss the fifty-
crown note, did not dare even to look at it. He was
silent and low-spirited, orderly and industrious. He
attended to all his duties so irreproachably that any
one could see that there was something wrong with
him. The old Mayor was troubled about the boy
and did what he could to cheer him.

"Did you think of going to the Mid-Lent ball
this evening.''" asked the old man. "So, you did
not. Well, then I invite you. And be sure that
you come, or I will tell Halfvorson where you keep
your mouse-cages."

Petter Nord sighed and promised to go to the ball.

The Mid-Lent ball, fancy Petter Nord at the Mid-
Lent ball ! Petter Nord would see all the beautiful
ladies of the town, delicate, dressed in white,
adorned with flowers. But of course Petter Nord
would not be allowed to dance with a single one of
them. Well, it did not matter. He was not in the
mood to dance.

At the ball he stood in a doorway and made no
attempt to dance. Several people had asked him to
take part, but he had been firm and said no. He
could not dance any of those dances. Neither would
any of those fine ladies be willing to dance with
him. He was much too humble for them.

But as he stood there, his eyes began to kindle
and shine, and he felt joy creeping through his
limbs. It came from the dance music; it came from
the fragrance of the flowers; it came from all the
beautiful faces about him. After a little while he


was so sparklingly happy that, if joy had been fire,
he would have been surrounded by bursting flames.
And if love were it, as many say it is, it would have
been the same. He was always in love with some
pretty girl, but hitherto with only one at a time.
But when he now saw all those beautiful ladies to-
gether, it was no longer a single fire, which laid
waste his sixteen-year-old heart; it was a whole con-

Sometimes he looked down at his boots, which
were by no means dancing shoes. But how he could
have marked the time with the broad heels and spun
round on the thick soles! Something was dragging
and pulling him and trying to hurl him out on the
floor like a whipped ball. He could still resist it,
although his excitement grew stronger as the hours
advanced. He grew delirious and hot. Heigh ho,
he was no longer poor Fetter Nord ! He was the
young whirlwind, that raises the seas and overthrows
the forests.

Just then a hambo-polska^ struck up. The peas-
ant boy was quite beside himself. He thought it
sounded like the polska, like the Varmland polska.

Suddenly Fetter Nord was out on the floor. All
his fine manners dropped off him. He was no longer
at the town-hall ball; he was at home in the barn
at the midsummer dance. He came forward, his
knees bent, his head drawn down between his shoul-
ders. Without stopping to ask, he threw his arms
round a lady's waist and drew her with him. And
then he began to dance the polska.

The girl followed him, half unwillingly, almost
dragged. She was not in time; she did not know

* A Swedish national dance of a very lively character.


what kind of a dance it was, but suddenly it went
quite of itself. The mystery of the dance was re-
vealed to her. The polska bore her, lifted her; her
feet had wings; she felt as light as air. She
thought that she was flying.

For the Varmland polska is the most wonderful
dance. It transforms the heavy-footed sons of earth.
Without a sound soles an inch thick float over the
unplaned barn floor. They whirl about, light as
leaves in an autumn wind. It is supple, quick,
.silent, gliding. Its noble, measured movements set
the body free and let it feel itself light, elastic,

While Petter Nord danced the dance of his native
land, there was silence in the ball-room. At first
people laughed, but then they all recognized that
this was dancing. It floated away in even, rapid
whirls; it was dancing indeed, if anything.

In the midst of his delirium Petter Nord perceived
that round about him reigned a strange silence. He
stopped short and passed his hand over his forehead.
There was no black barn floor, no leafy walls, no
light blue summer night, no merry peasant maiden
in the reality he gazed upon. He was ashamed and
wished to steal away.

But he was already surrounded, besieged. The
young ladies crowded about the shop-boy and cried :
" Dance with us ; dance with us ! "

They wished to learn the polska. They all wished
to team to dance the polska. The ball was turned
from its course and became a dancing-school. All
said that they had never known before what it was
to dance. And Petter Nord was a great man for
that evening. He had to dance with all the fine


ladies, and they were exceedingly kind to him. He
was only a boy, and such a madcap besides. No
one could help making a pet of him.

Fetter Nord felt that this was happiness. To be
the favorite of the ladies, to dare to talk to them,
to be in the midst of lights, of movement, to be
made much of, to be petted, surely this was happi-

When the ball was over, he was too happy to think
about it. He needed to come home to be able to
think over quietly what had happened to him that

Halfvorson was not married, but he had in his
house a niece who worked in the office. She was
poor and dependent on Halfvorson, but she was quite
haughty towards both him and Fetter Nord. She
had many friends among the more important people
of the town and was invited to families where Half-
vorson could never come. She and Fetter Nord went
home from the ball together.

"Do you know, Nord," asked Edith Halfvorson,
"that a suit is soon to be brought against Halfvorson
for illicit trading in brandy? You might tell me
how it really is."

"There is nothing worth making a fuss about,"
said Fetter Nord.

Edith sighed. " Of course there is nothing. But
there will be a lawsuit and fines and shame without
end. I wish that I really knew how it is."

" Ferhaps it is best not to know anything," said
Fetter Nord.

"I wish to rise in the world, do you see," con-
tinued Edith, "and I wish to drag Halfvorson up
with me, but he always drops back again. And then


he does something so that I become impossible too.
He is scheming something now. Do you not know
what it is ? It would be good to know."

"No," said Fetter Nord, and not another word
would he say. It was inhuman to talk to him of
such things on the way home from his first ball.

Beyond the shop there was a little dark room for
the shop-boy. There sat Fetter Nord of to-day and
came to an understanding with Fetter Nord of yes-
terday. How pale and cowardly the churl looked.
Now he heard what he really was. A thief and a
miser. Did he know the seventh commandment.-'
By rights he ought to have forty stripes. That was
what he deserved.

God be blessed and praised for having let him go
to the ball and get a new view of it all. Usch !
what ugly thoughts he had had ; but now it was quite
changed. As if riches were worth sacrificing con-
science and the soul's freedom for their sake! As if
they were worth as much as a white mouse, if the
heart could not be glad at the same time! He
clapped his hands and cried out in joy — that he was
free, free, free ! There was not even a longing to
possess the fifty crowns in his heart. How good it
was to be happy !

When he had gone to bed, he thought that he
would show Halfvorson the fifty crowns early the
next morning. Then he became uneasy that the
tradesman might come into the shop before him
the next morning, search for the note and find it.
He might easily think that Fetter Nord had hidden
it to keep it. The thought gave him no peace. He
tried to shake it off, but he could not succeed. He
could not sleep. So he rose, crept into the shop and


felt about till he found the fifty crowns. Then he
foil asleep with the note under his pillow.

An hour later he awoke. A light shone sharply
in his eyes; a hand was fumbling under his pillow
and a rumbling voice was scolding and swearing.

Before the boy was really awake, Halfvorson had
the note in his hand and showed it to the two
women, who stood in the doorway to his room.
"You see that I was right," said Halfvorson. "You
see that it was well worth while for me to drag you
up to bear witness against him ! You see that he is
a thief!"

"No, no, no," screamed poor Petter Nord. "I
did not wish to steal. I only hid the note."

Halfvorson heard nothing. Both the women stood
with their backs turned to the room, as if deter-
mined to neither hear nor see.

Petter Nord sat up in bed. He looked all of a
sudden pitifully weak and small. His tears were
streaming. He wailed aloud.

"Uncle," said Edith, "he is weeping."

"Let him weep," said Halfvorson, "let him
weep ! " And he walked forward and looked at the
boy. "You can weep all you like," he said, "but
that does not take me in."

"Oh, oh," cried Petter Nord, "I am no thief. I
hid the note as a joke — to make you angry. I
wanted to pay you back for the mice. I am not a
thief. Will no one listen to me. I am not a

"Uncle," said Edith, "if you have tortured him
enough now, perhaps we may go back to bed } "

"I know, of course, that it sounds terrible," said
Halfvorson, "but it cannot be helped." He was


gay, in very high spirits. " I have had my eye on
you for a long time," he said to the boy. "You
have always something you are tucking away when I
come into the shop. But now I have caught you.
Now I have witnesses, and now I am going for the

The boy gave a piercing scream. " Will no one
help me, will no one help me.? " he cried. Halfvor-
son was gone, and the old woman who managed his
house came up to him.

" Get up and dress yourself, Petter Nord ! Half-
vorson has gone for the police, and while he is away
you can escape. The young lady can go out into
the kitchen and get you a little food. I will pack
your things."

The terrible weeping instantly ceased. After a
short time of hurry the boy was ready. He kissed
both the women on the hand, humbly, like a whipped
dog. And then off he ran.

They stood in the door and looked after him.
When he was gone, they drew a sigh of relief.

"What will Halfvorson say.?" said Edith.

"He will be glad," answered the housekeeper.

" He put the money there for the boy, I think. I
guess that he wanted to be rid of him."

" But why ? The boy was the best one we have
had in the shop for many years. "

" He probably did not want him to give testimony
in the affair with the brandy. "

Edith stood silent and breathed quickly. " It is
so base, so base," she murmured. She clenched
her fist towards the office and towards the little pane
in the door, through which Halfvorson could see into
the shop. She would have liked, she too, to have


fled out into the world, away from all this meanness.
She heard a sound far in, in the shop. She listened,
went nearer, followed the noise, and at last found
behind a keg of herring the cage of Fetter Nord's
white mice.

She took it up, put it on the counter, and opened
the cage door. Mouse after mouse scampered out
and disappeared behind boxes and barrels.

"May you flourish and increase," said Edith.
"May you do injury and revenge your master!"


THE little town lay friendly and contented under
its red hill. It was so embedded in green
that the church tower only just stuck up out of it.
Garden after garden crowded one another on narrow
terraces up the slope, and when they could go no
further in that direction, they leaped with their
bushes and trees across the street and spread them-
selves out between the scattered farmhouses and on
the narrow strips of earth about them, until they
were stopped by the broad river.

Complete silence and quiet reigned in the town.
Not a soul was to be seen ; only trees and bushes,
and now and again a house. The only sound to be
heard was the rolling of balls in the bowling-alley,
like distant thunder on a summer day. It belonged
to the silence:

But now the uneven stones of the market-place
were ground under iron-shod heels. The noise of
coarse voices thundered against the walls of the
town-hall and the church was thrown back from the


mountain, and hastened unchecked down the long
street. Four wayfarers disturbed the noonday

Alas, for the sweet silence, the holiday peace of
years! How terrified they were ! One could almost
see them betaking themselves in flight up the moun-
tain slopes.

One of the noisy crew who broke into the village
was Petter Nord, the Varmland boy, who six years
before had run away, accused of theft. Those who
were with him were three longshoremen from the
big commercial town that lies only a few miles

How had little Petter Nord been getting on.'' He
had been getting on well. He had found one of the
most sensible of friends and companions.

As he ran away from the village in the dark, rainy
February morning, the polska tunes seethed and
roared in his ears. And one of them was more

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