Anders did not say much, for he was not able to do so, but Baard watched by his bed as long as he was ill.
“Now I am perfectly well,” said Anders one morning on waking. “Now, my brother, we will live long together, and never leave each other, just as in the old days.”
But that day he died.
Baard took charge of the wife and the child, and they fared well from that time. What the brothers had talked of together by the bed, burst through the walls and the night, and was soon known to all the people in the parish, and Baard became the most respected man among them. He was honored as one who had known great sorrow and found happiness again, or as one who had been absent for a very long time. Baard grew inwardly strong through all this friendliness about him; he became a truly pious man, and wanted to be useful, he said, and so the old corporal took to teaching school. What he impressed upon the children, first and last, was love, and he practiced it himself, so that the children clung to him as to a playmate and father in one.
Such was the history of the school-master, and so deeply did it root itself in Oyvind’s mind that it became both religion and education for him. The school-master grew to be almost a supernatural being in his eyes, although he sat there so sociably, grumbling at the scholars. Not to know every lesson for him was impossible, and if Oyvind got a smile or a pat on his head after he had recited, he felt warm and happy for a whole day.
It always made the deepest impression on the children when the old school-master sometimes before singing made a little speech to them, and at least once a week read aloud some verses about loving one’s neighbor. When he read the first of those verses, his voice always trembled, although he had been reading it now some twenty or thirty years. It ran thus:—
“Love thy neighbor
with Christian zeal!
Crush him not with an iron heel,
Though he in dust be prostrated!
Love’s all powerful, quickening hand
Guides, forever, with magic wand
All that it has created.”
But when he had recited the whole poem and had paused a little, he would cry, and his eyes would twinkle,—
“Up, small trolls! and go nicely home without any noise,—go quietly, that I may only hear good of you, little toddlers!”
But when they were making the most noise in hunting up their books and dinner-pails, he shouted above it all,—
“Come again to-morrow, as soon as it is light, or I will give you a thrashing. Come again in good season, little girls and boys, and then we will be industrious.”
Of Oyvind’s further progress until a year before confirmation there is not much to report. He studied in the morning, worked through the day, and played in the evening.