“Good gracious, what are you laughing at?” he asked, pausing in front of the porch. At this Oyvind was silent.
Hans remained standing, as if waiting to see what further might happen. Oyvind got up, looked cautiously about him and said in a low tone,—
“Now Hans, I will tell you why I have been so happy before: it was because I did not really love any one; from the day we love some one, we cease to be happy,” and he burst into tears.
“Oyvind!” a voice whispered out in the court; “Oyvind!” He paused and listened. “Oyvind,” was repeated once more, a little louder. “It must be she,” he thought.
“Yes,” he answered, also in a whisper; and hastily wiping his eyes he came forward.
A woman stole softly across the gard.
[Transcriber’s Note: The above sentence should read, “A woman stole softly across the yard.” In other early translations, the words “yard” and “court-yard” are used here. “Gard” in this case is apparently a typo. The use of the word, “gard” throughout the rest of this story refers to “farm.”]
“Are you there?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered, standing still.
“Who is with you?”
But Hans wanted to go.
“No, no!” besought Oyvind.
She slowly drew near them, and it was Marit.
“You left so soon,” said she to Oyvind.
He knew not what to reply; thereupon Marit, too, became embarrassed, and all three were silent. But Hans gradually managed to steal away. The two remained behind, neither looking at each other, nor stirring. Finally Marit whispered:—
“I have been keeping some Christmas goodies in my pocket for you, Oyvind, the whole evening, but I have had no chance to give them to you before.”
She drew forth some apples, a slice of a cake from town, and a little half pint bottle, which she thrust into his hand, and said he might keep. Oyvind took them.
“Thank you!” said he, holding out his hand; hers was warm, and he dropped it at once as if it had burned him.
“You have danced a good deal this evening,” he murmured.
“Yes, I have,” she replied, “but you have not danced much,” she added.
“I have not,” he rejoined.
“Why did you not dance?”
“Why did you sit looking at me so?”
“Why did you dislike having me look at you?”
“There were so many people.”
“You danced a great deal with Jon Hatlen this evening.”
“He dances well.”
“Do you think so?”
“Oh, yes. I do not know how it is, but this evening I could not bear to have you dance with him, Marit.”
He turned away,—it had cost him something to say this.
“I do not understand you, Oyvind.”