“Nor do I understand myself; it is very stupid of me. Good-by, Marit; I will go now.”
He made a step forward without looking round. Then she called after him.
“You make a mistake about what you saw.”
“That you have already become a maiden is no mistake.”
He did not say what she had expected, therefore she was silent; but at that moment she saw the light from a pipe right in front of her. It was her grandfather, who had just turned the corner and was coming that way. He stood still.
“Is it here you are, Marit?”
“With whom are you talking?”
“Whom did you say?”
“Oh! the son of the houseman at Pladsen. Come at once and go in with me.”
The next morning, when Oyvind opened his eyes, it was from a long, refreshing sleep and happy dreams. Marit had been lying on the cliff, throwing leaves down on him; he had caught them and tossed them back again, so they had gone up and down in a thousand colors and forms; the sun was shining, and the whole cliff glittered beneath its rays. On awaking Oyvind looked around to find them all gone; then he remembered the day before, and the burning, cruel pain in his heart began at once. “This, I shall never be rid of again,” thought he; and there came over him a feeling of indifference, as though his whole future had dropped away from him.
“Why, you have slept a long time,” said his mother, who sat beside him spinning. “Get up now and eat your breakfast; your father is already in the forest cutting wood.”
Her voice seemed to help him; he rose with a little more courage. His mother was no doubt thinking of her own dancing days, for she sat singing to the sound of the spinning-wheel, while he dressed himself and ate his breakfast. Her humming finally made him rise from the table and go to the window; the same dullness and depression he had felt before took possession of him now, and he was forced to rouse himself, and think of work. The weather had changed, there had come a little frost into the air, so that what yesterday had threatened to fall in rain, to-day came down as sleet. Oyvind put on his snow-socks, a fur cap, his sailor’s jacket and mittens, said farewell, and started off, with his axe on his shoulder.
Snow fell slowly, in great, wet flakes; he toiled up over the coasting hill, in order to turn into the forest on the left. Never before, winter or summer, had he climbed this hill without recalling something that made him happy, or to which he was looking forward. Now it was a dull, weary walk. He slipped in the damp snow, his knees were stiff, either from the party yesterday or from his low spirits; he felt that it was all over with the coasting-hill for that year, and with it, forever. He longed