The school-master tried to keep them in good spirits; the fact was now that the time had come they all shrank from the two long years of separation, for up to this time they had never been parted a single day; but none of them would acknowledge it. The later it grew the more dejected Oyvind became; he was forced to go out to recover his composure a little.
It was dusk now and there were strange sounds in the air. Oyvind remained standing on the door-step gazing upward. From the brow of the cliff he then heard his own name called, quite softly; it was no delusion, for it was repeated twice. He looked up and faintly distinguished a female form crouching between the trees and looking down.
“Who is it?” asked he.
“I hear you are going away,” said a low voice, “so I had to come to you and say good-by, as you would not come to me.”
“Dear me! Is that you, Marit? I shall come up to you.”
“No, pray do not. I have waited so long, and if you come I should have to wait still longer; no one knows where I am and I must hurry home.”
“It was kind of you to come,” said he.
“I could not bear to have you leave so, Oyvind; we have known each other since we were children.”
“Yes; we have.”
“And now we have not spoken to each other for half a year.”
“No; we have not.”
“We parted so strangely, too, that time.”
“We did. I think I must come up to you!”
“Oh, no! do not come! But tell me: you are not angry with me?”
“Goodness! how could you think so?”
“Good-by, then, Oyvind, and my thanks for all the happy times we have had together!”
“Indeed I must go; they will miss me.”
“No, I dare not stay away any longer, Oyvind. Good-by.”
Afterwards he moved about as in a dream, and answered very absently when he was addressed. This was ascribed to his journey, as was quite natural; and indeed it occupied his whole mind at the moment when the school-master took leave of him in the evening and put something into his hand, which he afterwards found to be a five-dollar bill. But later, when he went to bed, he thought not of the journey, but of the words which had come down from the brow of the cliff, and those that had been sent up again. As a child Marit was not allowed to come on the cliff, because her grandfather feared she might fall down. Perhaps she will come down some day, any way.