It was during the noonday rest; the people at the great Heidegards were sleeping, the hay was scattered over the meadows, the rakes were staked in the ground. Below the barn-bridge stood the hay sleds, the harness lay, taken off, beside them, and the horses were tethered at a little distance. With the exception of the latter and some hens that had strayed across the fields, not a living creature was visible on the whole plain.
There was a notch in the mountains above the gards, and through it the road led to the Heidegard saeters,—large, fertile mountain plains. A man was standing in this notch, taking a survey of the plain below, just as if he were watching for some one. Behind him lay a little mountain lake, from which flowed the brook which made this mountain pass; on either side of this lake ran cattle-paths, leading to the saeters, which could be seen in the distance. There floated toward him a shouting and a barking, cattle-bells tinkled among the mountain ridges; for the cows had straggled apart in search of water, and the dogs and herd-boys were vainly striving to drive them together. The cows came galloping along with the most absurd antics and involuntary plunges, and with short, mad bellowing, their tails held aloft, they rushed down into the water, where they came to a stand; every time they moved their heads the tinkling of their bells was heard across the lake. The dogs drank a little, but stayed behind on firm land; the herd-boys followed, and seated themselves on the warm, smooth hill-side. Here they drew forth their lunch boxes, exchanged with one another, bragged about their dogs, oxen, and the family they lived with, then undressed, and sprang into the water with the cows. The dogs persisted in not going in; but loitered lazily around, their heads hanging, with hot eyes and lolling tongues. Round about on the slopes not a bird was to be seen, not a sound was heard, save the prattling of children and the tinkling of bells; the heather was parched and dry, the sun blazed on the hill-sides, so that everything was scorched by its heat.
It was Oyvind who was sitting up there in the mid-day sun, waiting. He sat in his shirt-sleeves, close by the brook which flowed from the lake. No one yet appeared on the Heidegard plain, and he was gradually beginning to grow anxious when suddenly a large dog came walking with heavy steps out of a door in Nordistuen, followed by a girl in white sleeves. She tripped across the meadow toward the cliff; he felt a strong desire to shout down to her, but dared not. He took a careful survey of the gard to see if any one might come out and notice her, but there seemed to be no danger of detection, and several times he rose from impatience.
She arrived at last, following a path by the side of the brook, the dog a little in advance of her, snuffing the air, she catching hold of the low shrubs, and walking with more and more weary gait. Oyvind sprang downward; the dog growled and was hushed; but as soon as Marit saw Oyvind coming she sat down on a large stone, as red as blood, tired and overcome by the heat. He flung himself down on the stone by her side.