With this Oyvind was initiated into school.
When he was to take his seat, all the scholars wished to make room for him; he on his part looked about for a long time; while the other children whispered and pointed, he turned in every direction, his cap in his hand, his book under his arm.
“Well, what now?” asked the school-master, who was again busied with his pipe.
Just as the boy was about turning toward the school-master, he espied, near the hearthstone close beside him, sitting on a little red-painted box, Marit with the many names; she had hidden her face behind both hands and sat peeping out at him.
“I will sit here!” cried Oyvind, promptly, and seizing a lunch-box he seated himself at her side. Now she raised the arm nearest him a little and peered at him from under her elbow; forthwith he, too, covered his face with both hands and looked at her from under his elbow. Thus they sat cutting up capers until she laughed, and then he laughed also; the other little folks noticed this, and they joined in the laughter; suddenly a voice which was frightfully strong, but which grew milder as it spoke, interposed with,—
“Silence, troll-children, wretches, chatter-boxes!—hush, and be good to me, sugar-pigs!”
It was the school-master, who had a habit of flaring up, but becoming good-natured again before he was through. Immediately there was quiet in the school, until the pepper grinders again began to go; they read aloud, each from his book; the most delicate trebles piped up, the rougher voices drumming louder and louder in order to gain the ascendency, and here and there one chimed in, louder than the others. In all his life Oyvind had never had such fun.
“Is it always so here?” he whispered to Marit.
“Yes, always,” said she.
Later they had to go forward to the school-master and read; a little boy was afterwards appointed to teach them to read, and then they were allowed to go and sit quietly down again.
“I have a goat now myself,” said Marit.
“Yes, but it is not as pretty as yours.”
“Why do you never come up to the cliff again?”
“Grandfather is afraid I might fall over.”
“Why, it is not so very high.”
“Grandfather will not let me, nevertheless.”
“Mother knows a great many songs,” said Oyvind.
“Grandfather does, too, I can tell you.”
“Yes, but he does not know mother’s songs.”
“Grandfather knows one about a dance. Do you want to hear it?”
“Yes, very much.”
“Well, then, come nearer this way, that the school-master may not see us.”
He moved close to her, and then she recited a little snatch of a song, four or five times, until the boy learned it, and it was the first thing he learned at school.