The parsonage, with the white-towered church beside it, lay only a short way from us, down by the sea, on the right-hand side of the bay, looking out from our trading-place, which lay farther in.
There was a tutor in the place—we always called him “the student”—and I went to lessons every day with the minister’s two children, a bright boy of the name of Carl, who was a year younger than I, namely twelve, and his sister Susanna, of exactly the same age as myself, a blue-eyed wild child, with a quantity of yellow hair, which was always requiring to be pushed back from her forehead; when she could do so unnoticed by the student, she made all kinds of faces and grimaces across at us, to make us laugh.
The tutor was, in fact, exceedingly strict, and inspired the greatest respect. The torture in which we sat when at school, not daring to look up at one another for fear our laughter should break out, was really anything but pleasant; for every time it exploded we fared very badly; in the first place, we had our hair pulled and our ears boxed, and in the next, long written harangues in our mark-books about our behaviour.
Susanna was often utterly merciless; it came to such a pass, that with only a little wink in the corner of her eye, she could instantly put us in a state of fever, so that we would sit with cheeks as red as apples, and our eyes fastened on our books, until we could contain ourselves no longer. She tried especially to work upon me, though she knew I must pay dearly for misconduct at home; for father was a severe man, who had very little comprehension of children.
In play hours, we romped with more animation than children generally indulge in.
In contrast to the strict, gloomy life at home, with father always either out on business, or up in the office; where, from the blue room, often came noises and cries from my poor insane mother, and where Anne Kvaen was always going about, like a wandering spirit, playing with the parsonage children was like a life in some other and happier, more sunshiny part of the globe.
ON THE SHORE
The shore is an even more attractive playground for children in Nordland than here in the south of Norway. At low-tide there is a much longer stretch of beach than here.
The sandy bottom lies bare, with pools in it here and there, in which small fish swim, while down by the sea there sits a solitary gull on a stone, or a sea-fowl walks by the water’s edge. The fine, wave-marked sand is full of heaps, covered with lines, left by the large, much sought after bait-worms, that burrow down into the earth. Hidden among the stones, or in the masses of sea-weed, lie the quick, transparent, shrimp-like sand-hoppers, which dart through the shallow water when they are pursued. They are used by small boys as bait, upon a bent pin, to catch young coal-fish.