I was about sixteen, when one morning, as I passed the parsonage garden, she beckoned to me, and handed me a flower over the wall, and then she hastily ran in, right across the carrot beds, as if she were afraid some one would see.
It was the first time it had struck me how beautiful she was, and for many a day I thought of her as she stood there in the garden among the bushes with the morning sun shining down upon her.
THE SERVANTS’ HALL
The ghostly spirit which ran through our house, first had free outlet down in the servants’ hall, when the men and maids, and the wayfarers who were putting up for the night, sat in the evening in the red glow from the stove, and told all kinds of tales about shipwrecks and ghosts.
On the bench in the space between the stove and the wall, sat the strong, handsome man Jens with his carpentering and repairs; he used to do his work, and listen in silence to the others. By the stove “Komag-Nils” busied himself with greasing komags [Komag—a peculiar kind of leather boot used by the Fins.] or skins—he had this name, because he made komags. Komag-Nils was a little fellow, with untidy yellow hair, which hung over his eyes, and a face as round as a moon, on which the nose looked like a little button; when he laughed, his wide thin-lipped mouth and large jaws gave him almost the expression of a death’s-head. His small, watery eyes blinked at you mysteriously, but showed plainly that he was not wanting in common sense. It was he, in fact, who could tell the greatest number of stories, but still more was it he who could get a stranger to tell stories of the visible or the invisible world just as they occurred to him.
A third man went by a nickname, which, however, they never gave him within his hearing; Anders Lead-head, was so called, because he now and then had bad fits of drinking, and nearly lost his place in consequence. And yet in his way he was extremely capable. In any real dilemma—in a storm—he rose at once to the responsible post of captain in the boat; for there was but one opinion of his capability as a sailor. When the danger was over, he fell back again into the insignificant man.
A girl of twenty years of age, whom we called French Martina, was also one of the regular servants of the house. She seemed of a totally different race of beings from the ordinary Nordlander, was quick and lively, with thick, curly black hair, round a brown oval face with strikingly regular features. She was slenderly built, of middle height, and had a good figure. Her eyes, beneath strongly marked, black eyebrows, were as black as coal; and when she was angry, they could flash fire. She was in love with the silent Jens, and was extremely jealous, without the slightest cause. It was said that these two would make a match when he had been on two or three more fishing expeditions, but the matter was not officially announced at any rate, I think because Jens made a passive resistance as long as he could, and never actually proposed to her. French Martina was, by birth, one of the illegitimate children of those fishing districts, whose fathers are foreign skippers or sailors. Her father was said to have been a French sailor.