The scene shifts to a land afar off toward the north, Norway—away up into one of its mountain meadows. The landscape is a mixture of grandeur and beauty. Hills upon hills, covered with pine and fir, stretch away from the lowlands to the distant glacier-clad mountains, and patches of green meadow gleam through the dark pine depths.
The clear blue sky changes to a faint haze in the hilly distance. The gentle air is perfumed with the odor of the forest. A Sabbath stillness broods over all. The sun has swung around to the northwest, and skims along the horizon as if loth to leave such a sweet scene.
Evening was settling down on the Norwegian saeter, or summer herd ground. Riding along the trail through the pines appeared a young man. He was evidently not at home in the forest, as he peered anxiously through every opening. His dress and bearing indicated that he was not a woodsman nor a herder of cattle. Pausing on a knoll, he surveyed the scene around him, and took off his hat that the evening breeze might cool his face. Suddenly, there came echoing through the forest, from hill to hill, the deep notes of the lur. The traveler listened, and then urged his horse forward. Again and again the blast reverberated, the notes dying in low echoes on the distant hills. From another rise, the rider saw the girl who was making all this wild music. She was standing on a high knoll. Peering down into the forest, she recognized the traveler and welcomed him with an attempt at a tune on her long, wooden trumpet.
“Good evening, Hansine,” said he, as his horse scrambled up the path close by, “your lur made welcome music this evening.”
“Good evening, Hr. Bogstad,” said she, “are you not lost?”
“I was, nearly, until I heard you calling your cows. It is a long way up here—but the air and the scenery are grand.”
“Yes, do you think so? I don’t know anything about what they call grand scenery. I’ve always lived up here, and it’s work, work all the time—but those cows are slow coming home.” She lifted her lur to her lips and once more made the woods ring.
Down at the foot of the hills, where the pines gave place to small, grassy openings, stood a group of log huts, towards which the cows were now seen wending.
“Come, Hr. Bogstad, I see the cows are coming. I must go down to meet them.”
They went down the hill together. The lowing cows came up to the stables, and as the herd grew larger there was a deafening din. A girl was standing in the doorway of one of the cabins, timidly watching the noisy herd.
“Come, give the cows their salt,” laughingly shouted Hansine to her.
“And get hooked all to pieces? Not much.”
“You little coward. What good would you be on a saeter? What do you think, Hr. Bogstad?”
As the girl caught sight of the new arrival she started and the color came to her face. He went up to her. “How are you, Signe?” he said. “How do you like life on a saeter?”