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old songs and dance-melodies all day long, and the eldest, was ten years old, and Dolly, the sometimes mixed up both words and tunes wo- youngest, was one, and the rest were scattered fully; and when his memory failed him, he between. It was a pretty sight to see them of a sang the first thing that popped into his head. summer afternoon on the grass plot before the Some people said they had heard him humming house, rolling over one another and gamboling the multiplication table to the tune of “Old Nor- like a sportive family of kittens; only you could way's Lion,” and whole pages out of Luther's hardly help feelingvaguely uneasy about the mountCatechism to jolly dance tunes. Not that he ain, the steep, black wall of which, sparsely clad ever meant to be irreverent; it was just his way with pines, rose so threateningly above them. It of amusing himself.
odd stick, seemed as if it must, some day, swoop down upon people thought, and not of much use to his them and crush them. The mother, it must be family. Whatever he did, “luck” went against admitted, was occasionally oppressed by some such him. But it affected his temper very little. Hal- fear; but when she reflected that the mountain vor was still light-hearted and good-natured, and had stood there from time immemorial, and had went about humming, as usual. If he went out never yet moved, or harmed any one, she felt hunting and came home with an empty pouch, it ashamed of her apprehension, and blamed herself did not interfere in the least with his gayety; but for her distrust of God's providence. knowing well the reception which was in store for Besides the children, there was another young him, it did occasionally happen that he paused inhabitant of the Myrbraaten cottage, and surely with a quizzical look before opening the door, and a very important one. He, too, was named Hans, perhaps, after a minute's reflection, concluded to but, in order to distinguish him from the son of the spend the night in the barn; for Turid, his wife, house, the word “Little” was prefixed, and the had a mind of her own, and knew how to express latter, although he was really the smaller of the herself with emphasis. She was, as every one two, was called, by way of distinction, Big Hans. admitted, a very worthy and competent woman, The most remarkable thing about Little Hans was and accomplished more in a day than her husband that he had, in spite of his youth, a very welldid in a fortnight. But worthy and competent developed beard. Big Hans, who had not a hair people are not invariably the pleasantest people to on his chin, rather envied him this manly ornaassociate with, and the gay and genial good-for- ment. Then, again, Little Hans was a capital nothing Halvor, with his bright, irresponsible fighter, and could knock you down in one round smile and his pleasant ways, was a far more popu- with great coolness and sweet-tempered seriousness, lar person in the parish than his austere, estima- as if he were acting entirely from a sense of duty. ble, over-worked wife. For one thing, with all He never used any hard words; but, the moment her poverty, she had a great deal of pride; and his adversary attempted to rise, Little Hans quipeople who had never suspected that one so poor etly gave him another knock, and winked wickcould have any objection to receiving alms had edly at him, as if warning him to lie still. He been much offended by her curt way of refusing never bragged of his victories, but showed a their proffered gifts. Halvor, they said, showed modest self-appreciation to which very few of his a more realizing sense of his position; he had the age ever attain. Big Hans, who valued his friend humble and contrite heart which was becoming in and namesake above others, and had a hearty an unsuccessful man, and accepted with equal admiration for his many fine qualities, declared cheerfulness and gratitude whatever was offered himself utterly unable to rival him in combativehim, from a dollar bill to a pair of worn-out mit- ness, modesty, and coolness of temper. For Big tens. It was, in fact, this extreme readiness to Hans, I am sorry to say, was sometimes given to accept things which first made difficulty between bragging of his muscle and of his skill in turning Halvor and his wife. It seemed to him a pure waste hand-springs and standing on his head, and he of labor to work for a thing which he could get for could easily be teased into a furious temper. Now, nothing; and it seemed to her a waste of some- Little Hans could not turn hand-springs, nor could thing still more precious to accept as a gift what he stand on his head; but, though he promptly one might have honestly earned by work. But as resented any trifling with his dignity, I never once she could never hope to have Halvor agree with knew him to lose his temper. He never laughed her on this point, she comforted herself by impress- when anything struck him as being funny; in fact, ing her own horror of alms-taking upon her chil- he seemed to regard every boisterous exhibition dren; and the children, in their turn, impressed of feeling as undignified. He only turned his the same sound principles upon their pet kid and head away and stood chewing a piece of paper the pussy cat.
or a straw, with his usual look of comical gravity There were five children at Myrbraaten. Hans, in his eye.
Many people wondered at the fast friendship down with it; the children had to be put to work which bound Big Hans and Little Hans together. with snow-shovels early in the morning, in order Their tastes, people said, were dissimilar; in tem- to hollow out a tunnel to the cow-stable where the perament, too, they had few points of resemblance. cow stood bellowing with hunger. The mother, And yet they were absolutely inseparable. Wher- too, worked bravely, and sometimes when the ever Big Hans went, Little Hans was sure to follow. thin roof of snow caved in and fell down upon Often they were seen racing along the beach or them, and made them look like wandering snowclimbing up the mountain-side; and, as Little Hans images, they all laughed heartily, and their mother, was a capital hand (or ought I to say foot ?) at climb- too, could not help laughing, because they were ing, Big Hans often had hard work to keep up with so happy. Little Hans also made a pretense of him. Sometimes Little Hans would leap up a working, but only succeeded in being in everyrock which was so steep that it was impossible for body's way, and when the cold snow drizzled down his friend to climb it, and then he would grin upon his nose he grinned and made faces so queer comically down at Big Hans, who would stand be- that the children shouted with merriment. low calling tearfully to his companion until he Day after day, and week after week, the snow descended, which usually was very soon. For continued to descend. Big Hans and his friend Little Hans was very fond of Big Hans, and sat at the window watching the large feathery could never bear to see him cry. And that is not flakes, as they whirled slowly and silently through in the least to be wondered at, as Big Hans had the air and covered the earth far and near with a saved him from starvation and death when Little white pall. Soon there was a scarcity of wood at Hans was really in the sorest need. Their ac- the Myrbraaten cottage, and Halvor was obliged quaintance began in the following manner: one to get into his skees * and go to the forest. Humday when Big Hans was up in the mountains trap- ming the multiplication table (so far as he knew ping hares, he heard a feeble voice in a cleft of the it) to the tune of a hymn, he pulled on his rocks near by, and, hurrying to the spot, he found warmest jacket, took his ax from its hiding-place Little Hans wedged in between two great stones, under the eaves, and went in a slanting line upon and his leg caught in so distressing a manner that the mountain-side ; but, before he had gone many it cost Big Hans nearly an hour's work to set it rods it struck him that it was useless to go so free. Then he dressed the bruised foot with a rag far for wood, when the whole mountain-slope was torn from the lining of his coat, and carried Little covered with pines. Fresh pine would be a little Hans home in his arms. And as Little Hans's hard to burn, to be sure, but then pine was full of parents had never claimed him, and he himself pitch and would burn, anyhow. He therefore could give no satisfactory account of them, he had took off his skees, dug a hole in the snow, and thenceforth remained at Myrbraaten, where all felled three or four trees only a few hundred rods the children were very fond of him. Turid their above the cottage. When his wife heard the sound mother, on the other hand, had no great liking of his ax so near the cottage, she rushed out and for him, especially after he had devoured her hymn- cried to him : book (which was her most precious property) “Halvor, Halvor, don't cut down the trees on and eaten with much appetite a piece of Dolly's the slope ! They are all that keep the snow from dress. For, as I intimated, Little Hans's tastes coming down upon us, in an avalanche, and sweepwere very curious, and nothing came amiss when ing us into the ocean !” he was hungry. He had a trick of pulling off “Oh, the Lord will look out for his own," sang Dolly's stockings when she was sitting out on the Halvor cheerily.” green, and, if he were not discovered in time, he “ The Lord put the pine-trees there to protect was sure to make his breakfast off of them. With us,” replied his wife.” these tastes, you will readily understand, Big Hans But the end was that, in spite of his wife's procould have no sympathy, and the only thing which tests, Halvor continued to fell the trees. could induce him to forgive Little Hans's eccen- The heavy fall of snow was followed in the tricities was the fact that Little Hans was a goat. course of a week by a sudden thaw.
Strange creaking and groaning sounds stole II.
through the forest. Sometimes, when a large load
of snow fell, it rolled and grew as it rolled, until it In the winter of 187–, a great deal of snow fell dashed against a huge trunk and nearly broke it on the northwestern coast of Norway. The old with its weight. pines about the Myrbraaten cottage were laden Then, one night, there came down a great load
* A kind of snow-shoes, by means of which one glides over the snow without sinking into it. Skees are from five to ten feet long, bent upward and pointed at the front end and cut off squarely at the other. They must be made of tough, strong pine without knots in it.
which fell with a dull thud and rolled down and lanche had wrought. All that was left of Myrbraadown, pushing a growing wall of snow before it, ten was the cow-stable, where the cow and Little until it reached the clearing where Halvor had cut Hans and Big Hans had slept. Little Hans had his wood; there, meeting with no obstructions, it been very ill-behaved the night before, so Turid gained a tremendous headway, sweeping all the had sent him to sleep with the cow; and Big Hans, snow and the felled trunks with it, and rushed down who thought it would be cruel to ask his comin a great mass, carrying along stones,
panion to spend the night in that dark stable, shrubs, huge trees, and the very soil
with only a cow for company, had gone with him itself, leaving nothing but the bare
and slept with him in the hay. Thus it happened rock behind
that Little Hans and Big Hans both were saved. it. How
It was pitiful to see them terrible was
shivering in the wet snow. the sight!
Big Hans was crying, as if his heart would
A smoke-like cloud rose in the darkness, and a break; and the women who crowded about him sound as of a thousand thundering cataracts filled were unable to comfort him. What should he, a the night. On it swept, onward, with a wild, small boy of ten, do alone in this wide world? resistless speed! At the jutting rock, where the His father and his mother and his little brothers juniper stood, the avalanche divided, tearing up the and sisters all were gone, and there was no one old spruces and the birches by the roots and hurl- left who cared for him. Just then Little Hans, ing them down, but leaving the juniper standing who was anxious to express his sympathy, put his alone on its barren peak. It was but a moment's nose close to Big Hans's face and rubbed it against work. The avalanche shot downward with in- his cheek. creased speed -hark ! - a sharp shriek, a smoth- “Yes, you are right, Little Hans,” sobbed the ered
groan, then a fierce hissing sound of waves that boy, embracing his faithful friend; "you do care rose toward the sky and returned with a long thun- for me. You are the only one I have left now, in dering cannonade to the strand! The night was all the world. You and I will stand by each other darker and the silence deeper than before.
Little Hans then said, “Ma-a-a," which in his III.
language meant, “Yes."
The question soon arose in the parish, - what was WHERE the Myrbraaten cottage had stood, the to be done with Big Hans? He had no relatives bare rock now stares black and dismal against the except a brother of his mother, who had emigrated sun. The rumor of the calamity spread like wild- many years before to Minnesota ; and there was no fire through the valley, and the folk of the whole one else who seemed disposed to assume the burden parish came to gaze upon the ruin which the ava- of his support. It was finally decided that he should be hired out as a pauper to the lowest turning around to enjoy his triumph, Little Hans bidder, and that the parish should pay for his turned around too, and gave him a bump from board. But when the people who bid for him behind which sent him headlong into the gutter. refused to take Little Hans too, the boy deter- Then, rising on his hind legs, Little Hans leaped mined, after some altercation with the authorities, forward again and again, and dispatched the second to seek his uncle in America. One thing he was sure and third boy in the same manner, whereupon all of, and that was that he would not part from Little the rest ran away, helter-skelter, scattering through Hans. But there was no one in the parish who the side streets. It was all done in so quiet would board Little Hans without extra pay. Ac- and gentlemanly a manner, that not one of the cordingly, the cow and the barn were sold for the grown-up spectators who had gathered on the boy's benefit, and he and his comrade went on sidewalk thought of interfering. Big Hans, howfoot to the city, where they bought a ticket for ever, who had intended to see something of the city New York.
before starting for the West, was so discouraged Thus it happened that Big Hans and Little at the inhospitable reception the United States had Hans became Americans. But before they reached given him, that he gave up his purpose, and rethe United States, some rather curious things turned disconsolately to Castle Garden. There he happened to them. The captain of the steam- spent the rest of the day, and when the night came, ship, Big Hans found, was not willing to take a he went to sleep on the floor, with his little bundle goat as a passenger, and Big Hans was forced to under his head; while Little Hans, who did not return with his friend to the pier, while the other seem to be sleepy, lay down at his side, quietly emigrants thronged on board. He was nearly at munching a piece of pie which he had stolen from his wit's end, when it suddenly occurred to him to somebody's luncheon basket. put Little Hans in a bag and smuggle him on Early the next morning, Big Hans was awakened board as baggage. This was a lucky thought. by a gentle pulling at his coat-collar; and, Little Hans was quite heavy, to be sure, but he looking up, he saw that it was Little Hans. He seemed to comprehend the situation perfectly, jumped up as quickly as he could, and he found and kept as still as a mouse in his bag while Big that it was high time, for all the emigrants had Hans, with the assistance of a benevolent fellow- formed into a sort of a procession and were filpassenger, lugged him up the gang-plank. And ing through the gate on their way to the railwhen he emerged from his retirement some time way station. There were some seven or eight after the steamer was well under way, none of the hundred of them,- toil-worn, sad-faced men and officers even thought of throwing the poor goat women, and queer-looking children in all sorts of overboard; for Little Hans became a great favorite outlandish costumes. Big Hans and his friend ran with both crew and passengers, although he played to take their places at the very end of the provarious mischievous pranks, in his quiet, unosten- cession, and just managed to slip through the tatious way, and ate some shirts which had been gate before it was closed. At the railway station hung out to dry.
the boy exhibited his ticket which he had bought It was early in April when the two friends at the steamship office in Norway, and was just arrived in New York. They attracted considerable about to board the train, when the conductor cried attention as they walked up Broadway together; out: and many people turned around to laugh at the “Hold on, there! This is not a cattle train ! little emigrant boy, in his queer Norwegian cos- You can't take your goat into the passenger-car!” tume, who led a full-grown goat after him by a Big Hans did not quite comprehend what was halter. The bootblacks and the newsboys pointed said, but from the expression of the conductor's their fingers at them, and, when that had no effect, voice and face, he surmised that there was some made faces at them, and pulled Big Hans by objection to his comrade. his short jacket and Little Hans by his short tail. “I think I have money enough to buy a ticket Big Hans was quite frightened when he saw how for Little Hans, too,” he said, in his innocent Normany of them there were; but, perceiving that wegian way, as he pulled a five-dollar bill from his Little Hans was not in the least ruffled, he felt pocket. ashamed of himself, and took heart again. Thus “I don't want your money," cried the conducthey marched on for several blocks, while the tor, who knew as little of Norwegian as Big Hans crowd behind them grew more and more boisterous did of English. “Get out of the way there with and importunate. Suddenly, one big boy, who your billy goat !” seemed to be the leader of the gang, sprang for- And he hustled the boy roughly out of the way ward with a yell and knocked off Big Hans's hat, to make room for the other emigrants, who were while all the rest cheered loudly; but, just as he was thronging up to the platform.
"Well, then,” said Big Hans, "since they don't off in different directions; and, as there was no want us on the train, Little Hans, we shall have to one to ask, he sat down patiently in the shade walk to Minnesota. And as this railroad is going of a tree and determined to wait. Presently a man that way, I suppose we shall get there if we follow came along with a red flag. the track.”
Perhaps you would kindly tell me if this is Little Hans seemed to think that this was a good the way to Minnesota,” said Big Hans, taking off plan; for, as soon as the train had steamed off, he his cap and bowing politely to the man. started at a brisk rate along the track, so that The man shook his head sullenly, but did not his master had great difficulty in keeping up with answer; he did not understand the boy's language. him. For several hours they trudged along cheer- “And you don't happen to know my Uncle fully, and both were in excellent spirits. Minne- Peter Volden?” essayed the boy, less confidently, sota, Big Hans supposed, might, perhaps, be a making another respectful bow to the flagman.
day's journey off, and if he walked fast he thought “You are a queer loon of a chap,” grumbled the he would probably be there at nightfall. When man ; “ but if you don't jump off the track with once he was there, he did not doubt but that every- your goat, the train will run over both of you.” body would know his Uncle Peter. He was some- He had hardly spoken, when the train was seen what puzzled, however, when he came to a place rounding the curve, and the boy had just time where no less than three railroad tracks branched to pull Little Hans over into the ditch, when the