The wind was whistling through the old lime and maple trees opposite my windows, the snow was sweeping down the street, and the sky was black as a December sky can possibly be here in Christiania. It was Christmas Eve,—the first I was to spend away from the cosey fireside of my home. I had lately received my officer’s commission, and had hoped that I should have gladdened my aged parents with my presence during the holidays, and had also hoped that I should be able to show myself in all my glory and splendour to the ladies of our parish. But a fever had brought me to the hospital, which I had left only a week before, and now I found myself in the much-extolled state of convalescence. I had written home for a horse and sledge and my father’s fur coat, but my letter could scarcely reach our valley before the day after Christmas, and the horse could not be in town before New Year’s Eve.