“Oh, is that you, Lieutenant? I did not know you. How pale you are! It is such a long time since I saw you!” shouted the children all at once, as they flocked round me.
“Now you must tell us something awfully jolly! It is such a long time since you told us anything. Oh, tell us about Buttercup, dear Mr. Lieutenant, do tell us about Buttercup and Goldentooth!”
I had to tell them about Buttercup and the dog Goldentooth, but they would not let me off until I gave them a couple of stories into the bargain about the brownies at Vager and at Bure, who stole hay from each other, and who met at last with a load of hay on their backs, and how they fought till they vanished in a cloud of hay-dust […]
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.
(…) the snow was sweeping downthe street, and the sky was black as a December sky can possibly be here in Christiania. I was in just as black amood. It was Christmas Eve,—the first I was to spend awayfrom the cosey fireside of my home. (…) I tried to divert myself in my loneliness and melancholymood by looking out at all the people who passed up anddown the street in the snow and wind, with blue noses and half-shut eyes. It amused me to see the bustle and the lifein the apothecary’s shop across the street. The door was scarcely shut for a moment. Servants and peasants streamed in and out, and commenced to study the labels and directionswhen they came out in the street. Some appeared to be able to make them out, but sometimes a lengthy study and adubious shake of the head showed that the solution was too difficult. It was growing dusk. I could not distinguish the countenances any longer, but gazed across at the old building.