"Will you permit me, Mr. Sheriff," said Ralph, making the officer his politest bow, "to send a message to my father, who is probably anxious about us?"
"And who is your father, young man?" asked the sheriff, not unkindly; "I should think you were doing him an ill-turn in taking to poaching at your early age."
"My father is Mr. Hoyer, of Solheim," said the boy, not without some pride in the announcement.
"What--you rascal, you! Are you trying to, play pranks on an old man?" cried the officer of the law, grasping Ralph cordially by the hand. "You've grown to be quite a man, since I saw you last. Pardon me for not recognizing the son of an old neighbor."
"Allow me to introduce to you my friend, Mr. Biceps--I mean, Mr. Albert Grimlund."
"Happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. Biceps Albert; and now you must both come and eat the Christmas porridge with us. I'll send a messenger to Mr. Hoyer without delay."
The sheriff, in a jolly mood, and happy to have added to the number of his Christmas guests, took each of the two young men by the arm, as if he were going to arrest them, and conducted them through the spacious front hall into a large cosey room, where, having divested themselves of their wraps, they told the story of their adventure.
"But, my dear sir," Mr. Bjornerud exclaimed, "I don't see how you managed to go beyond your father's preserves. You know he bought of me the whole forest tract, adjoining his own on the south, about three months ago. So you were perfectly within your rights; for your father hasn't killed an elk on his land for three years."