"My poor lad," he said, while the tears coursed down his wrinkled cheeks, "you had a weak head, but your heart, Bonnyboy--your heart was good."
A sunny-tempered little fellow was Hans, and his father declared that he had brought luck with him when he came into the world.
"He was such a handsome baby when he was born," said Inga, his mother; "but you would scarcely believe it now, running about as he does in forest and field, tearing his clothes and scratching his face."
Now, it was true, as Hans's mother said, that he did often tear his clothes; and as he had an indomitable curiosity, and had to investigate everything that came in his way, it was also no uncommon thing for him to come home with his face stung or scratched.
"Why must you drag that child with you wherever you go, Nils?" the mother complained to Hans's father, when the little boy was brought to her in such a disreputable condition. "Why can't you leave him at home? What other man do you know who carries a six-year-old little fellow about with him in rain and shine, storm and quiet?
"Well," Nils invariably answered, "I like him and he likes me. He brings me luck."
This was a standing dispute between Nils and Inga, his wife, and they never came to an agreement. She knew as well as her husband that before little Hans was born there was want and misery in their cottage. But from the hour the child lifted up its tiny voice, announcing its arrival, there had been prosperity and contentment. Their luck had turned, Nils said, and it was the child that had turned it. They had been married for four years, and though they had no one to provide for but themselves, they scarcely managed to keep body and soul together. All sorts of untoward things happened. Now a tree which he was cutting down fell upon Nils and laid him up for a month; now he got water on his knee from a blow he received while rolling logs into the chute; now the pig died which was to have provided them with salt pork for the winter, and the hens took to the bush, and laid their eggs where nobody except the rats and the weasels could find them. But since little Hans had come and put an end to all these disasters, his father had a superstitious feeling that he could not bear to have him away from him. Therefore every morning when he started out for the forest or the river he carried Hans on his shoulder. And the little boy sat there, smiling proudly and waving his hand to his mother, who stood in the door looking longingly after him.
"Hello, little chap!" cried the lumbermen, when they saw him. "Good-morning to you and good luck!"