I need not tell you that the Sons of the Vikings became great heroes when the rumor of their bear hunt was noised abroad through the valley. But, for all that, they determined to disband their brotherhood. Wolf-in-the-Temple expressed the sentiment of all when, at their last meeting, he made a speech, in which these words occurred:
"Brothers, the world isn't quite the same now as it was in the days when our Viking forefathers spread the terror of their name through the South. We are not so strong as they were, nor so hardy. When we mingle blood, we have to send for a surgeon. If we steal princesses we may go to jail for it--or--or--well--never mind--what else may happen. Heroism isn't appreciated as once it was in this country; and I, for one, won't try to be a hero any more. I resign my chieftainship now, when I can do it with credit. Let us all make our bows of adieu as bear hunters; and if we don't do anything more in the heroic line it is not because we can't, but because we won't."
There was great excitement in the little Norse town, Bumlebro, because there was going to be a masquerade. Everybody was busy inventing the character which he was to represent, and the costume in which he was to represent it.
Miss Amelia Norbeck, the apothecary's daughter, had intended to be Marie Antoinette, but had to give it up because the silk stockings were too dear, although she had already procured the beauty-patches and the powdered wig.
Miss Arctander, the judge's daughter, was to be Night, in black tulle, spangled with silver stars, and Miss Hanna Broby was to be Morning, in white tulle and pink roses.
There had never BEEN a masquerade in Bumlebro, and there would not have been one now, if it had not been for the enterprise of young Arctander and young Norbeck, who had just returned from the military academy in the capital, and were anxious to exhibit themselves to the young girls in their glory.
Of course, they could not afford to be exclusive, for there were but twenty or thirty families in the town that laid any claims to gentility, and they had all to be invited in order to fill the hall and pay the bills. Thus it came to pass that Paul Jespersen, the book-keeper in the fish-exporting firm of Broby & Larsen, received a card, although, to be sure, there had been a long debate in the committee as to where the line should be drawn.
Paul Jespersen was uncommonly elated when he read the invitation, which was written on a gilt-edged card, requesting the pleasure of Mr. Jespersen's company at a bal masque Tuesday, January 3d, in the Association Hall.