"I wanted to save that poor boy, papa," were the only words that met his ears. But he needed no more to explain the mystery. It was Carina, who, repenting of her unkindness to him, had stolen into his study, while he sat in the dark, and there she had heard Atle Pilot's message. Even if this boy was sick unto death, she might perhaps cure him, and make up for her father's harshness. Thus reasoned the sage Carina; and she had gone secretly and prepared for the voyage, and battled with the storm, which again and again threw her down on her road to the pier. It was a miracle that she got safely into the boat, and stowed herself away snugly under the stern thwart.
The clearing in the north gradually spread over the sky, and the storm abated. Soon they had the shore in view, and the lights of the fishermen's cottages gleamed along the beach of the headland. Presently they ran into smoother water; a star or two flashed forth, and wide blue expanses appeared here and there on the vault of the sky. They spied the red lanterns marking the wharf, about which a multitude of boats lay, moored to stakes, and with three skilful tacks Atle made the harbor. It was here, standing on the pier, amid the swash and swirl of surging waters, that the pilot seized Carina's tiny hand in his big and rough one.
"Parson," he said, with a breaking voice, "I was going to run afoul of you, and wreck myself with you; but this child, God bless her! she ran us both into port, safe and sound."
But Carina did not hear what he said, for she lay sweetly sleeping in her father's arms.
When Hakon Vang said his prayers at night, he usually finished with these words: "And I thank thee, God, most of all, because thou madest me a Norseman, and not a German or an Englishman or a Swede."
To be a Norseman appears to the Norse boy a claim to distinction.
God has made so many millions of Englishmen and Russians and Germans, that there can be no particular honor in being one of so vast a herd; while of Norsemen He has made only a small and select number, whom He looks after with special care; upon whom He showers such favors as poverty and cold (with a view to keeping them good and hardy), and remoteness from all the glittering temptations that beset the nations in whom He takes a less paternal interest. Thus at least reasons, in a dim way, the small boy in Norway; thus he is taught to reason by his parents and instructors.
As for Hakon Vang, he strutted along the beach like a turkey-cock, whenever he thought of his glorious descent from the Vikings--those daring pirates that stole thrones and kingdoms, and mixed their red Norse blood in the veins of all the royal families of Europe. The teacher of history (who was what is called a Norse-Norseman) had on one occasion, with more patriotic zeal than discretion, undertaken to pick out those boys in his class who were of pure Norse descent; whose blood was untainted by any foreign admixture. The delighted pride of this small band made them an object of envy to all the rest of the school. Hakon, when his name was mentioned, felt as if he had added a yard to his height. Tears of joy started to his eyes; and to give vent to his overcharged feelings, he broke into a war-whoop; for which he received five black marks and was kept in at recess.