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Krikel really seemed to know what was said to him, and scampered to the
door, pushed it open with his paws and nose, then, jumping into the
little sledge, sat up straight and gave a quick little bark, as if to
say: "Come on, then: don't you see I am ready!"
"Come, Erik; Krikel is calling us," said Olaf. But Olga was crying
because she had vexed her brother, and Erik stayed to comfort her. So
Olaf went alone, and he and Krikel had such a good time that they
forgot all about everything, till it grew so very dark that only the
tracks on the pure, white snow, and a little twinkle of light from the
hut window helped them to find their way home again.
In the wood-cutter's home lived some one else whom the children loved
dearly. This was old grandmother Ingeborg, who was almost as good as
the dear mother who had gone to take their baby sister up to heaven,
and had never yet come back to them.
All day long, while the merry children played about the door, or
watched their father swing the bright swift ax that fairly made the
chips dance, Dame Ingeborg spun and knit and worked in the little hut,
that was as clean and bright and cheery as a hut with only one door and
a tiny window could be. But then it had such a grand, wide
chimney-place, where even in summer great logs and branches of fir and
pine blazed brightly, lighting up all the corners of the little room
that the sunbeams could not reach.
Here, when tired with play, the children would gather, and throwing
themselves down on the soft wolf-skins that lay on the floor before the
fire, beg dear grandmother Ingeborg for a story. And such stories as
she told them!
So the long winter went peacefully and happily by, and at last all
hearts were gladdened at sight of the glorious sun, as he slowly and
grandly rose above the snow-topped mountains, bringing to them sunshine
and flowers, and the golden summer days.
One bright day in July, father Peder went to the fair in Lyngen.
"Be good, my children," said he, as he kissed them good-bye, "and I
will bring you something nice from the fair."
But they were nearly always good, so he really need not have said that.
Now, it was a very wonderful thing indeed for the wood-cutter to go
from home in summer, and grandmother Ingeborg was quite disturbed.
"Ah!" said she, "something bad will happen, I know."
But the children comforted her, and ran about so merrily, bringing
fresh, fragrant birch-twigs for their beds, shaking out their blankets
of reindeer-skins, and helping her so kindly, that the good dame quite
forgot to be cross, and before she knew it, was telling them her very,
very best story, that she always kept for Sundays.
So the hours went by, and the children almost wearied themselves
wondering what father Peder would bring from the fair.
"I should like a little reindeer for my sledge," said Olaf.
"I should like a fur coat and fur boots," said Erik; "I was cold last
You see, these children did not really know anything about toys, so
could not wish for them.
"_I_ should like a little sister," said Olga, wistfully. "There are two
of you boys for everything, and that is so nice; but there is only one
of me, ever, and that is _so_ lonely."
And the little maid sighed; for besides these three, there were no
children in the village. The brawny wood-cutters who lived in groups in
the huts around, and who came home at night-fall to cook their own
suppers and sleep on rude pallets before the fires, were the only
other persons whom the little maiden knew; and sometimes the two boys
(as boys will do to their sisters) teased and laughed at her, because
she was timid, and because her little legs were too short to climb up
on the great pile of logs where they loved to play. So it was no wonder
that she longed for a playmate like herself.
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