Pelle the Conqueror, Complete
Martin Anderson Nexo
Part 23 out of 23
"Yes, it's a good thing the best can't be had for money," said Ellen,
tucking the clothes about his feet. He was propped up with pillows, so
that he could lie there and work. He had a map of the Hill Farm land
beside him, and was making plans for a systematic laying out of the
ground for building. He wrote down his ideas about it in a book that was
to be appended to the plans. He worked from sunrise until the middle of
the day, and during that time it was all that Ellen could do to keep the
children away from him; Boy Comfort was on his way up to the old man
every few minutes.
In the afternoon, when she had finished in the kitchen, she took the
children up for an hour. They were given a picture-book and were placed
at Brun's large writing-table, while Ellen seated herself by the window
with her knitting and talked to the old man. From her seat she could
follow the work out on the field, and had to give him a full description
of how far they had got with each plot.
There were always several hundred men out there standing watching the
work--a shivering crowd that never diminished. They were unemployed who
had heard that something was going on out here, and long before the dawn
of day they were standing there in the hope of coming in for something.
All day they streamed in and out, an endless chain of sad men. They
resembled prisoners condemned hopelessly to tread a huge wheel; there
was a broad track across the fields where they went.
Brun was troubled by the thought of these thousands of men who came all
this way to look for a day's work and had to go back with a refusal. "We
can't take more men on than there are already," he said to Pelle, "or
they'll only get in one another's way. But perhaps we could begin to
carry out some of our plans for the future. Can't we begin to make roads
and such like, so that these men can get something to do?"
No, Pelle dared not agree to that.
"In the spring we shall want capital to start the tanners with a
cooperative tannery," he said. "It'll be agreed on in their Union at an
early date, on the presupposition that we contribute money; and I
consider it very important to get it started. Our opponents find fault
with us for getting our materials from abroad. It's untenable in the
long run, and must come to an end now. As it is, the factory's hanging
in the air; they can cut us off from the supply of materials, and then
we're done. But if we only have our own tannery, the one business can be
carried out thoroughly and can't be smashed up, and then we're ready to
meet a lock-out in the trade."
"The hides!" interpolated Brun.
"There we come to agriculture. That's already arranged cooperatively,
and will certainly not be used against us. We must anyhow join in there
as soon as ever we get started--buy cattle and kill, ourselves, so that
besides the hides we provide ourselves with good, cheap meat."
"Yes, yes, but the tannery won't swallow everything! We can afford to do
"No, we can't!" Pelle declared decisively. "Remember we've also got to
think of the supply associations, or else all our work is useless; the
one thing leads to the other. There's too much depending on what we're
doing, and we mustn't hamper our undertaking with dead values that will
drag it down. First the men and then the roads! The unemployed to-day
must take care of themselves without our help."
"You're a little hard, I think," said Brun, somewhat hurt at Pelle's
firmness, and drumming on the quilt with his fingers.
"It's not the first time that I've been blamed for it in this
connection," answered Pelle gravely; "but I must put up with it."
The old man held out his hand. "I beg your pardon! It wasn't my
intention to find fault with you because you don't act thoughtlessly. Of
course we mustn't give up the victory out of sympathy with those who
fight. It was only a momentary weakness, but a weakness that might spoil
everything--that I must admit! But it's not so easy to be a passive
spectator of these topsy-turvy conditions. It's affirmed that the
workmen prefer to receive a starvation allowance to doing any work; and
judging by what they've hitherto got out of their work it's easy to
understand that it's true. But during the month that the excavations
here have been going on, at least a thousand unemployed have come every
day ready to turn to; and we pay them for refraining from doing
anything! They can at a pinch receive support, but at no price obtain
work. It's as insane as it's possible to be! You feel you'd like to give
the machinery a little push and set it going again."
"It wants a good big push," said Pelle. "They're not trifles that are in
"They look absurdly small, at any rate. The workmen are not in want
because they're out of work, as our social economists want us to
believe; but they're out of work because they're in want. What a putting
of the cart before the horse! The procession of the unemployed is a
disgrace to the community; what a waste--also from a purely mercantile
point of view--while the country and the nation are neglected! If a
private business were conducted on such principles, it would be doomed
from the very first."
"If the pitiable condition arose only from a wrong grasp of things, it
would be easily corrected," said Pelle; "but the people who settle the
whole thing can't at any rate be charged with a lack of mercantile
perception. It would be a good thing if they had the rest in as good
order! Believe me, not a sparrow falls to the ground unless it is to the
advantage of the money-power; if it paid, in a mercantile sense, to have
country and people in perfect order, it would take good care that they
were so. But it simply can't be done; the welfare of the many and the
accumulation of property by the few are irreconcilable contradictions. I
think there is a wonderful balance in humanity, so that at any time it
can produce exactly enough to satisfy all its requirements; and when one
claims too much, others let go. It's on that understanding indeed that
we want to remove the others and take over the management."
"Yes, yes! I didn't mean that I wanted to protect the existing state of
affairs. Let those who make the venture take the responsibility. But
I've been wondering whether _we_ couldn't find a way to gather up
all this waste so that it should benefit the cooperative works?"
"How could we? We _can't_ afford to give occupation to the
"Not for wages! But both the Movement and the community have begun to
support them, and what would be more natural than that one required work
of them in return? Only, remember, letting it benefit them!"
"You mean that, for instance, unemployed bricklayers and carpenters
should build houses for the workmen?" asked Pelle, with animation.
"Yes, as an instance. But the houses should be ensured against private
speculation, in the same way as those we're building, and always belong
to the workmen. As _we_ can't be suspected of trying to make
profits, we should be suitable people for its management, and it would
help on the cooperative company. In that way the refuse of former times
would fertilize the new seed."
Pelle sat lost in thought, and the old man lay and looked at him in
suspense. "Well, are you asleep?" he asked at last impatiently.
"It's a fine idea," said Pelle, raising his head. "I think we should get
the organizations on our side; they're already beginning to be
interested in cooperation. When the committee sits, I'll lay your plan
before them. I'm not so sure of the community, however, Brun! They have
occasional use for the great hunger-reserve, so they'll go on just
keeping life in it; if they hadn't, it would soon be allowed to die of
hunger. I don't think they'll agree to have it employed, so to speak,
"You're an incorrigible pessimist!" said Brun a little irritably.
"Yes, as regards the old state of things," answered Pelle, with a smile.
Thus they would discuss the possibilities for the fixture in connection
with the events of the day when Pelle sat beside the old man in the
evening, both of them engrossed in the subject. Sometimes the old man
felt that he ran off the lines. "It's the blood," he said despondently.
"I'm not, after all, quite one of you. It's so long since one of my
family worked with his hands that I've forgotten it."
During this time he often touched upon his past, and every evening had
something to tell about himself. It was as though he were determined to
find a law that would place him by Pelle's side.
Brun belonged to an old family that could be traced back several hundred
years to the captain of a ship, who traded with the Tranquebar coast.
The founder of the family, who was also a whaler and a pirate, lived in
a house on one of the Kristianshavn canals. When his ship was at home,
she lay to at the wharf just outside his street-door. The Bruns' house
descended from father to son, and was gradually enlarged until it became
quite a mansion. In the course of four generations it had become one of
the largest trading-houses of the capital. At the end of the eighteenth
and the beginning of the nineteenth century, most of the members of the
family had gone over into the world of stockbrokers and bankers, and
thence the changes went still further. Brun's father, the well-known
Kornelius Brun, stuck to the old business, his brothers making over
their share to him and entering the diplomatic service, one of them
receiving a high Court appointment.
Kornelius Brun felt it his duty to carry on the old business, and in
order to keep on a level with his brothers as regarded rank, he married
a lady of noble birth from Funen, of a very old family heavily burdened
with debt. She bore him three children, all of whom--as he himself said
--were failures. The first child was a deaf mute with very small
intellectual powers. It fortunately died before it attained to man's
estate. Number two was very intelligent and endowed with every talent,
but even as a boy exhibited perverse tendencies. He was very handsome,
had soft, dark hair, and a delicate, womanish complexion. His mother
dressed him in velvet, and idolized him. He never did anything useful,
but went about in fine company and spent large sums of money. In his
fortieth year he died suddenly, a physical and moral wreck. The
announcement of the death gave a stroke as the cause; but the truth was
that rumors had begun to circulate of a scandal in which he was
implicated together with some persons of high standing. It was at the
end of the seventies, at the time when the lower class movement began to
gather way. An energetic investigation was demanded from below, and it
was considered inadvisable to hush the story up altogether, for fear of
giving support to the assertion of the rottenness and onesidedness of
the existing conditions. When an investigation became imminent, and it
was evident that Brun would be offered up upon the altar of the
multitude in order to shield those who stood higher, Kornelius Brun put
a pistol into his son's hand--or shot him; the librarian was unable to
"Those were two of the fruits upon the decaying family tree," said Brun
bitterly, "and it can't be denied that they were rather worm-eaten. The
third was myself. I came fifteen years after my youngest brother. By
that time my parents had had enough of their progeny; at any rate, I was
considered from the beginning to be a hopeless failure, even before I
had had an opportunity of showing anything at all. Perhaps they felt
instinctively that I should take a wrong direction too. In me too the
disintegrating forces predominated; I was greatly deficient, for
instance, in family feeling. I remember when still quite little hearing
my mother complain of my plebeian tendencies; I always kept with the
servants, and took their part against my parents. My family looked more
askance at me for upholding the rights of our inferiors than they had
done at the idiot who tore everything to pieces, or the spendthrift who
made scandals and got into debt. And I dare say with good reason! Mother
gave me plenty of money to amuse myself with, probably to counteract my
plebeian tendencies; but I had soon done with the pleasures and devoted
myself to study. Things of the day did not interest me, but even as a
boy I had a remarkable desire to look back; I devoted myself especially
to history and its philosophy. Father was right when he derided me and
called it going into a monastery; at an age when other young men are
lovers, I could not find any woman that interested me, while almost any
book tempted me to a closer acquaintance. For a long time he hoped that
I would think better of it and take over the business, and when I
definitely chose study, it came to a quarrel between us. 'When the
business comes to an end, there's an end of the family!' he said, and
sold the whole concern. He had been a widower then for several years,
and had only me; but during the five years that he lived after selling
the business we didn't see one another. He hated me because I didn't
take it over, but what could I have done with it? I possessed none of
the qualities necessary for the carrying on of business in our day, and
should only have ruined the whole thing. From the time I was thirty, my
time has been passed among bookshelves, and I've registered the lives
and doings of others. It's only now that I've come out into the daylight
and am beginning to live my own life; and now it'll soon be ended!"
"It's only now that life's beginning to be worth living," said Pelle,
"so you've come out just at the right time."
"Ah, no!" said Brun despondently. "I'm not in the ascendant! I meet
young men and my mind inclines to them; but it's like evening and
morning meeting in the same glow during the light nights. I've only got
my share in the new because the old must bend to it, so that the ring
may be completed. You go in where I go out."
"It must have been a melancholy existence to be always among books,
books, without a creature that cared for you," put in Ellen. "Why didn't
you marry? Surely we women aren't so terrible that there mightn't have
been _one_ that you liked?"
"No, you'd think not, but it's true nevertheless," answered Brun, with a
smile. "The antipathy was mutual too; it's always like that. I suppose
it wasn't intended that an old fellow like me should put children into
the world! It's not nice, though, to be the end of something."
Ellen laughed. "Yes, but you haven't always been old!"
"Yes, I have really; I was born old. I'm only now beginning to feel
young. And who knows?" he exclaimed with grim humor. "I may play
Providence a trick and make my appearance some day with a little wife on
"Brun's indulging in fancies," said Pelle, as they went down to bed.
"But I suppose they'll go when he's about again."
"He's not had much of a time, poor old soul!" said Ellen, going closer
to Pelle. "It's a shame that there are people who get no share in all
the love there is--just as great a shame as what you're working against,
"Yes, but we can't put that straight!" exclaimed Pelle, laughing.
In the garden at "Daybreak" the snow was disappearing from day to day.
First it went away nearest the house, and gave place to a little forest
of snowdrops and crocuses. The hyacinths in the grass began to break
through the earth, coming up like a row of knuckles that first knocked
at the door.
The children were always out watching the progress made. They could not
understand how the delicate crocus could push straight up out of the
frozen ground without freezing to death, but died when it came into the
warm room. Every day they wrapped some snowdrops in paper and laid them
on Brun's table--they were "snowdrop-letters"--and then hovered about in
ungovernable excitement until he came in from the fields, when they met
him with an air of mystery, and did all they could to entice him
Out in the fields they were nearly finished with the excavations, and
were only waiting for the winter water to sink in order to cart up
gravel and stone and begin the foundations; the ground was too soft as
Old Brun was not so active now after his confinement to bed; although
there was not much the matter with him, it had weakened him. He allowed
Pelle a free hand with the works, and said Yea and Amen to everything he
proposed. "I can't keep it all in my head," he would say when Pelle came
to suggest some alteration; "but just do as you like, my son, and it's
sure to be right." There were not enough palpable happenings down there
to keep his mind aglow, and he was too old to hear it grow and draw
strength from that. His faith, however, merely shifted from the Cause
over to Pelle; he saw him alive before him, and could lean upon his
He had given up his work on the plans. He could not keep at it, and
contented himself with going the round of the fields two or three times
a day and watching the men. The sudden flame of energy that Pelle's
youth had called to life within him had died down, leaving a pathetic
old man, who had been out in the cold all his life, and was now
luxuriating in a few late rays of evening sun. He no longer measured
himself by Pelle, and was not jealous of his taking the lead in
anything, but simply admired him and kept carefully within the circle of
those for whom Pelle acted providence. Ellen treated him like a big
child who needed a great deal of care, and the children of course looked
upon him as their equal.
When he went his round of the fields, he generally had Boy Comfort by
the hand; the two could both keep pace with one another and converse
together. There was one thing that interested them both and kept them in
great excitement. The stork was expected every day back at the Hill
Farm, and when it came it would bring a baby to Mother Ellen. The
expectation was not an unmixed pleasure. The stork always bit the mother
in the leg when he came with a baby for her. Boy Comfort's own mother
died of the bite; he was wise enough to know that now. The little fellow
looked upon Ellen as his mother, and went about in a serious, almost
depressed, mood. He did not talk to the other children of his anxiety,
for fear they would make fun of him; but when he and the old man walked
together in the fields they discussed the matter, and Brun, as the older
and wiser, came to the conclusion that there was no danger. All the
same, they always kept near the house so as to be at hand.
One day Pelle stayed at home from work, and Ellen did not get up as
usual. "I'm going to lie here and wait for the stork," she said to Boy
Comfort. "Go out and watch for it." The little boy took a stick, and he
and Brun tramped round the house; and when they heard Ellen cry out,
they squeezed one another's hands. It was such a disturbed day, it was
impossible to keep anything going straight; now a carriage drove up to
the door with a fat woman in it, now it was Lasse Frederik who leaped
upon his bicycle and raced down the field-path, standing on the pedals.
Before Boy Comfort had any idea of it, the stork had been there, and
Ellen was lying with a baby boy on her arm. He and Brun went in together
to congratulate her, and they were both equally astonished. The old man
had to be allowed to touch the baby's cheek.
"He's still so ugly," said Ellen, with a shy smile, as she lifted the
corner of the shawl from the baby's head. Then she had to be left quiet,
and Brun took Boy Comfort upstairs with him.
Pelle sat on the edge of the bed, holding Ellen's hand, which in a few
hours had become white and thin. "Now we must send for 'Queen Theresa,'"
"Shan't we send for your mother too?" asked Pelle, who had often
proposed that they should take the matter into their own hands, and go
and see the old people. He did not like keeping up old quarrels.
Ellen shook her head. "They must come of their own accord," she said
decidedly. She did not mind for herself, but they had looked down upon
Pelle, so it was not more than fair that they should come and make it
"But I _have_ sent for them," said Pelle. "That was what Lasse
Frederik went about. You mustn't have a baby without help from your
In less than a couple of hours Madam Stolpe had arrived. She was much
moved, and to hide it she began turning the house inside out for clean
cloths and binders, scolding all the time. A nice time, indeed, to send
for anybody, when it was all over!
Father Stolpe was harder. He was not one to come directly he was
whistled for! But two or three evenings after the baby had arrived,
Pelle ran up against him hanging about a little below the house. Well,
he was waiting for mother, to take her home, and it didn't concern
anybody else, he supposed. He pretended to be very determined, but it
was comparatively easy to persuade him to come in; and once in, it was
not long before Ellen had thawed him. She had, as usual, her own manner
"Let me tell you, father, that it's not me that sent for you, but Pelle;
and if you don't give him your hand and say you've done him an
injustice, we shall never be good friends again!"
"Upon my word, she's the same confounded way of taking the bull by the
horns that she always had!" said Stolpe, without looking at her. "Well,
I suppose I may as well give in at once, and own that I've played the
fool. Shall we agree to let bygones be bygones, son-in-law?" extending
his hand to Pelle.
When once the reconciliation was effected, Stolpe became quite cheerful.
"I never dreamt I should see you so soon, least of all with a baby!" he
said contentedly, stroking Ellen's face with his rough hand.
"No, she's always been his darling, and father's often been tired of
it," said Madam Stolpe. "But men make themselves so hard!"
"Rubbish, mother!" growled Stolpe. "Women will always talk nonsense!"
Time had left its mark upon them both. There had been a certain amount
of unemployment in his trade, and Stolpe was getting on in years and had
a difficulty in keeping up with the young men on the scaffolding. Their
clothes showed that they were not so prosperous as formerly; but Stolpe
was still chairman of his trade union and a highly respected man within
"And now, my boy," he said suddenly, placing his hands on Pelle's
shoulders, "you must explain to me what it is you're doing this time. I
hear you've begun to stir up men's feelings again."
Pelle told him about his great plan for cooperative works. The old man
knew indeed a good deal about it; it appeared that he had followed
Pelle's movements from a distance.
"That's perhaps not so out of the way," he said. "We might squeeze
capital out of existence just as quietly, if we all bestirred ourselves.
But you must get the Movement to join you; and it must be made clear
that every one who doesn't support his own set is a black-leg."
"_I have_ got a connection, but it goes rather slowly," said Pelle.
"Then we must stir them up a little. I say, that queer fellow--Brun, I
think you call him--doesn't he live with you?"
"He isn't a queer fellow," said Pelle, laughing. "We can go up and see
Brun and Stolpe very soon found something to talk about. They were of
the same age, and had witnessed the first days of the Movement, each
from his own side. Madam Stolpe came several times and pulled her
husband by the coat: they ought to be going home.
"Well, it's not worth while to quarrel with your own wife," said Stolpe
at last; "but I shall come again. I hear you're building out here, and I
should like to see what our own houses'll be like."
"We've not begun yet," answered Pelle. "But come out on Sunday, and Brun
and I will show it all to you."
"I suppose it's masters who'll get it?" asked Stolpe.
"No, we thought of letting the unemployed have the work if they could
undertake it, and have a man to put at the head," said Brun. "Perhaps
you could undertake it?"
"Why, of course I can!" answered Stolpe, with a feeling of his own
importance. "I'm the man to build houses for workmen! I was member of
the party when it numbered only one man."
"Yes, Stolpe's the veteran of the Movement," said Pelle.
"Upon my word, it'd be awfully nice if it was me!" exclaimed Stolpe when
Pelle accompanied the old couple down to the tram. "I'll get together a
set of workmen that have never been equalled. And what houses we shall
put up! There won't be much papier-mache there!"
It still sometimes happened that Pelle awoke in the night not knowing
where he was. He was oppressed with a stifling anxiety, dreaming that he
was in prison, and fancying he could still smell the rank, mouldy odor
of the cell. He gradually came to his senses and knew where he was; the
sounds of breathing around him, and the warm influence of the darkness
itself, brought him back to his home. He sat up joyfully, and struck a
match to get a glimpse of Ellen and the little ones. He dared not go to
sleep again, for sleep would instantly take him back to the prison; so
he dressed quietly and stole out to see the day awaken.
It was strange with these dreams, for they turned everything upside
down. In the prison he always dreamed he was free and living happily;
nothing less would do there. There the day was bad and the night good,
and here it was the reverse. It was as though something within one would
always have everything. "That must be the soul!" he thought as he
wandered eastward to meet the first gleam of day. In the country at
home, the old people in his childhood believed that dreams were the soul
wandering about by itself; some had seen it as a white mouse creeping
out of the sleeper's mouth to gather fresh experiences for him. It was
true, too, that through dreams the poor man had hitherto had everything;
they carried him out of his prison. Perhaps the _roles_ were
exchanged during the darkness of night. Perhaps the rich man's soul came
during the night and slipped into the poor man's body to gather
suffering for his master.
There was spring in the air. As yet it was only perceptible to Pelle in
a feeling of elation, a desire to expand and burst all boundaries. He
walked with his face toward the opening day, and had a feeling of
unconquerable power. Whence this feeling came he knew not, but it was
there. He felt himself as something immense that was shut into a small
space and would blow up the world if it were let loose. He walked on
quickly. Above his head rose the first lark. Slowly the earth drew from
its face the wonderful veil of rest and mystery that was night.
Perhaps the feeling of strength came from his having taken possession of
his spirit and commanding a view of the world. The world had no limits,
but neither had his powers; the force that could throw him out of his
course did not exist. In his own footfall he heard the whole future; the
Movement would soon be concluded when it had taken in the fact that the
whole thing must be included. There was still a little difficulty; from
that side they still made it a condition for their cooperation that
Pelle should demand a public recognition of his good character. Pelle
laughed and raised his face to the morning breeze which came like a cold
shiver before the sunrise. Outsider! Yes, there was some truth in it. He
did not belong to the existing state of things; he desired no civil
rights there. That he was outside was his stamp of nobility; his
relations to the future were contained in that fact. He had begun the
fight as one of the lowest of the people, and as such he would triumph.
When he rose there should no longer be a pariah caste.
As he walked along with the night behind him and his face to the light,
he seemed to have just entered into youth with everything before him--
everything to look forward to! And yet he seemed to have existed since
the morning of time, so thoroughly did he know the world of darkness
that he left. Was not man a wonderful being, both in his power to shrink
up and become nothing, and in his power to expand and fill everything?
He now understood Uncle Kalle's smile on all occasions; he had armed
himself with it in order that life should not draw too deep furrows in
his gentle nature. The poor man had been obliged to dull himself; he
would simply bleed to death if he gave himself up to stern reality. The
dullness had been like a hard shell that protected the poor; and now
they came with their heart quite safe in spite of everything. They could
very well lead when times were good.
Pelle had always a vague feeling of being chosen. Even as a child it
made him look with courage in the face of a hard world, and filled his
bare limbs with elasticity. Poor and naked he came into the world,
apparently without a gift of any kind; and yet he came as a bright
promise to the elderly, work-bowed Father Lasse. Light radiated from
him, insignificant and ordinary though he was; God had given him the
spark, the old man always said, and he always looked upon the boy as a
little miracle of heaven. The boy Pelle wondered a little at it, but was
happy in his father's pleasure. He himself knew some very different
miracles at that time, for instance the calf of the fair with two heads,
and the lamb with eight legs. He had his own demands to make of life's
wonderful riches, and was not struck with surprise at a very ordinary,
big-eared urchin such as one might see any day.
And now he was just showing that Father Lasse had been right. The
greatest miracles were in himself--Pelle, who resembled hundreds of
millions of other workmen, and had never yet had more than just enough
for his food. Man was really the most wonderful of all. Was he not
himself, in all his commonplace naturalness, like a luminous spark,
sprung from the huge anvil of divine thought? He could send out his
inquiring thought to the uttermost borders of space, and back to the
dawn of time. And this all-embracing power seemed to have proceeded from
nothing, like God Himself! The mere fact that he, who made so much
noise, had to go to prison in order to comprehend the great object of
things, was a marvel! There must have been far-reaching plans deposited
in him, since he shut himself in.
When he looked out over the rising, he felt himself to be facing a
world-thought with extraordinarily long sight. The common people,
without knowing it, had been for centuries preparing themselves for an
entry into a new world; the migration of the masses would not be stopped
until they had reached their goal. A law which they did not even know
themselves, and could not enter into, led them the right way; and Pelle
was not afraid. At the back of his unwearied labor with the great
problem of the age was the recognition that he was one of those on whom
the nation laid the responsibility for the future; but he was never in
doubt as to the aim, nor the means. During the great lock-out the
foreseeing had feared the impossibility of leading all these crowds into
the fire. And then the whole thing had opened out of itself quite
naturally, from an apparently tiny cause to a steadily ordered battle
all along the line. The world had never before heard a call so great as
that which he and his followers brought forward! It meant nothing less
than the triumph of goodness! He was not fond of using great words, but
at the bottom of his heart he was convinced that everything bad
originated in want and misery. Distrust and selfishness came from
misusage; they were man's defence against extortion. And the extortion
came from insecure conditions, from reminders of want or unconscious
fear of it. Most crimes could easily be traced back to the distressing
conditions, and even where the connection was not perceptible he was
sure that it nevertheless existed. It was his experience that every one
in reality was good: the evil in them could nearly always be traced back
to something definite, while the goodness often existed in spite of
everything. It would triumph altogether when the conditions became
secure for everybody. He was sure that even the crimes that were due to
abnormity would cease of themselves when there were no longer hidden
reminders of misery in the community.
It was his firm belief that he and his followers should renew the world;
the common people should turn it into a paradise for the multitude, just
as it had already made it a paradise for the few. It would require a
great and courageous mind for this, but his army had been well tested.
Those who, from time immemorial, had patiently borne the pressure of
existence for others, must be well fitted to take upon themselves the
leadership into the new age.
Pelle at last found himself in Strand Road, and it was too late to
return home. He was ravenously hungry and bought a couple of rolls at a
baker's, and ate them on his way to work.
* * * * *
At midday Brun came into the works to sign some papers and go through
accounts with Pelle. They were sitting up in the office behind the shop.
Pelle read out the items and made remarks on them, while the old man
gave his half attention and merely nodded. He was longing to get back to
"You won't mind making it as short as possible?" he said, "for I don't
feel quite well." The harsh spring winds were bad for him and made his
breathing difficult. The doctor had advised a couple of months in the
Riviera--until the spring was over; but the old man could not make up
his mind. He had not the courage to set out alone.
The shop-bell rang, and Pelle went in to serve. A young sunburnt man
stood on the other side of the counter and laughed.
"Don't you know me?" he asked, holding out his hand to Pelle. It was
Karl, the youngest of the three orphans in the "Ark."
"Why, of course I know you!" answered Pelle, delighted. "I've been to
Adel Street to look for you; I was told you had your business there."
That had been a long time ago! Now Karl Anker was manager of a large
supply association over on Funen. He had come over to order some boots
and shoes from Pelle for the association. "It's only a trial," he said.
"If it succeeds I'll get you a connection with the cooperative
association, and that's a customer that takes something, I can tell
Pelle had to make haste to take down the order, as Karl had to catch a
"It's a pity you haven't got time to see our works," said Pelle. "Do you
remember little Paul from the 'Ark'? The factory-girl's child that she
tied to the stove when she went to work? He's become a splendid fellow.
He's my head man in the factory. He'd like to see you!"
"When Karl was gone and Pelle was about to go in to Brun in the office,
he caught sight of a small, somewhat deformed woman with a child,
walking to and fro above the workshop windows, and taking stolen glances
down. They timidly made way for people passing, and looked very
frightened. Pelle called them into the shop.
"Do you want to speak to Peter Dreyer?" he asked.
The woman nodded. She had a refined face with large, sorrowful eyes. "If
it won't disturb him," she said.
Pelle called Peter Dreyer and then went into the office, where he found
Brun had fallen asleep.
He heard them whispering in the shop. Peter was angry, and the woman and
the child cried; he could hear it in the tones of their whisper. It did
not last more than a minute, and then Peter let them out. Pelle went
quickly into the shop.
"If it was money," he said hurriedly, "you know you've only got to tell
"No, it was the big meeting of unemployed this afternoon. They were
begging me to stop at home, silly creatures! Goodness knows what's come
to them!" Peter was quite offended. "By the by--I suppose you haven't
any objection to my going now? It begins in an hour's time."
"I thought it had been postponed," said Pelle.
"Yes, but that was only a ruse to prevent its being prohibited. We're
holding it in a field out by Norrebro. You ought to come too; it'll be a
meeting that'll be remembered. We shall settle great matters to-day."
Peter was nervous, and fidgeted with his clothes while he spoke.
Pelle placed his hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes. "You'd
better do what those two want," he said earnestly. "I don't know them,
of course; but if their welfare's dependent on you, then they too have a
claim upon you. Give up what you were going to do, and go out for a walk
with those two! Everything's budding now; take them to the woods! It's
better to make two people happy than a thousand unhappy."
Peter looked away. "We're not going to do anything special, so what is
there to make such a fuss about?" he murmured.
"You _are_ going to do something to-day; I can see it in you. And
if you can't carry it through, who'll have to take the consequences?
Why, the women and children! You _can't_ carry it through! Our
strength doesn't lie in that direction."
"You go your way and let me go mine," said Peter, gently freeing
Two policemen were standing on the opposite pavement, talking together,
while they secretly kept an eye on the shop. Pelle pointed to them.
"The police don't know where the meeting's to be held, so they're
keeping watch on me," said Peter, shrugging his shoulders. "I can easily
put those two on the wrong track."
The policemen crossed the street and separated outside the shop. One of
them stood looking at the articles exhibited in the window for a little
while, and then quickly entered the shop. "Is Peter Dreyer here?" he
"I'm he," answered Peter, withdrawing behind the counter. "But I advise
you not to touch me! I can't bear the touch of a policeman's hands."
"You're arrested!" said the policeman shortly, following him.
Pelle laid his hand upon his arm. "You should go to work with a little
gentleness," he said. But the man pushed him roughly away. "I'll have no
interference from you!" he cried, blowing his whistle. Peter started,
and for a moment his thoughts were at a standstill; then he leaped like
a cat over the iron railing, of the workshop steps. But the other
policeman was there to receive him, and he sprang once more into the
shop, close up to his pursuer. He had his revolver in his hand. "I've
had enough of this, confound you!" he hissed.
Two shots sounded, one immediately after the other. The policeman just
managed to turn round, but fell forward with his head under the counter,
and Peter dropped upon the top of him. It looked as if he had tripped
over the policeman's leg; but when Pelle went to help him up he saw that
the blood was trickling from a hole in his temple. The policeman was
Peter opened his eyes with difficulty when Pelle raised his head. "Take
me away!" he whispered, turning his head toward the dead man with an
expression of loathing. He still kept a convulsive hold upon his
Pelle took it from him, and carried him in to the sofa in the office.
"Get me a little water!" said Pelle to the old librarian, who was
standing trembling at the door, but the old man did not hear him.
Peter made a sign that he needed nothing now. "But those two," he
whispered. Pelle nodded. "And then--Pelle--comrade--" He tried to fix
his dying gaze upon Pelle, but suddenly started convulsively, his knees
being drawn right up to his chin. "Bloodhounds!" he groaned, his eyes
converging so strongly that the pupils disappeared altogether; but then
his features fell once more into their ordinary folds as his head sank
back, and he was dead.
The policeman came in. "Well, is he dead?" he asked maliciously. "He's
made fools of us long enough!"
Pelle took him by the arm and led him to the door. "He's no longer in
your district," he said, as he closed the door behind him and followed
the man into the shop, where the dead policeman lay upon the counter.
His fellow-policeman had laid him there, locked the outer door, and
pulled down the blinds.
"Will you stop the work and tell the men what has happened?" said Pelle
quietly to Brun. "There's something else I must see to. There'll be no
more work done here to-day."
"Are you going?" asked the old man anxiously.
"Yes, I'm going to take Peter's meeting for him, now that he can't do it
himself," answered Pelle in a low voice.
They had gone down through the workshop, where the men were standing
about, looking at one another. They had heard the shots, but had no idea
what they meant. "Peter is dead!" said Pelle. His emotion prevented him
from saying anything more. Everything seemed suddenly to rush over him,
and he hastened out and jumped onto a tram-car.
Out on one of the large fields behind Norrebro a couple of thousand
unemployed were gathered. The wind had risen and blew gustily from the
west over the field. The men tramped backward and forward, or stood
shivering in their thin clothes. The temper of the crowd was
threatening. Men continued to pour out from the side streets, most of
them sorry figures, with faces made older by want of work. Many of them
could no longer show themselves in the town for want of clothes, and
took this opportunity of joining the others.
There was grumbling among them because the meeting had not begun. Men
asked one another what the reason was, and no one could tell. Suppose
Peter Dreyer had cheated them too, and had gone over to the corporation!
Suddenly a figure appeared upon the cart that was to be used as a
platform, and the men pressed forward on all sides. Who in the world was
it? It was not Peter Dreyer! Pelle? What smith? Oh, him from The Great
Struggle--"the Lightning"! Was he still to the fore? Yes, indeed he was!
Why, he'd become a big manufacturer and a regular pillar of society.
What in the world did he want here? He had plenty of cheek!
Suddenly a storm of shouts and hisses broke out, mingled with a little
Pelle stood looking out over the crowd with an expression of terrible
earnestness. Their demonstration against him did not move him; he was
standing here in the stead of a dead man. He still felt Peter's heavy
head on his arm.
When comparative quiet was restored he raised his head. "Peter Dreyer is
dead!" he said in a voice that was heard by every one. Whispers passed
through the crowd, and they looked questioningly at one another as
though they had not heard correctly. He saw from their expression how
much would go to pieces in their lives when they believed it.
"It's a lie!" suddenly cried a voice, relieving the tension. "You're
hired by the police to entice us round the corner, you sly fellow!"
Pelle turned pale. "Peter Dreyer is lying in the factory with a bullet
through his head," he repealed inexorably. "The police were going to
arrest him, and he shot both the policeman and himself!"
For a moment all the life in the crowd seemed to be petrified by the
pitiless truth, and he saw how they had loved Peter Dreyer. Then they
began to make an uproar, shouting that they would go and speak to the
police, and some even turned to go.
"Silence, people!" cried Pelle in a loud voice. "Are you grown men and
yet will get up a row beside the dead body of a comrade?"
"What do you know about it?" answered one. "You don't know what you're
"I do know at any rate that at a place out by Vesterbro there sits a
woman with a child, waiting for Peter, and he will not come. Would you
have more like them? What are you thinking of, wanting to jump into the
sea and drown yourselves because you're wet through? Will those you
leave behind be well off? For if you think so, it's your duty to
sacrifice yourselves. But don't you think rather that the community will
throw you into a great common pit, and leave your widows and fatherless
children to weep over you?"
"It's all very well for you to talk!" some one shouted. "Yours are safe
"I'm busy making yours safe for you, and you want to spoil it by
stupidity! It's all very well for me to talk, you say! But if there's
any one of you who dares turn his face to heaven and say he has gone
through more than I have, let him come up here and take my place."
He was silent and looked out over the crowd. Their wasted faces told him
that they were in need of food, but still more of fresh hope. Their eyes
gazed into uncertainty. A responsibility must be laid upon them--a great
responsibility for such prejudiced beings--if possible, great enough to
carry them on to the goal.
"What is the matter with you?" he went on. "You suffer want, but you've
always done that without getting anything for it; and now when there's
some purpose in it, you won't go any further. We aren't just from
yesterday, remember! Wasn't it us who fought the great battle to its end
together? Now you scorn it and the whole Movement and say they've
brought nothing; but it was then we broke through into life and won our
right as men.
"Before that time we have for centuries borne our blind hope safely
through oppression and want. Is there any other class of society that
has a marching route like ours? Forced by circumstances, we prepared for
centuries of wandering in the desert and never forgot the country; the
good God had given us some of His own infinite long-suffering to carry
us through the toilsome time. And now, when we are at the border, you've
forgotten what we were marching for, and sacrifice the whole thing if
only _you_ can be changed from thin slaves to fat slaves!"
"There are no slaves here!" was the threatening cry on all sides.
"You're working horses, in harness and with blinkers on! Now you demand
good feeding. When will the scales fall from your eyes, so that you take
the responsibility upon yourselves? You think you're no end of fine
fellows when you dare to bare your chest to the bayonets, but are we a
match for brutality? If we were, the future would not be ours."
"Are you scoffing at Peter Dreyer?" asked a sullen voice.
"No, I am not. Peter Dreyer was one of those who go on in advance, and
smear the stones on the road with their hearts' blood, so that the rest
of us may find our way. But you've no right to compare yourselves with
him. He sank under the weight of a tremendous responsibility; and what
are you doing? If you want to honor Peter's memory as it deserves, go
quietly home, and join the Movement again. There you have work to do
that will transform the world when you all set about it. What will it
matter if your strength ebbs and you suffer hunger for a little longer
while you're building your own house? You were hungry too when you were
building for others.
"You referred to Peter Dreyer, but we are none of us great martyrs; we
are everyday, ordinary men, and there's where our work lies. Haven't the
thousands who have suffered and died in silence a still greater claim to
be followed? They have gone down peacefully for the sake of the
development, and have the strongest right to demand our belief in a
peaceable development. It is just we that come from the lowest stratum
who must preserve the historic development; never has any movement had
so long and sad a previous history as ours! Suffering and want have
taught us to accept the leadership, when the good has justice done to
it; and you want to throw the whole thing overboard by an act of
They listened to him in silence now. He had caught their minds, but it
was not knowledge they absorbed. At present they looked most like weary
people who are told that they still have a long way to go. But he
_would_ get them through!
"Comrades!" he cried earnestly, "perhaps we who are here shall not live
to see the new, but it's through us that it'll some day become reality.
Providence has stopped at us, and has appointed us to fight for it. Is
that not an honor? Look! we come right from the bottom of everything--
entirely naked; the old doesn't hang about our clothes, for we haven't
any; we can clothe ourselves in the new. The old God, with His thousands
of priests as a defence against injustice, we do not know; the moral of
war we have never understood--we who have always been its victims. We
believe in the Good, because we know that without the victory of
goodness there will be no future. Our mind is light and can receive the
light; we will lift up our little country and show that it has a mission
on the earth. We who are little ourselves will show how the little ones
keep up and assert themselves by the principle of goodness. We wish no
harm to any one, therefore the good is on our side. Nothing can in the
long run keep us down! And now go home! Your wives and children are
perhaps anxious on your account."
They stood for a moment as though still listening, and then dispersed in
When Pelle sprang down from the cart, Morten came up and held out his
hand. "You are strong, Pelle!" he said quietly.
"Where have you come from?" exclaimed Pelle in glad surprise.
"I came by the steamer this afternoon, and went straight up to the
works. Brun told me what had happened and that you were here. It must
have been a threatening meeting! There was a detachment of police over
there in one of the side streets. What was going on?"
"They'd planned some demonstration or other, and would in that case have
met with harsh treatment, I suppose," said Pelle gravely.
"It was well you got them to change their minds. I've seen these
demonstrations in the South, where the police and the soldiers ride over
the miserable unemployed. It's a sad sight."
They walked up across the fields toward "Daybreak." "To think that
you're home again!" said Pelle, with childlike delight. "You never wrote
a word about coming."
"Well, I'd meant to stay away another couple of months. But one day I
saw the birds of passage flying northward across the Mediterranean, and
I began to be so homesick. It was just as well I came too, for now I can
see Brun before he goes."
"Oh, is he going away, after all? That's been settled very quickly. This
morning he couldn't make up his mind."
"It's this about Peter. The old man's fallen off very much in the last
six months. But let's walk quicker! I'm longing to see Ellen and the
children. How's the baby?"
"He's a little fatty!" said Pelle proudly. "Nine pounds without his
clothes! Isn't that splendid? He's a regular sunshine baby."
It is spring once more in Denmark.
It has been coming for a long time. The lark came before the frost was
out of the ground, and then the starling appeared. And one day the air
seemed suddenly to have become high and light so that the eye could once
more see far out; there was a peculiar broad airiness in the wind--the
breath of spring. It rushed along with messages of young, manly
strength, and people threw back their shoulders and took deep breaths.
"Ah! the south wind!" they said, and opened their minds in anticipation.
There he comes riding across the sea from the south, in the middle of
his youthful train. Never before has his coming been so glorious! Is he
not like the sun himself? The sea glitters under golden hoofs, and the
air is quivering with sunbeam-darts caught and thrown in the wild gallop
over the waves. Heigh-ho! Who'll be the first to reach the Danish shore?
Like a broad wind the spring advances over islands and belts, embracing
the whole in arrogant strength. He sings in the children's open mouths
as in a shell, and is lavish of his airy freshness. Women's teeth grow
whiter with his kiss, and vie with their eyes in brightness; their
cheeks glow beneath his touch, though they remain cool--like sun-ripe
fruit under the morning dew. Men's brains whirl once more, and expand
into an airy vault, as large as heaven itself, giddy with expectancy.
From high up comes the sound of the passage birds in flight; the air is
dizzy with its own infinitude.
Bareheaded and with a sunny smile the spring advances like a young giant
intoxicated with his own strength, stretches out his arms and wakens
everything with his song. Nothing can resist him. He touches lightly the
heart of the sleeping earth, calling merrily into her dull ears to
awake. And deep down the roots of life begin to stir and wake, and send
the sap circulating once more. Hedgehogs and field-mice emerge sleepily
and begin to busy themselves in the hedges. From the darkness below old
decayed matter ferments and bubbles up, and the stagnant water in the
ditches begins to run toward the sea.
Men stand and gaze in amazement after the open-handed giant, until they
feel the growth in themselves and can afford something. All that was
impossible before has suddenly become possible, and more besides. The
farmer has long since had his plough in the earth, and the sower straps
his basket on: the land is to be clothed again.
The days lengthen and become warmer; it is delightful to watch them and
know that they are going upward. One day Ellen opens wide the double
doors out to the garden; it is like a release. But what a quantity of
dirt the light reveals!
"We shall have to be busy now, Petra Dreyer!" says Ellen. The little
deformed sewing-woman smiles with her sad eyes, and the two women begin
to sweep floors and wash windows. Now and then a little girl comes in
from the garden complaining that she is not allowed to play with Anna's
big doll. Boy Comfort is in the fields from morning to night, helping
Grandfather Stolpe to build the new workmen's houses. A fine help his
is! When Ellen fetches him in to meals, he is so dirty that she nearly
loses all patience.
"I wonder how Old Brun is!" says Ellen suddenly, in the middle of her
work. "We haven't heard from him now for three days. It's quite sad to
think he's so far away. I only hope they'll look after him properly."
Pelle is tremendously busy, and they do not see much of him. The
Movement has taken up his idea now in earnest, and he is to have the
management of it all, so that he has his hands full. "Have I got a
husband or not?" says Ellen, when she gets hold of him now and again.
"It'll soon be better," he answers. "When once we've got the machinery
properly started, it'll go by itself."
Morten is the only one who has not set seriously to work on anything,
and in the midst of all the bustle has an incongruous effect. "He's
thinking!" says Ellen, stopping in the middle of beating a carpet.
"Thank goodness we're not all authors!"
Pelle would like to draw him into the business. "There's so much to
write and lecture about," he says, "and you could do all that so much
better than I."
"Oh, no, I couldn't," says Morten. "Your work's growing in me too. I'm
always thinking about it and have thought of giving a hand too, but I
can't. If I ever contribute anything to your great work, it'll be in
some other way."
"You're doing nothing with your book about the sun either," says Pelle
"No, because whenever I set to work on it, it mixes up so strangely with
your work, and I can't keep the ideas apart. At present I feel like a
mole, digging blindly in the black earth under the mighty tree of life.
I dig and search, and am continually coming across the thick roots of
the huge thing above the surface. I can't see them, but I can hear
sounds from above there, and it hurts me not to be able to follow them
into their strong connection up in the light."
* * * * *
One Sunday morning at the end of May they were sitting out in the
garden. The cradle had been moved out into the sun, and Pelle and Ellen
were sitting one on either side, talking over domestic matters. Ellen
had so much to tell him when she had him to herself. The child lay
staring up into the sky with its dark eyes that were the image of
Ellen's. He was brown and chubby; any one could see that he had been
conceived in sunshine and love.
Lasse Frederik was sitting by the hedge painting a picture that Pelle
was not to see until it was finished. He went to the drawing-school now,
and was clever. He had a good eye for figures, and poor people
especially he hit off in any position. He had a light hand, and in two
or three lines could give what his father had had to work at carefully.
"You cheat!" Pelle often said, half resentfully. '"It won't bear looking
closely at." He had to admit, however, that it was a good likeness.
"Well, can't I see the picture soon?" he called across. He was very
"Yes, it's finished now," said Lasse Frederik, coming up with it.
The picture represented a street in which stood a solitary milk-cart,
and behind the cart lay a boy with bleeding head. "He fell asleep
because he had to get up so early," Lasse Frederik explained; "and then
when the cart started he tumbled backward." The morning emptiness of the
street was well done, but the blood was too brilliantly red.
"It's very unpleasant," said Ellen, with a shudder. "But it's true."
Morten came home from town with a big letter which he handed to Pelle,
saying: "Here's news for you from Brun." Pelle went into the house to
read it undisturbed, and a little while after came out again.
"Yes, important news this time," he said with some emotion. "Would you
like to hear it?" he asked, sitting down.
"I am sitting up in bed to write to you. I am poorly, and have been for
some days; but I hope it is nothing serious. We all have to die some
day, but I should like to start on the great voyage round the world from
your home. I long to see 'Daybreak' and all of you, and I feel very
lonely. If the business could do without you for a few days, I should be
so glad if you would come down here. Then we could go home together, for
I should not like to venture on the journey by myself.
"The sun is just going down, and sends its last rays in to me. It has
been gray and gloomy all day, but now the sun has broken through the
clouds, and kisses the earth and me, poor old man, too, in farewell. It
makes me want to say something to you, Pelle, for my day was like this
before I knew you--endlessly long and gray! When you are the last
member of a dying family, you have to bear the gray existence of the
"I have often thought how wonderful the hidden force of life is.
Intercourse with you has been like a lever to me, although I knew well
that I should not accomplish anything more, and had no one to come after
me. I feel, nevertheless, through you, in alliance with the future. You
are in the ascendant and must look upon me as something that is
vanishing. But look how life makes us all live by using us each in his
own way. Be strong in your faith in the future; with you lies the
development. I wish with all my heart that I were an awakening proletary
and stood in the dawn of day; but I am nevertheless glad because my eyes
will be closed by the new in you.
"I have imagined that life was tiresome and dull and far too well known.
I had it arranged in my catalogues. And look how it renews itself! In my
old age I have experienced its eternal youth. Formerly I had never cared
about the country; in my mind it was a place where you waded either in
dust or mud. The black earth appeared to me horrible rather than
anything else; it was only associated in my mind with the churchyard.
That shows how far I was from nature. The country was something that
farmers moved about in--those big, voracious creatures, who almost
seemed like a kind of animal trying to imitate man. Rational beings
could not possibly live out there. That was the view in my circle, and I
had myself a touch of the same complaint, although my university
training of course paraphrased and veiled it all to some extent. All
this about our relations to nature seemed to me very interesting
aesthetically, but with more or less of a contradictory, not to say
hostile, character. I could not understand how any one could see
anything beautiful in a ploughed field or a dike. It was only when I got
to know you that something moved within me and called me out; there was
something about you like the air from out there.
"Now I also understand my forefathers! Formerly they seemed to me only
like thick-skinned boors, who scraped together all the money that two
generations of us have lived upon without doing a pennyworth of good.
They enabled us, however, to live life, I have always thought, and I
considered it the only excuse for their being in the family, coarse and
robust as they were. Now I see that it was they who lived, while we
after them, with all our wealth, have only had a bed in life's inn.
"For all this I thank you. I am glad to have become acquainted through
you with men of the new age, and to be able to give my fortune back. It
was made by all those who work, and gathered together by a few; my
giving it back is merely a natural consequence. Others will come to do
as I am doing, either of their own free will or by compulsion, until
everything belongs to everybody. Then only can the conflict about human
interests begin. Capitalism has created wonderful machines, but what
wonderful men await us in the new age! Happy the man who could have
lived to see it!
"I have left all my money to you and Morten. As yet there is no
institution that I could give it to, so you must administer it in the
name of cooperation. You two are the best guardians of the poor, and I
know you will employ it in the best manner. I place it with confidence
in your hands. The will is at my lawyer's; I arranged it all before I
"My greetings to all at 'Daybreak'--Ellen, the children, and Morten. If
the baby is christened before I get home, remember that he is to be
called after me. But I am hoping that you will come."
* * * * *
Ellen drew a deep breath when Pelle had finished the letter. "I only
hope he's not worse than he makes out," she said. "I suppose you'll go?"
"Yes, I'll arrange what's necessary at the works to-morrow early, and
take the morning express."
"Then I must see to your things," exclaimed Ellen, and went in.
Pelle and Morten went for a stroll along the edge of the hill, past the
half-finished houses, whose red bricks shone in the sun.
"Everything seems to turn out well for you, Pelle," said Morten
"Yes," said Pelle; "nothing has succeeded in injuring me, so I suppose
what Father Lasse and the others said is right, that I was born with a
caul. The ill-usage I suffered as a child taught me to be good to
others, and in prison I gained liberty; what might have made me a
criminal made a man of me instead. Nothing has succeeded in injuring me!
So I suppose I may say that everything has turned out well."
"Yes, you may, and now I've found a subject, Pelle! I'm not going to
hunt about blindly in the dark; I'm going to write a great work now."
"I congratulate you! What will it be about? Is it to be the work on the
"Yes, both about the sun and about him who conquers. It's to be a book
about you, Pelle!"
"About me?" exclaimed Pelle.
"Yes, about the naked Pelle with the caul! It's about time to call out
the naked man into the light and look at him well, now that he's going
to take over the future. You like to read about counts and barons, but
now I'm going to write a story about a prince who finds the treasure and
wins the princess. He's looked for her all over the world and she wasn't
there, and now there's only himself left, and there he finds her, for
he's taken her heart. Won't that be a good story?"
"I think it's a lot of rubbish," said Pelle, laughing. "And you'll have
to lay the lies on thick if you're going to make me into a prince. I
don't think you'll get the workpeople to take it for a real book; it'll
all be so well known and ordinary."
"They'll snatch at it, and weep with delight and pride at finding
themselves in it. Perhaps they'll name their children after it out of
"What are you going to call it then?" asked Pelle.
"I'm going to call it 'PELLE THE CONQUEROR.'"
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