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THERE was an ancient feud between the families; and Bjarne Blakstad was not the man to make it up, neither was Hedin Ullern. So they looked askance at each other whenever they met on the highway, and the one took care not to cross the other's path. But on Sundays, when the church- bells called the parishioners together, they could not very well avoid seeing each other on the church-yard; and then, one day, many years ago, when the sermon had happened to touch Bjarne's heart, he had nodded to Hedin and said: "Fine weather to-day;" and Hedin had returned the nod and answered: "True is that." "Now I have done my duty before God and men," thought Bjarne, "and it is his turn to take the next step." "The fellow is proud," said Hedin to himself, "and he wants to show off his generosity. But I know the wolf by his skin, even if he has learned to bleat like a ewe-lamb."
What the feud really was about, they had both nearly forgotten. All they knew was that some thirty years ago there had been a quarrel between the pastor and the parish about the right of carrying arms to the church. And then Bjarne's father had been the spokesman of the parish, while Hedin's grandsire had been a staunch defender of the pastor. There was a rumor, too, that they had had a fierce encounter somewhere in the woods, and that the one had stabbed the other with a knife; but whether that was really true, no one could tell.
Bjarne was tall and grave, like the weather- beaten fir-trees in his mast-forest. He had a large clean-shaven face, narrow lips, and small fierce eyes. He seldom laughed, and when he did, his laugh seemed even fiercer than his frown. He wore his hair long, as his fathers had done, and dressed in the styles of two centuries ago; his breeches were clasped with large silver buckles at the knees, and his red jerkin was gathered about his waist with a leathern girdle. He loved everything that was old, in dress as well as in manners, took no newspapers, and regarded railroads and steamboats as inventions of the devil. Bjarne had married late in life, and his marriage had brought him two daughters, Brita and Grimhild.
Hedin Ullern was looked upon as an upstart. He could only count three generations back, and he hardly knew himself how his grandfather had earned the money that had enabled him to buy a farm and settle down in the valley. He had read a great deal, and was well informed on the politics of the day; his name had even been mentioned for storthingsmand, or member of parliament from the district, and it was the common opinion, that if Bjarne Blakstad had not so vigorously opposed him, he would have been elected, being the only "cultivated" peasant in the valley. Hedin was no unwelcome guest in the houses of gentlefolks, and he was often seen at the judge's and the pastor's omber parties. And for all this Bjarne Blakstad only hated him the more. Hedin's wife, Thorgerda, was fair-haired, tall and stout, and it was she who managed the farm, while her husband read his books, and studied politics in the newspapers; but she had a sharp tongue and her neighbors were afraid of her. They had one son, whose name was Halvard.
Brita Blakstad, Bjarne's eldest daughter, was a maid whom it was a joy to look upon. They called her "Glitter-Brita," because she was fond of rings and brooches, and everything that was bright; while she was still a child, she once took the old family bridal-crown out from the storehouse and carried it about on her head. "Beware of that crown, child," her father had said to her, "and wear it not before the time. There is not always blessing in the bridal silver." And she looked wonderingly up into his eyes and answered: "But it glitters, father;" and from that time forth they had named her Glitter-Brita.
And Glitter-Brita grew up to be a fair and winsome maiden, and wherever she went the wooers flocked on her path. Bjarne shook his head at her, and often had harsh words upon his lips, when he saw her braiding field- flowers into her yellow tresses or clasping the shining brooches to her bodice; but a look of hers or a smile would completely disarm him. She had a merry way of doing things which made it all seem like play; but work went rapidly from her hands, while her ringing laughter echoed through the house, and her sunny presence made it bright in the dusky ancestral halls. In her kitchen the long rows of copper pots and polished kettles shone upon the walls, and the neatly scoured milk-pails stood like soldiers on parade about the shelves under the ceiling. Bjarne would often sit for hours watching her, and a strange spring-feeling would steal into his heart. He felt a father's pride in her stately growth and her rich womanly beauty. "Ah!" he would say to himself, "she has the pure blood in her veins and, as true as I live, the farm shall be hers." And then, quite contrary to his habits, he would indulge in a little reverie, imagining the time when he, as an aged man, should have given the estate over into her hands, and seeing her as a worthy matron preside at the table, and himself rocking his grandchildren on his knee. No wonder, then, that he eyed closely the young lads who were beginning to hover about the house, and that he looked with suspicion upon those who selected Saturday nights for their visits. When Brita was twenty years old, however, her father thought that it was time for her to make her choice. There were many fine, brave lads in the valley, and, as Bjarne thought, Brita would have the good sense to choose the finest and the bravest. So, when the winter came, he suddenly flung his doors open to the youth of the parish, and began to give parties with ale and mead in the grand old style. He even talked with the young men, at times, encouraged them to manly sports, and urged them to taste of his home-brewed drinks and to tread the spring-dance briskly. And Brita danced and laughed so that her hair flew around her and the silver brooches tinkled and rang on her bosom. But when the merriment was at an end, and any one of the lads remained behind to offer her his hand, she suddenly grew grave, told him she was too young, that she did not know herself, and that she had had no time as yet to decide so serious a question. Thus the winter passed and the summer drew near.
 In the country districts of Norway Saturday evening is regarded as "the wooer's eve."
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Tales From Two Hemispheres -by- Hjalmar Hjorth BoysenBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.