664 THE GIRL WHO TROD ON THE LOAF
sparrows around it, that they, too, might have some food. It flew into the towns, and looked round about; and where-ever a kind hand had strewn bread on the window-sill for the birds, it only ate a single crumb itself, and gave all the rest to the other birds.
In the course of the winter, the bird had collected so many bread crumbs, and given them to the other birds, that they equalled the weight of the loaf on which Inger had trod to keep her shoes clean ; and when the last bread crumb had been found and given, the grey wings of the bird became white, and spread far out.
' Yonder is a sea-swallow, flying away across the water,' said the children when they saw the white bird. Now it dived into the sea, and now it rose again into the clear sunlight. It gleamed white; but no one could tell whither it went, though some asserted that it flew straight into the sun.
OLE THE TOWER-KEEPER
' In the world it's always going up and down—and now I can't go up any higher ! ' So said Ole the tower-keeper. ' Most people have to try both the ups and the downs; and, rightly considered, we all get to be watchmen at last, and look down upon life from a height.'
Such was the speech of Ole, my friend, the old tower-keeper, an amusing talkative old fellow, who seemed to speak out everything that came into his head, and who for all that had many a serious thought deep in his heart. Yes, he was the child of respectable people, and there were even some who said that he was the son of a privy councillor, or that he might have been ; he had studied too, and had been assistant teacher and deputy clerk ; but of what service was all that to him ? In those days he lived in the dean's house, and was to have everything in the house, to be at free quarters, as the saying is; but he was still, so to speak, a fine young gentleman. He wanted to have his boots cleaned with patent blacking, and the dean would only give ordinary grease ; and upon that