SORIA MORIA CASTLE
stranger walk in, they were so startled that they both began to bow and curtsey.
Halvor then inquired if he could stay there and have lodging for the night. No, that he certainly could not. ' We can give you no such accommodation,' they said, * for we have none of the things that are needful when a great lord like you is to be entertained. It will be better for you to go up to the farm. It is not far off, you can see the chimney-pots from here, and there they have plenty of everything.'
Halvor would not hear of that, he was absolutely determined to stay where he was ; but the old folks stuck to what they had said, and told him that he was to go to the farm, where he could get both meat and drink, whereas they themselves had not even a chair to offer him.
' No,' said Halvor, ' I will not go up there till early to-morrow morning; let me stay here to-night. I can sit down on the hearth.'
They could say nothing against that, so Halvor sat down on the hearth, and began to rake about among the ashes just as he had done before, when he lay there idling away his time.
They chattered much about many things, and told Halvor of this and of that, and at last he asked them if they had never had any child.
' Yes,' they said; they had had a boy who was called Halvor, but they did not know where he had gone, and they could not even say whether he were dead or alive.
' Could I be he ? ' said Halvor.
' I should know him well enough,' said the old woman rising. ' Our Halvor was so idle and slothful that he never did anything at all, and he was so ragged that one hole ran into another all over his clothes. Such a fellow as he was could never turn into such a man as you are, sir.'
In a short time the old woman had to go to the fireplace to stir the fire, and when the blaze lit up Halvor, as it used to do when he was at home raking up the ashes, she knew him again.
' Good Heavens ! is that you, Halvor ? ' said she, and such great gladness fell on the old parents that there were no bounds to it. And now he had to relate everything that had befallen him, and the old woman was so delighted with him that she would take him up to the farm at once to show him to the girls who had formerly looked down on him so. She went there first, and Halvor followed her.