Read TROFAST of Norse Tales and Sketches, free online book, by Alexander Lange Kielland, on


Miss Thyra went and called into the speaking-tube:

‘Will Trofast’s cutlets be ready soon?’

The maid’s voice came up from the kitchen: ’They are on the window-sill cooling; as soon as they are all right, Stine shall bring them up.’

Trofast, who had heard this, went and laid himself quietly down upon the hearthrug.

He understood much better than a human being, the merchant used to say.

Besides the people of the house, there sat at the breakfast-table an old enemy of Trofast’s-the only one he had. But be it said that Cand. jur. Viggo Hansen was the enemy of a great deal in this world, and his snappish tongue was well known all over Copenhagen. Having been a friend of the family for many years, he affected an especial frankness in this house, and when he was in a querulous mood (which was always the case) he wreaked his bitterness unsparingly upon anything or anybody.

In particular, he was always attacking Trofast.

‘That big yellow beast,’ he used to say, ’is being petted and pampered and stuffed with steak and cutlets, while many a human child must bite its fingers after a piece of dry bread.’

This, however, was a tender point, of which Dr. Hansen had to be rather careful.

Whenever anyone mentioned Trofast in words that were not full of admiration, he received a simultaneous look from the whole family, and the merchant had even said point-blank to Dr. Hansen that he might one day get seriously angry if the other would not refer to Trofast in a becoming manner.

But Miss Thyra positively hated Dr. Hansen for this; and although Waldemar was now grown up-a student, at any rate-he took a special pleasure in stealing the gloves out of the doctor’s back pocket, and delivering them to Trofast to tear.

Yes, the good-wife herself, although as mild and sweet as tea, was sometimes compelled to take the doctor to task, and seriously remonstrate with him for daring to speak so ill of the dear animal.

All this Trofast understood very well; but he despised Dr. Hansen, and took no notice of him. He condescended to tear the gloves, because it pleased his friend Waldemar, but otherwise he did not seem to see the doctor.

When the cutlets came, Trofast ate them quietly and discreetly. He did not crunch the bones, but picked them quite clean, and licked the platter.

Thereupon he went up to the merchant, and laid his right fore-paw upon his knee.

‘Welcome, welcome, old boy!’ cried the merchant with emotion. He was moved in like manner every morning, when this little scene was re-enacted.

‘Why, you can’t call Trofast old, father,’ said Waldemar, with a little tone of superiority.

‘Indeed! Do you know that he will soon be eight?’

‘Yes, my little man,’ said the good wife gently; ’but a dog of eight is not an old dog.’

‘No, mother,’ exclaimed Waldemar eagerly. ’You side with me, don’t you? A dog of eight is not an old dog.’

And in an instant the whole family was divided into two parties-two very ardent parties, who, with an unceasing flow of words, set to debating the momentous question:-whether one can call a dog of eight years an old dog or not. Both sides became warm, and, although each one kept on repeating his unalterable opinion into his opponent’s face, it did not seem likely that they would ever arrive at unanimity-not even when old grandmother hurriedly rose from her chair, and positively insisted upon telling some story about the Queen-Dowager’s lap-dog, which she had had the honour of knowing from the street.

But in the midst of the irresistible whirl of words there came a pause. Some one looked at his watch and said: ‘The steamboat.’ They all rose; the gentlemen, who had to go to town, rushed off; the whole company was scattered to the four winds, and the problem-whether one can call a dog of eight an old dog or not-floated away in the air, unsolved.

Trofast alone did not stir. He was accustomed to this domestic din, and these unsolved problems did not interest him. He ran his wise eyes over the deserted breakfast-table, dropped his black nose upon his powerful fore-paws, and closed his eyes for a little morning nap. As long as they were staying out in the country, there was nothing much for him to do, except eat and sleep.

Trofast was one of the pure Danish hounds from the Zoological Gardens. The King had even bought his brother, which fact was expressly communicated to all who came to the house.

All the same, he had had a pretty hard upbringing, for he was originally designated to be watch-dog at the merchant’s large coalstore out at Kristianshavn.

Out there, Trofast’s behaviour was exemplary. Savage and furious as a tiger at night, in the daytime he was so quiet, kindly, and even humble, that the merchant took notice of him, and promoted him to the position of house-dog.

And it was really from this moment that the noble animal began to develop all his excellent qualities.

From the very beginning he had a peculiar, modest way of standing at the drawing-room door, and looking so humbly at anybody who entered that it was quite impossible to avoid letting him into the room. And there he soon made himself at home-under the sofa at first, but afterwards upon the soft carpet in front of the fire.

And as the other members of the family learned to appreciate his rare gifts, Trofast gradually advanced in importance, until Dr. Hansen maintained that he was the real master of the house.

Certain it is that there came a something into Trofast’s whole demeanour which distinctly indicated that he was well aware of the position he occupied. He no longer stood humbly at the door, but entered first himself as soon as it was opened. And if the door was not opened for him instantly when he scratched at it, the powerful animal would raise himself upon his hind-legs, lay his fore-paws upon the latch, and open it for himself.

The first time that he performed this feat the good-wife delightedly exclaimed:

’Isn’t he charming? He’s just like a human being, only so much better and more faithful!’

The rest of the family were also of opinion that Trofast was better than a human being. Each one seemed, as it were, to get quit of a few of his own sins and infirmities through this admiring worship of the noble animal; and whenever anybody was displeased with himself or others, Trofast received the most confidential communications, and solemn assurances that he was really the only friend upon whom one could rely.

When Miss Thyra came home disappointed from a ball, or when her best friend had faithlessly betrayed a frightfully great secret, she would throw herself, weeping, upon Trofast’s neck, and say: ’Now, Trofast, I have only you left. There is nobody-nobody-nobody on the earth who likes me but you! Now we two are quite alone in the wide, wide world; but you will not betray your poor little Thyra-you must promise me that, Trofast.’ And so she would weep on, until her tears trickled down Trofast’s black nose.

No wonder, therefore, that Trofast comported himself with a certain dignity at home in the house. But in the street also it was evident that he felt self-confident, and that he was proud of being a dog in a town where dogs are in power.

When they were staying in the country in summer, Trofast went to town only once a week or so, to scent out old acquaintances. Out in the country, he lived exclusively for the sake of his health; he bathed, rolled in the flower-beds, and then went into the parlour to rub himself dry upon the furniture, the ladies, and finally upon the hearthrug.

But for the remainder of the year the whole of Copenhagen was at his disposal, and he availed himself of his privileges with much assurance.

What a treat it was, early in the spring, when the fine grass began to shoot upon the public lawns, which no human foot must tread, to run up and down and round in a ring with a few friends, scattering the tufts of grass in the air!

Or when the gardener’s people had gone home to dinner, after having pottered and trimmed all the forenoon among the fine flowers and bushes, what fun it was to pretend to dig for moles; thrust his nose down into the earth in the centre of the flower-bed, snort and blow, then begin scraping up the earth with his fore-feet, stop for a little, thrust his muzzle down again, blow, and then fall to digging up earth with all his might, until the hole was so deep that a single vigorous kick from his hind-legs could throw a whole rose-bush, roots and all, high in the air!

When Trofast, after such an escapade, lay quietly in the middle of the lawn, in the warm spring sunshine, and saw the humans trudge wearily past outside, in dust or mud, he would silently and self-complacently wag his tail.

Then there were the great fights in Gronningen, or round the horse in Kongens Nytorv. From thence, wet and bedraggled, he would dash up Östergade among people’s legs, rubbing against ladies’ dresses and gentlemen’s trousers, overthrowing old women and children, exercising an unlimited right-of-way on both sides of the pavement, now rushing into a backyard and up the kitchen stairs after a cat, now scattering terror and confusion by flying right at the throat of an old enemy. Or Trofast would sometimes amuse himself by stopping in front of a little girl who might be going an errand for her mother, thrusting his black nose up into her face, and growling, with gaping jaws, ‘Bow, wow, wow!’

If you could see the little thing! She becomes blue in the face, her arms hang rigidly by her sides, her feet keep tripping up and down; she tries to scream, but cannot utter a sound.

But the grown ladies in the street cry shame upon her, and say:

’What a little fool! How can you be afraid of such a dear, nice dog? Why, he only wants to play with you! See what a great big, fine fellow he is. Won’t you pat him?’

But this the little one will not do upon any account; and, when she goes home to her mother, the sobs are still rising in her throat. Neither her mother nor the doctor can understand, afterwards, why the healthy, lively child becomes rigid and blue in the face at the least fright, and loses the power to scream.

But all these diversions were colourless and tame in comparison with les grands cavalcades d’amour, in which Trofast was always one of the foremost. Six, eight, ten, or twelve large yellow, black, and red dogs, with a long following of smaller and quite small ones, so bitten and mud-bespattered that one could scarcely see what they were made of, but yet very courageous, tails in the air and panting with ardour, although they stood no chance at all, except of getting mauled again and rolled in the mud. And so off in a wild gallop through streets, squares, gardens, and flower-beds, fighting and howling, covered with blood and dirt, tongues lolling from mouths. Out of the way with humans and baby-carriages, room for canine warfare and love! And thus they would rush on like Aasgaard’s demon riders through the unhappy town.

Trofast heeded none of the people on the street except the policemen. For, with his keen understanding, he had long ago discerned that the police were there to protect him and his kind against the manifold encroachments of humanity. Therefore he obligingly stopped whenever he met a policeman, and allowed himself to be scratched behind the ear. In particular, he had a good, stout friend, whom he often met up in Aabenraa, where he (Trofast) had a liaison of many years’ standing.

When Policeman Frode Hansen was seen coming upstairs from a cellar-a thing that often happened, for he was a jolly fellow, and it was a pleasure to offer him a half of lager-beer-his face bore a great likeness to the rising sun. It was round and red, warm and beaming.

But when he appeared in full view upon the pavement, casting a severe glance up and down the street, in order to ascertain whether any evil-disposed person had seen where he came from, there would arise a faint reminiscence of something that we, as young men, had read about in physics, and which, I believe, we called the co-efficient of expansion.

For, when we looked at the deep incision made by his strong belt, before, behind and at the sides, we involuntarily received the impression that such a co-efficient, with an extraordinarily strong tendency to expand, was present in Frode Hansen’s stomach.

And people who met him, especially when he heaved one of his deep, beery sighs, nervously stepped to one side. For if the co-efficient in there should ever happen to get the better of the strong belt, the pieces, and particularly the front buckle, would fly around with a force sufficient to break plate-glass windows.

In other respects, Frode Hansen was not very dangerous of approach. He was even looked upon as one of the most harmless of police-constables; he very rarely reported a case of any kind. All the same, he stood well with his superiors, for when anything was reported by others, no matter what, if they only asked Frode Hansen, he could always make some interesting disclosure or other about it.

In this way the world went well with him; he was almost esteemed in Aabenraa and down Vognmagergade. Yes, even Mam Hansen sometimes found means to stand him a half of lager beer.

And she had certainly little to give away. Poverty-stricken and besotted, she had enough to do to struggle along with her two children.

Not that Mam Hansen worked or tried to work herself forward or upward; if she could only manage to pay her rent and have a little left over for coffee and brandy, she was content. Beyond this she had no illusions.

In reality, the general opinion-even in Aabenraa-was that Mam Hansen was a beast; and, when she was asked if she were a widow, she would answer: ‘Well, you see, that’s not so easy to know.’

The daughter was about fifteen and the son a couple of years younger. About these, too, the public opinion of Aabenraa and district had it that a worse pair of youngsters had seldom grown up in those parts.

Waldemar was a little, pale, dark-eyed fellow, slippery as an eel, full of mischief and cunning, with a face of indiarubber, which in one second could change its expression from the boldest effrontery to the most sheepish innocence.

Nor was there anything good to say about Thyra, except that she gave promise of becoming a pretty girl. But all sorts of ugly stories were already told about her, and she gadded round the town upon very various errands.

Mam Hansen would never listen to these stories; she merely waved them off. She paid just as little attention to the advice of her female friends and neighbours, when they said:

’Let the children shift for themselves-really, they’re quite brazen enough to do it-and take in a couple of paying lodgers.’

‘No, no,’ Mam Hansen would reply; ’as long as they have some kind of a home with me, the police will not get a firm grip of them, and they will not quite flow over.’

This idea, that the bairns should not quite ‘flow over,’ had grown and grown in her puny brain, until it had become the last point, around which gathered everything motherly that could be left, after a life like hers.

And therefore she slaved on, scolded and slapped the children when they came late home, made their bed, gave them a little food, and so held them to her, in some kind of fashion.

Mam Hansen had tried many things in the course of her life, and everything had brought her gradually downward, from servant-girl to waitress, down past washerwoman to what she now was.

Early in the mornings, before it was light, she would come over Knippelsbro into the town, with a heavy basket upon each arm. Out of the baskets stuck cabbage-leaves and carrot-tops, so that one would suppose that she made a business of buying vegetables from the peasants out at Amager, in order to sell them in Aabenraa and the surrounding quarters.

All the same, it was not a greengrocery business that she carried on, but, on the contrary, a little coal business: she sold coals clandestinely and in small portions to poor folk like herself.

This evident incongruity was not noticed in Aabenraa; not even Policeman Frode Hansen seemed to find anything remarkable about Mam Hansen’s business. When he met her in the mornings, toiling along with the heavy baskets, he usually asked quite genially: ’Well, my little Mam Hansen, were the roots cheap to-day?’

And, if his greeting were less friendly than usual, he was treated to a half of lager later in the day.

This was a standing outlay of Madam Hansen’s, and she had one besides. Every evening she bought a large piece of sugared Vienna bread. She did not eat it herself; neither was it for the children; no one knew what she did with it, nor did anybody particularly care.

When there was no prospect of halves of lager, Policeman Frode Hansen promenaded his co-efficient with dignity up and down the street.

If he then happened to meet Trofast or any other of his canine friends, he always made a long halt, for the purpose of scratching him behind the ear. And when he observed the great nonchalance with which the dogs comported themselves in the street, it was a real pleasure to him to sternly pounce upon some unhappy man and note down his full name and address, because he had taken the liberty of throwing an envelope into the gutter.


It was late in the autumn. There was a dinner-party at the merchant’s; the family had been back from the country for some time.

The conversation flowed on languidly and intermittently, until the flood-gates were suddenly lifted, and it became a wild fos For down at the hostess’s end of the table this question had cropped up: ’Can one call a lady a fine lady-a real fine lady-if it be known that on a steam-boat she has put her feet up on a stool, and disclosed small shoes and embroidered stockings?’ And, strangely enough, as if each individual in the company had spent half his life in considering and weighing this question, all cast their matured, decided, unalterable opinions upon the table. The opposing parties were formed in an instant; the unalterable opinions collided with each other, fell down, were caught up again, and thrown with ever-increasing ardour.

Up at the other end of the table they took no part in this animated conversation. Near the host there sat mostly elderly gentlemen, and however ardently their wives might have desired to solve the problem once for all by expressing their unalterable opinion, they were compelled to give up the idea, as the focus of the animated conversation was among some young students right down beside the hostess, and the distance was too great.

‘I don’t think I see the big yellow beast to-day,’ said Dr. Viggo Hansen in his querulous tone.

’Unfortunately not. Trofast is not here to-day. Poor fellow! I have been obliged to request him to do me a disagreeable service.’

The merchant always talked about Trofast as if he were an esteemed business friend.

‘You make me quite curious. Where is the dear animal?’

’Ah, my dear madam, it is indeed a tiresome story. For, you know, there has been stealing going on out at our coal warehouse at Kristianshavn.’

‘Oh, good gracious! Stealing?’

’The thefts have evidently been practised systematically for a long time.’

‘Have you noticed the stock getting less, then?’

But now the merchant had to laugh, which he seldom did.

’No, no, my dear doctor, excuse my laughing, but you are really too naïve. Why, there are now about ten thousand tons of coal out there, so you will see that it wants some-

’They would have to steal from evening till morning with a pair of horses,’ interjected a young business man, who was witty.

When the merchant had finished his laugh, he continued:

’No; the theft was discovered by means of a little snow that fell yesterday.’

‘What! Snow yesterday? I don’t know anything about that.’

’It was not at the time of day when we are awake, madam, it is true; but yet, very early yesterday morning there fell a little snow, and when my folks arrived at the coal store, they discovered the footprints of the thief or thieves. It was then found that a couple of boards in the wall were loose, but they had been so skilfully put in place that nobody would ever notice anything wrong. And the thief crawls through the opening night after night; is it not outrageous?’

‘But don’t you keep a watch-dog?’

’Certainly I do; but he is a young animal (of excellent breed, by the way, half a bloodhound), and, whatever way these wretches go about their work, it is evident that they must be on friendly terms with the beast, for the dog’s footprints were found among those of the thieves.’

’That was indeed remarkable. And now Trofast is to try what he can do, I presume?’

’Yes, you are quite right. I have sent Trofast out there to-day; he will catch the villains for me.’

‘Could you not nail the loose boards securely in position?’

’Of course we could, Dr. Hansen; but I must get hold of the fellows. They shall have their well-merited punishment. My sense of right is most deeply wounded.’

‘It is really delightful to have such a faithful animal.’

’Yes, isn’t it, madam? We men must confess to our shame that in many respects we are far behind the dumb animals.’

’Yes, Trofast is really a pearl, sir. He is, beyond comparison, the prettiest dog in all-

‘Constantinople,’ interrupted Dr. Hansen.

‘That is an old joke of Hansen’s,’ explained the merchant. ’He has re-christened the Northern Athens the Northern Constantinople, because he thinks there are too many dogs.’

‘It is good for the dog-tax,’ said some one.

‘Yes, if the dog-tax were not so inequitably fixed,’ snapped Dr. Hansen. ’There is really no sense in a respectable old lady, who keeps a dog in a hand-bag, having to pay as much as a man who takes pleasure in annoying his fellow-creatures by owning a half-wild animal as big as a little lion.’

‘May I ask how you would have the dog-tax reckoned, Dr. Hansen?’

‘According to weight, of course,’ replied Dr. Viggo Hansen without hesitation.

The old merchants and councillors laughed so heartily at this idea of weighing the dogs, that the disputants at the lower end of the table, who were still vigorously bombarding each other with unalterable opinions, became attentive and dropped their opinions, in order to listen to the discussion on dogs. And the question, ’Can one call a lady a fine lady-a really fine lady-if it be known that on a steamboat she has put her feet up on a stool, and disclosed small shoes and embroidered stockings?’ also floated away in the air, unsolved.

‘You seem to be a downright hater of dogs, Dr. Hansen!’ said the lady next to him, still laughing.

‘I must tell you, madam,’ cried a gentleman across the table, ’that he is terribly afraid of dogs.’

‘But one thing,’ continued the lady-’one thing you must admit, and that is, that the dog has always been the faithful companion of man.’

’Yes, that is true, madam, and I could tell you what the dog has learned from man, and man from the dog.’

‘Tell us; do tell us!’ was simultaneously exclaimed from several quarters.

‘With pleasure. In the first place, man has taught the dog to fawn.’

‘What a very queer thing to say!’ cried old grandmother.

’Next, the dog has acquired all the qualities that make man base and unreliable: cringing flattery upward, and rudeness and contempt downward; the narrowest adhesion to his own, and distrust and hatred of all else. Indeed, the noble animal has proved such an apt pupil that he even understands the purely human art of judging people by their clothes. He lets well-dressed folks alone, but snaps at the legs of the ragged.’

Here the doctor was interrupted by a general chorus of disapproval, and Miss Thyra bitterly gripped the fruit-knife in her little hand.

But there were some who wanted to hear what mankind had learned from the dog, and Dr. Hansen proceeded, with steadily-growing passion and bitterness:

’Man has learned from the dog to set a high price upon this grovelling, unmerited worship. When neither injustice nor ill-treatment has ever met anything but this perpetually wagging tail, stomach upon earth, and licking tongue, the final result is that the master fancies himself a splendid fellow, to whom all this devotion belongs as a right. And, transferring his experience of the dog into his human intercourse, he puts little restraint upon himself, expecting to meet wagging tails and licking tongues. And if he be disappointed, then he despises mankind and turns, with loud-mouthed eulogies, to the dog.’

He was once more interrupted; some laughed, but the greater number were offended. By this time Viggo Hansen had warmed to his subject; his little, sharp voice pierced through the chorus of objections, and he proceeded as follows:

’And, while we are speaking of the dog, may I be allowed to present an extraordinarily profound hypothesis of my own? Is there not something highly characteristic of our national character in the fact that it is we who have produced this noble breed of dogs-the celebrated, pure Danish hounds? This strong, broad-chested animal with the heavy paws, the black throat, and the frightful teeth, but so good-natured, harmless, and amiable withal-does he not remind you of the renowned, indestructible Danish loyalty, which has never met injustice or ill-treatment with anything but perpetually wagging tail, stomach upon earth, and licking tongue? And when we admire this animal, formed in our own image, is it not with a kind of melancholy self-praise that we pat him upon the head, and say: “You are indeed a great, good, faithful creature!"’

’Do you hear, Dr. Hansen? I must point out to you that in my house there are certain matters which-

The host was angry, but a good-natured relation of the family hastened to interrupt him, saying: ’I am a countryman, and you will surely admit, Dr. Hansen, that a good farm watch-dog is an absolute necessity for us. Eh?’

‘Oh yes, a little cur that can yelp, so as to awake the master.’

’No, thank you. We must have a decent dog, that can lay the rascals by the heels. I have now a magnificent bloodhound.’

’And if an honest fellow comes running up to tell you that your outbuildings are burning, and your magnificent bloodhound flies at his throat-what then?’

‘Why, that would be awkward,’ laughed the countryman. And the others laughed too.

Dr. Hansen was now so busily engaged in replying to all sides, employing the most extravagant paradoxes, that the young folks in particular were extremely amused, without specially noting the increasing bitterness of his tone.

’But our watch-dogs, our watch-dogs! You will surely let us keep them, doctor?’ exclaimed a coal-merchant laughingly.

’Not at all. Nothing is more unreasonable than that a poor man, who comes to fill his bag from a coal mountain, should be torn to pieces by wild beasts. There is absolutely no reasonable relation between such a trifling misdemeanour and so dreadful a punishment.’

‘May we ask how you would protect your coal mountain, if you had one?’

’I should erect a substantial fence of boards, and if I were very anxious, I should keep a watchman, who would say politely, but firmly, to those who came with bags: “Excuse me, but my master is very particular about that. You must not fill your bag; you must take yourself off at once."’

Through the general laughter which followed this last paradox, a clerical gentleman spoke from the ladies’ end of the table:

’It appears to me that there is something lacking in this discussion-something that I would call the ethical aspect of the question. Is it not a fact that in the hearts of all who sit here there is a clear, definite sense of the revolting nature of the crime we call theft?’

These words were received with general and hearty applause.

’And I think it does very great violence to our feelings to hear Dr. Hansen minimising a crime that is distinctly mentioned in Divine and human law as one of the worst-to hear him reduce it to the size of a trifling and insignificant misdemeanour. Is not this highly demoralizing and dangerous to Society?’

‘Permit me, too,’ promptly replied the indefatigable Hansen, ’to present an ethical aspect of the question. Is it not a fact that in the hearts of innumerable persons who do not sit here there is a clear, definite sense of the revolting nature of the crime they call wealth? And must it not greatly outrage the feelings of those who do not themselves possess any coal except an empty bag, to see a man who permits himself to own two or three hundred thousand sacks letting wild beasts loose to guard his coal mountain, and then going to bed after having written on the gate: “Watch-dogs unfastened at dusk”? Is not that very provoking and very dangerous to Society?’

‘Oh, good God and Father! He is a regular sans-culotte!’ cried old grandmother.

The majority gave vent to mutterings of displeasure; he was going too far; it was no longer amusing. Only a few still laughingly exclaimed: ’He does not mean a word of what he says; it is only his way. Good health, Hansen!’

But the host took the matter more seriously. He thought of himself, and he thought of Trofast. With ominous politeness, he began:

’May I venture to ask what you understand by a reasonable relation between a crime and its punishment?’

‘For example,’ replied Dr. Viggo Hansen, who was now thoroughly roused, ’if I heard that a merchant possessing two or three hundred thousand sacks of coal had refused to allow a poor creature to fill his bag, and that this same merchant, as a punishment, had been torn to pieces by wild beasts, then that would be something that I could very easily understand, for between such heartlessness and so horrible a punishment there is a reasonable relation.’

’Ladies and gentlemen, my wife and I beg you to make yourselves at home, and welcome.’

There was a secret whispering and muttering, and a depressed feeling among the guests, as they dispersed themselves through the salons.

The host walked about with a forced smile on his lips, and, as soon as he had welcomed every one individually, he went in search of Hansen, in order to definitely show him the door once for all.

But this was not necessary. Dr. Viggo Hansen had already found it.


There had really been some snow, as the merchant had stated. Although it was so early in the winter, a little wet snow fell towards morning for several days in succession, but it turned into fine rain when the sun rose.

This was almost the only sign that the sun had risen, for it did not get much lighter or warmer all day. The air was thick with fog-not the whitish-gray sea mist, but brown-gray, close, dead Russian fog, which had not become lighter in passing over Sweden; and the east wind came with it and packed it well and securely down among the houses of Copenhagen.

Under the trees along Kastelgraven and in Gronningen the ground was quite black after the dripping from the branches. But along the middle of the streets and on the roofs there was a thin white layer of snow.

All was yet quite still over at Burmeister and Wain’s; the black morning smoke curled up from the chimneys, and the east wind dashed it down upon the white roofs. Then it became still blacker, and spread over the harbour among the rigging of the ships, which lay sad and dark in the gray morning light, with white streaks of snow along their sides. At the Custom House the bloodhounds would soon be shut in, and the iron gates opened.

The east wind was strong, rolling the waves in upon Langelinie, and breaking them in grayish-green foam among the slimy stones, whilst long swelling billows dashed into the harbour, broke under the Custom House, and rolled great names and gloomy memories over the stocks round the fleet’s anchorage, where lay the old dismantled wooden frigates in all their imposing uselessness.

The harbour was still full of ships, and goods were piled high in the warehouses and upon the quays.

Nobody could know what kind of winter they were to have-whether they would be cut off for months from the world, or if it would go by with fogs and snow-slush.

Therefore there lay row upon row of petroleum casks, which, together with the enormous coal mountains, awaited a severe winter, and there lay pipes and hogsheads of wine and cognac, patiently waiting for new adulterations; oil and tallow and cork and iron-all lay and waited, each its own destiny.

Everywhere lay work waiting-heavy work, coarse work, and fine work, from the holds of the massive English coal-steamers, right up to the three gilded cupolas on the Emperor of Russia’s new church in Bredgade.

But as yet there was no one to put a hand to all this work. The town slept heavily, the air was thick, winter hung over the city, and it was so still in the streets that one could hear the water from the melting snow on the roofs fall down into the spouts with a deep gurgling, as if even the great stone houses yet sobbed in semi-slumber.

A little sleepy morning clock chimed over upon Holmen; here and there a door was opened, and a dog came out to howl; curtains were rolled up and windows were opened; the servant-girls went about in the houses, and did their cleaning by a naked light which stood and flickered; at a window in the palace sat a gilded lacquey and rubbed his nose in that early morning hour.

The fog lay thick over the harbour, and hung in the rigging of the great ships as if in a forest; rain and flakes of wet snow made it still thicker, but the east wind pressed it down between the houses, and completely filled Amalieplads, so that Frederick V. sat as if in the clouds, and turned his proud nose unconcernedly towards his half-finished church.

Some more sleepy clocks now began to chime; a steam-whistle joined in with a diabolical shriek. In the taverns which ’open before the clock strikes’ they were already serving early refections of hot coffee and schnapps; girls with hair hanging down their backs, after a wild night, came out of the sailors’ houses by Nyhavn, and sleepily began to clean windows.

It was bitterly cold and raw, and those who had to cross Kongens Nytorv hurried past Öhlenschläger, whom they had set outside the theatre, bare-headed, with his collar full of snow, which melted and ran down into his open shirt-front.

Now came the long, relentless blasts of steam-whistles from the factories all round the town, and the little steamers in the harbour whistled for no reason at all.

The work, which everywhere lay waiting, began to swallow up the many small dark figures, who, sleepy and freezingly cold, appeared and disappeared all round the town. And there was almost a quiet bustle in the streets; some ran, others walked-both those who had to go down into the coal steamers, and those who must up and gild the Emperor of Russia’s cupolas, and thousands of others who were being swallowed by all kinds of work.

And waggons began to rumble, criers to shout, engines raised their polished, oily shoulders, and turned their buzzing wheels; and little by little the heavy, thick atmosphere was filled with a muffled murmur from the collective work of thousands. The day was begun; joyous Copenhagen was awake.

Policeman Frode Hansen froze even to his innermost co-efficient. It had been an unusually bitter watch, and he walked impatiently up and down in Aabenraa, and waited for Mam Hansen. She was in the habit of coming at this time, or even earlier, and to-day he had almost resolved to carry matters as far as a half lager or a cup of warm coffee.

But Mam Hansen came not, and he began to wonder whether it was not really his duty to report her. She was carrying the thing too far; it would not do at all any longer, this humbug with these cabbage-leaves and that coal business.

Thyra and Waldemar had also several times peeped out into the little kitchen, to see if their mother had come and had put the coffee-pot on the fire. But it was black under the kettle, and the air was so dark and the room so cold that they jumped into bed again.

When they opened the great gates of merchant Hansen’s coalstore at Kristianshavn, Trofast sat there and shamefacedly looked askance; it was really a loathsome piece of work that they had set him to do.

In a corner, between two empty baskets, they found a bundle of rags, from which there came a faint moaning. There were a few drops of blood upon the snow, and close by there lay, untouched, a piece of sugared Vienna bread.

When the foreman understood the situation, he turned to Trofast to praise him. But Trofast had already gone home; the position was quite too uncomfortable for him.

They gathered her up, such as she was, wet and loathsome, and the foreman decided that she should be placed upon the first coal-cart going into town, and that they could stop at the hospital, so that the professor himself might see whether she was worth repairing.

About ten o’clock the merchant’s family began to assemble at the breakfast-table. Thyra came first. She hurried up to Trofast, patted and kissed him, and overwhelmed him with words of endearment.

But Trofast did not move his tail, and scarcely raised his eyes. He kept on licking his fore-paws, which were a little black after the coal.

‘Good gracious, my dear mother!’ cried Miss Thyra; ’Trofast is undoubtedly ill. Of course he has caught cold in the night; it was really horrid of father.’

But when Waldemar came in, he declared, with a knowing air, that Trofast was affronted.

All three now fell upon him with entreaties and excuses and kind words, but Trofast coldly looked from one to the other. It was clear that Waldemar was right.

Thyra then ran out for her father, and the merchant came in serious-somewhat solemn. They had just told him by telephone from the office how well Trofast had acquitted himself of his task, and, kneeling down on the hearthrug before Trofast, he thanked him warmly for the great service.

This mollified Trofast a good deal.

Still kneeling, with Trofast’s paw in his hand, the merchant now told his family what had occurred during the night. That the thief was a hardened old woman, one of the very worst kind, who had even-just imagine it!-driven a pretty considerable trade in the stolen coal. She had been cunning enough to bribe the young watch-dog with a dainty piece of bread; but, of course, that was no use with Trofast.

’And that brings me to think how often a certain person, whom I do not wish to name, would rant about it being a shame that a beast should refuse bread, for which many a human being would be thankful. Do we not now see the good of that? Through that-ahem!-that peculiarity, Trofast was enabled to reveal an abominable crime; to contribute to the just punishment of evildoers, and thus benefit both us and society.’

‘But, father,’ exclaimed Miss Thyra, ’will you not promise me one thing?’

‘What is that, my child?’

’That you will never again require such a service of Trofast. Rather let them steal a little.’

‘That I promise you, Thyra; and you, too, my brave Trofast,’ said the merchant, rising with dignity.

‘Trofast is hungry,’ said Waldemar, with his knowing air.

‘Goodness, Thyra! fetch his cutlets!’

Thyra was about to rush down into the kitchen, but at that moment Stine came puffing upstairs with them.

Presumably, the professor did not find Mam Hansen worth repairing. At any rate, she was never seen again, and the children ’flowed quite over.’ I do not know what became of them.