Read PART II : CHAPTER V of The Soul of a Child, free online book, by Edwin Bjorkman, on

It was summer again. The school was closed. Keith’s pleas to be allowed to play with Johan became impassioned. Consequently his parents were pleased when Aunt Brita asked if Keith could spend a few weeks with them in a little cottage they had hired on an island halfway between Stockholm and the open sea.

To Keith this was a tremendous adventure his first excursion from home, and almost his first acquaintance with real country life. In fact, the impressions of the journey itself were so many and so novel that his mind couldn’t retain anything at all. The same thing happened over and over again during the earlier part of his life, so that out of that epoch-making summer visit, for instance, only a single slight incident took up a lasting abode in his memory.

The cottage stood in the middle of the island, which was so small that a fifteen-minute walk took them down to the nearest shore. Thither they went one afternoon not long after his arrival to bathe his aunt, his cousin Carl who was a year younger than himself, Keith, a couple of other children of the same age, and Mina, an eighteen-year old girl living with Keith’s uncle and aunt in a position halfway between ward and servant. Across the fields and along shaded wood paths they ran joyously to a sheltered bay with a sandy beach from which the open fjord could be seen in the distance. The children stripped helter-skelter and went into the shallow water as nature had made them, but Mina, who was to assist them, had for want of bathing suit put on a starched white petticoat. The upper part of her body was bare, showing two beautifully pointed breasts.

Keith looked and looked at those breasts until Mina noticed him and actually began to blush. As if embarrassed, she picked up one of the other children and began to swing it around in a circle. Her movement turned Keith’s attention to the petticoat, and suddenly he could think of nothing else.

The children were naked. Why should Mina wear a piece of clothing that even Keith could see was quite unfitted for such a use. There must be something to hide. What could it be? At last he could contain himself no longer, but blurted out:

“Why does Mina wear that silly skirt?”

“Because she is afraid of catching cold,” replied his aunt from the shore with a slight jeer in her voice and one of her shrewd smiles.

“Why shouldn’t we catch cold, too,” was his next question.

There was no direct answer, but he could hear his aunt mutter between her teeth:

“Drat that boy!”

Then she burst into open laughter, while Mina rushed ashore and hastily began to dress behind a close screen of undergrowth.

After that Mina did not go in bathing with the children.

Many years later Keith could still visualize the whole scene as if it had happened only a few days ago, while all his efforts to recall the cottage where they lived, or anything else seen that summer, were vain.