Pelle the Conqueror Part 167

That shows how far I was from nature. The country was something that farmers moved about in--those big, voracious creatures, who almost seemed like a kind of animal trying to imitate man. Rational beings could not possibly live out there. That was the view in my circle, and I had myself a touch of the same complaint, although my university training of course paraphrased and veiled it all to some extent.

All this about our relations to nature seemed to me very interesting aesthetically, but with more or less of a contradictory, not to say hostile, character. I could not understand how any one could see anything beautiful in a ploughed field or a dike. It was only when I got to know you that something moved within me and called me out; there was something about you like the air from out there.

"Now I also understand my forefathers! Formerly they seemed to me only like thick-skinned boors, who sc.r.a.ped together all the money that two generations of us have lived upon without doing a pennyworth of good.

They enabled us, however, to live life, I have always thought, and I considered it the only excuse for their being in the family, coa.r.s.e and robust as they were. Now I see that it was they who lived, while we after them, with all our wealth, have only had a bed in life's inn.

"For all this I thank you. I am glad to have become acquainted through you with men of the new age, and to be able to give my fortune back.

It was made by all those who work, and gathered together by a few; my giving it back is merely a natural consequence. Others will come to do as I am doing, either of their own free will or by compulsion, until everything belongs to everybody. Then only can the conflict about human interests begin. Capitalism has created wonderful machines, but what wonderful men await us in the new age! Happy the man who could have lived to see it!

"I have left all my money to you and Morten. As yet there is no inst.i.tution that I could give it to, so you must administer it in the name of cooperation. You two are the best guardians of the poor, and I know you will employ it in the best manner. I place it with confidence in your hands. The will is at my lawyer's; I arranged it all before I left home.

"My greetings to all at 'Daybreak'--Ellen, the children, and Morten.

If the baby is christened before I get home, remember that he is to be called after me. But I am hoping that you will come."

Ellen drew a deep breath when Pelle had finished the letter. "I only hope he's not worse than he makes out," she said. "I suppose you'll go?"

"Yes, I'll arrange what's necessary at the works to-morrow early, and take the morning express."

"Then I must see to your things," exclaimed Ellen, and went in.

Pelle and Morten went for a stroll along the edge of the hill, past the half-finished houses, whose red bricks shone in the sun.

"Everything seems to turn out well for you, Pelle," said Morten suddenly.

"Yes," said Pelle; "nothing has succeeded in injuring me, so I suppose what Father La.s.se and the others said is right, that I was born with a caul. The ill-usage I suffered as a child taught me to be good to others, and in prison I gained liberty; what might have made me a criminal made a man of me instead. Nothing has succeeded in injuring me!

So I suppose I may say that everything has turned out well."

"Yes, you may, and now I've found a subject, Pelle! I'm not going to hunt about blindly in the dark; I'm going to write a great work now."

"I congratulate you! What will it be about? Is it to be the work on the sun?"

"Yes, both about the sun and about him who conquers. It's to be a book about you, Pelle!"

"About me?" exclaimed Pelle.

"Yes, about the naked Pelle with the caul! It's about time to call out the naked man into the light and look at him well, now that he's going to take over the future. You like to read about counts and barons, but now I'm going to write a story about a prince who finds the treasure and wins the princess. He's looked for her all over the world and she wasn't there, and now there's only himself left, and there he finds her, for he's taken her heart. Won't that be a good story?"

"I think it's a lot of rubbish," said Pelle, laughing. "And you'll have to lay the lies on thick if you're going to make me into a prince. I don't think you'll get the workpeople to take it for a real book; it'll all be so well known and ordinary."

"They'll s.n.a.t.c.h at it, and weep with delight and pride at finding themselves in it. Perhaps they'll name their children after it out of pure grat.i.tude!"

"What are you going to call it then?" asked Pelle.

"I'm going to call it 'PELLE THE CONQUEROR.'"

THE END

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