Fragrance in Literature-Lisbeth Longfrock by Hans Aanrud

Hans Aanrud (3 September 1863 – 11 January 1953) was a Norwegian author. He wrote plays, poetry, and stories depicting rural life in his native Gudbrandsdal, Norway.
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Lisbeth Longfrock by Hans Aanrud

She seemed dimly to see Kari Svehaugen gliding about and taking care of things in the home and out in the cow house. She herself had climbed a birch tree several times and picked leaf buds for the animals to eat. One day Lars Svehaugen had flitted along the road in front of the house, swiftly, as if he had not a moment to spare. Soon after this, some one dressed in furs and with big boots on came driving to the house, and all the neighbors flocked around him, listening to what he said. And he brought such a curious smell with him! It filled the whole house, so that, even after he had gone away, he seemed to be still there.

After that Kjersti came to them again and asked them to "Please walk in," exactly as if they were grand strangers. And when they had gone into the house they were invited into Kjersti's own sitting room, both Lisbeth and the milkmaid. Here the table was set with a welcoming meal, and oh, how delicious the food smelled! There were large hot pancakes as thin as paper, and pease bread, and hot new potatoes,—the finest feast you can give to people just home from a sæter. And Kjersti herself poured coffee for them and begged them to help themselves.

The little room, whose only furniture consisted of a bed, a chair, a stove, and a small wooden shelf with a mirror over it, was filled with daylight in spite of the early hour. The sun fell slanting down through a window set high up in the wall directly over Lisbeth's bed, and the windowpanes were pictured in bright yellow squares on the floor near the tiny stove. The corner of one square spread itself against the stove, and Lisbeth traced it with her eyes as she lay in bed. At the tip of the corner glimmered something light-green and shiny. Was it from there that a fine, wonderful fragrance came floating toward her? She sniffed a little. Yes, indeed! now she remembered. The fragrance came from the fresh birch twigs she had decorated the room with yesterday. Out of doors it was spring,—the sprouting, bursting springtime. To-day the cattle were to be let out and the calves named. To-day she would begin work in earnest and be a responsible individual. In short, she would be the herd girl at Hoel Farm.


And just as there were thousands of different sounds, so were there also thousands of different odors,—from the steaming earth, from the growing grass, from buds and blossoms; and above them all, like the cuckoo's call that was heard above the thousands of blended sounds, rose the fine, penetrating fragrance of newly sprouted birch trees.
Lisbeth stood still awhile, drawing deep breaths and letting the sweet air and the effervescence of spring stream in upon her. Then she looked around at the different farm buildings. Quiet brooded within them and every door was shut. Of all the living creatures belonging to the farm, not one was to be seen except Bearhunter, who got up slowly from the flat stone where he had been lying, comfortably sunning himself, and came over to her, looking up into her face and wagging his tail.


So they both got into the wagon and drove off. Not a word was spoken the whole way. As they drove down the hill from the farm and out on the main road, they were encompassed by all the effervescence of the spring,—its myriads of sights, sounds, and odors. The brooks and rivers rushed tunefully along, birds by the thousands were singing and calling, insects were buzzing, trees and plants of many sorts were pouring their fragrance over the whole valley; and above it all stood the sun, shedding down its glittering light. But these things failed to arouse in Lisbeth the feelings they usually awakened. They had, instead, the effect of a roar and a disturbance, of something inharmonious that caused her to quiver with discomfort. Involuntarily she drew nearer to Kjersti on the wagon seat. She felt a longing for one thing only,—silence. Thus they drove for a while along the sunlit valley road.
She stopped to get her breath after running. It was so still and warm and close down there in the valley,—so different from what it had been up on the mountain. It seemed as if the earth sent out a deep breath the moment the sun went down,—a strange, heavy fragrance that made her, all at once, feel anxious and downhearted, just as if she had done something wrong which she could not remember. Then it came into her mind that she ought to have sent word to Kjersti Hoel that she was coming. People in the valley were always afraid that something was the matter when a person came from the sæter unexpectedly; and it would be too shameful for any one to give Kjersti Hoel a fright.

So they both got into the wagon and drove off. Not a word was spoken the whole way. As they drove down the hill from the farm and out on the main road, they were encompassed by all the effervescence of the spring,—its myriads of sights, sounds, and odors. The brooks and rivers rushed tunefully along, birds by the thousands were singing and calling, insects were buzzing, trees and plants of many sorts were pouring their fragrance over the whole valley; and above it all stood the sun, shedding down its glittering light. But these things failed to arouse in Lisbeth the feelings they usually awakened. They had, instead, the effect of a roar and a disturbance, of something inharmonious that caused her to quiver with discomfort. Involuntarily she drew nearer to Kjersti on the wagon seat. She felt a longing for one thing only,—silence. Thus they drove for a while along the sunlit valley road.