Thursday, 13 October 2016

Paul Nextdoor

Once upon a time, there was a woman who had a husband who was deaf to a great degree; she therefore held the boy next door more dear, whom they called Paul Nextdoor. The servant boy at the deaf man’s knew well that there was something going on between these two; and once he said to the woman: “Dare you wager ten dollars, mother, that I can get you to expose your own shame?”

“Yes, I dare say I dare,” she said; and so they wagered.

Then came a day that the boy and the man stood in the barn, threshing; and the boy noticed that Paul Nextdoor came to the woman again. He said nothing; but a good while before lunch time, he turned towards the barn door and shouted: “Now, then!”

“Well, is it already time to go in?” said the man. He had not noticed anything.

“Yes, I suppose it is, if mother is calling,” said the boy.

When they came in to the hall, the boy began to cough and splutter, so that the wife had time to hide Paul Nextdoor. When they came in, there was a bowl of sour-cream porridge on the table.

“Oh, I declare, mother! Are we to have sour-cream porridge today?” said the man.

“Oh yes, we are,” said the woman; she was sullen and angry.

When they had eaten, and had gone out again, she said to Paul: “The devil of a boy; this was his doing. But you should get going, and I will come down to you in the meadow, before supper.”

The boy stood in the hall, and heard this.

A skigard fence.

“Father,” he said, I think it would be best if we went down into the valley, and repaired the fence that has blown down, for the swine that belongs to next door goes and soils our meadow.“

“Yes, I suppose we should,” said the man, for he did everything they told him to.

Before supper, the woman wandered down to the meadow, with something hidden beneath her apron.

“No, no, mother! You are hardly yourself any more,” said the man; “are we to have an early supper, too?”

“Oh yes, I suppose you are,” she said, much angrier than before.

And they lived well, eating both lefse and butter, and drinking brandy, too.

“I will take some to Paul Nextdoor, mother,” said the boy; “for he has probably not had an early supper.”

“Yes, do that that,” said the wife, and she was pleased.


On the way, the boy picked pieces off the lefse, which he dropped now and again. When he then came to Paul Nextdoor, he said to him: “You should watch yourself, for our master has noticed how often you come to the wife; he does not like it much, and now he has sworn to set his axe in you, as soon as he sees you.”

Paul grew pale, and was afraid, and the boy went back to the man.

“There is something that needs attention on Paul’s plough,” he said, “and he asked that you should take your axe and go to him to fix it a bit.”

Yes, the man took his axe with him, but Paul Nextdoor had hardly seen him before he ran off as quickly as he could. The man turned to the plough, and looked it all over, but he did not see anything that needed fixing, so he turned back again. But on the way, he picked up the pieces of lefse that the boy had dropped. The woman stood a while and wondered what it was the man gathered up.

“Oh, father is picking up stones,” said the boy, “for he has noticed that Paul Nextdoor runs over to ours so often, and the fellow doesn’t like it much, and now he has sworn that he will stone mother to death.”

The woman ran off as quickly as she could.

“What is mother running off after?” asked the man, when he arrived.

“Oh, the house is probably afire,” said the boy.

The man ran after the woman, and she screamed: “Oh, don’t kill me, don’t kill me, and I will never let Paul Nextdoor come in to me again!”

“Now the ten dollars are mine!” exclaimed the boy.

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