dezembro 03, 2012

Northern Lights and other psychic stories by E. D'Espérance 2

Northern Lights and other psychic stories
by E. D'Espérance.

Author of Shadowland

George Redway

Psychic Stories

See Introductory here.

Northern Lights

"AGREED. I'll pay you sixty kronas a week for horse, sledge, and your services, all included. You understand?"

"Yes," said the peasant, "I'll drive you round by Haparanda, or across the Gulf on the ice, if you care to venture it. This grey mare goes like the wind. I got her cheap, because she has run away more than once."

"Ja sä! That's not much of a recommendation," said Herr Massie, regarding the beautiful animal, who looked round as if interested in the bargain that was being made. "However," continued the gentleman, "my nerves have carried me through worse things than a drive after a runaway horse, and when one knows what to expect one can keep a tight hand on the reins."

This conversation took place outside a little hostelry in Norrland, in the north of Sweden, one bitterly cold winter's day. The traveller who was engaging the peasant, as well as horse and sledge for a long journey, knew the country well, and had purposely chosen this season for his visits to the remote northern districts, on account of the greater facility which the frozen lakes offered for short cuts, and for the greater comfort of travelling by sledge compared with the primitive cariole.

The bargain concluded, the Bonde, as is the custom of his class, came forward with another stipulation - which as a rule is one of the greatest importance to the contraction party though seemingly an afterthought.

"Well, what is it?" said Herr Massie, seeing the inevitable request in the man's manner.

"Is is nothing particular, only I can't engage to drive you after eight o'çlock in the districts where Knifven, Rosén, and those rascals, shorten a fellow's shadow for him, or past the house they are known to frequent. People say there are so many ghosts there - ghosts of those they have robbed and murdered."

"It appears to me I'm in for a lively journey," remarked Herr Massie with a shrug of the shoulders. "However, I'm not afraid that matter. In any case I'll try to arrange that we pass their hospitable dwelling before dark."

This was easier said than done, for it sometimes happened that ten o'clock struck before they seated themselves, well wrapped in furs, behind the restive, excitable horse, and in the short day of four of five hours they were frequently unable to reach the next stopping place.

They had passed through the district said to be infested by dreaded thieves and still more dreaded ghosts, without encountering either the one or the other, although a little incident had occurred which terrified Petter not a little. He had allowed the mare to have her head, and she, nothing loath, had as he said "flown like the wind." Coming to a sharp curve the sledge overturned, and both Herr Massie and he were thrown down the steep bank, against the very walls of the house had been so anxious to avoid.

Herr Massie had struck with suck violence against the fence, that he needed Petter's help to climb back to the roadway and regain his seat. Fortunately his hurts were not serious, for Petter, half dead with fear, could not be induced to linger in the neighbourhood a moment longer than was necessary to get his master bundle into the sledge, and the furs thrown in beside him; and urging his horse to its utmost speed, he did not check its pace till they had left the danger far behind.

During the long journeys the Bonde regaled Herr Massie with all the gruesome stories, current in these northern latitudes, of ghosts, spirits of the unburried, who, dying in the winter, must wait till the breaking up of the frost in the hard iron-like ground for their bodies to be placed under the sod, and in the meantime they, the ghosts, must wander mournfully about in the vicinity of their old haunts.

On one bitterly cold day, Herr Massie, anxious to reach a certain hostelry, announced his intention of attempting to cross a lake which would shorten the distance by a couple of hours. The cold had come suddenly, and Petter questioned whether the ice would bear; "but," as he remarked, "the first ice is always strongest," and it was a good distance to save. The Swedish peasant is wont to say that if he throws his glove on the ice without its breaking through it will bear him; and, if it will bear his axe thrown upon it, it is safe for his horse and sledge.

Petter therefore turned his horse's head towards the broad sheet of water covered with a thin coating of ice that looked black in the gathering dusk. Once or twice the mare was about to venture on to the dark surface; but either it was mistaken for water of she considered it unsafe, for she required a good deal of urging and encouragement before she could be induced to leave the strand.

Herr Massie quietly unbuttoned his coat, to be ready for a swim for life. Petter held the reins loosely, encouraging the frightened animal to its utmost speed. The silence and loneliness, the weird light from the northern skies, the uncertainty  of life or death over powered the two men who, with the exception of a word now and again to the horse, sat still without speaking. Their thoughts, whilst concentrated on the opposite shore, also fled to their homes and friends, wondering too a little, if they did not reach land in safety, whether their fate would ever be known.

To say the horse went like the wind would be no exaggeration, for it was wild with terror. Al last they neared the thicker ice unworn by undercurrents, and the two men drew a long breath as the beautiful creature landed them safely on terra firma Nor was it till the danger was over that Herr Massie felt how great a strain in had been on his own nerves.

"Thank God, that is over," he said, patting the trembling animal. "We have you to thank, too, my lass, for your speed was our safety."

They reached the hostelry without further adventure, and rose next morning with the intention of proceeding on their way as soon as they cold get ready. But during the night, the most intense cold had set in. Herr Massie left his room, and running across the snow-covered lawn found the snow crackled harshly under his feet; his face and hands felt as though stung by nettles; and a burning sensation in his throat made him gasp for breath. He stopped for a moment, surprised to find that his nostrils closed, and he wondered what was the matter. Every movement seemed to make a rattling metallic sound in the air, as though he were forcing his way through some substance, displacing its atoms which closed again behind him.

He looked at a thermometer that hung on a wall. No quicksilver was to be seen. He crossed to the stables where he saw another. His curiosity induced him to break it, and he found the quicksilver in it in a frozen condition, showing that the frost was over 40 degrees below zero.

Most of the guests at the inn decided to remain there that day, and settled down to the usual occupation of belated travellers in the regions, namely card playing and drinking.

Herr Massie, who represented an English firm that exacted full value for all outlays, decided to push on. Three or four of his predecessors had been lost; one was found dead in a boat, another was drowned, and the rest had disappeared somewhat mysteriously.

The horse was soon ready, but they had not driven a mile when the driver's face was frost-bitten, and they had to stop to rub it with snow. They set off again, but the day seemed full of trouble and difficulties. At length Petter said, "I must give it up; I cannot go any further."

They had reached Dufved, and it beign Saturday, it was arranged to put up there.

Restless and energetic, Herr Massie decided that, as he was in any case prevented by intervention of a Sunday from doing any business for a couple of days, he would make a holiday.

Obtaining a pair of snow skates (Skidor) and engaging a guide, the two set off for Mullfjell, one of the mountains on the northern Swedish-Norwegian frontier. They had two or three hours before the setting of the sun, and had covered several miles. The cold was still intense, but the rapid pace had prevented their feeling it, protected as they were by furs. As the sun went down, they came to the Kota of some Lapps who were herding their reindeer on the mountain.

Besides these herdsmen, their dogs and their deer, no living beings were to be seen for many miles around. Herr Massie, beginning to feel somewhat tired, resolved to ask their hospitality and shelter for an hour or two.

"Come in,"  said one of the Lapps. "The dogs will not bite; you need not be afraid."

Herr Massie bent his head and crept into the Kota - a kind of wigwam built of poles placed upright in a circle, leaning towards the centre, which is left open at the top to allow the smoke from the fire, which is directly under it, to escape. The fire itself takes up some three or four square feet in the centre of the hut, so that men, women, children, or dogs must lie or sit round  about There is not much room for visitors.

"You look tired,"  said the Lapp who had invited Herr Massie in. "Will you eat some dinner with us? We have not much to offer to you, but if you can take such as we have you are very welcome. Lie down and make yourself comfortable on those pine twigs."

Herr Massie accepted  both invitations, and stretched himself on the springy couch of pine branches. There was not height enough to sit comfortably, except close into the neighbourhood of the blazing fire, that every now and then filled the Kota with smoke; but Herr Massie was quite content to eat his dinner in a a recumbent position.

"Can you not eat the meat?" asked the Lapp. "Put your hand behind you, and you will find some beef; pull it out. There's the hatchet, chop a bit off and roast it; it's more tasty than the boiled."

Massie did his best to make a meal of the roasted and boiled meat, to which were added some small potatoes about the size of marbles. Then his host poured out for him a cup of coffee, into which he put a spoonful of sugar and another of salt. "Do you like milk in it?

Massie nodded. He felt a little dubious about the mixture, but he did not wish to hurt the feelings of his hospitable host.

A young man or woman - Herr Massie could not distinguish from the dress which it was - took from under the ends of the pine trees that formed the Kota the stomach of a reindeer, which was filled with frozen milk. A lump was chopped off and dropped into the coffee, which Massie courageously tried to swallow. Finding, however, that it was likely to act as an emetic, he quietly emptied the cup into the ashes of the fire.

"Then you've been in England, I suppose?" remarked the Lapp; "and you'll know the Prince of Wales. he bought some reindeer from us, but that was before the terrible storm when we lost so many. Poor Karin was amongst us then. I was have been married to Karin, but she preferred little Napoleon, and I did not care for any other girl, so I never took a wife, and now I'm nearly sixty. No! I'll never marry now. You'll stay with us to-night, will you not? We've no beds such as you are likely to be accustomed to , but those pine twigs make a good enough bed when one gets used to them. You can have some reindeer skins, so you'll be warm enough. If you cannot sleep, you can watch the stars as they go past the top of the Kota. We are only seven dogs and all included; so there's room."

Herr Massie thanked him for his kind offer, and accepted the invitation to spend the night among his new friends.

They asked him a hundred questions about France, Germany, and other countries, and when they had got all the latest news, they asked him to sing them a song, which Massie did to their great delight. Then the Lapps sang for him, and told him stories of their travels, till the evening darkened into night. Then they made a fresh pot of coffee, which Massie elected to take without the salt or chopped milk.

"I'm glad you came," said the patriarch of the family. "I never get to town now, to hear the news. The storm I mentioned, which ruined so many families of us, made a great change. I have never touched drink since. Karin and Napoleon made me feel that I never wanted to see the horrid stuff again. 'Who was Karin?' Why we were sort of cousins; her mother and my mother were half-cousins; here mother and my mother were half-cousins. I was very fond of her. You never saw such a pretty girl as Karin was, and she was as good as she was pretty. She had not the look of us Lapps, not red-haired nor black-haired, nor had high cheek bones as most of our girls have. No, she was fair and blue-eyed; her cheeks were round and red, her lips were always smiling, her face was the sweetest sight in the world to me. She was always working and always singing, as happy as the summer days are long. Yes, and when she married Nappi, it was as though the sun had gone down never to rise again. All dark and dismal. Before that I saw the blue sippa in the woods, and the sweet-scented linnea that covered the glades; now I never see them. I used to hear the birds in the spring time and summer, but when I knew Karin was not for me I never saw nor heard them again. My heart has been heavy since then, and all the seasons are alike. The long months of summer's daylight or the months of winter's night are all the same to me. Yes, she was an angel, Karin was. Her children grew up; still she was just as young to look at as they, and they were so fond of her. But the storm came and changed it all. That was an awful misfortune. It happened in this way. It had been bitterly cold, jut as it is now. Suddenly there was a change, and it grew quite mild, and then began to snow, and the snow fell in great soft flakes. The wind rose too, and blew fearfully. Our deer had no shelter, so they turned their heads from the wind and stood still as they usually do. But the snow kept falling - falling - falling - all night and all day, and then in the morning again it cleared up and began to freeze as hard as it has done to-day. The reindeer were all covered with a hard crust of frozen snow, and they died from suffocation before we could get them out.

"This was a terrible misfortune for Karin and Nappi, as well as for many more. Their boys and girls had to work for those who had not lost all they possessed. Karin cried over her troubles till she was ill. Nappi went to Sundsvall and sold the few skins and things they could spare, to buy medicine for her, but he bought brandy with the money and drank it himself. He only brought home a bottle of of white brandy for Karin. This she drank, and after that she could never get enough. At last she and Nappi left us altogether, and I have never seen them since. They and their two reindeer were traced out to the main road. We heard they went southwards, begging their way from house to house, and were seldom sober, and that they often quarrelled. Then it was said that was the end of him. Others said he had been seen at Delsbo with the two reindeer, but that he sold them and bought drink with the money.

"When I heard he was dead, I went to look for Karin to bring her back to her people. I was away months at a time trying to find her. I often heard of an old Lapp woman begging for brandy and tobacco, and they said it must be Karin. But, you see, I was always thinking of the pretty blue-eyed Karin that I was so fond of, with her red cheeks and long fair hair; so when people told me they had seen a little, old, grey-haired Laap gumma that was always drinking and smoking, I did not go to look for her; I could not think she was Karin.

“Afterwards, I was sorry I did not try to find the gumma, for I think if it had been Karin, I could have looked after her, and nursed her well again, and she would have been as good as she always was. I did once trace her to Delsbo, where some one said they had sold the deer to Knifven, but no one knew where she had gone, nor did any trouble themselves about any poor Lapps that were wndering about begging. I am always thinking about her, and whenever I meet strangers, I always ask if they have seen her. You that travel so much might some day meet her. If you do, will you try to send her here? I only want to look after her and help her to bear her troubles. No one else will do it. Tell me, will you help her if you meet her?”

“Certainly I shall,” said Massie. “I once met an old woman running down the hill near Sollefteä. I had got out of my sledge to walk up the steep road, and was leading my horse, when she came down with a little sledge. I sat sown on my sledge too. She stopped when we met, and knelt down on the snow and put her head on my knee, and began to cry. She asked me to buy her wedding ring. This is it I am wearing.”

“That must be Karin’s, it’s just the same as she wore; yes! With thirteen little rings on it,” said the Lapp, examining the peculiar ring which Massie showed on his finger. “What did she say to you? Tell me all you can.”

“Well, you see, I never meet any of your people but I stop and talk to them, and this old woman seemed pleased to meet me. She gave me some grass that she said she had combed. It was about two feet long. I took of my fur boots, had she put some inside to keep my feet warm. I have always remembered her for that little gift. I have some of it still. I saw she had very little in her sledge, so I gave her a crown; and after she had rested, we parted and she went her way. I have not seen her since. It was several winters ago. Where she might sleep that night I do not know, and so little as she had of warm clothing, poor woman, she may have frozen to death, so cold as it was just then.”

Herr Massie did not find it easy to woo the sleepy god, in spite of the bag of potatoes which formed his pillow, and the reindeer skins into which he rolled himself. A blazing wood fire made the Kota look warm, but round about the walls the cold from the ice and snow crept in, and cold gust of air seemed to drop down as the smoke ascended and made its exit from the opening in the centre of the roof. There was plenty of ventilation on spite of the seven occupants of the nut. Sometimes the smoke from the fire spread itself throughout the Kota, which Herr Massie’s unaccustomed lungs resented. If he turned his face to the fire his back felt the tingling cold of the frost through the pine stems. If the thawed his back by turning it towards the middle of the Kota, his nose felt in danger of freenzing.

After a while he rose and, steeping softly over the dogs lying curled up near the ashes, he opened the curtains of reindeer skins that covered the entrance of the hut, and passed silently out into the frosty night.

A weird stillness lay over the earth; not a breath of air, not a sound! The stars shone with a hard glittering white brilliancy, scintillating in a sky of strange impenetrable blackness. The white mountains showed plainly against its darkness. The pine woods stood in somber stateliness, their white snow plumes motionless in the frozen air. Not a movement, not a sound, broke the strange silence.

Then suddenly a faint glow flashed over the northern sky, spreading quicker than thought from east to west, deepening in brilliancy and unearthly radiance. Through the roseate glow flashed streaks of golden fire, waving like banners among dancing streams of crimson green blue, or glittering topaz. Brighter and brighter it grew, thrusting lance-like spears of ruddy flame towards the zenith; advancing, retreating, now paling into soft amber, now flashing into soft amber, now flashing into brilliant radiant light, rising higher, spreading wider, leaping over the northern heavens, till the somber landscape, the white crested mountains, the dark pine forests, the snow covered plains were lighted up with its weird unearthly light. Separating itself from the earth it rose upwards, a mighty arch of lambent flame, the ends resting at the east and west, soft trailing garlands falling downwards like flowers to bind it with the darkened world.

Herr Massie stood spellbound. This wondrous spectacle held him motionless. It was no new sight, but here, in the undisputed kingdom of the frost king, the wide white world under the jeweled amethyst heavens, the stillness, the silence, the strange unreality struck him with a sense of the mightiness of the universe and the power which governs it, while the insignificance of human kind, with its thoughts, cares, and ambitions, seemed accentuated in the presence of this phenomenon of Nature.

“The bridge of the dead,” said a voice behind him. Herr Massie turned to find his host at his shoulder.

“I saw you go out, and I followed you. It is not sage in this frost. Come in!”

“How do you mean? Why do you call it the bridge of the dead?” asked Massie, still regarding the flaming arch.

“It is the bridge which the gods build, that the dead may come and go. Some are going to their home in Valhalla; some return to earth for a little space. When the bridge is built they crowd upon it, hurrying over. Old warriors their horses, their swords and shields; one sees how they flash and glitter. Armies march over, with their flags and banners waving. The Lapps with their pulkas and their reindeer come back to scour once more over the frozen snow, and to warm themselves in the Kotas. Yes, the priests may say what they will. We Laplanders see many things of which the dwellers in houses know nothing. The old gods lived before the White Christ came, and they have not forgotten how to build their bridges, nor do the spirits of the dead forget the way over them. To-night they are coming and going in thousands. Listen, you will hear the clash of the swords – the tramp of hoofs – crack of the whips. ‘Tis the sound of the spirits hurrying, for the time is short and some have far to go.”

The carnestness in the man’s voice impressed Herr Massie in spite of himself, and as he watched the darting, waving streams of light, ever coming, ever going, and heard the faint detonations as the magnificent coruscations leaped in jewel-like brightness and splendor, casting their sparkling reflections on the gleaming snow, he thought it no wonder that the legends of the old gods lived still in the hearts of these children of the frozen North Land. They accepted the “White Christ,” but the old gods were not dead.

As Massie covered himself again with the deer skins, and tried to settle his head more comfortably on his pillow of potatoes, he wondered to himself of the man really believed what he had said, or if his expressions had been but the outburst of poet nature, excited by the weird beauty of the strange scene.

The Lapp had spoken with an earnest enthusiasm that would imply belief.

He watched the man piling fresh logs on the fire. One could scarcely credit that under that ill-cared-for exterior, the brown, weather-beaten face, the small blue eyes that had grown used to peering through half closed wrinkled lids, the high cheek bones, the unkempt hair that fell in tangled stranggling locks from under his old fur cap, there could dwell the heart of the poet. Yet as he remembered the story of the long weary search for the fair young girl who had long since become a wrinkled old woman, Herr Massie thought that there was no knowing the heart of man, for even that of a little old Lapp who had wandered the frozen wilds for sixty years held within it a spring of infinite love, pure and unselfish, and this being so, might not a poet’s soul dwell beside it?

His speculations became vague and fantastic as he sank into dreamland, whence he was aroused by stirring of his companions next morning.

When the time came for Massie to take his departure and make his way back to Dufved, where Petter awaited him, the Lapp offered to drive him in his pulka – the guide having left on the Saturday. The reindeer were harnessed and they set off, wrapped in skins, over the snowy wastes – a wild journey, but the one the traveler enjoyed in spite of the probability of frequent upsets, as the flying steeds, encouraged by the voice, or the touch of the long whip, obeyed the rein which the Lapp threw from one side to the other of the antlered heads.

“You do not understand us Lapps,” remarked the little man to Herr Massie, as they flew over the snow after the flying hoofs, “or I would tell you something which makes me now think Karin is dead. I am not quite sure, because I am always thinking about her, and when that is so it is not so easy to be sure. I have seen her so often in my dreams, just as she used to be when I hoped she would marry me, that it has been difficult to remember she had grown older. But sometimes lately it has been different. I have seen her every night, and heard her voice, and last night it was as though there could be no mistake, but I’ve been so weary and tired with waiting that I do not know what is real or what is my imagination.”

“I do not know if I understand,” replied Massie; “I have heard a strange story that was told me by Petter, my driver; it may interest you.”

“What was that?” eagerly asked the Lapp.

“When I was down South near to Ljusdal, Petter pointed out to me a little cow-house with a chimney, so that I could understand it was used as a dwelling in winter time for both cows and the people who owned them. Well, in that cow-house, it is said that there were the ghosts of two Lapps, an old man and woman. No one ever saw them except two little girls. The elder one about twelve years old said to her parents one day, ‘There’s and old Lapp and his woman outside, and they want some tobacco and brandy.’ ‘Tell them to go away,’ said her mother, and looked out at the window to see what the beggars were like; ‘I don’t see any Lapps. Where are they?’

“’Over there beside the byre,’ said Elsa, ‘cannot you see them?’

“’No,’ said her mother, ‘there’s no one there.’

“’Yes, there is,’ said Mina, the other little sister, ‘they just going in at the door now.’

“This startled the mother and somewhat frightened her, because she saw the door open and closed, and the fastening on the outside of the door could not be loosened by any one inside. So she went out with her little girls to try and understand what it was that was going on. Just then the door opened and the little girls said, ‘There they are – cannot you see them?’

“The mother rubbed her eyes and looked, but no Lapps were to be seen. It was a sharp, frosty, sunshiny morning, so she looked round to see if any shadows form anything near could make her little daughter mistaken; but then the opening of the door – how was that done? I was very strange, she said to herself, as she nervously held Elsa by the hand.

“’I have no tobacco,’ said Elsa, ‘and mother will not give me any.’

“’Who are you talking to?’ asked her mother.

“’To the old man,’ said Elsa; ‘do you not see him standing there in the snow, and his woman beside him?’

“She looked at the snow where Elsa pointed, but there was not even a shadow to mistake for human being. Then Elsa said, ‘You can have this if you like,’ and held out her hand in which she had a piece of hard rye bread. As she did so, the bread quite disappeared.

“The mother began to get frightened, but she decided not to appear so to her little girls. ‘I will shut and fasten the byre door – you better go in the house,’ she said. Just then the door closed and fastened of itself; so she turned in a state of agitation and went into the house to think over what it could be and what she to do.

“As soon as dinner was over they all went out, along with the little girls, to see the mysterious Lapps. Just as they did so, they saw the byre door open and shut and fasten of itself. Far want over to see who was behind the door, and the others kept watch outside. As he reached forward his hand to pull out the big wooden bolt, it came out of itself, and the door was flung open. This made him feel uncomfortable, but he went in and the door closed after him, and remained so until he was satisfied there was no one in the byre. When he went to the door, and was about to call to those outside to open it for him, it opened as though it know what he wanted. All this was very strange, and every one except the little girls were more or less frightened. As soon as Far came out, the door closed and fastened.

“’Won’t you give them some tobacco?’ said Elsa; ‘they are begging for some.’

“’Of course I will. But where are they? I don’t see them.’ And he looked round with the tobacco in his hand.

“’Give it to me,’ said Elsa; ‘I will give it to them.’ So she took the tobacco and held it out. All of them saw it, but how or where it went no one could say.

“’They want some brandy,’ said Elsa; and Far, who was a steady, hard-working man, went into the house for the bottle from which he took a glass always before dinner. This he brought out and filled a small glass which he held out to the mysterious Lapps. As long as he held it the glass remained full, but when he handed it to Elsa, and she held it out her friends, it was quite impossible to see where the brandy went. That it went somewhere, and that the glass was emptied, no one disputed. When Elsa saw how surprised they were, she and her sister took quite a delight in giving away anything that was handed them.

“’The news rapidly spread abroad, and many visitors came to witness the ‘trick,’ as the called it, that the little girls had learned. On Sundays there was quite a crowd to see the ‘conjuring,’ and although the new-comers saw the same as the father and mother, they did not accept the fact as they saw it; they said the little girls were very clever, and they admitted all the fact except that of any old Lapp or his ‘woman,’ as Elsa called her, having anything to do with it.

“Soon after this the little girl Elsa caught cold ad was laid up with a fever, and during this time the Lapps had evidently gone elsewhere, as she did not see them again when she got better.”

“All that may appear strange to you,” said the Lapp, “but to us it is not so. I believe in the little girls, more than in those who came to look on. I do not speak of these things to people who live in houses, for they do not understand them; they laugh at us, they say we are ignorant and uncivilized. They – the dwellers in houses and towns – may know some things better than we, but they are learned to know, but those who only read what others know have no real knowledge of their own.

“They know how to lie and deceive; they know how to make the fiery spirit that they sell to the poor Lapps in exchange for deer and skins; they know how to make him drunk that they may make a good bargain, to send him away with brandy instead of meal or potatoes.

“They may know some good things too, I do not doubt; but it seems to me they have too much to think how to get richer than their neighbours, that there is no time to learn what is in the world except it concerns money. But we who live in tents, and wander about from one moss pasture to another, under God’s free skies, learn much more. We are not afraid of our dead. We know they are with us. They come and visit us in our tents. We are glad to see them and bid them welcome, and are happier and better for knowing we have not lost them.

“Sometimes they wander about, miserable and wretched as those two poor souls of whom you speak.

“If I tell this to people who live in houses, they laugh and scoff, or they are afraid. I know it is because of their ignorance, and I excuse their rudeness, but I wish many times they knew as much of the reality of these things as we do, for then I think they would not, even for their own sakes, give our poor people the drink that ruins them while they live and keeps the poor souls wandering about wretched ashamed, and miserable when they have died.

“It is this terrible drink that is causing our people to die out. Every year it is harder for us. We get poorer and fewer. In a hundred years I fear there will be none of us left. But even so, I would no exchange with the richest dweller in a house, if I must exchange my knowledge for his want of it in such matters as these which we have just discussed.”


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