"Oh, well, father," said Bonnyboy, soothingly (for he was beginning to feel sorry on his father's account rather than on his own), "I wouldn't bother about that if I were you. I don't worry a bit. Something will turn up for me to do, sooner or later."
"But you'll do it badly, Bonnyboy, and then you won't get a second chance. And then, who knows but you may starve to death. You'll chop off the fingers you have left; and when I am dead and can no longer look after you, I am very much afraid you'll manage to chop off your head too."
"Well," observed Bonnyboy, cheerfully, "in that case I shall not starve to death."
Grim had to laugh in spite of himself at the paternal way in which his son comforted him, as if he were the party to be pitied. Bonnyboy's unfailing cheerfulness, which had its great charm, began to cause him uneasiness, because he feared it was but another form of stupidity. A cleverer boy would have been sorry for his mistakes and anxious about his own future. But Bonnyboy looked into the future with the serene confidence of a child, and nothing under the sun ever troubled him, except his father's tendency to worry. For he was very fond of his father, and praised him as a paragon of skill and excellence. He lavished an abject admiration on everything he did and said. His dexterity in the use of tools, and his varied accomplishments as a watch-maker and a horse-doctor, filled Bonnyboy with ungrudging amazement. He knew it was a hopeless thing for him to aspire to rival such genius, and he took the thing philosophically, and did not aspire.
It occurred to Grim one day, when Bonnyboy had made a most discouraging exhibition of his awkwardness, that it might be a good thing to ask the pastor's advice in regard to him. The pastor had had a long experience in educating children, and his own, though they were not all clever, promised to turn out well. Accordingly Grim called at the parsonage, was well received, and returned home charged to the muzzle with good advice. The pastor lent him a book full of stories, and recommended him to read them to his son, and afterward question him about every single fact which each story contained. This the pastor had found to be a good way to develop the intellect of a backward boy.
When Bonnyboy had been confirmed, the question again rose what was to become of him. He was now a tall young fellow, red-checked, broad-shouldered, and strong, and rather nice-looking. A slow, good-natured smile spread over his face when anyone spoke to him, and he had a way of flinging his head back, when the tuft of yellow hair which usually hung down over his forehead obscured his sight. Most people liked him, even though they laughed at him behind his back; but to his face nobody laughed, because his strength inspired respect. Nor did he know what fear was when he was roused; but that was probably, as people thought, because he did not know much of anything. At any rate, on a certain occasion he showed that there was a limit to his good-nature, and when that limit was reached, he was not as harmless a fellow as he looked.
On the neighboring farm of Gimlehaug there was a wedding to which Grim and his son were invited. On the afternoon of the second wedding day--for peasant weddings in Norway are often celebrated for three days--a notorious bully named Ola Klemmerud took it into his head to have some sport with the big good-natured simpleton. So, by way of pleasantry, he pulled the tuft of hair which hung down upon Bonnyboy's forehead.
"Don't do that," said Bonnyboy.