One evening, a week after Signa's wedding,
Emil was kneeling before a box in the sitting-
room, packing his books. From time to time he
rose and wandered about the house, picking up
stray volumes and bringing them listlessly back
to his box. He was packing without enthusi-
asm. He was not very sanguine about his fu-
ture. Alexandra sat sewing by the table. She
had helped him pack his trunk in the afternoon.
As Emil came and went by her chair with his
books, he thought to himself that it had not
been so hard to leave his sister since he first
went away to school. He was going directly to
Omaha, to read law in the office of a Swedish
lawyer until October, when he would enter the
law school at Ann Arbor. They had planned
that Alexandra was to come to Michigan--a
long journey for her--at Christmas time, and
spend several weeks with him. Nevertheless, he
felt that this leavetaking would be more final
than his earlier ones had been; that it meant a
definite break with his old home and the begin-
ning of something new--he did not know
what. His ideas about the future would not
crystallize; the more he tried to think about it,
the vaguer his conception of it became. But
one thing was clear, he told himself; it was
high time that he made good to Alexandra,
and that ought to be incentive enough to begin
As he went about gathering up his books he
felt as if he were uprooting things. At last he
threw himself down on the old slat lounge where
he had slept when he was little, and lay looking
up at the familiar cracks in the ceiling.
"Tired, Emil?" his sister asked.
"Lazy," he murmured, turning on his side
and looking at her. He studied Alexandra's
face for a long time in the lamplight. It had
never occurred to him that his sister was a
handsome woman until Marie Shabata had
told him so. Indeed, he had never thought of
her as being a woman at all, only a sister. As
he studied her bent head, he looked up at the
picture of John Bergson above the lamp.
"No," he thought to himself, "she didn't get
it there. I suppose I am more like that."
"Alexandra," he said suddenly, "that old
walnut secretary you use for a desk was
father's, wasn't it?"
Alexandra went on stitching. "Yes. It was
one of the first things he bought for the old log
house. It was a great extravagance in those
days. But he wrote a great many letters back
to the old country. He had many friends there,
and they wrote to him up to the time he died.
No one ever blamed him for grandfather's dis-
grace. I can see him now, sitting there on Sun-
days, in his white shirt, writing pages and
pages, so carefully. He wrote a fine, regular
hand, almost like engraving. Yours is some-
thing like his, when you take pains."
"Grandfather was really crooked, was he?"
"He married an unscrupulous woman, and
then--then I'm afraid he was really crooked.
When we first came here father used to have
dreams about making a great fortune and going
back to Sweden to pay back to the poor sailors
the money grandfather had lost."
Emil stirred on the lounge. "I say, that
would have been worth while, wouldn't it?
Father wasn't a bit like Lou or Oscar, was he?
I can't remember much about him before he
"Oh, not at all!" Alexandra dropped her
sewing on her knee. "He had better opportuni-
ties; not to make money, but to make some-
thing of himself. He was a quiet man, but he
was very intelligent. You would have been
proud of him, Emil."
Alexandra felt that he would like to know
there had been a man of his kin whom he
could admire. She knew that Emil was ashamed
of Lou and Oscar, because they were bigoted
and self-satisfied. He never said much about
them, but she could feel his disgust. His
brothers had shown their disapproval of him
ever since he first went away to school. The
only thing that would have satisfied them
would have been his failure at the University.
As it was, they resented every change in his
speech, in his dress, in his point of view; though
the latter they had to conjecture, for Emil
avoided talking to them about any but family
matters. All his interests they treated as
Alexandra took up her sewing again. "I can
remember father when he was quite a young
man. He belonged to some kind of a musical
society, a male chorus, in Stockholm. I can
remember going with mother to hear them sing.
There must have been a hundred of them, and
they all wore long black coats and white neck-
ties. I was used to seeing father in a blue coat,
a sort of jacket, and when I recognized him
on the platform, I was very proud. Do you
remember that Swedish song he taught you,
about the ship boy?"
"Yes. I used to sing it to the Mexicans.
They like anything different." Emil paused.
"Father had a hard fight here, didn't he?" he
"Yes, and he died in a dark time. Still, he
had hope. He believed in the land."
"And in you, I guess," Emil said to himself.
There was another period of silence; that warm,
friendly silence, full of perfect understanding,
in which Emil and Alexandra had spent many
of their happiest half-hours.
At last Emil said abruptly, "Lou and Oscar
would be better off if they were poor, wouldn't
Alexandra smiled. "Maybe. But their chil-
dren wouldn't. I have great hopes of Milly."
Emil shivered. "I don't know. Seems to me
it gets worse as it goes on. The worst of the
Swedes is that they're never willing to find out
how much they don't know. It was like that at
the University. Always so pleased with them-
selves! There's no getting behind that con-
ceited Swedish grin. The Bohemians and Ger-
mans were so different."
"Come, Emil, don't go back on your own
people. Father wasn't conceited, Uncle Otto
wasn't. Even Lou and Oscar weren't when
they were boys."
Emil looked incredulous, but he did not dis-
pute the point. He turned on his back and lay
still for a long time, his hands locked under his
head, looking up at the ceiling. Alexandra
knew that he was thinking of many things. She
felt no anxiety about Emil. She had always
believed in him, as she had believed in the
land. He had been more like himself since he
got back from Mexico; seemed glad to be at
home, and talked to her as he used to do.
She had no doubt that his wandering fit was
over, and that he would soon be settled in
"Alexandra," said Emil suddenly, "do you
remember the wild duck we saw down on the
river that time?"
His sister looked up. "I often think of her.
It always seems to me she's there still, just like
we saw her."
"I know. It's queer what things one re-
members and what things one forgets." Emil
yawned and sat up. "Well, it's time to turn
in." He rose, and going over to Alexandra
stooped down and kissed her lightly on the
cheek. "Good-night, sister. I think you did
pretty well by us."
Emil took up his lamp and went upstairs. Alexandra sat finishing his new nightshirt, that must go in the top tray of his trunk.