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When Lage and his servants came home to Kvaerk with the mournful tidings of Aasa's disappearance, no one knew what to do or say. There could be no doubt that Aasa was "mountain-taken," as they call it; for there were Trolds and dwarfs in all the rocks and forests round about, and they would hardly let slip the chance of alluring so fair a maiden as Aasa was into their castles in the mountains.

Aasa's love, whether conscious or not, was to him an everlasting source of strength, was a revelation of himself to himself, and a clearing and widening power which brought ever more and more of the universe within the scope of his vision. So they lived on from day to day and from week to week, and, as old Lage remarked, never had Kvaerk been the scene of so much happiness.

There was not a little astonishment manifested among the servant-maids at Kvaerk the next morning, when the huge, gaunt figure of a man was seen to launch forth from Aasa's alcove, and the strangest of all was, that Aasa herself appeared to be as much astonished as the rest.

Aasa's beauty, however, was also of a very unusual kind; not the tame sweetness so common in her sex, but something of the beauty of the falcon, when it swoops down upon the unwatchful sparrow or soars round the lonely crags; something of the mystic depth of the dark tarn, when with bodeful trembling you gaze down into it, and see its weird traditions rise from its depth and hover over the pine-tops in the morning fog.

Gloomy as Lage usually was, he had his brighter moments, and people noticed that these were most likely to occur when Aasa, his daughter, was near. Lage was probably also the only being whom Aasa's presence could cheer; on other people it seemed to have the very opposite effect; for Aasa was according to the testimony of those who knew her the most peculiar creature that ever was born.

Vigfusson shook hands with them all, thanked them for their kindness to him, and promised to return; he held Aasa's hand long in his, but when he released it, it dropped helplessly at her side.

But as they came down toward the brink whence the path leads between the two adjoining rye-fields, they heard a sweet, sad voice crooning some old ditty down between the birch-trees at the precipice; they stopped to listen, and soon recognized Aasa's yellow hair over the tops the rye; the shadow as of a painful emotion flitted over the father's countenance, and he turned his back on his guest and started to go; then again paused, and said, imploringly, "Try to get her home if you can, friend Vigfusson."

But the illusion was of brief duration; for Aasa's thoughts had taken a widely different course; it was but seldom she had found herself under the necessity of making a decision; and now it evidently devolved upon her to find the stranger a place of rest for the night; so instead of an elf-maid's kiss and a silver palace, he soon found himself huddled into a dark little alcove in the wall, where he was told to go to sleep, while Aasa wandered over to the empty cow-stables, and threw herself down in the hay by the side of two sleeping milkmaids.

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