Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Studies in the slums

I looked to where he pointed. On the wall, near the small looking-glass, hung a round cap with hanging fox's tail—such a cap as the half-bloods of our north-western forests wear, and the peasants of the European North as well.

Jan smiled as he saw my puzzled look. "It iss vy I say I vill tell it all," he went on in his grave, steady voice. "Ven I see dat it iss to see de North. For, see, it vas not alvays I am in de city. No. It iss true I am many years in Stockholm, but I am not Swede: I am Finn—yes, true Finn—and know my own tongue vell, and dat iss vat some Finns vill nefer do. I haf learn to read Swedish, for I must. Our own tongue iss not for us, but I learn it, and Brita dere, she know it too. Brita iss of Helsingfors, and I am of de country far out, but I come dere vid fur, for I hunt many months each year. Den I know Brita, and ve marry, and I must stay in de city, and I am strong; and first I am porter, but soon dey know I read and can be drusted, and it iss china dat I must put in boxes all day, and I know soon how to touch it so as it nefer break.

"But dere is not money. My Brita iss born, and little Jan, and I dink alvay, 'I must haf home vere dey may know more;' and all de days it iss America dat dey say iss home for all, and much money—so much no man can be hungry, and vork iss for all. Brita iss ready, and soon ve come, and all de children glad. Yes, dere are six, and good children dat lofe us, and I say efery day, 'Oh, my God, but you are so good! and my life lofes you, for so much good I haf.' Brita too iss happy. She vork hard, but ve do not care, and ve dink, 'Soon ve can rest a little, for it iss not so hard dere as here;' and ve sail to America.

Studies in the slums. IV Jan of the north in
Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 26, October, 1880

No comments:

Frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland

 I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent an...