Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
When Johan Nilsen Nagel disembarks from a steamer one midsummer evening, wearing a loud yellow suit and an oversized cap and carrying only a suitcase, a violin case, and a huge fur coat, he inevitably becomes an object of curiosity in the small Norwegian coastal town to which he has come. His eccentric appearance, his unusual behavior, and his lack of any discernible purpose for being in the town make him a bizarre and mysterious stranger. The only thing that the hotelkeeper is able to learn about his guest is that he is supposedly an agronomist who just returned from abroad and plans to spend some weeks in their town.
Nagel’s first act is to befriend Johannes Grogaard, the Midget, a grotesque but likable character who survives by playing the fool for the town sadists. One night, Nagel intervenes when the Midget is being ordered by his tormentor, the deputy Reinert, to drink a glass of beer which has been used as an ashtray and to dance and grind his teeth loudly for the amusement of the hotel cafe’s patrons. Nagel beats Reinert, drives him from the hotel, and, to the astonishment of the easily astonished townspeople, invites the Midget to his room for champagne and cigars. The Midget reveals that he is from a good family (the son of a parson and a relative of one of the authors of the country’s constitution), but since an accident (a fall from the ship’s rigging while he was a sailor), he has lived with and worked for his uncle, a coal dealer....
(The entire section is 1211 words.)
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