“‘But if there comes a time when no one lauds the great manors?’ insisted the peasant.
“‘You need not be uneasy at all events,’ said Ulvasa-lady. I see how health-springs bubble on Medevi meadows, by Vaetter’s shores. I believe that the wells at Medevi will bring the land as much praise as you can desire.’
“‘That is a mighty good thing to know,’ said the peasant. ’But if there comes a time when people will seek their health at other springs?’
“‘You must not give yourself any anxiety on that account,’ answered Ulvasa-lady. I see how people dig and labour, from Motala to Mem. They dig a canal right through the country, and then Oestergoetland’s praise is again on everyone’s lips.’
“But, nevertheless, the peasant looked distraught.
“‘I see that the rapids in Motala stream begin to draw wheels,’ said Ulvasa-lady—and now two bright red spots came to her cheeks, for she began to be impatient—’I hear hammers resound in Motala, and looms clatter in Norrkoeping.’
“‘Yes, that’s good to know,’ said the peasant, ’but everything is perishable, and I’m afraid that even this can be forgotten, and go into oblivion.’
“When the peasant was not satisfied even now, there was an end to the lady’s patience. ‘You say that everything is perishable,’ said she, ’but now I shall still name something which will always be like itself; and that is that such arrogant and pig-headed peasants as you will always be found in this province—until the end of time.’
“Hardly had Ulvasa-lady said this before the peasant rose—happy and satisfied—and thanked her for a good answer. Now, at last, he was satisfied, he said.
“‘Verily, I understand now how you look at it,’ then said Ulvasa-lady.
“‘Well, I look at it in this way, dear lady,’ said the peasant, ’that everything which kings and priests and noblemen and merchants build and accomplish, can only endure for a few years. But when you tell me that in Oestergoetland there will always be peasants who are honour-loving and persevering, then I know also that it will be able to keep its ancient glory. For it is only those who go bent under the eternal labour with the soil, who can hold this land in good repute and honour—from one time to another.’”
Saturday, April twenty-third.
The boy rode forward—way up in the air. He had the great Oestergoetland plain under him, and sat and counted the many white churches which towered above the small leafy groves around them. It wasn’t long before he had counted fifty. After that he became confused and couldn’t keep track of the counting.
Nearly all the farms were built up with large, whitewashed two-story houses, which looked so imposing that the boy couldn’t help admiring them. “There can’t be any peasants in this land,” he said to himself, “since I do not see any peasant farms.”