Then the bride, escorted by both bridesmaids, entered the door, holding her head stiff and firm under the quivering gold crown, as if she were afraid of losing the ornament. She offered her hand to her father, and, without looking up, bade him a good morning. The old man, without any show of feeling, replied “Thank you,” and assumed his previous posture. The bride sat down at the other side of the door, put her spinning-wheel in front of her and began to spin industriously, an occupation which custom required her to continue until the moment the bridegroom arrived and conducted her to the bridal carriage.
In the distance faint notes of music were heard, which announced the approach of the bridal carriage. But even this sign that the decisive moment was at hand, the moment which separates a child from the parental house and shoves the father into the background so far as his child’s dependence is concerned, did not produce any commotion at all among the people, who, like models of old usages, were sitting on either side of the door. The daughter, very red, but with a look of unconcern, spun away unwearyingly; the father looked steadily ahead of him, and neither of them, bride or father, said a word to the other.
The first bridesmaid, in the meanwhile, was out in the orchard gathering a bouquet for the bridegroom. She selected late roses, fire-lilies, orange-yellow starworts—a flower which in that locality they call “The-Longer-the-Prettier” and in other places “The Jesus Flowerlet”—and sage. The bouquet finally grew to such proportions that it could have sufficed for three bridegrooms of high rank—for peasants must always do things on a large scale. But all together it did not smell any too sweet, for the sage emitted a strange odor, and the starworts a positively bad one. On the other hand, neither of them, especially the sage, could be left out, if the bouquet was to possess the traditional completeness. When she had it ready, the girl held it out before her with proud enjoyment, and tied it together with a broad, dark-red ribbon. She then went to take her place beside the bride.
THE HUNTER AND HIS PREY
While the ceremony was thus monopolizing the entire Oberhof, there were, wholly without ceremony, two young people together upstairs in the room which the Hunter had formerly occupied. The young girl was sitting at a little table by the window and hemming a beautiful kerchief which the Hunter had bought for her in the city and given to her for a wedding-day adornment. She pricked her finger more often today than on the evening when she was helping the bride with her linen. For when the eyes do not watch the needle, it is apt to take its own malicious course.