“Where’s that good-for-nothing, John? Here’s a fellow who sends his bride for us to take care of, and goes wandering about the world himself! Who ever heard of such a thing?”
Amrei then tore herself away, and said that the wagoner, or some one else, must be sent at once to the mill to get John, who was waiting there. The father declared that he ought to be left in suspense in the mill for at least three hours; that should be his punishment for having hidden in such a cowardly way behind a petticoat. And when he came home, he should wear a woman’s hood; in fact, he wouldn’t have him in the house, for when John came, he, the father, would have nothing of the bride at all, and it made him angry already to think of the foolish way in which they would carry on together.
Meanwhile the mother managed to slip away and send the quick-footed wagoner to the mill.
And now the mother thought that Amrei ought to have some refreshment. She wanted to cook an omelette immediately, but Amrei begged to be allowed to light the first fire in the house that was to prepare something for herself, and asked that she might cook something for her parents too. They let her have her way, and the two old people went with her into the kitchen. She knew how to manage it all so cleverly, seeing at a glance where everything was, and hardly requiring to ask a single question, that the old Farmer kept nodding to his wife, and said at last:
“She can do housekeeping like singing at sight; she can read it all off from the page, like the new schoolmaster.”
The three stood by the fire, which was blazing merrily, when John came in; and the fire was not blazing more merrily on the hearth than was inward happiness blazing in the eyes of all three. The hearth and its fire became a holy altar, surrounded by worshippers, who, however, only laughed and teased one another.
Amrei felt so much at home in the house that, by the second day, she was acting as if she had been brought up there from childhood. The old man followed her around and looked on, while she knowingly took things in hand and accomplished them calmly and steadily, without hurrying or resting.
There are people who, when they go to get the least thing, a plate or a jug, disturb the thoughts of everybody in the room, and seem to drag, so to speak, the attention of all present about with them. Amrei, on the contrary, knew how to manage and accomplish everything in such a way that it was restful to watch her work, and people were consequently so much the more grateful for everything she did for them. How often had the Farmer complained about the fact that, when the salt was wanted, some one always had to rise from the table to get it! But now Amrei herself set the table, and she took care to put the salt-cellar on immediately after the cloth was spread. When the Farmer praised Amrei for this, his wife said with a smile: