“Look you, child, you have wrought a miracle upon the Farmer. Even now I can’t understand how he came to give in—but you have not entirely converted him yet. My husband is always talking about it, saying what a pity it is that you have nothing of your own. He can’t get over it, and keeps thinking that you must have a neat little sum tucked away somewhere, and that you are deceiving us about it, merely to find out if we are content to take you as you are. He won’t let himself be talked out of that notion, and so I hit upon an idea. God will not impute it to us as a sin. Look—this is what I have saved during the thirty-six years my husband and I have kept house together. There was no deception about it, and some of it I inherited from my mother anyway. But now you take it and say it is your property. It will make the Farmer very happy, especially since he was clever enough to suspect it beforehand. Why do you look at me in such a confused way? Believe me when I tell you that you may do it—there is no wrong in it, for I have thought it over time and again. Now, go and hide it, and don’t say a word against it—not a single word. Don’t thank me or do anything—for it’s the same to me whether my child gets it now or later, and it will please my husband while he’s yet alive. And now, quick!—tie it up again!”
Early the next morning Amrei told John all about what his parents had said to her, and what they had given her. And John cried out joyously:
“Lord in heaven, forgive me! I could have believed such a thing of my mother, but of my father I should never have dreamt it! Why, you must be a witch! And look you! We will do that—we won’t tell either of them about the other. And the best part of it is, that each wants to deceive the other, whereas, in reality, both of them will be deceived! Yes, they must both think that you really had some extra money! Hurrah! That will be a merry jest for the betrothal party!”
But in the midst of all the joy in the house there were all sorts of anxieties too!
IN THE FAMILY CIRCLE
It is not morality that rules the world, but a hardened form of it called “custom.” As the world is now disposed, it would rather forgive an offense against morality than an offense against custom. Happy are those times and countries in which morality and custom are still one. Every dispute that arises, on a small scale as well as on a large one, in general as well as in particular, hinges on the effort to reconcile the contradiction between these two; and to melt the hardened form of custom back into the true ore of morality, and stamp the coin anew according to its value.
Even here, in this little story dealing with people who live apart from the great tumult of the world, the reflection of this truth is seen.
The mother, who was secretly the most rejoiced over the happy realization of her hopes, was yet full of peculiar anxiety concerning the opinion of the world.