HOW FRENELI AND ULI GET OUT AND ARE FINALLY WEDDED
From this point on affairs went much better than Uli had expected, and many a time he could not but think that he was faring better than he deserved and was forcibly reminded of what his old master had said—that a good name was veritable capital and worth more than gold and goods. The rent was reasonable; but the chief thing was the extras. Some things that he liked especially, to be sure, Johannes came and seized. That was only reasonable, he said, to balance up the corn and cherry brandy that his brother-in-law had talked them out of. The extras included not only the entire live-stock, utensils and dishes, but also the house-furnishings and the servants’ beds. The appraisal was reasonable throughout, so that the receiver could not be ruined if the things ever had to be returned. There were some considerable reservations, but they could be overlooked in view of the low rent. Uli was to feed one cow for Joggeli, fatten two hogs, supply potatoes, sow one measure of flax-seed and two of hemp, and furnish a horse whenever they wanted to drive. If people are on good terms such reservations are seldom too heavy; but if misunderstandings arise, then every reservation becomes a stumbling-block.
Uli and Freneli could save most of their money and needed to buy very little; the promised dowry did not fail; they received a bed and a wardrobe as handsome as could be got in all the country round. Johannes, without waiting for their choice, sent them a handsome cradle, which Freneli would not admit for a long time, maintaining it was not meant for them.
So in some anxiety of spirit they saw the time approach when Uli was to take over the lease, given to him chiefly through confidence in his ability and loyalty. First, however, he was to be married to Freneli. Since New Year’s there had been talk of it; but the girl always had excuses for delay. Now she had not had time to think it all over; now she had just been thinking it over and had decided it was better to wait another Sunday or two; again she said she wanted to enter on her duties as mistress immediately after the wedding, and not still be servant; or else the shoemaker had her Sunday shoes, and she couldn’t go on wooden soles to the pastor to announce the marriage. So passed one Sunday after another. * * *
Then one Sunday, when the shoemaker had brought the shoes, the dear God sent a terrible snow-storm, such that no human being could take a dozen steps with open eyes, and a dark night, the thickest and blackest that ever was, interposed between heaven and earth. While the storm was at his height and snow and hail rattled against the windows and piled up a finger’s length against the frames, while the wind whistled mournfully about the roof, darkness came in at the windows thick and gloomy, so that the lamp could scarcely prevail against it, the cats crawled shivering to the back of the stove, and the dog scratched at the kitchen door and crawled under the stove with his tail between his legs, Freneli at length said, “Now Uli, get ready and we’ll go; now folks certainly won’t be watching us.” * * *