Amrei told Black Marianne that a wonder had happened to her; Farmer Landfried, whose wife she so often thought about, had spoken to her and had taken her part in a talk with Farmer Rodel, and had given her something. She then displayed the piece of money, and Marianne called out, laughing:
“Yes, I might have guessed myself that it was Farmer Landfried. That’s just like him—to give a poor child a bad groschen!”
“Why is it bad?” asked Amrei; and the tears came into her eyes.
“Why, that’s a bird groschen—they’re not worth full value—they’re worth only a kreutzer and a half.”
“Then he intended to give me only a kreutzer and a half,” said Amrei decidedly.
And here for the first time an inward contrast showed itself between Amrei and Black Marianne. The latter almost rejoiced at every bad thing she heard about people, whereas Amrei put a good construction on everything. She was always happy, and no matter how frequently in her solitude she burst into tears, she never expected anything, and hence everything that she received was a surprise to her, and she was all the more thankful for it.
[Amrei hoped that her meeting with Farmer Landfried would result in his coming to take her to live with him, but she hoped in vain, for she watched the geese all summer long, and did not see or hear of him again.]
THE WOMAN WHO BAKED HER OWN BREAD
A woman who leads a solitary, isolated life and bakes bread for herself quite alone, is called an “Eigenbroetlerin” (a woman who bakes her own bread), and such a woman, as a rule, has all kinds of peculiarities. No one had more right or more inclination to be an “Eigenbroetlerin” than did Black Marianne, although she never had anything to bake; for oatmeal and potatoes and potatoes and oatmeal were the only things she ever ate. She always lived by herself, and did not like to associate with other people. Only along toward autumn did she become restless and impatient; about that time of the year she would talk to herself a great deal, and would often accost people of her own accord, especially strangers who happened to be passing through the village. For she was anxious to find out whether the masons from this or that place had yet returned home for the winter, and whether they had brought news of her John. While she was once more boiling and washing the linen she had been bleaching all summer long, for which purpose she remained up all night, she would always be muttering to herself. No one could understand exactly what she said, but the burden of it was intelligible, for it was always: “That is for me, and that is for thee.” She was in the habit of saying twelve Paternosters daily for her John, but on this particular washing-night they became innumerable. When the first snow fell she was always especially cheerful; for then there could be no more outdoor work, and then he would be most likely to come home. At these times she would often talk to a white hen which she kept in a coop, telling it that it would have to be killed when John came. She had repeated these proceedings for many years, and people never ceased telling her that she was foolish to be thus continually thinking of the return of her John.