The people who passed by Barefoot could have no idea of the strange life that was moving within her.
OUT OF A MOTHER’S HEART
While Barefoot was dreaming and working and worrying in village, field, and wood, sometimes feeling a strange thrill of joy, at other times thinking herself completely deserted, two parents were sending their child forth into the world, in the hope, to be sure, that he would return to them the richer. Yonder in Allgau, in the large farm-house known, by the sign over the door, as the “Wild Clearing,” sat Farmer Landfried and his wife, with their youngest son. The farmer was saying:
“Listen, John; it’s more than a year since you came back, and I don’t know what’s gotten into you. You came home that day like a whipped dog, and said that you would rather choose a wife here in the neighborhood—but I don’t see any signs of your doing it. If you will follow my advice once more, then I won’t say another word to persuade you.”
“Yes, I will,” said the young man, without looking up. “Well then, make one more trial—one trial is no better than no trial. And I tell you, you will make me and your mother happy if you choose a wife from our region. I may say it to your face, wife; there’s only one good breed of women in the world, and they come from our part of the country. Now, you are a sensible lad, John, and you will be sure to pick out a good one, and then you’ll thank us on your death-bed for sending you to our home to find a wife. If I could get away, I would go with you—together we would find the right one surely—but I can’t go. I’ve spoken to our George, however, and he says he’ll go with you if you ask him. Ride over, and speak to him then.”
“If I may say what I think,” answered the young man, “when I go again, I’d rather go alone. You see, it’s my way; in such a matter a second pair of eyes is superfluous—I should not like to consult any one else. If it were possible, I should even like to make myself invisible while I am looking around; but if two of us went together, we might as well have it proclaimed abroad, so that they would all dress themselves up to receive us.”
“As you will,” said the father; “you always were a strange fellow. Do you know what? Suppose you start at once; we want a mate for our white horse, so do you go out and look for one—but not in the market, of course. And when you are going about from house to house, you can see things for yourself; and on your way home you can buy a Bernese chaise-wagon. Dominic, in Endringen, they say, has three daughters as straight as organ-pipes; choose one of them—we should like to have a daughter from that house.”
“Yes,” the mother observed, “Ameile is sure to have nice daughters.”