John got down and helped Amrei out of the chaise. The girl, holding the necklace, which she had put into her pocket, like a rosary in her clasped hands, prayed silently; John also took off his hat, and his lips moved. The two did not say another word to each other, but Amrei went on alone. John stood looking after her for a long time, leaning against the white horse. Once she turned about and tried to coax the dog to return to his master. But he would not go; he would run aside into the field, and then start to follow her again; and not until John whistled, did the creature come back to him.
John drove on to the mill and stopped there. He learned that his father had been there an hour ago to wait for him, but had gone away again. John was glad to hear that his father was strong and on his feet again, and glad because he knew that Amrei would now find both his parents at home. The people in the mill could not understand why John lingered with them, and yet would hardly listen to a word they said. He kept going in and out, and looking up the road toward the farm; for John was very anxious and restless. He counted the steps that Amrei had to go; now she would be in the fields, now she would have to go to this, now to that hedge; now she would be speaking to his parents. And after all he could not completely satisfy himself as to just what she would be doing.
THE FIRST HEARTH-FIRE
Meanwhile Amrei went on, wrapped in thought. Her manner showed the effect of the self-reliance she had learned to practice in her childhood. It was not for nothing that she had been accustomed to solve riddles, and that from day to day she had struggled with life’s difficulties. The whole strength of the character she had acquired was firmly and securely implanted within her. Without further question, as a man goes forward to meet a necessity, quiet and self-possessed, so did she, boldly and of good courage, go on her way.
She had not gone far when she saw a farmer sitting by the wayside, with a red cane between his legs; and on this cane he was resting his two hands and his chin.
“God greet you,” said Amrei. “Are you enjoying a rest?”
“Yes. Where are you going?”
“Up yonder to the farm. Are you going there too? If so, you may lean on me.”
“Yes, that is the way,” said the old man with a grin. “Thirty years ago I should have cared more about it, if such a pretty girl had said that to me; I should have jumped like a colt.”
“But to those who can jump like colts one doesn’t say such things,” replied Amrei, laughing.
“You are rich,” said the old man. He seemed to like to talk, and smiled as he took a pinch of snuff out of his horn snuff-box.
“How can you tell that I am rich?”
“Your teeth are worth ten thousand guilders. There’s many a one would give ten thousand guilders to have them in his mouth.”