Poor Maurits! it seems that his uncle is angry with him on her account. He asks if Maurits does not know that his uncle is a bachelor when he brings his betrothed here without bringing her mother with him. Her mother! Downie is offended in Maurits’s behalf. It was her mother who had excused herself and said that she could not leave the bakery. Maurits answers so too, but his uncle will accept no excuses.—Well, his mother, then; she could have done her son that service. Yes, if she had been too haughty they had better have stayed where they were. What would they have done if his old lady had not been able to come? And how could a betrothed couple travel alone through the country?—Really, Maurits was not dangerous. No, that he had never believed, but people’s tongues are dangerous.—Well, and finally it was that chaise! Had Maurits ferreted out the most ridiculous vehicle in the whole town? To let that child shake thirty miles in a chaise, and to let him raise a triumphal arch for a chaise!—He would like to shake him again! To let his uncle shout hurrah for a tip-cart! He was getting too unreasonable. How she admired Maurits for being so calm! She would like to join in the game and defend Maurits, but she does not believe that he would like it.
And before she goes to sleep, she lies and thinks out everything she would have said to defend Maurits. Then she falls asleep and starts up again, and in her ears rings an old saying:—
“A dog stood on a mountain-top,
He barked aloud and would not stop.
His name was you, His name was I,
His name was all in Earth and Sky.
What was his name?
His name was why.”
The saying had irritated her many a time. Oh, how stupid she had thought the dog was! But now half asleep, she confuses the dog “What” with Maurits and she thinks that the dog has his white forehead. Then she laughs. She laughs as easily as she cries. She has inherited that from her father.
How has “it” come? That which she dares not call by name?
“It” has come like the dew to the grass, like the color to the rose, like the sweetness to the berry, imperceptibly and gently without announcing itself beforehand.
It is also no matter how “it” came or what “it” is. Were it good or evil, fair or foul, still it is forbidden; that which never ought to exist. “It” makes her anxious, sinful, unhappy.
“It” is that of which she never wishes to think. “It” is what shall be torn away and thrown out; and yet it is nothing that can be seized and caught. She shuts her heart to “it,” but it comes in just the same. “It” turns back the blood in her veins and flows there, drives the thoughts from her brain and reigns there, dances through her nerves and trembles in her finger-tips. It is everywhere in her, so that if she had been able to take away everything else of which her body consisted and to have left “it” behind, there would remain a complete impression of her. And yet “it” was nothing.