He wanders there the whole night and towards midnight comes a little darkness. He is in great trouble; the heavy, sultry air seems to be still in terror of some crime which is to be committed in the morning.
He tries to calm the night by saying aloud: “I shall not do it.”
Then the most wonderful thing happens. The night is seized with a trembling dread. It is no longer the little flakes which are falling, but round about him rustle great and small wings. He hears something flying but does not know whither.
They rush by him; they graze his cheek; they touch his clothes and hands; and he understands what it is. The leaves are falling from the trees; the flowers flee from their stalks; the wings fly away from the butterflies; the song forsakes the birds.
And he understands that when the sun rises his garden will be a waste. Empty, cold, and silent winter shall reign there; no play of butterflies; no song of birds.
He remains until the light comes again, and he is almost astonished when he sees the thick masses of leaves on the trees. “What is it, then,” he says, “which is laid waste if it was not the garden? Not even a blade of grass is missing. It is I who must live in winter and cold hereafter, not the garden. It is as if the mainspring of life were gone. Ah, you old fool, this will pass like everything else. It is too much ado about a little girl.”
How very improperly “it” behaved the morning they were to leave! During the two days after the ball “it” had been rather something inspiring, something exciting; but now when Downie is to leave, when “it” realizes that the end has come, that “it” will never play any part in her life, then it changes to a death thrust, to a deathly coldness.
She feels as if she were dragging a body of stone down the stairs to the breakfast-room. She stretches out a heavy, cold hand of stone when she says good-morning; she speaks with a slow tongue of stone; smiles with hard stone lips. It is a labor, a labor.
But who can help being glad when everything is arranged according to old-fashioned faith and honor.
Uncle Theodore turns to Downie at breakfast and explains with a strangely harsh voice that he has decided to give Maurits the position of manager at Laxohyttan; but as the aforesaid young man, continued Uncle, with a strained attempt to return to his usual manner, is not much at home in practical occupations, he may not enter upon the position until he has a wife at his side. Has she, Miss Downie, tended her myrtle so well that she can have a crown and wreath in September?
She feels how he is looking into her face. She knows that he wishes to have a glance as thanks, but she does not look up.
Maurits leaps up. He embraces Uncle and makes a great deal of noise. “But, Anne-Marie, why do you not thank Uncle? You must kiss Uncle Theodore, Anne-Marie. Laxohyttan is the most beautiful place in the world. Come now, Anne-Marie!”