A fortnight later was the wedding, and a few days after came the big November gale. One of the boats of the fishing-village was swept out into the sound. It had neither rudder nor masts, so that it was quite unmanageable. Old Mattsson and five others were on board, and they drifted about without food for two days. When they were rescued, they were in a state of exhaustion from hunger and cold. Everything in the boat was covered with ice, and their wet clothes were stiff. Old Mattsson was so chilled that he never was well again. He lay ill for two years; then death came.
Many thought that it was strange that his idea of marrying came just before the unlucky adventure, for the little woman he had got took good care of him. What would he have done if he had been alone when lying so helpless? The whole fishing-village acknowledged that he had never done anything more sensible than marrying, and the little woman won great consideration for the tenderness with which she took care of her husband.
“She will have no trouble in marrying again,” people said.
Old Mattsson told his wife, every day while he lay ill, the story of the portrait.
“You must take it when I am dead, just as you must take everything of mine,” he said.
“Do not speak of such things.”
“And you must listen to my mother’s portrait when the young men propose to you. Truly there is no one in the whole fishing-village who understands getting married better than that picture.”
Mine was the kingdom
of fancy, now I am a fallen king.
The wooden shoes clattered in uneasy measure on the pavements. The street boys hurried by. They shouted, they whistled. The houses shook, and from the courts the echo rushed out like a chained dog from his kennel.
Faces appeared behind the window-panes. Had anything happened? Was anything going on? The noise passed on towards the suburbs. The servant girls hastened after, following the street boys. They clasped their hands and screamed: “Preserve us, preserve us! Is it murder, is it fire?” No one answered. The clattering was heard far away.
After the maids came hurrying wise matrons of the town. They asked: “What is it? What is disturbing the morning calm? Is it a wedding? Is it a funeral? Is it a conflagration? What is the watchman doing? Shall the town burn up before he begins to sound the alarm?”
The whole crowd stopped before the shoemaker’s little house in the suburbs, the little house that had vines climbing about the doors and windows, and in front, between street and house, a yard-wide garden. Summer-houses of straw, arbors fit for a mouse, paths for a kitten. Everything in the best of order! Peas and beans, roses and lavender, a mouthful of grass, three gooseberry bushes and an apple-tree.