And lo, at the edge of the bed sat a little angel of God! It was all scratched, and bleeding, from contact with the coarse bedding, and was about to go away, when it turned and felt of the fine shirt, running its tiny hands over the smooth white linen. Then, in a twinkling, it swung its legs inside the edge of the bed and lay down again, to watch over the child. At the same time up one of the bedposts crawled something black and hideous, which on seeing that the angel of God seemed about to depart, stuck its head over the bedside and grinned with glee, thinking it could creep inside and lie down in the angel’s place.
But when it saw that the angel of God still guarded the child, it began to writhe as if suffering the torments of hell, and shrank back toward the floor.
The next day the little girl was on the road to recovery. Katrina was so glad the fever was broken that she had not the heart to say anything about the spoiled wedding shirt, though she probably thought to herself that she had a fool of a husband.
CALLING ON RELATIVES
0ne Sunday afternoon Jan and Glory Goldie set out together in the direction of the big forest; the little girl was then in her fifth year.
Silent and serious, father and little daughter walked hand in hand, as if bent upon a very solemn mission. They went past the shaded birch grove, their favourite haunt, past the wild strawberry hill and the winding brook, without stopping; then, disappearing in an easterly direction, they went into the densest part of the forest; nor did they stop there. Wherever could they be going? By and by they came out on a wooded hill above Loby. From there they went down to the scale-pan, where country-road and town-road cross. They did not go to Naesta or to Nysta, and never even glanced toward Daer Fram and Pa Valln, but went farther and farther into the village. No one could have told just where they were bound for. Surely they could not be thinking of calling upon the Hindricksons, here in Loby?
To be sure Bjoern Hindrickson’s wife was a half-sister of Jan’s mother, so that Jan was actually related to the richest people in the parish, and he had a right to call Hindrickson and his wife uncle and aunt. But heretofore he had never claimed kinship with these people. Even to Katrina he had barely mentioned the fact that he had such high connections. Jan would always step out of the way when he saw Bjoern Hindrickson coming, and not even at church did he go up and shake hands with him.
But now that Jan had such a remarkable little daughter he was something more than just a poor labourer. He had a jewel to show and a flower with which to adorn himself. Therefore he was as rich as the richest, as great as the greatest, and now he was going straight to the big house of Bjoern Hindrickson to pay his respects to his fine relatives, for the first time in his life.