At all events they got there finally. Strange to say, they found Eric of Falla in fairly good condition; he was not much hurt and no bones were broken. One of his thighs had been lacerated by a branch, and there he had an ugly wound; still it was nothing but what he could recover from.
When Jan went back to his work the next morning he learned that Eric had a high fever and was suffering intense pain. While lying on the frozen ground he had caught a severe cold, which developed into pneumonia, and within a fortnight he was dead.
THE RED DRESS
The summer the young girl was in her seventeenth year she went to church one Sunday with her parents. On the way she had worn a shawl, which she slipped off when she came to the church knoll. Then everybody noticed that she was wearing a dress such as had never before been seen in the parish.
A travelling merchant, one of the kind that goes about with a huge pack on his back, had found his way to the Ashdales, and on seeing Glory Goldie in all the glow and freshness of her youth he had taken from his pack a piece of dress goods which he tried to induce her parents to buy for her. The cloth was a changeable red, of a texture almost like satin and as costly as it was beautiful. Of course Jan and Katrina could not afford to buy for their girl a dress of that sort, though Jan, at least, would have liked nothing better.
Fancy! When the merchant had vainly pressed and begged the parents for a long while he grew terribly excited because he could not have his way. He said he had set his heart on their daughter having the dress, that he had not seen another girl in the whole parish who would set it off as well as she could. Whereupon he had measured and cut off as much of the cloth as was needed for a frock, and presented it to Glory Goldie. He did not want any payment, all he asked was to see the young girl dressed in the red frock the next time he came to Ruffluck.
Afterward the frock was made up by the best seamstress in the parish, the one who sewed for the young ladies at Loevdala Manor, and when Glory Goldie tried it on the effect was so perfect that one would have thought the two had blossomed together on one of the lovely wild briar bushes out in the forest.
The Sunday Glory Goldie showed herself at church in her new dress, nothing could have kept Jan and Katrina at home, so curious were they to hear what folks would say.
And it turned out, as has been said, that everybody noticed the red dress. When the astonished folk had looked at it once they turned and looked again; the second time, however, they glanced not only at the dress but at the young girl who wore it.
Some had already heard the story of the dress. Others wanted to know how it happened that a poor cotter’s lass stood there in such fine raiment. Then of course Katrina and Jan had to tell them all about the travelling merchant’s visit, and when they learned how it had come about they were all glad that Fortuna had thought of taking a little peep into the humble home down in the Ashdales.