The senator turned his head and stared at the seine-maker. “Ol’ Bengtsa of Lusterby has not always been so afraid of meeting Carl Carlson of Storvik,” he observed in a mild voice. Turning toward the table again, he took up a letter.
Every one was dumbfounded. The senator had actually spoken in a friendly tone. He could almost be said to have smiled.
“The fact is,” he began, “a couple of days ago I received a communication from a person who calls herself Glory Goldie Sunnycastle, daughter of Jan of Ruffluck, in which she says she left home some months ago to try to earn two-hundred rix-dollars, which sum her parents have to pay to Lars Gunnarson of Falla on the first day of October in order to obtain full rights of ownership to the land on which their hut stands.”
Here the senator paused a moment so that his hearers would be able to follow him.
“And now she sends the money to me,” he continued, “with the request that I come down to the Ashdales and see that this matter is properly settled with the new owner of Falla; so that he won’t be able to play any new trick later on.”
“That girl has got some sense in her head,” the senator remarked as he folded the letter. “She turns to me from the start. If all did as she has done there would be less cheating and injustice in this parish.”
Before the close of that remark Jan was sitting on the edge of the bed. “But the girl? Where is she?” he asked.
“And now I’d like to know,” the senator proceeded, taking no notice of Jan’s question, “whether the parents are in accord with the daughter and authorize me to close—”
“But the girl, the girl?” Jan struck in. “Where is she?”
“Where she is?” said the senator, looking in the letter to see. “She says it was impossible for her to earn all this money in just two or three months, but she has found a place with a kind lady, who advanced her the money, and now she will have to stay with the lady until she has made it good.”
“Then she’s not coming home?” Jan asked.
“No, not for the present, as I understand it,” replied the senator.
Again Jan lay down on the bed and turned his face to the wall.
What did he care for the hut and all that? What was the good of his going on living, when his little girl was not coming back?
The first few weeks after the senator’s call Jan was unable to do a stroke of work: he just lay abed and grieved. Every morning he rose and put on his clothes, intending to go to his work; but before he was outside the door he felt so weak and weary that all he could do was to go back to bed.
Katrina tried to be patient with Jan, for she understood that pining, like any other sickness, had to run its course. Yet she could not help wondering how long it would be before Jan’s intense yearning for Glory Goldie subsided. “Perhaps he’ll be lying round like this till Christmas!” she thought. “Or possibly the whole winter?”