“He’ll come again to-morrow,” thought Jan, “and then we’ll hear all about it.”
But for some reason the seine-maker did not come back the next day, nor the day after. By the third day Jan had become so impatient to see his old friend that he got up and went over to his cabin, to find out whether there was anything in what he had said.
The old man was sitting alone mending a drag-net when Jan came in. He was so crippled from rheumatism, he said, he had been unable to leave the house for several days.
Jan did not want to ask him outright if he had received a letter from Glory Goldie. He thought he would attain his object more easily by approaching it in the indirect way the other had taken. So he said:
“I’ve been thinking of what you told us about Glory Goldie the last time you were at our place.”
The seine-maker looked up from his work, puzzled. It was some little time before he comprehended what Jan alluded to. “Why, that was just a little whimsey of mine,” he returned presently.
Then Jan went very close to the old man. “Anyhow it was something pleasant to listen to,” he said. “You might have told us more, perhaps, if Katrina hadn’t been so mistrustful?”
“Oh, yes,” replied the seine-maker. “This is the sort of amusement one can afford to indulge in down here, in the Ashdales.”
“I have thought,” continued Jan, emboldened by the encouragement, “that maybe the story didn’t end with the old lady giving Glory Goldie the ten rix-dollars. Perhaps she also invited the girl to come to see her?”
“Maybe she did,” said the seine-maker.
“Maybe she’s so rich that she owns a whole stone house?”
“That was a happy thought, friend Jan!”
“And maybe the rich old lady will pay Glory Goldie’s debt?” Jan began, but stopped short, because the old man’s daughter-in-law had just come in, and of course he did not care to let her into the secret.
“So you’re out to-day, Jan,” observed the daughter-in-law. “I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
“For that I have to thank my good friend Ol’ Bengtsa!” said Jan, with an air of mystery. “He’s the one who has cured me.”
Jan said good-bye, and left at once. For a long while the seine-maker sat gazing out after him.
“I don’t know what he can have meant by saying that I have cured him,” the old man remarked to his daughter-in-law. “It can’t be that he’s—? No, no!”
One evening, toward the close of autumn, Jan was on his way home from Falla, where he had been threshing all day. After his talk with the seine-maker his desire for work had come back to him. He felt now that he must do what he could to keep up so that the little girl on her return would not be subjected to the humiliation of finding her parents reduced to the condition of paupers.