Katrina did so, but added: “You understand of course that that was only said to sweeten the pill for me.”
Jan meanwhile kept mum. But he could not help smiling to himself.
“What are you thinking about?” asked Katrina. “You have such a queer look on your face these days. You don’t know what they meant, do you?”
“I certainly don’t,” answered Jan. “But we ought to have enough confidence in the little girl to think all is as it should be.”
“But I’m getting so anxious—”
“The time to speak,” Jan struck in, “has not come, either for them or me. Glory Goldie herself has probably requested them not to say anything to us, So we must rest easy, Katrina, indeed we must.”
When the little girl had been gone nearly eight months, who should come stalking into the barn at Falla one fine day, while Jan stood threshing there, but Mad Ingeborg!
Mad Ingeborg was first cousin to Jan. But as she was afraid of Katrina he seldom saw her. It was to escape meeting Jan’s wife that she had sought him out at Falla during his work hours.
Jan was none too pleased to see Ingeborg! She was not exactly insane, but flighty—and a terrible chatterer. He went right on with his work, taking no notice of her.
“Stop your threshing, Jan!” she said, “so that I can tell you what I dreamed about you last night.”
“You’d better come some other time, Ingeborg,” Jan suggested. “If Lars Gunnarson hears that I’m resting from my work he’ll be sure to come over to see what’s up.”
“I’ll be as quick as quick can be. If you remember, I was the brightest child in our family, which doesn’t give me much to brag about, as the rest of you were a dull lot.”
“You were going to tell me about a dream,” Jan reminded her.
“In a minute—a minute! You mustn’t be afraid. I understand— understand: hard master now at Falla—hard master. But don’t be uneasy, for you’ll not be scolded on my account. There’s no danger of that when you’re with a sensible person like me.”
Jan would have liked to hear what she dreamed about him, for confident as he was of the ultimate realization of his great expectations, he nevertheless sought assurances from all quarters. But now Mad Ingeborg was wandering along her own thought-road and at such times it was not easy to stop her. She went very close to Jan, then, bending over him, her eyes shut tight, her head shaking, the words came pouring out of her mouth.
“Don’t be so scared. Do you suppose I’d be standing here talking to you while you’re threshing at Falla if I didn’t know the master had gone up to the forest and the mistress was down at the village selling butter. ‘Always keep them in mind,’ says the catechism. I know enough for that and take good care not to come round when they can see me.”
“Get out of the way, Ingeborg! Otherwise the flail might hit you.”