“So Katrina is not going to Portugallia?”
“No,” he answered. “You couldn’t get Katrina away from the hut, and I shall stay right here with her. You see when one has promised to love and cherish till death—”
“Yes, I understand that one can’t break that vow.” This was said by the young girl who seemed most eager to know about everything. “Do you hear that, all of you?” she added. “Jan won’t leave his wife though all the glories of Portugallia are tempting him.”
And think of it! The girls were very glad of this. They patted him on the back and told him he did right. That was a favourable sign, they said, for it showed that all was not over yet with good old Jan Anderson of Ruffluck Croft.
He could not make out just what they meant by that; but probably they were happy to think the parish was not going to lose him.
They bade him good-bye now, saying they were going over to Doveness to a garden party.
They had barely gone when Katrina walked in. She must have been standing outside the door listening. But how long she had stood there or how much she had heard, Jan did not know. Anyway, she looked more amiable and serene than she had appeared in a long while.
“You’re an old simpleton,” she told him. “I wonder what other women would say if they had a husband like you? But still it’s a comfort to know that you don’t want to go away from me.”
Jan Anderson of Ruffluck was not invited to the funeral of Bjoern Hindrickson of Loby.
But he understood, of course, that the family of the departed had not been quite certain that he would care to claim kinship with them now that he had risen to such glory and honour; possibly they feared it might upset their arrangements if so exalted a personage as Johannes of Portugallia were to attend the funeral.
The immediate relatives of the late Bjoern Hindrickson naturally wished to ride in the first carriage, where by rights place should have been made for him who was an emperor. They knew, to be sure, that he was not over particular about the things which seem to count for so much with most folks. It would never have occurred to him to stand in the way of those who like to sit in the place of honour at special functions. Therefore, rather than cause any ill feeling, he remained away from the house of mourning during the early forenoon, before the funeral procession had started, and went direct to the church. Not until the bells had begun tolling and the long procession had broken up on church ground did he take his place among his relatives.
When they saw Jan there they all looked a little astonished; but now he was so accustomed to seeing folks surprised at his condescension that he took it as a matter of course. No doubt they would have liked to place him at the head of the line, but then it was too late to do so, as they were already moving toward the churchyard.