The christening passed off as it should without the slightest occasion for a mishap, and Jan of Ruffluck had nothing for his intrusion. Just before the close of the service he opened the door and quietly slipped out again, into the hallway. He saw of course that everything seemed to go quite smoothly and nicely without his help.
In a little while Eric of Falla and his wife also came out into the hall. They were going across to the kitchen, where the mistress of Falla had left the child’s outer wraps and shawls. Eric went ahead and opened the door for his wife, whereupon two kittens came darting into the hallway and tumbled over each other right in front of the woman’s feet, tripping her. She felt herself going headlong and barely had time to think: “I’m falling with the child; it will be killed and I’ll be heartbroken for life,” when a strong hand seized and steadied her. Looking round she saw that her rescuer was Jan Anderson of Ruffluck, who had lingered in the hallway as if knowing he would be needed there. Before she could recover herself sufficiently to thank him, he was gone.
And when she and her husband came driving home, there stood Jan digging away. After the accident had been averted, he had felt that he might safely go back to his work.
Neither Eric nor his wife said a word to him about his unseemly behaviour. Instead, the mistress of Falla invited him in for afternoon coffee, muddy and begrimed as he was from working in the wet soil.
THE VACCINATION BEE
When the little girl of Ruffluck was to be vaccinated no one questioned the right of her father to accompany her, since that was his wish. The vaccinating took place one evening late in August. When Katrina left home, with the child, it was so dark that she was glad to have some one along who could help her over stiles and ditches, and other difficulties of the wretched road.
The vaccination bee was held that year at Falla. The housewife had made a big fire on the hearth in the living-room and thought it unnecessary to furnish any other illumination, except a thin tallow candle that burned on a small table, at which the sexton was to perform his surgical work.
The Ruffluck folk, as well as every one else, found the room uncommonly light, although it was as dim at the back as if a dark-gray wall had been raised there—making the room appear smaller than it was. And in this semi-darkness could be dimly seen a group of women with babes in arms that had to be trundled, and fed, and tended in every way.
The mothers were busy unwinding shawls and mufflers late from their little ones, drawing off their slips, and unloosing the bands of their undershirts, so that the upper portion of their little bodies could be easily exposed when the sexton called them up to the operating table.
It was remarkably quiet in the room, considering there were so many little cry-babies all gathered in one place. The youngsters seemed to be having such a good time gazing at one another they forgot to make a noise. The mothers were quiet because they wanted to hear what the sexton had to say; for he kept up a steady flow of small talk.