And then Lady Liljecrona saw the stern, set old face in front of her soften and relax: all that had been bound in and held back gave way—grief and solicitude and love came breaking through, and the eyes overflowed.
“My only happiness is to work for him,” said the old woman. “He has become so wonderful with the years that he’s something more than just human. But for that I suppose they’ll come and take him away from me.”
THE WELCOME GREETING
She had come! The little girl had come! It is hard to find words to describe so great an event.
She did not arrive till late in the autumn, when the passenger boats that ply Lake Loeven had discontinued their trips for the season and navigation was kept up by only two small freight steamers. But on either of these she had not cared to travel—or perhaps she had not even known about them. She had come by wagon from the railway station to the Ashdales.
So after all Jan of Ruffluck did not have the pleasure of welcoming his daughter at the Borg pier, where for fifteen years he had awaited her coming. Yes, it was all of fifteen years that she had been away. For seventeen years she had been the light and life of his home, and for almost as long a time had he missed her.
It happened that Jan did not even have the good fortune to be at home to welcome Glory Goldie when she came. He had just stepped over to Falla to chat a while with the old mistress, who had now moved out of the big farmhouse and was living in an attic room in one of the cottages on the estate. She was one of many lonely old people on whom the Emperor of Portugallia peeped in occasionally, to speak a word of cheer so as to keep them in good spirits.
It was only Katrina who stood at the door and received the little girl on her homecoming. She had been sitting at the spinning wheel all day and had just stopped to rest for a moment, when she heard the rattle of a team down the road. It so seldom happened that any one drove through the Ashdales that she stepped to the door to listen. Then she discovered that it was not a common cart that was coming, but a spring wagon. All at once her hands began to tremble. They had a way of doing that now whenever she became frightened or perturbed. Otherwise, she was well and strong despite her two and seventy years. She was only fearful lest this trembling of the hands should increase so that she would no longer be able to earn the bread for herself and Jan, as she had done thus far.
By this time Katrina had practically abandoned all hope of ever seeing the daughter again, and that day she had not even been in her thought. But instantly she heard the rumble of wagon wheels she knew for a certainty who was coming. She went over to the chest of drawers to take out a fresh apron, but her hands shook so hard that she could not insert the key into the keyhole. Now it was impossible for her to better her attire, therefore she had to go meet her daughter just as she was.