“For heaven’s sake, shut up!” she cried. “Do you want to make a laughing-stock of me by calling me an empress?”
Jan looked a little hurt, but he was over it in a twinkling. She was the Great Empress, to be sure. All that she did was right; all that she said was to him as honey and balsam. In the supreme happiness of the moment he had quite forgotten to look for the crown of gold and the field marshals in golden armour. If she wished to appear poor and humble when she came, that was her own affair. It was joy enough for him that she had come back.
One morning, just a week from the day of Glory Goldie’s homecoming, she and her mother stood at the Borg pier, ready to depart for good and all. Old Katrina was wearing a bonnet for the first time in her life, and a fine cloth coat. She was going to Malmoe with her daughter to become a fine city dame. Never more would she have to toil for her bread. She was to sit on a sofa the whole day, with her hands folded, and be free from worry and care for the remainder of her life.
But despite all the promised ease and comfort, Katrina had never felt so wretchedly unhappy as then, when standing there on the pier. Glory Goldie, seeing that her mother looked troubled, asked her if she was afraid of the water, and tried to assure her there was no danger, although it was so windy that one could hardly keep one’s footing on the pier. Glory Goldie was accustomed to seafaring and knew what she was talking about.
“These are no waves,” she said to her mother. “I see of course that there are a few little whitecaps on the water, but I wouldn’t be afraid to row across the lake in our old punt.”
Glory Goldie, who did not seem to mind the gale, remained on the pier. But Katrina, to keep from being blown to pieces, went into the freight shed and crept into a dark corner behind a couple of packing cases. There she intended to remain until the boat arrived, as she had no desire to meet any of the parish folk before leaving. At the same time she knew in her heart that what she was doing was not right, since she was ashamed to be seen by people. She had one consolation at least; she was not going away with Glory Goldie because of any desire for ease and comfort, but only because her hands were failing her. What else could she do when her fingers were becoming so useless that she could not spin any more?
Then who should come into the shed but Sexton Blackie!
Katrina prayed God he would not see her and come up and ask her where she was going. For how would she ever be able to tell him she was leaving husband and home and everything!
She had tried to bring about some arrangement whereby Jan and she could stay on at the croft. If the daughter had only been willing to send them a little money—say about ten rix-dollars a month— they could have managed fairly well. But Glory would not hear of this; she had declared that not a penny would she give them unless Katrina went along with her.