“Lord, as I live, it’s a painter!” he remarked to himself. “And to think of his coming just now!” He was so dumbfounded that he could not answer the man. He distinctly recalled that every time any one had said to his father: “You ought to have that big, ugly house of yours painted, Father Ingmar,” the old man had always replied that he would have it done the year Ingmar married.
The painter put the question a second time, and a third, but Ingmar stood there, dazed, as if he had not understood him.
“Are they ready at last with their answer?” he wondered. “Is this a message from father to say that he wishes me to marry this year?”
He was so overwhelmed by the thought that he hired the man on the spot. Then he went on with his plowing, deeply moved and almost happy.
“You’ll see it won’t be so very hard to do this now that you know for certain it is father’s wish,” he said.
A fortnight later Ingmar Ingmarsson stood polishing some harness. He seemed to be in a bad humour, and found the work rather irksome. “Were I in our Lord’s place,” he thought, then put in another rub or two and beg again: “Were I in our Lord’s place, I’d see to it that a thing was done the instant your mind was made up. I shouldn’t allow folks such a long time to think it over, and ponder all the obstacles. I shouldn’t give them time to polish harness and paint wagons; I’d take them straight from the plow.”
He caught the sound of wagon wheels from the road, and looked out. He knew at once whose rig it was. “The senator from Bergskog is coming!” he shouted into the kitchen, where his mother was at work. Instantly fresh wood was laid on the fire and the coffee mill was set going.
The senator drove into the yard, where he pulled up without alighting. “No, I’m not going into the house,” he said, “I only want a word or two with you, Ingmar. I’m rather pressed for time as I am due at the parish meeting.”
“Mother is just making some fresh coffee,” said Ingmar.
“Thank you, but I must not be late.”
“It’s a good while now since you were here, Senator,” said Ingmar pressingly.
Then Ingmar’s mother appeared in the doorway, and protested:
“Surely you’re not thinking of going without first coming in for a drop of coffee?”
Ingmar unbuttoned the carriage apron, and the senator began to move. “Seeing it’s Mother Martha herself that commands me I suppose I shall have to obey,” he said.
The senator was a tall man of striking appearance, with a certain ease of manner. He was of a totally different stamp from Ingmar or his mother, who were very plain looking, with sleepy faces and clumsy bodies. But all the same, the senator had a profound respect for the old family of Ingmars, and would gladly have sacrificed his own active exterior to be like Ingmar, and to become one of the Ingmassons. He had always taken Ingmar’s part against his own daughter, so felt rather light of heart at being so well received.