Both the pastor and his servant spoke with much concern of the drift which always, after a heavy snow, was banked against a high boarding close to the Ingmar Farm. “If we can only clear that we are as good as at home,” they said.
The pastor remembered how often he had asked Big Ingmar to remove the high boarding that was the cause of so much snow drifting toward that particular spot. But nothing had ever been done about it. Even though everything else on the Ingmar Farm had undergone changes, certainly those old boards were never disturbed.
At last they were within sight of the farm. And, sure enough, there was the snowdrift in its usual place, as high as a wall and as hard as a rock! Here there was no possibility of their turning to one side; they had no choice but to drive right over it. The thing looked impossible, so the servant asked whether he hadn’t better go down to the farm and get some help. But to this the pastor would not consent. He had not exchanged a word with either Karin or Halvor in upward of five years, and the thought of meeting old friends with whom one is no longer on speaking terms, was no more pleasant to him than it is to most people.
So up the drift the horse had to mount. The icy crust held until the animal had reached the top, then it gave way and the horse suddenly disappeared from sight, as if into a grave, while the two men sat gazing down helplessly. One of the traces had snapped; so they could not have gone farther even if they had been able to get the horse out of the drift.
A few minutes later the pastor stepped into the living-room at the Ingmar Farm. A blazing log fire was burning on the hearth. The housewife sat at one side of the fireplace spinning fine carded wool; behind her were the maids, seated in a long row, spinning flax. The men had taken possession of the other side of the fireplace. They had just come in from their work; some were resting, others, to pass the time, had taken up some light work, such as whittling sticks, sharpening rakes, and making axe handles.
When the pastor told of his mishap, they all bestirred themselves, and the menservants went out to dig the horse out of the drift. Halvor led the pastor up to the table, and asked him to sit down. Karin sent the maids into the kitchen to make fresh coffee and to prepare a special supper. Then she took the pastor’s big fur coat and hung it in front of the fire to dry, lighted the hanging lamp, and moved her spinning wheel up to the table, so that she could talk with the menfolk.
“I couldn’t have had a better welcome had Big Ingmar himself been alive,” thought the pastor.
Halvor talked at length about the weather and the state of the roads, then he asked the clergyman if he had got a good price for his grain, and if he had succeeded in getting certain repairs made that he had been wanting for such a long time. Karin then asked after the pastor’s wife, and hoped that there had been some improvement in her health of late.