At that point the pastor’s man came in and reported that the horse had been dug out, the trace mended, and that all was in readiness to start. But Karin and Halvor pressed the pastor to stay to supper, and would not take no for an answer.
The coffee tray was brought in. On it were the large silver coffee urn and the precious old silver sugar bowl, which was never used save at such high functions as weddings and funerals, and there were three big silver cake baskets full of fresh rusks and cookies.
The pastor’s small, round eyes grew big with astonishment; he sat as if in a trance, afraid of being awakened.
Halvor showed the pastor the skin of an elk, which had been shot in the woods on the Ingmar Farm. The skin was then spread out upon the floor. The pastor declared that he had never seen a larger or more beautiful hide. Then Karin went up to Halvor and whispered in his ear. Immediately Halvor turned to the clergyman, and asked him to accept the skin as a gift.
Karin bustled back and forth, between the table and the cupboard, and brought out some choice old silverware. She had spread a fine hemstitched cloth on the table, which she was dressing as if for a grand party. She poured milk and unfermented beer into huge silver jugs.
When they had finished supper, the pastor excused himself, and rose to go. Halvor Halvorsson and two of his hired men went with him to open a way through the drifts, steadying the sledge whenever it was about to upset, and never leaving him till he was safe within his own dooryard.
The parson was thinking how pleasant it was to renew old friendships, as he bade Halvor a hearty good-bye. Halvor stood feeling for something in his pocket. Presently he pulled out a slip of folded paper. He wondered whether the pastor would mind taking it now. It was an announcement which was to be read after the service in the morning. If the pastor would be good enough to take it, it would save him the bother of sending it to the church by a special messenger.
When the pastor had gone inside, he lighted the lamp, unfolded the paper, and read:
“In consequence of the owner’s contemplated removal to Jerusalem, the Ingmar Farm is offered for sale—”
He read no farther. “Well, well, so now it has come upon us,” he murmured, as if speaking of a storm. “This is what I’ve been expecting for many a long year!”
It was a beautiful day in spring. A peasant and his son were on their way to the great ironworks, which are situated close to the southern boundary of the parish. As they lived up at the north end, they had to traverse almost the entire length of the parish. They went past newly sown fields, where the grain was just beginning to spring up. They saw all the green rye fields and all the fine meadows, where the clover would soon be reddening and sending forth its sweet fragrance.