No one could find out just how much she knew or did not know of what went on in the parish. With the advancing years, she became more and more detached, and apparently lost all interest in the things of this world. Now she just sat reading all the while in an old Postil, which she seemed to know by heart.
Living with her was a faithful old servant, who helped her dress, and prepared her meals. The two of them were in mortal fear of robbers and mice, and they were so afraid of fire that they would sit in the dark the whole evening rather than light the lamp.
Several among those who had lately become followers of Hellgum, used to call on the Dean’s widow in the old days, and bring her little gifts; but since their conversion they had separated themselves from all who were not of their faith; so they no longer went to see her. No one knew whether she understood why they did not come. Nor did anybody know whether she had heard anything about their proposed emigration to Jerusalem.
But one day the old lady took it into her head to go for a drive, and ordered the servant to get her a carriage and pair. Imagine the astonishment of the old servant! But when she attempted to remonstrate, the old lady suddenly became stone deaf. Raising her right hand, her forefinger poised in the air, she said:
“I wish to go for a drive, Sara Lena, you must find me a carriage and a pair of horses.”
There was nothing for Sara Lena but to do as she was told. So she went over to the pastor’s to ask for the loan of his rig, which was a fairly decent-looking turnout. That done, she was put to the bother of airing and brushing an old fur cape and an old velvet bonnet that had been lying in camphor twenty consecutive years. And it was no small task getting the old lady down the stairs and into the wagon! She was so feeble that it seemed as if her life could have been as easily snuffed out as a candle flame in a storm.
When the Dean’s widow was at last safely seated in the carriage, she ordered the driver to take her to the Ingmar Farm.
Maybe the folks up at the farm were not surprised when they saw who was coming! The housefolk came running out, and lifted her down from the carriage, and ushered her into the living-room. Seated at the table in there were quite a number of Hellgumists. Of late they had been in the habit of coming together and having their frugal meals in common—meals which consisted of rice and tea and other light things; this was to prepare them for the coming journey across the desert.
The Dean’s widow glanced around the room. Several persons tried to speak to her, but that day she heard nothing whatever. Suddenly she put up her hand, and said in that hard, dry voice in which deaf people are wont to speak: “You do not come to see me any more; therefore, I have come to you, to warn you not to go to Jerusalem. It is a wicked city. It was there they crucified our Saviour.”