Karin attempted to answer the old lady, who apparently did not hear, for she went right on:
“It is a wicked city,” she repeated. “Bad people live there. ’Twas there they crucified Christ. I have come here to-day,” she added, “because this has been a good house. Ingmarsson has been a good name; it has always been a good name. Therefore, you must remain in our parish,”
Then she turned and walked out of the house. Now she had done her part, and could die in peace. This was the last service that life demanded of her.
After the old lady had gone, Karin broke into tears. “Perhaps it isn’t right for us to go,” she sighed. But she was pleased that the Dean’s widow had said that Ingmarsson was a good name—that it had always been a good name.
It was the first and only time Karin had been known to waver, or to express any doubt as to the advisability of the great undertaking.
One beautiful morning in July, a long train of carts and wagons set out from the Ingmar Farm. The Hellgumists had at last completed their arrangements, and were now leaving for Jerusalem—the first stage of their journey being the long drive to the railway station.
The procession, in moving toward the village, had to pass a wretched hovel which was called Mucklemire. The people who lived there were a disreputable lot—the kind of scum of the earth which must have sprung into being when our Lord’s eyes were turned, or when he had been busy elsewhere.
There was a whole horde of dirty, ragged youngsters on the place, who were in the habit of running loose all day, shrieking after passing vehicles, and calling the occupants bad names; there was an old crone, who usually sat by the roadside, tipsy; and there were a husband and wife who were always quarrelling and fighting, and who had never been known to do any honest work. No one could say whether they begged more than they stole, or stole more than they begged.
When the Jerusalem-farers came alongside this wretched hovel, which was about as tumbledown as a place can become where wind and storm have, for many years, been allowed to work havoc, they saw the old crone standing erect and sober at the roadside, on the same spot where she usually sat in a drunken stupor, lurching to and fro, and babbling incoherently, and with her were four of the children. All five were now washed and combed, and as decently dressed as was possible for them to be.
When the persons seated in the first cart caught sight of them, they slackened their speed and drove by very slowly; the others did likewise, walking their horses.
All the Jerusalem-farers suddenly burst into tears, the grown-ups crying softly, while the children broke into loud sobs and wails.
Nothing had so moved them as the sight of Beggar Lina standing at the roadside clean and sober. Even to this day their eyes fill when they think of her; of how on that morning she had denied herself the drink, and had come forth sober, with the grandchildren washed and combed, to do honour to their departure.