“All at once she began to cry. Then, after a little, she became very meek and said that she had suffered so from the bad thoughts that came to her. I then walked home with her and, as we parted company, she promised me that she would do nothing rash if I would only keep a close mouth.
“Still I couldn’t help thinking that I ought to talk to some one about this,” said Kaisa. “But to whom? I felt kind of backward about going to big folk like yourselves—”
Just then the bell above the stable rang. The midday rest was over. Mother Martha suddenly interrupted the old woman: “I say, Kaisa, do you think things can ever be right again between Ingmar and Brita?”
“What?” gasped the old woman in astonishment.
“I mean, if by chance she were not going to America, do you suppose she would have him?”
“Well, I should say not!”
“Then you are quite sure she would give him no for an answer.”
“Of course she would.”
Ingmar sat on the edge of the bed, his legs dangling over the side.
“Now you got just what you needed, Ingmar,” he thought; “and now I guess you’ll take that journey to-morrow,” he said, pounding the edge of the bed with his fist. “How can mother think she’ll get me to stay at home by showing me that Brita doesn’t like me!”
He kept pounding the side of the bed, as if in thought he were knocking down something that was resisting him.
“Anyway, I’m going to chance it once more,” he decided. “We Ingmars begin all over again when things go wrong. No man that is a man can sit back calmly and let a woman fret herself insane over his conduct.”
Never had he felt so keenly his utter defeat, and he was determined to put himself right.
“I’d be a hell of a man if I couldn’t make Brita happy here!” he said.
He dealt the bedpost a last blow before getting up to go back to his work.
“As sure as you’re born it was Big Ingmar that sent old Kaisa here, in order to make me tale that trip to the city.”
Ingmar Ingmarsson had arrived in the city, and was walking slowly toward the big prison house, which was beautifully situated on the crest of a hill overlooking the public park. He did not glance about him, but went with eyes downcast, dragging himself along with as much difficulty as though he were some feeble old man. He had left off his usual picturesque peasant garb on this occasion, and was wearing a black cloth suit and a starched shirt which he had already crumpled. He felt very solemn, yet all the while he was anxious and reluctant.