The men were speechless, mostly from astonishment at Karin Ingmarsson, who looked younger and more girlish than ever before in her life.
Then Halvor said in a voice vibrant with feeling: “Karin, when I received your father’s watch, I felt that nothing greater could have happened to me; but this thing which you have just done transcends everything.”
Whereupon Berger Sven Persson, who was in many ways an excellent man, arose.
“Let us all congratulate Karin and Halvor,” he said, graciously, “for every one must know that he whom Karin, daughter of Ingmar, has chosen is a man of sterling worth.”
That an old country schoolmaster should sometimes be a little too self-confident is not surprising: for well nigh a lifetime he has imparted knowledge and given advice to his fellowmen. He sees that all the peasants are living by what he has taught, and that not one among them knows more than what he, their schoolmaster, has told them. How can he help but regard all the people in the parish as mere school children, however old they may have grown? It is only natural that he should consider himself wiser than every one else. It seems almost an impossibility for one of these regular old school persons to treat any one as a grown-up, for he looks upon each and every one as a child with dimpled cheeks and wide innocent baby eyes.
One Sunday, in the winter, just after service, the pastor and the schoolmaster stood talking together in the vestry; the conversation had turned upon the Salvation Army.
“It’s a singular idea to have hit upon,” the pastor remarked. “I never imagined that I should live to see anything of that sort!”
The schoolmaster glanced sharply at the pastor; he thought his remark entirely irrelevant. Surely the pastor could never think that such an absurd innovation would find its way into their parish.
“I don’t believe you are likely to see it, either,” he said emphatically.
The pastor, knowing that he himself was a weak and broken-down man, let the schoolmaster have things pretty much his own way, but all the same, he could not refrain from chaffing him a little, occasionally.
“How can you feel so cocksure that we shall escape the Salvation Army, Storm?” he said. “You see, when pastor and schoolmaster stand together, there’s no fear of any nuisance of that sort crowding in. Yet I’m not altogether certain, Storm, that you do stand by me. You preach to suit yourself in your Zion.”
To this the schoolmaster did not reply at once. Presently he said, quite meekly: “The pastor has never heard me preach.”