Karin was about beside herself at the sight of all this blood. The great love which she had always felt or Ingmar kindled with new ardour. Now she was proud of her brother, and thought him a stout branch of the good old family tree.
“Oh, Ingmar!” she cried, “you’ll have to answer before God and your fellowmen if you go on spilling your life’s blood in this way. You know, if there is anything I can do to make you want to live, you have only to speak.”
Ingmar halted, and put his arm around the stem of a tree to hold himself up. Then, with a cynical laugh, he said: “Perhaps you’ll send Hellgum back to America?”
Karin stood looking down at the pool of blood that was forming around Ingmar’s left foot, pondering over the thing her brother wanted her to do. Could it be that he expected her to leave the beautiful Garden of Paradise where she had lived all winter, and go back to the wretched world of sin she had come out of?
Ingmar turned round squarely; his face was waxen, the skin across his temples was tightly drawn, and his nose was like that of a dead person; but his under lip protruded with a determination that he had never before shown, and the set look about the mouth was sharply defined. It was not likely that he would modify his demand.
“I don’t think that Hellgum and I can live in the same parish,” he said, “but it’s plain enough that I must make way for him.”
“No,” cried Karin quickly, “if you will only let me care for you, so that your life may be spared to us, I promise you that I will see that Hellgum goes away. God will surely find us another shepherd,” thought Karin, “but for the time being it seems best to let Ingmar have his way.”
After she had staunched the wound, she helped Ingmar home and put him to bed. He was not badly wounded. All he needed was to rest quietly for a few days. He lay abed in a room upstairs, and Karin tended him and watched over him like a baby.
The first day Ingmar was delirious, and lived over all that had happened to him in the morning. Karin soon discovered that Hellgum and the sawmill were not the only things that had caused him anxiety. By evening his mind was clear and tranquil; then Karin said to him: “There is some one who wishes to speak to you.”
Ingmar replied that he felt too tired to talk to any one.
“But I think this will do you good.”
Directly afterward Gertrude came into the room. She looked quite solemn and troubled. Ingmar had been fond of Gertrude even in the old days, when she was full of fun, and provoking. But at that time something within him had always fought against his love. But now Gertrude had passed through a trying year of longing and unrest, which had wrought such a wonderful change in her that Ingmar felt an uncontrollable longing to win her. When Gertrude came over to the bed, Ingmar put his hand up to his eyes.
“Don’t you want to see me?” she asked.