Mr. Jansen had closed up his forge in honor of our visit, and had donned a new broadcloth suit, in which he seemed as comfortable as a whale in an overcoat. Christina ran out to meet us, bright and handsome, all in white, with roses in her curly hair. The sweet-faced old lady took her to her arms, and called her “my daughter,” and kissed her, and expressed her pleasure that her son was about to marry so good and noble a girl. Mrs. Jansen held back modestly at first, a little afraid of “the great folks,” but she was brought forward by Christina, and introduced to us all. And then we had to make the acquaintance of the whole flock of blue-eyed, curly-haired, rosy-cheeked little ones, gay in white dresses and bright ribbons. Even Master Ole forgot, for a time, his enrapturing hammer and nails, and stood, with eyes like saucers, contemplating the irruption of outside barbarians. We went into the house, and there, with many a laugh and jest, the spectacled school-teacher was transformed into my own bright and happy Estella. The two girls flowed into one another, by natural affinity, like a couple of drops of quicksilver; each recognized the transparent soul in the other, and in a moment they were friends for life.
We were a jolly party. Care flew far away from us, and many a laugh and jest resounded.
“There is one thing, Christina,” said Max, “that I cannot comprehend, and of which I demand an explanation. Your name is ’Christina Jansen,’ and yet you appeared in public by the name of ’Christina Carlson.’ Now I refuse to marry you until this thing is explained; for I may be arrested and charged with bigamy for marrying two women at once! I am willing to wed ’Christina Jansen’—but what am I to do with ‘Christina Carlson’? I could be “happy with either were t’other dear charmer away.’”
Christina laughed and blushed and said:
“If you do not behave yourself you shall not have either of the Christinas. But I will tell you, my dear friend, how that happened. You must know that in our Sweden, especially in the northern part of it, where father and mother came from, we are a very primitive people—far ‘behind the age,’ you will say. And there we have no family names, like Brown or Jones or Smith; but each man is simply the son of his father, and he takes his father’s first name. Thus if ‘Peter’ has a son and he is christened ‘Ole,’ then he is ’Ole Peterson,’ or Ole the son of Peter; and if his son is called ‘John,’ then he is ‘John Oleson.’ I think, from what I have read in the books you gave me, Frank, that the same practice prevailed, centuries ago, in England, and that is how all those English names, such as Johnson, Jackson, Williamson, etc., came about. But the females of the family, in Sweden, are called ‘daughters’ or ‘dotters;’ and hence, by the custom of my race, I am ‘Christina Carl’s Dotter.’ And when Mr. Bingham asked me my name to print on his play bills, that is what I answered him; but he said ‘Christina Carl’s Dotter’ was no name at all. It would never do; and so he called me ‘Christina Carlson.’ There you have the explanation of the whole matter.”