296 THE ELDER TREE MOTHER
' " But first we went to school and learned something," said she, " and then we were confirmed ; we both cried, but in the afternoon we went hand in hand to the round tower, and looked out into the wide world, over Copenhagen and across the water; then we went out to Fredericks-berg, where the King and Queen were sailing in their splendid boats upon the canals."
1 " But I was obliged to sail in another fashion, and that for many years, far away on long voyages."
' " Yes, I often cried about you," she said. " I thought you were dead and gone, and lying down in the deep waters, rocked by the waves. Many a night I got up to look if the weathercock was turning. Yes, it turned indeed ; but you did not come. I remember so clearly how the rain streamed down one day. The man with the cart who fetched away the dust came to the place where I was in service. I went down to him with the dust-bin, and remained standing in the doorway. What wretched weather it was ! And just as I stood there the postman came up and gave me a letter. It was from you ! How that letter had travelled about ! I tore it open and read ; I laughed and wept at once, I was so glad. There it stood written that you were in the warm countries where the coffee-beans grow. What a delightful land that must be ! You told me so much, and I read it all while the rain was streaming down, and I stood by the dust-bin. Then somebody came and clasped me round the waist."
' " And you gave him a terrible box on the ear—one that sounded ? "
£ " I did not know that it was you. You had arrived just as quickly as your letter. And you were so handsome ; but that you are still. You had a long yellow silk handkerchief in your pocket, and a shiny hat on your head. You were so handsome ! And, gracious ! what weather it was, and how the street looked ! "
' Then we were married," said he ; "do you remember ? And then when our first little boy came, and then Marie, and Neils, and Peter and Hans Christian ? "
Yes ; and how all of these have grown up to be respectable people, and every one likes them."
1 " And their children have had little ones in their turn,"