464 UNDER THE WILLOW TREE
streamlet that falls into the sea, it must be very pretty in summer ; and this was the opinion of the two children from neighbouring houses, who were playing there, and forcing their way through the gooseberry bushes to get to one another. In one of the gardens stood an elder tree, and in the other an old willow, and under the latter especially the children were very fond of playing : they were allowed to play there, though, indeed, the tree stood close beside the stream, and they might easily have fallen into the water. But the eye of God watches over the little ones ; if it did not, they would be badly off. And, moreover, they were very careful with respect to the water; in fact, the boy was so much afraid of it, that they could not lure him into the sea in summer, when the other children were splashing about in the waves. Accordingly, he was famously jeered and mocked at, and had to bear the jeering and mockery as best he could. But once Joanna, the neighbour's little girl, dreamed she was sailing in a boat, and Knud waded out to join her till the water rose, first to his neck, and afterwards closed right over his head. From the time when little Knud heard of this dream, he would no longer stand any one saying that he was afraid of the water, but simply referred them to Joanna's dream; that was his pride, but into the water he did not go.
Their parents, who were poor people, often visited each other, and Knud and Joanna played in the gardens and on the high road, where a row of willows had been planted beside the ditch; these trees, with their polled tops, certainly did not look beautiful, but they were not put there for ornament, but for use. The old willow tree in the garden was much handsomer, and therefore the children were fond of sitting under it. In the town itself there was a great market-place, and at the time of the fair this place was covered with whole streets of tents and booths, containing silk ribbons, boots, and everything that a person could wish for. There was great crowding, and generally the weather was rainy, and then one noticed the odour of the peasants' coats, but also the fragrance of the honey-cakes and the gingerbread, of which there was a booth quite full; and the best of it was, that the man who kept this booth came every year to lodge during the fair-time