UNDER THE WILLOW TREE 469
Everything in the room had a prosperous look, and Joanna's father received him very kindly* To the new wife he was a stranger, but she shook hands with him, and gave him some coffee.
4 Joanna will be glad to see you,' said the father : '' you have grown quite a nice young man. You shall see her presently. She is a girl who rejoices my heart, and, please God, she will rejoice it yet more. She has her own room now, and pays us rent for it.'
And the father knocked quite politely at the door, as if he were a visitor, and then they went in.
But how pretty everything was in that room ! such an apartment was certainly not to be found in all Kjoge : the Queen herself could not be more charmingly lodged. There were carpets, there were window curtains quite down to the floor, and around were flowers and pictures, and a mirror into which there was almost danger that a visitor might step, for it was as large as a door ; and there was even a velvet chair.
Knud saw all this at a glance ; and yet he saw nothing but Joanna. She was a grown maiden, quite different from what Knud had fancied her, and much more beautiful. In all Kjoge there was not a girl like her. How graceful she was, and with what an odd unfamiliar glance she looked at Knud ! But that was only for a moment, and then she rushed towards him as if she would have kissed him. She did not really do so, but she came very near it. Yes, she was certainly rejoiced at the arrival of the friend of her youth ! The tears were actually in her eyes ; and she had much to say, and many questions to put concerning all, from Knud's parents down to the elder tree and the willow, which she called Elder-mother and Willow-father, as if they had been human beings ; and indeed they might pass as such, just as well as the gingerbread cakes ; and of these she spoke too, and of their silent love, and how they had lain upon the shop-board and split in two—and then she laughed very heartily ; but the blood mounted into Knud's cheeks, and his heart beat thick and fast. No, she had not grown proud at all. And it was through her—he noticed it well—that her parents invited him to stay the whole evening with them; and she poured out the tea and gave him