510 IB AND CHRISTINE
going into service, and that she had been really fortunate in getting a remarkably good place, and falling into worthy hands.
' Only think ! ' he said ; ' she is going to the rich innkeeper's, in the inn at Herning, far towards the west. She is to assist the hostess in keeping the house ; and afterwards, if she takes to it well, and stays to be confirmed there, the people are going to keep her with them.'
And lb and Christine took leave of one another. People called them sweethearts ; and at parting, the girl showed lb that she had still the two nuts which he had given her long ago, during their wanderings in the forest ; and she told him, moreover, that in a drawer she had carefully kept the little wooden shoes which he had carved as a present for her in their childish days. And thereupon they parted.
lb was confirmed. But he remained in his mother's house, for he had become a clever maker of wooden shoes, and in summer he looked after the field. His mother had no one else to do this, for his father was dead.
Only seldom he got news of Christine from some passing postilion or eel-fisher. But she was well off at the rich innkeeper's ; and after she had been confirmed, she wrote a letter to her father, and sent a kind message to lb and his mother ; and in the letter there was mention made of six new shifts and a fine new gown, which Christine had received from her master and mistress. This was certainly good news.
Next spring, there was a knock one day at the door of our Ib's old mother, and behold, the boatman and Christine stepped into the room. She had come on a visit to spend a day : a carriage had to come from the Herning Inn to the next village, and she had taken the opportunity to see her friends once again. She looked as handsome as a real lady, and she had a pretty gown on, which had been well sewn, and made expressly for her. There she stood, in grand array, and lb was in his working clothes. He could not utter a word : he certainly seized her hand, and held it fast in his own, and was heartily glad ; but he could not get his tongue to obey him. Christine was not embarrassed, however, for she went on talking and talking, and, moreover, kissed lb on his mouth in the heartiest manner.