532 THE BOTTLE-NECK
being packed ; and certainly the eyes and mouth of the tanner's pretty daughter did not wear a very joyous expression just then.
The young people sauntered through the greenwood, and talked to one another. What were they talking of ? No, the bottle could not hear that, for it was in the provision basket. A long time passed before it was drawn forth ; but when that happened, there had been pleasant things going on, for all were laughing, and the tanner's daughter laughed too ; but she spoke less than before, and her cheeks glowed like two roses.
The father took the full bottle and the corkscrew in his hand. Yes, it's a strange thing to be drawn thus, the first time! The Bottle-neck could never afterwards forget that impressive moment; and indeed there was quite a convulsion within him when the cork flew out, and a great throbbing as the wine poured forth into the glasses.
' Health to the betrothed pair !' cried the papa. And every glass was emptied to the bottom, and the young mate kissed his beautiful bride.
' Happiness and blessing ! ' said the two old people. And the young man filled the glasses again.
' Safe return, and a wedding this day next year ! ' he cried ; and when the glasses were emptied, he took the bottle, raised it on high, and said, ' Thou hast been present at the happiest day of my life, thou shalt never serve another !'
And so saying, he hurled it high into the air. The tanner's daughter did not then think that she should see the bottle fly again ; and yet it was to be so. It then fell into the thick reeds on the margin of a little woodland lake ; and the Bottle-neck could remember quite plainly how it lay there for some time.
' I gave them wine, and they give me marsh water,' he said ; ' but it is well meant.'
He could no longer see the betrothed couple and the cheerful old people ; but for a long time he could hear them rejoicing and singing. Then at last came two peasant boys, and looked into the reeds ; they spied out the bottle, and took it up ; and now it was provided for.
At their home, in the wooden cottage, the eldest of