656 THE GIRL WHO TROD ON THE LOAF
things. She would take cockchafers and beetles, and spit them on pins. Then she pushed a green leaf or a little scrap of paper towards their feet, and the poor creatures seized it, and held it fast, and turned it over and over, struggling to get free from the pin.
* The cockchafer is reading,5 said little Inger. ' See how he turns the leaf ! '
With years she grew worse rather than better ; but she was pretty, and that was her misfortune; otherwise she would have been more sharply reproved than she was.
* Your headstrong will requires something strong to break it ! ' her own mother often said. ' As a little child, you used to trample on my apron ; but I fear you will one day trample on my heart.'
And that is what she really did.
She was sent into the country, into service in the house of rich people, who treated her as their own child, and dressed her accordingly. She looked well, and her presumption increased.
When she had been there about a year, her mistress said to her, ' You ought now to visit your parents, Inger.'
And she went too, but it was only to show herself, that they might see how grand she had become ; but when she came to the entrance of the village, and the young husbandmen and maids stood there chatting, and her own mother appeared among them, sitting on a stone to rest, and with a faggot of sticks before her that she had picked up in the wood, then Inger turned back, for she felt ashamed that she, who was so finely dressed, should have for a mother a ragged woman, who picked up wood in the forest. She did not in the least feel sorry for having turned back, she was only annoyed.
And another half-year went by, and her mistress said again, ' You ought to go to your home, and visit your old parents, Inger. I'll make you a present of a great wheaten loaf that you may give to them : they will certainly be glad to see you again.'
And Inger put on her best clothes, and her new shoes, and drew her skirts around her, and set out, stepping very carefully, that she might be clean and neat about the feet; and there was no harm in that. But when she came to