658 THE GIRL WHO TROD ON THE LOAF
time it is because she is brewing. Into the marsh woman's brewery did Inger sink down ; and no one can endure that place long. A box of mud is a palace compared with the marsh woman's brewery. Every barrel there had an odour that almost takes away one's senses ; and the barrels stand close to each other ; and wherever there is a little opening among them, through which one might push one's way, then one cannot get through for the number of damp toads and fat snakes who are all in a tangle there. Among this company did Inger fall; and all the horrible mass of living creeping things was so icy cold, that she shuddered in all her limbs, and became stark and stiff. She continued fastened to the loaf, and the loaf drew her down as an amber button draws a fragment of straw.
The marsh woman was at home, and on that day the Devil and his grandmother had come to inspect the brewery ; and she is a venomous old woman, who is never idle : she never rides out to pay a visit without taking her work with her ; she also had it here. She sewed gadding leather to be worked into men's shoes, and that makes them wander about unable to settle anywhere. She wove webs of lies, and strung together hastily-spoken words that had fallen to the ground ; and all this was done for the injury and ruin of mankind. Yes, indeed, she knew how to sew, to weave, and to string, did this old grandmother !
Catching sight of Inger, she put up her double eye-glass, and took another look at the girl.
' That's a girl who has ability!' she observed, ' and I beg you will give me the little one as a memento of my visit here. She'll make a capital statue to stand in my grandson's antechamber.'
And Inger was given up to her, and this is how Inger came into Hell. People don't always go there by the direct path, but they can get there by roundabout routes if they have a tendency in that direction.
That was a never-ending antechamber. The visitor became giddy who looked forward, and doubly giddy when he looked back, and saw a whole crowd of people, almost utterly exhausted, waiting till the gate of mercy should be opened to them—they had to wait a long time ! Great fat waddling spiders spun webs of a thousand years over their