1012 POULTRY MEG'S FAMILY
she soaked her clothes in the sharp lye, and herself chopped the tree-roots for firewood.
' That 's my affair ! ' said she.
1 Have you always from childhood been obliged to work and toil ? '
1 You can see that in my hands !' said she, and showed him two small but strong, hard hands with bitten nails. * You have learning and can read.'
At Christmas it began to snow heavily. The cold came on, the wind blew sharply, as if it had vitriol to wash people's faces with. Mother Soren did not let that disturb her. She drew her cloak around her, and pulled her hood down over her head. It was dark in the house, early in the afternoon. She laid wood and turf on the fire, and set herself down to darn her stockings, there was no one else to do it. Towards evening she talked more to the student than was her custom. She spoke about her husband.
' He has by accident killed a skipper of Dragor, and for that he must work three years in irons. He is only a common sailor, and so the law must take its course.'
1 The law applies also to people of higher position,' said Holberg.
' Do you think so ?' said Mother Soren, and looked into the fire, but then she began again, ' Have you heard of Kai Lykke, who caused one of his churches to be pulled down, and when the priest thundered from the pulpit about it, he caused the priest to be laid in irons, appointed a court, and adjudged him to have forfeited his head, which was accordingly struck off ; that was not an accident, and yet Kai Lykke went free that time ! '
' He was in the right according to the times ! ' said Holberg, ' now we are past that! '
1 You can try to make fools believe that,' said Mother Soren as she rose and went into the room where the child lay, eased it and laid it down again, and then arranged the student's bed ; he had the leather covering, for he felt the cold more than she did, and yet he had been born in Norway.
On New Year's morning it was a real bright sunshiny day ; the frost had been and still was so strong that the drifted snow lay frozen hard, so that one could walk upon it. The bells in the town rang for church, and the student