1066 WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD
liked ; he neither mended nor propped it. ' What is the use ! ' was his adage, and it was also his father's.
He remained in his home, the swallows flew away from it, but they came again, the faithful creatures. The starling flew away, but it came again and whistled its song; once Rasmus knew how to whistle in competition with it; now he neither whistled nor sang.
The wind moaned in the old willow tree—it still moans, it is as if one heard a song ; the wind sings it, the tree tells it; if you do not understand it, then ask old Johanna in the almshouse ; she knows, she is wise in old affairs, she is like a chronicle book, with legends and old memories.
When the house was new and good, the village tailor Ivar Olse moved into it with his wife Maren ; respectable, industrious people, both of them. Old Johanna was at that time a child, she was the daughter of the maker of wooden shoes, one of the poorest in the neighbourhood. Many a nice piece of bread and butter she got from Maren, who had no lack of food. Maren stood well with the squire's wife; she was always laughing and glad, she never allowed herself to be disheartened, she used her tongue, but also her hands ; she wielded her needle as well as her tongue, and looked after her house and her children ; there were eleven of them.
* Poor people have always a nest full of young ones ! ' grumbled the squire ; ' if one could drown them like kittens, and only keep one or two of the strongest, there would be less misfortune ! '
1 God bless me ! ' said the tailor's wife, ■ children are a blessing of God ; they are a joy in the house, each child is another Lord's Prayer! if things are straitened, and one has many mouths to feed, then one strives all the harder, finds ways and means in all respectability. Our Father does not let go, if we do not let go ! '
The squire's lady gave her her countenance, bowed in a friendly way, and patted Maren on the cheek : she had done that many times, even kissed her, but that was when she was little, and Maren her nurse-maid. They had thought much of each other, and still did so.
Every year at Christmas, came winter supplies from the big house to the tailor's house ; a barrel of meal, a pig, two geese, a stone of butter, cheese and apples. It was