1068 WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD
Rasmus and Johanna played beside the milestone and the big willow tree.
He had high thoughts ; he meant to be a fine tailor some day and live in the town, where there were masters who had ten men on the board; he had heard that from his father ; there he would be a man, and there he would be a master, and then Johanna could come and visit him, and if she knew how to cook, she could make the food for them all and have her own big room.
Johanna dared not really believe this, but Rasmus believed that it really would happen. So they sat under the old tree and the wind moaned in the leaves and the branches: it was as if the wind sang and the tree spoke.
In the autumn every single leaf fell and the rain dripped from the bare branches.
' They will grow green again ! / said Mother Olse.
1 What is the use !' said the man. ' New year, new care for a living ! '*
' The larder is full ! ' said the wife. ' We have to thank our good lady for that. I am healthy and have good strength. It is sinful of us to complain ! '
The squire's family were at their country home for Christmas, but the week after the New Year they went to town, where they spent the winter in enjoying themselves : they went to balls and festivals with the king himself.
The lady had got two expensive dresses from France ; they were of such stuff, and such cut and sewing that the tailor's Maren had never seen the like before. She asked the lady if she might come up to the house and bring her husband also, to see the dresses. Such things had never been seen by a country tailor.
He saw them and had never a word to say, before he came home, and what he said, was only what he always said, ' What is the use !' and this time his word was true.
The family went to town ; balls and parties had begun there, but in the midst of the enjoyment the squire died, and the lady could not wear the lovely dresses. She was so sorrowful, and dressed from head to foot in black mourning clothes ; not so much as a white strip was to be seen ; all the servants were in black, even the state coach was draped with fine black cloth.