WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD 1069
It was a bitter, frosty night, the snow glittered and the stars shone. The heavy gun-carriage came from the town with the body to the private chapel, where it was to be placed in the family vault. The steward and the parish beadle sat on horseback with torches before the churchyard gate. The church was lighted up, and the priest stood in the open church door to receive the body! The coffin was carried up into the choir, and all the people followed it. The priest made a speech and a psalm was sung. The lady was in the church, she had driven there in the black-draped state carriage ; it was black inside and out, and the like had never been seen in the district before.
They talked the whole winter about the squire's funeral.
' One saw there what this man signified ! ' said the country people. ' He was nobly born and he was nobly buried ! '
' What is the use of that! ' said the tailor. ' Now he has neither life nor property. We have still one of these ! '
' Don't say such things !' said Maren,' he has everlasting life in the heavenly kingdom ! '
' Who has told you that, Maren ? ' said the tailor. ' Dead men are good manure ! but this man was too superior to make profit to the earth, he must lie in a chapel vault ! '
' Don't talk so unChristian-like !' said Maren. ' I tell you again, he has everlasting life ! '
' Who has told you that, Maren ? ' repeated the tailor. And Maren threw her apron over little Rasmus so that he might not hear the conversation. She carried him over to the turf-house and wept.
' The talk you heard over there, little Rasmus, was not your father's ; it was the wicked one who went through the room, and took vour father's voice ! Say " Our Father ". We will both say it ! ' She folded the child's hands.
' Now I am glad again !' she said ; ' hold fast by yourself and our Father ! '
The year of mourning was ended, the widow was dressed in half-mourning, and she was quite light-hearted. There were rumours that she had a wooer and already thought of a second marriage. Maren knew something of it. and the priest knew a little more.
On Palm Sunday, after the service, the banns were