WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD 1071
herself knew. The tailor's wife remained in the old house and carried on the business.
It was just at that time that the new high road was opened; the old one, past the willow tree and the tailor's house, became the field way, the pond became overgrown, duck-weed covered the little pool of water that remained, the milestone fell down—it had nothing t'6 stand up for,— but the tree held itself up, strong and beautiful ; the wind whistled in the leaves and branches. The swallows flew away, the starlings flew away, but they came again in the spring, and when they came back for the fourth time, Rasmus came back to his home. He had finished his apprenticeship, was a good-looking but slender young fellow ; now he would tie up his knapsack and go to see foreign lands ; his mind was bent on that. But his mother hung on to him ; home was best! all the other children were scattered, he was the youngest, the house should be his. He could get plenty of work if he would stay in the district and be a travelling tailor, sew fourteen days at one farm, and fourteen days at another. That was also travelling. And Rasmus followed his mother's advice. So he slept again under the roof of his birthplace, and sat again under the old willow tree, and heard it moan.
He was good-looking, and could whistle like a bird, and sing both new and old songs. He was in favour at all the big farms, particularly at Klaus Hansen's, who was the second richest farmer in the district.
His daughter Elsie was like the loveliest flower, and she was always laughing ; there were people who were so ill-natured as to say that she only laughed to show her pretty teeth.
She was ready to laugh, and always in the humour to play pranks.
They fell in love with each other, but neither of them said it in so many words.
So he went about and became heavy-hearted ; he had more of his father's than his mother's disposition. The humour only came when Elsie came, then they both laughed, joked, and played tricks, but although there was good opportunity, he said never a word of his love. ' What is the use!' was his thought. ' Her parents look for riches for her, and that I have not got ; it were wisest to go