1072 WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD
away from here ! ' But he could not go away from the farm ; it was as if Elsie had bound him with a thread: he was like a trained bird for her, he sang and whistled for her pleasure and after her will.
Johanna, the shoemaker's daughter, was servant on the farm there, engaged in menial work; she drove the milk-cart out to the field, where she, with the other girls, milked the cows; she had even to drive the manure when that was wanted. She never went up to the big room, and so did not see much of Rasmus or Elsie, but she heard that they were as good as engaged.
'Rasmus comes into prosperity,' said she, 'I cannot grudge him that!' And her eyes became wet, although there was nothing to cry for.
It was market day in town. Klaus Hansen drove into it and Rasmus was with him; he sat by the side of Elsie both going and coming. He was overwhelmed with love, but said never a word about it.
1 He might say something to me about the thing ! ' thought the girl, and she was right. ' If he will not speak, then I will give him a fright ! '
And soon people were saying on the farm that the richest farmer in the neighbourhood had made love to Elsie, and so he had, but no one knew what answer she had given him.
Thoughts buzzed about in Rasmus's head.
One evening Elsie put a gold ring on her finger and asked Rasmus what it meant.
' Engagement,' said he.
' And with whom, do you think ? ' asked she.
' With the rich farmer,' said he.
' You have hit it!' said she, nodded, and slipped away.
But he also slipped away, came home to his mother's house like a madman, and packed his knapsack. Out into the wide world would he go ; his mother wept, but it was of no use. He cut himself a stick from the old willow, he whistled as if he were in a good humour, he was going out to see the grandeur of the world.
' It is a great trial for me ! ' said the mother. ' But for you it is, no doubt, the best thing to go away, and so I must just submit to it. Hold to yourself and our Lord, and so I will get you home glad and contented again ! '