1074 WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD
fire. Elsie must now tear a leaf out of a psalm-book ; she accidentally tore out the last one, the one with the list of misprints. * It will do quite as well!' said Stine, and threw it in the pot.
Many kinds of things must go into the gruel, which must boil and constantly boil until Rasmus came home. The black cock in Stine's room must lose its red comb, it was put in the pot. Elsie's thick gold ring must also go in, and she would never get it again, Stine told her beforehand. Stine was so wise. Many things which we do not know the names of went into the pot; it stood constantly on the fire, or on glowing embers, or hot ashes. Only she and Elsie knew about it.
The moon waxed and waned ; and always Elsie came and asked, * Do you not see him coming ? '
1 Much I know,' said Stine, ' and much I see, but the length of the way for him I cannot see. Now he is over the first mountain ! now he is on the sea in bad weather ! The way is long through the great woods, he has blisters on his feet, he has fever in his body, but he must go on ! '
1 No ! no !' said Elsie, ' I am sorry for him ! '
1 He cannot be stopped now ! for if we do that he will drop dead on the highway ! '
A year and a day had gone. The moon shone round and big, the wind moaned in the old tree, a rainbow in the moonshine was seen in the sky.
' That is the sign of confirmation!' said Stine. 'Now Rasmus is coming.'
But he came not.
' The waiting-time is long ! ' said Stine.
' Now I am tired of it !' said Elsie. She came less often to Stine and brought her no new gifts. Her heart became lighter, and one fine morning everybody in the neighbourhood knew that Elsie had said ' Yes ' to the richest farmer.
She went to look at the farm and the fields, the cattle and the furniture. Everything was in good order, there was nothing to delay the wedding for.
It was held with great festivity for three days. There was dancing to flute and violin. Every one in the neighbourhood was invited. Mother Olse was there also ; and