WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD 1075
when the gaiety was at an end, and the guests had said * Thanks ', and the musicians had gone, she went home with the remnants of the feast.
She had only fastened the door with a pin; that was taken off, the door stood open, and. there stood Rasmus. He had come home, come at this hour. Lord, how he looked ! skin and bone only, pale and yellow was he!
* Rasmus ! ' said the mother, ' is it you, I see ? How poorly you look! but I am glad in my heart that I have you!'
And she gave him of the good food she had brought home from the feast—a piece of steak, and a wedding tart.
He had, in these last days, he said, thought often of his mother, his homestead, and the old willow tree. It was wonderful how often in his dreams he had seen the tree and the barelegged Johanna. Elsie he did not even name. He was ill and must go to bed ; but we do not believe that the pot was the cause of this, or that it had exercised any power over him ; only old Stine and Elsie believed that, but they spoke to no one about it.
Rasmus lay in a fever ; it was infectious, so no one sought the tailor's house except Johanna, the shoemaker's daughter. She wept to see how miserable Rasmus was.
The doctor wrote out a prescription for him ; he would not take the medicine, ' What is the use % ' said he.
1 Yes, then you will be yourself again,' said the mother. ' Hold fast to yourself and our Lord ! If I could only see you put on flesh again, hear you whistle and sing, I would willingly lay down my life.'
And Rasmus got better of his illness, but his mother took it; our Lord called her and not him.
It was lonely in the house, and it grew poorer. ' He is worn out,' said the neighbours. ' Poor Rasmus 1 ' A wild life had he led on his travels, that, and not the black pot which boiled, had sapped his strength and given him unrest in his body. His hair became thin and grey ; he did not care to do anything properly.
' What good can that do ? ' said he. He sought the public-house rather than the church.
One autumn evening, in wind and rain, he struggled along the dirty road from the public-house to his home : his mother had long ago been laid in her grave. The swallows