WHAT OLD JOHANNA TOLD 1077
' If you say that and believe it, so let it be! Unwilling guests the Lord will not see at His Table. Think, however, of your mother and your childhood's days! You were at that time a good, God-fearing boy. May I read a psalm for you ? '
' What good can that do ? ' said he.
* It always comforts me,' said she.
' Johanna, you have become one of the holy ones ! ' and he looked at her with heavy, tired eyes. And Johanna read the psalm, but not from the book—she did not have one, she knew it by heart.
' Those were beautiful words,' said he, ' but I could not quite follow. It is so heavy in my head ! '
Rasmus had become an old man, but Elsie was no longer young either, if we are to mention her ; Rasmus never did. She was a grandmother; a little flippant girl was her grandchild, the little one played with the other children in the village. Rasmus came, leaning on his stick; he stood still, looked at the children's play, smiled to them, old times shone into his thoughts. Elsie's grandchild pointed at him. ' Poor Rasmus !' she shouted ; the other children followed her example and shouted ' Poor Rasmus !' and followed the old man with shrieks.
It was a grey, heavy day, and several like it followed, but after grey and heavy days there comes a sunshiny one.
It was a lovely Whitsuntide, the church was decorated with green birch branches, there was the smell of the woods, and the sun shone over the church pews. The big altar candles were lighted, it was communion ; Johanna was amongst those kneeling there, but Rasmus was not amongst them. Just that morning our Lord had called him. With God are compassion and mercy.
Many years have passed since then ; the tailor's house stands there still, but no one lives there, it may fall with the first storm. The pool is covered with reeds and buck-bean. The wind moans in the old tree, it is as if one heard a song ; the wind sings it, the tree tells it; if you don't understand it, then ask old Johanna in the almshouse.
She lives there, she sings her psalm, the one she sang for Rasmus ; she thinks of him, prays to our Lord for him, the faithful soul that she is. She can tell about the past times, the memories, which moan in the old tree.