300 THE FOUR GIFTS
' Nonsense,' cried Barbaik, ' he will never save enough for a farm till he is a hundred. I would sooner see you in your grave than the wife of a man who carries his whole fortune on his back.'
' What does fortune matter when one is young and strong ? ' asked Tephany, but her aunt, amazed at such words, would hardly let her finish.
' What does fortune matter ? ' repeated Barbaik, in a shocked voice. ' Is it possible that you are really so foolish as to despise money ? If this is what you learn from Denis, I forbid you to speak to him, and I will have him turned out of the farm if he dares to show his face here again. Now go and wash the clothes and spread them out to dry.'
Tephany did not dare to disobey, but with a heavy heart went down the path to the river.
' She is harder than these rocks,' said the girl to herself, ' yes, a thousand times harder. For the rain at least can at last wear away the stone, but you might cry for ever, and she would never care. Talking to Denis is the only pleasure I have, and if I am not to see him I may as well enter a convent.'
Thinking these thoughts she reached the bank, and began to unfold the large packet of linen that had to be washed. The tap of a stick made her look up, and standing before her she saw a little old woman, whose face was strange to her.
' You would like to sit down and rest, granny ? ' asked Tephany, pushing aside her bundle.
' When the sky is all the roof you have, you rest where you will,' replied the old woman in trembling tones.
' Are you so lonely, then ? ' inquired Tephany, full of pity. ' Have you no friends who would welcome you into their houses ? '
The old woman shook her head.