Emanuel, or Children of the Soil/Book 1, Chapter 5

Emanuel, or Children of the Soil (1896)
by Henrik Pontoppidan, illustrated by Nelly Erichsen, translated by Alice Lucas
Book I; Chapter V
Henrik Pontoppidan4502996Emanuel, or Children of the SoilBook I; Chapter V1896Alice Lucas (1855-1935)

A quarter of an hour later the Parsonage had fallen back into its usual state of peace and quietness. Miss Ragnhild went about in the rooms putting them to rights for the night. She closed the grand piano in the corner, beneath the laurel crowned bust of Beethoven; put away the music, and kissed the sleepy parrot on the beak before covering up the cage. Then she took her accustomed seat by the table under the lamp, and went on with her work.

The Provst filled his pipe in his own room, and began wandering up and down through both rooms. Now and then he glanced somewhat nervously at his daughter, puffing out immoderately thick clouds of smoke from his pursed up lips. At last he stopped before her, and said with somewhat forced gaiety;

"Well, my little Ragnhild, what do you think of our new guest?"

The young lady's expression became cold and reserved. The question was evidently disagreeable.

"Oh! he makes a very pleasant impression," she said, indifferently.

"Yes, doesn't he? there seems to be a pleasing ingenuousness about him—a childlike freshness which is very uncommon at the present time. Now-a-days young people of twenty are already old and weary of life—I am very glad you like him, too, Ragnhild, as he is to be our daily companion."

The young lady's brow contracted.

"It would be as well not to decide too hastily on a first impression," she said, shortly. "The most important point is, whether he has the right qualities for the post—we must find that out."

"Of course, of course," exclaimed the Provst, and continued his walk. "There I quite agree with you—quite! Hm. Hallo!" he interrupted himself, as he looked at his watch, "I see it is getting late, it is time for me to get to work."

He kissed his daughter, bid her good-night, and went into his own room.

Hardly was his door closed, before the one from the kitchen opened, and the smoke dried face of the old lame maid appeared. Finding that the young lady was alone, she crept into the room and discovering an errand by the stove, turned her head and looked anxiously at Ragnhild, with a knowing and inquisitive glance. At last she hobbled along in her stocking feet to the table where the young lady was sitting.

"Well," she said, in a whisper, slyly screwing up her eyes, "and what does my young lady think of him?"

"Of whom?" asked Ragnhild, lifting her head quickly, and looking stiffly at the old servant.

"Why, him of course—the curate!"

A lightning glance shot from Miss Ragnhild's steely grey eyes which threatened a smart storm. But thinking better of it, she repressed her anger, even forcing herself to smile, and answered quickly, and as it were, overflowing with merriment: "Yes, thank you, Loné, I am delighted with him; in fact, I am already in love with him; to-morrow I shall engage myself to him; and on Thursday we will be married. If you will come to us on Sunday week for the christening festivities, and hold our first-born at the font, my husband and I will be delighted—now, are you satisfied?"

The old servant stuck out her big chin in great offence; and with her usual scowling and sulky expression she retreated towards the door, muttering to herself.