How Joggeli Finds a Wife

Jeremias Gotthelf
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Somewhere in the Canton of Bern, but I won't say just where, lies a farmhouse on a sunny ridge. Pear and apple trees, mighty as oaks, surround it; avenues of cherry trees descend in every direction; and nearly as far up on the hill as the eye can see lies a wonderfully beautiful green carpet, richer than that of a king: a mat of meadows worth a hundred thousand pounds.

Under the overhanging roof murmurs a splendid well; in front of the sparkling windows sit several flower boxes; and all around the house there is a Sunday feeling of cleanliness and order--not a straw out of place, not a speck of sawdust to be seen. On a pretty green bench sits a handsome and well-tanned lad, who thoughtfully looks up into the dark woods of the neighboring hill. Now and then a small cloud of tobacco rises slowly and mournfully from his nearly extinguished pipe.

This is Joggeli, the wealthy bachelor owner of a beautiful farm. His mother has just recently died. She had always run the household so well and been so dear to him that Joggeli hadn't thought of marrying, although his mother had been after him daily to take a wife. Proper mothers don't want their children to remain single; they dislike the thought of their sons becoming dissolute, old bachelors.

The maids were running the household now and doing a bad enough job of it. Since his mother died, the chickens no longer produced--at least he saw few eggs--the cows gave thinner milk, and he was selling less and less butter. The pigs, upset over being poorly fed, looked up at him from their trough with eyes red from weeping; and yet he had never before had to prepare so much grain for them. Never before did so little get done, so little spun. He needed more and more help, and yet never before had the maids complained so about all the work and had so little time to do what he ordered. The admonitions of his dear mother came to his mind again and again, and he thought more and more seriously about getting a wife. Yet the more he considered it, the more he shuddered at the thought.

Joggeli was not one of those stay-at-home types who never goes out and never talks to girls, who at most dares glance their way, and who, in short, knows about their existence only from hearsay. He was a lusty lad, knew all the girls in the whole area, and whenever and wherever there was a pretty, rich gal old enough to start confirmation classes, he was usually the first under her window. But visiting girls' windows in the evening isn't nearly the same as getting married; and that was what worried him. It worried him just because, as he put it, he knew only too well what girls were like. All that glitters isn't gold, he liked to say, and girls mostly show boys only their glittery side, leaving what doesn't glitter for the husband to discover. He was able to list so many examples of actual cases to prove his point that it made you downright dizzy.

He'd be well enough able, he said, to get a rich and pretty wife, but he also wanted one who was good-natured, God-fearing and hardworking. For of what use to him were beauty and money if they were accompanied by a knack for quarreling and a knack for sulking and by whatever other knacks there are. A girl with a hang for quarreling will turn out to be a witch, he said; one with a shift for sulking will turn all the milk in the cellar sour and will end up with a face next to which cheap tripe will seem a shining splendor. As for a miserly girl, he didn't even want to talk about that possibility, for she would as sure as life turn into a creature who would make the old dragon of Gysnaufluh look like a radiant angel by comparison. And the most accursed thing is that you can never really know whether it's a witch, a piece of cheap tripe or the old dragon itself that you are bringing into your home, because all these horrors are mostly already there and waiting inside the girl, but hidden behind smooth, girlish skin. And very often that girl who cuts the sweetest face in front of the house, behind the house, and especially at the inn, will, once inside the house, show her dragon ways as clear as day and already have her claws in the butter dish and the bread drawer. As soon as a man's face looks in through the kitchen door, the dragon retreats back into its hole, and while the girl is smiling sweetly, it is sharpening its claws and thinking: "Just you wait till I get a hold of you, then you'll get it! "

One can't trust other folks' reports at all either, especially a fellow who's looking to get married. He's lied at from all sides. People are paid to praise the girl to the skies, others are paid to describe her as if there weren't a single good thing about her and as if she could poison a dung hole just by falling into it. He'd just like to find the fellow who had such a fine nose that he could always tell if the people were paid to abuse or paid to praise or not paid at all. Now certainly he wanted a wife, but he didn't care to go rushing in only to come out with a shoe full of manure. Yet trying to figure out how to avoid it was something which quite often made his head spin.

If Joggeli was in such a bind, a fellow who went window-courting and who from field work and in many other ways was able to judge somewhat a girl's worth, then in what straits must a city boy be! Such a fellow sees girls only at balls, soirees, concerts or the theater, and, do what he will, only sees their Sunday faces, never sees them do any work, and, in fact, seldom these days even sees their hands without gloves on.

Good advice is hard to find, yet sometimes it arrives on its own overnight. One morning between hay-making and harvest, when the farmers' daughters were mostly at home, some trying to darn socks, others winding yarn for the weaver, still others standing around the garden or puttering about the house, Joggeli told his household that he was going over the Lucerne way to buy a horse. There were fewer days in the year over there than here, he said, and each day was at least two hours shorter; therefore less money was earned, and thus everything was cheaper. He said they shouldn't worry about him even if he were gone a whole week.

Joggeli left, yet around that time no Joggeli was seen over the Lucerne way asking about horses. Just at that very time, though, a tinker was seen traveling through the Bern area who had never been seen there before and never has been since, and about whom people are still talking, although it's been some fifty years ago. He was a tall fellow with a sooty face who must not have been practicing his trade long, for he was very slow and clumsy, and when an even slightly difficult case presented itself, he hadn't any idea what to do.

What was most striking about him was that there was no rhyme or reason in what he charged and no order in where he asked for work. He passed by whole rows of houses without asking about leaky pans or cracked dishes; he went through entire villages without stopping. Then again, he would mill around a house or farm a whole day although no one could tell what he was doing there. He stood around in the kitchen, stuck his nose into everything, was in everybody's way and moreover didn't leave in the evening but demanded overnight lodgings. He was always needing something and followed after the daughters of the house or the maids to get it, trying to strike up a conversation with them and making them neglect their work. And where he stayed overnight, he carried on in a shameless way and went so far that it almost seemed he was trying to see how much the people would take before it came to blows. He also let mended dishes slip from his hands so that they shattered into a thousand pieces, demanded exorbitant fees and quarreled over the amount of work he had done. In short, he was the most disagreeable rascal who had ever drifted through those parts.

Naturally enough, he was chased away from many a home amid much cursing and yelling. Infuriated farmers set their dogs on him and threatened him with sticks and stones; angry farmers' daughters threw pieces of crockery at him, called him names which would give a dog the mange, and made faces next to which the ugly features of a toad are a pleasant sight. All this just made the fellow laugh. He answered disrespectfully and called the farmers old cranks, their daughters whiny sourpusses. And when he was refused his fee, he said something to the effect that he didn't want anything and added that he himself would be able to give a few pennies of his own to such a miserable farmer who could afford only coarse stockings and tacky hair ribbons for his daughter. One can imagine the storm that burst down upon him after such a speech. Yet, as if that was just what he wanted, he went away laughing. Had the pot-mender lived in the present age and been able to write, he probably would have blessed the world with travel books.

In this way he arrived at full speed on the third day of his travels at a large house situated at the far end of the village. A black cloud hung in the sky and sent down a hearty shower of sparkling rain. Scarcely had he shaken the water off his clothes under the broad roof and set down his smell tool bag, when a group of young people with hoes on their shoulders came running through the grass under the trees toward the broad roof, the girls with aprons over their heads, the fellows with their shoes in their hands. They were the farm workers from the house who had been out hoeing potatoes. Behind them bounded rather pitifully a dainty creature dressed better than the others but for that reason not well equipped for such a race. By the time she arrived, the maids and the farm hands were already busy joking with one another. A strapping girl named Studi had thrown her wet apron over the head of the milker. Seeing that, Rosi, the newcomer and the daughter of the house, made a wry face and threw her apron and hoe to Studi, telling her to put them away. Then she herself started prancing daintily amongst the farm hands, winking and raising her eyebrows, enticements as well known in the country as in the city. Finally her mother, a tall, haggard woman with a pointed nose, appeared in the doorway and told her daughter to come in and dry off instead of standing around outside flirting. She should know, her mother said, what a sickly thing she was, how little resistance she had and how easily she was laid up sick in bed.

The lad asked the woman for work. He was told that he would have to wait until after dinner; there wasn't any time now to hunt everything together. He politely asked if he could join in the meal; he would be happy to have it deducted from his fee. He could have something to eat outside, she said . He sat down next to the kitchen door, but it was a good long while before the food was ready and even longer before he got any. While the meal was being served, a bowl was found to be missing here, a ladle there. The woman yelled: "Stud), do you know where the dishrag is?"; and soon afterwards called out: "Rosi, where did you put the chicory?" And once they were all seated at the table, it wasn't long before one of them had to run off into the kitchen for more bread and someone else into the cellar for more milk.

Finally they brought the tinker something which was supposed to be soup but looked like dirty water in which a flour bag had been rinsed. He was also given an ashen gray substance which had once been dried fruit and was swimming in a sky blue broth, and a tiny piece of bread which appeared to have been sliced from a woolen hat that had been lying for a long time in a drawer of bran. He took a good look at the food but didn't eat it. Instead he watched while Rosi, as soon as she was alone with her mother, busied herself in the kitchen. Soon she emerged with a scraggly omelet and scurried off with it into the back room. He then saw her go down into the cellar for a while and come back up smelling suspiciously of wine. As soon as the workers and even her mother had returned to the wet potato patch (while her father, a real loafer, caught forty winks somewhere), he watched Rosi take the rest of the omelet over to where the milker was preparing feed for the horses.

When she had finished her visit, Rosi sat down on the bench next to the pot-men der, fiddled with her knitting with dirty fingers and asked him a lot of questions. She acted any way she pleased and listened without hesitation to anything, no matter what it was, that the tinker had to say. It was hard to believe that this Rosi was the same girl who appeared so neat and proper at markets and at militia reviews, who acted so modest, behaved so correctly, who was horrified at the thought of taking a sip of wine and who seemed to want to hide from a man's every glance. One literally had to force her to dance, force her to eat and force her to talk. And it was said too that she was a hard worker at home, that she always went with the hands out into the field and wasn't at all proud or haughty .

But the more he looked at Rosi the more he disliked her and all he saw around her. Not only were her fingers dirty but everything else about her too. The house was untidy and the kitchen disorderly, and pieces were missing from all the crockery he was to mend. She sat right there next to him, apparently letting herself go because she believed him to be of no consequence. It was easy to see that there was not a trace of propriety about her. She had a rotten character, found enjoyment in shameless behavior, and showed herself in short to be the lowest of creatures. She disliked working and believed that at home she was free to act any way she pleased, as long as she behaved properly at inns or in town. She complained to the tinker in an affected manner about her work, saying how she despised it, how it gave her headaches and cramps, and how a good book was what she liked the most. In addition she appeared to have a cruel streak in her; she kicked the cat, teased the dog and chased the pigeons away from under the roof.

No one would have recognized in this lustful, slovenly, dull thing the pretty, quiet, proper girl who was a pleasure to watch dancing and whom one stopped to look at when she was shopping at the store. She sat patiently with the pot-mender as long as they were alone, but as soon as the house started to fill with people again in the evening, she began to quarrel with him, criticizing all the work he had done and showing clearly her disdain for him. At that the tinker started in himself. He called her a spoiled brat, hinted about her relationship with the milker, and brought up the omelet and her filthy knitting in which there was always one stitch on the needle and one underneath it, until finally the pot boiled over and the girl ran howling to her mother and father. The father cursed, the mother yelled, the dog barked, the cat screeched, everything in the household made noise that possibly could-while the pot-mender took to the road laughing.

On another evening he wearily dragged his bag towards a large house which stood in a village side street. The roof of the house was in poor condition, the dung heap, however, quite large, and there was a good deal of wood scattered about in the farmyard. A pig sty was attached to the house and a few aprons and shirts hung on the garden fence. The area all around the front door was black and smoky, and the clay shed was full of holes.

An angry voice could be heard from the kitchen cursing an invisible someone who had apparently broken something. From the direction of the voice came a sturdy girl with a flushed face, her hair uncombed since last St. Michael's Day. She was carrying two tubs of swine feed under arms which revealed veins the size of heavy cord. Her feet hadn't been washed since last Saturday, although she had twice since cleaned out the manure in the pig sty, and they were so wide that the filthy shoes which covered them could have served as bread boxes. The girl was in a foul mood as she cleaned out the swine trough; she hit the pigs on the snout with her short broom so hard it smacked. She cursed at them as well as any horse dealer and threw them their slop so it splashed all over. Then, just barely dipping her hands in the water trough, she called everyone to dinner. A motley crew soon appeared, very few of whom washed their hands, even though it is customary to do so in any decent farmhouse. Even those who washed their hands did it as if they wanted to protect what they had brought with them from the stable.

The tinker was allowed to take part in the hectic and untidy meal on the condition that he mend for free all he could in the time it took to get the meal ready. Loose talk and unseemly jokes soon flowed freely; in this way the workers seemed to be trying to inject some spice into the tasteless food. Marei, the daughter, joined in wholeheartedly and without the slightest maidenly shame. She still found time, however, to talk back to her father and mother and to remind the former of his most recent drunken bout, while taunting the latter with having spun less than two skeins of yarn in the past three weeks. Then too, she abused the maids and gave the farm hands a tongue-lashing when they cut too thick a peel off the carrots. Of course, she herself had to put up with saucy remarks from others as well, and especially to take things from the farm hands which no decent girl would ever stand for. But as you do unto others, so must you suffer to have done unto yourself.

The tinker was given a place to sleep in the stable, which was as dirty as the cows themselves. The stalls were too short and he found himself in constant danger of receiving a shower from a cow. Over in the house there was constant noise and activity for some time. It seemed that even at night there was no orderliness in that household, everyone doing as he pleased. But he was too tired to think about it.

In the morning the household was awakened early; no one was allowed to stay in bed. People from the house were roaming about before five o'clock, although nobody really did anything useful. Everybody just had to be up so that folks would say that in such and such a house things got going before five o'clock and that Marei was always the first one up and the last to bed But breakfast wasn't served until seven-thirty and consisted of soup without any meat or bread and of cabbage so long and tough that you had to stop and think whether you were swallowing whip handles or cabbage stalks. And on top of everything else, Marei made a face sour enough to pickle a rabbit.

The pot-mender soon had more than his fill there. He had eaten enough of their cabbage and had had enough of that filthy pack mule of a daughter. So when she brought him a milk pot to be mended, he said that surely she didn't want that fixed: it stank like a tub in which sauerkraut had been kept for three years. If she didn't clean her milk crocks better, she wouldn't be able to keep her milk fresh for long or make sweet cream butter. Heavens! that got things started. The pieces from the crock flew at his head and when they were gone she tore the shoes from her feet and started beating him as if she were threshing grain. He had never before had to hurry from a house so fast to avoid getting thrashed or having to defend himself in earnest.

A fellow could surely get taken in with her as well, the lad thought after he was a safe distance from the house. The first girl he had encountered was known as a proper young lady who would be a welcome adornment to any household, this last one as a model of industry and hard work, a perfect farmer's wife, the equal of whom was nowhere to be found. Folks said she had the best-kept pigs around, knew how to haggle with swine dealers like no one else and did everything around the farm herself; the fellow who could catch her would be a happy man indeed. Now he had seen both of them and he shuddered at the thought of marrying either one, even if he were only a tinker.

"It's a good thing," he thought, "that no one pays any attention to a pot-mender, so that he can peek into things that no one else has a chance to see. They don't put on their Sunday faces when a tinker is around, as they do for guests or when they go to visit somewhere. Especially at militia reviews and at the market, everything is lies and fraud. This is as true at the inns and dance halls as it is at the cow market: what appears well-groomed and even-tempered turns out at home to be the biggest disaster you've ever seen--and it's impossible to tell which end is up and which is down. " Anyone who had encountered Marei or Rosi at market would have thought they'd make perfect farmers' wives. Anyone who had seen them at home, however, would have to admit they belonged in a farmhouse like hair in soup, like bugs in a bed, like vinegar in whipped cream.

"Yes, truth is truth," the tinker thought, "and girls, although different creatures, are, if the comparison may be allowed, like cows: what you buy at the market usually turns out to be, once you get it home, worth only half what you paid. The only difference is you can resell the cow, although you will lose money doing it, whereas with the girl neither money nor tears will remedy the situation."

The poor tinker had become quite downcast and was sick of his work. He went to an inn and just sat there like an idle tramp. He pretended that he hadn't any money and tried to sell his tinker's tools but couldn't find a buyer. The innkeeper's daughter didn't attract him either. He didn't like the little bedroom slippers she wore or the way she stuck her thumbs deep down into the sauerkraut she served him. She also looked annoyed whenever she was forced to get up, and at times hobbled as uncertainly across the room as if she had five corns on each foot.

He went to bed at an early hour and awoke early the next day just as the sun began to shine bright and clear. He began to feel brighter and more cheerful himself and decided to continue his travels after all with the pot-mending tools no one had wanted to buy.

He followed a foot path leading up to a beautiful farmhouse. Newly awoken birds fluttered gaily around him, unripe cherries fallen from the trees cracked under his feet, and sparrows played tag on the tall bean poles. Two fellows were mowing, and trusting chickens followed behind them pecking at worms in the freshly-mown areas. The house shone and the windows sparkled brightly. In front of the house was a friendly looking garden with well-cared-for flowers willingly imparting their rich perfumes.

A tall, slender girl with clean hair and spotless blouse and hands was sitting at the door slicing bread. In the kitchen a fire crackled merrily, not with half of it outside on the tiles, but all in the fireplace where it belonged. In a gruff and uncivil tone the tinker asked for work. Wherever there were womenfolk, he added, there was sure to be something to mend or patch. The girl answered that if he would wait until she got everything together he would have plenty to do. He'd be wasting a lot of time, he replied, if he had to wait around for every tramp to get good and ready. That's no way to act, the girl said, to be rude for no reason. If he didn't want to wait, he could leave. If he were reasonable, however, he could have breakfast with them and, in the meantime, she would get his work ready for him.

The pot-mender didn't mind staying; everything there made him feel warm and comfortable inside. So he lowered his tone, set his bag aside and joined the others at the table. Everything had a clean look to it and the people behaved in a well-mannered way and said grace respectfully. From their entire demeanor one could see that God as well as the master and mistress of the house were held in high esteem there. The soup wasn't any too thick, but it was tasty. The porridge wasn't burnt and the milk had only been slightly skimmed. The bread wasn't white bread, but it was good and fresh.

He hadn't been sitting at the table long before he let half a loaf of bread fall into the milk pot, shattering it and in the process splattering everyone around the table with milk. Here and there a half-suppressed curse could be heard and one sassy maid called him the most ill-mannered dog she'd ever seen. Anne Mareili, however, the daughter of the house, didn't bat an eye but told the maid to come with her into the cellar, and soon more milk and bread were standing on the table. Instead of apologizing, the pot-mender snidely remarked that over in Lucerne they ate white bread and that not even the beggars there would eat such bread as this. He received no answer to that remark.

After breakfast the tinker sat down with his work next to the kitchen door where he was able to observe the goings-on in the kitchen and in the garden. He saw how Anne Mareili took her grandmother--her mother was dead-for a walk in the sun and carefully arranged a pillow for her on the bench. He observed how she never lost patience when her grandmother nagged endlessly, first wanting to go here, then there, and constantly reminded her granddaughter of things which had long been done. The old woman thought, as grandmothers do, that no one would remember the things that she used to do but no longer could.

He saw how her father, wanting to get to his chores, hunted for his socks but couldn't find them anywhere and scolded his daughter for having misplaced them. Without contradicting him, she patiently helped him look for them and finally found them hidden behind the coat he wore when working on the irrigation lines in bad weather. The old man had put them there himself before the last Sunday dance so that his son wouldn't run off with them in order to shine in their splendor on the dance floor. The girl gave them to her father without comment, amiably accompanied him a few steps, and told him not to hurry and to allow himself plenty to eat and drink. She would have a warm meal waiting when he got home.

He heard how she dealt with beggar children, sympathetically asking one or the other about a sick father or mother and giving them something appropriate to take home, lecturing others and admonishing them to take a job, offering to hire them on, and then turning away those who gave surly answers and refused to accept work. He heard, too, how she dealt with the farm workers, answering each plainly and forcefully or telling them what chore to do. It was clear that she knew precisely what had already been done and what there was yet to do both out in the field and inside the house.

During all this she didn't sit perched on a throne, or lounge on a sofa with her feet stretched out and her hands in her lap. On the contrary, her hands were never idle. She prepared the food for all the folk on the farm by herself and washed the cabbage at the well with such care that it obviously was not all the same to her whether any snails were left in it or not. At the same time everything she did went like magic and her feet barely seemed to touch the ground. She didn't stomp around so heavily that at each step her nose appeared to bolt past her forehead, as one sees at this farm or that.

At noon the food was once again well prepared and neatly served, but the tinker sneered at it all the same and said that there was so little meat with the sauerkraut that a fly could swallow it all and not choke. The girl, who in the absence of her father sat at the head of the table, answered simply that at home the pot-mender could have his food cooked the way he wanted it, but here they prepared it their way and if he didn't like it, he needn't ever come back.

In the afternoon when the grandmother was sleeping and all the farm hands were in the fields, he went into the kitchen, supposedly to light his pipe, but then started to joke and sweet-talk with the girl and finally tried to put his arms around her and kiss her. At that point he got such a box on the ears that he saw stars and heard the Bell Tower in Bern ringing, and received the curt order to get back to his work so that it would finally get done.

Then the girl went to the dog kennel, untied Blass who bounded around her joyfully, and said to him: "Come on, you poor hound. I'll set you loose, but in return you have to behave and stay close to me and not go running after the sheep again, ok?"

And the dog looked up at her as if he understood, always stayed by her side wherever she went, lay down at her feet when she was working and showed his teeth each time he passed by the tinker, as if he knew whom he had to teach a little respect.

Finally, towards evening, the pot-mender brought the pots and pans back into the kitchen and, last of all, an armful of plates. As the girl went to take the plates, he let them fall so that the pieces scattered all over the kitchen, causing the grandmother to let out a cry and anxiously ask if the plate rack hadn't fallen over. The lad only cursed and said that he didn't want the blame for that. He had never seen a girl who was so dumb and clumsy. The girl turned beet red and Blass stood next to her showing his teeth, but she just said that she didn't care to argue with a tinker, but he knew as well as she who had dropped them. He should just say how much they owed him and then be off or else Blass would show him the way.

He refused to let himself be treated like that, said the tinker, and he wasn't afraid of the dog. That was the most convenient way to save your money, to use the dog to chase away poor people to whom you owe wages. But that trick wouldn't work with him. Anne Mareili answered that he had already heard that she would pay him, and the sooner the better, so that she wouldn't have to see his face anymore. And he needn't come back since he wouldn't find work there again. At that the pot-mender said that now just for that reason he didn't want to be paid anything for his work. To order a pot-mender not to return to a house was a shameless thing to do. He would be back in a fortnight and was curious to see then if she wouldn't want to have anything to do with him. The pot-mender looked as though he wanted to kiss Anne Mareili, but Blass opened his jaws for a kiss that the pot-mender wouldn't have enjoyed. So he just stretched out his hand to Anne Mareili and said good-bye. Anne Mareili didn't want to shake hands with him. She said that she had never yet shaken hands with a pot-mender. She would start thinking well of him only when she saw his back on the way out. The lad just laughed and said that he swore that he would offer her his hand again some day, and a time might come when she would rather see his face than his back.

With that he went on his way, singing a cheerful song so lustily that hill and valley echoed to its sound. Anne Mareili, for her part, had become very much afraid. She had heard a great deal about robbers and especially about how tinkers were often disguised robbers who scouted out a territory to see where there was something to steal, and that they dragged off married women and girls with them to their hide-outs and kept them there as their wives. The pot-mender, she thought, certainly looked the part; he could be just such a bandit and have his eye on her. But he wouldn't find her an easy prey, she thought; her knife and Blass would have something to say to that.

She still, however, avoided going outside at night, looked all around in the evenings, especially under her bed, and locked the doors carefully. She gave Blass more than usual to eat each evening so that he wouldn't let himself be tempted away with food. She also prayed extra hard to her beloved Father in Heaven that he send his angels down to watch over her: two at her head, two at her feet, one on each side and finally one to lead her into the Heavenly Kingdom. With that she felt secure and fell asleep. Often she dreamt of the pot-mender, yet not really with fear and trembling, but rather as if he were transformed into a handsome youth, into a prince or into some king's son who ardently desired her as his wife and who promised his Anne Mareili all good things in heaven and on earth.

No pot-mender reappeared, but on a beautiful afternoon two weeks later, a wagon drove up in front of the house with a marvelous gray horse and a rich harness preceding it and a tall, handsome lad up on top.

Just as if he were at home, the lad called to a farm hand to hurry and unharness his horse. Then he went to the door of the house. Anne Mareili, as she was about to greet him, looked into his eyes and almost fainted. There before her stood the tinker, neither as a prince nor as a robber, but as a proud farmer. And the rascal laughed and showed a row of teeth even whiter than those of Blass and asked mischievously: "Well, I'm back, aren't 1? Your forbidding me to return didn't do any good." With a laugh he offered Anne Mareili his hand and she shyly gave him hers .

Then quickly looking around and not seeing anyone, he said straight away that he had returned on her account. She had probably heard of him already, he was so and so and had long been searching for a wife for his farm and household--not one in the new mold, but rather one like his dear departed mother. He hadn't been able to figure out how to find one like her, since girls are so sly and scheming and often make you take straw for hay. That was why he had traveled around as a tinker. He had seen a lot of things that way that no one would ever believe and had spent many a day without seeing a girl whom he would like to have for even a fortnight on his farm. He had just decided to give it up when he had come upon her and had said to himself that it was either she or no one. And now he was there and would like to ask if he could talk to her father about it. At that Anne Mareili told him that he wasn't to be trusted, but that he should come in anyway since there was so much smoke in the kitchen. And Joggeli had to go in without any more answer than that.

Yet he didn't come back out again until he had received an answer, and it must not have been an unfavorable one, since before three months were past Joggeli had become officially engaged to Anne Mareili. And he has never regretted it nor ever gotten another box on the ears. But she would often threaten him with one when he told about how Anne Mareili hadn't wanted to shake hands with him and had told him that she couldn't wait until she saw his back on the way out, and how she had then been glad after all to shake his hand and see his face again. When he added that he thought that now she preferred his face to his back, Anne Mareili would gently take his hand and say: "You're a terrible man, but I've never really regretted that I saw you again. " Then Joggeli would give her a kiss, even in front of other people, something one doesn't often see in the country, and would say that he would always believe that he had his blessed mother to thank for his wife; it must have been she who had led him to Anne Mareili.

And any time Joggeli heard about a fellow who had gotten trapped and come out with a boot full of it, he would laugh, look at Anne Mareili, and say: "If that fellow had learnt to fix pans and mend crockery, that never would have happened. There's no denying that the way folks act at market and the way they act at home are as different as a Sunday apron is from a common kitchen one. And if you haven't seen a girl's kitchen apron, you know about as much about her as you do about an animal bought in a sack. There too you don't know whether you've got a lamb or a goat. "

Oh! If girls knew that at any moment such a pot-mender could be looking in through the kitchen door, many a girl would be in a more agreeable mood on workdays, would behave better year in and year out, and would be clean and neat mornings and afternoons.

Translation by Robert Godwin-Jones, 1984


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