Faith, divine Providence, fate
"Thank you, my kind friend," she said to Maren, "I'll tell you all about it, while the boy is asleep. He's sleeping already; see how sweet he looks with his eyes closed. He doesn't think of his mother's sufferings; may our Lord never let him feel their equal! Well, I was in service at the Councilor's, the Mayor' parents, when their youngest son came home from his studies. I was a carefree young girl then, but honest – I must say that before heaven.
I honor the poor,' she continued, ' and I know that there is many a poor man who will sit in a higher seat in the kingdom of heaven than many a rich man; but that is no reason for crossing the barrier in this world. Left to yourselves, you two would drive your carriage full tilt against obstacles, until it toppled over with you both. Now I know that Erik, the glovemaker, a good, honest craftsman, wants to marry you; he is a well-to-do widower with no children. Think it over!'
"Every word my mistress spoke went through my heart like a knife, but I knew she was right, and that weighed heavily upon me. I kissed her hand, and my bitter tears fell upon it. But still bitterer tears fell when I lay upon my bed in my own room. Oh, the long, dreary night that followed-our Lord alone knows how I suffered!
"Not until I went to church on Sunday did peace of mind come after my pain. It seemed the working of Providence that as I left the church I met Erik himself. There were no doubts in my mind now; we were suited to each other, both in rank and in means; he was even a well-to-do man. So I went straight up to him, took his hand, and asked, 'Do you still think of me?'
" 'Yes, always and forever,' he said.
" 'Do you want to marry a girl who likes and respects you, but does not love you?'
" 'I believe love will come,' he said, and then we joined hands.
"I went home to my mistress. The gold ring that her son had given me I had been wearing every day next to my heart, and every night on my finger in bed, but now I drew it out. I kissed it until my lips bled, then gave it to my mistress and told her that next week the banns would be read for me and the glovemaker.
"My mistress took me in her arms and kissed me; she didn't say I was good for nothing, but at that time I was perhaps better than I am now, for I had not yet known the misfortunes of the world. The wedding was at Candlemas, and for our first year we were quite happy. My husband had a workman and an apprentice with him, and you, Maren, were our servant."
"Oh, and such a good mistress you were!" said Maren. "I shall never forget how kind you and your husband were to me!"
"Ah, but you were with us during our good times! We had no children then. I never saw the student again. Oh, yes, I saw him once, but he didn't see me. He came to his mother's funeral, and I saw him standing by her grave, looking so sad and pale – but that was all for his mother's sake.
"(...) Since then I have worked and slaved for the boy's sake, have gone out scrubbing floors and washing linen, done coarse work or fine, whatever I could get. But I was not to be better off; it is the Lord's will! He will take me away and find better provisions for my child."
"There was some nonsense about love between my brother and her," said the Mayor. "It's just as well she's out of the way. Now it will all come to the boy, and I'll place him with some honest people who will make him a good workman." And on these words our Lord laid his blessings.
They carried her to the churchyard, to a pauper's grave. Maren planted a little rose tree on her grave, while the boy stood beside her.
"My darling mother," he said as the tears started from his eyes. "Is it true that she was good for nothing?"
"No, it is not true!" said the old woman, looking up to heaven. "I have known it for many years and especially since the night before she died. I tell you she was a good and fine woman, and our Lord in heaven will say so, too, so let the world say: 'She was good for nothing!'"