She Was Good for Nothing
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. When his father died later he was abroad and didn't come to that funeral. He didn't come here again; he became a lawyer, and he never married, I know. But he thought no more of me, and if he had seen me he would certainly have never recognized me, ugly as I am now. And it is all for the best!"
Then she went on to tell of the bitter days of hardship, when misfortune had fallen upon them. They had saved five hundred dollars, and since in their neighborhood a house could be bought for two hundred, they considered it a good investment to buy one, tear it down, and build again. So the house was bought, and the bricklayers and carpenters estimated that the new house would cost a thousand and twenty dollars. Erik had credit and borrowed that sum in Copenhagen, but the captain who was to have brought the money was shipwrecked and the money lost.
"It was just then that my darling boy, who lies sleeping there, was born. Then his father had a long and severe illness, and for nine months I even had to dress and undress him every day. We kept on going backward. We had to borrow more and more; one by one all our possessions were sold; and at last Erik died. 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." Then she fell asleep.
In the morning she seemed better and decided she was strong enough to return to her work. But the moment she felt the cold water a shivering seized her; she grasped about convulsively with her hands, took one step forward, and fell. Her head lay on the dry bank, but her feet were in the water of the river; her wooden shoes, in each of which there was a handful of straw, were carried away by the current.