Under The Willow Tree
There were carpets, and window curtains that hung quite to the floor, and flowers and pictures, and a velvet chair, and even a mirror as large as a door and so clear there was a danger of walking into it.
A glance showed all this to Knud, and yet he could look at nothing but Johanne. She was a full-grown maiden now, quite different from Knud's memories of her, and much more beautiful. There wasn't a girl in Kjöge like her. How graceful she was, and with what a strange, unsure gaze she looked at Knud! But that was only for a moment, and then she rushed toward him as if it kiss him. she did not actually do so, but she very nearly did.
Yes, she was really happy to see her childhood friend again! There were tears in Johanne's eyes; she had so much to say, and so many questions to ask about everything, from Knud's parents to the elder tree and the willow, which she called Elder Mother and Willow Father just as if they had been human beings; and indeed they might be called so, just as much as the gingerbread cakes. She spoke of them too, and their silent love, and how they had lain on the shop counter and broken in two - and at this she laughed heartily, while the blood rushed to Knud's cheeks and his heart beat faster and faster. No, she had not grown haughty at all.
And Knud noticed quite well that it was because of her that her parents invited him to spend the evening. With her won hands she poured out the tea and gave him a cup; and afterward she read aloud to them from a book, and it seemed to Knud that what she read was all about himself and his love, for it matched with his thoughts. Then she sang a simple little song, but her singing made it a real story that seemed to be the outpouring of her very heart.
Yes, Knud knew she cared for him. He could not keep tears of joy from rolling down his cheeks, nor could he speak a single word - he seemed struck dumb. But she pressed his hand and murmured, "You have a good heart, Knud. Stay always the way you are now!"
That was a magnificent evening; it was impossible to sleep afterward, and accordingly Knud did not sleep.