PART IV. The White Mulberry Tree
2. CHAPTER II
Signa's wedding supper was over. The guests, and the tiresome
little Norwegian preacher who had performed the marriage ceremony,
were saying good-night. Old Ivar was hitching the horses to the
wagon to take the wedding presents and the bride and groom up to
their new home, on Alexandra's north quarter. When Ivar drove up
to the gate, Emil and Marie Shabata began to carry out the presents,
and Alexandra went into her bedroom to bid Signa good-bye and to
give her a few words of good counsel. She was surprised to find
that the bride had changed her slippers for heavy shoes and was
pinning up her skirts. At that moment Nelse appeared at the gate
with the two milk cows that Alexandra had given Signa for a wedding
Alexandra began to laugh. "Why, Signa, you and Nelse are to ride
home. I'll send Ivar over with the cows in the morning."
Signa hesitated and looked perplexed. When her husband called her,
she pinned her hat on resolutely. "I ta-ank I better do yust like
he say," she murmured in confusion.
Alexandra and Marie accompanied Signa to the gate and saw the
party set off, old Ivar driving ahead in the wagon and the bride
and groom following on foot, each leading a cow. Emil burst into
a laugh before they were out of hearing.
"Those two will get on," said Alexandra as they turned back to the
house. "They are not going to take any chances. They will feel
safer with those cows in their own stable. Marie, I am going to
send for an old woman next. As soon as I get the girls broken in,
I marry them off."
"I've no patience with Signa, marrying that grumpy fellow!" Marie
declared. "I wanted her to marry that nice Smirka boy who worked
for us last winter. I think she liked him, too."
"Yes, I think she did," Alexandra assented, "but I suppose she was
too much afraid of Nelse to marry any one else. Now that I think
of it, most of my girls have married men they were afraid of. I
believe there is a good deal of the cow in most Swedish girls.
You high-strung Bohemian can't understand us. We're a terribly
practical people, and I guess we think a cross man makes a good