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THE JUNIOR CLASSICS

 

THE SQUIRE'S BRIDE

By P. C. Asbjornsen

ONCE UPON a time there was a rich squire who owned a large farm, and
had plenty of silver at the bottom of his chest and money in the bank
besides; but he felt there was something wanting, for he was a widower.

One day the daughter of a neighboring farmer was working for him in the
hayfield. The squire saw her and liked her very much, and as she was
the child of poor parents he thought if he only hinted that he wanted
her she would be ready to marry him at once.

So he told her he had been thinking of getting married again.

"Aye! one may think of many things," said the girl, laughing slyly.

In her opinion the old fellow ought to be thinking of something that
behooved him better than getting married.

"Well, you see, I thought that you should be my wife!"

"No, thank you all the same," said she, "that's not at all likely."

The squire was not accustomed to be gainsaid, and the more she refused
him the more determined he was to get her.

But as he made no progress in her favor he sent for her father and told
him that if he could arrange the matter with his daughter he would
forgive him the money he had lent him, and he would also give him the
piece of land which lay close to his meadow into the bargain.

"Yes, you may be sure I'll bring my daughter to her senses," said the
father. "She is only a child, and she doesn't know what's best for
her." But all his coaxing and talking did not help matters. She would
not have the squire, she said, if he sat buried in gold up to his ears.

The squire waited day after day, but at last he became so angry and
impatient that he told the father, if he expected him to stand by his
promise, he would have to put his foot down and settle the matter now,
for he would not wait any longer.

The man knew no other way out of it but to let the squire get
everything ready for the wedding; and when the parson and the wedding
guests had arrived the squire should send for the girl as if she were
wanted for some work on the farm. When she arrived she would have to
be married right away, so that she would have no time to think it over.

The squire thought this was well and good, and so he began brewing and
baking and getting ready for the wedding in grand style. When the
guests had arrived the squire called one of his farm lads and told him
to run down to his neighbor and ask him to send him what he had
promised.

"But if you are not back in a twinkling," he said, shaking his fist at
him, "I'll-"

He did not say more, for the lad ran off as if he had been shot at.

"My master has sent me to ask for that you promised him," said the lad,
when he got to the neighbor, "but there is no time to be lost, for he
is terribly busy to-day."

"Yes, yes! Run down into the meadow and take her with you. There she
goes!" answered the neighbor.

The lad ran off and when he came to the meadow he found the daughter
there raking the hay.

"I am to fetch what your father has promised my master," said the lad.

"Ah, ha!" thought she. "Is that what they are up to?"

"Ah, indeed!" she said. "I suppose it's that little bay mare of ours.
You had better go and take her. She stands there tethered on the other
side of the pea field," said the girl.

The boy jumped on the back of the bay mare and rode home at full
gallop.

"Have you got her with you?" asked the squire.

"She is down at the door," said the lad.

"Take her up to the room my mother had," said the squire.

"But master, how can that be managed?" said the lad.

"You must just do as I tell you," said the squire. "If you cannot
manage her alone you must get the men to help you," for he thought the
girl might turn obstreperous.

When the lad saw his master's face he knew it would be no use to
gainsay him. So he went and got all the farm tenants who were there to
help him. Some pulled at the head and the forelegs of the mare and
others pushed from behind, and at last they got her up the stairs and
into the room. There lay all the wedding finery ready.

"Now, that's done master!" said the lad; "but it was a terrible job.
It was the worst I have ever had here on the farm.

"Never mind, you shall not have done it for nothing," said his master.
"Now send the women up to dress her."

"But I say master-!" said the lad.

"None of your talk!" said the squire. "Tell them they must dress her
and mind and not forget either wreath or crown.

The lad ran into the kitchen.

"Look here, lasses," he said; "you must go upstairs and dress up the
bay mare as bride. I expect the master wants to give the guests a
laugh."

The women dressed the bay mare in everything that was there, and then
the lad went and told his master that now she was ready dressed, with
wreath and crown and all.

"Very well, bring her down!" said the squire. "I will receive her
myself at the door," said he.

There was a terrible clatter on the stairs; for that bride, you know,
had no silken shoes on.

When the door was opened and the squire's bride entered the parlor you
can imagine there was a good deal of tittering and grinning.

And as for the squire you may he sure line had had enough of that
bride, and they say he never went courting again.



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