day at the Hill-top. Early in the morning Hansel, with a dozen other young fellows of the neighborhood, had marched away to the music of fife and drum, and there was no knowing when they would come back again. A dismal whitish fog had been hovering about the fields all day long, but had changed toward evening into a fine drizzling rain,--one of those slow, hopeless rains that seem to have no beginning and no end. Old Mother Uberta, who, although she pretended to be greatly displeased at Ilka's matrimonial choice, persisted in holding her responsible for all her lover's follies, had been going about the house grumbling and scolding since the early dawn.
"Humph," said Mother Uberta, as she lighted a pine-knot and stuck it into a crack in the wall (for it was already dark, and candles were expensive), "it is a great sin and shame--the lad is neither crooked nor misshapen--the Lord has done well enough by him, Heaven knows; and yet never a stroke of work has he done since his poor father went out of the world