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Kielland, Alexander Lange / Garman and Worse A Norwegian Novel
E-text prepared by Clare Boothby, Jim Wiborg, and the Project
Online Distributed Proofreading Team



GARMAN AND WORSE

A Norwegian Novel

by

ALEXANDER L. KIELLAND

Authorized Translation by W. W. Kettlewell

London, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1, Paternoster Square
Printed by William Clows and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles.

1885







CHAPTER I.


Nothing is so boundless as the sea, nothing so patient. On its broad
back it bears, like a good-natured elephant, the tiny mannikins which
tread the earth; and in its vast cool depths it has place for all mortal
woes. It is not true that the sea is faithless, for it has never
promised anything; without claim, without obligation, free, pure, and
genuine beats the mighty heart, the last sound one in an ailing world.
And while the mannikins strain their eyes over it, the sea sings its old
song. Many understand it scarce at all, but never two understand it in
the same manner, for the sea has a distinct word for each one that sets
himself face to face with it.

It smiles with green shining ripples to the barelegged urchin who
catches crabs; it breaks in blue billows against the ship, and sends the
fresh salt spray far in over the deck. Heavy leaden seas come rolling in
on the beach, and while the weary eye follows the long hoary breakers,
the stripes of foam wash up in sparkling curves over the even sand; and
in the hollow sound, when the billows roll over for the last time, there
is something of a hidden understanding--each thinks on his own life, and
bows his head towards the ocean as if it were a friend who knows it all
and keeps it fast.

But what the sea is for those who live along its strand none can ever
know, for they say nothing. They live all their life with face turned to
the ocean; the sea is their companion, their adviser, their friend and
their enemy, their inheritance and their churchyard. The relation
therefore remains a silent one, and the look which gazes over the sea
changes with its varying aspect, now comforting, now half fearful and
defiant. But take one of these shore-dwellers, and move him far landward
among the mountains, into the loveliest valley you can find; give him
the best food, and the softest bed. He will not touch your food, or
sleep in your bed, but without turning his head he will clamber from
hill to hill, until far off his eye catches something blue he knows, and
with swelling heart he gazes towards the little azure streak that shines
far away, until it grows into a blue glittering horizon; but he says
nothing.

People in the town often said to Richard Garman, "How can you endure
that lonely life out there in your lighthouse?" The old gentleman always
answered, "Well, you see, one never feels lonely by the sea when once
one has made its acquaintance; and besides, I have my little Madeleine."

And that was the feeling of his heart. The ten years he had passed out
there on the lonely coast were among the best of his life, and that life
had been wild and adventurous enough; so, whether he was now weary of
the world, or whether it was his little daughter, or whether it was the
sea that attracted him, or whether it was something of all three, he had
quieted down, and never once thought of leaving the lighthouse of
Bratvold. This was what no one could have credited; and when it was
rumoured that Richard Garman, the _attaché_, a son of the first
commercial family of the town, was seeking the simple post of
lighthouse-keeper, most people were inclined to laugh heartily at this
new fancy of "the mad student." "The mad student" was a nickname in the
town for Richard Garman, which was doubtless well earned; for although
he had been but little at home since he had grown to manhood, enough was
known of his wild and pleasure-seeking career to make folks regard him
with silent wonder.

To add to this, too, the visits he paid to his home were generally
coincident with some remarkable event or another. Thus it was when, as a
young student, he was present at his mother's funeral; and even more so
when he came at a break-neck pace from Paris to the death-bed of the old
Consul, in a costume and with an air which took away the breath of the
ladies, and caused confusion among the men. Since then Richard had been
but little seen. Rumour, however, was busy with him. At one time some
commercial traveller had seen him at Zinck's Hotel at Hamburg; now he
was living in a palace; and now the story was that he was existing in
the docks, and writing sailors' letters for a glass of beer.

One fine day Garman and Worse's heavy state carriage was seen on its way
to the quay. Inside sat the head of the firm, Consul C.F. Garman, and
his daughter Rachel, while little Gabriel, his younger son, was sitting
by the side of the coachman. An unbearable curiosity agitated the groups
on the quay.

The state carriage was seldom to be seen in the town, and now at this
very moment the Hamburg steamer was expected. At length an _employé_ of
the firm came to the carriage window, and, after a few irrelevant
remarks, ventured to ask who was coming.

"I am expecting my brother the _attaché_, and his daughter," answered
Consul Garman, while with a movement peculiar to himself he adjusted his
smoothly shaven chin in his stiff neckcloth.

This information increased the excitement. Richard Garman was coming,
"the mad student," "the _attaché_" as he was sometimes called; and with
a daughter, too! But how could they belong to each other? Could he ever
have been really married? It was hardly likely.

The steamer came. Consul Garman went on board, and returned shortly
after with his brother and a little dark-haired girl, who doubtless was
the daughter.

Richard Garman was soon recognized, although he had grown somewhat
stouter: but the upright, elegant bearing and the striking black
moustache were still the same; while the hair, though crisp and curling
as in the old days, was now slightly necked with grey at the temples. He
greeted them all with a friendly smile as he passed to the carriage, and
there was more than one lady who felt that the glance of his bright
brown eye rested smilingly on her for a moment.

The carriage rolled off through the town, and away down the long avenue
which led to the large family mansion of Sandsgaard.

The town gossipped itself nearly crazy, but without any satisfactory
result. The house of Garman took good care of its secrets.

So much was, however, clear: that Richard Garman had dissipated the
whole of his large fortune, or else he would never have consented to
come home and eat the bread of charity in his brother's house.

On the other hand, the relation between the brothers was, at least as
far as appearances went, a most cordial one. The Consul gave a grand
dinner, at which he drank his brother's health, adding at the same time
the hope that he might find himself happy in his old home.

There is nothing so irritating as a half-fulfilled scandal, and when
Richard Garman a short time afterwards calmly received the post of
lighthouse-keeper at Bratvold, and lived there year after year without a
sign of doing anything worthy of remark, each one in the little town
felt himself personally affronted, and it was a source of wonder to all
how little the Garmans seemed to realize what they owed to society.

As far as that went, Richard himself was not perfectly clear how it had
all come about; there was something about Christian Frederick he could
not understand. Whenever he met his brother, or even got a letter from
him, his whole nature seemed to change; things he would otherwise never
have thought of attempting appeared all at once quite easy, and he did
feats which afterwards caused him the greatest astonishment. When, in a
state of doubt and uncertainty, he wrote home for the last time, to beg
his brother to take charge of little Madeleine, his only thought was to
make an end of his wasted life, the sooner the better, directly his
daughter was placed in safety. But just then he happened to get a
remittance enclosed in an extraordinary letter, in which occurred
several puzzling business terms. There was something about
"liquidation," and closing up an account which required his presence,
and in the middle of it all there were certain expressions which seemed
to have stumbled accidentally into the commercial style. For instance,
in one place there was "brother of my boyhood;" and further on, "with
sincere wishes for brotherly companionship;" and finally, he read, in
the middle of a long involved sentence, "Dear Richard, don't lose
heart." This stirred Richard Garman into action: he made an effort, and
set off home. When he saw his brother come on board the steamer the
tears came to his eyes, and he was on the point of opening his arms to
embrace him. The Consul, however, held out his hand, and said quietly,
"Welcome, Richard! Where are your things?"

Since then nothing had been said about the letter; once only had Richard
Garman ventured to allude to it, when the Consul seemed to imagine that
he wished to settle up the accounts that were therein mentioned. Nothing
could have been further from the _attaché's_ thoughts, and he felt that
the bare idea was almost an injury. "Christian Frederick is a wonderful
man," thought Richard; "and what a man of business he is!"

One day Consul Garman said to his brother, "Shall we drive out to
Bratvold, and have a look at the new lighthouse?"

Richard was only too glad to go. From his earliest days he had loved the
lonely coast, with its long stretches of dark heather and sand, and the
vast open sea; the lighthouse also interested him greatly.

When the brothers got into the carriage again to drive back to the town,
the _attaché_ said, "Do you know, Christian Frederick, I can't imagine a
position more suitable to such a wreck as myself than that of
lighthouse-keeper out here."

"There is no reason you should not have it," answered his brother.

"Nonsense! How could it be managed?" answered Richard, as he knocked the
ashes off his cigar.

"Now listen, Richard," replied the Consul, quickly. "If there is a thing
I must find fault with you for, it is your want of self-reliance. Don't
you suppose that, with your gifts and attainments, you could get a far
higher post if you only chose to apply for it?"

"No; but, Christian Frederick--" exclaimed the _attaché_, regarding his
brother with astonishment.

"It's perfectly true," replied the Consul. "If you want the post, they
must give it to you; and if there should be any difficulty, I feel
pretty certain that a word from us to the authorities would soon settle
it."

The matter was thus concluded, and Richard Garman was appointed
lighthouse-keeper at Bratvold, either because of his gifts and
attainments or by reason of a timely word to the authorities. The very
sameness of his existence did the old cavalier good; the few duties he
had, he performed with the greatest diligence and exactitude.

He passed most of his spare time in smoking cigarettes, and looking out
to sea through the large telescope, which was mounted on a stand, and
which he had got as a present from Christian Frederick. He was truly
weary, and he could not but wonder how he had so long kept his taste for
the irregular life he had led in foreign lands. There was one thing that
even more excited his wonder, and that was how well he got on with his
income. To live on a hundred a year seemed to him nothing less than a
work of art, and yet he managed it. It must be acknowledged that he had
a small private income, but his brother always told him it was as good
as nothing; how much it was, and from what source it was really derived,
he never had an idea. It is true that there came each year a current
account from Garman and Worse, made out in the Consul's own hand, and he
also frequently got business letters from his brother; but neither the
one nor the other made things clearer to him. He signed his name to all
papers which were sent to him, in what appeared the proper place.
Sometimes he got a bill of exchange to execute, and this he did to the
best of his ability; but everything still remained to him in the same
state of darkness as before.

One thing, however, was certain: Richard got on capitally. He kept two
assistants for the lanterns; he had his riding horse Don Juan, and a
cart-horse as well. His cellar was well filled with wine; and he always
had a little ready money at hand, for which he had no immediate use.
Thus, when any one complained to him of the bad times, he recommended
them to come into the country; it was incredible how cheaply one could
live there.

In the ten years they had passed at Bratvold, Madeleine had grown to
womanhood, and had thriven beyond general expectation; and when she had
got quite at home in the language (her mother had been a Frenchwoman),
she soon got on the best of terms with all their neighbours. She did not
remain much in the house, but passed most of her time at the farmhouses,
or by the sea, or the little boat haven.

A whole regiment of governesses had attempted to teach Madeleine, but
the task was a difficult one; and when the governesses were ugly her
father could not abide them, and when one came who was pretty there were
other objections. Richard paid frequent visits to Sandsgaard, either on
Don Juan or in the Garmans' dogcart, which was sent to fetch him. The
chilly, old-fashioned house, and the reserved and polished manners of
its inmates, had made a repellant impression on Madeleine. For her
cousin Rachel, who was only a few years her elder, she had no liking.
She preferred, therefore, to remain at home, and her father was never
absent for more than a few days at a time. She spent most of her time on
the shore or in the neighbouring cottages, in the society of fishermen
and pilots. Merry and fearless as she was, these men were glad to take
her out in fine weather in their boats. She thus learnt to fish, to
handle a sail, or to distinguish the different craft by their rig.

Madeleine had one particular friend whose name was Per, who was three or
four years older than herself, and who lived in the cottage nearest to
the lighthouse. Per was tall and strongly built, with a crop of stiff,
sandy hair, and a big hand as hard as horn from constant rowing; his
eyes were small and keen, as is often seen among those who from their
childhood are in the habit of peering out to sea through rain and fog.

Per's father had been a widower, and Per his only child, but he managed
to get married again, and now the family increased year after year. The
neighbours were always urging Per to get his father to divide the
property with him, but Per preferred to wait the turn of events. The
longer he waited the more brothers and sisters he had to share with. His
friends laughed at him, and somebody one day called him "Wait Per," a
joke which caused great amusement at the time, and the nickname stuck to
him ever afterwards. Beyond this, Per was not a lad to be laughed at; he
was one of the most active boatmen of the community, and at the same
time the most peaceable creature on earth. He did not trouble to
distinguish himself, but he had a kind of natural love for work, and, as
he was afraid of nothing, the general feeling was that Per was a lad
that would get on.

The friendship between Per and Madeleine was very cordial on both sides.
At first some of the other young fellows tried to take her from him, but
one day it so happened that when she was out with Per, a fresh
north-westerly breeze sprang up. Per's boat and tackle were always of
the best, so that there was no real danger; but nevertheless her father,
who had seen the boat through the big telescope, came in all haste down
to the shore, and went out on to the little pier to meet them.

"There's father," said Madeleine; "I wonder if he is anxious about us?"

"I think he knows better than that," said Per, thoughtfully.

All the same the _attaché_ could not help feeling a little uneasy as he
stood watching the boat; but when Per with a steady hand steered her in
through the fairway, and swung her round the point of the pier, so that
she glided easily into the smooth water behind it, the old gentleman
could not help being impressed by his skill. "He knows what he's about,"
he muttered, as he helped up his daughter; and instead of the lecture he
had prepared, he only said, "You are a smart lad, Per; but I never gave
you permission to sail with her alone."

There was no one near enough to hear the old gentleman's words, but when
the spectators who were standing near saw that Per shook hands with both
Madeleine and her father in a friendly manner, they could all perceive
that Per was in the lighthouse-keeper's good books for the future, and
from that day it was taken for granted that Per alone had the right to
escort the young lady.

Per thought over and over whom he should take with him in the boat. He
saw well enough that the whole pleasure would be spoilt if one of his
friends came with them. At length he hit upon a poor half-witted lad,
who was also hard of hearing into the bargain. No one could make out
what Per wanted with "Silly Hans" in his boat; but there! Per always was
an obstinate fellow. Both he and Madeleine were well contented with his
choice; and when, a few days after, she put her head in at the door, and
called to her father, "I'm just going for a little sail with Per," she
was able to add with a good conscience, "Of course, he has got some one
with him, since you really make such a point of it." She could not help
laughing to herself as she ran down the slope.

Richard, in the mean time, betook himself to the big telescope. Right
enough: Per was sitting aft, and he saw Madeleine jump down into the
boat. On the forward thwart there sat a male creature, dressed in
homespun, with a yellow sou'wester on its head.

"_Bien!_" said the old gentleman, with a sigh of relief. "It is well
they have got some one with them--in every respect."




CHAPTER II.


The highest point on the seven miles of flat, sandy coast was the
headland of Bratvold, where the lighthouse was built just on the edge of
the slope, which here fell so steeply off towards the sea as to make the
descent difficult and almost dangerous, while in ascending it was
necessary to take a zigzag course. The sheep, which had grazed here from
time out of mind, had cut out a network of paths on the side of the
hill, so that from a distance these paths seemed to form a pattern of
curves and projections on its face.

From the highest and steepest point, on which the lighthouse was built,
the coast made a slight curve to the southward, and at the other end of
this curve was the large farm of Bratvold, which, with its numerous and
closely packed buildings, appeared like a small village.

On the shore below the farm lay the little boat harbour, sheltered by a
breakwater of heavy stone.

The harbour was commanded by the windows of the lighthouse, so that
Madeleine could always keep her eye on Per's boat, which was as familiar
to her as their own sitting-room. This was a large and cheerful room,
and into its corner was built the tower of the lighthouse itself, which
was not higher than the rest of the building. The room had thus two
windows, one of which looked out to sea, while from the other was a view
to the northward over the sandy dunes, which were dotted with patches of
heather and bent grass. In the sitting-room Madeleine's father had his
books and writing-table, and last, but not least, the large telescope.
This was made to turn on its stand, so that it commanded both the view
to the north and that out to sea. Here also Madeleine had her flowers
and her work-table; and the tasteful furniture which Uncle Garman had
ordered from Copenhagen, and which was always a miracle of cheapness to
her father, gave the room a bright and comfortable appearance.

In the long evenings when the winter storms came driving in on the
little lighthouse, father and daughter sat cosy and warm behind the
shelter of their thick walls and closed shutters, while the light fell
in regular and well-defined rays over the billows, which raged and
foamed on the shore below. The ever-changing ocean, which washed under
their very windows, seemed to give a freshness to their whole life,
while its never-ceasing murmur mingled in their conversation and their
laughter, and in her music.

Madeleine had inherited much of her father's lively nature; but she had
also a kind of impetuosity, which one of her governesses had called
defiance. When she grew up she showed, therefore, the stronger nature of
the two, and her father, as was his wont, gave way. He laughed at his
little tyrant, whose great delight was to ruffle his thick curling hair.
When, in his half-abstracted way, the old gentleman would tell her
stones which threatened to end unpleasantly, she would scold him well;
but when, from some cause or other, he was really displeased with her,
it affected her so much that the impression remained for a long time.
Her nature was bright and joyous, but she yearned for the sunshine, and
when her father was out of spirits she could not help fancying that it
was her fault, and became quite unhappy.

Madeleine had also her father's eyes, dark and sparkling, but otherwise
her only resemblance to him lay in her slight figure and graceful
carriage. Her mouth was rather large, and her complexion somewhat dark.
None could deny that she was an attractive girl, but no one would have
called her pretty; some of the young men had even decided that she was
plain.

One fine afternoon early in spring, Per lay waiting with his boat off
the point of the Mole. Silly Hans was not with him, for both he and
Madeleine had agreed that it was not necessary when they were going only
for a row; and to-day all there was to do was to provide the
lobster-pots with fresh bait for the night.

One after another the fishermen rowed out through the narrow entrance.
Each one had some mischievous joke to throw on board Per's boat, and
more than once the annoying "Wait" was heard. He began to lose his
temper as he lay on his oars, gazing expectantly up at the lighthouse.

But there all was still. The solid little building looked so quiet and
well cared for in the bright sunshine, which shone on the polished
window-panes and on the bright red top of the lantern, where he could
see the lamp-trimmer going round on his little gallery, polishing the
prisms.

At last, after what seemed endless waiting, she came out on to the
steps, and in another moment she was across the yard, over the enclosure
which belonged to the lighthouse, out through the little gate in the
fence, and now she came in full career down the slope. "Have you been
waiting?" she cried, as she came on to the extreme point of the
breakwater. He was just going to tell her not to jump, but it was too
late; without lessening her speed, she had already sprung from the pier
down into the boat. Her feet slipped from her, and she fell in a sitting
posture on the bottom of the boat, while part of her dress hung in the
water.

"Bother the women!" cried Per, who had told her at least a hundred times
not to jump; "now you have hurt yourself."

"No," answered she.

"Yes, you have."

"Well, just a little," she replied, looking stubbornly at him as the
tears came into her eyes; for she really had bruised her leg severely.

"Let me see," said Per.

"No, you shan't!" she answered, arranging her dress over her.

Per began to make for the shore.

"What are you going to do?"

"Going to get some brandy to rub your foot."

"That you certainly shan't."

"Well, then, you shan't go with me," answered Per.

"Very well, then; let me get out."

And before the boat quite touched the ground, she sprang on to the
shore, climbed on to the breakwater, and went hurriedly off homewards.
She clenched her teeth with the pain as she went, but still without
raising her eyes from the ground she followed the well-known path. As
she passed in front of the boat-houses, she had to step over oars,
tar-barrels, old swabs, and all sorts of rubbish, which was scattered
among the boats. All around lay the claws of crabs and the half-decayed
heads of codfish, in which the gorged and sleepy flies were crawling in
and out of the eye-sockets.

She reached the lighthouse without turning her head; she was determined
not to look back at him. At the top, however, she was obliged to pause
to get her breath; she surely might look and see how far he got.
Madeleine knew that the other fishermen had had a long start, and
expected, therefore, to find Per's boat far behind, between the others
and the shore. But it was not to be seen, neither there nor in the
harbour. All at once her eye caught the well-known craft, which was not,
however, far behind, but almost level with the others. Per must have
rowed like a madman. She was well able to estimate the distance, and
could appreciate such a feat of oarsmanship, and, entirely forgetting
her pain and that she was alone, she turned round as if to a crowd of
spectators, and pointing at the boats she said, with sparkling eyes,
"Look at him! that's the boy to row!"

Meanwhile Per sat in his boat, tearing at his oars till all cracked
again. It was as though he wished to punish himself by his gigantic
efforts. Her form grew smaller and smaller as he rowed out to sea, till
at length she was out of sight; but he had deserved it all. "Deuce take
the women!" and each time he repeated the words he sprang to his oars
and rowed as if for bare life.

The next day the same lovely weather continued, and the sea lay as
smooth as oil in the bright sunshine. An English lobster-cutter was in
the offing, with sails flapping against the mast, and the slack in the
taut rigging could be seen as the craft heaved lazily to and fro on the
gentle swell. Madeleine sat by the window; she did not care to go out.
Her eye followed the lobster-cutter, which she knew well: it was the
_Flying Fish_, Captain Crab, of Hull.

So Per must have been out with lobsters that morning: she wondered if he
had caught many. Perhaps he might have done himself harm by his efforts
of yesterday. She went out on to the slope, and looked down into the
harbour. Per's boat was there; it was quite likely he was not well.

Suddenly Madeleine made up her mind to run down and ask a man whom she
saw by the boat-houses, but half-way down the slope she met some one who
was coming upwards. She could not possibly have seen him sooner, because
he was below her at the steepest part of the hill, but now she
recognized him, and slackened her pace.

Per must also have seen her, although he was looking down, for at a few
paces from her he left the main path, and took one that was a little
lower. When therefore they were alongside each other, she was a little
above him. Per had a basket on his back, and Madeleine could see there
was seaweed in it.

Neither of them spoke, but both of them felt as if they were half
choking. When he had got a pace beyond her, she turned round and asked,
"What have you got in the basket, Per?"

"A lobster," answered he, as he swung the basket off his back and put it
down upon the path.

"Let me see it," said Madeleine.

He hastily drew aside the seaweed, and took out a gigantic lobster,
which was flapping its broad, scaly tail.

"That is a splendid great lobster!" she cried.

"Yes, it isn't a bad un!"

"What are you going to do with it?"

"Ask your father if he would like to have it."

"What do you want for it?" she asked, although she knew perfectly well
that it was a present.

"Nothing," answered Per, curtly.

"That is good of you, Per."

"Oh, it's nothing," he answered, as he laid the seaweed back in the
basket; and now, when the moment came to say good-bye, he said, "How's
your foot?"

"Thanks, all right. I got the brandy."

"Did it hurt much?" asked Per.

"No, not very much."

"I am glad you did that," he said, as he ventured to lift his eyes to
the level of her chin.

Now they really must separate, for there was nothing more to be said,
but Madeleine could not help thinking that Per was a helpless creature.

"Good-bye, Per."

"Good-bye," he answered, and both took a few steps apart.

"Per, where are you going when you have been up with the lobster?"

"Nowhere particular," answered Per.

He really was too stupid, but all the same she turned round and called
after him, "I am going to the sand-hills on the other side of the
lighthouse, the weather is so lovely;" and away she ran.

"All right," answered Per, springing like a cat up the slope.

As he ran he threw away the seaweed so as to have the lobster ready, and
when he got to the kitchen door he flung the monster down on the bench,
and cried, "This is for you!" as he disappeared. The maid had recognized
his voice, and ran after him to order fresh fish for Friday, but he was
already far away. She gazed after him in amazement, and muttered, "I
declare, I think Per is wrong in his head."

Northward stretched the yellow sand-hills with their tussocks of bent
grass as far as the eye could reach. The coast-line curved in bights and
promontories, with here and there a cluster of boats, while the gulls
and wild geese were busy on the shore, and the waves rolled in in small
curling ripples which glistened in the' clear sunshine. Per soon caught
up Madeleine, for she went slowly that day. She had pulled a few young
stalks of the grass, which, as she went, she was endeavouring to arrange
in her hat.

The difference of the preceding day hung heavily over both of them. It
was really the first time that anything of the sort had occurred between
them. Perhaps it was that they felt instinctively that they stood on the
brink of a precipice. They therefore took the greatest pains to avoid
the subject which really occupied their thoughts. The conversation was
thus carried on in a careless and desultory tone, and in short and
broken sentences. At last she made an effort to bring him to the point,
and asked him if he had caught many lobsters that night.

"Twenty-seven," answered Per.

That was neither many nor few, so there was no more to be said about
that.

"You did row hard yesterday," said she, looking down, for now she felt
that they were nearing the point.

"It was because--because I was alone in the boat," returned he,
stammering. He saw at once that it was a stupid remark, but it was said
and could not be mended.

"Perhaps you prefer to be alone in the boat?" she asked hastily, fixing
her eyes upon him. But when she saw the long helpless creature standing
before her in such a miserable state of confusion, strong and handsome
as he was, she sprang up, threw her arms round his neck, and said, half
laughing, half crying, "Oh, Per! Per!"

Per had not the faintest idea how he ought to behave when a lady had her
arms round his neck, and so stood perfectly still. He looked down upon
her long dark hair and slender figure, and, trembling at his own
audacity, he put his heavy arm limply round her.

They were now out on the dunes, and she sat down behind one of the
largest tussocks, on the warm sand. He ventured to place himself by her
side, and looked vacantly around him. Every now and then he cast his eye
upon her, but still doubtfully. It was clear that he did not grasp the
situation, and at length he appeared to her so absurd that she sprang
up, and cried, "Come, Per, let's have a run!"

Away they went, now running, now at a foot's pace. His heavy sea-boots
made a broad impression upon the sand, and the mark of her shoe looked
so tiny by the side of it that they could not help turning round and
laughing. They jested and laughed as if they knew not that they were no
longer children, and she made Per promise to give up chewing tobacco.

Away along the curving shore, with the salt breath of ocean fresh upon
them, went these young hearts, rejoicing in their existence, while the
sea danced in sparkling wavelets at their feet.

The _attaché_ had just finished a letter to his brother; it was one of
these wearisome business letters, enclosing some papers he had had to
sign. He never could make out where the proper place was for him to put
his name on these tiresome, long-winded documents. But, wonderful to
relate, his brother always told him that it was perfectly correct, and
Christian Frederick was most particular in such matters. The old
gentleman had just sent off the letter, and was beginning to breathe
more easily, when he went to the window and looked out. He discovered
two forms going in a northerly direction over the sand-hills.

Half abstractedly, he went to the other window and directed the large
telestope upon them.

"Humph!" said he, "I declare, they're there again."

Suddenly he took his eye from the telescope.

"Hulloa! the girl must be mad."

He put his eye down again to the telescope, and threw away his
cigarette. There was no doubt about it--there was his own Madeleine
hanging round Per's neck. He rubbed the glass excitedly with his
pocket-handkerchief. They were now going respectably enough side by
side; now they were among the grassy knolls, and behind one of them they
disappeared from his sight. He thoughtfully directed the telescope to
the other side of the hillock and waited. "What now?" muttered he,
giving the glass another rub. They had not yet come from behind the
hillock. For a few minutes the father was quite nervous. At last he saw
one form raise itself, and immediately after another.

The telescope was perfect, and the old gentleman took in the situation
just as well as if he had himself been sitting by their side.

"Ah! it's well it's no worse," he murmured; "but it's bad enough as it
is. I shall have to send her off to the town."

When they were at dinner, he said, "You know, Madeleine, we have long
been talking about your staying a little while at Sandsgaard."

"Oh no, father," broke in Madeleine, looking beseechingly at him.

"Yes, child; it's quite time now in my opinion." He spoke in an
unusually determined tone.

Madeleine could see that he knew everything, and all at once the events
of the morning stood in their true light before her. As she sat there,
in their well-appointed room, opposite her father, who looked so refined
and stately, Per and the shore, and everything that belonged to it, bore
quite a different aspect, and instead of the joyful confession she had
pictured to herself as she went homewards, she looked down in confusion
and blushed to the very roots of her hair.

The visit was thus arranged, and Madeleine was delighted that her father
had not observed her confusion; and he was glad enough to escape any
further explanation on the subject, for it was just in such matters that
the old gentleman showed his weakest point. The next day he rode into
the town.




CHAPTER III.


_"Avoir, avant, avu_--that's how it goes! That's right, my boy; _avoir,
avant_."

The whole class could see clearly that the master was lost in thought.
He was pacing up and down, with long steps and half-closed eyes,
gesticulating from time to time, as he kept repeating the ill-used
auxiliary. On the upper benches the boys began to titter, and those on
the lower ones, who had not such a fine ear for the French verbs, soon
caught the infection; while the unhappy wretch who was undergoing
examination, sat trembling lest the master should notice his wonderful
method of conjugating the verb. This unfortunate being was Gabriel
Garman, the Consul's younger son. He was a tall, slender boy of about
fifteen or sixteen, with a refined face, prominent nose, and upright
bearing.

Gabriel was sitting in the lower half of the class, which was, in the
opinion of the master, a great disgrace for a boy of his ability. He
was, however, a curious, wayward boy. In some things, such as arithmetic
and mathematics generally, he distinguished himself; but in Greek and
Latin, which were considered the most important part of his education,
he showed but little proficiency, although he was destined for a
university career.

At last the general mirth of the class burst out in sundry half-stifled
noises, which roused the master from his reverie, and he again resumed
the book, to continue the examination. As ill luck would have it, he
once more repeated, "_Avoir, avant_," and then half abstractedly,
"_avu_." "Ah, you young idiot!" cried he, in a discordant voice, "can't
you manage _avoir_ yet? Whatever is to become of you?"

"Merchant," answered Gabriel, bluntly.

"What do you say? You dare to answer your master? Are you going to be
impertinent? I'll teach you! Where's the persuader?" and the master
strode up to his seat, and, diving down into his desk, began routing
about in it.

At this moment the passage door opened, and an extraordinary and most
unscholarly looking head intruded itself into the room. The head had a
red nose, and wore a long American goat's-beard and a blue seaman's cap.
"Are you there?" said the head, addressing Master Gabriel in a
half-drunken voice. "Is that where you are, poor boy? Bah! what an
atmosphere! I only just came in to tell you to come down to the
ship-yard when you get out of school; we are just beginning the
planking."

He did not get any further, for at the sight of the long-legged master,
who stalked down from the desk, quite scandalized at this disturbance of
order, the head suddenly stopped in its harangue, and with a hearty,
"Well, I'm blest! what a ghost!" disappeared, closing the door after it.

It did not take very much to provoke the laughter of the boys, and when
at the same moment the bell rang to announce that the school-hour was
over, the class broke up in confusion, and the master hastened, fuming
with rage, to complain to the rector.

Gabriel hurried off as fast as he could, in hopes of catching up his
friend who had caused the disturbance, but he had already disappeared;
he had probably gone down to the town to continue his libations. This
friend was a foreman shipwright, who, since his return from America, had
borne the name of Tom Robson. His real name when he left home was Thomas
Robertsen, but it had got changed somehow in America, and he kept to it
as it was.

Tom Robson was the cleverest foreman on the whole west coast, but his
drinking propensities tried to the utmost both the patience and the
firmness of his employers. He had already built several vessels for
Garman and Worse, but he was determined that the one he was now
superintending at Sandsgaard should be his masterpiece.

This vessel was of about nine hundred tons burden, and was the largest
craft that had been built at that port up to the present time, and
Consul Garman had given orders that nothing should be spared to make it
a model of perfection.

Tom Robson was thus only able to get drunk by fits and starts, which he
did when they came to any important epoch in the building. On that day,
for instance, the time had just arrived for beginning to lay the
planking upon the timbers.

As Gabriel neither found his friend nor saw anything of the carriage
from Sandsgaard, which generally met him on his way from school, he set
off to walk homewards, down the long avenue which led to the family
property. It was a good half-hour's walk, and while he sauntered along,
swinging his heavy burden of the books he so cordially hated, he was
lost in gloomy thought. Every day, on his way from school, he met the
younger clerks going to their dinner in the town. They looked tired and
weary, it is true; still, he envied them their permission to sit working
the whole day in the office--a paradise with which he, although his
father's son, had no connection whatever. He was obliged to confine his
energy to the building-yard, where there were plenty of hiding-places,
and where the Consul was seldom seen of an afternoon. The ship on the
stocks was at once his joy and his pride; he crept all over her, inside
and out, above and below, scrutinizing every plank and every nail. At
length he had begun to have quite a knowledge of the art of
ship-building, and had gained the friendship of Tom Robson, Anders
Begmand, and the other shipwrights. The ship was to be the finest the
town had yet produced, and when this fact came into his thoughts it
almost enabled him to forget his burden of Greek and Latin.

From conversations he had partly overheard at home, Gabriel knew that
there had been a difference of opinion between his father and Morten,
the eldest son, who was a partner in the firm, ever since the building
of this ship was first mentioned.

Morten maintained that they ought to buy an iron steamer in England,
either on their own account or in partnership with some of the other
houses of the town.



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