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Title: Mary
Author: Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne, 1832-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary" ***

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Libraries.)



    THE NOVELS OF BJÖRNSTJERNE BJÖRNSON

    _Edited by EDMUND GOSSE_

    VOLUME XIII



    _THE NOVELS OF BJÖRNSTJERNE BJÖRNSON
    Edited by EDMUND GOSSE
    Fcap. 8vo, cloth 3s. net.

        Synnöve Solbakken.
        Arne.
        A Happy Boy.
        The Fisher Lass.
        The Bridal March, & A Day.
        Magnhild, & Dust.
        Captain Mansana, & Mother's Hands.
        Absalom's Hair, & A Painful Memory.
        In God's Way. (2 vols.)
        The Heritage of the Kurts. (2 vols.)
        Mary.

    LONDON
    WILLIAM HEINEMANN
    21 Bedford Street, W. C._



    MARY

    BY BJÖRNSTJERNE BJÖRNSON

    _Translated from the Norwegian by MARY MORISON_

    LONDON
    WILLIAM HEINEMANN
    1909


    _All rights reserved_



THE HOMESTEAD AND THE RACE


The coast line of the south of Norway is very irregular. This is the
work of the mountains and rivers. The former end in hillocks and
headlands, off which often lie islands; the latter have dug out valleys
and end in fjords or smaller inlets.

In one of these inlets, known as "Kroken" (the nook), lies the
homestead. The original name of the place was Krokskogen. In the
documents of the Danish government officials this was transformed into
Krogskoven; now it is Krogskogen. The owners originally called
themselves Kroken; Anders and Hans Kroken were the regularly recurring
names. In course of time they came to call themselves Krogh; the general
in the Danish army subscribed himself _Von_ Krogh. Now they are Krog,
plain and simple.

The passengers on the small steamers which, on their way to and from the
neighbouring town, touch at the landing-place below the little chapel,
never fail to remark on the beautifully sheltered, snug situation of
Krogskogen.

The mountains rise high on the horizon, but here they have dwindled
down. The families between two long wooded ridges which project into the
sea--its buildings so close to the right-hand ridge that to the
steamer-passengers it seems as if a man might easily jump from their
roofs on to the steep hill-side. The west wind cannot find its way in
here. The place seems, after the manner of children playing at
hide-and-seek, to have the right to cry: _Pax!_ to it. And it is almost
in a position to say the same to the north and east winds. Only a gale
from the south can make its entrance, and that in humble fashion.
Islands, one large and two small, detain and chasten it before they
allow it to pass. The tall trees in front of the houses merely bow their
topmost branches rhythmically; they abate none of their dignity.

In this sheltered bay is the best bathing-place of the whole
neighbourhood. In summer the youth of the town used to come out here on
the Saturday evenings and Sundays to disport themselves in the sandy
shallows or to swim out to the large island and back. It was at the left
side of the bay, reckoning from Krogskogen, that this went on, the side
where the river falls into the sea, where the landing-place lies, and, a
little above it and nearer the ridge, the chapel, with the graves of the
Krog family clustered round it. The distance from here to the houses on
the right is considerable. Up there the noise made by the merry bathers
was seldom heard. But Anders Krog often came down to watch them, when
they had lighted fires on the beach or in the wood on the point. He
doubtless came to keep an eye on the fires; but nothing was ever said of
this. Anders was known as the politest man, "the most thorough
gentleman," in the town. His large, peculiarly bright eyes beamed a
gentle welcome into the faces of all; the few words which fell from him
expressed only kindly interest. He soon passed on, to climb the ridge
and take his usual slow walk round. As long as his tall, slightly
stooping form was visible in the wood above, there was silence. But what
a good time the bathers had here! They were for the most part working
men from the town, members of gymnastic societies or choral unions,
troops of boys. Their gathering-place was beside the landing-stage and
the chapel. There they undressed. The main road which follows the coast
passes the spot; but it was little frequented in summer; people came to
the place by boat or in the small steamers. So long as the bathers kept
a watchman on the ridge, they were certain of not being surprised.

Up at the house it was quiet, always quiet. The front of the main
building does not even face the bay; it looks on the fields. The
building is of two high storeys, with the roof flattened over the
gables--a long, broad house.

The foundation wall rises very high in front; a flight of easy steps
leads up to the door. The whole building is painted white, except the
foundation wall and the windows, which are black. The outhouses lie
nearer the ridge; they cannot be seen from the steamer. At one side of
the main building an orchard slopes towards the sea; at the other is a
large flower and kitchen garden.

The level land, a long, narrow strip, lies between the ridges. It is
carefully and skilfully cultivated. The big Dutch cows thrive here.

The history of the property and that of its owners was predetermined by
the woods. These were large and valuable, and fortunately came in good
time under careful Dutch management. This happened in the days when the
small Dutch merchant-vessels traded directly with the owners of the
woods in Norway. The Dutchmen were supplied with timber, and in turn
supplied the Norwegians with their civilisation and its products.
Krogskogen was specially fortunate, for, some three hundred years ago,
the owner of one of the "koffs" which lay loading in the bay, fell in
love with the peasant's fair-haired daughter. He ended by buying the
whole place. A beautifully painted portrait of him and her still hangs
in the best room of the house, in the corner nearest the bay. It
represents a tall, thin man, with peculiarly bright eyes. He is
dark-haired, and has a slight stoop of the neck. The race must have been
a vigorous one, for the Krogs are like this to-day.

The first Dutch owner was not called Krog, nor did he live at
Krogskogen; but the son who inherited the place was baptised Anders
Krog, after his mother's father; he called his son Hans, after his own
father; and since then these two names have alternated. If there were
several sons, one was always named Klas and another Jürges, which names
in the course of time became Klaus and Jörgen. The family continued to
intermarry with its Dutch kinsfolk, so that the race was as much Dutch
as Norwegian; for long all the domestic arrangements at Krogskogen were
Dutch. In a manner, the nationalities did not seem really to mix. The
reason of this probably was that the Dutch element was not pure
Dutch--if it had been, it would have intermingled more easily with the
Norwegian; it was a mixture of Dutch and Spanish. The black hair, the
bright eyes, the lean body, were inherited by the men from generation to
generation; the women inherited the fairness and the strong build; in
them Norwegian blood flowed along with Dutch. Rarely indeed did the one
sex make over any of its family characteristics to the other;
occasionally fair and dark hair met in red, and once in a way the bright
eyes would make their appearance in a woman's face.

It was a peculiarity of the race that in all its families more daughters
than sons were born. The Krogs were fine-looking men and women, and, as
a rule, were well off; consequently, the family made good connections
and held a good position. They had the character of being clannish and
able to hold their own.

One quality which marked them all was that of prudent moderation. In
Norway a fortune rarely descends to the third generation. If it is not
squandered in the second, it is certain to be in the third. Not so in
this case. To the main branch of the Krog family the woods were now the
same source of wealth that they had been three hundred years before.

A desire which was transmitted from generation to generation was the
desire to travel. In the book-cases at Krogskogen books of travel
predominated, and additions were constantly made to their number. Even
as children the Krogs travelled. They planned tours with the help of
books, pictures, and maps. They sat at the table and played at
travelling. They voyaged from one town built of coloured card-board
houses to another of the same description. They navigated cardboard
ships, loaded with beans, coffee, salt, and wooden pegs. In the bay they
rowed and sailed and swam from the pier to the island. One day it was
from Europe to America, another, from Japan to Ceylon. Or they crossed
the ridge, that is the Andes, to the most wonderful Indian villages.

No sooner were they grown up than they insisted on seeing something of
the world. They generally began with a voyage to Holland and a visit to
their kinsfolk there. Some two hundred years ago a youth of the family,
after a very short stay in Holland, went off in a Dutch East Indiaman.
He, however, returned to Amsterdam, resolved to become an architect and
engineer--the professions were at that time combined. He made himself a
name, and in course of time was called to Copenhagen to teach. He
entered the military service and rose to the rank of general in the
engineer corps. At the time of his retirement his earnings, added to his
patrimony, constituted a considerable fortune. He settled at Krogskogen,
which he bought after the death of a childless brother. He called
himself Hans _von_ Krogh. It was he who erected the present house, which
is of stone, a very unusual building material in a Norwegian forest
district. The old engineer-architect wanted occupation and amusement.
Though he was not married, he made the house large, "for those to come."
He rebuilt the farm-steading; he drained and he planted; he sent to
Holland for a gardener--old Siemens, of whose strictness and angry
insistence upon cleanliness and order stories are still told. For him
the General put up hot-houses and built a cottage.

The General lived to be a very old man. After his day nothing special
happened until the younger of two brothers emigrated to America and
settled on the shores of Lake Michigan--at that time virgin soil. This
was regarded as a great event. The man's name was Anders Krog. He
prospered over there, and people wondered that he did not marry. He
invited one of his brother's sons to come out to him, promising to make
him his heir. And thus it came about that Hans, the elder brother of the
Anders Krog of our story, went to America.

At exactly the same time, however, arrived a young Norwegian girl, also
a Krog; and with her the elderly uncle fell in love. He proposed to Hans
to pay his journey home. But the young man felt that he would disgrace
himself by returning. He stayed on and set up in business for
himself--in the timber trade, which he understood. The undertaking
prospered. By rights Hans should have gone home and taken possession of
Krogskogen at the time of his father's death; but he refused to do so.
The younger brother, Anders, who in the meantime had also taken to
trade, and acquired the largest grocery business in the neighbouring
town, was obliged to take over the property as well.

Young Anders Krog was not really a good business man. But his
extraordinary conscientiousness and considerateness soon gained him the
custom of the whole town. Another man in his place might have made a
fortune; he did not. When he entered on possession of Krogskogen he had
not yet paid up the price of his business in town, and in taking over
the property he incurred a still larger debt. For both he had been made
to pay well. Travel he must, but he had to content himself with going
off for a month each year--one year to England, another to France, and
so on. His greatest desire was a visit to America, but on this he dared
not venture yet. He contented himself with reading of the new
wonderland. Reading was his chief pleasure; next to it came gardening,
in which he possessed more skill than most trained gardeners.

This quiet man with the bright eyes was shyer than a girl of fourteen.
Every week-day morning he chose, if possible, a seat by himself on the
little steamer which took him to town as long as the bay was not frozen
over. In going on shore he showed extreme consideration for others; then
he hurried off, bowing respectfully to his acquaintances, to his house
on the market-place, where he was to be found until evening, when he
returned as he had come. At times he cycled. In winter he drove; and at
this season he sometimes stayed over night in town, where he occupied
two modest attic rooms in his own house.

The town knew of no other man possessing in such a degree all the
qualities of a perfect husband. But his invincible modesty made all
overtures impossible until ... the right woman came. But then he was
already over forty. The same fate befell him as had befallen his uncle
and namesake at Lake Michigan; a young girl of his own family came and
took possession of him. And she was this very uncle's only child.

He was working one Sunday morning, in his shirt-sleeves, in the kitchen
and flower garden on the northern side of the house, when a young girl,
wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat, laid her ungloved hands on the white
fence and looked in between its round tops.

Anders, bending over a flower-bed, heard a playful: "Good morning!" and
started up. Speechless and motionless he stood, with earth-soiled hands,
his eyes drinking her in like a revelation.

She laughed and said: "Who am I?" Then his thinking power returned. "You
are--you must be----"; he got no further, but smiled a welcome.

"Who am I?"

"Marit Krog from Michigan."

He had heard from his sister, who lived on the farther side of the left
ridge, that Marit Krog was on her way to Norway. But he had no idea that
she had arrived.

"And you are my father's nephew," said she with an English accent. "How
like him you are! How very like!"

She stood looking at him for a moment. Then--"May I come in?"

"Of course you may--but first"----looking at his hands and
shirt-sleeves, "first I must----."

"I can go in alone," said she frankly.

"Of course--please do! Go in by the front-door. I'll send the maid--"
and he hurried towards the kitchen.

She ran round to the front of the house and up the steps. Turning an
enormous key, an old work of art (as was also the iron-work on the
door), she stepped into the hall or entrance room. Here there was plenty
of light. Marit drew a little. She had learned to use her eyes. She saw
at once that all these cupboards, large and small, were of excellent
Dutch workmanship, and that the room was larger than it seemed; the
furniture took up so much space. On her left an old-fashioned carved
staircase led up to the second storey. The door straight in front of her
led to the kitchen, she concluded, assisted by her sense of smell; and
when the maid-servant issued from it she knew that she had guessed
rightly. Through the open door she saw a floor flagged with marble,
walls covered with china tiles decorated in blue, and, upon the shelf
which extended round the walls, brightly polished copper vessels of many
different sizes--a Dutch kitchen.

In the hall she stood upon carpets thicker than any her feet had ever
trodden. And quite as thick were those on the stairs, secured with the
hugest of brass rods. "The people in this house walk on cushions," she
thought to herself; and the idea immediately occurred to her that the
house was an enormous bed. Afterwards she always called it "the bed."
"Shall we go back to bed now?" she would say, laughing. On both sides of
the hall she saw doors and pictured to herself the rooms within. To her
left, that is, on the right side of the house, she imagined first a
smaller room, and beyond it, nearest the sea, a large room, the whole
breadth of the building. And she was correct. To her right she imagined
the house divided lengthwise into two rooms. And in this also she was
correct. Nor was it surprising that she should be, for her father's
house on the shores of Lake Michigan was planned in imitation of this.
Upstairs she pictured to herself a broad passage the whole length of the
house, with moderate-sized rooms on both sides of it. The carpets were
extraordinarily thick down here, but she was certain that they were at
least as thick upstairs, real cushion carpets. In this house there were
no noises. Its inmates were quiet people.

The servant had opened the door to the left. Marit went into the great
room and examined all its pictures and ornaments. It was terribly
overcrowded, but all the things in themselves had been well chosen, many
of them by connoisseurs--that she saw at once. Some of the paintings
were, she felt certain, of great value. But what occupied her most was
the thought that not until now had she understood her own old father,
although she had lived with him all her life--alone with him; she had
lost her mother early. Of just such a quantity of rare and precious
things was he composed--in a somewhat confused fashion, which prevented
his being appreciated. She felt as if he were standing by her, smiling
his gentle, kindly smile, happy because he was understood.

And there he was, sure enough! Through the open door she saw him on the
stair. Younger, yes! But that was of no consequence; the eyes were only
the brighter and warmer for that. He came towards her with the same
walk, the same movement of the arms, the same slight stoop and
circumspect carriage. And when he looked at her, and spoke to her, and
bade her welcome in her father's gentle, subdued manner, she was
conscious in him of the profound respect for the individual human being
which, in her estimation, characterised her father beyond any one she
had ever known. Her father's hair was thinner, his face was deeply
lined, he had lost some of his teeth, his skin was shrivelled. The
thought filled her eyes with tears. She looked up into the younger eyes,
heard the fresher voice, felt the grasp of the warmer hand. She could
not help it--she threw her arms round Anders Krog's neck, laid her head
on his breast, and wept.

This settled the matter. There was no resisting this.

Soon afterwards they both got into the boat in which she had come. It
was Marit who rowed round the point. Both for his own sake, and because
of the bathers, who saw them, he had made some feeble attempts to take
the oars. But from the moment when she threw her arms round his neck, he
was powerless. He knew that he would henceforth do the will of this girl
with the glory of red hair. He sat gazing at her freckled face and
freckled hands, at her superb figure, her fresh lips. At the edge of
her collar he caught a glimpse of the purest of white skin; there was
something in the eyes which corresponded exactly with this. He had not
seen his fill when they landed. Nor could he get enough on the way up to
his sister's farm--not enough of her soft voice, of her gait, of her
dress, of the smile which disclosed her teeth, nor, above all else, of
her frank, impetuous talk; all these things were alike bewildering.

Next morning he stayed at home. No sooner had the steamer with which he
should have gone to town turned the point, than Marit's white boat came
in sight. She had a maid-servant with her who was to keep watch, for
to-day she too meant to bathe.

Afterwards she went up to the house. She had planned to stay there to
dinner. In the afternoon they walked back together, across the ridge;
the boat had been sent home.

Next day she went with him to town. The day after they were in town
again, but this time she chose to drive, and made Anders' sister come
with them. There was something new every day. The brother and sister
simply lived for her, and she accepted the situation as if it were quite
natural.

When she had been with them for about three weeks, a cablegram came to
Krogskogen from brother Hans, telling that their uncle, Anders, had died
suddenly; the news must be broken to Marit.

Never had Anders Krog taken a walk with heavier feet and heart than on
the day when he crossed the hill to his sister's with this telegram in
his pocket. As he came in sight of the home-like yellow house and
steading amongst the trees on the plain below, he heard the dinner-bell
ring out cheerily into the bright sunshine. The spread table was
waiting. He sat down; he felt as if he could go no farther. Was he not
on his way to kill the glad day?

When at length he reached the house, he went in by the kitchen door,
along with some labourers who had come from a distance for their dinner.
In the kitchen he found his sister, who took him into a back room. She
was as much shocked and grieved as he; but she was of a more courageous
nature; and she undertook to break the news to Marit, who had not come
in yet, but was expected every moment.

Anders Krog in his back room ere long heard a scream which he never
forgot. He sprang to his feet with the agony of it, but could not bring
himself to leave the room; the sound of bitter sobbing in the next held
him fast. It grew louder and louder, interrupted by short cries. The
same impetuous strength in her grief as in her joy! It set him pacing
the room wildly until his sister opened the door.

"She wants to see you."

Then he was obliged to go in. Exerting all the strength of his will, he
entered. Marit was lying on the sofa, but the moment she saw him she sat
up and stretched out her arms.

"Come, come! _You_ are my father now!"

He crossed the room quickly and bent over her; she put her arm round his
neck and drew him down; he was obliged to kneel.

"You must never leave me again! Never, never!"

"Never!" he answered solemnly. She pressed him closer to her; her breast
throbbed against his; her head lay against his--wet, burning.

"You must never leave me!"

"Never!" he said once more with all his heart, and folded her in his
arms.

She lay down again as if comforted, took hold of his hand, and became
quieter. Every time the sobbing began afresh he bent over her with
caressing words, and soothed her.

He dared not go home; he stayed there all night. Marit could not sleep,
and he had to sit beside her.

By the following day she had made up her mind what was to be done. She
must go to America, and he must accompany her. This prompt decision
rather disconcerted him. But neither he nor his sister dared oppose her.
The sister, however, managed to give another direction to the girl's
thoughts. She said: "You ought to be married to each other first." Marit
looked at her and replied: "Yes, you are right. Of course we must be."
And this thought began to occupy her mind so much that her grief became
less acute. Anders had not been asked; but there was no necessity that
he should be.

Then came the first letter from Hans. After telling about his uncle's
funeral--how he had made all the arrangements, and what they were--he
offered to take over his uncle's business and property.

Anders placed unlimited confidence in his brother; the offer was
accepted; hence the journey was given up as needless. As soon as the
necessary investigations and valuations had been made, Hans named his
figure, and asked his brother if he would not invest this sum in the
business. The bank deposits and other securities were sent over at
once. These alone produced a sum sufficient not only to pay Anders'
debts, but also to allow Marit to make all the improvements at
Krogskogen which she fancied. Anders wished her to keep the whole
fortune in her own hands, but she ridiculed the idea. So he went into
partnership with his brother, and was thenceforth, according to
Norwegian ideas, a very wealthy man.

Some months after their marriage a change came over Marit. She gave way
to strange impulses, seemed unable to distinguish clearly between dream
and reality, and was possessed by a desire to make changes in everything
that was under her care, both at home and in their house in town. The
people who rented part of the latter had to move. She wished to have the
house to herself.

Much of her husband's time was occupied in carrying out her plans, more
in watching over herself. His gratitude did not find much expression in
words; it was to be read in his eyes, in his increased reverence of
manner, and above all in his tender care. He was afraid of losing what
had come to him so unexpectedly, or of something giving way. His
humility led him to feel that his happiness was undeserved.

Marit clung to him closer than ever. Two expressions she never tired of
repeating: "You are my father--and more!" and: "You have the most
beautiful eyes in the world; and they are mine." Gradually she gave up
many of her wonted occupations. In place of them she took to reading
aloud to him. From her childhood she had been accustomed to read to her
father; this practice was to be begun again. She read American
literature, chiefly poetry--read it in the chanting style in which
English verse is recited, and carried conviction by her own sincerity.
Her voice was soft; it took hold of the words gently, repeated them
quietly, as if from memory.

Then came the time when they went every day together to the hot-house.
The flowers there were the harbingers of what was growing within her;
she wished to see them every day. "I wonder if they are talking about
it," she said.

And one day, when winter had given the first sign of departure from the
coast, when they two had gathered the first green leaves in the border
beneath the sunny wall, she fell ill and knew that the great hour had
come. Without excessive previous suffering, and with her hand in his,
she bore a daughter. This had been her wish. But it was not her lot to
bring up her child; for three days later she herself was dead.



THE NEW MARIT


The doctor long feared that Krog, too, would die--of pure over-exertion.
During his long solitude he had been unaccustomed to give as much of
himself, or to receive as much, as life with Marit demanded and gave.
Not until she died did it become apparent how weak he was, how little
power of resistance was left him. It took months to restore the feeble
remnant so far that he could again bear to have people about him. They
told him that the child had been taken to his sister's. They asked him
if he would like to see it. He turned away almost angrily. The first
thing that seriously occupied his thoughts when he grew stronger was the
disposal of his business. About this he consulted with a relation, a
cross-grained bachelor, generally known as "Uncle Klaus." Through him
the business was sold; but not the house in which it was carried on;
this was to remain exactly as it was, in remembrance of Marit.

Anders Krog's first walk was down to the chapel and the grave; and this
told upon him so terribly that he became ill again. As soon as he
recovered, he announced that it was his intention to go abroad and to
remain abroad. His sister came to him in alarm: "This cannot be true.
You surely do not mean to leave us and your child?"

"Yes," answered he, bursting into tears; "I cannot bear to live in these
rooms."

"But you will at least see the child before you go!"

"No! no! Anything rather than that!"

And he left without seeing her.

But it was, naturally, the child that drew him home again. When she was
about three years old she was photographed, and that photograph was
irresistible. Such a likeness to her mother, such childlike charm, he
could not stay away from. From Constantinople, where he received it, he
wrote: "It has taken me nearly three years to go through again the
experiences of one. I cannot say that I am in complete possession of
them all yet. Many more are certain to recur to me when I see the places
again where we were together. But the deeper life and thoughts of these
three years have at least taught me no longer to dread these places. On
the contrary, I am longing to see them."

The meeting with the new Marit was a joy. Not at once, for she naturally
began by being afraid of the strange man with the large eyes. But this
made the joy all the greater when she gradually, cautiously, approached
him. And when she at last sat upon his knee with her two new dolls, a
Turkish man and woman, and shoved them up against his nose to make him
sneeze, because "auntie" had sneezed, he said, with tears in his eyes:
"I have had only one meeting that was sweeter."

She came, with her nurse, to live with him. Their first walk together
was to her mother's grave, on which he wished her to lay flowers. She
did it, but was determined to take them away with her again. All their
efforts were in vain. The nurse at last picked others for her; but these
she would not have; she wanted her own. They were obliged to let her
take them and to make her lay the new ones on the grave. Anders thought:
This is not like her mother.

The attempt was repeated. Mother's grave was to have fresh flowers every
day, and Marit was to lay them there. Anders divided the flowers into
two bunches; he carried the one and she the other. She was to leave hers
and have his to take home again. But this plan succeeded no better;
indeed, worse; for when they were ready to leave the churchyard, she
insisted that he, too, should take his flowers back with him. He was
obliged to give in to her. Next day he tried something different. She
carried flowers to her mother's grave, and he gave her sweets to induce
her to let them lie there. Yes, she would give up the flowers in
exchange for the sweets, which she put into her mouth. But when they
were ready to go, she was determined to have the flowers too. He was
quite cast down.

It then occurred to him to tell her that Mother was cold; Marit must
cover her up. She thereupon proposed that Mother should come home to her
own bed. Her father had told her that the empty bed beside his was
Mother's; now she constantly asked if Mother were not coming soon. She
could not come, he said; she must lie out there in the cold. This
produced the desired effect. Marit herself spread the flowers over the
grave and let them lie. On the way home she repeated several times:
"Mother is not cold now."

Anders wondered what she understood by "Mother." He wished her to be
able to recognise her mother's portraits, but before showing her them,
exercised her eye with pictures of animals and things. From these he
proceeded to photographs of his sister, of himself, and of others whom
she knew. When she was quite familiar with them, he produced the
earliest photograph of her mother. There was no difficulty; she was
shown several, and quickly learned to distinguish them from all others.
In the afternoon, when she had been laid down to sleep, she asked to
have "Mother" in her arms. Anders did not understand immediately, and
she became impatient. Then he brought the first photograph of her
mother. She took it at once, clasped it in her arms, and fell asleep.
Not until she was four years old, and saw a mother in the kitchen
tending her sick child, was he sure that she understood what a mother
is; for then she said: "Why doesn't my mother come and undress me and
dress me?"

In the end father and daughter became fast friends. But the greatest
pleasure of all came when she was old enough for him to tell her about
Mother. About Mother, who had come across the sea to Father, bringing
little Marit with her. The walks which he had taken with Mother, the two
took together--every one of them. He rowed her as Mother had rowed him;
they went to town together as Mother and Father had done. There she sat
in the chairs which Mother had bought and sat in. At table she sat in
Mother's place; in conservatory and garden among the flowers she was
Mother, and helped as Mother had done.

What a clever, beautiful child she was! She had her mother's red hair
and brilliantly white skin, her large eyes, and the same delicate, long
line of eyebrow. Possibly she would also have the same aquiline nose.
The hands with the long fingers were not her mother's, nor was the
figure. That very slight forward bend at the joining of head and neck
was like her father's. She had not her mother's prettily squared
shoulders; Marit's sloped, and the arms descended from them in a more
even line. Anders could not resist going up every evening to look at her
when she was being undressed. The mixture of the masculine and feminine
Krog types, which had hitherto been so uncommon, but which her mother
had to a certain extent represented, was complete in her. She grew tall,
her eyes large, her head shapely. Her father could not get her to
associate with other children; it bored her. They did not transport
themselves quickly enough into her imaginary world, which was certainly
a curious one. The fields were a circus--her father had told her about
Buffalo Bill's. The Indians galloped across the plain; she herself, on a
white horse, leading. The ridges were boxes, and they were full of
people. This the other children could not see. Nor could they understand
the travel-game on the table, which her father had taught her to play.

When she was nearly seven, she compelled her father, who was a good
cyclist, to buy her a bicycle and teach her to ride it. But this was the
drop which caused the cup to overflow. He decided to call in help.

In Paris he had made the acquaintance of a distant relation, Mrs. Dawes
by name. This lady had married in England, but after the death of her
only child she left her husband, and supported herself by keeping a
boarding-house in Paris. In this boarding-house Krog had admired her
extremely. He had seldom met a cleverer woman. Now he asked her if she
would come and keep his house and educate his child. She promptly
telegraphed "Yes," and within a month had sold her business, travelled
to Norway, and entered upon all her duties. A disease of the hip-joint
from which she had long suffered had become worse, so that she had
difficulty in walking. But from the wheeled arm-chair which she brought
with her, and which her stout person completely filled, she managed the
whole household, including Anders himself. He was quite alarmed by her
cleverness. She seldom left her chair, and yet she knew of everything
that happened. Walls did not conceal from her eyes; distance did not
exist for her. Much of this power of hers was explained by the acuteness
of her senses, by her cleverness in interpreting words and signs,
reading looks and expressions and drawing inferences from them, and by
her skill in the art of questioning. But there was something that defied
explanation. When danger threatened any one she loved, she was aware of
it--sitting in her chair. With a loud exclamation--always in English on
such occasions--she sprang up, and actually ran. This happened, for
instance, on the memorable day when Marit, on her bicycle, fell into the
river and was fished out again by two men from the steamer; for it was
close to the landing-place that the accident occurred; she was on her
way there. On the way home she and Mrs. Dawes met--the one dripping with
sea-water and screaming, the other dripping with perspiration and
screaming.

Mrs. Dawes went the round of the house every day--outside, if
necessary, as well as inside--but she seldom went farther. On this round
she saw everything--including what was about to happen, the servants
declared.

There was a suggestion of floating about her. She sat floating in paper.
She carried on, at least according to Anders Krog, a constant
correspondence with every one who had ever lived in her house. It was
carried on in all languages and upon all subjects; a considerable part
of her time was spent in introducing what she read--and she read far
into the night--into her letters. She moved her chair to the table on
which lay her desk; then she turned away from the table to read.
Fastened to the arm of the chair was a reading-desk, on which she laid
the book; she seldom held it in her hand. Memoirs were her favourite
reading; gossip from them she at once transferred to her letters. Next
came art magazines and books of travel. She had a little money of her
own, and bought what she wanted.

Along with all this she taught the child. The two sat at the big table
in the drawing-room, "Aunt Eva" in her chair of state, the little girl
opposite her. But whenever it was necessary, Marit had to come round and
stand beside Aunt Eva's desk. The hours of instruction passed so
pleasantly that the little one often forgot that she was at lessons. Her
father, whose library opened out of the drawing-room, often forgot it
too, when he came in and listened to the conversations or to what Mrs.
Dawes was telling.

Lessons might be easy, but something else was difficult and led to
conflict. Mrs. Dawes wished to bring about a general alteration in the
child's habits, and here she had the father against her. But he was, of
course, worsted, and that before he understood what she was about. Marit
had to learn to obey; she had to learn the meaning of punctuality, of
order, of politeness, of tact. She had to practise every day, to hold
herself straight at table, to wash her hands an unlimited number of
times, always to tell where she was going--and all this against her own
will, and really against her father's, too.

Mrs. Dawes had one sure base from which to operate. This was the child's
unbounded faith in her mother's perfection. She convinced Marit that her
mother had never gone to bed later than eight o'clock. Before getting
into bed, too, Mother had always arranged her clothes upon a chair and
set her shoes outside the door.

From what Mother had done, and done to perfection, Mrs. Dawes went on
to what Mother would have done if she had been in Marit's place, and,
also, to what she would not have done if she had been Marit. This proved
harder. When Mrs. Dawes, for instance, assured her that her mother had
never ridden out of sight on her bicycle, Marit asked: "How do you know
that?" "I know it because I know that your father and mother were never
away from each other." "That is true, Marit," said her father, glad to
be able for once to confirm one of Mrs. Dawes's assertions; most of them
were not true.

The farther the work of education progressed, the more interested in it
did Mrs. Dawes become, and the stronger did her hold on the child grow.
She set herself the task of eradicating Marit's dream-life, an
inheritance from her mother, which flourished exuberantly as long as her
father encouraged it and took pleasure in it.

One spring Marit rushed in and told her father that in a hollow in the
old tree between Mother's and Grandmother's graves there was a little
nest, and in the nest were tiny, tiny little eggs. "It's a message from
Mother, isn't it?" He nodded, and went with her to look at it. But when
they came near, the bird flew out piping lamentably. "Mother says we are
not to go nearer?" questioned Marit. To this her father answered:
"Yes." "It would be the same as disturbing Mother if we did?" continued
she. He nodded.--They walked back to the house, perfectly happy, talking
of Mother all the way. When Marit told Mrs. Dawes about this afterwards,
Mrs. Dawes said to her: "Your father answers 'Yes' to such questions
because he does not want to grieve you, child. If your Mother could send
you a message, she would come herself." There was no end to the
revolution which those few cruel words wrought. They altered even the
relation between the child and her father.

The lessons went on steadily, and so did the training, until Marit was
nearly thirteen--tall, very thin, large-eyed, with luxuriant red hair
and a pure white skin guiltless of freckles, which was Mrs. Dawes's
pride.

About this time Krog came in one day from the library to stop the
lessons. This had not happened during all the years they had gone on.
Marit was allowed to go. Mrs. Dawes accompanied Anders into the library.

"Be kind enough to read this letter."

She read, and learned what she had had no idea of--that the man who was
standing before her, watching her face whilst she read, was a
millionaire--and that not in kroner, but in dollars. Since receiving the
bank deposits and shares at the time of his uncle's death, he had drawn
nothing from America--and this was the result.

"I congratulate you," said Mrs. Dawes, and seized his right hand in both
of hers. Her eyes filled with tears: "And I understand you, dear Mr.
Krog; it is your wish that we should travel now."

He looked at her, a glad smile in his bright eyes. "Have you any
objection, Mrs. Dawes?"

"Not if we take servants with us. You know how lame I am."

"Servants you shall have, and we shall keep a carriage wherever we are.
Lessons can go on, can't they?"

"Of course they can. Better than ever!" She beamed and wept. She said to
herself that she had never felt so happy.

A fortnight later the three, with maid and manservant, had left
Krogskogen.



THE SCEPTRE CHANGES HANDS


Two years and a half passed, during the course of which Krog was at home
several times, unaccompanied by the others. Then it was determined that
they should all spend a summer at Krogskogen. With this project in view
the three were in a draper's shop in Vienna. Mrs. Dawes and Marit were
to have new clothes, Marit especially being in need of them, as she had
grown out of hers. It was the first week of May; summer dresses were to
be chosen.

"We think, both your father and I, that you must have long dresses now.
You are so tall."

Marit looked at her father, but the materials which lay spread out in
front of him engaged his attention. Mrs. Dawes spoke for him.

"Your father says that when you are walking with him, gentlemen look at
your legs."

Krog began to fidget. Even the lady behind the counter felt that there
was thunder in the air. She did not understand the language, but she saw
the three faces. At last Anders heard Marit answering in a curious, but
quite pleasant voice:

"Is it because Mother had long dresses when she was my age that I am to
have them?"

Mrs. Dawes looked with dismay at Anders Krog; but he turned away.

"Aunt Eva," began Marit again; "of course you were with Mother then? at
the time she got long dresses? Or was it Father?"

No more was said about long dresses. No more was said at all. They left
the shop.

Nothing else happened. As if it had been a matter of course, next day,
instead of coming to lessons, she drove with her father, first to
arrange about the dresses, and then to the picture-galleries. They went
sight-seeing every day until they left. There were no more lessons. In
the evenings the three went, as if nothing had occurred, to concert,
opera, or theatre. They wished to make good use of the remaining time.

At the beginning of June they were in Copenhagen. There a letter awaited
them from "Uncle Klaus." Jörgen Thiis, his adopted son, had received his
commission as lieutenant; Klaus meant to give a summer ball at his
country-house, but was waiting until they came home. When were they
coming?

Marit was delighted at the prospect. She remembered handsome, tall
Jörgen. He was a son of the Amtmand[A]; his mother was Klaus Krog's
sister.

    [A] Chief magistrate of the district.

A ball-dress had now to be thought out; but the deliberations were
short, nothing being said on the subject until they were on their way to
order it. The one really exciting question: Ought not this dress to be
long? they did not discuss. When the decisive moment arrived, and the
length of the skirt was to be taken, the dressmaker who was measuring
said: "I suppose the young lady's dress is to be long?" Marit looked at
Mrs. Dawes, who turned red. What was worse, the dressmaker herself
blushed. Then she hastily took the length of the short dress which Marit
was wearing.

The ball was given on the 20th of June, a sultry day, without sun. The
guests were assembled in the garden in front of the large country-house,
when the sailing-boat came in which brought Marit and her father; they
were the last to arrive. Old Klaus--tall, thin, wearing remarkably wide
white trousers--stalked down to receive her. Standing hatless, with
shining bald head and perspiring face, he stopped her with a motion of
his hand whilst he looked down at Anders in the boat.

"Are you not coming?"

"No, no! Thanks all the same!"

Off went the boat. Not till now did Klaus look at Marit, whom Mrs. Dawes
in her long letters had described as the most beautiful girl she had
ever seen. He stared, he bowed, and approached her, reeking of tobacco,
his big, smiling, open mouth disclosing unclean teeth. He offered his
arm. But Marit, who was wearing a long sleeveless cloak which reached to
the ground, pretended not to see this. Klaus was offended, but escorted
her up to the others, saying as they arrived: "Here I come with the
queen of the ball." This displeased her, and every one else, so the
beginning was unfortunate. Jörgen, whose place it was to do so, hastened
forward to take her cloak and hat; but she bowed slightly and passed on.
There was style in this! As soon as she was out of hearing, comment
began. Her bearing in passing them, her face, carriage, gait, the
dazzlingly white skin, the sparkling eyes, the arch above them, the
shape of the nose--everything was perfect, and made a perfect whole. It
was all over with Jörgen Thiis. He himself was a tall, slender man of
the Krog type, but with eyes peculiar to himself. At present these were
fixed on the door through which Marit had disappeared. He was waiting on
the steps.

And when she came out again and stepped forward to take his arm and be
conducted down to the others, she was a sight to see--in a short dress
of light sea-blue silky material, with transparent silk stockings of the
same colour, and silvery shoes with antique buckles. The company were
unanimous in admiration, and were still expressing it as they trooped in
to take their places at the tables. Nor was the subject dropped there;
Marit's beauty became the talk of the town. To think that these regular
features and bright eyes, and that white, white skin should be framed in
such a glory of red hair! And the whole was in perfect keeping with the
tall figure, the slight forward inclination of the shoulders, and a
bosom which, though not fully developed yet, nevertheless stood out
distinct and free.

The arms, the wrists, the hips, the legs!--it became positively comical
when a group of young men were heard maintaining with the utmost
eagerness that the ankles were more superb than anything else. Such
ankles had never been seen--so slender and so beautifully shaped--no,
never!

Jörgen Thiis forgot to speak; he even for a considerable time forgot to
eat, though, as a rule, he liked nothing better. He followed Marit about
like a sleep-walker. She was never to be seen without him behind her or
at her side.

Her father and Mrs. Dawes had, on account of the ball, come in to the
town house. They were awakened at dawn of day by loud talking and
laughter outside, ending with cheers; the whole company had seen Marit
home.

Next day the relations and friends of the Krog family came to call. The
elder people who had been at the ball considered Marit to be the most
beautiful creature they had ever seen. At nine o'clock in the evening
old Klaus had rowed into town and trudged round for the express purpose
of getting some of his friends to come out and see her.

In the afternoon Jörgen presented himself in uniform, with new gloves.
He had taken the liberty of calling to ask how Miss Krog was. But
nothing had as yet been heard of that young lady.

When she did make her appearance, her mind was not occupied with
yesterday, but with something quite different. This Mrs. Dawes felt at
once. The queen of the ball told nothing about the ball. She contented
herself with asking if they had been awakened. Then she went and had
something to eat. When she came back, her father told her that Jörgen
had called to ask how she was. Marit smiled.

"Do you not like Jörgen?" asked Mrs. Dawes.

"Yes."

"Why did you smile, then?"

"He ate so much."

"His father, the Amtmand, does the same," remarked Krog, laughing. "And
he always picks out the daintiest morsels."

"Yes, exactly."

Mrs. Dawes sat waiting for what was to come next; for something was
coming. Marit left the room; in a short time she appeared again with her
hat on and a parasol in her hand.

"Are you going out?" asked Mrs. Dawes.

Marit was standing pulling on her gloves.

"I am going to order visiting-cards."

"Have you no cards?"

"Yes, but they are not suitable now."

"Why not?" said Mrs. Dawes, much surprised. "You thought them so pretty
when we bought them, in Italy."

"Yes--but what I don't think suits me any longer is the name."

"The name?"

Both looked up.

"I feel exactly as if it were no longer mine."

"Marit does not suit you?" said Mrs. Dawes.

Her father added gently: "It was your mother's name."

Marit did not answer at once; she felt the dismay in her father's eyes.

"What do you wish to be called, then, child?" It was again Mrs. Dawes
who spoke.

"Mary."

"Mary?"

"Yes. That suits better, it seems to me."

The silent astonishment of her companions evidently troubled her. She
added:

"Besides, we are going to America now. There they say Mary."

"But you were baptised Marit," put in her father at last.

"What does that matter?"

"It stands in your certificate of baptism, child," added Mrs. Dawes; "it
is your name."

"Yes, it is in the certificate, no doubt--but not in me."

The others stared.

"This grieves your father, child."

"Father is welcome to go on calling me Marit."

Mrs. Dawes looked at her sorrowfully, but said no more. Marit had
finished putting on her gloves.

"In America I am called Mary. I know that. Here is a specimen card. It
looks nice; doesn't it?"

She drew a very small card from her card-case. Mrs. Dawes looked at it,
then handed it to Anders. Upon it was inscribed in minute Italian
characters:

    _Mary Krog._

Anders looked at it, looked long; then laid it on the table, took up his
newspaper, and sat as if he were reading.

"I am sorry, Father, that you take it in this way."

Anders Krog said once more, gently, without looking up from his
newspaper: "Marit is your mother's name."

"I, too, am fond of Mother's name. But it does not suit me."

She quietly left the room. Mrs. Dawes, who was sitting at the window,
watched her going along the street. Anders Krog laid down the
newspaper; he could not read. Mrs. Dawes made an attempt to comfort him.
"There is something in what she says; Marit no longer suits her."

"Her mother's name," repeated Anders Krog; and the tears fell.



THREE YEARS LATER


Three years later, in Paris, on a beautiful spring day after rain, Mary
and her relation, Alice Clerc, drove down the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne
towards the gilded entrance gate. The two had made each other's
acquaintance in America, and had met again a year ago in Paris. Alice
Clerc lived in Paris now with her father. Mr. Clerc had been the
principal dealer in works of art in New York. His wife was a Norwegian
lady of the Krog family. After her death he sold his enormous business.
The daughter had been brought up in art surroundings, and her art
training had been thorough. She had seen the picture-galleries and
museums of all countries--had dragged her father as far as Japan. Their
house in the Champs Elysées was full of works of art. And she had her
own studio there; she modelled. Alice was no longer young; she was a
stout, strong person, good-natured and lively.

Anders Krog and his companions had this year come from Spain. The two
friends were talking of a portrait of Mary which had been sent from
Spain to Alice, and afterwards to Norway. Alice maintained that the
artist had plainly intended to produce a resemblance to Donatello's St.
Cecilia--in the position of the head, in the shape of the eye, in the
line of the neck, and the half-open mouth. But, interesting as this
experiment might be, it took away from the likeness. It was, for
instance, a loss to the portrait that the eyes were not seen; they were
cast down, as in Donatello's work. Mary laughed. It was on purpose to
have this resemblance brought out that she had sat for it.

Alice now began to talk about a Norwegian engineer officer whom she had
known since the days when she went to Norway in summer with her mother.
He had seen Mary's portrait at the Clercs' house, and had fallen in love
with it.

"Really?" answered Mary absently.

"He is not the ordinary man, I assure you, nor is it the ordinary
falling in love."

"Indeed?"

"I am preparing you. You will of course meet at our house."

"Is that necessary?"

"Very. At least I shall be made to pay for it if you don't."

"Dear me! is he dangerous?"

Alice laughed: "I find him so, at any rate."

"O ho! that alters the situation."

"Now you are misunderstanding me. Wait till you see him."

"Is he so very good-looking?"

Alice laughed. "No, he is positively ugly. Just wait."

As they drove on, the Avenue became more crowded; it was one of the
great days.

"What is his name?"

"Frans Röy."

"Röy? That is our lady doctor's name--Miss Röy."

"Yes, she is his sister, he often talks of her."

"She is a fine-looking woman."

Alice drew herself up. "You should see _him_. When I walk with him in
the street, people turn round to take another look at him. He is a
giant! But not of the kind that run to muscle and flesh. No, very tall,
agile."

"A trained athlete, I suppose?"

"Magnificent! His strength is what he is proudest of and delights most
in displaying."

"Is he stupid, then?"

"Stupid? Frans Röy?----" She leaned back again, and Mary asked no more.

They had been late in setting out. Endless rows of returning carriages
passed them. The three broad driving-roads of the Avenue were crowded.
The nearer they came to the iron gate where these three meet in one, the
more compact did the rows become. The display of light, many-coloured
spring costumes on this first day of sunshine after rain was a unique
sight. Amongst the fresh foliage the carriages looked like baskets of
flowers among green leaves--one behind the other, one alongside of the
other, without beginning, without end.

At the iron gate they came close to the undulating crowd of pedestrians.
No sooner were they inside than a disturbance communicated itself from
right to left. The people on the right must see something invisible to
the others. Some of them were screaming and pointing in the direction of
the lakes; the carriages were ordered to drive either to the side or
into the cross-roads; the agitation increased; it was soon universal.
Gendarmes and park-keepers rushed hither and thither; the carriages were
packed so closely together that none of them could move on. A broad
space in the centre was soon clear for a considerable distance. All
gazed, all questioned ... there it came! A pair of frantic horses with a
heavy carriage behind them. On the box both coachman and groom were to
be seen. There must have been a struggle, since there had been time to
clear the way; or else the horses must have bolted a long way off. Up
here, inside the gate, all the carriages had disappeared from the
central passage. Alice's stood blocked nearest the gate, against the
left footpath. They hear shouts behind them; probably the whole Avenue
is being cleared. But no one looks that way, all gaze straight ahead, at
the magnificent animals that are tearing frantically towards them.
Driven by curiosity, the crowds on both sides swayed back and forwards.
Terrified voices outside the gate cried: "Shut the gates!" A furious
protest, a thousand-voiced jeer, answered them from within. In the
carriages every one was standing; many had mounted the seats, Mary and
Alice among the number. It seemed as if the horses' pace increased the
nearer they came; both coachman and groom were tugging at the reins with
might and main, but this only excited them the more. A man wearing a
tall hat was leaning his whole body out of the carriage, probably to
discover where he was going to break his neck. Some dogs were following,
with strenuous protest. Up here they allured others on to the road, but
these did not venture far out. Two or three that did, knocked up against
each other with such violence that one fell and was run over; the
carriage bounded, the dog howled; his comrades stopped for a moment.

Now a man, disengaging himself from the crowd at the iron gate, ran into
the middle of the road. People shouted to him; they waved with sticks
and umbrellas; they threatened. Two gendarmes ventured out a few steps
after him and gesticulated and shouted; a single park-keeper inside the
gate did the same, but ran back terrified. Instead of attending to these
shouts and threats, the man measured the horses with his eye, moved to
the left, to the right, back again to the left ... evidently preparing
to throw himself on them.

The moment the crowd comprehended this, it became silent, so silent that
the birds could be heard singing in the trees. And heard, too, the dull,
distant sound from the giant town, which never ceases, borne hither by
the breeze. Its monotonous tone underlay the twitter of the birds.
Strange it was, but the horses of the carriages drawn up by the
roadside stood as intent as the human beings; they did not stir a foot.

The frantic pair reach the man in the middle of the avenue. He turns
with the speed of an arrow in the direction they are going, and runs
along with them, flinging himself against the side of the horse next
him....

"It is he!" cried Alice, deathly pale, and gripping Mary so violently
that they were both on the point of toppling over. Women's screams
resounded wild and shrill, the deeper roars of the men following. He was
now hanging on to the horse. Alice closed her eyes. Mary turned away.
Was he running, or was he being dragged? Stop them he could not!

Again a few seconds of terrible silence; only the dogs and the horses'
hoofs were heard. Then a short cry, then thousands, then jubilation,
wild, endless jubilation--handkerchiefs waving, and hats and parasols.
The crowd burst into the Avenue again from both sides like a flood. The
space by the gate was filled in an instant. The frenzied animals stood
trembling, in a lather of foam, close to Alice's carriage. Mary saw a
grey-clad Englishman, an erect old man with a white beard and a tall
hat; she saw a young lady hanging on his arm, and she heard him say:
"Well done, young man!" A roar of laughter followed. And not till now
did she see him who had evoked it--still gripping the horse's nostrils,
hatless, waistcoat torn, hand bleeding, his perspiring, excited face at
this moment turned laughingly towards the Englishman. At exactly the
same time the man caught sight of Alice, who was still standing on the
seat of her carriage. He instantly deserted horses, carriage,
Englishman, and forced his way through the crowd towards her.

"Dear people, get me out of this!" he said quickly, in the broadest of
"Eastern" Norwegian. Before Alice had time to answer, or even to step
down from the seat, and long before the groom could swing himself down
from the box, he had opened the carriage door and was standing beside
them. He handed first Alice and then her friend down from the seat. Then
he said to the coachman in French:

"Drive me home as soon as you can move. You remember the address?"

"Yes, Monsieur le Capitaine," replied the coachman, touching his hat
respectfully, with a look of admiration.

As Frans Röy turned to sit down, his face contracted, and he exclaimed,
catching hold of his foot: "Oh!----the devil! that brute must have
trodden on me. I never felt it till now."

As he spoke, he met Mary's large, astonished eyes; he had not looked at
her before, not even when he was assisting her down from the seat. The
change in his expression was so sudden and so extremely comical that
both ladies burst out laughing. Frans raised his bleeding hand to his
hat--and discovered that he had no hat. Then he laughed too.

The coachman had in the meantime manoeuvred them a few yards forwards,
and they were beginning to turn.

"I don't suppose I need tell you who she is?" laughed Alice.

"No," answered Röy, looking so hard at Mary that she blushed.

"Good heavens! Think of your daring to do that!" It was Alice who spoke.

"Oh! It's not so dangerous as it looks," he replied, without taking his
eyes off Mary. "There's a trick in it. I've done it twice before." He
was speaking to Mary alone. "I saw at once that only one horse had lost
its head; the other was being dragged along. So I went for the mad
one.--Goodness! what a sight I am!" He had not discovered till now that
his waistcoat was in rags, that his watch was gone, and that blood was
dripping from his hand. Mary offered him her handkerchief. He looked at
the delicate square of embroidery and then at her again: "No, Miss Krog;
that would be like stitching birch-bark with silk."

Röy lived quite near the iron gate, to the right, so they arrived in a
few moments. Thanking them heartily, and without offering his bleeding
hand, he jumped out. Whilst he limped across the pavement, erect, huge,
and the carriage was turning, Alice whispered in English: "If one could
only have a model like that, Mary!"

Mary looked at her in surprise: "Well--is it not possible?"

Alice looked back at Mary, still more surprised: "Nude, I mean."

Mary almost started from her seat, then bent forward and looked straight
into Alice's face. Alice met her eyes with a teasing laugh.

Mary leaned back and gazed straight in front of her.

       *       *       *       *       *

On account of the injury to his foot, Frans Röy had to keep quiet for
some days. The first time he called on Alice, Mary, according to
agreement, was sent for. But she felt so strangely agitated that she
dared not go. Next time curiosity, or whatever the feeling was,
brought her. But she came late, and hardly had she looked him in the
face again before she wished that she had not come. There was an
intensity about him which the fine lady felt to be intrusive, almost
insulting. Her whole being was like a surging sea; she followed him
with her eyes and with her ears; her thoughts were in a whirl, and so
was her blood. This must pass over soon, she thought. But it did not.
Alice's entrancement--love, to call it by the right name--audible and
visible in every word, every look, added to her confusion. Was he
really so ugly? That broad, upright forehead, these small, sparkling
eyes, the compressed lips and projecting chin, produced in conjunction
an impression of unusual strength; but the face was made comical by
there being no nose to speak of. Very comical, too, was most of
his conversation. He was in such high spirits and so full of fun
and fancies that the rattle never ceased. His manners were not
overbearing; on the contrary, he was politeness itself, attentive, at
times quite the gallant. What overpowered was his forcefulness. Force
spoke in his voice and glanced from his eyes. But the body, too,
played its part--the strong hand, the small, foot, compact, the
shoulders, the neck, the chest--these spoke too, they insisted, they
demonstrated. One could not escape from them for a moment. And the
talk never ceased.

Mary was unaccustomed to any style of conversation except that of
international society--light talk of wind and weather, of the events of
the day, of literature and art, of incidents of travel--the whole at
arm's length. Here everything was personal and almost intimate. She felt
that she herself acted upon Frans like wine. His intoxication increased;
he let himself go more and more. This excited her too much; it gave her
a feeling of insecurity. As soon as politeness allowed of it, she took
leave, nervous, confused, as a matter of fact in wild retreat. She
promised herself solemnly that she would never go back again.

Not until later in the day did she join her father and Mrs. Dawes. She
did not say a word about her meeting with Frans Röy. Nor had she done so
on the previous occasion. Mrs. Dawes told her to look at a visiting-card
which was lying on the table.

"Jörgen Thiis? Is he here?"

"He has been here all winter. But he had only just heard of our
arrival."

"He asked to be remembered to you," put in Anders, who was, as usual,
sitting reading.

It was a rest even to think of Jörgen Thiis. Last winter he and she had
seen a good deal of each other in Paris. Both at private houses and at
official balls at the Elysées and the Hôtel de Ville he had been of
their party. He was a squire to be proud of, good-looking, gentlemanly,
courteous.

Her father mentioned that Jörgen was intending to exchange into the
diplomatic service.

"Surely money is required for that?" said Mary.

"He is Uncle Klaus's heir," replied Mrs. Dawes.

"Are you certain of this?"

"No, not certain."

"And has not Uncle Klaus lost a good deal of money lately?"

Mrs. Dawes did not answer. Krog said:

"We have heard something to that effect."

"In that case will he be able to help him?"

No one replied.

"Then it does not seem to me that Jörgen's prospects are particularly
good," concluded Mary.

Röy was in France on special Government business, which often took him
away from Paris. He had to go just at this time, so Mary felt safe. But
one morning when she made an early call on Alice--the two had arranged
to go into town together--there he sat! He jumped up and came towards
her, his eyes beaming admiration and delight upon her. He seized her
hand in both of his. She had never beheld such radiant happiness. She
felt herself turn scarlet. Alice laughed, which made things worse. But
Frans Röy's loquacity came to their assistance. It was excessive to-day
even for him. He plunged at once into a description of a gigantic
foundry from which he had just come, and drew them along with him. They
saw the half-naked men standing with their hooks on the edge of the
stream of boiling, bubbling, fiery-red metal; they felt the power of the
machinery, and saw the human beings creeping among it like cautious ants
in a giant forest. He tried, too, to explain this machinery to them in
detail. And he made them understand perfectly; but time wore on, and the
two friends had to go.

Alice was in the best of spirits during their drive. It was so evident
that Frans had made a strong impression to-day.

On the following morning Mary went off on a motor excursion with some
American friends. She was away for several days. And the first thing she
did on her return was to call on Alice. There, sure enough, sat Frans
Röy! Both he and Alice jumped up, delighted. Alice embraced and kissed
her. "Runaway, runaway!" she exclaimed. It is not enough to say that
Frans Röy's eyes sparkled; they fired a royal salute. From the moment
Mary shook hands with him, he talked incessantly. He was so foolishly in
love that Alice began to feel alarmed. Fortunately he had to go soon, to
keep a business appointment. Mary was left in a stormy swell; the sea
would not go down. Alice saw this and tried to calm her by eager,
anxious attempts to explain him. But this only further confused her; she
left.

As she came downstairs to join her father and Mrs. Dawes in the
afternoon--she had felt it necessary to take a rest--she heard
piano-playing. She knew at once that it was Jörgen Thiis who was
entertaining the old people. He was a first-rate musician, and he loved
their piano. It was to go with them to Norway. She went straight up to
him, and thanked him for being so attentive to her father and Aunt Eva;
unfortunately they were left much alone. He replied that their
appreciation of his music gratified him exceedingly, and that the piano
was a great attraction, being a particularly fine instrument.

The conversation during and after dinner showed Mary how accustomed
these three were to be together; they could do without her. She felt
really grateful, and they had a pleasant evening. There was much talk of
home, for which the old people were longing.

Jörgen was hardly gone before Mrs. Dawes said: "What a pleasant,
well-bred man Jörgen is, child!"

Anders looked at Mary and smiled.

"At what are you smiling, Father?"

"Nothing"--his smile growing broader.

"You want to know my opinion of him?"

"Yes, what do you think of him?"

Mrs. Dawes was all ear.

"Well...."

"You have not made up your mind?"

"Yes ... yes."

"Speak out, then."

"I do really like him."

"But there is a something?"

Now it was she who smiled. "I don't like the way his eyes seem to draw
me in."

Her father laughed:

"To gloat over you like food. Eh?"

"Yes, exactly."

"He's a bon-viveur, you see--like his father."

"But, like his father, he has so many good qualities," put in Mrs.
Dawes.

"He has," said Anders Krog seriously.

Mary said no more. She bade them good-night, and offered him her
forehead to kiss.

A few days later Mary went to Alice's house at an early hour. Anders
Krog had seen some old Chinese porcelain which he thought of buying;
but Alice's advice was indispensable. At this time of day and in the
studio Mary could be certain of finding her alone--at least alone with
her model.

She went straight in without speaking to the porter. Alice opened the
door herself. She had on her studio-dress and her hand was dirty, so
that she could not take Mary's.

"You are busy with a model," whispered Mary.

"I shall be presently," answered Alice with a curious smile. "The model
is waiting in the next room. But come in."

When Mary passed beyond the curtain she saw the reason why the model was
waiting in the next room. In the studio sat Frans Röy. Thus early in the
day and rapt in thought! He did not even notice them entering. This was
the first time Mary had seen him serious; and seriousness became the
manly figure and the strong face much better than wanton hilarity.

"Do you not see who has come?" asked Alice.

He sprang up....

The conversation that day was serious. Frans was in a dejected mood; it
was easy for Mary to divine that they had been talking about her.

They all consequently felt a little awkward at first, until Alice
turned the conversation on a topic from that morning's newspapers. Two
murders, instigated by jealousy--one of them of the most terrible
description--had horrified them all, but especially Frans. He maintained
that the idea of the marriage relation peculiar to the Romance nations
is still that of the age when the wife was the husband's property, and
when, in consequence of this, unfaithfulness was punished by death.
Christianity, he allowed, in course of time, also made the husband the
wife's property, especially in Roman Catholic countries. In these the
spouses rivalled each other in killing--the wife the husband, the
husband the wife. This assertion gave rise to an argument. Mary agreed
that neither of the contracting parties owned the other. After marriage,
as before, they were free individuals, with a right to dispose of
themselves. Love alone decided. If love ceased, because development made
of one or other a different being from what he or she was at the time of
marriage; or if one of them met another human being who took possession
of his or her soul and thoughts and changed the whole tenor of life,
then the deserted spouse must submit--neither condemn nor kill. But
Frans Röy and she disagreed when they discussed what ought to separate
husband and wife--and still more when they came to what ought to keep
them together. She was much more exacting than he. He suggested jokingly
that her theory was: Married people have full liberty to separate, but
this liberty they must not use. She declared his to be: Married people
ought as a rule to separate; if they have no real reason, they can
borrow one.

This conversation meant more to them than the words implied. It
impressed him as a new beauty in her that she was queenly. This cast a
new glory over all the rest.

The queenliness did not consist in desire to rule. It was purely
self-defence; but the loftiest. Her whole nature was concentrated in it,
luminously. "Touch me not!" said eyes, voice, bearing. There was
preparedness, undoubtedly, if need were, for the martyr's crown. She
became much greater--but also more helpless. Such as she look too high
and fall the first step they take. And great is generally their fall.

Frans gazed at her; he forgot to answer, forgot what she had said. He
seemed to hear a voice calling: "Protect her!" Chivalry entered into his
love, and issued its high behests.

Mary saw him withdraw himself from their conversation; but this did not
stop her; the subject was too absorbing. When he came back to it again
he heard her divulging her inmost thoughts, undoubtedly with no idea
that she was doing so. She told what she had thought ever since she
could think on such subjects at all. It came as naturally to her to do
so as to lift her dress where the road was dirty, or to swim when she
could no longer keep her footing.--Individuality must be preserved, must
grow, be neither curbed nor soiled. With this she began, with this she
ended. But she was all the time conscious of a curious attraction
towards Frans which led her to speak out. It was so long since they had
been together. She did not know that the person who can draw forth our
thoughts is, in the nature of things, a person who has power over us.
She only felt that she was obliged to speak--and to keep control over
herself. A sweet feeling, which she experienced for the first time.

The conversation changed into talk which became ever more intimate, and
lost itself at last in a silence of looks and long-drawn breaths. Alice
had gone to her model. They became confused when they discovered that
they were alone. They stopped talking and looked away from each other.

After short visits to one and another of the many works of art in the
studio, their attention concentrated itself on a faun without arms. It
stood laughing at them. They talked about this fragment of antique
sculpture merely that there might not be silence. Where had it been
found? To what age did it belong? It must surely have been an animal.
They spoke in subdued tones, with caressing voices, and unsteady eyes.
Nor were their feet steadier. They felt themselves lighter than before,
as if they were in higher air. And it seemed to them as if their
thoughts lay bare, and they themselves were transparent.

Presently Alice joined them again. She looked at them with eyes that
awoke both. "Have you done with marriage now?" she asked. It was about
marriage they had been talking when she left them.

Mary remembered that she had an errand, and that her carriage was
waiting. Frans Röy also remembered what he ought to be doing. They went
off together, across the court and through the outer gate, to her
carriage. But they could not strike the same tone as before, so they did
not speak.

Hat in hand, Frans opened the carriage-door. Mary got in without raising
her eyes. When, after seating herself, she turned to bow, the strongest
eyes she had ever looked into were waiting for her--full of passion and
reverence.

Two hours later Frans was with Alice again. He could not remain longer
alone with his heaven-storming hopes.

Where had he been in the interval? In town, buying a cast of Donatello's
St. Cecilia. He had been obliged to compare. But Alice of course knew,
he said, how wretchedly inferior Donatello's Cecilia was.

Alice began to be seriously alarmed. "My dear friend, you will spoil
everything for yourself. It is in your nature."

He answered proudly: "Never yet have I seriously set myself an aim which
I have not accomplished."

"I quite believe that. You can work, you can overcome difficulties, and
you can also wait."

"I can."

"But you cannot suppress yourself; you cannot allow her to come to you."

Frans was hurt. "What do you mean, Alice?"

"I want to remind you, dear friend, that you don't know Mary; you don't
know the world she lives in. You are a bear from the backwoods."

"It may be that I am a bear. I don't deny that. But what if she should
have become fond of a bear? One is not easily mistaken in such matters."

He would not allow his high hopes to be cast down. He came beseechingly
towards her--even tried to embrace her; he was given to hugging.

"Come now, Frans; behave yourself. And remember, this is the second time
you have disturbed me."

"You shall be disturbed. You shall not go on modelling your prisoner in
there. Dear Alice, my own friend--you shall model my happiness."

"What more can I do for you than I have done?"

"You can procure me admission to the house."

"That is not such an easy matter."

"Bah! You can manage it quite well. You must! you must!"

He talked, coaxed, caressed, until she gave in and promised.

Whatever the reason, her attempt was a failure.

"If I asked my father to receive a young man who has not been introduced
to him, he would misunderstand me," said Mary. Alice admitted this at
once. She was angry with herself for not having thought of it. Instead
of consulting with Mary as to whether the thing might not be managed in
another way, she gave up the project altogether. She was still annoyed
when she communicated the result to Frans Röy; she had the feeling, she
said, that Mary objected to the interference of any third person. She
impressed on him again that he must be careful. Frans was miserable.
Alice made no attempt to comfort him.

He came back next day. "I cannot give it up," said he. "And I cannot
think of anything else."

So long did he sit there, so often did he repeat exactly the same thing
in different words, and so unhappy was he, that good-natured Alice
became sorry for him.

"Listen!" she said. "I'll invite you and the Krogs here together. Then
perhaps the invitation to their house will come of itself."

He jumped up. "That is a splendid idea! Please do, dear Alice!"

"I can't do it immediately. Mr. Krog is ill. We must wait."

He stood looking at her, much disappointed. "But can you not arrange a
meeting between us two again?"

"Yes, that I might do."

"Do it then--as soon as possible! dear, dear Alice--as soon as
possible!"

This time Alice was successful. Mary was quite ready to meet him again.

They met at Alice's house, to drive together to the exhibition in the
Champs Elysées.

To stand together before works of art is the real conversation without
words. The few words that are spoken awake hundreds. But these remain
unspoken. The one friend feels through the other, or at least they both
believe that they do so. They meet in one picture, to separate in
another. An hour thus spent teaches them more of each other than weeks
of ordinary intercourse. Alice led the two from picture to picture, but
was absorbed in her own thoughts--the more completely the farther they
went. She saw as an artist sees. The others, who began with the
pictures, gradually passed on to discovery of each other through these.
With them it was soon a play of undertones, rapid glances, short
ejaculations, pointing fingers. But those who feel their way to each
other by secret paths enjoy the process exceedingly, and generally allow
it to be perceived that they do so. They play a game like that of a pair
of sea-birds that dive and come up again far away from each other--to
find their way back to each other. The happiness of the moment was
increased by the number of eyes which were turned on them.

Downstairs amongst the statuary, Alice led them straight to the centre
room. She stopped in front of an empty pedestal and turned to the
official in charge. "Is the acrobat not ready yet?" "No, Mademoiselle,"
he answered; "unfortunately not."

"There must have been another accident?"

"I do not know, Mademoiselle."

Alice explained to Mary that the statue of an acrobat had been broken in
the process of setting it up.

"An acrobat?" called Frans Röy. He was standing a short way off; now he
hastened up to them. "An acrobat? Did I hear you speaking about an
acrobat?"

"Yes," said they, and laughed.

"Is that anything to laugh at?" said he. "I have a cousin who is an
acrobat."

The ladies laughed more heartily. Frans was greatly astonished.

"I assure you he is one of the best fellows I know. And marvellously
clever. The talent runs in our family. As a boy I was two whole summers
in the circus with him."

The others laughed.

"What the deuce can you be laughing at? I never had a better time in my
life than in the circus."

The two ladies, unable to control their merriment, hurried towards the
door. Röy was obliged to follow, but was offended.

"I have not the faintest idea what is amusing you," he said, when they
were all seated in the carriage. Nevertheless he laughed himself.

The little misunderstanding resulted in all three being in the best of
humours when they stopped in front of Mary's house. Alice and Frans Röy
drove on without her. Frans turned blissfully to Alice and asked if he
had not been a good boy to-day? if he had not kept himself well in hand?
if his "affair" were not progressing splendidly? He did not wait for her
answer; he laughed and chattered; and he was determined to go in with
her. But this Alice had no intention of allowing. Then he demanded, as
his reward for not persisting, that she should take them both for a
drive in the Bois de Boulogne, in the direction of La Bagatelle. It was
to be in the morning, about nine o'clock; then the scent of the trees
would be strongest, the song of the birds fullest; and then they would
still have the place to themselves. This she promised.

On the following Friday she called for Mary before nine in the morning,
and they drove on to pick up Frans Röy.

From a long way off Alice saw him marching up and down on the pavement.
His face and bearing filled her with a presentiment of mischief. Mary
could not see him until they stopped. But then a flame rushed into her
face, kindled by the fire in his. He boarded the carriage like a
captured vessel. Alice hastened to attract his attention in order to
avoid an immediate outburst.

"How lovely the morning is," she said; "just because the sun is not
shining in its full strength! Nothing can be more beautiful than this
subdued tone over a scene as full of colour as that towards which we are
driving."

But Frans did not hear; he understood nothing but Mary. The white veil
thrown back over her red hair, the fresh, half open mouth, deprived him
of his senses. Alice remarked that the woods had become more fragrant
since the Japanese trees had grown up. Each time these flung a wanton
puff in among the sober European wood scents, it was as if foreign birds
with foreign screams were flying among the trees. Frans Röy at once
affirmed that the native birds were thereby inspired with new song.
Never had they sung so gloriously as they were singing that morning.

Alice's fear of an explosion increased. She tried to avoid it by drawing
his attention to the contrasts of colour in wood and meadow and
distance. The drive out to La Bagatelle is peculiarly rich in these. But
Frans was sitting with his back to the horses; he had to turn away from
Mary and Alice every time to see what Alice wanted him to look at. This
made him impatient, the more so as Mary and he were each time
interrupted in their conversation.

"Shall we not rather get out and walk a little?" said he.

But Alice was more afraid of this than anything. What might he not take
into his head next?

"Do look about you!" she exclaimed. "Is it not as if the colours here
were singing in chorus?"

"Where?" said Frans crossly.

"Goodness! Don't you see all the varieties of green in the wood itself?
Just look! And then the green of the meadow against these?"

"I have no desire to see it! Not an atom!" He turned towards the ladies
again and laughed. "Would it not really be better to get down?" he
insisted again. "It's ever so much pleasanter to walk in the wood than
to look at it. The same with the meadows."

"It is forbidden to walk on the grass."

"Confound it! Then let us walk on the road, and look at it all. That is
surely better than being cooped up in a carriage."

Mary agreed with him.

"Do you suppose that it was to walk I drove you out here? It was to see
that historic house, La Bagatelle, and the wood surrounding it. There is
nothing like it anywhere. And then I meant to go as far into the country
as possible. We can't do all this if we are to walk."

This appeal kept them quiet for a time. The owner of the carriage must
be allowed to decide. But now Mary, too, was in wild spirits. Her eyes,
usually thoughtful, shone with happiness. To-day she laughed at all
Frans's jokes; she laughed at nothing at all. She was perpetually
coveting flowers which she saw; and each time they had to stop, to
gather both flowers and leaves. She filled the carriage with them, until
Alice at last protested. Then she flung them all out, and insisted on
being allowed to get out herself.

They stopped and alighted.

They had long ago passed La Bagatelle. The carriage was ordered to turn
and drive slowly back; they followed.

They had not taken many steps before Frans Röy began to turn
cart-wheels, that is to say, to throw himself forward side-ways upon his
hands, turn in the air, and fall again upon his feet--then to go off
again sideways upon his hands, ever onwards, ever faster. Presently he
turned and came back in the same way. "That is one of my circus tricks,"
he said, beaming. "Here is another!" He jumped up where he stood, turned
round in the air, and came down again on his feet on the exact spot from
which he had jumped--then did the same thing again. "Look. Exactly where
I jumped from!" he exclaimed triumphantly, and did it two, three, four,
five times more.

They admired. And it was a sight worthy of admiration; for the ease with
which the tall, strong man performed the feat made it beautiful.
Inspired by their praise, he began to spin round at such a rate that
they could not bear to look. Nor was it beautiful. They turned away and
screamed. This delighted him tremendously. Annoyed by the fact, Alice
called out:

"You are a perfect boy; any one would take you for seventeen!"

"How old are you?" asked Mary.

"Over thirty."

They shouted with laughter.

This they should not have done. This he must punish. Before Alice
divined his intention, he seized her round the waist, turned, and was
off with her in the most frantic gallop up the road, raising clouds of
dust. Stout Alice struggled with all her might and screamed. But this
was of no avail; it only delighted him. Her hat and her shawl fell off.
Mary ran and picked them up, helpless with laughter; for these ungainly
and perfectly useless attempts at resistance were irresistibly comic. At
last Frans turned, and they came back again at the same wild pace and
stopped where Mary stood--Alice's face distorted, perspiring, and red.
Her breathless rage, incapable of utterance, made Mary explode. Frans
sang: Hop sa-sa! hop-sa-sa! in front of the angry lady, until she could
speak and abuse him. Then he laughed.

"And you--?" said Mary, now turning to Frans. "Has it not tired you at
all?"

"Not much. I'm quite prepared to take the same trip with you."

Mary was horrified. She had just given Alice her hat, and was standing
holding the shawl and her own hat, which she had taken off. With a cry
she threw both from her and set off in the homeward direction, towards
the waiting carriage.

Not for an instant had Frans Röy thought of doing what he threatened. He
had spoken in jest. But when he saw her run, and with a speed for which
he would have given neither her nor any other woman credit, his
soldier's blood took it as a challenge. Alice saw this and said
hurriedly: "Don't do it." The words flung themselves in his way so
insistently that he stood doubtful. But Mary yonder on the road in the
white dress with the red hair above it, running with a step so swift and
light that the very rhythm of it allured him, nay, bereft him of his
senses ... he was off before he knew what he was about, just as Alice
called for the second time, in an agonised tone: "Don't do it!"

The strip of light above the dust of the road in front of him shone into
his eyes and his imagination like the sun. It blinded him. He ran
without consciousness of what he was doing. He ran as if: "Catch me!
Catch me!" were being shouted in front the whole time. He ran as if the
winning of life's highest prize depended on his reaching Mary.

She had a long start of him. Precisely this incited to the uttermost
exertion of all his powers. A race for happiness with one who desired to
be beaten! Blood at the boiling point surged in his ears; desire burned
in it. The longings of all these days and nights were tumultuously
urging him on to victory. Speak they would at last. No, speech would be
uncalled for; he would have her in his arms.

Now Mary turned her head--saw him, gave a cry, gathered up her dress.
She actually owned a still swifter pace, did she! Madness seized Frans.
He believed that the cry was a lure. He saw Mary make a forward sign
with her hand; he believed that she was showing where she would stop and
consider herself safe. He must reach her before she got there. He, too,
had a last spurt in reserve; it brought him with a rush close in upon
her. He seemed to perceive the fragrance exhaling from her; next moment
he must hear her breathing. He was so excited that he did not know he
had touched her until she looked round. She let her dress fall at once,
and after one or two more swift steps, stood still. His arm went round
her waist; he was on fire; he drew her tightly to him--to hear the
angriest: "Let me go!" Want of breath gave it its excessive sharpness.
Frans was appalled, but felt that he must support her until she
recovered breath, and therefore retained his hold. Again came with the
same compressed sharpness of breathlessness: "You are no gentleman!" He
let go.

The clatter of horses' hoofs was heard; the carriage was approaching
rapidly. The servants on the box must have witnessed the whole
occurrence; it was to them she had waved. During his wild chase he had
seen her alone.

Now she walked towards the carriage. She held her handkerchief to her
face; she was crying. The servant jumped down and opened the carriage
door.

Frans turned away, desperate, his mind paralysed. Alice came up. She was
carrying her own shawl and Mary's hat, and went straight towards the
carriage without taking notice of him. When he attempted to join her,
she waved him off.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third day after the occurrence Frans called upon Alice. He was told
that she was not at home. The following day he received the same answer.
After this he was absent from Paris for some days; but immediately on
his return he called again. "She has just gone out," answered the
servant. But this time he simply pushed the man aside and went in.

Alice stood eagerly examining a collection of objects of art; table and
chairs were covered with them, they stood about everywhere. "Alice--!"
said Frans, gently and reproachfully. She started, and at that moment he
caught sight of her father behind her. He at once came forward as if he
had said nothing.

The art treasures were collected and laid aside, Frans assisting. Mr.
Clerc left the room.

"Alice!" now repeated Frans Röy in the same reproachful tone. "You
surely do not mean to close your door to me? And just when I am so
unhappy?"

She did not answer.

"We who have always been such good friends and had such good times
together?"

Alice looked away from him and gave no answer.

"Even if I have behaved foolishly, we two surely know each other too
well for that to separate us?"

"There are limits to everything," he heard her say.

He was silent for a moment. "Limits? limits? Come now, Alice. Between us
there is surely no--"

Before he could say more she broke out: "It is inexcusable to behave in
such a way before other people!" She was scarlet.

"Yes. You mean?" He did not understand.

She turned away. "To treat me in such a manner before Mary----what must
Mary think?"

Never until now had it occurred to him that he had behaved badly to her,
to Alice, too; all this time he had thought only of Mary. Now, ashamed
of himself, dreadfully ashamed of himself, he came forward.

"Will you pardon me, Alice? I was so happy that I did not think. I
didn't understand till this moment. Forgive a poor sinner! Won't you
look at me?"

She turned her head towards him; her eyes were unhappy and full of
tears; they met his, which were also unhappy, but beseeching. It was not
long before his and hers melted into each other. He stretched out his
arms, embraced her, tried to kiss her; but this he was not allowed to
do.

"Alice, dear, sweet Alice, you will help me again!"

"It is of no use. You spoil everything."

"After this, I will do every single thing you ask me."

"You promised the same before."

"But now I have learned a lesson. Now I shall keep my promise. On my
honour!"

"Your promises are not to be relied on. For you do not understand."

"I don't understand?"

"No, you don't understand in the least who she is!"

"I confess that I must have been mistaken, for even now I fail to
comprehend what made her so angry."

"That I can quite believe."

"Yes. When she threw everything away and ran, I felt certain that it was
to get me to run after her."

"Did you not hear me call twice: 'Don't do it!'?"

"Yes, but I did not understand that either."

Alice sat down with a hopeless feeling. She said no more; she thought it
useless to do so. He seated himself opposite to her.

"Explain it to me, Alice! Did you not see how she laughed when I danced
off with you?"

"Has it not dawned upon you yet that there is a difference between us
and her?"

"Mary Krog is most unassuming; she makes no pretensions whatever."

"Quite so. But now you are misunderstanding me again. Whereas we are
ordinary beings, whom other people may touch with impunity, she dwells
in a remoteness which no one as yet has diminished by one foot. It is
not from pride or vanity that she does so."

"No, no!"

"She _is_ like that. If she were not, she would have been captured and
married long ago. You surely don't imagine that proposals have been
wanting?"

"Everyone knows they have not."

"Ask Mrs. Dawes! She keeps a diary of them in her thousand letters. She
writes about nothing else now."

"But what, then, is the explanation of it, dear Alice?"

"It is quite simple. She is gentle, sweet-tempered, obliging--all this
and more. But she dwells in an enchanted land, into which none may
intrude. She preserves it inviolate with extraordinary vigilance and
tact."

"To touch her is forbidden, you mean?"

"Absolutely! Fancy your not understanding that yet!"

"I did understand; but I forgot."

Frans Röy sat silent as if he were listening to something far away.
Again he heard the sharp cries of fear which thrilled through the air as
he drew near, saw the terrified sign to the carriage, felt Mary's
trembling body, heard the ejaculation uttered with all her remaining
strength, saw her walk on, weeping. All at once he understood! What a
stupid, coarse criminal he was!

He sat there dumb, miserable.

But it was not in his nature to give up. His face soon brightened.

"After all, dear Alice, it was only a game."

"To her it was more. You are surely not still in doubt as to that?"

"She has been pursued before, you mean?"

"In many different ways."

"Consequently she imagined----?"

"Of course. You saw that she did."

He did not reply.

"But now tell me, my dear Frans--was it not more than a game to you,
too? Was it not all-decisive?"

He bowed his head, ashamed. Then he walked across the room and came
back.

"She is a queen. She will not be captured. I should have stopped----?"

"You should never have gone after her. And she would have been yours
now."

Frans seated himself again as if a heavy weight were pressing on his
shoulders.

"Did she say anything?" asked Alice with a searching look.

He would have preferred not to tell, but the question was repeated.

"She said that I was no gentleman."

Alice declared this to be too bad. Frans then asked if Mary had said
anything to her in the carriage.

"Not a word. But I spoke. I abused you--well."

"She has not referred to the matter since?"

Alice shook her head. "Your name is erased from her dictionary, my
friend."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some days after this Frans received by tube-post a hurried note which
informed him that at eleven that morning the two ladies would again be
at the exhibition in the Champs Elysées. It was eleven when the note
came.

Mary had called to ask Alice to go with her to look at a Dutch coast
landscape which her father wished to buy. They considered the price
rather high; possibly Alice would be able to make better terms. Mary's
carriage was waiting at the door. Alice left her, wrote hastily to Frans
Röy, and then went to dress, which to-day, contrary to custom, took her
a long time. They drove to the exhibition, found the picture, and went
to the office, where they had to wait. After making their offer and
giving the address, they returned to the ground-floor of the exhibition
in search of the acrobat. He stood there now in all his manly strength.
Alice reached him first, and exclaimed "Why! it is----," then stopped
short and walked away from Mary. She examined the statue from every
side, over and over again, without saying a word. Precisely that which
distinguished Frans Röy--that his strength did not announce itself in
distended muscle, but in the elasticity of a beautifully formed, lithe
body--was to be observed here. Frans Röy's toss of the head, his broad
forehead aslant in the air, his hand, his short, strong foot--everything
was here! The statue affected the beholder like a war-song. For the
first time Alice found the word for the effect which Frans produced. She
was carried away by the statue as by the rhythm of a march. Exactly what
she had often felt when she saw Frans walk! Was this likeness a curious
accident, or had he really ... she turned quite hot and had to walk away
from the statue and look at something else.

Mary had all the time kept behind Alice, who had quite forgotten her.
The question now involuntarily occurred to Alice: Does Mary understand
what she sees?

She waited a little before she began to observe. Mary, who was now
standing in front of the statue, with her back towards Alice, remained
so long motionless that the latter's curiosity increased. She went
round and stationed herself among the statues opposite, put on her
eye-glass, and looked across. Mary's eyes were half closed; her bosom
was heaving. She walked slowly round the statue, then retired to a
distance, came back, and stood still again midway between front and
side.

Then she looked round for Alice and caught sight of the eye-glasses
turned in her direction; Alice was actually holding them on, to see
clearer. There could be no mistake--her face was one mischievous smile.

There are things which one woman objects to another understanding.
Mary's blood surged; angry and hurt, she took Alice's look as an insult.
She turned her back quickly on the acrobat and walked towards the door.
But she stopped once or twice, pretending to look at other pieces of
sculpture, really to obtain mastery over the uproar in her breast. At
last she reached the door. She did not look round to see if Alice were
following; she passed through the entrance hall and left the building.

But just as she did so, Frans Röy hurried up--as quickly as if he had
been sent for and were arriving too late. He tore off his hat without
getting even a nod in answer. He saw nothing but a pair of vacant eyes.

"Oh, please don't be angry any longer!" he said with his broadest
east-country accent, good-humouredly and boyishly. Mary's face cleared;
she could not help herself; she smiled, and was actually going to take
his outstretched hand--when she saw his eyes travel with the speed of
lightning to a point behind her and come back with the least little
particle of triumph in them. She turned her head and met Alice's eyes.
In them there was any amount both of mischief and rejoicing. There had
been a plot then! Mary was transformed. As if from the highest church
steeple she looked down upon them both--and left them. Her carriage was
waiting a short way off; she motioned, and it came in a wide sweep to
where she stood. There was no footman; she opened the door before Frans
Röy could come to her assistance, and got in as if no one were there.
When seated she looked--past Frans--to see if Alice were coming. Fat
Alice was waddling slowly along. It was plain, even from a distance,
that a wild struggle with suppressed laughter was going on within her.
And when she arrived and saw Mary sitting in state looking to the one
side, and Frans Röy, the giant, standing on the other like a frightened
recruit, she could resist no longer; she gave way to a fit of laughter
which shook her heavy body from head to foot. She laughed until the
tears rolled down her cheeks, laughed so that it was with difficulty and
not without assistance she found the carriage-step and hauled herself
up. She sank on the seat beside Mary, convulsed with laughter; the
carriage shook, as she sat with her handkerchief to her face,
suppressing screams. She caught a glimpse of Mary's scarlet anger and
Frans Röy's pale dismay--and laughed the louder. The very coachman was
obliged to laugh too, though what the devil it was about he did not
know. And thus they drove off.

Another unsuccessful expedition, another defeat of the highest hopes! It
was a long time before Alice could say anything. Then she began by
pitying Frans Röy.

"You are too severe with him, Mary. Goodness! how miserable he looked!"
And the laughter began again.

But Mary, who had been sitting waiting for an opportunity, now broke
out:

"What have I to do with your protégé?"

And as if this were not enough, she bent forward to face Alice's
laughing eyes:

"You are confusing me with yourself. It is you who are in love with
him. Do you imagine that I have not seen that for ever so long? You know
best yourselves in what relation you stand to each other. That is no
affair of mine. But the 'De'[B] which you both keep up--is it for the
purpose of concealment?"

    [B] _You_ as distinguished from the familiar _thou_.

Alice's laughter ceased. She turned pale, so pale that Mary was alarmed.
Mary tried to withdraw her eyes, but could not; Alice's held them fast
through painful changes until they lost all expression. Then Alice's
head sank back, whilst a long, heavy sigh resembling the groan of a
wounded animal escaped her.

Mary sat motionless, aghast at her own speech.

But it was irrevocable.

Alice suddenly raised her head again and told the coachman to stop. "I
have a call to make at this house." The carriage stopped; she opened the
door, stepped out, and shut it after her.

With a long look at Mary, she said:

"Good-bye!"

"Good-bye!" was answered in a low tone.

Both felt that it was for ever.

Mary drove on. As soon as she reached home, she went straight to the
private drawing-room; she had something to say to her father. Before
she opened the door, she heard piano-playing, and understood that Jörgen
Thiis was there. But this did not stop her. With her hat and spring
cloak still on, she unexpectedly appeared in the room. Jörgen Thiis
jumped up from the piano and came towards her, his eyes filling with
admiration; her face was all aglow from the tumult within. But something
proud and repellent in its sparkle caused him to give up his intention
of closer approach.

Then his eyes assumed the gloating, greedy expression which Mary so
detested. With a slight bow she passed him and went up to her father,
who was sitting as usual in the big chair with a book upon his knee.

"Father, what do you say to our going home now?"

Every face brightened. Mrs. Dawes exclaimed: "Jörgen Thiis has just been
asking when we intend to go; he wants to travel with us."

Mary did not turn towards Jörgen but continued: "I think the steamer
sails from Havre to-morrow?"

"It does," answered her father; "but we can't possibly be ready by that
time?"

"Yes, we can!" said Mrs. Dawes. "We have this whole afternoon."

"I shall be delighted to help," said Jörgen Thiis.

Now Mary bestowed a friendly look on him, before mentioning the price
which Alice had advised her to offer for the Dutch coast landscape her
father wished to buy. She then went off to begin her own packing.

The four met again before the hotel dinner at half-past seven. Mary came
into the room looking tired. Jörgen Thiis went up to her and said:

"I hear that you have made Frans Röy's acquaintance, Miss Krog?"

Her father and Mrs. Dawes were listening attentively. This showed that
Jörgen must have been talking with them on the subject before she
entered. Every new male acquaintance she made was a source of anxiety to
them. Mary coloured; she felt herself doing so, and the red deepened.
The two were watching.

"I have met him at Miss Clerc's," replied Mary. "She and her mother
spent several summers in Norway, and were intimate with his family
there; they belong to the same town. Is there anything more you wish to
know?"

Jörgen Thiis stood dismayed. The others stared. He said hastily: "I have
just been telling your father and Mrs. Dawes that we younger officers
consider Frans Röy the best man we have. So I spoke with no unfriendly
intention."

"Nor did I suspect you of any. But as I myself have not mentioned the
acquaintance here, I do not think that the subject ought to be
introduced by strangers."

In utter consternation Jörgen stammered that, that, that he had had no
other intention in doing so than to, to, to....

"I know that," Mary replied, cutting short the conversation.

They went down to dinner. At table Jörgen as a matter of course returned
to the subject. It could not be allowed to drop thus. All Frans Röy's
brother officers, he said, regretted that he had exchanged into the
engineers. He was a particularly able strategist. Their military
exercises, both theoretical and practical, had provided him with
opportunities to distinguish himself. Jörgen gave instances, but the
others did not understand them. So he went on to tell anecdotes of Frans
Röy as a comrade, as an officer. These were supposed to show how popular
and how ready-witted he was. Mary declared that they chiefly showed how
boyish he was. Thereupon Jörgen said that he had only heard the stories
from others; Frans Röy was older than he.

"What do _you_ think of him?" he suddenly asked in a very innocent
manner.

Mary did not answer immediately. Her father and Mrs. Dawes looked up.

"He talks a great deal too much."

Jörgen laughed. "Yes; but how can he help that--he who has so much
strength?"

"Must it be exercised upon us?"

They all laughed, and the strain which had been making them
uncomfortable relaxed. Krog and Mrs. Dawes felt safe, as far as Frans
Röy was concerned. So did Jörgen Thiis.

At half-past eight they went upstairs again. Mary at once retired to her
room, pleading fatigue. She lay and listened to Jörgen playing. Then she
lay and wept.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next evening, on the sea, wide and motionless, the faint twilight
ushered in the summer night. Two pillars of smoke rose in the distance.
Except for these, the dull grey above and beneath was unbroken. Mary
leaned against the rail. No one was in sight, and the thud of the engine
was the only sound.

She had been listening to music downstairs, and had left the others
there. An unspeakable feeling of loneliness had driven her up to this
barren outlook--clouds as far as the eye could reach.

Nothing but clouds; not even the reflection of the sun which had gone
down.

And was there anything more than this left of the brightness of the
world from which she came? Was there not the very same emptiness in and
around herself? The life of travel was now at an end; neither her father
nor Mrs. Dawes could or would continue to lead it; this she understood.
At Krogskogen there was not one neighbour she cared for. In the town,
half an hour's journey off, there was not a human being to whom she was
bound by any tie of intimacy. She had never given herself time to make
such ties. She was at home nowhere. The life which springs from the soil
of a place and unites us to everything that grows there was not hers.
Wherever she made her appearance, the conversation seemed to stop, in
order that another subject, suited to her, might be introduced. The
globe-trotters who wandered about with her talked of incidents of
travel, of the art-galleries and the music of the towns which they were
visiting--occasionally, too, of problems which pursued them, let them
go where they would. But of these not one affected her personally. The
conventional utterances on such subjects she knew by heart. Indeed, the
whole was either a kind of practice in language, or else aimless chat to
pass the time.

The homage paid her, which at times verged on worship, had begun when
she was still a child and took it as fun. In course of time it had
become as familiar to her as the figures of a quadrille. One incident
which alarmed the whole family, a couple of incidents which were
painful, had been long forgotten; the admiration she received meant
nothing to her--she remained unsatisfied and lonely.

A convulsive start--and Frans Röy's giant form suddenly appeared before
her--so plain, so exact in the smallest detail, that she felt as if she
could not stir because of him.

He was not like the rest. Was it this that had frightened her?

The very thought of him made her tremble. Without her willing it, Alice
stood beside him, fat and sensual, with desire in her eyes.... What was
the relation between these two?... A moment of darkness, one of pain,
one of fury. Then Mary wept.

She heard a loud, dull roar, and turned in its direction. An
ocean-steamer was bearing down on them--an apparition so unexpected and
so gigantic that it took away her breath. It rose out of the sea without
warning, and rushed towards them at tremendous speed, becoming larger
and larger, a fire-mountain of great and small lights. With a roar it
came and it went. One moment, and it was seen in the far distance.

What an impression it made on her, this life rushing past on its way
from continent to continent, with its suggestion of constant, fruitful
exchange of thoughts and labour! whilst she herself lay drifting in a
little tub, which was rocked so violently by the waves from the
world-colossus that she had to cling to the first support that offered.

She was alone again in the great void. Deserted. For was it not
desertion that everything she had seen and heard in three continents--of
the life of the nations, their toil and their pleasure, their art, their
music--should have to be left behind? She had seen and heard; and now
she was alone, in a dreary, stagnant waste.



AT HOME


The reality was something quite different.

She saw, the moment she set foot on land, that both old and young were
unfeignedly happy to see her again. Every face brightened. Every one
whom they met on the way up to the market-place recognised and greeted
her with pleasure. She had not thought of them, but they had thought of
her.

From the house on the market-place they were to go on later in the day
to Krogskogen, with the coasting-steamer. In the interval many of their
relations called, who all expressed great pleasure at seeing them home
again at last. They told what a success Mary's Spanish portrait had
been--in their own town, in Christiania, and then on its tour with other
pictures through the country. The notices--but these she had of course
read? No, she had read no newspapers, except occasionally one published
at the place where they were living. "Do you read no home newspapers?"
"Yes, when Father shows me them." Had not her father, had not Mrs.
Dawes, told her anything? "No." Why, she was famous now throughout the
whole of Norway. For this was the third portrait of her--or was it the
fourth? Anyhow it was the finest. It had been reproduced in the
illustrated newspapers; and also in an English art-magazine, the
_Studio_. Did she not know that? "No." The young people here were very
proud of her. They had put off their spring picnic and dance until she
came home.

"You are to be fêted!"

"I?"

"The picnic is to be at Marielyst. One steamer goes from here, and
another comes from the places on the opposite side. Jörgen Thiis planned
it all in Paris."

"Jörgen Thiis?"

"Yes. Did he not tell you about it?"

"No."

As soon as the callers left, Mary went to her father, who was unpacking
some of the art treasures which were to remain in town.

"Father, is it the case that you sent my portraits to exhibitions?"

He smiled, and said: "Yes, my child, I did. And they have given pleasure
to many. I was asked to send them. They wrote and asked me each time."

He spoke in such a gentle voice, and Mary thought it so considerate of
him that he had not told her, and had forbidden Mrs. Dawes to
tell--probably Jörgen Thiis too--that she did what she very seldom did,
went up to him and kissed him.

So this was what her father, Mrs. Dawes, and Jörgen Thiis had so often
sat whispering about. This was why the home newspapers had been kept
from her. Everything had been planned--even to the proposal to travel
home at this particular moment! She almost began to like Jörgen Thiis.

When they left for Krogskogen in the afternoon, a crowd of young people
assembled on the pier called: "Au revoir on Sunday!"

Mary was charmed with the view as they sailed along. The short half hour
was spent, as it were, in recognising one old acquaintance after
another. The new, or at least much altered, high road along the coast
was now finished. It looked remarkably well, especially where it cut
across the headlands, often through the rock. At Krogskogen it led, as
before, from the one point across the level to the other, passing close
to the landing-place and directly below the chapel and the churchyard.

And Krogskogen itself--how snugly it lay! She had remembered its
loneliness, but had forgotten how beautiful it was. This calm,
glittering bay with the sea-birds! The ripple yonder where the river
flows in, the level land stretching back between the heights, and these
in their robes of green! Were the trees round the house really no
higher? How nice it looked, the house--long and white, with black window
frames and black foundation wall. From one chimney thick smoke was
rising, in cheerful welcome. She jumped on shore before the others and
ran on in front. A little girl, between eight and ten, who was running
down from the house, stopped when she saw Mary, and rushed back as hard
as she could. But Mary overtook her at the steps. "I've caught you!" she
cried, turning her round. "Who are you?" The fair-haired, smiling
creature was unable to answer. On the steps stood the maids, and one of
them said that the child's name was Nanna, and that she was there to run
errands. "You shall be my little maid!" said Mary, and led her up the
steps. She nodded to each of the women, and felt that they were
disappointed because she hurried on without speaking to them. She was
longing to set foot on the thick carpets, to feel the peculiar light of
the hall about her, to see the huge cupboards and all the pictures and
curios of the Dutch days. And she was longing even more to reach her own
room. The silence of the stairs and of the long, rather dark
passage--never had it played such a game of whispers with her as it did
to-day. She felt it like something soft, half-hidden, confidential and
close. It was still speaking when she reached the door of her room; it
actually kept her from opening the door for a moment.

Ah!--the room lay steeped in sunshine from the open window which looked
over the outbuildings to the ridge. Paler light entered from that
looking on the orchard and the bay below, the water of which glittered
between the trees. Beyond the trees were seen the islands and the open
sea, at this moment pale grey. But from the hill, now in fairest leaf
and flower, the fragrance of spring poured in. The room itself, in its
white purity, lay like a receptacle for it. There everything arranged
itself reverently round the bed, which stood in the middle of the floor.
It was more than a bed for a princess; it was the princess herself;
everything else seemed to do homage to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The excursion to Marielyst was in every way a success. But during the
course of it a coolness arose between Mary and Jörgen Thiis.

It happened thus. Jörgen came on board with a tall, strongly-built lady,
the sight of whose broad forehead, kindly eyes, small nose, and
projecting chin brought a slight blush to Mary's cheeks, which she
concealed by rising and asking: "Are you not a sister of Captain Frans
Röy?"

"She is," answered Jörgen Thiis. "For safety's sake we are taking a
doctor with us."

"I am glad to meet you," said Mary. "Of course I have heard your brother
speak of you; he has a great admiration for you."

"So we all have," Jörgen Thiis declared as he left them.

Miss Röy herself had not spoken yet. But her scrutinising eyes expressed
admiration of Mary. Now she seated herself beside her.

"Are you to be at home long?"

"I can't say. Possibly we shall not travel any more; my father is not
strong enough now."

Miss Röy did not speak again for some time; she sat observing. Mary
thought to herself: It is tactful of her not to begin a conversation
about her brother.

The two ladies kept together during the sail. And they also sat beside
each other when dessert was served out of doors at Marielyst and
speeches were made. The success of the entertainment went to Jörgen
Thiis's head. One after another came round to him and drank his health;
he became sentimental, and made a speech. His toast was "the ideal, the
eternal ideal." Fortunate the man to whom it was revealed in his youth!
He bore it in his breast as his inextinguishable guiding lamp on the
path of life! Pale and excited, Jörgen emptied his glass and flung it
away.

This sudden earnestness came so unexpectedly upon the merry company that
they laughed--one and all.

Miss Röy said to Mary: "You met Lieutenant Thiis abroad?"

"Both this winter and last," answered Mary carelessly; she was eating
ice.

A young girl was standing beside them. "He is a curious man, Jörgen
Thiis," said she. "He is so amiable with us; but he is said to be a
perfect tyrant with the soldiers."

Mary turned towards her in surprise. "A tyrant--in what way?"

"They say that he irritates them dreadfully--is exacting and
ill-tempered, and punishes for nothing."

Mary turned her largest eyes upon Margrete Röy.

"Yes, it is true," said the latter indifferently; she, too, was eating
ice.

When, late in the evening, after the dance, they were all trooping down
to the steamer, Mary and Jörgen arm in arm, she said to him: "Is it true
that the soldiers under your command complain of you?"

"It is quite likely that they do, Miss Krog." He laughed.

"Is there anything to laugh about in that?"

"There is certainly nothing to cry about."

He was in a very jovial mood, and would fain have put his arm round her
and danced down to the pier, as many of the others were doing. But Mary
warded him off.

"I was very sorry to hear it," she said.

Then he understood that she was in earnest.

"The fact is, Miss Krog, that Norwegians, generally speaking, don't know
what obedience and discipline are. During the short time we have them
under command, we must teach them."

"Teach them in what way?"

"In small things, of course."

"By plaguing them about small things?"

"Exactly."

"Giving orders for which they see no necessity?"

"Precisely. They must learn to give up reasoning. They must obey. And
what they do, they must do properly; exactly as it should be done."

Mary did not answer. She addressed another couple who now made up to
them, and continued doing so till they all reached the pier.

On board the steamer she noticed that Jörgen Thiis was out of humour.
When they landed, he was not standing at the gangway. Without any
previous arrangement, the whole party accompanied her home to the house
on the market-place. They sang and shouted under the windows until she
came out on the balcony and threw flowers down on them--those she had
brought home with her and any more she could find. Then they dispersed,
laughing and joking.

As they were going off, she looked for Jörgen; he was not there. This
vexed her; she felt that she had rewarded him ill for one of the most
delightful days in her life.

Entertainments, large and small, followed one on the other. But Jörgen
Thiis was absent from them all. He had first gone home to see his
parents, then to Christiania. Mary had never devoted much thought to
Jörgen Thiis, but now that he kept away, she could not help remembering
that she had chiefly him to thank for the happy meeting with the young
people of her own age. And that remarkable toast of his--"fidelity to
the ideal"--at the time he proposed it she had merely thought: How
sentimental Jörgen Thiis can be! Now she thought: Perhaps it was an
allusion to me? She was accustomed to such exaggerations; and she did
not care in the least for Jörgen Thiis. But when she remembered how
deeply in love he had fallen at their first meeting, and how all these
years he had been exactly the same whenever and wherever they met, the
matter assumed a more serious aspect. The gloating, greedy eyes acquired
something almost touching. The fact that he could not bear to be with
her when she was the least displeased with him was another proof of the
strength of his attachment. His saying nothing, but simply staying away,
appealed to her.

One day Mille Falke, the consumptive head-schoolmaster's pretty, gentle
wife, came out to see Mary. She had had a letter from Jörgen Thiis. A
party of ten Christiania people had arranged a trip to the North Cape.
They had taken their berths two months ago; now circumstances prevented
their going. Jörgen Thiis had been asked if he could not take the
tickets and find nine people to accompany him on the glorious
excursion. In the small towns there was more neighbourliness; it was
easier there to make up such a party. Jörgen Thiis declared himself
willing if Mary Krog would agree to go; he knew that in this case he
would have no trouble in finding others.

Mrs. Falke laid the matter before Mary with the soft, feline
persuasiveness which few could resist. Mary had, however, not the
slightest desire either to sit on the deck of a steamer in the midsummer
heat, or to interrupt all that was going on at home--it was much too
pleasant. At the same time she was unwilling to offend Jörgen Thiis
again. She consulted with her father and Mrs. Dawes; she listened once
again to Mrs. Falke--and consented.

Early in July the party assembled at night on board the coasting-steamer
which was to take them to Bergen, the starting-point of the excursion
proper. They were six ladies and four gentlemen. The eldest lady was the
respected principal of the chief girls' school in the town--mother of
one of the gentlemen and former instructress of three of the other
ladies. She was the moral support of the party. Two of its members were
on their honeymoon, and they were teased by the others the whole time.
It was worth doing, for they were quick-witted, both of them, and gave
as good as they got. Then there was a young merchant, who paid attention
to two of the ladies, unable--so it was averred--to make up his mind
which he liked best. The whole party, including the ladies in question,
did their best to assist him in coming to a decision. The very first
night on the coasting-steamer, a schoolmaster was christened "the
forsaken one." All the others, with the exception of the old lady kept
up a constant racket; no one slept. He alone could neither dance nor
sing, and he was incapable of flirting; he could not even be flirted
with, it put him out so terribly. The consequence was that all the
ladies, even Mary, made love to "the forsaken one," simply to enjoy his
misery.

The originator of most of the mischief that went on was Jörgen Thiis;
teasing was his passion. His inventiveness in this domain was not always
free from malice.

At first he himself was unmolested. But in course of time even "the
forsaken one" ventured to attack him. His appetite, his inclination to
tyrannise, and especially his role as Mary's humble servant, were made
subjects of jest. Mary had the Krogs' keen eye for exaggeration in every
shape, so she laughed along with the rest, even when it was at his
submissiveness to her they were laughing. Jörgen was not in the least
disturbed. He ate as much as ever, was as strict as ever in his capacity
of leader, and continued, unmoved, to play the part of Mary's inventive,
ever-ready squire.

The ship had its full complement of passengers, amongst them a number of
foreigners; but Jörgen Thiis's merry party was the centre of attraction.
Nature made such perpetual calls on the passengers' admiration that they
were not in too close and constant contact with each other. It was as if
they were attending some grand performance. One marvel followed the
other. The length of the days, too, had its influence. Each night was
shorter than the last, until there was none at all. They sailed on into
unquenchable, inextinguishable light, and this produced a kind of
intoxication. They drank, they danced, they sang; they were all equally
highly strung. They proposed things which under other circumstances
would have seemed impossible; here they were in keeping with the
wildness of the landscape, the intoxication of the light. One day in a
strong wind Mary lost her hat; two cavaliers jumped overboard after it.
One of them was, of course, Jörgen Thiis. The minds of all were working
at higher pressure than that of every day. Some of them became exhausted
and slept whole days and nights. But most of them held out--at least as
long as they were northward bound--Mary amongst the number.

Jörgen Thiis, with his persistent deference, in the end obliged all of
them to treat Mary more or less as he did himself. Nor did anything
occur the whole time to disturb this position of hers--thanks
principally to her own carefully cultivated reserve of manner.

When they returned to the coasting-steamer, genuine gratitude prompted
her to invite Jörgen Thiis to go home with her to Krogskogen. "I can't
stand such a sudden break-up," she said.

He stayed for some days, delighted with the beauty and comfort of
everything. Such art taste as he possessed lay chiefly in the direction
of knick-knacks; he was devoted to foreign curios, and of these there
was abundance. The rooms and their furniture and decorations were
exactly to his taste. To Mrs. Dawes, who encouraged him to speak freely,
he confided that the comfort and quiet disposed him amorously. He sat
often and long at the piano extemporising; and it was always in an
erotic strain.

He treated Mary with the same deference when they were alone as when
they were in company with others. All the time she had known him he had
not let fall a single word which could be interpreted as a preface to
love-making, no, not even as the preface to a preface. And this she
appreciated.

They wandered together through the woods and the fields. They rowed
together to relations' houses to pay calls. Jörgen had the key to the
bathing-house, where he went before any one else was up, and often again
after their excursions.

Mary herself had become more sociable. Jörgen told her so.

"Yes," answered she. "The Norwegian young people associate with each
other more like brothers and sisters than those of other countries, and
are consequently different--freer, franker. They have infected me."

One morning Jörgen had to go to town, and Mary accompanied him. She
wished to call on Uncle Klaus, his foster-father, whom she had not seen
since she came home.

Klaus was sitting behind a cloud of smoke, like a spider behind its grey
web. He jumped up when he saw Mary enter, declared he was ashamed of
himself, and led her into the big drawing-room. Jörgen had warned her
that he was not likely to be in a good humour; he had been losing money
again. And they had not sat long in the empty, stiff drawing-room before
he began to complain of the times. As was his habit, he rounded his
back and sprawled out his legs, supporting his elbows on them and
pressing the points of his long fingers together.

"Yes, you two are well off, who do nothing but amuse yourselves!"

He possibly thought that this remark demanded some reparation, for his
next was: "I have never seen a handsomer pair!"

Jörgen laughed, but coloured to the roots of his hair. Mary sat unmoved.

Jörgen accompanied her to the house on the market-place; it was quite
near. He did not say a word on the way, and took leave immediately.
Afterwards he sent to let her know that he would be obliged to stay in
town till the evening; then he would cycle out. Mary herself left at the
previously appointed hour.

On her way home in the steamer she revolved the idea: Jörgen Thiis and
herself a pair. No! This she had never contemplated. He was a handsome,
well-bred man, a courteous, pleasant companion, a really gifted
musician. His ability, his tact, were unanimously acknowledged. Even
that which at one time had repelled her so strongly, the sensuality,
which would suddenly leap into his eyes and produce that insufferable
gloating expression--perhaps it was of this underlying quality that all
the rest were cultivated developments? Might it not account for his
appreciation of the perfect in art, in discipline, in language? Still
there remained something unexplained. But it was a matter of
indifference to her what it was. She cast all these reflections aside;
it was no concern of hers.

As she came on board she had noticed a peasant-woman who had once been
their servant; now she went and sat down beside her. The woman was
gratified.

"And how is your father, Miss? I am old now, and I have known many
people in my day, but never a kinder man than Mr. Krog. There's no one
like him."

The affectionate warmth of these words touched Mary. The woman mentioned
one instance after the other of her father's considerateness and
generosity; she was still talking of it when they arrived. At first Mary
felt as if nothing so pleasant as this had happened to her for a long
time. Then she felt afraid. She had actually forgotten how dearly she
herself loved her father, and had left off giving expression to her
affection. Why? Why did she give her time and thoughts to so much else
and not to him, the best and dearest of all?

She hurried up to the house. Although her father was very much of an
invalid now, she had latterly spent hardly any of her time with him.

As she approached she saw Jörgen's bicycle propped against the steps;
she heard him playing. But she hurried past the drawing-room, and went
straight to her father, who was sitting in the office at his desk,
writing. She put her arms round him and kissed him, looked into his kind
eyes and kissed him again. His bewilderment was so comic that she could
not help laughing.

"Yes, you may well look at me, for it is certainly not often I do this.
But all the same you are dearer to me than I can tell." And she kissed
him again.

"My dear child!" he said, and smiled at her assault. He was happy, that
she saw. Into his eyes there gradually crept that curious brightness
which none ever forgot. She thought to herself: I'll do this every day
now, every day!

Jörgen and she had planned a cycling excursion back into the country.
They set off next day. The relation at whose house they stopped that
evening, a military man, was delighted to have a visit from them.
They were persuaded to stay for several days. The young people of
the neighbourhood were summoned; an excursion to a sæter was
arranged--again something quite new to Mary. "I know every country
except my own," said she. She was determined to travel the next year
in Norway; there not much chaperonage would be necessary. With this
prospect in view Jörgen and she rode home, enjoying themselves royally.

As they were propping their bicycles against the house, little Nanna
came rushing out at the door and down the steps. She was crying and did
not see them, as she was looking in the other direction. When Mary
called: "What is the matter?" she stopped and burst out: "Oh, come,
come! I was to go and call people." Up she rushed again to tell that
they were coming, Jörgen after her, Mary behind him--across the hall, up
the stairs, along the passage to the last door on the right. Within, on
the floor, lay Anders Krog, Mrs. Dawes on her knees beside him, weeping
loudly. He was in an apoplectic fit. Jörgen lifted him up, carried him
to his bed, and laid him carefully down. Mary had rushed to telephone
for the doctor.

The doctor was not at home; she tried place after place to find him, a
voice within her all the time crying despairingly: Why had she not been
beside her father when this happened? Immediately after vowing to
herself that she would show him every day how much she loved him, she
had left him! And this very day she had looked forward with pleasure to
being able to travel without him! How had she come to be like this? What
was the matter with her?

As soon as she had found the doctor, she hurried back to her father. He
was now undressed and Jörgen had gone. But Mrs. Dawes sat on a chair
beside the pillow, with a letter in her hand, in the deepest distress.
The moment she saw Mary, she handed her the letter without taking her
eyes from the sick man's face.

It was from a correspondent in America of whom Mary had never heard. It
told that her uncle Hans had lost their money and his own. His mind was
deranged, and probably had been so for a long time. Mary knew that on
the male side of the Krog family it was not uncommon for the old people
to become weak-minded. But she was horrified that her father should not
have exercised any control over affairs. This, too, was a suspicious
sign.

He must have been on his way to Mrs. Dawes with this letter when the
seizure occurred, for the door had been opened and he lay close to it.

Mary read the letter twice, then turned towards Mrs. Dawes, who sat
crying.

"Well, well, Aunt Eva--it has to be borne."

"Borne? borne? What do you mean? The money loss? Who cares for that? But
your father! That man of men--my best friend!"

She watched his closed eyes, weeping all the time, and heaping the best
of names and the highest of praise on him--in English. The words in the
foreign language seemed to belong to an earlier time; Mary knelt by her
father, taking them all in. They told of the days which the two old
people had spent together. Each a lament, each an expression of
gratitude, they recalled his friendly words, his kind looks, his gifts,
his forbearance. They flowed abundant and warm, uttered with the
fearlessness of a good conscience; for Mrs. Dawes had tried, as far as
it lay in her power, to be to him what he was to her. The more precious
the words poured forth in her father's honour over Mary's head, the
poorer did they make her feel. For she had been so little to him. Oh,
how she repented! oh, how she despaired!

Jörgen Thiis appeared outside the door just as she was rising to her
feet. She stooped again, picked up the letter, and was about to give it
to him, when Mrs. Dawes, who had also seen him, asked him to help her to
her room; she must go to bed. "God only knows if I shall ever get up
again! If this is the end with him, it is the end with me too."

Jörgen at once raised the heavy body from the chair and staggered slowly
off, supporting it. In Mrs. Dawes's room he rang for a maid; then he
went back to Mary. She was standing motionless, holding the letter,
which she now handed to him.

He read it carefully and turned pale; for a time he was quite overcome;
Mary went a few steps towards him, but this he did not see.

"This has been the cause of the shock," she said.

"Of course," whispered Jörgen, without looking at her. Presently he left
the room.

Mary remained alone with her father. His sweet, gentle face called to
her; she threw herself down beside him again and sobbed. For him whom
she loved best she had done least. Perhaps only because he never drew
attention to himself?

She did not leave him until the doctor came, and with him the nurse.
Then she went to Mrs. Dawes.

Mrs. Dawes was ill and in despair. Mary tried to comfort her, but she
interrupted passionately: "I have been too well off. I have felt too
secure. Now misfortune is at hand."

Mary started, for the thought had been in her own heart all the time.

"You are losing us both, poor child! And the money too!"

Mary did not like her mentioning the money. Mrs. Dawes felt this and
said:

"You don't understand me, my poor child! It is not your fault, it is
ours. We gave in to you too much. But you behaved so badly if we did
not."

Mary looked up, startled: "I behaved badly?"

"I spoke to your father, child; I spoke to him on the subject often. But
he was so tender-hearted; he always found some excuse."

Jörgen entered with the doctor.

"If any complication arises, Miss Krog, the worst may happen."

"Will he be paralysed?" asked Mrs. Dawes.

The doctor evaded the question; he merely said: "Quiet is all
important."

Silence followed this utterance.

"Miss Krog, I cannot allow you to nurse your father. There ought to be
two trained nurses."

Mary said nothing. Mrs. Dawes began to cry again. "This is a sad change
of days."

The doctor took leave, and was escorted downstairs by Jörgen Thiis. When
Jörgen returned, he asked softly: "Shall I go too--or can I be of any
use?"

"Oh, do not leave us!" wailed Mrs. Dawes.

Jörgen looked at Mary, who said nothing; nor did she look up. She was
weeping silently.

"You know, Miss Krog," said he respectfully, "that there is no one to
whom I would so willingly be of service."

"We know that, we know that!" sobbed Mrs. Dawes.

Mary had raised her head, but, Mrs. Dawes having spoken, she said
nothing.

When she left the room soon afterwards, Jörgen was just opening his
door, which was next to Mary's. He stood for a moment with the door wide
open, so that she saw the packed portmanteau behind him. She stopped.

"You are going?" she said.

"Yes," answered he.

"It will be very quiet here now."

Jörgen expected more, but no more came. Then he said:

"The shooting season begins immediately. I had intended to ask your
father's permission to shoot in his woods."

"If you consider mine sufficient, you have it."

"Thank you, Miss Krog! You will allow me, too, to look in upon you
sometimes, I hope?" He took her hand and bowed deeply over it.

Then he went in to take leave of Mrs. Dawes. With her he stayed ten
minutes at least, coming out just as Mary was crossing the passage to
her father's room.

As she stood by the bed Anders began to move, and opened his eyes. She
knelt down. "Father!"

He seemed to be collecting his thoughts; then he tried to speak, but
could not. She said quickly: "We know, Father; we know everything. Don't
trouble about it! We'll get on beautifully all the same."

Her father's eyes showed that he took in what she said, though slowly.
He tried to lift his hand, and, finding that he could not, looked at her
with an expression of painful surprise; she lay down close to him,
kissed him and wept.

Anders improved, however, with astonishing rapidity. Was it Mary's
presence and untiring attention which helped him? The nurse said that it
was.

Then came a time when, though still indefatigable in her attention to
the two invalids, she learned to manage both house and farm. She took
the accounts and the superintendence into her own hands. It was a task
she enjoyed, for she had the gift of order and management. Mrs. Dawes
was astonished.

No anxiety for the future did Mary display, no regret for the pleasures
of the past. To those who pitied her she said that it was indeed sad
that her father and Mrs. Dawes were ill, but that except for this she
was perfectly contented.

       *       *       *       *       *

One unusually warm day in the middle of August she had been very busy
since early morning, looking forward all the time to a plunge in the sea
as soon as her work was done.

Between five and six they ran down, Mary and little Nanna. They both
went into the bathing-house, for it was one of Nanna's greatest
pleasures to attend to Mary's beautiful hair; to-day it was to hang
loose. After taking it down, Nanna ran up to the big stone on the ridge,
to keep a look-out on both sides. Mary meant to go into the water with
nothing on, that she might enjoy her bath thoroughly.

She swam out at once to the island. From there she could herself see the
inlet on both sides and the roads. No one anywhere, no danger--therefore
back again!

The sea caressed and upheld her; upon the arms that clove it the sun
played; the land in front lay in the repleteness of a rich aftermath;
sea-birds rocked on the waves, others screamed in the air above Mary's
head. "Imagine that I was afraid of being alone--!" thought she.

When she approached the shore she did not leave the water, but lay on
her back and rested; then took a few strokes and rested again. The beach
looked inviting; she lay down on it in the blazing sun, her head
supported on a stone, her hair floating. Oh, how delicious! But
something suddenly warned her to look up. She could not be troubled.
Yes, she ought to look up to where Nanna was sitting. No, she would not;
Nanna was on the look-out. Yet the suggestion had put an end to her
enjoyment. When she rose to walk along to the bathing-house steps, she
saw behind the big stone--Jörgen Thiis with his gun over his shoulder!
The little girl was standing on the top of the stone motionless, staring
at him as if she were spell-bound.

The blood rushed through Mary's veins in hot waves of fury and loathing.
Is he utterly shameless? Or has he gone out of his mind? To outward
appearance she behaved as if she saw nothing; she plunged into the sea
and swam to the steps, walked calmly up them, and disappeared.

But her breath was coming hard and short, and she was so hot that she
forgot to dry herself, forgot to dress. Hotter and hotter she grew,
until she was positively boiling with rage and desire for vengeance. The
polite Jörgen Thiis had dared to insult her as she had never in her life
been insulted!

Her mind wrestled with the thought of this senseless, dishonourable
surprisal until she became involved in a train of ideas which carried
her away. She was standing again in front of the acrobat's powerful
body; Alice's knowing eyes were upon her. She trembled--then screams
from the child reached her ear. In her excitement she almost screamed
back. What could it mean? There was no window on that side. She dared
not look out at the door, for she was naked. Never had she dressed in
such haste, but for this very reason everything went wrong, and time
passed. She would not appear before Jörgen Thiis half dressed.

Just as she was ready to open, she heard the pitapat of little Nanna's
steps on the bridge from the bank. Mary tore the door open; the child
came rushing in, hid her head in her mistress's dress, and cried and
sobbed so that she could not utter a word.

Mary managed to soothe her, principally by promising that she should be
allowed to dress her hair. Then Nanna told that before she had noticed
anything, Mr. Thiis was standing behind the stone. She had been sitting
singing and had not heard him. He made threatening signs to her. Oh, how
frightened she had been--for he looked so dreadful! oh, so dreadful! The
moment Mary went into the house, he had rushed straight towards it.

"Jörgen Thiis?"

"Then I screamed as loud as I could scream! _That_ stopped him. He
turned and was coming back to me, but I jumped off the stone and ran
into the wood----" Here words failed her; she hid her face in Mary's
skirts again and sobbed.

This was worse than ever! Mary at first felt totally unable to
comprehend.

Then it gradually dawned upon her that Jörgen must be another man than
she took him for--that he had violent passions--that he had the daring
to act with utter recklessness. What if he had come...?

Conscious of her pride and strength, she knew that it would have meant
banishment for ever--impossibly anything else.

On the way home she had to send Nanna on in front, because she herself
felt hardly able to set one foot before the other, so overpowering were
her thoughts.

How could a man control himself in daily intercourse when he was
possessed by such passionate desire? It must have been accumulating for
ages, or he would never have succumbed to this assault upon himself, or
made this assault upon her.

Had he been burning with desire all these years? His homage, his
respect, his unwearying attention--was it all smoke from the
subterranean crater, which had now suddenly ejected red-hot stones and
ashes?

So Jörgen Thiis was dangerous? He did not lose by this in Mary's
estimation; he gained! It was praiseworthy, the compulsion which he had
exercised over himself--from reverence for her. Ought she to be so angry
with him because temptation had set loose the rebellious powers which he
had chained?

All the rest of the day, and even when she was undressing, her mind was
busy with these thoughts. Next morning she determined that a stop must
be put to this. It was a stirring of something which she had suppressed
once before, and which must not be allowed to disturb the new order of
her life. Therefore she applied herself more diligently than ever to her
tasks, and added to their number. She undertook a thorough examination
of her father's books and loose memoranda--of the latter there were far
too many--in order to find out the general state of his affairs. He
must have Norwegian investments, and he could not possibly have spent
all the money that had been sent from America. She was, however, unable
to find what she was looking for. She could not trouble her father, and
Mrs. Dawes knew nothing.

But, close as Mary's application to business was, thoughts of yesterday
managed to insinuate themselves. Jörgen's intention had, of course, been
to bathe, and to come up and call afterwards. After what had happened he
could not do so. Would he ever come again? Would he do so without being
invited? He had effectually damaged his own cause. She heard shots in
the woods near at hand on the following days; and other people mentioned
having heard shooting farther off. But he did not come on the second
day, nor yet on the third, nor on the fourth. Of this she approved.

Her thoughts running much on the woods and the heights, her steps also
took that direction one day before dinner. The sudden change of weather
which is usual in Norway in the second half of August had taken place.
It was cold now; she felt the climb with the north wind playing round
her very refreshing. She chose the ascent a little below the houses; it
was the easiest. She went up quickly, for she was accustomed to the
climb and was longing to be at the top, standing in the wind and
looking out over the stormy sea. Even from the first knoll she had an
enjoyable view of the meadows, where the farm-servants were spreading
out the second crop of hay to dry, of the bay, of the islands, of the
sea, black to-day, and bearing on its breast numbers of sailing vessels
and one or two steamers. Overhead the crows were making a terrible
clamour; a trial was unmistakably going on. She saw one after the other
cleave the air and disappear farther along the ridge, towards the north.
The noise became louder the higher she climbed. She hurried; it might be
possible to save the criminal. A cold shiver of agitation ran through
her. She thought that when she reached the next height she would be
certain to see the birds. Instead she saw, as soon as her head cleared
the ridge, a man lying flat on the ground some distance off to the
north, directly above the house.

It was Jörgen Thiis! Mary promptly lowered her head again; then the joy
of revenge took possession of her, and she mounted quickly,
determinedly. Jörgen saw her, jumped up, looking agitated and ashamed,
pulled off his cap, put it on again, seemed not to know where to look or
to turn. Mary approached slowly, thoroughly enjoying his embarrassment.
While still some distance off she called: "So this is your idea of
sport! Are you shooting our hens to-day?" Then, as she came nearer: "You
have no dog with you? No, of course not; you can shoot hens without a
dog. Or perhaps you have none?"

"Yes; but I am not shooting to-day. I have finished."

This quiet, inoffensive answer, which he gave without daring to look at
her, produced a revulsion of feeling in Mary. No, she would not be
unkind to him! She had heard enough of his uncle's tyranny.

The crows were clamouring louder than ever.

"Listen! They are condemning some poor wretch! I wonder you don't go and
help him."

"Indeed I ought to!" cried Jörgen, happy to escape. He picked up his gun
and ran, she following, up a short ascent and then along a path on the
level. Upon and around two old trees the grey administrators of justice
were raving; there were hundreds of them. But the moment they saw a man
with a gun, they scattered, cawing, in every direction. Their task was
accomplished.

Between two large trees lay an unusually large crow, featherless and
bleeding, in its death struggle. Jörgen was going to take hold of it.

"No, don't touch it!" called Mary, and turned away.

She went straight down again as she had come. Hearing Jörgen follow, she
stopped.

"You will come with me, won't you, and dine?"

He thanked her. They walked on together silently until they came to
where he had been lying. Then he hastily asked:

"How are things going at home?"

She smiled. "Thank you, really well, considering everything."

The smoke from the chimney curled into the air. The roofs with their
glazed blue tiles looked affluently comfortable. The large gardens on
both sides with their gravel walks lay like striped wings outstretched
from the houses. The whole had an air of life, as if it might rise into
the air at any moment.

"Had you been lying long here?" Mary asked unmercifully; she regarded
Jörgen's mood as a species of possession.

He did not answer. She set off on the last, very steep part of the
descent.

"Shall I help you?"

"No, thank you; I have come down here oftener than you."

It was a silent repast. Jörgen always ate slowly, but never had he
eaten so slowly as to-day. Mary despatched each course quickly, and then
sat and watched him, making an occasional remark, which was politely
answered. His eyes, which generally swept over her like waves, ready to
draw her in, had difficulty to-day in rising higher than the plate
before them. Stopping suddenly, he said: "Are you not well?"

"Yes, thank you; but I have had enough."

A quarter of an hour later Jörgen came out of Anders Krog's room. Mary
had just left Mrs. Dawes's, and was opening the door of her own. Jörgen
said:

"It seems to me that your father is much better, Miss Krog."

"Yes, he can speak a little now, and also move his arm a little."

Jörgen evidently did not hear.

"Is this your room?--I have never seen it."

She moved out of the way; he looked, and looked again.

"Won't you go in?"

"May I?"

"Certainly."

He approached the threshold and crossed it slowly, she following. Then
he stood perfectly still, breathing deeply, she at his side. Was the
room hung with lace? He could not collect his impressions ... the bed
and the furniture, white with blue, or blue with white; Cupids on the
ceiling; paintings, amongst them one of her beautiful mother, with
flowers in front of it ... and a fragrance--exhaled not by the flowers
alone, but by Mary herself and her belongings. She was there, beside
him, in her blue dress with the elbow-sleeves. In the midst of this
purity of fragrance and colour he felt ashamed of himself--so ashamed
that he could have rushed out. He could not control his feeling; his
breast heaved; he trembled, and was on the point of bursting into tears.
Then two white arms gleamed, and he heard something said--blue and white
and white and blue, the words also. The door was closed behind him--it
must have been done to conceal his weakness. The two white arms gleamed
again, and he heard distinctly: "Why, Jörgen! Jörgen!" He felt a hand on
his arm, and sank on to a chair. She had really said "Jörgen"--said it
twice. Now she stroked his forehead and smoothed the hair back from it,
with a touch soft as a flower-petal. It loosed something; everything
hard and painful melted under her hand and flowed away, leaving an
indescribable feeling of warmth. She who now bent over him was, in
truth, the first who had helped him since he was a child. He had been
so lonely! There was confidence in him in the touch of her hand. How
undeserved! But how it comforted him! He dreamed that he, too, was good,
was under the control of beneficent powers. The white and the blue
spread a canopy over him. Underneath it these large, sympathetic eyes
drew his soul into theirs. He said apologetically and very low: "I could
not bear it any longer." What it was he had not been able to bear, she
understood, for she immediately moved away.

"Mary!" he whispered. The word fell involuntarily from his lips; he was
thinking aloud. It alarmed him, it alarmed her. She moved farther away;
a confused look came into her eyes; something as it were failed her. He
saw this--and before she could foresee, before he himself knew what he
was doing, he was beside her, embracing her, pressing her close to him.
Excited by the feeling of her body against his, he kissed, kissed,
wherever his lips reached. She bent away from him, now to this side, now
to that, upon which he kissed her neck, round and round. She felt that
she was in danger. She had only one arm free, but with it she pushed him
from her, at the same time bending her body so far back that she was on
the point of falling. This brought him above her; desire awoke, he
would take advantage of the situation. But he had to loosen his right
arm to grasp her with. In doing so he released her left arm; she set it
against his breast with all her strength, and was now able to turn
sidewards and rise to her feet. Their eyes met, fierce and flaming.
Neither spoke. They were breathing short and hard.

"Mary!" screamed some one outside. It was Mrs. Dawes. Mrs. Dawes, who
was supposed to be unable to leave her bed, stood in the passage.
"Mary!" she screamed once again, as if she were about to faint. Both
rushed out. Mrs. Dawes was standing in her night-dress outside her open
door, leaning against the wall. She was in the act of falling when
Jörgen Thiis sprang forward and caught her. One servant after the other
rushed upstairs--even little Nanna came. Jörgen stood supporting Mrs.
Dawes until, with their united strength, they lifted her and carried her
in. She was incapable of setting her foot to the ground again. Her eyes
were closed; whether she was in a faint or not they did not know. She
was a terrible weight. It was all they could do to get her across the
threshold. Then they proceeded slowly towards the bed; but the worst was
to come, the lifting her in. Every time the heavy body reached the edge
of the bed, the legs refused to follow, and down the unfortunate lady
slipped again. She did not help herself in the least, she only groaned;
and before they could get a proper grip, she was on the floor. When they
had once again raised the weighty mass, but not far enough for it to
hold itself in position unsupported, they stood helpless, for they had
no idea how to manoeuvre it farther. Nanna burst out laughing and ran
out of the room. Jörgen shot a furious glance after her. This was too
much even for Mary. Three minutes ago she had been engaged in a
desperate struggle--now she was seized with such an inclination to laugh
that she, too, had to run away. She was standing outside with her
handkerchief to her mouth, doubled up with laughter, when the nurse came
out of her father's room; he wished to know what was going on. Mary went
to him. She could hardly tell him for laughing--tell him, that is, about
Mrs. Dawes's position, and Jörgen's and the servants' struggles. Her
father tried to ask why Mrs. Dawes had been in the passage. This stopped
Mary's laughter. One of the maids came from the other room and said that
Mrs. Dawes was now in bed, and that she wished to speak to Miss Krog.

Jörgen was standing at the foot of the bed. Mrs. Dawes lay groaning and
weeping and calling for Mary. No sooner did Mary appear at the door than
she began:

"What was happening to you, child? Sudden terror seized me. What was
going on?"

Mary went up to the bed without looking at Jörgen. She knelt down and
put her arm round her old friend's neck.

"Oh, Aunt Eva!" she said, and laid her head on the old lady's breast.
Presently she began to cry.

"What is it? What is it? What is making you so unhappy?" moaned Mrs.
Dawes, stroking the beautiful hair.

At last Mary looked up. Jörgen Thiis had gone; but she still kept
silence.

"I have never felt like that," began Mrs. Dawes again, "except when
something dreadful was happening."

Mary kept silence.

"Had Jörgen Thiis anything to do with it?"

Mary gave her a look.

"Ah! that is what I feared. But remember, my child, that he has loved
you since the first time he saw you--you, and no one else. That means a
great deal. And never once so much as hinted it to you--has he?"

Mary shook her head.

"It's no small thing, that either. It shows strength of character. He
has served you and he has honoured you--don't be too hard on him. Not
till now, when you are poor, does he dare--but what was it?"

Mary waited a little; then she said:

"First I thought he was ill. Then he suddenly lost his senses."

"Oh, I could tell you something. I too.... Yes, yes, yes!" She seemed
lost in thought. Then she murmured: "Those who go for years...."

But Mary cut her short. "Don't let us talk any more about it," she said,
rising.

"No. Only it is...."

"No more on that subject, please!" repeated Mary, walking to the window.
Standing there she heard Mrs. Dawes say: "You must let me tell you that
he has spoken to me--asked me if he dared offer himself to you. He can
imagine no greater happiness than to help you when we are no longer
able. But he thinks that you are too unapproachable."

Mary made an involuntary movement. Mrs. Dawes saw it.

"Don't be too hard on him, Mary. Do you know, child, that your father
and I think ..."

"Now, Aunt Eva!" Mary turned sharply towards her--not as if she were
angry, but yet in such a manner as to check the words on the old lady's
lips.

Mary remained in the room. She would not risk meeting Jörgen Thiis. When
she was doing some small service for Mrs. Dawes, the latter said: "You
know, child, that Jörgen is to have Uncle Klaus's money?" As Mary did
not answer, she ventured to go on. "And he believes that Uncle Klaus
will help him if he marries." This, too, Mary allowed to pass unnoticed.

When there was no longer any danger, she went to her own room. There she
recalled the scene from beginning to end. Her cheeks burned, but she was
astonished that, dreadful though it had been, she was not really angry.

Just as she was thinking: What will happen next? there was a gentle
knock at the door. Now she felt angry, and inclined to jump up and turn
the key. Presently, however, she said: "Come in!" The door was opened
and closed, but she did not look round from where she sat in her big
chair. Gently, humbly, Jörgen came forward and knelt down on one knee in
front of her, hiding his face with his hands. There was nothing in the
action that offended her. He was strongly agitated. She looked down upon
the handsome head with the soft hair, and her eyes fell on the long,
true musician's fingers. Something refined about him conciliated her.
But a mournful: "Shall I go!" was all that came from him. She waited a
little, then in a low voice answered: "Yes." He let his hands drop,
seized one of hers and pressed his lips to it--long, but reverently;
then rose and left the room.

During the kiss, reverential as it was, a feeling of excitement passed
through Mary, of the same nature as that which, when he kissed and
kissed again, had made her almost faint away. She sat still, long after
he had gone, wondering at this. She once more recalled every particular
of their struggle, and shuddered. "Why am I not angry with him?"

Another knock was heard. It was the maid with a request from Mrs. Dawes
that Mary would come to her.

"You have let him go, child?"

Mrs. Dawes was in real distress. In her agitation she sat up, supporting
herself on one arm. Her cap was awry upon her grey, short hair; the fat
neck was redder than usual, as if she were too hot.

"Why did you let him go?" she repeated.

"It was his own wish."

"How can you say such a thing, child? He has been here complaining. He
would give his life to stay! You don't understand in the least. You do
nothing but reject his advances, and torture him."

She lay down again, in exhaustion and despair. The word "torture"
produced a momentary comic impression on Mary; but she herself had the
feeling that she ought to have spoken to Jörgen before she let him go.
That he was to go, she was quite determined.

On these events followed rather a hard time for them all. A change in
the weather affected Anders Krog unfavourably; he was unable to take
sufficient nourishment, and had more difficulty in speaking. Mary was
much with him; and at these times his eyes rested on her and followed
her so persistently that she almost felt afraid.

Mrs. Dawes sent small notes in to him. She could not give up her
writing, even in bed. He looked long at Mary each time one of these
notes came; so she guessed what they were about.

Mrs. Dawes said to her one day: "You over-estimate your own powers when
you believe that you can live here alone with us."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, tired as you may be of society in spring, when winter
comes it will exercise its attraction again. You are too much accustomed
to it."

Mary made no answer at the time, but some days later--the weather had
long been bad, and she had not been out--she said to Mrs. Dawes: "You
may be right in believing that the life we have lived all these years
has taken strong hold of me."

"Stronger than you have any idea of, child."

"But what would you have me do? I cannot leave here. Nor do I wish to."

"No. But you could have a change sometimes."

"How?"

"You know quite well what I mean, child. If you married Jörgen, he would
live sometimes here with you, and you sometimes at Stockholm with him."

"A curious married life!"

"I don't believe you can combine the two things in any better way."

"Which two things?"

"What life demands of you and what you are accustomed to."

Mary felt that what Mrs. Dawes had just said expressed her father's
wish. She knew that what gave him most anxiety was her future, and that
a marriage with Jörgen which ensured Uncle Klaus's protection would give
him a feeling of security. It oppressed her to think how little regard
to her father's wishes she had hitherto shown.

These days, with their deliberations, struck her as resembling the
recitative in an opera, the part which connects two important actions.
Now that the season was advancing, she felt like a captive when she
looked out across the bay. When she stood on the hill, watching autumn's
stern entrance in foaming breakers, she knew that it was bringing
imprisonment for the winter. Her spirit stirred in rebellion; she was
accustomed to something so different.

Something in her blood stirred too. Her tranquillity was gone. As a
memory, Jörgen was not repellent. The atmosphere which he brought with
him was actually sympathetic.

That her father had been incapacitated by an apoplectic shock, that
Jörgen had been on the spot when this occurred, that he was her father's
choice--was there not something in this that linked them together? Was
there not fate in it?

To make her appearance at Jörgen's side in Stockholm,[C] and afterwards
to be sent farther afield--could there be a more fitting conclusion to
her life of travel, a better opportunity of turning to advantage all
that she had learned during the course of it?

    [C] The Foreign Office of Sweden was at that time the Foreign
        Office of Norway also.

Uncle Klaus should help them--help them generously. She knew her power
over Uncle Klaus.

"After all, Aunt Eva dear," she said one day when she sat chatting
beside Mrs. Dawes's bed; "I think you may write to Jörgen."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary herself was standing on the pier when the steamer came in. It was
Saturday afternoon; all that could do so were leaving town to enjoy the
last days of autumn in the country. The weather was beautiful; in the
south of Norway it can be so till far on in September. Mary was dressed
in blue and carried a blue parasol, which she waved to Jörgen and some
of her girl friends who were standing beside him. All on board moved
towards the gangway to watch the meeting.

Jörgen felt, as soon as he reached her side, that he must be cautious.
He divined that she had come to meet him here in order that their
meeting might not be private.

On the way up to the house they talked of the swallows, which were now
assembling for their departure--of the farm-overseer, who had just shot
a huge eagle--of the writing-board which Mrs. Dawes had had
constructed--of the good aftermath, of the price of fruit and turnips.
In the hall she left him with a short "Excuse me!" and hurried
upstairs. The boy who was carrying Jörgen's portmanteau had followed
them in; Jörgen and he stood still, not knowing where to go. Then Mary
called from above: "This way, please!" Opening the door of the visitors'
room next her own, she told the boy to take the portmanteau in there. To
Jörgen she said: "Shall we go and see Father?" She led the way. The
nurse was not in the room. Probably it was to send her away that Mary
had run up first.

A light kindled in the sick man's eyes as he saw Jörgen enter. As soon
as the door was closed, Mary went up to her father, bent over him, and
said: "Jörgen and I are engaged now, Father."

All the affection and happiness that a human face can express beamed
from Anders Krog's. Smiling, Mary turned towards Jörgen, who, pale and
agitated, was prepared to rush forward and embrace her. But he felt that
though his astonishment, his gratitude, and his adoration were quite
acceptable to her, she desired no such manifestation of them. This did
not detract from his happiness. He met her smiling eyes with an
expression of intense, perfect delight. He pressed the hand which Anders
Krog could move; he looked into his tearful eyes, his own filling. But
no word was spoken until Mary said: "Now we must go to Aunt Eva."

With a feeling of triumph she led the way. He followed, admiring. His
heart was full of many feelings, not least among them admiration of the
magnanimity with which she had forgiven. He thought: Out in the passage
she will turn round, and then ... But she went straight to Mrs. Dawes's
door and knocked.

When Mrs. Dawes saw Jörgen, she clapped her fat hands, tugged at her
cap, and tried to sit up, but could not for excitement. She fell back
again, wept, blessed them, and stretched out her arms. Jörgen allowed
himself to be embraced, but would not kiss her.

As soon as sensible conversation became possible, Mary said: "Don't you
think too, Aunt Eva, that we ought to go and call on Uncle Klaus
to-morrow?"

"Most certainly I do, my child! most certainly! Why should there be any
delay?"

Jörgen was radiant. Mary retired, that the two might have a confidential
talk.

When Jörgen and she met again, he understood that the watchword was:
"Look, but do not touch!" This was hard; but he acknowledged it to be
only just that one who had presumed as he had should be compelled to
control himself. Mary intended to be her own mistress.

In her triumphant mood she was more beautiful than ever. It seemed to
Jörgen an act of grace when she addressed him as "thou." And she
condescended no further. He went on hoping, but she gave no more--not
the whole of that day. He betook himself to the piano and there poured
forth his lament. Mary opened the doors, so that Mrs. Dawes might hear
the music. "Poor boy!" said Mrs. Dawes.

Next day Mary did not come downstairs until it was time to set off on
their expedition to Uncle Klaus's.

"You are _la grande dame_ to-day, and no mistake!" said Jörgen,
inspecting her admiringly. She was in her most elegant Parisian walking
costume. "Is it to make an impression on Uncle Klaus?"

"Partly. But it is Sunday, you know.--Tell me," and she suddenly became
serious; "does Uncle Klaus know about father's misfortune?"

"He knows about his illness, if you mean that."

"No; I mean the cause of it?"

"That I can't say. I came straight from home. I have told nothing--even
at home."

Of this Mary approved. Consequently they were on the pleasantest, most
confidential terms, both during the walk down to the steamer and on
board. There they sat talking in whispers of their wedding, of furlough
for the first month after it, of life in Stockholm, of her visits to him
there, of his visit to Krogskogen at Christmas, of a trip to Christiania
now--in short, there was not a cloud in their sky.

They found Uncle Klaus in his smoke-filled den, where they rather
imagined than saw him. He himself was quite startled when Mary in all
her glory appeared before him. He led them hurriedly into the large,
stiff drawing-room. Even before they were seated, Jörgen said: "We have
come, Uncle, to tell you--"

He got no farther, for Uncle Klaus saw in their radiant faces the news
which they brought.

"My heartiest congratulations!" The tall man bowed, offering a hand to
each. "Yes--every one says that you are the handsomest couple ever seen
in this town. For," he added, "we engaged you to each other long ago."

Hardly were they seated before his face became gloomy. He looked
compassionately at Mary. "But your father, my poor child!"

"Father is much better now," she answered evasively. Uncle Klaus looked
searchingly at her. "But he can never...." He stopped; he was not
capable of putting his thought into words; neither was Mary. They sat
silent.

When they began to speak again, it was of the unusually bad times. It
seemed as if there were to be no end to them. Investments were yielding
no interest, the shipping trade was in a bad way, there were no new
undertakings, money was not forthcoming. Whilst they were talking, Uncle
Klaus looked several times at Jörgen as if he would put more questions
but for his presence. Mary understood, and made a sign to Jörgen, who
rose and asked permission to go, as he had an appointment with some
friends in town. It was, thus, tacitly agreed upon between Mary and him
that she should have a private interview with Uncle Klaus. But what was
it Uncle Klaus wished to speak to her about? She was most curious.

As soon as the door closed behind Jörgen, the old man, with an anxious
look, began: "Is it true, my poor child, that your father has had great
losses in America?"

"He has lost everything," Mary replied.

Klaus jumped up, pale with the shock.

"Lost everything?"

He stared at her, open-mouthed and turning purple. Then exclaiming:
"Good Lord! This is a simple enough explanation of the shock!" began to
march up and down the room as if no one else were present. The wide
trousers twisted themselves round his legs; he waved his long arms.

"He has always been a confiding simpleton! an absolute fool! Fancy
having a fortune like that invested in another man's business and never
looking after it! What a damned--" Here he stopped suddenly and asked in
astonishment: "What do you mean to marry upon--?"

Mary had felt herself mortally insulted long before this question came.
To behave thus in her presence--to speak thus of her father in her
hearing! Nevertheless she answered archly and with her sweetest smile:
"On our expectations from you, Uncle Klaus!"

Klaus's astonishment was beyond all measure. She tried to moderate it
before it found vent; she joked--said in English that she felt
dreadfully sorry for him, as she knew what a poor man he was! But he
paid no more attention to her than a bear to the twitter of birds.

Out it came at last. "It is like that scoundrel Jörgen to speculate upon
me!" Marching up and down again, faster than before, he continued: "Ha,
ha! I might have known it! Whenever anything goes wrong, it is I who
must come to the rescue--and at this moment, too, when I am hardly
earning my bread! I never knew anything so impudent in my life!" He did
not see her, he did not see anything. The rich man was accustomed to
give free vent to his petulance, anger, insolence. "Jörgen
deserves--confound him!--that I should stop the allowance I give him! He
does nothing but ask for more. And now I am to----ha, ha! It's just like
him!"

Mary listened, pale as death. Never before had she been so humiliated;
never had any human being treated her otherwise than with the deference
paid to a privileged person.

But she did not lose her head. "I keep Father's accounts now," she said
coldly; "and I see from them that there is money of his in your hands."

"Yes," said Klaus, without stopping and without looking at Mary; "oh,
yes--two hundred thousand kroner or so. But if you keep the accounts,
you also see that at present these investments hardly yield anything."

"It is not so bad as that," she replied.

"Well--what about them?" asked he, standing still. An idea suddenly
occurred to him: "Has Jörgen asked you to sell out?"

"Jörgen has asked nothing of me," Mary said, and rose to her feet.

As she stood there tall, pale, stately, facing him so bravely, Klaus
felt himself worsted. He could do nothing but stare. When she said: "I
am sorry that I did not know before what kind of man you are!" all his
superiority vanished. He felt stupid and helpless, unable to answer,
unable even to move. He allowed her to go--the very last thing he
intended!

He looked out at the window and saw her sweep past towards the
market-place. What a vision of proud beauty she was!

When, in course of time, Jörgen came to fetch Mary, or rather to stay to
dinner there with her--for he was certain that they would be invited--an
even more violent explosion of wrath awaited him; because now Uncle
Klaus was extremely dissatisfied with himself too.

"Why the devil did you not come alone? You were afraid!--And you wanted
her to sell shares now, when they are worth nothing--like the cursedly
extravagant, reckless fellow you always have been!"

Uncle Klaus was wrong; but Jörgen knew him--knew that he must not
answer. He slunk away and joined Mary at the house in the market-place,
even more wretched than the day when she found him on the ridge, gazing
down into the lost paradise. She herself had been weeping with anger and
disappointment; but there was abundance of elasticity in her; now came
the rebound. Their fall from the triumphant elevation of half-an-hour
ago had been so precipitous that when Jörgen's misery was added as a
finishing touch, the whole became ridiculous. She laughed so heartily,
so exhilaratingly, that even Jörgen was cured. A quarter of an hour
later the two went out to order a good dinner, with champagne. They had
agreed to take a walk whilst it was being prepared. But no sooner did
they feel the delicious fresh air, than Jörgen rushed upstairs again and
telephoned to Krogskogen that they were coming out to dine there. It was
a good two hours' walk by the new coast-road--how they would enjoy it!

They set off at a rapid pace. It was the very weather for walking, this
bright, cool autumn day with the fresh breeze.

The road followed the coast line, rounding all the rocky headlands; they
looked forward to the constant changes--from shore to height, from
height to shore. On the sea, dark blue to-day, sailing ships and columns
of smoke were to be seen, far as the eye could reach. It being Sunday,
there were also pleasure-boats out, some gliding about among the
islands, others venturing out to the open sea.

At their quick pace, the two young people were soon in the outskirts of
the town. They passed a pretty little house in a garden.

"Who lives there?" asked Mary, admiring it.

"Miss Röy, the doctor," answered Jörgen, immediately adding: "Our
annoyance and disappointment made me forget to tell you that I met Frans
Röy in town."

Unconsciously Mary stood still; involuntarily she blushed. "Frans Röy?"
she repeated, looking hard at him--then walked on without waiting for an
answer.

"He is here to inspect the operations at the harbour. You know that
Irgens is dead."

"The engineer? is he dead?"

"They say now that Captain Röy will probably take his place."

"Is it work for a man like him?"

"Many are no doubt asking the same question--asking what brings him
here," laughed Jörgen.

Mary looked at him and he at Mary. Then he went nearer to her. "But now
he comes too late."

He had expected an understanding glance in answer--possibly with a
little happiness in it. She walked on without looking at him, and
without speaking.

They were silent for a long time, walking fast in the refreshing autumn
breeze. At last she turned towards him, with the intention of giving him
a pleasant surprise.

"Do you know, Jörgen, that Father has two hundred thousand kroner
invested in Uncle Klaus's business?"

"He has two hundred and fifty thousand," Jörgen answered.

She was much surprised--in the first place by Jörgen's knowing, in the
second, by the fifty thousand.

"Uncle Klaus himself said two hundred thousand."

"Yes, your father has that sum invested in Uncle's ships and commercial
enterprises. But lately, before he was taken ill, he sent Uncle fifty
thousand more, which he had lying idle."

"How do you know?"

"Uncle told me."

"There is no note of this last sum in father's books."

"No; your father probably did not take the trouble to enter it; he was
not in the habit of doing so. Besides"--here Jörgen paused--"are you in
possession of all your father's business papers?"

Into this subject Mary would not enter; she knew that the question was a
natural one; but how in the world did Jörgen----? Perhaps through Mrs.
Dawes. What he had told her, however, rejoiced her. She stood still;
there was something she wanted to say. But the wind caught up her
skirts, unloosed some of her hair, and blew about her scarf.

"How perfectly lovely you look!" Jörgen exclaimed.

"But Jörgen--then there is nothing in the way!"

"We can marry, you mean?"

"Yes!" and off she started.

"No, dear. The shares are yielding almost nothing just now."

"What does that matter? We'll risk it, Jörgen!" she cried, radiant with
health and courage.

"Without Uncle's consent?" asked Jörgen in a despondent tone.

Mary stood still again. "He would disinherit you?"

Instead of answering directly, Jörgen began mournfully: "I wish you
knew, Mary, what I have had to bear from Uncle, from the day he adopted
me--the things he has demanded of me, the things he has persecuted me
for. To this very day he treats me like a naughty schoolboy. The worst
of his bad temper is vented upon me."

The mixture of unhappiness and bitterness depicted on his face led Mary
involuntarily to exclaim: "Poor Jörgen--now I begin to understand!"

They walked on. She reflected that Jörgen's power of self-control had
been acquired in a hard school; there he had also learned the art of
concealment. She could not but admire his tenacity of purpose. What had
it not accomplished! Think of his music alone! It, however, had been a
great consolation to him. Now she understood his extreme politeness; now
she understood his sentimentality; she understood what had made him so
exacting and severe with those under his command.

She saw that she herself had probably added to his unhappiness. His
long, silent love for her had only been an additional burden; for she
had not given him one encouraging word--very much the reverse! What
wonder that at last it should have become a kind of possession!

"Poor Jörgen!" she said again, and took his hand.

It was the first token of affection she had bestowed upon him. She had
to draw her hand away again immediately to hold down her dress, for a
strong wind was blowing at the point, and a sailing-boat was tacking
just below them. The people in it waved up to them, and they waved back.
How fresh the air was! How brilliantly blue the fjord!

As they were descending towards the bay, Mary asked: "Do you really
believe that Uncle Klaus will disinherit you if we marry?"

"My dear girl, we have nothing to marry on!"

"We can sell these shares," she said undauntedly.

"If we were to sell them at their present price, in order to be able to
marry at once, he would be absolutely certain to cut me off."

But Mary would not give in. "There are our woods."

"It will be several years before there is any timber to fell."

How well informed Jörgen was! How carefully he had thought the whole
thing out!

They had now reached the stretch of level road which led along the shore
to the last headland before Krogskogen. At a farm here there was a surly
old Lapland dog. Mary and he were good friends. He always barked a
little as people came up; probably he did not see well; but as soon as
he scented an acquaintance his tail began to wag.

To-day he was furious.

"Dear me!" exclaimed Mary, "is it you who are making him so angry,
Jörgen?"

Jörgen did not answer, but stooped to pick up a small stone. When the
dog saw this, he scurried off with his tail between his legs to the
shelter of a heap of sticks, and there continued to bark.

"Don't do it!" said Mary, as she saw Jörgen taking aim.

"It will be interesting to see whether or not he retreats in the exact
direction of my aim--if he does, the stone will hit him on the back." As
Jörgen spoke, he pretended to throw. Off rushed the dog. Then he threw,
and the stone landed exactly where he had said. The dog howled.

"You see!" said Jörgen exultingly. "There are not many who can throw
like that, I can tell you."

"Do you shoot equally well?"

"Certainly. What I do, Mary--it isn't much, I know--but I do it fairly
well."

This she was obliged to admit. The dog's distant fury also confirmed the
statement.

As they were taking the short cut up to the house, Jörgen began: "Do you
think we should say anything to Mrs. Dawes or to your father about
this?"

"About Uncle Klaus?"

"Yes. It will only distress them. Can't we say that Uncle Klaus asked us
to wait till spring?"

Mary stood still. Such a line of action was not to her mind. But Jörgen
continued:

"I know Uncle Klaus better than you do. He will repent soon. He will
certainly not give in to us; but he will make a proposal of his
own--probably what I am asking you to say--that we should wait till
spring."

Mary had already discovered how well informed Jörgen was; so she could
not but allow that he was probably better able to judge than she. But
she was unaccustomed to roundabout methods.

"Let me manage it," Jörgen said. "I'll spare the old people a
disappointment."

"But what am _I_ to say, then?" asked Mary.

"What is perfectly true. That Uncle Klaus was delighted to hear of our
engagement; but that as times are so bad just now, we shall be obliged
to wait. And this is really the case."

Mary agreed, the more willingly because she thought it considerate of
Jörgen to wish to spare the old people. For this he received her best
thanks--and her hand again. He kept hold of it until they reached the
house, and even whilst they mounted the steps. He thought to himself:
"This is the pledge of a kiss in the hall. But I'll take ten!"

He opened the door and let Mary pass in first. Nodding brightly to him
as she passed, she made quickly for the stairs and disappeared up them.
He heard her go into her own room.

Carefully as Jörgen chose his words in communicating the result of their
expedition, it was a sad disappointment to the old people. It was
inexplicable to them both, but especially to Mrs. Dawes, who thought the
decision arrived at cruel. Mary was to spend the long winter alone here,
and Jörgen in Stockholm. They might possibly see each other for a few
days at Christmas, but that would be all. Curiously enough, the old
people's disappointment reacted upon Jörgen. He sat moping like a sick
bird, had nothing to say, hardly answered Mrs. Dawes when she spoke to
him, and presently went off to prepare for his departure next morning.
His leave had expired, and he was going direct to Stockholm.

Mary alone was in good spirits. One would have supposed that she had no
concern whatever in the matter. To her the day had, to all appearance,
brought no disappointment. The triumphant mood in which she had been
ever since she graciously proclaimed their engagement in her father's
room, far from having abated, was more pronounced than ever. She went
humming about the rooms and passages, and seemed to have no end of
arrangements to make, as if it were she who was about to take an
important and long journey. At supper she joked and teased until Jörgen
began to have an uncomfortable suspicion that she was making fun of him.
At last he said plainly that he could not understand her. He thought she
ought rather to be sorry for him. She was to remain here in her own
comfortable home, working for those whom she loved, whilst he----. Now
he _hated_ what he was going back to, because it took him away from her!
He repented his exchange into the diplomatic service. He loathed
Stockholm. He knew what an inferior position a young man occupied there
who had no good introductions, and who, in addition to this, was
Norwegian. He was, in short, unhappy, and grumbled freely.

"You who distinguished yourself in the confirmation class, Jörgen, don't
you know that Jacob had to work seven whole years for Rachel?"

"And how many have I not worked for you, Mary?"

"Ah! the reason of that is that you began far too early. It's a bad
habit you have acquired--that of beginning too early."

"Was it possible to see you without...? You are unjust to yourself."

"You had other aims, Jörgen, besides winning me."

"So had that business-man, Jacob. And he had the advantage over me, that
whilst working and waiting he could see Rachel as often as he liked."

"Well, well--he who has waited so many years, Jörgen, can surely wait
half a year longer."

"It is easy for you to talk, you who have never waited--never for
anything!"

Mary was silent.

"But that you should tease me into the bargain, Mary--I who, even when I
am beside you, must exist on such meagre fare!"

"You think you have cause of complaint, Jörgen?"

"Yes, I do."

"You began far too early, remember!" And Mary laughed.

This put Jörgen out, but presently he repeated: "You don't understand
what it means to wait."

"So much I do understand, that it comes easier to those who live on
meagre fare." And she laughed again.

Jörgen was both offended and perplexed. A woman who really cared for him
would hardly have behaved thus on the eve of parting from him for
several months, and with such poor prospects as they had of being able
to marry.

They sat for a short time beside her father, and longer beside Mrs.
Dawes. Jörgen was quiet--hardly spoke. But Mary was gay. Mrs. Dawes
watched them in surprise. Turning to Jörgen, she said: "Poor boy, you
must come here at Christmas!" Mary answered for him: "Aunt Eva, it is
just at Christmas that Stockholm is pleasantest."

Suddenly Mary rose and very unexpectedly said good-night, first to
Jörgen, then to Mrs. Dawes.

"I am tired after the walk, and I must be up early to-morrow to see
Jörgen off."

Jörgen felt that this sudden departure was a piece of deliberate
mischief. She wished to escape saying good-night to him in the passage.
He vowed to revenge himself. He was skilled in the art.

Mrs. Dawes asked if there were any misunderstanding between them. He
said there was none. She did not believe it; he had to assure her again
solemnly that he knew of none. But he could not conceal that he was out
of temper; he could not even bear to sit there any longer. When he left
he found the passage, contrary to custom, dark, and had to grope his way
to his own door. Not till he had lit his lamp and listened involuntarily
for any sound from Mary's room, did it occur to him that the door-handle
had been made noiseless. In the morning it had creaked--very little; but
it certainly had creaked. Never had he been in such a well-ordered house
as this, where the very slightest thing amiss was instantly put
right--even on a Sunday. He could not imagine greater happiness than to
return here when everything should be satisfactorily arranged, to rest,
and to live as long as he chose in the manner which his ardent desire
for the pleasures of the senses pictured.

Therefore patience! He would submit to Mary's caprices now, as he had
submitted to his uncle's before--until his time came!

He was undressing, when the door opened noiselessly, and Mary entered,
in her night-dress--dazzlingly beautiful. She closed the door behind her
and went forward to the lamp. "You shall not wait, Jörgen," said she, as
she extinguished the light.



ALONE


Next morning she slept too long. She was awakened by singing and
playing. First as in a dream and then consciously, through a rushing
stream of memories, she heard Jörgen Thiis. He was at the piano, singing
in the freshness of the early morning, the windows flung open, his
clear, jubilant tenor wafting festal tones up to her.

In a moment she was up and dressing, afraid lest she might be too late
to go down with him to the steamer. The wider awake she became with the
rapid motion, the more impetuously did her thoughts rush towards him and
his joyful agitation. That heartfelt, soul and sense pervading gratitude
and praise--she would fain enjoy it in his immediate neighbourhood. She
longed to be uplifted and borne in triumph as his life's queen! Of her
sovereign grace she had bestowed on him life's highest prize. He was
rewarded now for his long sufferings!--without bargaining, without
regard for established prejudices. She knew him now; she knew exactly
how he would look, exactly in what manner he would make her the
partaker of his happiness. Therefore her breast heaved high in
expectation of the meeting--expectation of his gratitude and homage.

In her blue morning dress she passed through the little Dutch ante-room
and stretched out her hand to open the door of the big drawing-room with
the windows to the sea; but so excited was she that she had to pause to
take breath--enjoying Jörgen's triumph the while. He was so carried away
with his own music that she was quite close to him before he noticed
her. He looked up, radiant--rose slowly, silently, as to a festal rite.
This impression he would do nothing to destroy. He opened his arms, drew
her into his embrace, kissed her hair gently, stroked the cheek that lay
bare--slowly, protectingly. He was trying to shield, to hide, to help
her with manly tenderness to overcome the feeling of shame from which
she must be suffering. His whole attitude was tender and reassuring.

"But we must hurry in to breakfast now," he whispered affectionately,
kissing her beautiful hair again, and inhaling its fragrance. Then he
passed his arm gently, yet in a controlling manner, round her waist.
Near the door he said in a low tone: "You have slept well, since you
come so late?" He opened the door with his disengaged hand, and,
receiving no answer, looked sympathisingly at her. She was pale and
confused. "My sweet one!" he whispered soothingly.

At breakfast there was no end to his consideration for her, especially
when it became evident that she could not eat. But time was short; he
had to attend to himself; so he could not talk much. Mary did not say a
word. But it struck her that Jörgen handled his knife and fork in a new,
masterful manner, of a piece with that in which he now spoke to her and
looked at her. He evidently desired to inspire her with courage--after
what had happened last night. She could have taken her plate with what
was on it and flung it in his face!

His triumphal song had been in his own honour! He had been hymning his
own worthiness!

A decanter with wine stood on the table. Jörgen poured out a large
glass, drank it slowly, and rose with a dignified: "Excuse me!" adding
in the doorway: "I must look if the boy has taken my portmanteau."

In a moment he was back again. "Time is almost up." He closed the door,
and hurried across the room to Mary, who was now standing at the
window. This time he drew her quickly into his arms and began to kiss.

"No more of that, please!" she said with all her old queenliness, and
turned away from him. She walked proudly into the hall, put on her coat
with the assistance of the maid who hastened to help, chose a hat,
looked out to see the state of the weather, and then took her parasol.
The maid opened the front door. Mary passed out quickly, Jörgen
following, mortally offended. He was unconscious of any transgression.

They walked on for a time silent. But Mary was in such a state of
suppressed rage that when she at last remembered to put up her parasol,
she almost broke it. Jörgen saw this.

"Remember," she said--and it sounded as if she had suddenly acquired a
new voice--"I don't care about letters. And I can't write letters."

"You don't wish me to write to you?" He had also a new voice.

She did not answer, nor did she look at him.

"But if anything should happen--?" said he.

"Well, of course then--! But you forget that you have Mrs. Dawes."

And as if this were not enough, she added: "I don't imagine that you,
either, are a good letter-writer, Jörgen. So there will be nothing
lost."

He could have struck her.

As ill luck would have it, the surly old Lapland dog was at the
landing-place with his master. No sooner did he catch sight of Jörgen
than he began to bark. All his master's attempts to silence him were in
vain.

Every one turned to look at the new-comers. Jörgen had at once picked up
a small stone, and Mary had asked him in a low voice not to throw it.
The steamer was now lying to; it diverted the attention of all,
including the dog. For this moment Jörgen had been waiting; he flung the
stone with all his might, and a loud howl arose. He immediately turned
to Mary, swept off his hat with his best smile, and thanked her for the
hospitality shown him.

For the sake of appearances she could not but remain on the pier until
the steamer went; she was even obliged to wave her parasol once or
twice. Smiling and triumphant, Jörgen returned sweeping bows from the
steamer's deck.

How furious she was! But he was hardly less so.

       *       *       *       *       *

"He, who should have thrown himself in the dust before me, and kissed
the hem of my dress!" This was Mary's feeling.

She had had a dawning suspicion last night of a want of delicacy in her
lover. He would not let her go. She had had to resort to artifice, and
had been obliged to lock her door. But she had explained his behaviour
to herself as an unfortunate result of those years of longing which had
turned his passion into a morbid possession.

Now uncertainty was no longer possible! Only an "experienced hand" could
behave like this. She had been deceived! The very best that was in her,
fostered and guarded by her noblest instincts, had been led loathsomely
astray.

With this thought she wrestled and strove all day long. She called
herself betrayed, dishonoured. At first she thrust the blame away from
herself. Then she took it all upon herself, and pronounced herself
unworthy to live. She did nothing but make mistakes; she was her own
betrayer! One hour she said to herself: "Violence was done me, although
I gave myself to him voluntarily!" The next she said: "All this has its
beginning farther back, and I cannot unravel it."

What a blessing that her own room remained undefiled! The one next it
she would never enter again.

With Jörgen she would have nothing more to do! But would he in these
circumstances keep silence? She felt certain that he would. His faults
did not lie in this direction--otherwise she, too, must have heard
something. But that even one human being should exist who----! She wept
with anger and impotence. It would break her spirit. It would weigh on
her like an incubus--heaviest when she rose highest.

She would meet him! She would tell him what she had taken him for, and
what he was--to whom she thought she was going that night and whom she
found. He should not be able to boast! But to carry out this intention
she must know something about his life. Whom dared she ask? who knew?

When she awoke next morning, her mind was clearer--clearer in the first
place as to how she must proceed in acquiring information regarding
Jörgen. It must be gathered as opportunity offered, so that no one's
attention should be attracted. It was also clear to her that the breach
with him, and the meeting which was to prepare it, must be
postponed--chiefly for the sake of the old people. But her second and
much more important resolve was to restore the equilibrium of her own
life, to escape from the unhealthy atmosphere which had been her
undoing. This could be done in only one way; she must take up her work
again, fit herself to do it better, and gain new courage by success.

Work and duty! She raised herself on her elbow, as if imitating the
corresponding uplifting of her mind. The next moment she was out of bed,
preparing to begin.

The 50,000 kroner which her father had given to Uncle Klaus, and of
which she had found no record in his books--did they not indicate that
he probably had money in America over and above that which had been in
his brother's business? that the interest which he had not spent had
been invested there? that 50,000 kroner of capital had lately been paid
up and sent home?

Ever since Jörgen had told her about these 50,000 kroner, the thought of
them had been haunting her. Now she must examine her father's American
correspondence; they must be mentioned in it. But no American letters
could she find, until she opened a small box which was shoved under a
book-shelf, and the key of which she found in her father's purse. She
remembered that this box had accompanied them on their travels, but she
had never known what it contained. In it lay the American correspondence
and accounts. It seemed as if, ever since her mother's days, he had
kept this American part of his fortune, and everything relating to it,
separate from the rest. And a very considerable sum he must still own
over there, even although the principal part, the million, was lost.
Mary became quite excited. Her father had undoubtedly understood from
the fatal letter that everything he possessed in America was lost; and
she and the others had received the same impression.

She now went to her father's room, explained things carefully to him,
and said that she intended to go to America at once to investigate the
matter. He was startled, but soon recognised the necessity of the step,
and agreed to it.

Mrs. Dawes was not so confiding. She felt that there was something
wrong, and that Mary was seeking distraction. But Mary's manner in
telling of her discovery and intention was quite determined. Therefore
the old lady confined herself to a gentle reminder of the gales likely
to be encountered at this season.

Three days later Mary, with an English-speaking maid, was on her way to
America, confident, as she had assured her father, of finding some one
among her many acquaintances capable of giving her the assistance she
required.

Everything happened as she had hoped, and in six weeks she was home
again. It was fortunate that she had gone out when she did, for
proceedings were on the point of being taken on the assumption that
Anders Krog had been his brother's full partner, whereas his partnership
was limited to the amount which he had invested in the business. This
Mary was in a position to prove.

Her business success inspired her with courage. Why not go on? She had
capital at her disposal now with which to commence operations. She felt
very much inclined to try. And the timber trade too! Was she not as
capable as any one of learning it? Was book-keeping by double-entry so
very difficult? She set to work at once.

Anders Krog seemed to revive after his daughter's return. The certainty
that the money which had not been in his brother's business was saved
gave him the greatest satisfaction. Mary's future was his one thought.

Mrs. Dawes, on the contrary, became visibly worse. It seemed as if the
once active, indefatigable woman had no strength left to draw upon. She
did not even ask after Jörgen; her correspondence she had quite given
up.

Mary managed the property with the assistance of the overseer, and her
father's money with the aid of a lawyer. She took lessons and studied.
Twice a week she went to town.

The time passed thus until the beginning of November. Then Anders Krog
received a letter from a near relation in Christiania, whose only child,
a daughter, had just become engaged. He was particularly anxious that
Mary should come and take part in the festivities to be held on this
occasion. Several entertainments were to be given by both families
concerned.

Mary was surprised at the pleasure with which the prospect suddenly
filled her. The old Adam was not dead! She hummed cheerfully as she went
about the house making her preparations. She was longing for new
surroundings--and for new homage! It was as reparation she desired it;
this she was obliged to confess to herself.

She had not been in Christiania many days before Anders received a
letter proclaiming her praises in the strongest words in the language.
It was not the engaged couple, but Mary, who attracted most attention at
the balls; it was she who was distinguished and fêted--the young couple
themselves being amongst her most devoted admirers! Her unique style of
beauty, her charm of manner, her accomplishments, her tact, had made an
indelible impression upon them all. They must be allowed to keep her a
little longer.

Anders Krog sent the letter in to Mrs. Dawes, with the request that it
should be returned soon. He spent most of the day reading it.

Next morning Mary came home. She went upstairs quietly to her father's
room. He was shocked with her look. She was ill, she said; and this was
plainly visible. She was not pale, but grey; her eyes were heavy with
sleep, her voice was faint. She embraced her father long and tenderly,
but would neither look at his letter nor tell him about her visit. She
must go to bed and rest, she told him, as soon as she had seen Mrs.
Dawes.

She did not stay half a minute with Mrs. Dawes, whom she left terribly
anxious.

She slept all day, ate a little at supper-time, and slept again all
night.

When she got up she looked much as usual, and was active and interested
in everything. Overseer, gardener, and housekeeper came with their
reports, and she went her usual rounds. Then she made her father happy
again by coming smiling into his room.

She had come to tell him that there was nothing now to prevent her
marrying at once. They would be quite well enough off. Her father
managed with great difficulty to say that he had been thinking the same
himself. His eyes and the one hand said more, namely, that nothing would
please him better.

But when she told Mrs. Dawes, and added that she thought of going at
once to Stockholm to propose it (Jörgen's name was not mentioned), Mrs.
Dawes's usual perspicacity returned; she sat up in bed and began to weep
bitterly. Then Mary's courage failed her; she threw herself on the bed
and whispered: "It's only too true, Aunt Eva!" She wept as she had never
wept in her life before. But as Mrs. Dawes's agitation was increased by
this, she was obliged to raise her head and say: "Aunt Eva, dear, Father
will hear us!" This subdued them a little. Then Mrs. Dawes told, through
her tears, that this was her own story over again. Not until after her
fiancé had induced her to go the same length did she discover what a
despicable man he was.

"Then we were obliged to marry. You see now, child, what we women are;
we never learn."

"Oh, if only you and Father had not insisted on bringing this man into
my life!" moaned Mary. "My instinct warned me to keep him at a
distance, but you deadened it." She added at once: "No, don't take it
like that, Aunt Eva! I am not reproaching you and Father. Besides,
there's no use in complaining now. There is only one thing to be
done--to shut my eyes and take the plunge."

In this Mrs. Dawes entirely agreed with her. "Afterwards you will do as
I did; when your reputation is saved, you will separate from him."

"No, that I shall not do. There will be something then that will bind us
together. Good God! good God!" she moaned, clinging to her old friend
and smothering her cry in the bed-clothes.

Mrs. Dawes sat helpless, holding her. "I don't understand this," she
said.

Mary raised her head quickly: "Do you not understand? He did it on
purpose to bind me. He knew me."

Then she threw herself across the bed again, miserable, despairing.
Between her outbursts of weeping came the cry: "There is no way out of
it! no way out of it!"

Mrs. Dawes had neither the strength nor the courage to seek for words to
comfort such distress.

It took its free course, until the anger cooled. Mrs. Dawes could feel
that another emotion was gradually taking the upper hand. Mary raised
her head; in her eyes, red with weeping, was hatred.

"I thought that I was giving myself to a gentleman; I discovered that it
was to a speculator." She rose slowly.

"Will you say that to him, child?"

"Most certainly not! Nothing whatever to that effect. I shall merely say
that it is necessary we should marry."

       *       *       *       *       *

Three days later a letter was brought in to Jörgen Thiis at the Foreign
Office. It was from Mary. "I am at the Grand Hotel, and expect you to
meet me there, outside the entrance, at two o'clock punctually."

He understood at once what this implied, and hurried off, for it was now
a quarter to two. It did not strike him until he was on his way
downstairs that their meeting was to be "outside the entrance"!

She did not wish to be alone with him in her room.

This altered his intentions. He ran up to his rooms and released from
imprisonment a little black poodle puppy, a valuable animal, which he
was training.

The middle of the road was filthy with slush and mud, and the dog was at
once ordered to keep beside his master on the pavement, which was clean.
After a few sprightly excursions he became obedient; he was afraid of
Jörgen's thin cane.

Mary's erect figure was distinguishable from a long distance. She stood
with her back to them, looking in the direction of the palace. Jörgen's
heart beat violently; his courage was failing him.

Mary became aware of his approach by the dog's rushing up to her as to
an old friend. She loved dogs; nothing but her constant change of abode
had prevented her keeping one. And this was such a beautiful, healthy,
well-kept animal, so entirely to her taste in every way, that she
involuntarily bent down to take notice of him. As she did so she saw
Jörgen. She drew herself up again at once.

"Is this your dog?" she asked, as if they had parted half an hour ago.

"Yes," answered he, taking off his hat respectfully.

Then she bent down again and patted the dog: "What a beauty you are! a
real beauty! No--keep down!"

"Keep down!" came in a more peremptory tone from Jörgen.

Mary straightened herself again. "Where shall we go?" she asked. "I have
never been in Stockholm before."

"We may as well go straight on. If we take the turning yonder we shall
come to John Ericson's monument."

"Yes, I should like to see that." They walked on.

"Come here!" called Jörgen to the dog, indicating the spot with his
stick. He was offended by Mary's not even having offered him her hand.
The dog came dejectedly, but cheered up immediately, for Mary spoke to
him and patted him again.

"I have been over in America," she said.

"Yes, I heard that."

"The 50,000 kroner of which you spoke were not in my father's books,
which made me certain that he must keep a separate account of the money
in America. This account I found. It showed me the necessity for going
across and saving what could be saved. The main sum was, of course,
hopelessly lost."

"What success had you?"

"I brought home with me the accumulated interest of all these years."

"The money had been well invested?"

"Better, I believe, than it could have been in Europe."

Here followed a short intermezzo. The dog had been off the pavement, and
now received a few cuts with the cane. This made Mary indignant.

"Dear me! the dog doesn't understand."

"Yes, he understands perfectly; but he has not learned to obey."

They walked on quickly. "What is your intention in telling me this?"
asked Jörgen.

"To show you that we can marry at once."

"How much is there?"

"About two hundred thousand."

"Dollars?"

"No, kroner. And the 50,000 besides."

"It is not enough."

"Along with the rest?"

"The 'rest' is hardly yielding anything at present. That you know."

Mary began to feel ill. He knew it by her voice when she said: "We have
the timber to fall back upon."

"Which cannot be felled for three years; possibly not for four, or even
five? That depends entirely on its growth."

Mary knew that he was right. Why had she mentioned it? "But--ten to
twelve thousand kroner a year...?"

"Is not enough in our position."

Another intermezzo. There was no pavement here. They had come to a
large, open space, thick with mud. Both had forgotten the dog. A fat,
dirty ship-dog, also of the poodle tribe, had come on shore with some
sailors, who were sauntering along in the same direction as Mary and
Jörgen. With this welcome playfellow Jörgen's dog had joined company.
Jörgen had the greatest trouble in inducing him to come back--dirty as
he already was. As soon as Mary called too, he came boldly and joyfully.
But a stroke with the cane awaited him, and called forth a howl.

"It is strange," said Mary, "that you cannot treat a nice dog kindly!"
She was thinking of his cruelty to their neighbour's old Lapland dog.

Jörgen did not answer. But as soon as he felt sure that the dog was
following meekly, he said: "Does Uncle Klaus know anything about this
money?"

"I do not believe that any one knows about it except ourselves. Why do
you ask?"

"Because it will be our best plan to speak to Uncle Klaus."

Mary stood still, astonished. "To Uncle Klaus?"

Jörgen also stood still. They looked at each other now.

"It will be to our interest," continued Jörgen.

"With Uncle Klaus----?" Mary stared. She did not understand him.

"For the sake of the family's honour he will do a great deal," said
Jörgen, giving her a quick side-glance as he moved on.

She had turned ghastly white, but she followed. "Must we confide in
Uncle Klaus?" she whispered behind him. A lower depth of humiliation
there could not be.

"Yes, we'll do so!" he answered encouragingly, almost gaily. "Now he
will not say 'No'!"

Had this, too, entered into his calculations?

He went closer to her. "If Uncle Klaus knows nothing about the American
money, we shall get more--do you see?"

How well he had thought it all out! In spite of her disgust, Mary was
impressed. Jörgen was a cleverer man than she had taken him for. Once he
had the opportunity to develop all his gifts, he would surprise many
besides herself.

She walked along, shrinking into herself like a leaf in too dry heat.

"You will manage this with Uncle Klaus yourself?"

"I shall go back with you now, as you may suppose. You need not have
come. You had only to let me know."

Her head was bent and she was trembling. His superiority robbed her of
her strength and courage; his words sickened her. As on a previous
occasion, one foot refused to plant itself in front of the other; she
could follow no farther.

Then she heard Jörgen call: "Come here, you little devil!" The dog
again! His dirty scamp of a playfellow had once more tempted him from
the path of duty.

There was something peculiar about Jörgen's voice when it commanded--it
was subdued and sharp at the same time. The dog recognised it, but only
looked round, irresolute. Being endowed with a happy frivolity of
disposition, he rushed again merrily up to his comrade and went on with
the game as if nothing had been said.

Mary stood learning a lesson. It was just underneath John Ericson's
statue that this happened. She looked up at the statue, looked into John
Ericson's kind, thoughtful eyes, until tears filled her own. She was
utterly miserable.

Jörgen was engrossed with the dog. The animal's education was conducted
on the principle that he must never be allowed to have his own will when
it conflicted with his master's. "Come here, you little rogue," said
Jörgen ingratiatingly. The dog was so surprised that he stopped in the
middle of his game. "Good dog! come along!" He made one or two joyful
bounds in Jörgen's direction; he remembered the good times they had had
together--perhaps such a time awaited him now. But, whatever the reason,
doubt seized him--he turned back and was soon between his dirty friend's
paws again, both of them sprawling in the mud.

The passers-by stopped, amused by the animal's disobedience. This
annoyed Jörgen. Mary knew it, and made an attempt to save the dog.
Standing behind Jörgen, she said softly in French: "It is not fair first
to coax and then to strike." Her words only made him more obstinate.
"This is a matter you don't understand," he answered, also in French,
and continued coaxing.

With the short-sighted trustfulness common to sweet-tempered puppies,
the dog stopped in his game and looked at Jörgen. Jörgen, with his stick
behind his back, advanced persuasively. He was furious at the laughter
of the onlookers, but muffled his rage in soft words. "Come on, old
fellow, come on!"

"Don't believe him!" shouted an English sailor. But it was too late.
Jörgen had hold of one of the long ears. The dog howled; Jörgen must
have pinched hard. Mary called in French: "Don't beat him!" Jörgen
struck--not hard; but the terrified puppy yelled piercingly. He struck
again--not hard this time either; it was done chiefly to annoy them all.
The dog howled so pitifully that Mary could not bear to look in that
direction. Gazing into John Ericson's good, kind eyes, she said: "These
blows have separated you and me, Jörgen!"

Instantaneously he let the dog go and stood up. He saw her eyes flame;
her cheeks were white; she held herself erect and faced him--above her
John Ericson's head.

A moment later, and she had turned her back on him and was walking
quickly away, with light, glad steps--the dog following.

The onlookers laughed, the English sailors derisively; Jörgen started in
pursuit.

But when Mary saw that the dog was following her and not him, and that
the creature's eyes sought hers to learn what she intended to do, the
fear she had felt before turned into wild exhilaration. Such revulsions
of feeling were not uncommon with her. She clapped her hands and ran,
and the dog sprang along at her side, barking. The spell was broken, the
disgrace was cast from her! Farewell to Jörgen and all his ways!

"That's what we are saying, my little rescuer, eh?" The dog barked.

She looked round to see Jörgen. He dared not hurry, for the sake of
appearances.

"But we two dare, don't we?" Again she clapped her hands and ran, and
the dog ran with her, barking.

Then she slackened her pace, and played with him and talked to him;
Jörgen was so far behind. "You ought to be called 'liberator'; but that
is too long a name for a little black puppy. You shall be called
John--be named after him who looked at me and gave me courage." Off she
and the dog ran again. "You follow me and not him! Well done, well done!
That is what he whom you are called after did. He would have nothing to
do with the slave-drivers; his friends were those who set free!"

Now they were round the corner. Jörgen was not visible. When he came to
the hotel, he was told, though he had seen Mary go in, that she was not
at home. He said that she had his dog. The waiter professed ignorance.
There was nothing for it but to go. He had lost both her and the dog.

Up in her room Mary asked the dog: "Will you be mine? Will you go with
me, little black John?" She clapped her hands to make him bark his
joyful: Yes. The question of ownership was settled thus. A letter which
came from Jörgen, probably on this subject, she burned unread.

She expected him to appear at the station, at the time when the train
for Norway left, to claim his property. She drove boldly up with her dog
at her side, washed, combed, perfumed. Jörgen was not there.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary slept all night with the dog at her feet, on her travelling rug.

But with morning came reflection. Now she was alone, alone with the
responsibility.

Hitherto she had been forcing herself into the one narrow way of
escape--to marry Jörgen at once, bear her child abroad, and after
that--endure as long as she could.

But to marry the man she loathed, merely in order to save her good
name--how inconceivable such a step now seemed to her! She had tried to
take it, because she knew what those around her thought on such
subjects, and because she occupied a peculiar position; upon festal
garments a stain was unendurable.

But now she said "For shame!" at the thought of it--said it aloud. And
the dog instantly looking up, she added: "Yes, John, it was 'to the
dogs' I was going when I set off on this journey!"

But what was she to do now?

She knew what could be done. But two besides herself would be in that
secret--Jörgen and another. This in itself was prohibitive. She could
never again hold up her head proudly and independently--and to be able
to do so was a necessity to her.

Well, what then?

As long as her journey and what it entailed had seemed to her to be
imperative, for honour's sake inevitable, the idea of the last, the very
last refuge had not suggested itself seriously.

Now it faced her in sad earnest!

She looked mournfully into the dog's honest eyes, as if she were
searching for a way of escape from this too. She read in them the most
unmixed happiness and devotion. Burying her face in his curls, she wept.
She was so young still, she did not want to die.

For the first time she wept for herself, was sorry for herself. It did
not seem to her that she had done anything to deserve this. Nor could
she account to herself for the manner in which it had all come about.

The dog understood that she was unhappy. He licked her hands, looked up
into her face, and whined to be allowed to jump up and comfort her.

She lifted him up and bent over him. Imagining that she meant to play
with him, he began to snap at her hands. She let him have his way, and
the two were soon engaged in a merry, babyish game, which lasted a long
time, because John refused to be satisfied; every time she stopped, he
began again.

Then she talked to him. "Little black John, you remind me of the
negroes. You remind me that your namesake ransomed negroes from slavery.
You have saved me from being enslaved. But it is a sorry deliverance, I
can tell you, if I am not to have the right to live as well as you.
Don't you think so too?" Then she began to cry again.

In Christiania she drove from one station to the other wearing a thick
veil, the dog beside her on the seat. She saw none of her acquaintances.
If they knew----!

Oh, that condemned and executed crow, which Jörgen wanted to pick up
and she fled from--she had no idea how well she had seen it, seen the
torn neck, the hacked body, the empty eye-sockets! The red wounds gaped
at her; she could not get them out of her thoughts during this terrible
drive.

It was winter now. She had not seen winter for many years. Dying,
withered vegetation she had seen, but not winter's transforming power,
not desolation decked in the fairest, purest white, with capricious
variations where the landscape was wooded. The fjord was not yet
ice-covered; steel-grey, defiant, hard, the sea came rolling up from
every direction, like a hydra-headed monster challenging to combat.

Her imagination had been excited by the drive through the town; now the
powers of nature took possession of it. All the more intensely did she
feel her impotence. Could _she_ accept any challenge to combat? Would
_she_ ever know the period of transformation? For her there was no
course open but to die.

Whilst she was wrestling with these thoughts she suddenly saw her
father's face. How could she live without telling him what was
impending? And never, never would she be able to tell him! She could not
even let him know that she had broken off her engagement. This alone
would be more than he could bear.

What if, instead of speaking, she were to disappear? Good God! that
would kill him at once.

During the rest of the journey she felt no more fear of others, none
whatever for herself--it was all for him, for him alone!

She arrived in such an exhausted and miserable condition that she began
to cry when she saw the house. There can have been few sadder walks than
hers up to it. Even the dog's joyful antics when he reached firm ground
could not distract her. She went straight to her own room to wash and
change her dress, requesting that her father and Mrs. Dawes should be
told of her arrival. Little Nanna went with her, to help her. The child
played with the dog whenever she had an unoccupied moment; this annoyed
Mary, but she said nothing.

She looked utterly worn-out, and it was only too evident that she had
wept. But perhaps this was fortunate. Her father would understand at
once that all was not well. If he were only able to bear it! She would
tell him that she had had a long, fatiguing journey, and that Jörgen did
not consider the means at their disposal sufficient for people in their
position to marry upon. They must wait and see what Uncle Klaus would
do.

If she cried--and she was sure to cry, so tired and heart-broken was
she--it would prepare him for what was to follow. Oh, if he were only
able to bear it!

But what else could she do? If she did not go to him at once he would
suspect mischief, and feel alarmed, and that would be quite as bad for
him.

She trembled as she stood at his door. Not only from anxiety for
him--no, also because she must not throw herself down beside him, tell
him everything, and weep till she could weep no more. How dreadful it
all was!

But life is sometimes merciful!

Anders had not been told of his daughter's arrival, because he was
asleep. The nurse had waited in the passage to let Mary know this when
she came out of her room. Why did the woman not knock at the door and
tell her? Simply because it was not natural to her to act thus. However,
when Mary did come out, she was no longer in the passage, but half way
downstairs. One of the servants was carrying up the invalid's dinner.
The nurse, distressed at being unable to do this herself as usual, had
thought that she would at least take it from her on the stairs.

Whilst she was doing this, Mary opened the door of her father's room.
She stood still in the doorway, because the nurse, who had hastened up
again, was whispering: "He is asleep, Miss Krog."

But the dog, understanding nothing, was in the room already, already had
his paws on the edge of the bed and his face close to the face of the
sick man, who was awaking--who awoke, with this black apparition staring
into his eyes. The eyes opened wide with terror, gazed round the room,
and met Mary's. She stood in the doorway, horror-struck, pale as death.
Her father raised his head towards her; then the eyes became fixed and a
far-away look came into them. The head sank back.

"He is dying!" cried the nurse behind Mary, setting down the tray and
rushing forwards.

Mary would not believe it at first; but when she understood that it was
true, she threw herself upon him with a heartrending scream. It was
answered by one from Mrs. Dawes in the next room. The servants who
hurried there found her lying unconscious. She recovered sufficiently to
be able to stammer some unintelligible English words. The doctor said:
"It will soon be all over with her too." Anders Krog was dead.

Mary clung to her reason as if she were grasping it with her hands. She
must not, must not give way--must not scream, must not think. _She_ had
not killed him! She must listen to and remember what the others said,
must give her consent to what they were proposing, which was to send for
her father's sister. When she witnessed that sister's grief, she felt
that she must not give way to her own. She must not, must not! "Help me,
help me," she cried, "that I may not go mad!" And, turning to the
doctor, she said: "_I_ did not kill him, did I?"

The doctor ordered her to bed, prescribed cold compresses, and remained
beside her. He, too, impressed on her the necessity of self-control.

Not till little Nanna brought the dog to her next morning, and the
animal insisted on being taken into her arms, was she able to shed
tears.

During the course of the day she improved a little. Her grief was
alleviated by the heartfelt sympathy, often expressed in the most moving
terms, which was conveyed to her by the numberless telegrams that
arrived in town and were telephoned from there. All this sympathy for
herself, admiration for her father, and intense desire to comfort and
strengthen her, helped her greatly. From the incautious manner in which
one of these telegrams was transmitted she learned that Mrs. Dawes, too,
was dead. They had not dared to tell her. But the great and general
sympathy helped her to bear this also. Now she understood how it was so
great and general. Every one but herself knew that she had lost both,
that she was alone in the world.

The message which touched her most came from Paris, and was as follows:
"My beloved Mary,--Can it comfort you in your great sorrow to know that
there is a resting-place here for you, and that I am at your service--to
travel with you, to come to you, to do whatever you wish!--Yours
unalterably, ALICE."

She knew who had sent Alice intimation.

Jörgen, too, telegraphed. "If I could be of the slightest service or
comfort to you I would come at once. I am broken-hearted."

The same touching, reverential sympathy was shown on the occasion of the
funeral, which was hastened on Mary's account, and took place three days
after the deaths. Amongst the countless wreaths, the most beautiful of
all was Alice's. It was taken up to Mary--she wished to see it. The
whole house was fragrant with flowers on that winter day, their sweet
breath a message of love to those who slept there.

Mary did not go downstairs; she refused to see the coffins, or the
flowers, or any of the preparations that had been made for the
entertainment of friends who came from a distance.

More people came than the house could hold, and at the chapel there was
a still larger gathering.

The clergyman asked if he might go upstairs and see Miss Krog. Mary sent
him her best thanks, but declined the visit.

Immediately afterwards little Nanna came to ask if she would see Uncle
Klaus. The old man had sent her a very touching telegram, in which he
asked if he could not be of service to her in any way. And his wreath
was so magnificent that, after hearing the servants' description of it,
Mary had made them bring it, too, for her to look at.

She now answered: Yes. And in came the tall man, in deep mourning,
gasping as if he had difficulty in breathing. No sooner did he see Mary
standing by the bed, a figure of ivory draped in black, than he sank on
to the first chair he could reach, and burst into loud weeping. The
sound resembled what is heard when the mainspring of a large clock
breaks, and the whole machinery unreels itself. It was the weeping of a
man who had not wept since he was a child--a sound alarmed at itself. He
did not look up.

But he had an errand, so much Mary understood. He tried twice to speak,
but the attempt only increased the violence of the weeping fit. Then,
motioning despairingly, he rose and left the room. He did not shut the
door, and she heard him sobbing as he went along the passage and
downstairs, to go straight home.

Mary was deeply touched. She knew that her father had been the old man's
best, perhaps his only friend. But she understood that it was not for
him alone the tears had been shed; they told also of sympathy with her,
and of remorse. Had it not been so, Uncle Klaus would have stayed beside
the coffin.

The sweet-toned chapel bell began to toll. The dog, which had been kept
prisoner in Mary's room all day, and was very restless, rushed to the
window towards the sea, and put his fore-paws up on the sill, to look
out. Mary followed him.

At that moment Uncle Klaus drove off. The singing of a psalm began in
the rooms below, and the funeral procession issued from the house. The
coffins were carried by the peasants from the neighbouring farms. When
the first came in sight, Mary fell on her knees and wept as if her heart
would break. She saw no more.

She flung herself across the bed. The strokes of the bell seemed to cut
into her flesh; she imagined that she felt the stripes they raised. Her
mind became more and more confused. She was certain now that her father,
when he caught sight of her in the doorway, had guessed the truth, and
that this had killed him. Mrs. Dawes had followed him, as she always
did. Her love for Anders Krog was the one great love of her life. They
were both here now. And Mary's mother, too, was in the room, in a long
white robe. "You are cold, child!" she said, and took her into her
arms--for Mary had become a child again, a little innocent child. She
fell asleep.

When she awoke and heard no sound, outside the house or in, she folded
her hands and said, half aloud: "This was best for us, for all three. We
have been mercifully dealt with."

She looked round for the dog; she craved for sympathy. But some one must
have taken him away whilst she was asleep.

No more was needed to make the tears flow again. Welling forth from the
inexhaustible fountain of grief within, they poured down her cheeks and
over the hands with which she was supporting her heavy head.

"Now I can begin to think of myself again. I am alone now."



THE CRISIS


When Mary was visiting the graves next day, her grief was distracted by
the following little occurrence.

It was Saturday, and the eve of one of the few Sundays in the year when
service was held in the chapel. On such occasions it was customary to
decorate the graves. As the farm to the right of Krogskogen had once
formed part of that estate, its owners had their burial-place here. The
peasant's wife had come with flowers to deck a new grave, and the old
Lapland dog was with her. Mary's little poodle at once rushed at him
fearlessly, and to the woman's and Mary's surprise the old dog, after
cautious and minute inspection, made friends with the giddy youngster.
Though he as a rule could not bear puppies, he quite fell in love with
this one. He allowed his ears to be pulled and his legs to be bitten; he
even laid himself down and pretended to be vanquished. This delighted
Mary so much that she accompanied the woman part of the way home, to
watch the game. And she was more than repaid for so doing. She heard
warm praise of her father, and some of the anecdotes of him that were
circulating in the neighbourhood at this time, and were ensuring him an
honoured memory.

She thought as she walked home with her excited dog: "Am I beginning to
resemble Mother? Has there always been in me something of her which
until now has not had room to develop; something of her simple nature?"

This day brought two surprises.

The first was a letter from Uncle Klaus. He addressed her as: "My
honoured and dear god-daughter, Miss Mary Krog." She had had no idea
that she was his god-daughter; her father had never told her, probably
did not know it himself.

Uncle Klaus wrote: "There are feelings which are too strong for words,
especially for written words. I am no letter-writer; but I take the
liberty of intimating to you in this manner, since I was unable to do it
by word of mouth, that on the day when your father, my best friend, and
Mrs. Dawes, your revered foster-mother, died, and you were left alone, I
made you, my dear god-daughter, my heiress.

"My fortune is not nearly so large as is generally supposed; I have had
great losses of late. But there is still enough for us both--that is to
say, if your share is under your own management _and not Jörgen's_. I
write on the supposition that you will now marry.

"Mrs. Dawes's will has been in my hands for many years, and I have had
charge of her money. I opened the will yesterday. She has left
everything to you. This means about 60,000 kroner. But the same holds
good of this money as of your father's; it is for the moment yielding
almost no interest.

    "Your godfather,
        "KLAUS KROG."

Mary answered at once:

"MY DEAR GODFATHER,--Your letter has touched me deeply. I thank you with
all my heart.

"But I dare not accept your generous gift.

"Jörgen is your adopted son, and on no account will I stand in his way.

"You must not be angry with me for this. I cannot possibly act
differently.

"In the matter of Mrs. Dawes's will, I shall come to a decision ere
long, and shall then write to you again.

    "Your grateful
        "MARY KROG."

Whilst she was despatching this letter she heard a carriage drive up,
and presently a card was brought in to her, on which she read: "Dr.
Margrete Röy."

It was a little time before Miss Röy came in. She had been taking off
her wraps. It was a cold day. The delay increased Mary's excitement,
with the result that she trembled and turned pale as the tall, strong
woman with the kind eyes entered the room. She saw the impression made
by this on the kind eyes, which now poured forth all their compassion
upon her. As if they had known each other for many years, Mary went up
to her visitor, laid her head on her shoulder, and wept. Margrete Röy
pressed the unhappy girl affectionately to her breast.

After they had seated themselves, she told her errand, which was to
inquire when Mary intended to go abroad. Mary asked in surprise: "Have I
spoken to any one about that?"

Miss Röy said that she had heard it from the nurse.

"Oh!" said Mary, "I have no idea what I said in the state I was in at
that time. I have certainly given the matter no thought since."

"Then you are not going abroad?"

Mary sat silent for a moment. "All I can say is that I don't know. I
have not yet made any plans."

Margrete Röy was embarrassed. Mary saw this, or rather felt it. "You
also have perhaps had thoughts of travelling!" she said.

"Yes, and I wanted to know if I could be of any use to you. I should be
happy to arrange my journey so that we could travel together."

"Where are you going?"

"I am going abroad to study--Paris first. The nurse told me it was there
you meant to go," said Margrete, beginning to feel very awkward. Her
wish had been to help Mary, but it seemed to her now that she was
intruding.

"I appreciate your kindness," said Mary. "It is possible that I
mentioned Paris. I don't remember. The truth is that I have come to no
decision."

"Please forgive me, then. The whole has been a misunderstanding," said
Miss Röy, rising.

Mary felt that she must not let her go, but her strength seemed to fail
her. It was not until Margrete had reached the door that she managed to
say: "I am coming to speak to you one day soon, Miss Röy." She said it
in a low voice, without looking up. "I am not well enough to do it
to-day," she added.

"I can see that. It is only what I expected; so I brought something with
me for you--if you will only take it. It is the most invigorating tonic
I know."

Mary felt all her sympathies go out to this woman. She thanked her
heartily, adding: "Then, as soon as I am a little stronger, I may come?"

"You will be very welcome."

"Perhaps," said Mary, blushing, "you would not mind coming to me?"

"To your house in the market-place?" asked Miss Röy.

"Yes, to our house in the market-place. Though I ought no longer to say
'our' house!" The tears came again.

"You have only to let me know, and I shall come at once."

A week later Mary went to town--in the wildest November storm, the worst
they had had in these parts. The fjords were not yet frozen over, so the
steamer managed to reach town, but had to remain there.

Margrete Röy was much astonished at being summoned on such a day. It was
to a warm, comfortable house she came, not the deserted one with the
drawn down blinds which she was accustomed to see. She was conducted up
an old-fashioned broad stair; the whole interior was in the style of the
old town-houses of the beginning of last century.

Mary was in the farthest away of the suite of sitting-rooms, a red
boudoir, unchanged since her mother's day. She was sitting on a sofa,
beneath a large portrait of her mother. When she stood up in her black
dress, pale and heavy-eyed under her crown of red hair, it struck
Margrete Röy that she was the very image of sorrow, the most beautiful
one that could be imagined. A solemn tranquillity surrounded her. She
spoke as low as the storm outside permitted.

"I feel that you respect another's grief. I am also certain that you
betray no secrets."

"I do not."

A little time passed before Mary said: "Who is Jörgen Thiis?"

"Who is he----?"

"I have several reasons for believing that you can tell me."

"You must first allow me to put a question. Are you not engaged to
Jörgen Thiis?"

"No."

"People say that you are."

Mary remained silent.

"You have perhaps been engaged to him?"

"Yes."

"But," said Margrete quickly and joyously, "you have broken off the
engagement?"

Mary nodded.

"Many will rejoice to hear it; for Jörgen Thiis is not worthy of you."

Mary showed no signs of surprise.

"You know something?" she asked.

"Doctors, Miss Krog, know more than they may tell."

"Yet I do believe that he loved me," said Mary, to excuse herself.

"We all saw that," replied Margrete. "He undoubtedly loved you better
than he had ever loved before. Nor was it surprising," she added. "But
when I lived in Christiania I knew a sweet young girl who at that time
was the one love of his life! She allowed herself to be deeply moved by
this, and as they could not marry, she gave herself to him."

"What did she do?" asked Mary, startled. Had she understood aright? The
storm was howling so loudly outside that it was difficult to hear.

Margrete repeated distinctly and impressively: "She was a warm-hearted
girl, who believed that she was doing right, as she was his one and only
love."

"They could not marry?"

"It was not possible. So she gave herself to him without marriage."

Mary started up, but did not move forward. She was going to say
something, but stopped.

"Do not be so startled, Miss Krog. It is nothing very uncommon."

This information lowered Mary considerably in her own estimation. She
slowly seated herself again.

"You cannot have had any experience of this sort of thing, Miss Krog?"

Mary shook her head.

"In which case it surprises me that you were able to escape from Jörgen
Thiis in time; _he_ has had plenty."

Mary made no reply.

"We expected, especially after your father and Mrs. Dawes both became
invalids, that you would have been married before autumn."

"We intended to be, but it proved impossible."

Margrete could not fathom what lay beneath this enigmatic answer; but
she said, with a searching glance: "This, doubtless, added very
considerably to his ardour?"

Mary trembled inwardly, but controlled herself.

"You seem to know him?" she said.

Margrete reflected for a moment, then answered: "Yes. I am older than
you, older than Jörgen, too. But in Christiania I also, to my shame be
it spoken, was infatuated with him. This he discovered--and tried to
take advantage of." She laughed.

Mary turned pale, rose, and walked to the window. The wind was lashing
the rain against the panes with ever-increasing force. She remained for
a few moments gazing out into the storm, then came and stood in front of
Margrete, agitated, restless.

"Will you promise me never to tell any one what we have spoken about
to-day--under any circumstances whatever?"

Margrete looked at her in surprise. "You wish me to tell no one that you
have asked me about Jörgen Thiis?"

"It is my express desire that no one should know it."

"Do you mean any one in particular?"

Mary looked at her. "Any one in particular?" She did not understand.

Margrete rose. "A man came to this town on purpose to tell you that
Jörgen Thiis was not worthy of you. He came too late; but I think he
deserves to know that you have discovered for yourself what Jörgen Thiis
is."

Mary answered, eagerly: "Tell _him_. By all means tell _him_!... So
that was why he came," she added slowly. "I am glad that you have told
me. Because my other reason for wishing to see you was--" she hesitated
a little, "the other thing I wanted to ask you was--to give my kind
remembrances to your brother."

"That I shall do, gladly. Thank you for the message. You know what you
are to my brother."

Mary looked away. She struggled with herself a moment, then said: "I am
one of the unhappy people who cannot understand their own lives--cannot
understand what has happened. I can find no clue to it. But something
tells me that your brother has had his share in it."

She evidently wished to say more, but could not. Instead, she returned
to the window and remained standing there again. The storm without
called into the room with its thousand-voiced wrath. It was calling her.

"What a terrible storm!" said Margrete, raising her voice.

"I am rejoicing at the thought of going out into it," said Mary, turning
round with sparkling eyes.

"You are never going out in this weather!" exclaimed Margrete.

"I mean to walk home," answered Mary.

"To _walk_?"

Mary came forward and placed herself in front of Margrete, as if she
were about to say something wild and dreadful. She stopped short, but
what she had not said rushed into her eyes, into her whole face, to her
heart. She flung up her arms and with a loud groan threw herself back on
her mother's sofa, and covered her face with her hands.

Margrete knelt down beside her. Mary allowed her friend to put her arms
round her and draw her to her like a tired, suffering child. And she
began to cry, as a child cries, touchingly and helplessly; her head sank
on to Margrete's shoulder.

But only for a moment; then she sat up with a sudden start. For Margrete
had whispered into her ear: "There is something the matter with you.
Speak to me."

Not a word came in answer. Margrete dared not say more. She rose; she
felt that it was time to go.

Nor did Mary do anything to retain her. She too had risen to her feet.
They bade each other good-bye.

But Margrete could not help saying, as she left the room: "Do you really
mean to walk----?"

Mary gave a nod which implied: "Enough has been said! That is my
affair!"

Margrete closed the door.

       *       *       *       *       *

The lamps were lit in the streets when Mary left the house. It was with
difficulty she could keep her feet in the gusts that blew from the
south-west, strengthened by compression between the houses. She had on a
waterproof cloak and hood, firmly secured, and long waterproof boots.
She walked as fast as she could. One thought alone remained to her after
the conversation with Margrete Röy. But it united with the wind and the
rain in driving her, lashing her on--the thought of Margrete's horrified
eyes and pale face when she said: "There is something the matter with
you; speak to me!" Good God! Margrete understood. They would all look at
her like this when they heard. Thus terribly had she disappointed and
wounded those who had believed in her. She felt as if she had them all
behind her, as if it were from them she was fleeing--the flock of crows!
She flew on, and had reached the outskirts of the town before she knew
where she was. Here, beyond the last lamp, it was pitch dark; she had to
wait a little before she could see her way. But what a pace she set off
at then! The gale was coming half from behind, half from the side.

The judgment passed upon her was driving her out into the wide
world--no, much farther than that! It seemed to her that at the moment
when she first understood her position a packet had been given her,
which she had not opened until now. She had felt all the time what was
in it, but it was only yesterday she had opened it. It contained a large
black veil, large enough for her to conceal herself and her shame
in--the veil of death. But even this was given upon a certain
condition--a condition she had known about since she was a child. For as
a child she had heard the story of a grand-aunt of her own, who, in the
hope of concealing that she had become pregnant during her husband's
absence, walked barefooted upon an ice-cold floor, secretly, night after
night, in order that she might die a natural death. It would never be
known that she had brought it about herself, so there would be no
occasion to ask why she had done it.

But some one had heard her pacing thus night after night, and the
question was asked after all.

Things should be managed better this time! The weakness to which Mary
had so unexpectedly given way in Margrete's presence was quite gone. Now
she had the strength to carry out her purpose.

As if it were to be put to the test at once, something shadowy appeared
at her side. It rose unexpectedly out of the darkness, so alarmingly
near that she set off running. To her horror she seemed to hear through
the roar of the storm that she was being pursued! Then she took courage
and stood still. Whatever was following her stopped too. Mary moved on;
it also moved on. "This will never do," thought she. "If I am not brave
enough to face this, I am not brave enough to face what comes next." She
thereupon turned and went straight up to the pursuing monster, which
whinnied good-naturedly. It was a young horse, seeking in its
desolateness the neighbourhood of a human being. She patted it and spoke
to it. It was a messenger from life--the desolate was comforting the
despairing. But, as the animal continued to follow her, she took it in
to the next farm. She must be alone. The people at the farm were much
astonished. They could not understand any one being out in such weather,
least of all a woman! Mary hurried away from the light and out into the
darkness again.

The little occurrence had strengthened her. She knew now that she had
courage, and walked on quickly.

She was nearing the first headland round the face of which the road was
cut. It either really was the case, or it seemed to her, that the
hurricane was increasing. It must surely soon have reached its worst. To
her it represented her own misery and shame. This thought strengthened
her. It was not death she feared, but life.

She thought it all out again as she pressed on. She would not save
herself by allowing her child to be killed, nor would she send it away
to strangers and thus disown it; she could not live without
self-respect.

If a suitor were to come--and doubtless as many would come now as in
days past--should she begin by confessing? Or should she maintain a
dishonourable silence? There was only one thing she could do with
honour--die with her child. She felt incapable of anything else. But no
one must have any suspicions. She must die of an illness; therefore an
illness must be ensured that would end in death.

This much she owed to herself; for she was as certain to-day as on the
evening when she went into Jörgen's room that her action was not one for
which she deserved to be disgraced.

It had been a terrible mistake, that was certain; but the fault did not
lie with her. There had no doubt been a considerable admixture of
natural instinct in the feeling that prompted it; but even granting
this, it was an action of which she was not ashamed. She owed it to
herself to die with the undiminished sympathy of all who knew her; she
also owed it to the companions who had recognised her as their leader.
She had not disloyally forfeited their faith in her.

She was reaching the most exposed part of a headland now, and the
struggle which began there unconsciously became to her a struggle to
settle this question. It was as if all the powers of nature were trying
to wrest her self-respect from her and procure her condemnation. The sea
was open here, and from miles out the waves came rolling in, gathering
force as they came. When they struck the cliff they leaped yards into
the air. The largest of them lashed her with their highest jets. "Take
that! Take that!" And the gale put forth all its strength in its
endeavour to force her away from the hewn cliff. It seemed, moreover, to
be trying, though her skirts were well protected by her cloak, to twist
and tear them off her. "Stand naked in your shame, in your shame!"

But the raging waves did not frighten her into feeling herself guilty,
nor did the gale succeed in blowing her against the parapet, and over
it into the sea. She had to walk bent; she had even to stand still when
the worst gusts came; but as soon as they were over she set off again,
and held steadily on her way. "I will not part with my wreath of honour;
I will die with it. Therefore _you_ shall not have me!"

She rounded the point, and turned inland towards the low ground between
it and the next headland. There had once been a landslip here; the piece
of the cliff which had fallen lay as heaps of stones below, and through
these the road now passed. Amongst the crumbling blocks by the wayside
stood a slender birch, quite alone. Mary remembered it as she came up to
it. Had it weathered such a storm uninjured? Yes, it was safe and sound.
She paused beside it to recover her breath. It bent so low that every
moment she thought: Now it must break! But up it came again as fresh as
ever. She herself could not stand still, with such hurricane force was
the gale blowing here; but the young birch, which was so tall and had
such a spreading top and such a slender, swaying stem--it stood, quite
alone.

She was thinking about this as she descended towards the level ground,
when the gale suddenly lashed the rain into her face; each jet was a
sharp arrow. "Ah, no!" she thought; "_this_ would be what I should feel
if I tried to face the storm which awaits me."

The lights from the little farmhouses, the only thing that she saw,
proclaimed peace. But she knew that it was not for her.

She sped swiftly along the shore, but she was becoming tired now. One
sign of this was that imagination began to take the upper hand; the
reality disappeared in the semblance--in old mythical conceptions. As
she toiled up and outwards to the next point, the sea was no longer sea,
but hundreds upon hundreds of gaping sea monsters, roaring with desire.
And raging aerial monsters with tremendous wings had promised those
below to fling her out to them. With all the strength remaining to her
she kept close to the rocky wall; but beneath it here there was a ditch,
into which she fell and was wet through. More enemies still are abroad
to-night, she thought, as she crawled out. Fortunately this headland was
a narrow one; she soon reached the next stretch of level ground. Now
there was only one more point to round. It was not to save her life that
she was so unwilling to be blown into the sea, but to save her honour!
If she were found in the sea, or disappeared altogether, they would say
that she had sought death--and would try to discover her reason for
doing so.

But now she heard through the darkness the bark of the old Lapland dog.
It sounded quite near. She had been walking faster than she thought; she
was close to his home. There were its lights!

The mere thought of meeting a living creature that cared for her moved
her. She loved life, and she no longer believed that she was so unfit to
live. This familiar voice calling to her through the darkness affected
her as the sight of people on shore affects those clinging to a wreck.

As she passed the farm, the dog left his sentinel's post and came to be
spoken to, wagging his tail and giving friendly little barks. Mary gave
his wet coat three farewell pats and hastened on. She soon heard him
bark again, but it was another, angrier bark. She involuntarily thought
of Jörgen--and continued to think of him all this last part of the road,
which, but for him, would have been sacred to her father. How many
hundred times, beginning as a little child, she had walked and cycled
with her father here! Now this place too had been spoiled by Jörgen.
Never could she walk here again without _him_. Not a step further in
her life could she take without him!

Involuntarily she looked heavenwards--to see nothing but clouds and
thick darkness. She reached the last headland utterly exhausted, and
rounded it without thinking at all, without any feeling that it was the
last time, but also without fear.

Of what was before her now Mary was as certain as of the road beneath
her feet, which was leading her through the Krogskogen fields to the
landing-stage. It was so dark that her eyes, though by this time
accustomed to the darkness, did not distinguish the white walls of the
chapel until she was close to the landing-place. Her thoughts rushed to
the graves in the churchyard, but deserted them again instantly in order
to concentrate themselves on what she was about. She stepped on to the
quay without hesitation and walked quickly along it. The gale did not
threaten here, the rain no longer lashed her face; both had become
subdued and friendly powers from the time she had set foot on Krogskogen
soil, with its protecting ridge and islands. In other circumstances she
would have felt relief and possibly peace in return to the shelter of
her home--now every thought was blunted. Quite mechanically she hurried
on. Mechanically she unfastened some of the buttons of her cloak to get
at the key, mechanically inserted it in the key-hole and opened the door
of the bathing-house. Not until she was standing inside in the
pitch-darkness did her senses awake and feel alarm. When the remnant of
south-west wind which was blowing here slammed the door, she shuddered.
She felt as if she were not alone.

And now she must undress and go down the steps to become
ice-cold--ice-cold! Then dress again and go home to fever, and to its
consequences.

If the fever did not do what she expected of it, she had what would
help. She had found it amongst Mrs. Dawes's stores. The blame would be
laid on the fever.

But now that the moment had come for her to begin and undress, she
shrank and shivered. It was the water, the ice-cold water she was
shrinking from. There would likely be ice at the edge here, and she
would have to walk over it with her bare feet. No, she would keep on her
stockings; she could dry them afterwards, and no one would have any
suspicion. But the ice-cold water ... what if she took cramp in it? No,
she would keep herself in motion, she would swim. But what if she cut
herself on the ice in coming out? She must keep on her underclothing
too. But would it be dry by to-morrow morning? Yes, if she hung it near
the stove. She would lock her door, and have everything in order before
the maid came. If only she were in her right mind in the morning! She
had never been ill; she had no idea what would happen.

Before falling into this long train of reflections, she had unbuttoned
her waterproof. Now, instead of taking off the hood, as was natural, she
began, without conscious intention, to unfasten her dress at the neck,
where the locket with her mother's portrait hung. Her hands shook as she
did it, and her body also began to tremble. She had not thought of the
locket for many years, nor was she thinking of it now; the trembling had
no connection with it. But the locket became, as it were, involved in
the trembling. She must take it off. If only she did not forget it! She
would make sure by putting it into her pocket at once.

Oh, horror of horrors! what did she hear? Firm steps on the landing
stage, coming nearer and nearer. The trembling stopped; instinctively
Mary fastened, first the collar of her dress, then her cloak--quickly,
quickly. Who could have any errand here? It could not be to the
bathing-house at any rate.

But it was straight there the steps came. The handle was seized, the
door flew open, and the doorway was filled by a huge figure in a
waterproof cloak. The hooded head was considerably higher than the door.
An electric lamp threw light straight into Mary's face. She gave a wild
scream as she recognised Frans Röy.

Such a feeling of faintness came over her that she was on the point of
falling; but she was seized and carried out. It all happened in an
instant. She heard the door banged; she was lifted and carried off. She
could not say a word, nor did Frans say anything.

But before they had left the landing-stage she had come to herself
again. Of this Frans was conscious; and presently he heard her say:
"This is violence!" No answer. After a determined struggle to free
herself, she repeated in a clearer, stronger voice: "This is violence!"
No answer. But his free arm was put gently round her. She asked
excitedly: "How do you come here?" Now he answered. "My sister told me."
His voice embraced her as gently as his arm. But she struggled against
both. "If your sister has any affection for me at all, or if you have,
leave me alone!" He walked on. "Let me go, I say! This is shameful!" She
struggled so vigorously that he was obliged to change his hold; but
where she was she had to remain. With tears in her voice she said: "I
allow no one to decide for me." Then he answered: "You may struggle your
hardest, but I will carry you home. And if you do not obey me, I shall
have you placed under restraint."

The words acted like a fetter of iron. She became motionless.

"You will place me under restraint?"

"I shall, for you have lost control over yourself."

Never since she could hear at all had she heard anything so silly as
this. But she would not discuss the matter with him. She merely said:
"And do you imagine this will be of any use?"

"I think so. When you see that we are doing everything in our power for
you, you will give in to us, because you are good."

After a short silence she said: "I cannot accept help from any one who
has not entire respect for me--" and she began to cry.

Then Frans Röy stood still and peered under her hood. "You don't imagine
that _I_ have not entire respect for you? Do you suppose that I would be
carrying you now if I had not? To me you are all that is noblest and
most beautiful. That is why I am carrying you. You may have done Heaven
knows what wrong deed--_I_ know that if you did it, it was from the
noblest of motives. You can't act otherwise! If you have been deceived,
if you have made a terrible mistake--why, I love you all the
better!--for then you are unhappy--that I know. And perhaps now it may
be possible for me, too, to help you. No greater happiness could befall
me. I will leave you, if you insist upon it. I will marry you, if you
can trust yourself to me. I will kill the fellow, if _that_ is your
wish. I will do anything whatever for you, if you will only be
happy--for that is my chief desire."

He stopped short, but began again.

"When I set off after you this evening, I was in greater misery than I
had ever imagined possible. She is going to throw herself into the sea,
I thought. Of course I shall go after her. In this storm it means death
to us both; but there is no help for that. Nor was that what distressed
me. No, it was your unhappiness, your despair--the idea that you could
believe yourself unworthy to live--you who could not act unworthily to
gain life's highest prize! Never, never have I known a human being for
whom I could answer as confidently. And I could not tell you this; I
could not help you. I knew you; I dared not come near you. But I have
been able to save you after all. For you cannot possibly wish to die
now, after you have heard me?"

He had heard her sob; her arms were round his neck now, almost stifling
his words. He let her slip slowly down. But she still held fast with the
arm which was round his neck; and when she reached the ground she flung
the other round it too, and laid her head upon his breast, sobbing--but
with happiness now. He could feel the quick beat of her heart; it was
the speed of joy.

The housekeeper in town had telephoned to Krogskogen that Miss Krog was
walking home, in a worse storm than any one remembered, and had inquired
again and again if she had arrived.

Nanna and the dog had been out on the steps several times, but the dog
had never barked. Now he not only barked, but scampered off down the
road.

The servants had been in the greatest anxiety. It did not seem to them
at all remarkable that Mary's unhappiness and distress should have
driven her out into the storm. Some such action as this hazarding of a
life which she no longer valued had been an imperative necessity to her.
Therefore now, when little Nanna rushed in calling: "Here she comes!
here she comes!" they wept for joy. They had long had the rooms warm and
hot food in readiness. Now they laid another cover, for Nanna had rushed
in again to tell them that Miss Krog was not alone; she had heard a man
speaking. The maids at once said to each other that Jörgen Thiis had
come at last. "No," said Nanna; "it was not his voice; it was a strong
man's!"

But the dog's joy at seeing Mary again was boundless. He barked, he
yelped, he jumped right up to her face; there was no end to his
demonstrations. When Frans Röy spoke to him, he went up to him at once,
as to an old friend, but immediately returned to Mary. The little shaggy
creature's ardent delight represented to her the joy of her home at
seeing her again, saved. His was the greeting of both the dead and the
living. This was what Mary felt. And she also felt that his happiness
possibly preluded a re-awakening of her own, when she had succeeded in
shaking off the impression of the horrors she had undergone.

When she entered the house, heralded by the dog, who was as wild with
joy as ever, the three maids were all in the hall to welcome her, Nanna
with them. They stopped short in their exclamations when they saw the
enormous figure looming behind her; for in his waterproof cloak and hood
Franz Röy seemed supernaturally tall. But it was only for a moment; then
they broke out: "Oh, Miss, to think that you should have been out in
such a storm! We have been terribly anxious. The housekeeper in town let
us know. But we had no one to send to meet you, for there is a fire in
the neighbourhood and all the men have gone off there. Thank God that we
have you again, safe!"

Mary concealed her emotion by hastening upstairs. Her room was warm, her
lamp was lighted.

"Is all this affection and care new? Or is it just that I have never
noticed it before?"

The dog whined outside until she was obliged to let him in. He was so
obtrusive in his gratitude that it was with difficulty she managed to
change her clothes.

When she was doing her hair she remembered the locket with her mother's
portrait. She took it from her pocket, and before fastening it on her
neck again, looked at the portrait--for the first time for many
years--and caressed and kissed it. Presently she lit a candle, and with
it in her hand crossed the passage to her father's room. There she set
it down, and going forward to his bed, bent over it and kissed the
pillow. On coming out, she stopped at the door of the visitors' room.
"In this room he shall sleep; then it can be opened again to-morrow; its
hateful associations will be gone." A maid to whom she gave orders to
light a fire told her that this had already been done, and taking Mary's
candle, went in to light the lamp. Mary stood looking after her. "Have
they really been like this all the time?"

The maid remained in the room, arranging it. Mary moved on towards the
stairs. There she once more stopped. The dog, who had run down, came
rushing up; he was determined not to lose her again. She stroked him
gratefully; it was like a first little instalment of that gratitude with
which her heart was full to overflowing.

"To-morrow--this evening I am too tired--to-morrow I will tell Frans Röy
everything! Every single thing that has happened! Perhaps this will help
me to understand it all myself."

With this brave resolve she walked downstairs, but stopped once more
before she reached the foot. "Strange it is--most strange--but I feel as
if I could tell the whole world!"

The dog was standing at the door of the Dutch room. He smelt Frans Röy
there.

Mary followed him and opened the door. As she entered Frans exclaimed,
as if he had had difficulty in keeping silence so long: "What a
beautiful home!" Noticing the dog's continued attentions, he added: "And
how much you are thought of in it!" His face lighted up.

"You are in uniform!" she exclaimed.

"Yes. I was at a wedding when I was sent for." He laughed.

The uniform had suggested a thought to Mary. With the dog tugging at her
dress, she said, looking brightly up into Frans Röy's face: "It will not
be the first time that a general of engineers has lived at Krogskogen."


    Printed by BALLANTYNE & CO. LIMITED
    Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London



Transcriber's Note:

Punctuation has been standardised. Hyphenation and spelling has been
retained as it appears in the original publication. Changes have been
made as follows:

    Page  60 I dont like the _changed to_
             I don' like the

    Page  62 from that morning's newpapers _changed to_
             from that morning's newspapers

    Page 112 they had not sat long in the empty, stift _changed to_
             they had not sat long in the empty, stiff

    Page 165 any misunderstanding beween them _changed to_
             any misunderstanding between them





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