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Title: Absalom's Hair
Author: Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne, 1832-1910
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Absalom's Hair" ***

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ABSALOM'S HAIR

BJORNSTJERNE BJORNSON



CHAPTER 1


Harald Kaas was sixty.

He had given up his free, uncriticised bachelor life; his yacht was no
longer seen off the coast in summer; his tours to England and the south
had ceased; nay, he was rarely to be found even at his club in
Christiania. His gigantic figure was never seen in the doorways; he was
failing.

Bandy-legged he had always been, but this defect had increased; his
herculean back was rounded, and he stooped a little. His forehead,
always of the broadest--no one else's hat would fit him--was now one of
the highest, that is to say, he had lost all his hair, except a ragged
lock over each ear and a thin fringe behind. He was beginning also to
lose his teeth, which were strong though small, and blackened by
tobacco; and now, instead of "deuce take it" he said "deush take it."

He had always held his hands half closed as though grasping something;
now they had stiffened so that he could never open them fully. The
little finger of his left hand had been bitten off "in gratitude" by an
adversary whom he had knocked down: according to Harald's version of
the story, he had compelled the fellow to swallow the piece on the spot.

He was fond of caressing the stump, and it often served as an
introduction to the history of his exploits, which became greater and
greater as he grew older and quieter.

His small sharp eyes were deep set and looked at one with great
intensity. There was power in his individuality, and, besides shrewd
sense, he possessed a considerable gift for mechanics. His boundless
self-esteem was not devoid of greatness, and the emphasis with which
both body and soul proclaimed themselves made him one of the originals
of the country.

Why was he nothing more?

He lived on his estate, Hellebergene, whose large woods skirted the
coast, while numerous leasehold farms lay along the course of the
river. At one time this estate had belonged to the Kurt family, and had
now come back to them, in so far as that Harald's father, as every one
knew, was not a Kaas at all, but a Kurt; it was he who had got the
estate together again; a book might be written about the ways and means
that he had employed.

The house looked out over a bay studded with islands; farther out were
more islands and the open sea. An immensely long building, raised on an
old and massive foundation, its eastern wing barely half furnished, the
western inhabited by Harald Kaas, who lived his curious life here.

These wings were connected by two covered galleries, one above the
other, with stairs at each end.

Curiously enough, these galleries did not face the sea, that is, the
south, but the fields and woods to the north. The portion of the house
between the two wings was a neutral territory--namely, a large
dining-room with a ballroom above it, neither of which was used in
later years.

Harald Kaas's suite of rooms was distinguished from without by a mighty
elk's head with its enormous antlers, which was set up over the gallery.

In the gallery itself were heads of bear, wolf, fox and lynx, with
stuffed birds from land and sea. Skins and guns hung on the walls of
the anteroom, the inner rooms were also full of skins and impregnated
with the smell of wild animals and tobacco-smoke. Harald himself called
it "Man-smell;" no one who had once put his nose inside could ever
forget it.

Valuable and beautiful skins hung on the walls and covered the floors;
his very bed was nothing else; Harald Kaas lay, and sat, and walked on
skins, and each one of them was a welcome subject of conversation, for
he had shot and flayed every single animal himself. To be sure, there
were those who hinted that most of the skins had been bought from Brand
and Company, of Bergen, and that only the stories were shot and flayed
at home.

I for my part think that this was an exaggeration; but be that as it
may, the effect was equally thrilling when Harald Kaas, seated in his
log chair by the fireside, his feet on the bearskin, opened his shirt
to show us the scars on his hairy chest (and what scars they were!)
which had been made by the bear's teeth, when he had driven his knife,
right up to the haft, into the monster's heart. All the queer tankards,
and cupboards, and carved chairs listened with their wonted
impassiveness.

Harald Kaas was sixty, when, in the month of July, he sailed into the
bay accompanied by four ladies whom he had brought from the steamer--an
elderly lady and three young ones, all related to him. They were to
stay with him until August.

They occupied the upper storey. From it they could hear him walking
about and grunting below them. They began to feel a little nervous.
Indeed, three of them had had serious misgivings about accepting the
invitation; and these misgivings were not diminished when, next
morning, they saw Kaas composedly strolling up from the sea stark naked!

They screamed, and, gathering together, still in their nightgowns, held
a council of war as to the advisability of leaving at once; but when
one of them cried "You should not have called us, Aunt, and then we
should not have seen him," they could not help laughing, and therewith
the whole affair ended. Certainly they were a little stiff at
breakfast; but when Harold Kaas began a story about an old black mare
of his which was in love with a young brown horse over at the Dean's,
and which plunged madly if any other horse came near her, but, on the
other hand, put her head coaxingly on one side and whinnied "like a
dainty girl" whenever the parson's horse came that way--well, at that
they had to give in, as well first as last.

If they had strayed here out of curiosity they must just put up with
the "NIGHT side of nature," as Harald Kaas expressed it, with the
stress on the first word.

For all that they were nearly frightened out of their wits the very
next night, when he discharged his gun right under their windows. The
aunt even asserted that he had shot through her open casement. She
screamed loudly, and the others, starting from their sleep, were out on
the floor before they knew where they were. Then they crouched in the
windows and peeped out, although their aunt declared that they would
certainly be shot--they really must see what it was.

Yes! there they saw him among the cherry and apple trees, gun in hand,
and they could hear him swearing. In the greatest trepidation they
crept back into bed again. Next morning they learned that he had shot
at some night prowlers, one of whom had got "half the charge in his
leg, that he had, Deush take him! It ain't the prowling I mind, but
that he should prowl here. We bachelors will have no one poaching on
our preserves."

The four ladies sat as stiff as four church candles, till at length one
of them sprang up with a scream, the others joining in chorus.

The visitors were not bored; Harald Kaas dealt too much in the
unexpected for that. There was a charm, too, in the great woods, where
there had been no felling since he had come into the property, and
there were merry walks by the riverside and plenty of fish in the river.

They bathed, they took delightful sails in the cutter and drives about
the neighbourhood, though certainly the turn-out was none of the
smartest.

The youngest of the girls, Kristen Ravn, presently became less eager to
join in these expeditions. She had fallen in love with the disused east
wing of the house, and there she spent many a long hour, alone by the
open window, gazing out at the great lime-trees which stood straggling,
gaunt, and mysterious.

"You ought to build a balcony here, out towards the sea," she said.
"Look how the water glitters between the limes."

When once she had hit upon a plan, Kristen Ravn never relinquished it,
and when she had suggested it some four or five times, he promised that
it should be done. But on the heels of this scheme came another.

"Below the first balcony there must be another wider one," said she in
her soft voice, "and it must have steps at each end down to the
lawn--the lawn is so lovely just here."

The unheard-of presumption of her demand inoculated him with the idea,
and at length he consented to this as well.

"The rooms must be refurnished," she gravely commanded. "The one next
to the balcony which is to be built under here shall be in yellow pine,
and the floor must be polished." She pointed with her long delicate
hand. "ALL the floors must be polished. I will give you the design for
the room above, I have thought it carefully out." And in imagination
she papered the walls, arranged the furniture, and hung up curtains of
wondrous patterns.

"I know, too, how the other rooms are to be done," she added. And she
went from one to the other, remaining a little while in each. He
followed, like an old horse led by the bridle.

Before their visit was half over he most coolly neglected three out of
his four guests.

His deep-set eyes twinkled with the liveliest admiration whenever she
approached. He sought in the faces of the others the admiration which
he himself felt: he would amble round her like an old photographic
camera which had the power of setting itself up.

But from the day when she took down from his bookshelf a French work on
mechanics, a subject with which she was evidently acquainted and for
which she declared that she had a natural aptitude, it was all over
with him. From that day forward, if she were present, he effaced
himself both in word and action.

In the mornings when he met her in one of her characteristic costumes
he laughed softly, or gazed and gazed at her, and then glanced towards
the others. She did not talk much, but every word that she uttered
aroused his admiration. But he was most of all captivated when she sat
quietly apart, heedless of every one: at such times he resembled an old
parrot expectant of sugar.

His linen had always been snowy white, but beyond this he had taken no
special pains with his toilet; but now he strutted about in a Tussore
silk coat, which he had bought in Algiers, but had at once put aside
because it was too tight--he looked like a clipt box hedge in it.

Now, who was this lion-tamer of twenty-one, who, without in the least
wishing to do so, unconsciously even (she was the quietest of the
party), had made the monarch of the forest crouch at her feet and gaze
at her in abject humility?

Look at her, as she sits there, with her loose shining hair of the
prettiest shade of dark red; look at her broad forehead and prominent
nose, but more than all at those large wondering eyes; look at her
throat and neck, her tall slight figure; notice especially the
Renaissance dress which she wears, its style and colour, and your
curiosity will still remain unsatisfied, for she has an individuality
all her own.

Kristen Ravn had lost her mother at her birth and her father when she
was five years old. The latter left her a handsome fortune, with the
express condition that the investments should not be changed, and that
the income should be for her own use whether she married or not. He
hoped by this means to form her character. She was brought up by three
different members of her wide-branching family, a family which might
more properly be termed a clan, although they had no common
characteristics beyond a desire to go their own way.

When two Ravns meet they, as a rule, differ on every subject; but as a
race they hold religiously together--indeed, in their eyes there is no
other family which is "amusing," the favourite adjective of the Ravns.

Kristen had a receptive nature; she read everything, and remembered
what she read; that is say, she had a logical mind, for a retentive
memory implies an orderly brain. She was consequently NUMBER ONE in
everything which she took up. This, coupled with the fact that she
lived among those who regarded her somewhat as a speculation, and
consequently flattered her, had early made an impression on her nature,
quite as great, indeed, as the possession of money.

She was by no means proud, it was not in the Ravn nature to be so; but
at ten years old she had left off playing; she preferred to wander in
the woods and compose ballads. At twelve she insisted on wearing silk
dresses, and, in the teeth of an aunt all curls and lace and with a
terrible flow of words, she carried her point. She held herself erect
and prim in her silks, and still remained NUMBER ONE. She composed
verses about Sir Adge and Maid Else, about birds and flowers and sad
things.

On reaching the age at which other girls, who have the means, begin to
wear silk dresses, she left them off. She was tired, she said, of the
"smooth and glossy."

She now grew enthusiastic for fine wool and expensive velvet of every
shade. Dresses in the Renaissance style became her favourites, and the
subject of her studies. She puffed out her bodices like those in
Leonardo's and Rafael's portraits of women, and tried in other ways as
well to resemble them.

She left off writing verses, and wrote stories instead; the style was
good, though they were anything rather than spontaneous.

They were short, with a more or less clear pointe. Stories by a girl of
eighteen do not as a general rule make a sensation, but these were
particularly audacious. It was evident that their only object was to
scandalise. Instead of her own name she used the nom-de-plume of
"Puss." This, however, was only to postpone the announcement that the
author who scandalised her readers most, and that at a time when every
author strove to do so, was a girl of eighteen belonging to one of the
first families in the country.

Soon every one knew that "Puss" was she of the tumbled red locks, "the
tall Renaissance figure with the Titian hair."

Her hair was abundant, glossy, and slightly curling; she still wore it
hanging loose over her neck and shoulders, as she had done as a child.
Her great eyes seemed to look out upon a new world; but one felt that
the lower part of her face was scarcely in harmony with the upper. The
cheeks fell in a little; the prominent nose made the mouth look smaller
than it actually was; her neck seemed only to lead the eye downward to
her bosom, which almost appeared to caress her throat, especially when
her head was bent forward, as was generally the case. And very
beautiful the throat was, delicate in colour, superb in contour, and
admirably set upon the bust. For this reason she could never find in
her heart to hide this full white neck, but always kept it uncovered.
Her finely moulded bust surmounting a slender waist and small hips, her
rounded arms, her long hands, her graceful carriage, in her
tightly-fitting dress, formed such a striking picture that one did more
than look--one was obliged to study her, When the elegance and beauty
of her dress were taken into account, one realised how much
intelligence and artistic taste had here been exercised.

She was friendly in society, natural and composed, always occupied with
something, always with that wondering expression. She spoke very
little, but her words were always well chosen.

All this, and her general disposition, made people chary of opposing
her, more especially those who knew how intelligent she was and how
much knowledge she possessed.

She had no friends of her own, but her innumerable relations supplied
her with society, gossip, and flattery, and were at once her friends
and body-guard. She would have had to go abroad to be alone.

Among these relations she was a princess: they not only paid her
homage, but had sworn by "Life and Death" that she must marry without
more ado, which was absolutely against her wish.

From her childhood she had been laying by money, but the amount of her
savings was far less than her relations supposed. This rather mythical
fortune contributed not a little to the fact that "every one" was in
love with her. Not only the bachelors of the family, that was a matter
of course, but artists and amateurs, even the most blase, swarmed round
her, la jeunesse doree (which is homely enough in Norway), without an
exception. A living work of art, worth more or less money, piquante and
admired, how each longed to carry her home, to gloat over her, to call
her his own!

There was surely more intensity of feeling near her than near others, a
losing of oneself in one only; that unattainable dream of the
world-weary.

With her one could lead a thoroughly stylish life, full of art and
taste and comfort. She was highly cultivated, and absolutely
emancipated--our little country did not, in those days, possess a more
alluring expression.

When face to face with her they were uncertain how to act, whether to
approach her diffidently or boldly, smile or look serious, talk or be
silent.

What these idle wooers gleaned from her stories, her characteristic
dress, her wondering eyes, and her quiet dreaminess, was not the
highest, but they expended their energy thereon; so that their
unbounded discomfiture may be imagined when, in the autumn, the news
spread that Fruken Kristen Ravn was married to Harald Kaas.

They burst into peals of derisive laughter they scoffed, they
exclaimed; the only explanation they could offer was that they had too
long hesitated to try their fortune.

There were others, who both knew and admired her, who were no less
dismayed. They were more than disappointed--the word is too weak; to
many of them it seemed simply deplorable. How on earth could it have
happened? Every one, herself excepted, knew that it would ruin her life.

On Kristen Ravn's independent position, her strong character, her rare
courage, on her knowledge, gifts, and energy, many, especially women,
had built up a future for the cause of Woman. Had she not already
written fearlessly for it? Her tendency towards eccentricity and
paradox would soon have worn off, they thought, as the struggle carried
her forward, and at last she might have become one of the first
champions of the cause. All that was noblest and best in Kristen must
predominate in the end.

And now the few who seek to explain life's perplexities rather than to
condemn them discovered--Some of them, that the defiant tone of her
writings and her love of opposition bespoke a degree of vanity
sufficient to have led her into fallacy. Others maintained that hers
was essentially a romantic nature which might cause her to form a false
estimate both of her own powers and of the circumstances of life.
Others, again, had heard something of how this husband and wife lived,
one in each wing of the house, with different staffs of servants, and
with separate incomes; that she had furnished her side in her own way,
at her own expense, and had apparently conceived the idea of a new kind
of married life. Some people declared that the great lime-trees near
the mansion at Hellebergene were alone responsible for the marriage.
They soughed so wondrously in the summer evenings, and the sea beneath
their branches told such enthralling stories. Those grand old woods,
the like of which were hardly to be found in impoverished Norway, were
far dearer to her than was her husband. Her imagination had been taken
captive by the trees, and thus Harald Kaas had taken HER. The estate,
the climate, the exclusive possession of her part of the house: this
was the bait which she had chosen. Harald Kaas was only a kind of Puck
who had to be taken along with it. But it is doubtful whether this
conjecture was any nearer the truth. No one ever really knew. She was
not one of those whom it is easy to catechise.

Every one wearies at last of trying to solve even the most interesting
of enigmas. No one could tolerate the sound of her name when, four
months after her marriage, she was seen in a stall at the Christiania
Theatre just as in old days, though looking perhaps a little paler.
Every opera-glass was levelled at her. She wore a light, almost white,
dress, cut square as usual. She did not hide her face behind her fan.
She looked about her with her wondering eyes, as though she was quite
unconscious that there were other people in the theatre or that any one
could be looking at her. Even the most pertinacious were forced to
concede that she was both physically and mentally unique, with a charm
all her own.

But just as she had become once more the subject of general
conversation, she disappeared. It afterwards transpired that her
husband had fetched her away, though hardly any one had seen him. It
was concluded that they must have had their first quarrel over it.

Accurate information about their joint life was never obtained. The
attempts of her relations to force themselves upon them were quite
without result, except that they found out that she was enceinte,
notwithstanding her utmost efforts to conceal the fact.

She sent neither letter nor announcement; but in the summer, when she
was next seen in Christiania, she was wheeling a perambulator along
Karl Johan Street, her eyes as wondering as though some one had just
put it between her hands. She looked handsomer and more blooming than
ever.

In the perambulator lay a boy with his mother's broad forehead, his
mother's red hair. The child was charmingly dressed, and he, as well as
the perambulator, was so daintily equipped, so completely in harmony
with herself, that every one understood the reply that she gave, when,
after the usual congratulations, her acquaintances inquired, "Shall we
soon have a new story from you?"--she answered, "A new story? Here it
is!"

But, notwithstanding the unalloyed happiness which she displayed here,
it could no longer be concealed that more often than not she was absent
from home, and that she never mentioned her husband's name. If any one
spoke of him to her, she changed the subject. By the time that the boy
was a year old, it had become evident that she contemplated leaving
Hellebergene entirely. She had been in Christiania for some time and
had gone home to make arrangements, saying that she should come back in
a few days.

But she never did so.

The day after her return home, while the numerous servants at
Hellebergene, as well as the labourers with their wives and children,
were all assembled at the potato digging, Harald Kaas appeared,
carrying his wife under his left arm like a sack. He held her round the
waist, feet first, her face downwards and hidden by her hair, her hands
convulsively clutching his left thigh, her legs sometimes hanging down,
sometimes straight out. He walked composedly out with her, holding in
his right hand a bunch of long fresh birch twigs. A little way from the
gallery he paused, and laying her across his left knee, he tore off
some of her clothes, and beat her until the blood flowed. She never
uttered a sound. When he put her from him, she tremblingly
rearranged--first her hair, thus displaying her face just as the blood
flowed back from it, leaving it deadly white. Tears of pain and shame
rolled down her cheeks; but still not a sound. She tried to rearrange
her dress, but her tattered garments trailed behind her as she went
back to the house. She shut the door after her, but had to open it
again; her torn clothes had caught fast in it.

The women stood aghast; some of the children screamed with fright: this
infected the rest, and there was a chorus of sobs. The men, most of
whom had been sitting smoking their pipes, but who had sprung to their
feet again, stood filled with shame and indignation.

It had not been without a pang that Harald Kaas had done this, his face
and manner had shown it for a long time and still did so; but he had
expected that a roar of laughter would greet his extraordinary vagary.
This was evident from the composure with which he had carried his wife
out; and still more from the glance of gratified revenge with which he
looked round him afterwards. But there was only dead stillness,
succeeded by weeping, sobbing, and indignation. He stood there for a
moment, quite overcome, then went indoors again, a defeated, utterly
broken man.

In every encounter with this delicate creature the giant had been
worsted.

After this, however, she never went beyond the grounds. For the first
few years she was only seen by the people about the estate, and by them
but seldom. Sometimes she would take her boy out in his little
carriage, or, as time went on, would lead him by the hand, sometimes
she was alone. She was generally wrapped in a big shawl, a different
one for each dress she wore, and which she always held tightly round
her. This was so characteristic of her that to this day I hear people
from the neighbourhood talk about it as though she were never seen
otherwise.

What then did she do? She studied; she had given up writing: for more
than one reason it had become distasteful to her. She had changed roles
with her husband, giving herself up to mathematics, chemistry, and
physics, she made calculations and analyses--sending for books and
materials for these objects. The people on the estate saw nothing
extraordinary in all this. From the first they had admired her delicacy
and beauty. Every one admired her; it was only the manner and degree
that varied.

Little by little she came to be regarded as one whose life and thoughts
were beyond their comprehension.

She sought no one, but to those who came to her she never refused
help--more or less. She made herself well acquainted with the facts of
each case; no one could ever deceive her. Whether she gave much or
little, she imposed no conditions, she never lectured them. Her opinion
was expressed by the amount that she gave.

Her husband's behaviour towards her was such that, had she not been
very popular, she could not have remained at Hellebergene; that is to
say, he opposed and thwarted her in every way he could; but every one
took her part.

The boy! Could not he have been a bond of union? On the contrary, there
were those who declared that it was from the time of his birth that
things had gone amiss between the parents. The first time that his
father saw him the nurse reported that he "came in like a lord and went
out like a beggar!" The mother lay down again and laughed; the nurse
had never seen the like of it before. Had he expected that his child
must of necessity resemble him, only to find it the image of its mother?

When the boy was old enough he loved to wander across to his father's
rooms where there were so many curious things to see; his father always
received him kindly, talking in a way suited to his childish
intelligence, but he would take occasion to cut away a quantity of his
hair. His mother let it grow free and long like her own, and his father
perpetually cut it. The boy would have been glad enough to be rid of
it, but when he grew a little older, he comprehended his father's
motive, and thenceforth he was on his guard.

When the people on the estate had told him something of his father's
highly-coloured histories of his feats of strength and his achievements
by land and water, the boy began to feel a shy admiration for him, but
at the same time he felt all the more strongly the intolerable yoke
which he laid upon them--upon every living being on the estate. It
became a secret religion with him to oppose his father and help his
mother, for it was she who suffered. He would resemble her even to his
hair, he would protect her, he would make it all up to her. It was a
positive delight to him when his father made him suffer: he absolutely
felt proud when he called him Rafaella, instead of Rafael, the name
which his mother had chosen for him; it was the one that she loved best.

No one was allowed to use the boats or the carriage, no one might walk
through the woods, which had been fenced in, the horses were never
taken out. No repairs were undertaken; if Fru Kaas attempted to have
anything done at her own expense, the workmen were ordered off: there
could no longer be any doubt about it, he wished everything to go to
rack and ruin. The property went from bad to worse, and the
woods--well! It was no secret, every one on the place talked about
it--the timber was being utterly ruined. The best and largest trees
were already rotten; by degrees the rest would become so.

At twelve years of age Rafael began to receive religious teaching from
the Dean: the only subject in which his mother did not instruct him. He
shared these lessons with Helene, the Dean's only child, who was four
years younger than Rafael and of whom he was devotedly fond.

The Dean told them the story of David. The narrative was unfolded with
additions and explanations; the boy made a picture of it to himself;
his mother had taught him everything in this way.

Assyrian warriors with pointed beards, oblique eyes, and oblong
shields, had to represent the Israelites; they marched by in an endless
procession. He saw the blue-green of the vineyards on the hillside, the
shadow of the dusty palm-trees upon the dusty road. Then a wood of
aromatic trees into which all the warriors fled.

Then followed the story of Absalom.

"Absalom rebelled against his father, what a dreadful thing to think
of," said the Dean. "A grown-up man to rebel against his father." He
chanced to look towards Rafael, who turned as red as fire.

The thought which was constantly in his mind was that when he was grown
up he should rebel against his father.

"But Absalom was punished in a marvellous manner," continued the Dean.
"He lost the battle, and as he fled through the woods, his long hair
caught in a tree, the horse ran away from under him, and he was left
hanging there until he was run through by a spear."

Rafael could see Absalom hanging there, not in the long Assyrian
garments, not with a pointed beard. No! Slender and young, in Rafael's
tight-fitting breeches and stockings, and with his own red hair! Ah!
how distinctly he saw it! The horse galloping far away--the grey one at
home which he used to ride by stealth when his father was asleep after
dinner. He could see the tall, slender lad, dangling and swaying, with
a spear through his body. Distinctly! Distinctly!

This vision, which he never mentioned to a soul, he could not get rid
of. To be left hanging there by his hair--what a strange punishment for
rebelling against his father!

Certainly he already knew the history, but till now he had paid no
special heed to it.

It was on a Friday that this great impression had been made on him, and
on the following Thursday morning he awoke to see his mother standing
over him with her most wondering expression. Her hair still as she had
plaited it for the night; one plait had touched him on the nose and
awoke him before she spoke. She stood bending over him, in her long
white nightgown with its dainty lace trimming, and with bare feet. She
would never have come in like that if something terrible had not
happened. Why did she not speak? only look and look--or was she really
frightened?

"Mother!" he cried, sitting up.

Then she bent close down to him. "THE MAN IS DEAD," she whispered. It
was his father whom she called "the man," she never spoke of him
otherwise.

Rafael did not comprehend what she said, or perhaps it paralysed him.
She repeated it again louder and louder, "The man is dead, the man is
dead."

Then she stood upright, and putting out her bare feet from under her
nightgown, she began to dance--only a few steps; and then she slipped
away through the door which stood half open. He jumped up and ran after
her; there she lay on the sofa, sobbing. She felt that he was behind
her, she raised herself quickly, and, still sobbing, pressed him to her
heart.

Even when they stood together beside the body, the hand which he had in
his shook so that he threw his arms round her, thinking that she would
fall.

Later in life, when he recalled this, he understood what she had
silently endured, what an unbending will she had brought to the
struggle, but also what it had cost her.

At the time he did not in the least comprehend it. He imagined that she
suffered from the horror of the moment as he himself did.

There lay the giant, in wretchedness and squalor! He who had once
boasted of his cleanliness, and expected the like in others, lay there,
dirty and unshaven, under dirty bed clothes, in linen so ragged and
filthy that no workman on the estate had worse. The clothes which he
had worn the day before lay on a chair beside the bed, miserably
threadbare, foul with dirt, sweat, and tobacco, and stinking like
everything else. His mouth was distorted, his hands tightly clenched;
he had died of a stroke.

And how forlorn and desolate was all around him! Why had his son never
noticed this before? Why had he never felt that his father was lonely
and forsaken? To how great an extent no words could express.

Rafael burst into tears; louder and louder grew his sobbing, until it
sounded through all the rooms. The people from the estate came in one
by one. They wished to satisfy their curiosity.

The boy's crying, unconsciously to himself, influenced them all: they
saw everything in a new light. How unfortunate, how desolate, how
helpless had he been who now lay there. Lord, have mercy on us all!

When the corpse of Harald Kaas had been laid out, the face shaved, and
the eyes closed, the distortion was less apparent. They could trace
signs of suffering, but the expression was still virile. It seemed a
handsome face to them now.



CHAPTER 2


Within a few days of the funeral mother and son were in England.

Rafael was now to enter upon a long course of study, for which, by his
earlier education, his mother had prepared him, and for which, by
painful privations, she had saved up sufficient money.

The property was to the last degree impoverished, and burdened with
mortgages, and the timber only fit for fuel.

Their neighbour the Dean, a clear-headed and practical man, took upon
himself the management of affairs; as money was needed the work of
devastation must begin at once. The mother and son did not wish to
witness it.

They came to England like two fugitives who, after many and great
trials, for affection's sake seek a new home and a new country.

Rafael was then twelve years old.

They were inseparable, and in the shiftless life that they led in their
new surroundings they became, if possible, more closely attached to
each other.

Yet not long afterwards they had their first disagreement.

He had gone to school, had begun to learn the language and to make
friends, and had developed a great desire to show off.

He was very tall and slender and was anxious to be athletic. He took an
active part in the play-ground, but here he achieved no great success.
On the other hand, thanks to his mother, he was better informed than
his comrades, and he contrived to obtain prominence by this. This
prominence must be maintained, and nothing answered so well as boasting
about Norway and his father's exploits. His statements were somewhat
exaggerated, but that was not altogether his fault, He knew English
fairly well, but had not mastered its niceties. He made use of
superlatives, which always come the most readily. It was true that he
had inherited from his father twenty guns, a large sailing-boat, and
several smaller ones; but how magnificent these boats and guns had
become!

He intended to go to the North Pole, he said, as his father had done,
to shoot white bears, and invited them all to come with him.

He made a greater impression on his hearers than he himself was aware
of; but something more was wanted, for it was impossible to foretell
from day to day what might be expected of him. He had to study hard in
order to meet the demand.

As an outcome of this, he betook himself one evening to the
hairdresser's, with some of his schoolfellows, and, without more ado,
requested him to cut his hair quite close. That ought to satisfy them
for a long time.

The other boys had teased him about his hair, and it got in the way
when he was playing--he hated it. Besides, ever since the story of
Absalom's rebellion and punishment, it had remained a secret terror to
him, but it had never before occurred to him to have it cut off.

His schoolfellows were dismayed, and the hairdresser looked on it as a
work of wilful destruction.

Rafael felt his heart begin to sink, but the very audacity of the thing
gave him courage They should see what he dare do. The hairdresser
hesitated to act without Fru Kaas's knowledge, but at length he ceased
to make objections.

Rafael's heart sank lower and lower, but he must go through with it
now. "Off with it," he said, and remained immovable in the chair.

"I have never seen more splendid hair," said the hairdresser
diffidently, taking up the scissors but still hesitating.

Rafael saw that his companions were on the tiptoe of expectation. "Off
with it," he said again with assumed indifference.

The hairdresser cut the hair into his hand and laid it carefully in
paper.

The boys followed every snip of the scissors with their eyes, Rafael
with his ears; he could not see in the glass.

When the hairdresser had finished and had brushed his clothes for him,
he offered him the hair. "What do I want with it?" said Rafael. He
dusted his elbows and knees a little, paid, and left the shop, followed
by his companions. They, however, exhibited no particular admiration.
He caught a glimpse of himself in the glass as he went out, and thought
that he looked frightful.

He would have given all that he possessed (which was not much), he
would have endured any imaginable suffering, he thought, to have his
hair back again.

His mother's wondering eyes rose up before him with every shade of
expression; his misery pursued him, his vanity mocked him. The end of
it all was that he stole up to his room and went to bed without his
supper.

But when his mother had vainly waited for him, and some one suggested
that he might be in the house, she went to his room.

He heard her on the stairs; he felt that she was at the door. When she
entered he had hidden his head beneath the bedclothes. She dragged them
back; and at the first sight of her dismay he was reduced to such
despair that the tears which were beginning to flow ceased at once.

White and horror-struck she stood there; indeed she thought at first
that some one had done it maliciously; but when she could not extract a
word of enlightenment, she suspected mischief.

He felt that she was waiting for an explanation, an excuse, a prayer
for forgiveness, but he could not, for the life of him, get out a word.

What, indeed, could he say? He did not understand it himself. But now
he began to cry violently. He huddled himself together, clasping his
head between his hands. It felt like a bristly stubble.

When he looked up again his mother was gone.

A child sleeps in spite of everything. He came down the next morning in
a contrite mood and thoroughly shamefaced. His mother was not up; she
was unwell, for she had not slept a wink. He heard this before he went
to her. He opened her door timidly. There she lay, the picture of
wretchedness.

On the toilet-table, in a white silk handkerchief, was his hair,
smoothed and combed.

She lay there in her lace-trimmed nightgown, great tears rolling down
her cheeks. He had come, intending to throw himself into her arms and
beg her pardon a thousand times. But he had a strong feeling that he
had better not do so, or was he afraid to? She was in the clouds, far,
far away. She seemed in a trance: something, at once painful and
sacred, held her enchained. She was both pathetic and sublime.

The boy stepped quietly from the room and hurried off to school.

She remained in bed that day and the next, and made him sit with the
servant in order that she might be alone. When she was in trouble she
always behaved thus, and that he should cross her in this way was the
greatest trial that she had ever known. It came upon her, too, like a
deluge of rain from a clear sky. NOW it seemed to her that she could
foresee his future--and her own.

She laid the blame of all this on his paternal ancestry. She could not
see that incessant artistic fuss and too much intellectual training
had, perhaps, aroused in him a desire for independence.

The first time that she saw him again with his cropped head, which grew
more and more like his father's in shape, her tears flowed quietly.

When he wished to come to her side, she waived him back with her
shapely hand, nor would she talk to him; when he talked she hardly
looked at him; till at last he burst into tears. For he suffered as one
can suffer but once, when the childish penitence is fresh and therefore
boundless, and when the yearning for love has received its first rebuff.

But when, on the fifth day, she met him coming up the stairs, she stood
still in dismay at his appearance: pale, thin, timid; the effect
perhaps heightened by the loss of his hair. He, too, stood still,
looking forlorn and abject, with disconsolate eyes. Then hers filled;
she stretched out her arms. He was once more in his Paradise, but they
both cried as though they must wade through an ocean of tears before
they could talk to each other again.

"Tell me about it now," she whispered. This was in her own room. They
had spoken the first fond words and kissed each other over and over
again. "How could this have happened, Rafael?" she whispered again,
with her head pressed to his; she did not wish to look at him while she
spoke.

"Mother," he answered, "it is worse to cut down the woods at home, at
Hellebergene, than that I--"

She raised her head and looked at him. She had taken off her hat and
gloves, but now she put them quickly on again.

"Rafael, dear," she said, "shall we go for a walk together in the park,
under the grand old trees?"

She had felt his retort to be ingenious.

After this episode, however, England, and more especially her son's
schoolfellows, became distasteful to her, and she constantly made plans
to keep him away from the latter out of school hours.

She found this very easy; sometimes she went over his studies with him,
at others they visited all the Manufactories and "Works" for miles
round.

She liked to see for herself and awakened the same taste in him.

Factories which, as a rule, were closed to visitors, were readily
opened to the pretty elegant lady and her handsome boy, "who after all
knew nothing at all about it;" and they were able to see almost all
that they wished. It was a less congenial task to use her influence to
turn his thoughts to higher things, but it was rarely, nevertheless,
that she failed. She struggled hard over what she did not understand
and sought for help. To explain these things to Rafael in the most
attractive manner possible became a new occupation for her.

His natural disposition inclined him to such studies; but to a boy of
thirteen, who was thus kept from his comrades and their sports, it soon
became a nuisance.

No sooner had Fru Kaas noticed this than she took active steps. They
left England and crossed to France.

The strange speech threw him back on her; no one shared him with her.
They settled in Calais. A few days after their arrival she cut her hair
short; she hoped that it would touch him to see that as he would not
look like her, she tried to look like him--to be a. boy like him. She
bought a smart new hat, she composed a jaunty costume, new from top to
toe, for EVERYTHING must be altered with the hair. But when she stood
before him, looking like a girl of twenty-five, merry, almost
boisterous, he was simply dismayed--nay, it was some time before he
could altogether comprehend what had happened. As long as he could
remember his mother, her eyes had always looked forth from beneath a
crown; more solemn, more beautiful.

"Mother," he said, "where are you?"

She grew pale and grave, and stammered something about its being more
comfortable--about red hair not looking well when it began to lose its
colour--and went into her room. There she sat with his hair before her
and her own beside it; she wept.

"Mother, where are you?" She might have answered, "Rafael, where are
you?"

She went about with him everywhere. In France two handsome, stylishly
dressed people are always certain to be noticed, a thing which she
thoroughly appreciated.

During their different expeditions she always spoke French; he begged
her to talk Norse at least now and then, but all in vain.

Here, too, they visited every possible and impossible factory.
Unpractical and reserved as she was on ordinary occasions, she could be
full of artifice and coquetry whenever she wished to gain access to a
steam bakery and particular as she generally was about her toilette,
she would come away again sooty and grimy if thereby she could procure
for Rafael some insight into mechanics. She shrank from foul air as
from the cholera, yet inhaled sulphuric acid gas as though it had been
ozone for his sake.

"Seeing for yourself, Rafael, is the substance, other methods are its
shadow;" or "Seeing for yourself, Rafael, is meat and drink, the other
is but literature."

He was not quite of the same opinion: he thought that Notre Dame de
Paris, from which he was daily dragged away, was the richest banquet
that he had yet enjoyed, while from the factory of Mayel et fils there
issued the most deadly odours.

His reading--she had encouraged him in it for the sake of the language
and had herself helped him; now she was jealous of it and could not be
persuaded to get him new books; but he got them nevertheless.

They had been in Calais for several months; he had masters and was
beginning to feel himself at home, when there arrived at the pension a
widow from one of the colonies, accompanied by her daughter, a girl of
thirteen.

The new comers had not appeared at meals for more than two days before
the young gentleman began to pay his court to the young lady. From the
first moment it was a plain case. Very soon every one in the pension
was highly amused to notice how fluent his French was becoming; his
choice of words at times was even elegant! The girl taught him it
without a trace of grammar, by charm, sprightliness, a little nonsense;
a pair of confiding eyes and a youthful voice were sufficient. It was
from her that he got, by stealth, one novel after another. By stealth
it had to be; by stealth Lucie had procured them; by stealth she gave
them to him; by stealth they were read; by stealth she took them back
again. This reading made him a little absent-minded, but otherwise
nothing betrayed his flights into literature: to be sure, they were not
very wonderful.

Fru Kaas noticed her son's flirtation, and smiled with the rest over
his progress in French. She had less objection to this friendship, in
which, to a great extent, she shared, than to those in England, from
which she had been quite excluded. In the evenings she would take the
mother and daughter out for short excursions; and these she greatly
enjoyed. But the novel reading which the young people carried on
secretly had resulted in conversations of a "grown up" type. They
talked of love with the deep experience which is proper to their age,
they talked with still greater discretion as to when their wedding
should take place; on this point they indirectly said much which caused
them many a delightful tremor. As they were accustomed to talk about
themselves before others, to describe their feelings in a veiled form,
it often happened when there were many people near that they carried
this amusement further, and before they were themselves aware of it,
they were in the full tide of a symbolic language and played "catch"
with each other.

Fru Kaas noticed one evening that the word "rose" was drawn out to a
greater length than it was possible for any rose to attain to; at the
same time she saw the languishing look in their eyes, and broke in with
the question, "What do you mean about the rose, child?"

If any one had peeped behind a rose-bush and caught them kissing one
another, a thing they had never done, they could not have blushed more.

The next day Fru Kaas found new rooms, a long way from the quay near
which they were living.

Rafael had suffered greatly at being torn away from England just as he
had come down from his high horse and had put himself on a par with his
companions, but not the least notice was taken of his trouble; it had
only annoyed his mother.

To be absolutely debarred from the books he was so fond of had been
hard; but up to this time, being in a foreign land, amid foreign
speech, he had always fallen back upon her. Now he openly defied her.
He went straight off to the hotel and sought out Madame Mery and her
daughter as though nothing had occurred. This he did every day when he
had finished his lessons. Lucie had now become his sole romance; he
gave all his leisure time to her, and not only that (for it no longer
sufficed to see her at her mother's), they met on the quay! At times a
maid-servant walked with them for appearance sake, at others she kept
in the background. Sometimes they would go on board a Norwegian ship,
sometimes they wandered about or strolled beneath some great trees.
When he saw her in her short frock come out of the door, saw her quick
movements, and her lively signals to him with parasol or hat or
flowers, the quay, the ships, the bales, the barrels, the air, the
noise, the crowd, all seemed to play and sing,

  "Enfant! si j'etais roi je donerais l'empire,
   Et mon char, et mon septre, et mon peuple a genoux,"

and he ran to meet her.

He never dared to do more than to take both her chubby brown hands, nor
to say more than "You are very sweet, you are very very good." And she
never went further than to look at him, walk with him, laugh with him,
and say to him, "You are not like the others." What experiences there
had been in the life of this girl of thirteen goodness alone knows. He
never asked her, he was too sure of her.

He learned French from her as one bird feeds from another's bill, or as
one who looks at his image in a fountain, as he drinks from it.

One day, as mother and son were at breakfast, she glanced quietly
across at him. "I heard of an excellent preparatory school of mechanics
at Rouen," she said, "so I wrote to inquire about it, and here is the
answer. I approve of it in all respects, as you will do when you read
it. I think that we shall go to Rouen; what do you say to it?"

He grew first red, then white; then put down his bread, his table
napkin; got up and left the room. Later in the day she asked him
whether he would not read the letter; he left her without answering. At
last, just as he was going to meet Lucie on the quay, she said, and
this time with determination, that they were to leave in the course of
an hour. She had already packed up; as they stood there the man came to
fetch the luggage. At that moment he felt that he could thoroughly
understand why his father had beaten her.

As they sat in the carriage which took them to the station he suffered
keenly. It could not nave been worse, he thought, if his mother had
stabbed him with a knife. He did not sit beside her in the railway
carriage.

During the first days at Rouen he would not answer when she spoke to
him, nor ask a single question. He had adopted her own tactics; he
carried them through with a cruelty of which he was not aware.

For a long time he had been disposed to criticise her; now that this
criticism was extended to all that she said or did, the spirit of
accusation tinctured her whole life; their joint past seemed altered
and debased.

His father's bent form, in the log chair on the hairless skin,
malodorous and dirty, rose up before him, in vivid contrast with his
mother in her well appointed, airy, perfumed rooms!

When Rafael stood by his father's body he had felt the same thing--that
the old man had been badly treated. He himself had been encouraged to
neglect his father, to shun him, to evade his orders. At that time he
had laid the blame on the people on the estate; now he put it all down
to his mother's account. His father had certainly adored her once, and
this feeling had changed into wild self-consuming hatred. What had
happened? He did not know; but he could not but admit that his mother
would have tried the patience of Job.

He pictured to himself how Lucie would come running with her flowers,
search for him over the whole quay, farther and farther every time,
standing still at last. He could not think of it without tears, and
without a feeling of bitterness.

But a child is a child. It was not a life-long grief. As the place was
new and historically interesting, and as lessons had now begun and his
mother was always with him, this feeling wore off, but the mutual
restraint was still there. The critical spirit which had first been
roused in England never afterwards left Rafael.

The hours of study which they passed together produced good results.
Beginning as her pupil, he had ended by becoming her teacher. She was
anxious to keep up with him, and this was an advantage to him, on
account of her almost too minute accuracy, but still more from her
intelligent questions. Apart from study they passed many pleasant hours
together, but they both knew that something was missing in their
conversation which could never be there again.

At longer or shorter intervals a shy silence interrupted this
intercourse. Sometimes it was he, sometimes she, who, for some cause or
other, often a most trivial one, elected not to reply, not to ask a
question, not to see. When they were good friends he appreciated the
best side of her character, the self-sacrificing life which she led for
him. When they were not friends it was exactly the opposite. When they
were friends, he, as a rule, did whatever she wished. He tried to atone
for the past. He was in the land of courtesy and influenced by its
teaching. When he was not friends with her he behaved as badly as
possible. He early got among bad companions and into dissipated habits;
he was the very child of Rebellion. At times he had qualms of
conscience on account of it.

She guessed this, and wished him to guess that she guessed it.

"I perceive a strange atmosphere here, fie! Some one has mixed their
atmosphere with yours, fie!" And she sprinkled him with scent.

He turned as red as fire and, in his shame and misery, did not know
which way to look. But if he attempted to speak she became as stiff as
a poker, and, raising her small hand, "Taisez-vous des egards, sil vous
plait."

It must be said in her excuse that, notwithstanding the daring books
which she had written, she had had no experience of real life; she knew
no form of words for such an occasion. It came at last to this pass,
that she, who had at one time wished to control his whole life and
every thought in it, and who would not share him with any one, not even
with a book, gradually became unwilling to have any relations with him
outside his studies.

The French language especially lends itself to formal intercourse and
diplomacy. They grasped this fact from the first. It may, indeed, have
contributed to form their mutual life. It was more equitable and caused
fewer collisions. At the slightest disagreement it was at once
"Monsieur mon fils" or simply "Monsieur," or "Madame ma mere," or
"Madame."

At one time his health seemed likely to suffer: his rapid growth and
the studies, to which she kept him very closely, were too much for his
strength.

But just then something remarkable occurred. At the time when Rafael
was nineteen he was one day in a French chemical factory, and, as it
were in a flash, saw how half the power used in the machinery might be
saved. The son of the owner who had brought him there was a
fellow-student. To him he confided his discovery. They worked it out
together with feverish excitement to the most minute details. It was
very complex, for it was the working of the factory itself which was
involved. The scheme was carefully gone into by the owner, his son, and
their assistants together, and it was decided to try it. It was
entirely successful; LESS than half the motive power now sufficed.

Rafael was away at the time that it was inaugurated; he had gone down a
mine. His mother was not with him; he never took her down mines with
him. As soon as ever he returned home he hurried off with her to see
the result of his work. They saw everything, and they both blushed at
the respect shown to them by the workmen. They were quite touched when,
the owner being called, they heard his expressions of boundless
delight. Champagne flowed for them, accompanied by the warmest thanks.
The mother received a beautiful bouquet. Excited by the wine and the
congratulations, proud of his recognition as a genius, Rafael left the
place with his mother on his arm. It seemed to him as though he were on
one side, and all the rest of the world on the other. His mother walked
happily beside him, with her bouquet in her hand. Rafael wore a new
overcoat--one after his own heart, very long and faced with silk, and
of which he was excessively proud. It was a clear winter's day; the sun
shone on the silk, and on something more as well.

"There is not a speck on the sky, mother," he said.

"Nor one on your coat either," she retorted; for there had been a great
many on his old one, and each had had its history.

He was too big now to be turned to ridicule, and too happy as well. She
heard him humming to himself: it was the Norwegian national air. They
came back to the town again as from Elysium. All the passers-by looked
at them: people quickly detect happiness. Besides Rafael was a head
taller than most of them and fairer in complexion. He walked quickly
along beside his elegant mother, and looked across the Boulevard as
though from a sunny height.

"There are days on which one feels oneself a different person," he said.

"There are days on which one receives so much," she answered, pressing
his arm.

They went home, threw aside their wraps, and looked at one another.
Sketches of the machinery which they had just seen lay about, as well
as some rough drawings. These she collected and made into a roll.

"Rafael," she said, and drew herself up, half laughing, half trembling,
"kneel; I wish to knight you."

It did not seem unnatural to him; he did so.

"Noblesse oblige," she said, and let the roll of paper approach his
head; but therewith she dropped it and burst into tears.

He spent a merry evening with his friends, and was enthusiastically
applauded. But as he lay in bed that night he felt utterly despondent.
The whole thing might, after all, have been a mere chance. He had seen
so much, had acquired so much information; it was no discovery that he
had made. What was it, then? He was certainly not a genius; that must
be an exaggeration. Could one imagine a genius without a victor's
confidence, or had his peculiar life destroyed that confidence? This
anxiety which constantly intruded itself; this bad conscience; this
dreadful, vile conscience; this ineradicable dread; was it a
foreboding? Did it point to the future?

It was about half a year after this that his desultory studies became
concentrated on electricity, and after a time this took them to Munich.
During the course of these studies he began to write, quite
spontaneously. The students had formed a society, and Rafael was
expected to contribute a paper. But his contribution was so original
that they begged him to show it to the professor, and this encouraged
him greatly. It was the professor, too, who had his first article
printed. A Norwegian technical periodical accepted a subsequent one,
and this was the external influence which turned his thoughts once more
towards Norway. Norway rose before him as the promised land of
electricity. The motive power of its countless waterfalls was
sufficient for the whole world! He saw his country during the winter
darkness gleaming with electric lustre. He saw her, too, the
manufactory of the world, the possessor of navies. Now he had something
to go home for!

His mother did not share his love for their country, and had no desire
to live in Norway. But the money which she had saved up for his
education bad been spent long ago. Hellebergene had had its share. The
estate did not yield an equivalent, for it was essentially a timbered
estate, and the trees on it were still immature.

So it was to be home! A few years alone at Hellebergene was just what
he wished for. But--something always occurred to prevent their
departure at the time fixed for it. First he was detained by an
invention which he wished to patent. Up to the present time he had only
sketched out ideas which others had adopted; now it was to be
different. The invention was duly patented and handed over to an agent
to sell; but still they did not start. What was the hindrance? Another
invention with a fresh patent more likely to sell than the first, which
unfortunately did not go off. This patent was also taken out, which
again cost money, and was handed over to the agent to be sold. Could he
not start now? Well, yes, he thought he could. But Fru Kaas soon
realised that he was not serious, so she sought the help of a young
relative, Hans Ravn, an engineer, like most of the Ravns. Rafael liked
Hans, for he was himself a Ravn in temperament, a thing that he had not
realised before; it was quite a revelation to him. He had believed that
the Ravns were like his mother, but now found that she greatly differed
from them. To Hans Ravn Fru Kaas said plainly that now they must start.
The last day of May was the date fixed on, and this Hans was to tell
every one, for it would make Rafael bestir himself, his mother thought,
if this were known everywhere. Hans Ravn spread this news far and near,
partly because it was his province to do so, partly because he hoped it
would be the occasion of a farewell entertainment such as had never
been seen. A banquet actually did take place amid general enthusiasm,
which ended in the whole company forming a procession to escort their
guest to his house. Here they encountered a crowd of officers who were
proceeding home in the same manner. They nearly came to blows, but
fraternised instead, and the engineers cheered the officers and the
officers the engineers.

The next day the history of the two entertainments and the collision
between the guests went the round of the papers.

This produced results which Fru Kaas had not foreseen. The first was a
very pleasant one. The professor who had had Rafael's first article
published drove up to the door, accompanied by his family. He mounted
the stairs, and asked her if she would not, in their company, once more
visit the prettiest parts of Munich and its vicinity. She felt
flattered, and accepted the invitation. As they drove along they talked
of nothing but Rafael: partly about his person, for he was the darling
of every lady, partly about the future which lay before him. The
professor said that he had never had a more gifted pupil. Fru Kaas had
brought an excellent binocular glass with her, which she raised to her
eyes from time to time to conceal her emotion, and their hearty praise
seemed to flood the landscape and buildings with sunshine.

The little party lunched together, and drove home in the afternoon.

When Fru Kaas re-entered her room, she was greeted by the scent of
flowers. Many of their friends who had not till now known when they
were to leave had wished to pay them some compliment. Indeed, the maid
said that the bell had been ringing the whole morning. A little later
Rafael and Hans Ravn came in with one or two friends. They proposed to
dine together. The sale of the last patent seemed to be assured, and
they wished to celebrate the event. Fru Kaas was in excellent spirits,
so off they went.

They dined in the open air with a number of other people round them.
There was music and merriment, and the subdued hum of distant voices
rose and fell in the twilight. When the lamps were lighted, they had on
one side the glare of a large town, on the other the semi-darkness was
only relieved by points of light; and this was made the subject of
poetical allusions in speeches to the friends who were so soon to leave
them.

Just then two ladies slowly passed near Rafael's chair. Fru Kaas, who
was sitting opposite, noticed them, but he did not. When they had gone
a short distance they stood still and waited, but did not attract his
attention. Then they came slowly back again, passing close behind his
chair, but still in vain. This annoyed Fru Kaas. Her individuality was
so strong that her silence cast a shadow over the whole party; they
broke up.

The next morning Rafael was out again on business connected with the
patent. The bell rang, and the maid came in with a bill; it had been
brought the previous day as well, she said. It was from one of the
chief restaurateurs of the town, and was by no means a small one. Fru
Kaas had no idea that Rafael owed money--least of all to a
restaurateur. She told the maid to say that her son was of age, and
that she was not his cashier. There was another ring--the maid
reappeared with a second bill, which had also been brought the day
before. It was from a well-known wine merchant; this, too, was not a
small one. Another ring; this time it was a bill for flowers and by no
means a trifle. This, too, had been brought the day before. Fru Kaas
read it twice, three times, four times: she could not realise that
Rafael owed money for flowers--what did he want them for? Another ring;
now it was a bill from a jeweller. Fru Kaas became so nervous at the
ringing and the bills that she took to flight. Here, then, was the
explanation of their postponed departure: he was held captive; this was
the reason for all his anxiety about selling the patent. He had to buy
his freedom. She was hardly in the street when an unpretending little
old woman stepped up to her, and asked timidly if this might be Frau
von Kas? Another bill, thought Fru Kaas, eyeing her closely. She
reminded one of a worn-out rose-bush with a few faded blossoms on it:
she seemed poor and inexperienced in all save humility.

"What do you want with me?" inquired Fru Kaas sympathetically, resolved
to pay the poor thing at once, whatever it might be.

The little woman begged "Tausend Mal um Verzeihung," but she was "Einer
Beamten-Wittwe" and had read in the paper that the young Von Kas was
leaving, and both she and her daughter were in such despair that she
had resolved to come to Frau von Kas, who was the only one--and here
she began to cry.

"What does your daughter want from me?" asked Fru Kaas rather less
gently.

"Ach! tausend Mal um Verzeihung gnadige Frau," her daughter was married
to Hofrath von Rathen--"ihrer grossen Schonheit wegen"--ah, she was so
unhappy, for Hofrath von Rathen drank and was cruel to her. Herr von
Kas had met her at the artists' fete--"Und so wissen Sie zwei so junge,
reizende Leute." She looked up at Fru Kaas through her tears--looked up
as though from a rain-splashed cellar window; but Fru Kaas had reverted
to her abrupt manner, and as if from an upper storey the poor little
woman heard, "What does your daughter want with my son?"

"Tausend Mal um Verzeihung," but it had seemed to them that her
daughter might go with them to Norway, Norway was such a free country.
"Und die zwei Jungen haben sich so gern."

"Has he promised her this?" said Fru Kaas, with haughty coldness.

"Nein, nein, nein," was the frightened reply. They two, mother and
daughter, had thought of it that day. They had read in the paper that
the young Von Kas was going away. "Herr Gott in Himmel!" if her
daughter could thus be rid at once of all her troubles! Frau von Kas
had not an idea of what a faithful soul, what a tender wife her
daughter was.

Fru Kaas crossed hastily over to the opposite pavement. She did not go
quite so fast as a person in chase of his hat, but it seemed to the
poor little creature, left in the lurch, with folded hands and
frightened eyes, that she had vanished faster than her hopes. On the
other side of the waystood a pretty young flower-girl who was waiting
for the elegant lady hurrying in her direction. "Bitte, gnadige Frau."
Here is another, thought the hunted creature. She looked round for
help, she flew up the street, away, away--when another lady popped up
right in front of her, evidently trying to catch her eye. Fru Kaas
dashed into the middle of the street and took refuge in a carriage.

"Where to?" asked the driver.

This she had not stopped to consider, but nevertheless answered boldly,
"The Bavaria!"

In point of fact she had had an idea of seeing the view of the city and
its environs from "Bavaria's" lofty head before leaving. There were a
great many people there, but Fru Kaas's turn to go up soon came; but
just as she had reached the head of the giantess and was going to look
out, she heard a lady whisper close behind her, "That is his mother."
It was probable that there were several mothers up there in "Bavaria's"
head beside Fru Kaas, nevertheless she gathered her skirts together and
hurried down again.

Rafael came home to dine with his mother; he was in the highest
spirits--he had sold his patent. But he found her sitting in the
farthest corner of the sofa, with her big binocular glass in her hand.
When he spoke to her she did not answer, but turned the glass with the
small end towards him; she wished him to look as far off as possible.



CHAPTER 3


It was a bright evening in the beginning of June that they disembarked
from the steamer, and at once left the town in the boat which was to
take them to Hellebergene. They did not know any of the boatmen,
although they were from the estate; the boat also was new.

But the islands among which they were soon rowing were the old ones,
which had long awaited them and seemed to have swum out to meet them,
and now to move one behind the other so that the boat might pass
between them. Neither mother nor son spoke to the men, nor did they
talk to each ether. In thus keeping silence they entered into each
other's feelings, for they were both awestruck. It came upon them all
at once. The bright evening light over sea and islands, the aromatic
fragrance from the land,--the quick splash of a little coasting steamer
as she passed them--nothing could cheer them.

Their life lay there before them, bringing responsibilities both old
and new. How would all that they were coming to look to them, and how
far were they themselves now fitted for it?

Now they had passed the narrow entrance of the bay, and rounded the
last point beneath the crags of Hellebergene. The green expanse opened
out before them, the buildings in its midst. The hillsides had once
been crowned and darkly clad with luxuriant woods. Now they stood there
denuded, shrunk, formless, spread over with a light green growth
leaving some parts bare. The lowlands, as well as the hills which
framed them, were shrunk and diminished, not in extent but in
appearance. They could nut persuade themselves to look at it. They
recalled it all as it had been and felt themselves despoiled.

The buildings had been newly painted, but they looked small by contrast
with those which they had in their minds. No one awaited them at the
landing, but a few people stood about near the gallery, looking
embarrassed--or were they suspicious? The travellers went into Fru
Kaas's old rooms, both up stairs and down. These were just as they had
left them, but how faded and wretched they looked! The table, which was
laid for supper, was loaded with coarse food like that at a farmer's
wedding.

The old lime-trees were gone. Fru Kaas wept.

Suddenly she was reminded of something. "Let us go across to the other
wing," she said this as if there they would find what was wanting. In
the gallery she took Rafael's arm; he grew curious. His father's old
rooms had been entirely renovated for him. In everything, both great
and small, he recognised his mother's designs and taste. A vast amount
of work, unknown to him, an endless interchange of letters and a great
expenditure of money. How new and bright everything looked! The rooms
differed as much from what they had been, as she had endeavoured to
make Rafael's life from the one that had been led in them.

They two had a comfortable meal together after all, followed by a quiet
walk along the shore. The wide waters of the bay gleamed softly, and
the gentle ripple took up its old story again while the summer night
sank gently down upon them.

Early the next morning Rafael was out rowing in the bay, the
play-ground of his childhood. Notwithstanding the shorn and sunken
aspect of the hills, his delight at being there again was
indescribable. Indescribable because of the loneliness and stillness:
no one came to disturb him. After having lived for many years in large
towns, to find oneself alone in a Norwegian bay is like leaving a noisy
market-place at midday and passing into a high vaulted church where no
sound penetrates from without, and where only one's own footstep breaks
the silence. Holiness, purification, abstraction, devotion, but in such
light and freedom as no church possesses. The lapse of time, the past
were forgotten; it was as though he had never been away, as though no
other place had ever known him.

Indescribable, for the intensity of his feelings surpassed anything
that he had hitherto known. New sensations, impressions of beauty
absolutely forgotten since childhood, or remembered but imperfectly,
crowded upon him, speaking to him like welcoming spirits.

The altered contour of the hills, the dear familiar smell, the sky
which seemed lower and yet farther off, the effects of light in colder
tones, but paler and more delicate. Nowhere a broad plain, an endless
expanse. No! all was diversified, full of contrast, broken; not lofty,
still unique, fresh, he had almost said tumultuous.

Each moment he felt more in accord with his memories, his nature was in
harmony with it all.

He paused between each stroke of the oars, soothed by the gentle
motion; the boat glided on, he had not concerned himself whither, when
he heard from behind the sound of oars which was not the echo of his
own. The strokes succeeded each other at regular intervals. He turned.

At that moment Fru Kaas came out on to the terrace with her big
binocular. She had had her coffee, and was ready to enjoy the view over
the bay, the islands, and the open sea. Rafael, she was told, had
already gone out in the boat. Yes! there he was, far out. She put up
her glass at the moment that a white painted boat shot out towards his
brown one. The white one was rowed by a girl in a light-coloured dress.
"Grand Dieu! are there girls here too?"

Now Rafael ceases rowing, the girl does the same, they rest on their
oars and the boats glide past each other. Fru Kaas could distinguish
the girl's shapely neck under her dark hair, but her wide-brimmed straw
hat hid her face.

Rafael lets his oars trail along the water and resting on them looks at
her, and now her oars also touch the water as she turns towards him. Do
they know each other? Quickly the boats draw together; Rafael puts out
his hand and draws them closer, and now he gives HER his hand. Fru Kaas
can see Rafael's profile so plainly that she can detect the movement of
his lips. He is laughing! The stranger's face is hidden by her hat, but
she can see a full figure and a vigorous arm below the half-sleeve.
They do not loose their hands; now he is laughing till his broad
shoulders shake. What is it? What is it? Can any one have followed him
from Munich? Fru Kaas could remain where she was no longer. She went
indoors and put down the glass; she was overcome by anxiety, filled
with helpless anger. It was some time before she could prevail on
herself to go out and resume her walk. The girl had turned her boat.
Now they are rowing in side by side, she as strongly as he. Whenever
Fru Kaas looked at her son he was laughing and the girl's face was
turned towards his. Now they head for the landing-place at the
parsonage. Was it Helene? The only girl for miles round, and Rafael had
hooked himself on to her the very first day that he was at home. These
girls who can never see him without taking a fancy to him! Now the
boats are beached, not on the shingle, where the stones would be
slippery. No! on the sand, where they have run them up as high as
possible. Now she jumps lightly and quickly out of her boat, and he a
little more heavily out of his; they grasp each other's hands again.
Yes! there they were.

Fru Kaas turned away; she knew that for the moment she was nothing more
than an old chattel pushed away into a corner.

It was Helene. She knew that they had arrived and thought that she
would row past the house; and thus it was that she had encountered
Rafael, who had simply gone out to amuse himself.

As they had lain on their oars and the boats glided silently past each
other, he thought to himself, "That girl never grew up here, she is
cast in too fine a mould for that; she is not in harmony with the
place." He saw a face whose regular lines, and large grey eyes,
harmonised well with each other, a quiet wise face, across which all at
once there flew a roguish look. He knew it again. It had done him good
before to-day. Our first thought in all recognitions, in all
remembrances--that is to say, if there is occasion for it--is, has that
which we recognise or recall done us good or evil?

This large mouth, those honest eyes, which have a roguish look just
now, had always, done him good.

"Helene!" he cried, arresting the progress of his boat.

"Rafael!" she answered, blushing crimson and checking her boat too.

What a soft contralto voice!

When he came in to breakfast, beaming, ready to tell everything, he was
confronted by two large eyes, which said as plainly as possible, "Am I
put on one side already?" He became absolutely angry. During breakfast
she said, in a tone of indifference, that she was going to drive to the
Dean's, to thank him for the supervision which he had given to the
estate during all these years. He did not answer, from which she
inferred that he did not wish to go with her. It was some time before
she started. The harness was new, the stable-boy raw and untrained. She
saw nothing more of Rafael.

She was received at the parsonage with the greatest respect, and yet
very heartily. The Dean was a fine old man and thoroughly practical.
His wife was of profounder nature. Both protested that the care of the
estate had been no trouble to them, it had only been a pleasant
employment; Helene had now undertaken it.

"Helene?"

Yes; it had so chanced that the first bailiff at Hellebergene had once
been agronomist and forester on a large concern which was in
liquidation, Helene had taken such a fancy to him, that when she was
not at school, she went with him everywhere; and, indeed, he was a
wonderful old man. During these rambles she had learned all that he
could teach her. He had an especial gift for forestry. It was a
development for her, for it gave a fresh interest to her life. Little
by little she had taken over the whole care of the estate. It absorbed
her.

Fru Kaas asked if she might see Helene, to thank her.

"But Helene has just gone out with Rafael, has she not?"

"Yes, to be sure," answered Fru Kaas. She would not show surprise; but
she asked at once for her carriage.

Meanwhile the two young people had determined to climb the ridge. At
first they followed the course of the river, Helene leading the way. It
was evident that she had grown up in the woods. How strong and supple
she was, and how well she acquitted herself when she had to cross a
brook, climb a wooded slope, force a way through a barrier of bristly
young fir-trees which opposed her passage, or surmount a heap of clay
at a quarry, of which there were a great many about there. Each
difficulty was in turn overcome. The ascent from the river was the most
direct and the pleasantest, which was the reason that they had come
this way. Rafael would not be outdone by her, and kept close at her
heels. But, great heavens! what it cost him. Partly because he was out
of practice, partly--

"It is a little difficult to get over here," she said. A tree had
fallen during the last rainy weather, and hung half suspended by its
roots, obstructing the path. "You must not hold by it, it might give
way and drag us with it."

At last there is something which she considers difficult, he thought.

She deliberated for a moment before the farthest-spreading branches
which had to be crossed; then, lifting her skirts to her knees, over
them she went, and over the next ones as well, and then across the
trunk to the farthest side, where there were no branches in the way;
then obliquely up the hillside. She stood still at the top of the
height and watched him crawl up after her.

It cost him a struggle; he was out of breath and the perspiration
poured off him. When he got up to her, everything swam before him; and
although it was only for a fraction of a second, it left him fairly
captivated by her strength.

She stood and looked at him with bright, roguish eyes. She was flushed
and hot, and her bosom rose and fell quickly; but there was no doubt
that she could at once have taken an equally long and steep climb. He
was not able to speak a word.

"Now turn round and look at the sea," she said.

The words affected him as though great Pan had uttered them from the
mountains far behind. He turned his eyes towards them. It seemed as
though Nature herself had spoken to him. The words caressed him as with
a hand now cold, now warm, and he became a different being. For he had
lost himself--lost himself in her as she walked along the river-bank
and climbed the hillside. She seemed to draw fresh power from the
woods, to grow taller, more agile, more vigorous. The fervour of her
eyes, the richness of her voice, the grace of her movements, the
glimpses of her soul, had allured him down there in the valley, beside
the rushing river, and the feeling of loss of individuality had
increased with the exertion and the excitement. No ball-room or
play-ground, no gymnasium or riding-school can display the physical
powers, and the spirit which underlies them, the unity of mind and
body, as does the scaling of steep hills and rocky slopes. At last,
intoxicated by these feelings, he thought to himself--I am climbing
after her, climbing to the highest pinnacle of happiness. Up there! Up
there! The composure of her manner towards him, her freedom from
embarrassment, maddened him. Up there! Up there! And ever as they
mounted she became more spirited, he more distressed. Up there! Up
there! His eyes grew dim, for a few seconds he could not move, could
not speak. Then she had said, "Now you must look at the sea."

He seemed to see with different eyes, to be endowed with new
sensations, and these new sensations gave answer to what the distant
mountains had said. They answered the sea out there before him, the
island-studded sea, the open sea beyond, the wide swelling ocean, the
desires and destinies of life all the world over. The sea lay
steel-bright beneath the suffused sunlight, and seemed to gaze on the
rugged land as on a beloved child instinct with vital power. Cling thou
to the mighty one, or thy strength will be thine undoing!

And many of the inventions which he had dreamed of loomed vaguely
before him. They lay outside there. It depended on him whether he
should one day bring them safely into port.

"What are you thinking about?" said she, the sound of her voice put
these thoughts to flight and recalled him to the present. He felt how
full and rich her contralto voice was, A moment ago he could have told
her this, and more besides, as an introduction to still more. Now he
sat down without answering, and she did the same.

"I come up here very often," she said, "to look at the sea. From here
it seems the source of life and death; down there it is a mere
highway." He smiled. She continued: "The sea has this power, that
whatever pre-occupation one may bring up here, it vanishes in a moment;
but down below it remains with one."

He looked at her.

"Yes, it is true," said she, and coloured.

"I do not in the least doubt it," he replied.

But she did not continue the subject. "You are looking at the saplings,
I see."

"Yes."

"You must know that last year there was a long drought; almost all the
young trees up here withered away, and in other places on the hillsides
also, as you see." She pointed as she spoke. "It looks so ugly as one
comes into the bay. I thought about that yesterday. I thought also that
you should not be here long before you saw that you had done us an
injustice, for could anything be prettier than that little fir-tree
down there in the hollow? just look at its colour; that is a healthy
fellow! and these sturdy saplings, and that little gem there!" The
tones of Helene's voice betrayed the interest which she felt. "But how
that one over there has grown." She scrambled across to it, and he
after her. "Do you see? two branches already; and what branches!" They
knelt down beside it. "This boy has had parents of whom he can boast,
for they have all had just as much and just as little shelter. Oh! the
disgusting caterpillars." She was down before the little tree at the
side which was being spun over. She cleared it, and got up to fetch
some wet mould, which she laid carefully round the sprouts. "Poor thing
I it wants water, although it rained tremendously a little time ago."

"Are you often up here?" he asked.

"It would all come to nothing if I were not!" She looked at him
searchingly. "You do not, perhaps, believe that this little tree knows
me; every one of them, indeed. If I am long away from them they do not
thrive, but when I am often with them they flourish." She was on her
knees, supporting herself with one hand, while with the other she
pulled up some grass. "The thieves," said she, "which want to rob my
saplings."

If it had been a little person who had said this; a little person with
lively eyes and a merry mouth--but Helene was tall and stately; her
eyes were not lively, but met one with a steady gaze. Her mouth was
large, and gave deliberate utterance to her thoughts.

Whoever has read Helene's words quickly, hurriedly, must read them over
again. She spoke quietly and thoughtfully, each syllable distinct and
musical. She was not the same girl who had led the way by river and
hill. Then she seemed to glory in her strength; now her energy had
changed to delicate feeling.

One of the most remarkable women in Scandinavia, who also had these two
sides to her character, and made the fullest use of both, Johanne Luise
Hejberg, once saw Helene when she had but just attained to womanhood.
She could not take her eyes off her; she never tired of watching her
and listening to her. Did the aged woman, then at the close of her
life, recognise anything of her own youth in the girl? Outwardly too
they resembled each other. Helene was dark, as Fru Hejberg had been;
was about the same height, with the same figure, but stronger; had a
large mouth, large grey eyes like hers, into which the same roguish
look would start. But the greatest likeness was to be found in their
natures: in Fru Hejberg's expression when she was quiet and serious; in
a certain motherliness which was the salient feature in her nature.

"What a healthy girl!" said she; bade some one bring Helene to her, and
drawing her towards her, kissed her on the forehead.

Helene and her companion had crossed to the other side of the hill, for
he positively must see the "Buckthorn Swamp"; but when they got down
there he did not know it again: it was covered by luxuriant woods.

"Yes! It is old Helgesen who deserves the credit of that," she said.
"He noticed that an artificial embankment had converted this great flat
into a swamp, so he cut through it. I was only a child then, but I had
my share in it. They gave me a bit of ground down by the river to plant
Kohl Kabi in. I looked after it the whole summer. Later on I had a
larger piece. With the profits we cut ditches up to here. In the fourth
year we bought plants. In fact, he so arranged it, that I paid for it
all with my work, the old rogue!"

When Rafael got home his mother was at table: she had not waited for
him, a sure sign that she felt aggrieved. No attempts on his part to
set things right succeeded. She would not answer, and soon left the
room. It now struck him how pleasant it would have been for his mother
if he had taken her with him to explore and make acquaintance with this
new Hellebergene. The evening before, in his father's rooms, it had
seemed as though nothing could ever separate them--and the first thing
in the morning he was off with some one else. This evening he knew that
nothing could be done, but next morning he begged her earnestly to come
with them, and they would show her what he had seen the day before; but
she only shook her head and took up a book. Day after day he made a
similar request, but always with the same result. She thought that
these invitations were merely formal, and so, from one point of view,
they were. He was most ready to appease her, most ready to show her
everything, for he felt himself to blame, though he certainly thought
that she might have understood; but her presence would have marred
their tete-a-tete; he would have been embarrassed enough if she had
acquiesced!

The Dean, with his wife and daughter, came the following Sunday to
return Fru Kaas's visit. She was politeness itself, and specially
thanked Helene for her care of Hellebergene. Helene coloured without
knowing why, but when Rafael also coloured, she blushed still deeper.
This was the event of the visit; nothing else of importance occurred.

In their daily walks through the fields and woods, the two young people
soon exhausted the topic of Hellebergene. He took up another theme. His
inventions became the topic of conversation. He had acquired, from his
studies with his mother, an unusual facility in explaining his meaning,
and in Helene he found a listener such as he had rarely before met
with. She was sufficiently acquainted with the laws of nature to
understand a simple description. But all the same it was not his
inventions but himself that he discoursed on. He quite realised this,
and became all the more eager. Her eyes made his reasoning clearer. He
had never before had such complete faith in himself as when near her,
and now no misgivings succeeded.

Helene, however, had not hitherto known the direction and results of
his studies. He was an engineer, that was all that she had heard on the
subject. When he had told her more about it he rose considerably in her
estimation. It was SHE now who began to feel constrained. At first she
did not understand why she felt obliged to put more restraint upon
herself. After a time she began to excuse herself from joining him, and
their walks became more rare. "She had so much to do now."

He did not comprehend the reason of this; he fancied that his mother
might be to blame (which, by the way, was quite a mistake), and he grew
angry. He was already greatly affronted that his mother had chosen to
confound his former gallantries with his present attachment. He quite
forgot that at first he had merely sought to amuse himself here as
elsewhere. He gave himself up entirely to his passion, which would
brook no hindrance, no opposition; it became majestic. In Helene he had
found his future life.

But her parents had grown less cordial of late owing to Fru Kaas's
coldness, and the time came when all attempts to obtain meetings with
Helene failed. He had never been so infatuated. He seemed to see her
continually before him--her luxuriant beauty, her light step, her grey
eyes gazing steadfastly into his.

Why could they not be married to-morrow or the next day? What could be
more natural? What could more certainly help him forward?

The constraint between his mother and himself had reached a greater
pitch than ever before. He thought seriously of leaving her and the
country. He still had some money left, the proceeds of the patent, and
he could easily make more. How irksome it became to him to go into the
fields and woods without Helene! He could not study; he had no one to
talk to; what should he do?

Devote himself to boating!--row out far beyond the bay, right up to the
town! One day, as he rowed along the coast, beyond the bay, he noticed
that the clay and flag-stone formation in the hills and ridges was
speckled with grey. Helene had told him how extraordinary it looked out
there now that the trees were gone, but as they would have had to come
out in the boat to see it he had let the remark pass. Now he decided to
land there. The shore rose steeply from the water, but he scrambled up.
He had expected to find limestone, but he could hardly believe his own
eyes: it was cement stone! Absolutely, undoubtedly, cement stone! How
far did it extend? As far as he could see; it might even extend to the
boundary of the estate. In any case, here was sufficient for extensive
works for many, many years, if only there were enough silica with the
clay and lime. He had soon knocked off a few pieces, which he put into
the boat, and set out for home to analyse them.

Seldom had any one rowed faster than he did; now he shot past the
islands into the bay, up to the landing-place before the house. If the
cement stone contained the right proportions, here was what would make
Helene and himself independent of every one; AND THAT AT ONCE!

A little later, with dirty hands and clothes, his face bathed in
perspiration, he rushed up to his mother with the result of his
investigations.

"Here is something for you to see."

She was reading; she looked up and turned as white as a sheet.

"Is that the cement stone?" she asked, as she put down her book.

"Did you know about it?" he exclaimed, in the greatest astonishment.

"Good gracious, yes," she answered. She walked across to the window,
came back again, pressing her hands together. "So you have found it
too?"

"Who did before me?"

"Your father, Rafael, your father, the first time that I was here, a
little time before we were to leave." She paused. "He came rushing in
as you did just now--not so quickly, not so quickly, he was weak in the
legs, but otherwise just like you." She let her eyes rest, with a
peculiar look, on Rafael's dirty hands. The hands themselves were not
well shaped, they were almost exactly his father's.

Rafael noticed nothing.

"Had HE found the bed of cement stone, then?"

"Yes. He locked the door behind him. I got up from my chair and asked
him how he dared? He could hardly speak." She paused for a moment,
recalling it all again. "Yes, and it was THAT stuff."

"What did he say, mother?"

She had turned to leave the room.

"Your father believed that I had brought luck to the house."

"And why was it not so, then?"

She faced him quickly. He coloured.

"Pardon, mother, you misunderstood me. I meant, why did it come to
nothing about the cement?"

"You did not know your father: there were too many hooks about him for
him to be able to carry out anything."

"Hooks?"

"Yes! eccentricity, egotism, passion, which caught fast in everything."

"What did he propose to do?"

"No one was to be allowed to have anything to do with it, no one was to
know of it, he was to be everything! For this reason the timber was to
be cut down and sold; and when we were married--I say when we were
married, the whole of my fortune was to be used as well."

He saw the horror with which she still regarded it; she was passing
through the whole struggle again; and he understood that he must not
question her further. She made a gesture with her hand; and he asked
hurriedly, "Why did you not tell me before, mother?"

"Because it would have brought you no good," she answered decidedly.

He felt, nay, he saw that she believed that it would bring him no good
now. She again raised her hand, and he left her.

When he was once more in the boat, taking his great news to the
parsonage, he thought to himself, Here is the reason of my father's and
mother's deadly enmity.

The cement stone! She did not trust him, she would not give him both
herself and her fortune, so there was no cement, nor were any trees
felled.

"Well, he scored after all. Yes, and mother too; but God help ME!"

Then he reckoned up what the timber and the fortune together would have
been worth, and what further sum could have been raised on the
property, the value of the cement-bed being taken into consideration.
He understood his father better than his mother. What a fortune, what
power, what magnificence, what a life!

At the parsonage he carried every one with him.

The Dean, because he saw at once what this was worth. "You are a rich
man now," he said. The Dean's wife, because she felt attracted by his
ability and enthusiasm. Helene? Helene was silent and frightened. He
turned towards her and asked if she would come with him in the boat to
see it. She really must see how extensive the bed was.

"Yes, dear, go with him," said her father.

Rafael wished to sit behind her in the boat and hastened towards the
bow; but, without a word, she passed him, sat down, and took her oars;
so, after all, he had to sit in front of her.

They thus began at cross purposes. His back was towards her, he saw how
the water foamed under her oars, there was a secret struggle, a tacit
fear, which was heard in the few words which they exchanged, and which
merely increased their constraint.

When they drew near to their destination they were flushed and hot. Now
he was obliged to turn round to look for the place of landing. To begin
with, they went slowly along the whole cement-bed as far as it was
visible. He was now turned so as to face her, and he explained it all
to her. She kept her eyes fixed on the cliff, and only glanced at him,
or did not look at him all. They turned the boat again, in order to
land at the place where he intended the factory to stand. A portion of
the rock would have to be blasted to make room, the harbour too must be
made safer so that vessels might lie close in, and all this would cost
money.

He landed first in order to help her, but she jumped on shore without
his assistance; then they climbed upwards, he leading the way,
explaining everything as he went; she following with eyes and ears
intent.

All for which, from her childhood, she had worked so hard at
Hellebergene, and all which she had dreamed of for the estate, had
become so little now. It would be many years before the trees yielded
any return. But here was promise of immediate prosperity and future
wealth if, as she never doubted, he proved to be correct. She felt that
this humbled her, made her of no account, but ah! how great it made him
seem!

The rowing, the climbing, the excitement, gave animation to Rafael's
explanations; face and figure showed his state of tension. She felt
almost giddy: should she return to the boat and row away alone? But she
was too proud thus to betray herself.

It seemed to her that there was the look of a conqueror in his eyes;
but she did not intend to be conquered. Neither did she wish to appear
as the one who had remained at home and speculated on his return. That
would be simply to turn all that was most cherished, most unselfish in
her life, against herself. Something in him frightened her, something
which, perhaps, he himself could not master--his inward agitation. It
was not boisterous or terrifying; it was glowing, earnest zeal, which
seemed to deprive him of power and her of will, and this she would not
endure.

Hardly had they gained the summit from which they could look out over
the islands to the open sea, and across to Hellebergene, to the
parsonage, and the river flowing into the inner bay, than he turned
away from it all towards her, as she stood with heaving breast, glowing
cheeks, and eyes which dare not turn away from the sea.

"Helene," he whispered, approaching her; he wished to take her in his
arms.

She trembled, although she did not turn round; the next moment she
sprang away from him, and did not pause till she had got down to the
boat, which she was about to push off, but bethought herself that it
would be too cowardly, so she remained standing and watched him come
after her.

"Helene," he called from above, "why do you run away from me?"

"Rafael, you must not," she answered when he rejoined her. The
strongest accent of both prayer and command of which a powerful nature
is capable sounded in her words. She in the boat, he on the shore; they
eyed one another like two antagonists, watchful and breathing hard,
till he loosed the boat, stepped in and pushed off.

She took her seat; but before doing the same he said:

"You know quite well what I wanted to say to you." He spoke with
difficulty.

She did not answer and got out her oars; her tears were ready to flow.
They rowed home again more slowly than they had come.

A lark hovered over their heads. The note of a thrush was heard away
inland. A guillemot skimmed over the water in the same direction as
their own, and a tern on curved wing screamed in their wake. There was
a sense of expectation over all. The scent of the young fir-trees and
the heather was wafted out to them; farther in lay the flowery meadows
of Hellebergene. At a great distance an eagle could be seen, high in
air, winging his way from the mountains, followed by a flock of
screaming crows, who imagined that they were chasing him. Rafael drew
Helene's attention to them.

"Yes, look at them," she said; and these few words, spoken naturally,
helped to put both more at their ease. He looked round at her and
smiled, and she smiled back at him. He felt in the seventh heaven of
delight, but it must not be spoken. But the oars seemed to repeat in
measured cadence, "It--is--she. It--is--she. It--is--she." He said to
himself, Is not her resistance a thousand times sweeter than--

"It is strange that the sea birds no longer breed on the islands in
here," he said.

"That is because for a long time the birds have not been protected;
they have gone farther out."

"They must be protected again: we must manage to bring the birds back,
must we not?"

"Yes," she answered.

He turned quickly towards her. Perhaps she should not have said that,
she thought, for had he not said "we"?

To show how far she was from such a thought, she looked towards the
land. "The clover is not good this year."

"No. What shall you do with the plot next year?"

But she did not fall into the trap. He turned round, but she looked
away.

Now the rush of the river tossed them up and down in a giddy dance, as
the force of the stream met the boat. Rafael looked up to where they
had walked together the first day. He turned to see if she were not, by
chance, looking in the same direction. Yes, she was!

They rowed on towards the landing-place at the parsonage, and he spoke
once or twice, but she had learned that that was dangerous. They
reached the beach.

"Helene!" said he, as she jumped on shore with a good-bye in passing,
"Helene!" But she did not stay. "Helene!" he shouted, with such meaning
in it that she turned.

She looked at him, but only remained for a moment. No more was needed!
He rowed home like the greatest conqueror that those waters had ever
seen. Ever since the Vikings had met together in the innermost creek,
and left behind them the barrow which is still to be seen near the
parsonage--yes, ever since the elk of the primaeval forest, with mighty
antlers, swam away from the doe which he had won in combat, to the
other which he heard on the opposite shore. Since the first swarm of
ants, like a waving fan, danced up and down in the sunlight, on its one
day of flight. Since the first seals struggled against each other to
reach the one whom they saw lie sunning herself on the rocks.

Fru Kaas had seen them pass as they rowed out at a furious pace. She
had seen them row slowly back, and she understood everything. No sooner
had the cement stone been found than--

She paced up and down; she wept.

She did not put any dependence on his constancy; in any case it was too
early for Rafael to settle himself here: he had something very
different before him. The cement stone would not run away from him, or
the girl either, if there were anything serious in it. She regarded his
meeting with Helene as merely an obstacle in the way, which barred his
further progress.

Rafael rowed towards home, bending to his oars till the water foamed
under the bow of his boat. Now he has landed; now he drags the boat up
as if she were an eel-pot. Now he strides quickly up to the house.

Frightened, despairing, his mother shrank into the farthest corner of
the sofa, with her feet drawn up under her, and, as he burst in through
the door and began to speak, she cried out: "Taisez-vous! des egards,
s'il vous plait." She stretched out her arms before her as if for
protection. But now he came, borne on the wings of love and happiness.
His future was there.

He did what he had never done before: went straight up to her, drew her
arms down, embraced and kissed her, first on the forehead, then on the
cheeks, eyes, mouth, ears, neck, wherever he could; all without a word.

He was quite beside himself.

"Mad boy," she gasped; "des egards, mais Rafael, donc!--Que--" And she
threw herself on his breast with her arms round his neck.

"Now you will forsake me, Rafael," she said, crying.

"Forsake you, mother! No one can unite the two wings like Helene."

And now he began a panegyric on her, without measure, and unconscious
that he said the same thing over and over again. When he became
quieter, and she was permitted to breathe, she begged to be alone: she
was used to being alone. In the evening she came down to him, and said
that, first of all, they ought to go to Christiania, and find an expert
to examine the cement-bed and learn what further should be done. Her
cousin, the Government Secretary, would be able to advise them, and
some of her other relations as well. Most of them were engineers and
men of business. He was reluctant to leave Hellebergene just now, he
said, she must understand that; besides, they had agreed not to go away
until the autumn. But she maintained that this was the surest way to
win Helene; only she begged that, with regard to her, things should
remain as they were till they had been to Christiania. On this point
she was inflexible, and it was so arranged.

As was their custom, they packed up at once. They drove over to the
parsonage that same evening to say good-bye. They were all very merry
there: on Fru Kaas's side because she was uneasy, and wished to conceal
the fact by an appearance of liveliness; on the Dean's part because he
really was in high spirits at the discovery which promised prosperity
both to Hellebergene and the district; on his wife's because she
suspected something. The most hearty good wishes were therefore
expressed for their journey.

Rafael had availed himself of the general preoccupation to exchange a
few last words with Helene in a corner. He obtained a half-promise from
her that when he wrote she would answer; but he was careful not to say
that he had spoken to his mother. He felt that Helene would be startled
by a proceeding which came quite naturally to him.

As they drove away, he waved his hat as long as they remained in sight.
The waving was returned, first by all, but finally by only one.

The summer evening was light and warm, but not light enough, not warm
enough, not wide enough; there did not seem room enough in it for him;
it was not bright enough to reflect his happiness. He could not sleep,
yet he did not wish to talk; companionship or solitude were alike
distasteful to him. He thought seriously of walking or rowing over to
the parsonage again and knocking at the window of Helene's room. He
actually went down to the boathouse and got out the boat. But perhaps
it would frighten her, and possibly injure his own cause. So he rowed
out and out to the farthest islands, and there he frightened the birds.
At his approach they rose: first a few, then many, then all protested
in a hideous chorus of wild screams. He was enveloped in an angry
crowd, a pandemonium of birds. But it did not ruffle his good humour.
"Wait a bit," he said to them. "Wait a bit, until the islands at
Hellebergene are 'protected,' and the whole estate as well. Then you
shall come and be happy with us. Good-bye till then!"



CHAPTER 4


He came to Christiania like a tall ship gay with flags. His love was
the music on board.

His numerous relations were ready to receive him. Of these many were
engineers, who were a jour with all his writings, which they had taken
care should be well known. Some of the largest mechanical undertakings
in the country were in their hands, so that they had connections in
every direction.

Once more the family had a genius in its midst; that is to say, one to
make a show with. Rafael went from entertainment to entertainment, from
presentation to presentation, and wherever he or his mother went court
was paid to them.

In all this the ladies of the family were even more active than their
lords; and they had not been in the town many days before every one
knew that they were to be the rage.

There are some people who always will hold aloof. They are as
irresponsive as a sooty kettle when you strike it. They are like
peevish children who say "I won't," or surly old dogs who growl at
every one. But HE was so exceedingly genial, a capital fellow with the
highest spirits. He had looks as well; he was six feet high; and all
those six feet were clothed in perfect taste. He had large flashing
eyes and a broad forehead. He was practised in making clear to others
all in which he was interested, and at such times how handsome he
looked! He was a thorough man of the world, able to converse in several
languages at the cosmopolitan dinners which were a speciality of the
Ravns. He was the owner of one of the few extensive estates in Norway,
and had the control, it was said, of a considerable fortune besides.

The half of this would have been enough to set all tongues wagging;
therefore, first the family, then their friends, then the whole town
feted him. He was a nine days' wonder! One must know the critical,
unimaginative natives of Christiania, who daily pick each other to
pieces to fill the void in their existences; one must have admired
their endless worrying of threadbare topics to understand what it must
be when they got hold of a fresh theme.

Nothing which flies before the storm is more dangerous than desert
sand, nothing can surpass a Christiania FUROR.

When it became known that two of his relations who were conversant with
the subject, together with a distinguished geologist and a
superintendent of mines, had been down to Hellebergene with Rafael, and
had found that his statements were well grounded, he was captured and
borne off in triumph twenty times a day. It was trying work, but HE was
always in the vein, and ready to take the rough with the smooth. In all
respects the young madcap was up to the standard, so that day and night
passed in a ceaseless whirl, which left every one but himself
breathless. The glorious month at Hellebergene had done good. He was
drawn into endless jovial adventures, so strange, so audacious, that
one would have staked one's existence that such things were impossible
in Christiania. But great dryness begets thirst. He was in the humour
of a boy who has got possession of a jam-pot, whose mouth, nose, and
hands are all besmirched. It is thus that ladies like children best;
then they are the sweetest things in the world.

Like a tall, full-grown mountain-ash covered by a flock of starlings,
he was the centre of a fluttering crowd. It only remained for him to be
deified, and this too came to pass. One day he visited several
factories, giving a hint here, another there (he had great practical
knowledge and a quick eye) and every hint was of value.

At last in a factory of something the same description as the one in
France where he had been the means of economising half the motive
power, he suggested a similar plan; he saw on the spot how it could be
effected. This became the subject of much conversation. It grew and
grew, it rose like the sea after days of westerly gales. This new
genius, but little over twenty, would surely some day be the wonder of
the country. It soon became the fashion for every manufacturer to
invite him to visit his factory, and it was only after they were
convinced that they had a god among them that it became serious, for
enthusiasm in a manufacturer strikes every one. The ladies only waited
for this important moment to go at a bound from the lowest degree of
sense to the fifth degree of madness. Their eyes danced on him like
sunlight on polished metal. He himself paid little heed to degree or
temperature; he was too happy in his genial contentment, and too
indifferent as well. One thing which greatly helped to bring him to the
right pitch was the family temperament, for it was so like his own. He
was a Ravn through and through, with perhaps a little grain of Kaas
added. He was what they called pure Ravn, quite unalloyed. He seemed to
them to have come straight from the fountain-head of their race,
endowed with its primitive strength. This strong physical attribute had
perhaps made his abilities more fertile, but the family claimed the
abilities, too, as their own.

Through Hans Ravn, Rafael had learned to value the companionship of his
relations; now he had it in perfection. For every word that he said
appreciative laughter was ready--it really sparkled round him. When he
disagreed with prevailing tastes, prejudices, and morals, they
disagreed too. When his precocious intelligence burst upon them, they
were always ready to applaud. They even met him half-way--they could
foresee the direction of his thoughts. As he was young in years and
disposition, and at the same time knew more than most young people, he
suited both old and young. Ah! how he prospered in Norway!

His mother went with him everywhere. Her life had at one time appeared
to her relations to be most objectless, but how much she had made of
it! They respected her persevering efforts to attain the goal, and she
became aware of this. In the most elegant toilettes, with her discreet
manner and distinguished deportment, she was hurried from party to
party, from excursion to excursion, until it became too much for her.

It went too far, too; her taste was offended by it; she grew
frightened. But the train of dissipation went on without her, like a
string of carriages which bore him along with it while she was shaken
off. Her eyes followed the cloud of dust far away, and the roll of the
wheels echoed back to her.

Helene--how about Helene? Was she too out in the cold? Far from it.
Rafael was as certain that she was with him as that his gold watch was
next his heart. The very first day that he arrived he wrote a letter to
her. It was not long, he had not time for that, but it was thoroughly
characteristic. He received an answer at once; the hostess of the
pension brought it to him herself. He was so immensely delighted that
the lady, who was related to the Dean and who had noticed the post
mark, divined the whole affair--a thing which amused him greatly.

But Helene's letter was evasive; she evidently knew him too little to
dare to speak out.

He never found time to draw the hostess into conversation on the
subject, however. He came home late, he got up late, and then there
were always friends waiting for him; so that he was not seen in the
pension again until he returned to dress for dinner, during which time
the carriage waited at the door, for he never got home till the last
moment.

When could he write? It would soon all be done with, and then home to
Helene!

The business respecting the cement detained him longer than he had
anticipated. His mother made complications; not that she opposed the
formation of a company, but she raised many difficulties: she should
certainly prefer to have the whole affair postponed. He had no time to
talk her round, besides, she irritated him. He told it to the hostess.

A curious being, this hostess, who directed the pension, the business
of the inmates, and a number of children, without apparent effort. She
was a widow; two of her children were nearly twenty, but she looked
scarcely thirty. Tall, dark, clever, with eyes like glowing coals;
decided, ready in conversation as in business, like an officer long
used to command, always trusted, always obeyed; one yielded oneself
involuntarily to her matter-of-course way of arranging everything, and
she was obliging, even self-sacrificing, to those she liked--it was
true that that was not everybody. This absence of reserve was
especially characteristic of her, and was another reason why all relied
on her. She had long ago taken up Fru Kaas--entertained her first and
foremost. Angelika Nagel used in conversation modern Christiania slang
which is the latest development of the language. In the choice of
expressions, words such as hideous were applied to what was the very
opposite of hideous, such as "hideously amusing," "hideously handsome."
"Snapping" to anything that was liquid, as "snapping good punch." One
did not say "PRETTY" but "quite too pretty" or "hugely pretty." On the
other hand, one did not say "bad" for anything serious, but with
comical moderation "baddish." Anything that there was much of went by
miles; for instance, "miles of virtue." This slipshod style of talk,
which the idlers of large towns affect, had just become the fashion in
Christiania. All this seemed new and characteristic to the careless
emancipated party which had arisen as a protest against the prudery
which Fru Kaas, in her time, had combated. The type therefore amused
her:--she studied it.

Angelika Nagel relieved her of all her business cares, which were only
play to her. It was the same thing with the question of the cement
undertaking. In an apparently careless manner she let drop what had
been said and done about it, which had its effect on Fru Kaas. Soon
things had progressed so far that it became necessary to consult Rafael
about it, and as he was difficult to catch, she sat up for him at
night. The first time that she opened the door for him he was
absolutely shy, and when he heard what she wanted him for he was above
measure grateful. The next time he kissed her! She laughed and ran away
without speaking to him--that was all he got for his pains. But he had
held her in his arms, and he glowed with a suddenly awakened passion.

She, in the meantime, kept out of his way, even during the day he never
saw her unless he sought her. But when he least expected it she again
met him at the door; there was something which she really MUST say to
him. There was a struggle, but at last she twisted herself away from
him and disappeared. He whispered after her as loud as he dared, "Then
I shall go away!"

But while he was undressing she slipped into his room.

The next day, before he was quite awake, the postman brought him the
warrant for a post-office order for fifteen thousand francs. He thought
that there must be a mistake in the name, or else that it was a
commission that had been entrusted to him. No! it was from the French
manufacturer whose working expenses he had reduced so greatly. He
permitted himself, he wrote, to send this as a modest honorarium. He
had not been able to do so sooner, but now hoped that it would not end
there. He awaited Rafael's acknowledgment with great anxiety, as he was
not sure of his address.

Rafael was up and dressed in a trice. He told his news to every one,
ran down to his mother and up again; but he had not been a moment alone
before the superabundance of happiness and sense of victory frightened
him. Now there must be an end of all this, now he would go home. He had
not had the slightest prickings of conscience, the slightest longings,
until now; all at once they were uncontrollable. SHE stood upon the
hilltop, pure and noble. It became agonising. He must go at once, or it
would drive him mad. This anxiety was made less acute by the sight of
his mother's sincere pleasure. She came up to him when she heard that
he had shut himself into his room. They had a really comfortable talk
together--finally about the state of their finances. They lived in the
pension because they could no longer afford to live in an hotel. The
estate would bring nothing in until the timber once more became
profitable, and her capital was no longer intact--notwithstanding the
prohibition. Now she was ready to let him arrange about the cement
company. On this he went out into the town, where his court soon
gathered round him.

But the large sum of money which was required could not be raised in a
day, so the affair dragged on. He grew impatient, he must and would go;
and finally his mother induced her cousin, the Government Secretary, to
form the company, and they prepared to leave. They paid farewell visits
to some of their friends, and sent cards and messages of thanks to the
rest. Everything was ready, the very day had come, when Rafael, before
he was up, received a letter from the Dean.

An anonymous letter from Christiania, he wrote, had drawn his attention
to Rafael's manner of life there, and he had in consequence obtained
further information, the result being that he was, that day, sending
his daughter abroad. There was nothing more in the letter. But Rafael
could guess what had passed between father and daughter.

He dressed himself and rushed down to his mother. His indignation
against the rascally creatures who had ruined his and Helene's
future--"Who could it have been?"--was equalled by his despair. She was
the only one he cared for; all the others might go to the deuce. He
felt angry, too, that the Dean, or any one else, should have dared to
treat him in this way, to dismiss him like a servant, not to speak to
him, not to put him in a position to speak for himself.

His mother had read the letter calmly, and now she listened to him
calmly, and when he became still more furious she burst out laughing.
It was not their habit to settle their differences by words; but this
time it flashed into his mind that she had not persuaded him to come
here merely on account of the cement, but in order to separate him from
Helene, and this he said to her.

"Yes," he added, "now it will be just the same with me as it was with
my father, and it will be your fault this time as well." With this he
went out.

Fru Kaas left Christiania shortly afterwards, and he left the same
evening--for France.

From France he wrote the most pressing letter to the Dean, begging him
to allow Helene to return home, so that they could be married at once.
Whatever the Dean had heard about his life in Christiania had nothing
to do with the feelings which he nourished for Helene. She, and she
alone, had the power to bind him; he would remain hers for life.

The Dean did not answer him.

A month later he wrote again, acknowledging this time that he had
behaved foolishly. He had been merely thoughtless. He had been led on
by other things. The details were deceptive, but he swore that this
should be the end of it all. He would show that he deserved to be
trusted; nay, he HAD shown it ever since he left Christiania. He begged
the Dean to be magnanimous. This was practically exile for him, for he
could not return to Hellebergene without Helene. Everything which he
loved there had become consecrated by her presence; every project which
he had formed they had planned together; in fact, his whole future--He
fretted and pined till he found it impossible to work as seriously as
he wished to do.

This time he received an answer--a brief one.

The Dean wrote that only a lengthened probation could convince them of
the sincerity of his purpose.

So it was not to be home, then, and not work; at all events, not work
of any value. He knew his mother too well to doubt that now the cement
business was shelved, whether the company were formed or not--he was
only too sure of that.

He had written to his mother, begging earnestly to be forgiven for what
he had said. She must know that it was only the heat of the moment. She
must know how fond he was of her, and how unhappy he felt at being in
discord with her on the subject which was, and always would be, most
dear to him.

She answered him prettily and at some length, without a word about what
had happened or about Helene. She gave him a great deal of news, among
other things what the Dean intended to do about the estate.

From this he concluded that she was on the same terms with the Dean as
before. Perhaps his latest reasons for deferring the affair was
precisely this: that he saw that Fru Kaas did not interest herself for
it.

It wore on towards the autumn. All this uncertainty made him feel
lonely, and his thoughts turned towards his friends at Christiania. He
wrote to tell them that he intended to make towards home. He meant,
however, to remain a little time at Copenhagen.

At Copenhagen he met Angelika Nagel again. She was in company with two
of his student friends. She was in the highest spirits, glowing with
health and beauty, and with that jaunty assurance which turns the heads
of young men.

He had, during all this time, banished the subject of his intrigue from
his mind, and he came there without the least intention of renewing it;
but now, for the first time in his life, he became jealous!

It was quite a novel feeling, and he was not prepared to resist it. He
grew jealous if he so much as saw her in company with either of the
young men. She had a hearty outspoken manner, which rekindled his
former passion.

Now a new phase of his life began, divided between furious jealousy and
passionate devotion. This led, after her departure, to an interchange
of letters, which ended in his following her to Christiania.

On board the steamer he overheard a conversation between the steward
and stewardess. "She sat up for him of nights till she got what she
wanted, and now she has got hold of him."

It was possible that this conversation did not concern him, but it was
equally possible that the woman might have been in the pension at
Christiania. He did not know her.

It is strange that in all such intrigues as his with Angelika the
persons concerned are always convinced that they are invisible. He
believed that, up to this time, no human being had known anything about
it. The merest suspicion that this was not the case made it altogether
loathsome.

The pension--Angelika--the letters. He would be hanged if he would go
on with it for any earthly inducement. Had Angelika angled for him and
landed him like a stupid fat fish? He had been absolutely unsuspicious.
The whole affair had been without importance, until they met again at
Copenhagen. Perhaps THAT, too, had been a deep-laid plan.

Nothing can more wound a man's vanity than to find that, believing
himself a victor, he is in truth a captive.

Rafael paced the deck half the night, and when he reached Christiania
went to an hotel, intending to go home the next day to Hellebergene,
come what would. This and everything of the kind must end for ever: it
simply led straight to the devil. When once he was at home, and could
find out where Helene was, the rest would soon be settled.

From the hotel he went up to Angelika Nagel's pension to say that some
luggage which was there was to be sent down to the hotel at once--he
was leaving that afternoon.

He had dined and gone up to his room to pack, when Angelika stood
before him. She was at once so pretty and so sad-looking that he had
never seen anything more pathetic.

Had he really kept away from her house? Was he going at once?

She wept so despairingly that he, who was prepared for anything rather
than to see her so inconsolable, answered her evasively.

Their relations, he said, had had no more significance than a chance
meeting. This they both understood; therefore she must realise that,
sooner or later, it must end. And now the time was come.

Indeed, it had more significance, she said. There had never been any
one to whom she had been so much attached; this she had proved to him.
Now she had come here to tell him that she was enceinte. She was in as
great despair about it as any one could be. It was ruin for herself and
her children. She had never contemplated anything so frightful, but her
mad love had carried her away; so now she was where she deserved to be.

Rafael did not answer, for he could not collect his thoughts. She sat
at a table, her face buried in her hands, but his eye fell on her
strong arms in the close-fitting sleeves, her little foot thrust from
beneath her dress; he saw how her whole frame was shaken by sobs.
Nevertheless, what first made him collect his thoughts was not sympathy
with her who was here before him; it was the thought of Helene, of the
Dean, of his mother: what would THEY say?

As though she were conscious whither his thoughts had flown, she raised
her head. "Will you really go away from me?" What despair was in her
face! The strong woman was weaker than a child.

He stood erect before her, beside his open trunk. He, too, was
absolutely miserable.

"What good will it do for me to stay here?" he asked gently.

Her eyes fixed themselves on him, dilating, becoming clearer every
moment. Her mouth grew scornful. She seemed to grow taller every moment.

"You will marry me if you are an honourable man!"

"Marry--you?" he exclaimed, first startled, then disdainful. An evil
expression came into her eyes; she thrust her head forward; the whole
woman collected herself for the attack like a tiger-cat, but it ended
with a violent blow on the table.

"Yes you SHALL, devil take me!" she whispered.

She rushed past him to the window. What was she going to do?

She opened it, screamed out he could not clearly hear what, leant far
out, and screamed again; then closed it, and turned towards him,
threatening, triumphant. He was as white as a sheet, not because he was
frightened or dreaded her threats, but because he recognised in her a
mortal enemy. He braced himself for the struggle.

She saw this at once. She was conscious of his strength before he had
made a movement. There was that in his eye, in his whole demeanour,
which SHE would never be able to overcome: a look of determination
which one would not willingly contest. If he had not understood her
till now, he had equally revealed himself to her.

All the more wildly did she love him. He rejoiced that he had taken no
notice of what she had done, but turned to put the last things into his
trunk and fasten it. Then she came close up to him, in more complete
contrition, penitence, and wretchedness than he had ever seen in life
or art. Her face stiffened with terror, her eyes fixed, her whole frame
rigid, only her tears flowed quietly, without a sob. She must and would
have him. She seemed to draw him to herself as into a vortex: her love
had become the necessity of her life, its utterances the wild cry of
despair.

He understood it now. But he put the things into his trunk and fastened
it, took a few steps about the room, as if he were alone, with such an
expression of face that she herself saw that the thing was impossible.

"Do you not believe," she said quietly, "that I would relieve you of
all cares, so that you could go on with your own work? Have you not
seen that I can manage your mother?" She paused a moment, then added:
"Hellebergene--I know the place. The Dean is a relation of mine. I have
been there; that would be something that I could take charge of; do you
not think so? And the cement quarries," she added; "I have a turn for
business: it should be no trouble to you." She said this in an
undertone. She had a slight lisp, which gave her an air of
helplessness. "Don't go away, to-day, at any rate. Think it over," she
added, weeping bitterly again.

He felt that he ought to comfort her.

She came towards him, and throwing her arms round him, she clung to him
in her despair and eagerness. "Don't go, don't go!" She felt that he
was yielding. "Never," she whispered, "since I have been a widow have I
given myself to any one but you; and so judge for yourself." She laid
her head on his shoulder and sobbed bitterly.

"It has come upon me so suddenly," he said; "I cannot--"

"Then take time," she interrupted in a whisper, and took a hasty kiss.
"Oh, Rafael!" She twined her arms round him: her touch thrilled through
him--

Some one knocked at the door: they started away from each other. It was
the man who had come for the luggage. Rafael flushed crimson. "I shall
not go till to-morrow," he said.

When the man had left the room Angelika sprang towards Rafael. She
thanked and kissed him. Oh, how she beamed with delight and exultation!
She was like a girl of twenty, or rather like a young man, for there
was something masculine in her manner as she left him.

But the light and fire were no sooner withdrawn than his spirits fell.
A little later he lay at full length on the sofa, as though in a grave.
He felt as though he could never get up from it again. What was his
life now? For there is a dream in every life which is its soul, and
when the dream is gone the life appears a corpse.

This, then, was the fulfilment of his forebodings. Hither the ravens
had followed the wild beast which dwelt in him. It would on longer play
and amuse him, but strike its claws into him in earnest, overthrow him,
and lap his fresh-spilt blood.

But it was none the less certain that if he left her she would be
ruined, she and her child. Then no one would consider him as an
honourable man, least of all himself.

During his last sojourn in France, when he could not settle down to a
great work which was constantly dawning before him, he had thought to
himself--You have taken life too lightly. Nothing great ever comes to
him who does so.

Now, perhaps, when he did his duty here; took upon himself the burden
of his fault towards her, himself, and others--and bore it like a man;
then perhaps he would be able to utilise all his powers. That was what
his mother had done, and she had succeeded.

But with the thought of his mother came the thought of Helene, of his
dream. It was flying from him like a bird of passage from the autumn.
He lay there and felt as though he could never get up again.

From amid the turmoil of the last summer there came to his recollection
two individuals, in whom he reposed entire confidence: a young man and
his wife. He went to see them the same evening and laid the facts
honestly before them, for now, at all events, he was honest. The
conclusive proof of being so is to be able to tell everything about
oneself as he did now.

They heard him with dismay, but their advice was remarkable. He ought
to wait and see if she were enceinte.

This aroused his spirit of contradiction. There was no doubt about it,
for she was perfectly truthful. But she might be mistaken; she ought to
make quite sure. This suggestion, too, shocked him; but he agreed that
she should come and talk things over with them. They knew her.

She came the next day. They said to her, what they could not very well
say to Rafael, that she would ruin him. The wife especially did not
spare her. A highly gifted young man like Rafael Kaas, with such
excellent prospects in every way, must not, when little more than
twenty, burden himself with a middle-aged wife and a number of
children. He was far from rich, he had told her so himself; his life
would be that of a beast of burden, and that too, before he had learned
to bear the yoke. If he had to work, to feed so many people, he might
strain himself to the uttermost, he would still remain mediocre. They
would both suffer under this, be disappointed and discontented. He must
not pay so heavy a price for an indiscretion for which she was ten
times more to blame than he. What did she imagine people would say? He
who was so popular, so sought after. They would fall upon her like
rooks at a rooks' parliament and pick her to pieces. They would,
without exception, believe the worst.

The husband asked her if she were quite sure that she was enceinte: she
ought to make quite certain.

Angelika Nazel reddened, and answered, half scornful, half laughing,
that she ought to know.

"Yes," he retorted, "many people have said that--who were mistaken. If
it is understood that you are to be married on account of your
condition, and it should afterwards turn out that you were mistaken,
what do you suppose that people will say? for of course it will get
about."

She reddened again and sprang to her feet. "They can say what they
please." After a pause she added: "But God knows I do not wish to make
him unhappy."

To conceal her emotion she turned away from them, but the wife would
not give up. She suggested that Angelika should write to Rafael without
further delay, to set him free and let him return home to his mother;
there they would be able to arrange matters. Angelika was so capable
that she could earn a living anywhere. Rafael too ought to help her.

"I shall write to his mother," Angelika said. "She shall know all about
it, so that she may understand for what he is responsible."

This they thought reasonable, and Angelika sat down and wrote. She
frequently showed agitation, but she went on quickly, steadily, sheet
after sheet. Just then came a ring--a messenger with a letter. The maid
brought it in. Her mistress was about to take it, but it was not for
her; it was for Angelika--they both recognised Rafael's careless
handwriting.

Angelika opened it--grew crimson; for he wrote that the result of his
most serious considerations was, that neither she nor her children
should be injured by him. He was an honourable man who would bear his
own responsibilities, not let others be burdened by them.

Angelika handed the letter to her friend, then tore up the one which
she had been writing, and left the house.

Her friend stood thinking to herself--The good that is in us must go
bail for the evil, so we must rest and be satisfied.

The discovery which she had made had often been made before, but it was
none the less true.



CHAPTER 5


The next day they were married. That night, long after his wife had
fallen into her usual healthy sleep, Rafael thought sorrowfully of his
lost Paradise. HE could not sleep. As he lay there he seemed to look
out over a meadow, which had no springtime, and therefore no flowers.
He retraced the events of the past day. His would be a marred life
which had never known the sweet joys of courtship.

Angelika did not share his beliefs. She was a stern realist, a sneering
sceptic, in the most literal sense a cynic.

Her even breathing, her regular features, seemed to answer him.
"Hey-dey, my boy, we shall be merry for a thousand years! Better sleep
now, you will need sleep if you mean to try which of us is the
stronger."

The next day their marriage was the marvel of the town and
neighbourhood.

"Just like his mother!" people exclaimed; "what promise there was in
her! She might have chosen so as to have been now in one of the best
positions in the country--when, lo and behold! she went and made the
most idiotic marriage. The most idiotic? No, the son's is more idiotic
still." And so on and so forth.

Most people seem naturally impelled to exalt the hero of the hour
higher than they themselves intend, and when a reaction comes, to decry
him in an equal degree. Few people see with their own eyes, and on
special occasions even magnifying or diminishing glasses are called
into play with most amusing results.

"Rafael Kaas a handsome fellow?--well, yes, but too big, too fair, no
repose, altogether too restless. Rich? He? He has not a stiver! The
savings eaten up long ago, nothing coming in, they have been
encroaching on their capital for some time; and the beds of cement
stone--who the deuce would join with him in any large undertaking? They
talk about his gifts, his genius even; but IS he very highly gifted? Is
it anything more than what he has acquired? The saving of motive power
at the factory? Was that anything more than a mere repetition of what
he had done before?--and that, of course, only what he had seen
elsewhere."

Just the same with the hints which he had given. "Merely close personal
observation; for it must be admitted that he had more of that than most
people; but as for ingenuity! Well, he could make out a good case for
himself, but that was about the extent of his ingenuity."

"His earlier articles, as well as those which had recently appeared on
the use of electricity in baking and tanning--could you call those
discoveries? Let us see what he will invent now that he has come home,
and cannot get ideas from reading and from seeing people."

Rafael noticed this change--first among the ladies, who all seemed to
have been suddenly blown away, with a few exceptions, who did not
respect a marriage like his, and who would not give in.

His relations, also, held somewhat aloof. "It was not thus that he
showed himself a true Ravn. He was so in temperament and disposition,
perhaps, but it was just his defect that he was only a half-breed."

The change of front was complete: he noticed it on all hands. But he
was man enough, and had sufficient obstinacy as well, to let himself be
urged on by this to hard work, and in his wife there was still more of
the same feeling.

He had a sense of elevation in having done his duty, and as long as
this tension lasted it kept him up to the mark. On the day of his
marriage (from early in the morning until the time when the ceremony
took place) he employed himself in writing to his mother; a wonderful,
a solemn letter in the sight of the All-Knowing,--the cry of a tortured
soul in utmost peril.

It depended on his mother whether she would receive them and let their
life become all that was now possible. Angelika--their business,
manager, housekeeper, chief. He--devoted to his experiments. She--the
tender mother, the guide of both.

It seemed to him that their future depended on this letter and the
answer to it, and he wrote in that spirit. Never had he so fully
depicted himself, so fully searched his own heart.

It was the outcome of what he had lived through during these last few
days, the mellowing influence of his struggles during the night
watches. Nothing could have been more candid.

He was pained that he did not receive an answer at once, although he
realised what a blow it would be to her. He understood that, to begin
with, it would destroy all her dreams, as it had already destroyed. But
he relied on her optimistic nature, which he had never known surpassed,
and on the depth of her purpose in all that she undertook. He knew that
she drew strength and resolution from all that was deepest in their
common life.

Therefore he gave her time, notwithstanding Angelika's restlessness,
which could hardly be controlled. She even began to sneer; but there
was something holy in his anticipation: her words fell unheeded.

When on the third day he had received no letter, he telegraphed, merely
these words: "Mother, send me an answer." The wires had never carried
anything more fraught with unspoken grief.

He could not return home. He remained alone outside the town until the
evening, by which time the answer might well have arrived. It was there.

"My beloved son, YOU are always welcome; most of all when you are
unhappy!" The word YOU was underlined. He grew deadly pale, and went
slowly into his own room. There Angelika let him remain for a while in
peace, then came in and lit the lamp. He could see that she was much
agitated, and that every now and then she cast hasty glances at him.

"Do you know what, Rafael? you ought simply to go straight to your
mother. It is too bad, both on account of our future and hers. We shall
be ruined by gossip and trash."

He was too unhappy to be contemptuous. She had no respect for anybody
or anything, he thought; why, then, should he be angry because she felt
none, either for his mother or for his position in regard to her? But
how vulgar Angelika seemed to him, as she bent over a troublesome lamp
and let her impatience break out! Her mouth but too easily acquired a
coarse expression. Her small head would rear itself above her broad
shoulders with a snake-like expression, and her thick wrist--

"Well," she said, "when all is said and done, that disgusting
Hellebergene is not worth making a fuss over."

Now she is annoyed with herself, he thought, and must have her say. She
will not rest until she has picked a quarrel; but she shall not have
that satisfaction.

"After all that has been said and all that has happened there--"

But this, too, missed fire. "How could I have supposed that she could
manage my mother?" He got up and paced the room. "Is that what mother
felt? Yet they were such good friends. I suspected nothing then. How is
it that mother's instinct is always more delicate? have I blunted mine?"

When, a little later, Angelika came in again, he looked so unhappy that
she was struck by it, and she then showed herself so kind and fertile
in resource on his behalf, and there was such sunshine in her
cheerfulness and flow of spirits during the evening, that he actually
brightened up under it, and thought--If mother could have brought
herself to try the experiment, perhaps after all it might have
answered. There is so much that is good and capable in this curious
creature.

He went to the children. From the first day he and they had taken to
each other. They had been unhappy in the great pension, with a mother
who seldom came near them or took any notice of them, except as clothes
to be patched, mouths to feed, or faults to be punished.

Rafael had in his nature the unconventionality which delights in
children's confidence, and he felt a desire to love and to be loved.
Children are quick to feel this.

They only wasted Angelika's time. They were in her way now more than
ever; for it may be said at once that, Rafael had become EVERYTHING to
her. This was the fascination in her, and whatever happened, it never
lost its power. Her tenderness, her devotion, were boundless. By the
aid of her personal charm, her resourceful ingenuity, she obtained
every advantage for him within her range, and even beyond it. It was
felt in her devotion by night and day, when anything was to be done, in
an untiring zeal such as only so strong and healthy a woman could have
had in her power to render. But in words it did not show itself, hardly
even in looks: except, perhaps, while she fought to win him, but never
since then.

Had she been able to adhere to one line of conduct, if only for a few
weeks at a time, and let herself be guided by her never-failing love,
he would, in this stimulating atmosphere, have made of his married life
what his mother, in spite of all, had made of hers.

Why did not this happen? Because the jealousy which she had aroused in
him and which had drawn him to her again was now reversed.

They were hardly married before it was she who was jealous! Was it
strange? A middle-aged woman, even though she be endowed with the
strongest personality and the widest sympathy, when she wins a young
husband who is the fashion--wins him as Angelika won hers--begins to
live in perpetual disquietude lest any one should take him from her.
Had she not taken him herself?

If we were to say that she was jealous of every human being who came
there, man or woman, old or young, beside those whom he met elsewhere,
it would be an exaggeration, but this exaggeration throws a strong
light upon the state of things, which actually existed.

If he became at all interested in conversation with any one, she always
interrupted. Her face grew hard, her right foot began to move; and if
this did not suffice, she struck in with sulky or provoking remarks, no
matter who was there.

If something were said in praise of any one, and it seemed to excite
his interest, she would pooh-pooh it, literally with a "pooh!" a shrug
of the shoulders, a toss of the head, or an impatient tap of the foot.

At first he imagined that she really knew something disadvantageous
about all those whom she thus disparaged, and he was filled with
admiration at her acquaintance with half Norway. He believed in her
veracity as he believed in few things. He believed, too, that it was
unbounded like so many of her qualities. She said the most cynical
things in the plainest manner without apparent design.

But little by little it dawned upon him that she said precisely what it
pleased her to say, according to the humour that she was in.

One day, as they were going to table--he had come in late and was
hungry--he was delighted to see that there were oysters.

"Oysters! at this time of the year," he cried. "They must be very
expensive."

"Pooh! that was the old woman, you know. She persuaded me to take them
for you. I got them for next to nothing."

"That was odd; you have been out, then, too?"

"Yes, and I saw YOU; you were walking with Emma Ravn."

He understood at once, by the tone of her voice, that this was not
permitted, but all the same he said, "Yes; how sweet she is! so fresh
and candid."

"She! Why, she had a child before she was married."

"Emma? Emma Ravn?"

"Yes! But I do not know who by."

"Do you know, Angelika, I do not believe that," he said solemnly.

"You can do as you please about that, but she was at the pension at the
time, so you can judge for yourself if I am right."

He could not believe that any human being could so belie themselves.
Emma's eyes, clear as water in a fountain where one can count the
pebbles at the bottom, rose to his mind, in all their innocence. He
could not believe that such eyes could lie. He grew livid, he could not
eat, he left the table. The world was nothing but a delusion, the
purest was impure.

For a long time after this, whenever he met Emma or her white-haired
mother, he turned aside, so as not to come face to face with them.

He had clung to his relations: their weak points were apparent to every
one, but their ability and honesty no less so. This one story destroyed
his confidence, impaired his self-reliance, shattered his belief, and
thus made him the poorer. How could he be fit for anything, when he so
constantly allowed himself to be befooled?

There was not one word of truth in the whole story.

His simple confidence was held in her grasp, like a child in the talons
of an eagle; but this did not last much longer.

Fortunately, she was without calculation or perseverance. She did not
remember one day what she had said the day before; for each day she
coolly asserted whatever was demanded by the necessity of the moment.
He, on the contrary, had an excellent memory; and his mathematical mind
ranged the evidence powerfully against her. Her gifts were more aptness
and quickness than anything else, they were without training, without
cohesion, and permeated with passion at all points. Therefore he could,
at any moment, crush her defence; but whenever this happened, it was so
evident that she had been actuated by jealousy that it flattered his
vanity; which was the reason why he did not regard it seriously
enough--did not pursue his advantage. Perhaps if he had done so, he
would have discovered more, for this jealousy was merely the form which
her uneasiness took. This uneasiness arose from several causes.

The fact was that she had a past and she had debts which she had
denied, and now she lived in perpetual dread lest any one should
enlighten him. If any one got on the scent, she felt sure that this
would be used against her. It merely depended on what he learned--in
other words, with whom he associated.

She could disregard anonymous letters because he did so, but there were
plenty of disagreeable people who might make innuendoes.

She saw that Rafael too, to some extent, avoided his countless friends
of old days. She did not understand the reason, but it was this: that
he, as well, felt that they knew more of her than it was expedient for
HIM to know. She saw that he made ingenious excuses for not being seen
out with her. This, too, she misconstrued. She did not at all
understand that he, in his way, was quite as frightened as she was of
what people might say. She believed that he sought the society of
others rather than hers. If nothing more came of such intercourse,
stories might be told. This was the reason for her slanders about
almost every one he spoke to. If they had vilified her, they must be
vilified in return.

She had debts, and this could not be concealed unless she increased
them; this she did with a boldness worthy of a better cause. The house
was kept on an extravagant scale, with an excellent table and great
hospitality. Otherwise he would not be comfortable at home, she said
and believed.

She herself vied with the most fashionably dressed ladies in the town.
Her daily struggle to maintain her hold on him demanded this. It
followed, of course, that she got everything for "nothing" or "the
greatest bargain in the world." There was always some one "who almost
gave it" to her. He did not know himself how much money he spent,
perhaps, because she hunted and drove him from one thing to another.

Originally he had thought of going abroad; but with a wife who knew no
foreign languages, with a large family--

Here at home, as he soon discovered, every one had lost confidence in
him. He dared not take up anything important, or else he wished to wait
a little before he came to any definite determination. In the meantime,
he did whatever came to hand, and that was often work of a subordinate
description. Both from weariness, and from the necessity to earn a
living, he ended by doing only mediocre work, and let things drift.

He always gave out that this was only "provisional." His scientific
gifts, his inventive genius, with so many pounds on his back, did not
rise high, but they should yet! He had youth's lavish estimate of time
and strength, and therefore did not see, for a long time, that the
large family, the large house were weighing him farther and farther
down. If only he could have a little peace, he thought, he would carry
out his present ideas and new ones also. He felt such power within him.

But peace was just what he never had. Now we come to the worst, or more
properly, to the sum of what has gone before. The ceaseless uneasiness
in which Angelika lived broke out into perpetual quarrelling. For one
thing, she had no self-command. A caprice, a mistake, an anxiety
over-ruled everything. She seized the smallest opportunities.
Again--and this was a most important factor--there was her overpowering
anxiety to keep possession of him; this drew her away from what she
should have paid most heed to, in order to let him have peace. She
continued her lavish housekeeping, she let the children drift, she
concentrated all her powers on him. Her jealousy, her fears, her debts,
sapped his fertile mind, destroyed his good humour, laid desolate his
love of the beautiful and his creative power.

He had in particular one great project, which he had often, but
ineffectually, attempted to mature. The effort to do so had begun
seriously one day on the heights above Hellebergene, and had continued
the whole summer. Curiously enough, one morning, as he sat at some most
wearisome work, Hellebergene and Helene, in the spring sunshine, rose
before him, and with them his project, lofty and smiling, came to him
again. Then he begged for a little peace in the house.

"Let me be quiet, if only for a month," he said. "Here is some money. I
have got an idea; I must and will have quiet. In a month's time I shall
have got on so far that perhaps I shall be able to judge if it is worth
continuing. It may be that this one idea may entirely support us."

This was something which she could understand, and now he was able to
be quiet.

He had an office in the town, but sometimes took his papers home with
him in the evenings, for it often happened that something would occur
to him at one moment or another. She bestowed every care on him; she
even sat on the stairs while he was asleep at midday, to prevent him
from being disturbed.

This went on for a fortnight. Then it so chanced that, when he had gone
out for a walk, she rummaged among his papers, and there, among
drawings, calculations, and letters, she actually, for once in a way,
found something. It was in his handwriting and as follows:

"More of the mother than the lover in her; more of the solicitude of
love than of its enjoyment. Rich in her affection, she would not
squander it in one day with you, but, mother-like, would distribute it
throughout your life. Instead of the whirl of the rapids, a placid
stream. Her love was devotion, never absorption. YOU were one and SHE
was one. Together we should have been more powerful than two lovers are
wont to be."

There was more of this, but Angelika could not read further, she became
so furious. Were these his own thoughts, or had he merely copied them?
There were no corrections, so most likely it was a copy. In any case it
showed where his thoughts were.

Rafael came quietly home, went straight to his room and lighted a
candle, even before he took off his overcoat. As he stood he wrote down
a few formulae, then seized a book, sat down astride of a chair, and
made a rapid calculation. Just then Angelika came in, leaned forward
towards him, and said in a low voice:

"You are a nice fellow! Now I know what you have in hand. Look there:
your secret thoughts are with that beast."

"Beast!" he repeated. His anger at being disturbed, at her having found
this particular paper, and now the abuse from her coarse lips of the
most delicate creature he had ever known, and, above all, the absolute
unexpectedness of the attack, made him lose his head.

"How dare you? What do you mean?"

"Don't be a fool. Do you suppose that I don't guess that that is meant
for the girl who looked after your estate in order to catch you?"

She saw that this hit the mark, so she went still further.

"She, the model of virtue! why, when she was a mere girl, she disgraced
herself with an old man."

As she spoke she was seized by the throat and flung backwards on to the
sofa, without the grasp being relaxed. She was breathless, she saw his
face over her; deadly rage was in it. A strength, a wildness of which
she had no conception, gazed upon her in sensual delight at being able
to strangle her.

After a wild struggle her arms sank down powerless, her will with them;
only her eyes remained wide open, in terror and wonderment.

Dare he? "Yes, he dare!" Her eyes grew dim, her limbs began to tremble.

"You have taken MY apple, I tell you," was heard in a childish voice
from the next room, a soft lisping voice.

It came from the most peaceful innocence in the world! It saved her!

He rushed out again; but even when the rage had left him which had
seized upon him and dominated him as a rider does a horse, he was still
not horrified at himself. His satisfaction at having at length made his
power felt was too great for that.

But by degrees there came a revulsion. Suppose he had killed her, and
had to go into penal servitude for the rest of his life for it! Had
such a possibility come into his life? Might it happen in the future?
No! no! no! How strange that Angelika should have wounded him! How
frightful her state of mind must be when she could think so odiously of
absolutely innocent people; and how angry she must have been to behave
in such a way towards him, whom she loved above all others, indeed, as
the only one for whom she had to live!

A long, long sum followed: his faults, her faults, and the faults of
others. He cooled down and began to feel more like himself.

In an hour or two he was fit to go home, to find her on her bed,
dissolved in tears, prepared at once to throw her arms round his neck.

He asked pardon a hundred times, with words, kisses, and caresses.

But with this scene his invention had fled. The spell was broken. It
never did more than flutter before him, tempting him to pursue it once
more; but he turned away from the whole subject and began to work for
money again. Something offered itself just at that moment which
Angelika had hunted up.

Back to the unending toil again. Now at last it became an irritation to
him: he chafed as the war horse chafes at being made a beast of burden.

This made the scenes at home still worse. Since that episode their
quarrels knew no bounds. Words were no longer necessary to bring them
about: a gesture, a look, a remark of his unanswered, was enough to
arouse the most violent scenes. Hitherto they had been restrained by
the presence of others, but now it was the same whether they were alone
or not. Very soon, as far as brutality of expression or the triviality
of the question was concerned, he was as bad or worse than she.

His idle fancy and creative genius found no other vent, but overthrew
and trampled underfoot many of life's most beautiful gifts. Thus he
squandered much of the happiness which such talents can duly give.
Sometimes his daily regrets and sufferings, sometimes his passionate
nature, were in the ascendant, but the cause of his despair was always
the same--that this could have happened to him. Should he leave her? He
would not thus escape. The state of the case had touched his conscience
at first, later he had become fond of the children, and his mother's
example said to him, "Hold out, hold out!"

The unanimous prediction that this marriage would be dissolved as
quickly as it had been made he would prove to be untrue. Besides, he
knew Angelika too well now not to know that he would never obtain a
separation from her until, with the law at her back, she had flayed him
alive. He could not get free.

From the first it had been a question of honour and duty; honour and
duty on account of the child which was to come--and which did not come.
Here he had a serious grievance against her; but yet, in the midst of
the tragedy, he could not but be amused at the skill with which she
turned his own gallantries against him. At last he dared not mention
the subject, for he only heard in return about his gay bachelor life.

The longer this state of things lasted and the more it became known,
the more incomprehensible it became to most people that they did not
separate--to himself, too, at times, during sleepless nights. But it is
sometimes the case that he, who makes a thousand small revolts, cannot
brace himself to one great one. The endless strife itself strengthens
the bonds, in that it saps the strength.

He deteriorated. This married life, wearing in every way, together with
the hard work, resulted in his not being equal to more than just the
necessities of the day. His initiative and will became proportionately
deadened.

A strange stagnation developed itself: he had hallucinations, visions;
he saw himself in them--his father! his mother! all the pictures were
of a menacing description.

At night he dreamed the most frightful things: his unbridled fancy, his
unoccupied creative power, took revenge, and all this weakened him. He
looked with admiration at his wife's robust health: she had the
physique of a wild beast. But at times their quarrels, their
reconciliations, brought revelations with them: he could perceive her
sorrows as well. She did not complain, she did not say a word, she
could not do so; but at times she wept and gave way as only the most
despairing can. Her nature was powerful, and the struggle of her love
beyond belief. The beauty of the fulness of life was there, even when
she was most repulsive. The wild creature, wrestling with her destiny,
often gave forth tragic gleams of light.

One day his relation, the Government Secretary, met him. They usually
avoided each other, but to-day he stopped.

"Ah, Rafael," said the dapper little man nervously, "I was coming to
see you."

"My dear fellow, what is it?"

"Ah, I see that you guess; it is a letter from your mother."

"From my mother?"

During all the time since her telegram they had not exchanged a word.

"A very long letter, but she makes a condition."

"Hum, hum! a condition?"

"Yes, but do not be angry; it is not a hard one: it is only that you
are to go away from the town, wherever you like, so long as you can be
quiet, and then you are to read it."

"You know the contents?"

"I know the contents, I will go bail for it."

What he meant, or why he was so perturbed by it, Rafael did not
understand, but it infected him; if he had had the money, and if on
that day he had been disengaged, he would have gone at once. But he had
not the money, not more than he wanted for the fete that evening. He
had the tickets for it in his pocket at that moment. He had promised
Angelika that he would go there with her, and he would keep his
promise, for it had been given after a great reconciliation scene. A
white silk dress had been the olive branch of these last peaceful days.
She therefore looked very handsome that evening as she walked into the
great hall of the Lodge, with Rafael beside her tall and stately. She
was in excellent spirits. Her quiet eyes had a haughty expression as
she turned her steps with confident superiority towards those whom she
wished to please, or those whom she hoped to annoy.

HE did not feel confident. He did not like showing himself in public
with her, and lately it had precisely been in public places that she
had chosen to make scenes; besides which, he felt nervous as to what
his mother could wish to say to him.

A short time before he came to the fete, he had tried, in two quarters,
to borrow money, and each time had received only excuses. This had
greatly mortified him. His disturbed state of mind, as is so often the
case with nervous people, made him excited and boisterous, nay, even
made him more than usually jovial. And as though a little of the old
happiness were actually to come to him that evening, he met his friend
and relative Hans Ravn, him and his young Bavarian wife, who had just
come to the town. All three were delighted to meet.

"Do you remember," said Hans Ravn, "how often you have lent me money,
Rafael?" and he drew him on one side. "Now I am at the top of the tree,
now I am married to an heiress, and the most charming girl too; ah, you
must know her better."

"She is pretty as well," said Rafael.

"And pretty as well--and good tempered; in fact, you see before you the
happiest man in Norway."

Rafael's eyes filled. Ravn put his hands on to his friend's shoulders.

"Are you not happy, Rafael?"

"Not quite so happy as you, Hans--"

He left him to speak to some one else, then returned again.

"You say, Hans, that I have often lent you money."

"Are you pressed? Do you want some, Rafael? My dear fellow, how much?"

"Can you spare me two thousand kroner?"

"Here they are."

"No, no; not in here, come outside."

"Yes, let us go and have some champagne to celebrate our meeting. No,
not our wives," he added, as Rafael looked towards where they stood
talking.

"Not our wives," laughed Rafael. He understood the intention, and now
he wished to enjoy his freedom thoroughly. They came in again merrier
and more boisterous than before.

Rafael asked Hans Ravn's young wife to dance. Her personal attractions,
natural gaiety, and especially her admiration of her husband's
relations, took him by storm. They danced twice, and laughed and talked
together afterwards.

Later in the evening the two friends rejoined their wives, so that they
might all sit together at supper. Even from a distance Rafael could see
by Angelika's face that a storm was brewing. He grew angry at once. He
had never been blamed more groundlessly. He was never to have any
unalloyed pleasure, then! But he confined himself to whispering, "Try
to behave like other people." But that was exactly what she did not
mean to do. He had left her alone, every one had seen it. She would
have her revenge. She could not endure Hans Ravn's merriment, still
less that of his wife, so she contradicted rudely once, twice, three
times, while Hans Ravn's face grew more and more puzzled. The storm
might have blown over, for Rafael parried each thrust, even turning
them into jokes, so that the party grew merrier, and no feelings were
hurt; but on this she tried fresh tactics. As has been already said,
she could make a number of annoying gestures, signs and movements which
only he understood. In this way she showed him her contempt for
everything which every one, and especially he himself, said. He could
not help looking towards her, and saw this every time he did so, until
under the cover of the laughter of the others, with as much fervour and
affection as can be put into such a word, "You jade!" he said.

"Jade; was ist das?" asked the bright-eyed foreigner.

This made the whole affair supremely ridiculous. Angelika herself
laughed, and all hoped that the cloud had been finally dispersed.
No!--as though Satan himself had been at table with them, she would not
give in.

The conversation again grew lively, and when it was at its height, she
pooh-poohed all their jokes so unmistakably that they were completely
puzzled. Rafael gave her a furious look, and then she jeered at him,
"You boy!" she said. After this Rafael answered her angrily, and let
nothing pass without retaliation, rough, savage retaliation; he was
worse than she was.

"But God bless me!" said good-natured Hans Ravn at length, "how you are
altered, Rafael!" His genial kindly eyes gazed at him with a look which
Rafael never forget.

"Ja, ich kan es nicht mehr aushalten" said the young Fru Ravn, with
tears in her eyes. She rose, her husband hurried to her, and they left
together. Rafael sat down again, with Angelika. Those near them looked
towards them and whispered together. Angry and ashamed, he looked
across at Angelika, who laughed. Everything seemed to turn red before
his eyes--he rose; he had a wild desire to kill her there, before every
one. Yes! the temptation overpowered him to such an extent that he
thought that people must notice it.

"Are you not well, Kaas?" he heard some one beside him say.

He could not remember afterwards what he answered, or how he got away;
but still, in the street, he dwelt with ecstasy on the thought of
killing her, of again seeing her face turn black, her arms fall
powerless, her eyes open wide with terror; for that was what would
happen some day. He should end his life in a felon's cell. That was as
certainly a part of his destiny as had been the possession of talents
which he had allowed to become useless.

A quarter of an hour later he was at the observatory: he scanned the
heavens, but no stars were visible. He felt that he was perspiring,
that his clothes clung to him, yet he was ice-cold. That is the future
that awaits you, he thought; it runs ice-cold through your limbs.

Then it was that a new and, until then, unused power, which underlay
all else, broke forth and took the command.

"You shall never return home to her, that is all past now, boy; I will
not permit it any longer."

What was it? What voice was that? It really sounded as though outside
himself. Was it his father's? It was a man's voice. It made him clear
and calm. He turned round, he went straight to the nearest hotel,
without further thought, without anxiety. Something new was about to
begin.

He slept for three hours undisturbed by dreams; it was the first night
for a long time that he had done so.

The following morning he sat in the little pavilion at the station at
Eidsvold with his mother's packet of letters laid open before him. It
consisted of a quantity of papers which he had read through.

The expanse of Lake Mjosen lay cold and grey beneath the autumn mist,
which still shrouded the hillsides. The sound of hammers from the
workshops to the right mingled with the rumble of wheels on the bridge;
the whistle of an engine, the rattle of crockery from the restaurant;
sights and sounds seethed round him like water boiling round an egg.

As soon as his mother had felt sure that Angelika was not really
enceinte she had busied herself in collecting all the information about
her which it was possible to obtain.

By the untiring efforts of her ubiquitous relations she had succeeded
to such an extent and in such detail as no examining magistrate could
have accomplished. And there now lay before him letters, explanations,
evidence, which the deponent was ready to swear to, besides letters
from Angelika herself: imprudent letters which this impulsive creature
could perpetrate in the midst of her schemes; or deeply calculated
letters, which directly contradicted others which had been written at a
different period, based on different calculations. These documents were
only the accompaniment of a clear summing-up by his mother. It was
therefore she who had guided the investigations of the others and made
a digest of their discoveries. With mathematical precision was here
laid down both what was certain and what, though not certain, was
probable. No comment was added, not a word addressed to himself.

That portion of the disclosures which related to Angelika's past does
not concern us. That which had reference to her relations with Rafael
began by proving that the anonymous letters, which had been the means
of preventing his engagement with Helene, had been written by Angelika.
This revelation and that which preceded it, give an idea of the
overwhelming humiliation under which Rafael now suffered. What was he
that he could be duped and mastered like a captured animal; that what
was best and what was worst in him could lead him so far astray? Like a
weak fool he was swept along; he had neither seen nor heard nor thought
before he was dragged away from everything that was his or that was
dear to him.

As he sat there, the perspiration poured from him as it had done the
night before, and again he felt a deadly chill. He therefore went up to
his room with the papers, which he locked up in his trunk, and then set
off at a run along the road. The passers-by turned to stare after the
tall fellow.

As he ran he repeated to himself, "Who are you, my lad? who are you?"
Then he asked the hills the same question, and then the trees as well.
He even asked the fog, which was now rolling off, "Who am I? can you
answer me that?"

The close-cropped half-withered turf mocked him--the cleared potato
patches, the bare fields, the fallen leaves.

"That which you are you will never be; that which you can you will
never do; that which you ought to become you will never attain to! As
you, so your mother before you. She turned aside--and your father
too--into absolute folly; perhaps their fathers before them! This is a
branch of a great family who never attained to what they were intended
for."

"Something different has misled each one of us, but we have all been
misled. Why is that so? We have greater aims than many others, but the
others drove along the beaten highway right through the gates of
Fortune's house. We stray away from the highway and into the wood. See!
am I not there myself now? Away from the highway and into the wood, as
though I were led by an inward law. Into the wood." He looked round
among the mountain-ashes, the birches, and other leafy trees in autumn
tints. They stood all round, dripping, as though they wept for his
sorrow. "Yes, yes; they will see me hang here, like Absalom by his long
hair." He had not recalled this old picture a moment before he stopped,
as though seized by a strong hand.

He must not fly from this, but try to fathom it. The more he thought of
it, the clearer it became: ABSALOM'S HISTORY WAS HIS OWN. He began with
rebellion. Naturally rebellion is the first step in a course which
leads one from the highway--leads to passion and its consequences. That
was clear enough.

Thus passion overpowered strength of purpose; thus chance circumstances
sapped the foundations--But David rebelled as well. Why, then, was not
David hung up by his hair? It was quite as long as Absalom's. Yes,
David was within an ace of it, right up to his old age. But the innate
strength in David was too great, his energy was always too powerful: it
conquered the powers of rebellion. They could not drag him far away
into passionate wanderings; they remained only holiday flights in his
life and added poetry to it. They did not move his strength of purpose.
Ah, ha! It was so strong in David that he absorbed them and fed on
them; and yet he was within an ace--very often. See! That is what I,
miserable contemptible wretch, cannot do. So I must hang! Very soon the
man with the spear will be after me.

Rafael now set off running; probably he wished to escape the man with
the spear. He now entered the thickest part of the wood, a narrow
valley between two high hills which overshadowed it. Oh, how thirsty he
was, so fearfully thirsty! He stood still and wondered whether he could
get anything to drink. Yes, he could hear the murmur of a brook. He ran
farther down towards it. Close by was an opening in the wood, and as he
went towards the stream he was arrested by something there: the sun had
burst forth and lighted up the tree-tops, throwing deep shadows below.
Did he see anything? Yes; it seemed to him that he saw himself, not
absolutely in the opening, but to one side, in the shadow, under a
tree; he hung there by his hair. He hung there and swung, a man, but in
the velvet jacket of his childhood and the tight-fitting trousers: he
swung suspended by his tangled red hair. And farther away he distinctly
saw another figure: it was his mother, stiff and stately, who was
turning round as if to the sound of music. And, God preserve him! still
farther away, broad and heavy, hung his father, by the few thin hairs
on his neck, with wretched distorted face as on his death-bed. In other
respects those two were not great sinners. They were old; but his sins
were great, for he was young, and therefore nothing had ever prospered
with him, not even in his childhood. There had always been something
which had caused him to be misunderstood or which had frightened him or
made him constantly constrained and uncertain of himself. Never had he
been able to keep to the main point, and thus to be in quiet natural
peace. With only one exception--his meeting with Helene.

It seemed to him that he was sitting in the boat with her out in the
bay. The sky was bright, there was melody in the woods. Now he was up
on the hill with her, among the saplings, and she was explaining to him
that it depended on her care whether they throve or not.

He went to the brook to drink; he lay down over the water. He was thus
able to see his own face. How could that happen? Why, there was
sunshine overhead. He was able to see his own face. Great heavens! how
like his father he had become. In the last year he had grown very like
his father--people had said so. He well remembered his mother's manner
when she noticed it. But, good God! were those grey hairs? Yes, in
quantities, so that his hair was no longer red but grey. No one had
told him of it. Had he advanced so far, been so little prepared for it,
that Hans Ravn's remark, "How you are altered, Rafael!" had frightened
him?

He had certainly given up observing himself, in this coarse life of
quarrels. In it, certainly, neither words nor deeds were weighed, and
hence this hunted feeling. It was only natural that he had ceased to
observe. If the brook had been a little deeper, he would have let
himself be engulfed in it. He got up, and went on again, quicker and
quicker: sometimes he saw one person, sometimes another, hanging in the
woods.

He dare not turn round. Was it so very wonderful that others besides
himself and his family had turned from the beaten track, and peopled
the byways and the boughs in the wood? He had been unjust towards
himself and his parents; they were not alone, they were in only too
large a company. What will unjust people say, but that the very thing
which requires strength does not receive it, but half of it comes to
nothing, more than half of the powers are wasted. Here, in these strips
of woodland which run up the hills side by side, like organ-pipes,
Henrik Vergeland had also roamed: within an ace, with him too, within
an ace! Wonderful how the ravens gather together here, where so many
people are hanging. Ha! ha! He must write this to his mother! It was
something to write about to her, who had left him, who deserted him
when he was the most unhappy, because all that she cared for was to
keep her sacred person inviolate, to maintain her obstinate opinion, to
gratify her pique--Oh! what long hair!--How fast his mother was held!
She had not cut her hair enough then. But now she should have her
deserts. Everything from as far back as he could remember should be
recalled, for once in a way he would show her herself; now he had both
the power and the right. His powers of discovery had been long hidden
under the suffocating sawdust of the daily and nightly sawing; but now
it was awake, and his mother should feel it.

People noticed the tall man break out of the wood, jump over hedges and
ditches, and make his way straight up the hill. At the very top he
would write to his mother!--

He did not return to the hotel till dark. He was wet, dirty, and
frightfully exhausted. He was as hungry as a wolf, he said, but he
hardly ate anything; on the other hand, he was consumed with thirst. On
leaving the table he said that he wished to stay there a few days to
sleep. They thought that he was joking, but he slept uninterruptedly
until the afternoon of the next day. He was then awakened, ate a little
and drank a great deal, for he had perspired profusely; after which he
fell asleep again. He passed the next twenty-four hours in much the
same way.

When he awoke the following morning he found himself alone.

Had not a doctor been there, and had he not said that it was a good
thing for him to sleep? It seemed to him that he had heard a buzz of
voices; but he was sure that he was well now, only furiously hungry and
thirsty, and when he raised himself he felt giddy. But that passed off
by degrees, when he had eaten some of the food which had been left
there. He drank out of the water-jug--the carafe was empty--and walked
once or twice up and down before the open window. It was decidedly
cold, so he shut it. Just then he remembered that he had written a
frightful letter to his mother!

How long ago was it? Had he not slept a long time? Had he not turned
grey? He went to the looking-glass, but forgot the grey hair at the
sight of himself. He was thin, lank, and dirty.--The letter! the
letter! It will kill my mother! There had already been misfortunes
enough, more must not follow.

He dressed himself quickly, as if by hurrying he could overtake the
letter. He looked at the clock--it had stopped. Suppose the train were
in! He must go by it, and from the train straight to the steamer, and
home, home to Hellebergene! But he must send a telegram to his mother
at once. He wrote it--"Never mind the letter, mother. I am coming this
evening and will never leave you again."

So now he had only to put on a clean collar, now his watch--it
certainly was morning--now to pack, go down and pay the bill, have
something to eat, take his ticket, send the telegram; but first--no, it
must all be done together, for the train WAS there; it had only a few
minutes more to wait; he could only just catch it. The telegram was
given to some one else to send off.

But he had hardly got into the carriage, where he was alone, than the
thought of the letter tortured him, till he could not sit still. This
dreadful analysis of his mother, strophe after strophe, it rose before
him, it again drove him into the state of mind in which he had been
among the hills and woods of Eidsvold. Beyond the tunnel the character
of the scenery was the same.--Good God! that dreadful letter was never
absent from his thoughts, otherwise he would not suffer so terribly.
What right had he to reproach his mother, or any one, because a mere
chance should have become of importance in their lives?

Would the telegram arrive in time to save her from despair, and yet not
frighten her from home because he was coming? To think that he could
write in such a way to her, who had but lived to collect the
information which would free him! His ingratitude must appear too
monstrous to her. The extreme reserve which she was unable to break
through might well lead to catastrophes. What might not she have
determined on when she received this violent attack by way of thanks?
Perhaps she would think that life was no longer worth living, she who
thought it so easy to die. He shuddered.

But she will do nothing hastily, she will weigh everything first. Her
roots go deep. When she appears to have acted on impulse, it is because
she has had previous knowledge. But she has no previous knowledge here;
surely here she will deliberate.

He pictured her as, wrapped in her shawl, she wandered about in dire
distress--or with intent gaze reviewing her life and his own, until
both appeared to her to have been hopelessly wasted--or pondering where
she could best hide herself so that she should suffer no more.

How he loved her! All that had happened had drawn a veil over his eyes,
which was now removed.

 Now he was on board the steamer which was bearing him home. The
weather had become mild and summerlike; it had been raining, but
towards evening it began to clear. He would get to Hellebergene in fine
weather, and by moonlight. It grew colder; he spoke to no one, nor had
he eyes for anything about him.

The image of his mother, wrapped in her long shawl--that was all the
company he had. Only his mother! No one but his mother! Suppose the
telegram had but frightened her the more--that to see HIM now appeared
the worst that could happen. To read such a crushing doom for her whole
life, and that from him! She was not so constituted that it could be
cancelled by his asking forgiveness and returning to her. On the
contrary, it would precipitate the worst, it must do so.

The violent perspiration began again; he had to put on more wraps. His
terror took possession of him: he was forced to contemplate the most
awful possibilities--to picture to himself what death his mother would
choose!

He sprang to his feet and paced up and down. He longed to throw himself
into somebody's arms, to cry aloud. But he knew well that he must not
let such words escape him.--He HAD to picture her as she handled the
guns, until she relinquished the idea of using any of them. Then he
imagined her recalling the deepest hiding-places in the woods--where
were they all?

HE recalled them, one after another. No, not in any of THOSE, for she
wished to hide herself where she would never be found! There was the
cement-bed; it went sheer down there, and the water was deep!--He clung
to the rigging to prevent himself from falling. He prayed to be
released from these terrors. But he saw her floating there, rocked by
the rippling water. Was it the face which was uppermost, or was it the
body, which for a while floated higher than the face?

His thoughts were partially diverted from this by people coming up to
ask him if he were ill. He got something warm and strong to drink, and
now the steamer approached the part of the coast with which he was
familiar. They passed the opening into Hellebergene, for one has to go
first to the town, and thence in a boat. It now became the question,
whether a boat had been sent for him. In that case his mother was
alive, and would welcome him. But if there was no boat, then a message
from the gulf had been sent instead!

And there was no boat!--

For a moment his senses failed him; only confused sounds fell on his
ear. But then he seemed to emerge from a dark passage. He must get to
Hellebergene! He must see what had happened; he would go and search!

By this time it was growing dark. He went on shore and looked round for
a boat as though half asleep. He could hardly speak, but he did not
give in till he got the men together and hired the boat. He took the
helm himself, and bade them row with all their might. He knew every
peak in the grey twilight. They might depend on him, and row on without
looking round. Soon they had passed the high land and were in among the
islands. This time they did not come out to meet him; they all seemed
gathered there to repel him. No boat had been sent; there was,
therefore, nothing more for him to do here. No boat had been sent,
because he had forfeited his place here. Like savage beasts, with
bristles erect, the peaks and islands arrayed themselves against him.
"Row on, my lads," he cried, for now arose again in him that dormant
power which only manifested itself in his utmost need.

"How is it with you, my boy? I am growing weary. Courage, now, and
forward!"

Again that voice outside himself--a man's voice. Was it his father's?

Whether or not it were his father's voice, here before his father's
home he would struggle against Fate.

In man's direst necessity, what he has failed in and what he can do
seem to encounter each other. And thus, just as the boat had cleared
the point and the islands and was turning into the bay, he raised
himself to his full height, and the boatmen looked at him in
astonishment. He still grasped the rudder-lines, and looked as though
he were about to meet an enemy. Or did he hear anything? was it the
sound of oars?

Yes, they heard them now as well. From the strait near the inlet a boat
was approaching them. She loomed large on the smooth surface of the
water and shot swiftly along.

"Is that a boat from Hellebergene?" shouted Rafael. His voice shook.

"Yes," came a voice out of the darkness, and he recognised the
bailiff's voice. "Is it Rafael?"

"Yes. Why did you not come before?"

"The telegram has only just arrived."

He sat down. He did not speak. He became suddenly incapable of uttering
a word.

The other boat turned and followed them. Rafael nearly ran his boat on
shore; he forgot that he was steering. Very soon they cleared the
narrow passage which led into the inner bay, and rounded the last
headland, and there!--there lay Hellebergene before them in a blaze of
light! From cellar to attic, in every single window, it glowed, it
streamed with light, and at that moment another light blazed out from
the cairn on the hill-top.

It was thus that his mother greeted him. He sobbed; and the boatmen
heard him, and at the same time noticed that it had grown suddenly
light. They turned round, and were so engrossed in the spectacle that
they forgot to row.

"Come! you must let me get on," was all that he could manage to say.

His sufferings were forgotten as he leapt from the boat. Nor did it
disturb him that he did not meet his mother at the landing-place, or
near the house, nor see her on the terrace. He simply rushed up the
stairs and opened the door.

The candles in the windows gave but little light within. Indeed,
something had been put in the windows for them to stand on, so that the
interior was half in shadow. But he had come in from the semi-darkness.
He looked round for her, but he heard some one crying at the other end
of the room. There she sat, crouched in the farthest corner of the
sofa, with her feet drawn up under her, as in old days when she was
frightened. She did not stretch out her arms; she remained huddled
together. But he bent over her, knelt down, laid his face on hers, wept
with her. She had grown fragile, thin, haggard, ah! as though she could
be blown away. She let him take her in his arms like a child and clasp
her to his breast; let him caress and kiss her. Ah, how ethereal she
had become! And those eyes, which at last he saw, now looked tearfully
out from their large orbits, but more innocently than a bird from its
nest. Over her broad forehead she had wound a large silk handkerchief
in turban fashion. It hung down behind. She wished to conceal the
thinness of her hair. He smiled to recognise her again in this. More
spiritualised, more ethereal in her beauty, her innermost aspirations
shone forth without effort. Her thin hands caressed his hair, and now
she gazed into his eyes.

"Rafael, my Rafael!" She twined her arms round him and murmured
welcome. But soon she raised her head and resumed a sitting posture.
She wished to speak. He was beforehand with her.

"Forgive the letter," he whispered with beseeching eyes and voice, and
hands upraised.

"I saw the distress of your soul," was the whispered answer, for it
could not be spoken aloud. "And there was nothing to forgive," she
added. She had laid her face against his again. "And it was quite true,
Rafael," she murmured.

She must have passed through terrible days and nights here, he thought,
before she could say that.

"Mother, mother! what a fearful time!"

Her little hand sought his: it was cold; it lay in his like an egg in a
deserted nest. He warmed it and took the other as well.

"Was not the illumination splendid?" she said. And now her voice was
like a child's.

He moved the screen which obstructed the light: he must see her better.
He thought, when he saw the look of happiness in her face, if life
looks so beautiful to her still, we shall have a long time together.

"If you had told me all that about Absalom, the picture which you made
when you were told the story of David, Rafael; if you had only told me
that before!" She paused, and her lips quivered.

"How could I tell it to you, mother, when I did not understand it
myself?"

"The illumination--that must signify that I, too, understand. It ought
to light you forward; do you not think so?"



A PAINFUL MEMORY FROM CHILDHOOD

I must have been somewhere about seven years old, when one Sunday
afternoon a rumour reached the parsonage that, on that same day, two
men, rowing past the Buggestrand in Eidsfjord, had discovered a woman
who had fallen over a cliff, and had remained half lying, half hanging,
close to the water's edge.

Before moving her, they tried to find out from her who had thrown her
over.

It was thirty-five miles by water to the doctor's, and then an order
for admission to the hospital had also to be procured. She had lain
twenty-four hours before help reached her, and shortly afterwards she
died. Before she breathed her last, she said it was Peer Hagbo who had
done it. "But," she added, "they mustn't do him any harm."

Everybody knew that there had been an attachment between the girl, who
was in service at Hagbo's, and the son of the house, and the shrewd
ones instantly guessed why he wanted to get her out of the way.

I remember clearly the arrival of the news. It was, as I have said, on
a Sunday afternoon, her death having occurred on the morning of the
same day.

It was in the very middle of summer, when the whole place was flooded
with sunshine and gladness. I remember how the light faded, faces
turned to stone, the fjord grew dim, and village and forest shrank away
into shadow. I remember that even the next day I felt as though a blow
had been dealt to ordinary existence. I knew that I need not go to
school. Men knocked off work, leaving everything just as it was, and
sat down with idle hands. The women especially were paralysed: it was
evident they felt themselves threatened, they even said as much. When
strangers came to the parsonage their bearing and expression showed
that the murder lay heavy on their minds, and they read the same story
in us. We took each other's hands with a sense of remoteness. The
murder was the only thing that was present with us. Whatever we talked
of we seemed to hear of the murder in voice and word. The last
consciousness at night and the first in the morning was that everything
was unsettled, and that the joy of life was suddenly arrested, like the
hands on a dial at a certain hour.

But by degrees the murder fell into its proper place among other
interests; curiosity and gossip had made it commonplace. It was taken
up, turned over, considered, picked at and pulled about, till it became
simply "the last new thing." Soon we knew every detail of the relation
between the murdered and the murderer. We knew who it was that Peer's
mother had wanted him to marry; we knew the Hagbo family in and out,
and their history for generations past.

When the magistrate came to the parsonage to institute the preliminary
inquiry, the murder was merely an inexhaustible theme of conversation.
But the next day when the bailiff and some other men appeared with the
murderer, a new feeling took possession of me, a feeling of which I
could not have imagined myself capable--an overpowering compassion. A
young good-looking lad, well grown, slightly built, rather small than
otherwise, with dark not very thick hair, with appealing eyes which
were now downcast, with a clear voice, and about his whole personality
a certain charm, almost refinement; a creature to associate with life,
not death, with gladness, with gaiety. I was more sorry for him than I
can say. The bailiff and the other people spoke kindly to him too, so
they must have felt the same. Only the peppery little clerk came out
with some hard words, but the accused stood cap in hand and made no
answer.

He paced up and down the yard in his shirt sleeves--the day was very
warm--with a flat cloth cap over his close-cut hair, and his hands in
his trousers pockets, or toying restlessly with a piece of straw. The
parsonage dog had found companions, and the youth followed the dog's
frolic with his eyes, and gazed at the chickens and at us children as
though he longed to be one of us. The girl's words, "But don't do him
any harm," rang in my ears unceasingly--whether he walked about or
stood still or sat down. I knew that he would certainly be beheaded,
and, believing that it must be soon, I was filled with horror at the
thought of his saying to himself, In a month I shall die--and then in a
week--in a day--an hour... it must be utterly unendurable. I slipped
behind him to see his neck, and just at that moment he lifted his hand
up to it, a little brown hand; and I could not get rid of the thought
that perhaps his fingers would come in the way when the axe was falling.

He and the warders were asked to come in and dine. I felt I must see if
it were really possible for him to eat. Yes, he ate and chatted just
like the rest, and for a time I forgot my terror. But no sooner was I
outside again and alone than I fell to thinking of it with might and
main, and it seemed to me very hard that her words, "But you mustn't do
him any harm," should be so utterly disregarded. I felt I must go in
and say as much to father. But he, slow and serious, and the clerk,
little and dapper, were walking up and down the room deep in
conversation, far, far above all my misery. I slipped out again, and
stroked the coat which Peer had taken off.

The inquiry was held in my schoolroom. My master acted as secretary to
the court, and I got leave to sit there and listen. For the matter of
that, the clerk spoke in so loud a voice that it could be heard through
the open window by every one in the place. The unfortunate youth was
called upon to account for the entire day on which the murder had been
committed--for every hour of that Sunday. He denied that he had killed
her--denied it with the utmost emphasis: "It was not he who had done
it." The magistrate's examination was both acutely and kindly
conducted; Peer was moved to tears, but no confession could be drawn
from him.

"This will be a long business, madam," said the magistrate to my mother
when the first day's inquiry was over. But later in the evening Peer's
sister came to the parsonage and remained with him all through the
night. They were heard whispering and crying unceasingly. In the
morning Peer was pale and silent; before the court he took all the
blame upon himself.

The way it had happened, he explained, was that he had been her lover,
and that his mother had strongly disapproved of the connection. So one
Sunday as the girl, prayer-book in hand, was going to church, he met
her in the wood. They sat down, and he asked if she intended to declare
him the father of the child she was about to bear; for it was in this
time of sore necessity that she was going to seek consolation in the
church. She replied that she could accuse no one else. He spoke of the
shame it would bring on him, and how annoyed his mother already was.
Yes, yes, she knew that too well. His mother was very angry with her;
and she thought it strange of Peer that he didn't stand up for her; he
knew best whose fault it was that all this had happened. But Peer
hinted that she had been compliant to others as well as to himself, and
therefore he would not submit to being given out as the child's father.
He tried to make her angry, but did not succeed, she was so gentle. He
had an axe lying concealed in the heather near where he sat. He took it
and struck her on the head from behind. She did not lose consciousness
at once, but tried to defend herself while she begged for her life. He
could give no clear account of what happened afterwards. It seemed
almost as though he himself had lost consciousness. As to the other
events, he accepted the account of them which had been given in the
evidence against him.

His sister waited at the parsonage until he came from the examination,
worn out and with eyes red with weeping. Once more they went aside and
whispered. I remember nothing more of her than that she held her head
down and wept a great deal.

 It was in the winter that he was to be executed. The announcement
was made at such short notice that every one in the house had to bestir
himself--father was to deliver an exhortation at the place of
execution, and the Dean, whose parishioner the condemned man was,
together with the bailiff, had arranged to come to us the day before.

Peer and his warders and a friend, his instructor during the time of
his imprisonment, schoolmaster Jakobsen, were to sleep down in the
schoolhouse, which was part of the farm property belonging to the old
parsonage. Meals were to be carried from our house to the prisoner and
Jakobsen.

I remember that they came in the morning in two boat-loads from Molde:
the Dean, the bailiff, the military escort, and the condemned man. But
I had to sit in the old schoolhouse, and not even later in the day was
I allowed to go down to where they were.

This prohibition made the whole proceeding the more mysterious. It grew
dark early. The sea ran black against a whitish and in some places
bare-swept beach. The ragged clouds chased each other across the sky.
We were afraid a storm was coming on. Then one of the parsonage
chimneys caught on fire, and most of the soldiers came rushing up to
offer help. The great fire-ladder was brought from under the
storehouse. It was unusually heavy and clumsy, so it was difficult to
get it raised, till father broke into the midst of the crowd, ordered
them all to stand back, and set it up by himself. This is still
remembered in the parish; and also that the bailiff, an active little
fellow, took a bucket in each hand and went up the ladder till he
reached the turf roof. The black fjord, the hurrying clouds, the menace
of the coming day, the blaze of the fire, the bustle and din...and then
the silence afterwards! People whispered as they moved about the rooms
and out in the yard, whence they looked down upon the
schoolhouse-prison where the steady light burned.

Schoolmaster Jacobsen was sitting there now with his friend. They were
singing and praying together, I heard from those who had been down in
that direction. Peer's family came in the evening in a boat, went up to
see him, and took leave of him. I heard how dauntless he was in his
confidence that the next day he would be with God, and how beautifully
he talked to his people, and especially how he begged them to take an
affectionate greeting to his mother, and be good to her as long as she
lived. Some said she had come in the boat with the rest, but would not
go up to see him. That was not true, any more than that some of them
were at the execution the next day, which was also reported.

I wakened the next morning under a weight of apprehension. The weather
had changed and was fair now, but it felt oppressive nevertheless. No
one spoke loud, and people said as little as possible. I was to be
allowed to go with the rest and look on; so I made haste to find my
tutor, whom I had been told not to leave. The two clergymen came out in
their cassocks. We went down to the landing-place and rowed the first
part of the way. The condemned man and his escort had gone on before,
and waited at the place where we disembarked, in order to walk the
latter part of the way to the place of execution, a kilometer or so
distant. The execution had to take place at a cross-roads, and there
was only one in the neighbourhood--namely, at Ejdsvaag, nearly seven
miles away from where the murder was committed. The bailiff headed the
procession, then came the soldiers, then the condemned man, with the
Dean on one side and my father on the other, then Jacobsen and my
tutor, with me between them, then some more people, followed by more
soldiers. We walked cautiously along the slippery road. The clergyman
talked constantly to the condemned man, who was now very pale. His eyes
had grown gentle and weary and he said very little. My mother, who had
been very kind to him, and whom he had thanked for all she had done,
had sent him a bottle of wine to keep up his strength. The first time
that my tutor offered him some, he looked at the clergyman as though
asking if there were anything sinful in accepting it. My father quoted
St. Paul's advice to Timothy, and instantly he drank off a long draught.

By the wayside stood people curious to see him, and they joined the
procession as it passed along. Among them were some of his comrades, to
whom he sorrowfully nodded. Once or twice he lifted his cap, the same
flat one I had seen him in the first time. It was evident that his
comrades had a regard for him; and I saw, too, some young women who
were crying, and made no attempt to conceal it. He walked along with
his hands clasped at his breast, probably praying.

We were all startled by the captain's loud and commonplace word of
command, "Attention!" as we reached the appointed place. A body of
soldiers stood drawn up in a hollow square, which closed in after
admitting the bailiff, the clergyman, the condemned man, and a few
besides, among whom was myself. A great silent crowd stood round, and
over their heads one saw the mounted figure of the sheriff in his
cocked hat. When the soldiers who came with us, having carried out
various sharp words of command, had taken their places in the square,
the further proceedings began by the sheriff's reading aloud the death
sentence and the royal order for the execution.

The sheriff stationed himself directly in front of the place where some
planed boards were laid over the grave. At one end of it stood the
block. On the other side of the grave a platform had been erected, from
which the Dean was to speak. Peer Hagbo knelt below on the step, with
his face buried in his hands, close to the feet of his spiritual
adviser. The Dean was of Danish birth, one of the many who, at the time
of the separation, had chosen to make their home in Norway. His
addresses were beautiful to read, but one couldn't always hear him, and
least of all when he was moved, as was frequently the case. He shouted
the first words very loud; then his head sank down between his
shoulders, and he shook it without a pause while he closed his eyes and
uttered some smothered sounds, catching his breath between them. The
points of his tall shirt-collar, which reached to the middle of his
ears (I have never since seen the like), stuck up on each side of the
bare cropped head with the two double chins underneath, and the whole
was framed between his shoulders, which, by long practice, he could
raise much higher than other men. Those who did not know him--for to
know him was to love him--could hardly keep from laughing. His speech
was neither heard nor understood, but it was short. His emotion forced
him to break it off suddenly. One thing alone we all understood: that
he loved the pale young man whom he had prepared for death, and that he
wished that all of us might go to our God as happy and confident as he
who was to die to-day. When he stepped down they embraced each other
for the last time. Peer gave his hand to my father and to a number
besides, and then placed himself by his friend Jakobsen. The latter
knew what this meant. He took off a kerchief and bound Peer's eyes,
while we saw him whisper something to him and receive a whispered
answer. Then a man came forward to bind Peer's hands behind his back,
but he begged to be left free, and his prayer was granted. Then
Jakobsen took him by the hand and led him forward. At the place where
Peer was to kneel Jakobsen stopped short, and Peer slowly bent his
knees. Jakobsen bent Peer's head down until it rested on the block;
then he drew back and folded his hands. All this I saw, and also that a
tall man came and took hold of Peer's neck, while a smaller man drew
forth from a couple of folded towels a shining axe with a remarkably
broad thin blade. It was then I turned away. I heard the captain's
horrible "Present arms"; I heard some one praying "Our Father"--perhaps
it was Peer himself--then a blow that sounded exactly as if it went
into a great cabbage. At once I looked round again, and saw one leg
kicking out, and a yard or two beyond the body lay the head, the mouth
gasping and gasping as if for air.

The executioner's assistant sprang forward and took hold of it by the
ends of the handkerchief that had bandaged the eyes, and threw it into
the coffin beside the body, where it fell with a dull sound. The boards
were laid over the coffined remains, and the whole hastily lifted up
and lowered into the grave.

Then my father got up on the platform. Every one could understand what
HE said, and his powerful voice was heard to such a distance that even
now it is remembered in the district. Following up the thunderous
admonition of the execution itself, he warned the young against the
vices which prevailed in the parish--against drunkenness, fighting,
unchastity, and other misconduct. They must have liked the discourse
very much, for it was stolen out of the pocket of his gown on the way
home.

As for me, I left the place as sick at heart, as overwhelmed with
horror, as if it were my turn to be executed next. Afterwards I
compared notes with many others, who owned to exactly the same feeling.
Father and the Dean dined at the captain's with the other officials;
but they separated and went home directly after dinner.





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