Infomotions, Inc.Absalom's Hair / ørnson, Bjørnstjerne, 1832-1910



Author: ørnson, Bjørnstjerne, 1832-1910
Title: Absalom's Hair
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): rafael; fru kaas; kaas; fru; harald kaas; helene
Contributor(s): Patten, William, 1868-1946 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 40,592 words (really short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext5052
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Title: Absalom's Hair

Author: Bjornstjerne Bjornson

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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 bad 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 be 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; be 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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