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Absalom's Hair by Bjornstjerne Bjornson

Part 2 out of 3

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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.

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