So she only took my hand, lifted it to her lips without saying a word and hurried away.
It was more than I could bear, and I think it was too much for the old clerk too. He walked up and down, gently twanging his violin strings, while I, at the table, let my tears flow freely.
Before I left he played a beautiful little piece which he had composed when he was twenty. It touched me deeply, because I felt as if it were written about Susanna and me; it echoed long after in my mind, so that I learnt it by heart.
“There is a continuation of it,” said he, when he had ended, and then—after a short pause as of sad recollection—“but it is not very cheerful, and is not suitable for you!”
The next morning early, when the yacht sailed, a handkerchief was waved from the drawing-room window in the parsonage, and, in answer, a glazed hat was lifted on board.
On a naze to the north of Hind Island in Sengen lies Trondenaes church and parsonage. The latter was a royal palace in Saint Olaf’s time, and Thore Hund’s brother Siver lived there. Bjark Island, where Thore Hund had his castle, is only a few miles off.
The church itself is in many respects a remarkable historical monument. Its two towers, of which one was square and covered with copper, and had an iron spire, and the other octagonal, exist only in legends, and of the famous “three wonderfully high, equal-sized statues” there are only remains which are to be seen at the west doorway.
This church was once the most northern border-fortress of Christendom, and stood grandly with its white towers, the far-echoing tones of its bells and its sacred song, like a giant bishop in white surplice, who bore St. Olaf’s consecration and altar lights into the darkness among the Finmark trolls. Its power over men’s minds has been correspondingly deep and great. Thither past generations for miles round have wended in Sunday dress before other churches were built up there. If the soapstone font which stands in the choir could enumerate the names of those baptised at it, or the altar the bridal pairs that have been married there, or the venerable church itself tell what it knew, we should hear many a strange tale.
Protestantism has plundered the church there as elsewhere; remains of its painted altar-shrines are found as doors to the peasants’ cupboards, and what was most imposing about the building is in ruins. But the work of destruction could not be carried farther. The old Roman Catholic church feeling surrounds it to a certain extent to this day, with the old legends that float around it, and is kept up by the foreign paintings in the choir, by the mystical vaults, and by all the ruins, which the Nordlander’s imagination builds up into indistinct grandeur. The poor man there is, moreover, a Catholic in no small degree in his religious mode of thought and in his superstition. It comes quite naturally to him, in deadly peril, to promise a wax candle to the church, or to offer prayer to the Virgin Mary. He knows well enough that she is dethroned, but nevertheless he piously includes her in his devotions.