Susanna now again belonged to me in another, truer, and more real way than I had ever dreamt of or suspected, as I comprehended that everything that could be called chivalrous sacrifice on my side only lay lower than our love, was even simply an unworthy offence to it. In true love the cross is borne by both the lovers, and the one who “chivalrously” wishes to bear it alone, only cheats the other of part of his best possession.
* * * * *
An hour after this interview with Susanna, which ended in renewed vows and promises, I was sitting in the stern of our ten-oared boat, together with my father and the two Martinezes, in the dark winter evening, while the moon was sailing behind a countless number of little grey clouds.
Father sat in silence and steered, while the men rowed against a rather stiff breeze which blew up the Sound, so that we might get the wind in our sails the rest of the way.
I quietly thought over everything that had passed during this short visit, and felt infinitely happy.
We reached home late at night. I tried to keep awake and to think about Susanna and all she had said to me, but I slept like a log, and awoke with a feeling of such health, happiness, and joy, as only those know to whose lot it has fallen to sleep the sleep of the really happy. And thus it was every night. I fell asleep before my prayers were ended, sang in the morning, and felt light-hearted almost to reckless gaiety, happy and ready for work the whole day long.
This proved how truly Susanna had said that our love would become to me a spring of health, better than any doctor’s human wisdom could devise.
It was late in the afternoon of the Saturday after Twelfth Night that the terrible two days’ storm began, which is still spoken of by many as one of the most violent that has visited Lofoten within the memory of man.
It was fortunate that the fishing had not yet begun—the storm raged with grey sky, sleet, and tremendous seas from the south-west right up the West Fjord—or perhaps as large a number of wrecks might have been heard of as in the famous storm of 1849, when in one day several hundred boats were lost. This time only a few boats were wrecked on their way to the fishing, and several yachts and a couple of larger vessels were stranded.
The storm increased during the night; we could feel how the house yielded at each burst, groaning at every joist, and we all sat up and watched with lights, as if by silent agreement.
All window-shutters, doors, and openings were carefully closed. The tiles rattled noisily at each gust, so that we were afraid the roof would be broken in, and the wind in the chimney made a deep, weird, growling noise, which in the fiercest attacks on the house sounded like a loud, horrible monster voice out in the night, sometimes almost like a wild cry of distress.