“Well, you wretched laggard,” cried Maurice, as he caught sight of him, “what answer?”
“Nobody answered nothing at all,” responded Jake, all out of breath. “They be all gone. Aboard the ship, out there. All rigged, ready to sail.”
A few minutes later there was a slight commotion on board the brig Queen Anne. A frolicsome tar had thrown out a rope, and hauled in two men one white and one black. The crew thronged about them,
“Yankees? Je-ru-salem! Saw your rig wasn’t right, somehow.”
General hilarity. Witty tar looks around with an air of magnanimous deprecation.
A strange feeling of exultation had taken possession of Maurice. The light and the air suddenly seemed glorious to him. He knew the world misjudged his action; but he felt no need of its vindication. He was rather inclined to chuckle over its mistake, as if it and not he were the sufferer. He walked with rapid steps toward the prow of the ship, where. Tharald and Elsie were standing. There was a look of invincibility in his eye which made the old man quail before him. Elsie’s face suddenly brightened, as if flooded with light from within; she made an impulsive movement toward him, and then stood irresolute.
“Elsie,” called out her father, with a husky tremor in his voice. “Let him alone, I tell thee. He might leave us in peace now. He has driven from hearth and home.” Then, with indignant energy, “He shall not touch thee, child. By the heavens, he shall not.”
Maurice smiled, and with the same sense of serene benignity, wholly unlover-like, clasped her in his arms.
A wild look flashed in the father’s eyes; a hoarse groan broke from his chest. Then, with a swift rekindling of energy, he darted forward, and his broad hands fell with a tiger-like grip on Maurice’s shoulders. But hark! The voices of the skies and the mountains echo the groan. The air, surcharged with terror, whirls in wild eddies, then holds its breath and trembles. All eyes are turned toward the glacier. The huge white ridge, gleaming here and there through a cloud of smoke, is pushing down over the mountain-side, a black bulwark of earth rising totteringly before it, and a chaos of bowlders and blocks of ice following, with dull crunching and grinding noises, in its train. The barns and the store-house of the Ormgrass farm are seen slowly climbing the moving earth-wall, then follows the mansion—rising—rising—and with a tremendous, deafening crash the whole huge avalanche sweeps downward into the fjord. The water is lashed into foam; an enormous wave bearing on its crest the shattered wrecks of human homes, rolls onward; the good ship Queen Anne is tossed skyward, her cable snaps and springs upward against the mast-head, shrieks of terror fill the air, and the sea flings its strong, foam-wreathed arms against the farther shore.