“Have you had dinner? Are Gjert and I not to have any, then?”
His mother sprang up. “And aunt!” she exclaimed. “I declare it is half-past one, and no dinner put down!” Henrik was glad to find that the worst danger was over.
Mother Kirstine had conjectured that there must be something particular going on between the pair in the kitchen, and that was the reason she had not called Elizabeth. When the latter now came in, she looked at her inquiringly, and asked if anything had happened.
“The happiest thing of my whole life, aunt,” said Elizabeth, coming over to the bed and embracing her impetuously. She hurried back then to her business in the kitchen.
The old woman looked after her, and nodded her head a couple of times slowly, thoughtfully. “No—so?”
“He is joking with little Henrik,” she said then to herself. “That is wonderful: I have never heard him laugh before.”
When they went to dinner in the kitchen Salve left them—he was not hungry—and came in to her. He had a great deal to say, and was a long while away.
It was an afternoon in the following winter in the pilot’s home. His wife was expecting him, and kept looking uneasily out of the window. He was to have been home by noon, and it was now beginning to get dark; and the weather had been stormy the whole of the previous day.
She gave up sewing, and sat thinking in the twilight, with the light playing over the floor from the door of the stove, where a little kettle was boiling, that she might have something warm ready for him at once when he came. It was too early to light a candle.
Gjert was at school in Arendal, living at his aunt’s; and Henrik was sitting by the light from the stove, cutting up a piece of wood into shavings.
“It is beginning to blow again, Henrik,” she said, and put a handkerchief round her head to look out.
“It is no use, mother,” he pronounced, without stirring, and splitting a long peg into two against his chest; “it’s pitch-dark, isn’t it?” So she gave it up again before she got to the door, but stood and listened; she thought she had heard a shout outside.
“He is coming!” she cried, suddenly, and darted out; and when Salve entered the porch from the sleet squall that had just come up, with his sou’wester and oilskin coat all dripping, he found himself, all wet as he was, suddenly encircled in the dark by a pair of loving arms.
“How long you have been!” she cried, taking from him what he had in his hands, and preceding him into the house, where she lit a candle. “What has kept you? I heard that you had taken a galliot up to Arendal yesterday, and thought you would have been here this morning. It was dreadful weather yesterday, Salve; so I was a little anxious,” she continued, as she helped him off with his wet oilskin coverings.