For the present she had gone to live with her aunt up in one of the narrow streets at the back of the town, and there came pouring in, with and without the owners’ names, all sorts of friendly advice, with black dress materials and ornaments from the young men and shop lads; and a couple of the bustling ladies of the town even came in person to see her aunt and talk over the girl’s future. When Carl Beck, however, gave out that he looked upon these presents as slights upon himself, they ceased. He had only been up there once, and then his eldest sister was with him: but his manner on that occasion had been most attractive, he had sympathised with such winning sincerity, and at the same time so unassumingly, in Elizabeth’s grief; and when leaving assured her, with emotion which he made no attempt to conceal, that they owed it to her that their father was still alive.
When he was gone, his sister had proceeded to the real matter of her visit. She had come to propose to the aunt that Elizabeth should live with them for the present with the view of qualifying herself for a housekeeper’s place, as she must not be exposed to the necessity of going out as a common servant-girl. It was her brother, she added, who had made this plan for Elizabeth’s future.
The offer was a highly desirable one for persons in their position, and was accepted by the aunt with unmixed satisfaction. Over Elizabeth’s face, however, there passed a momentary cloud. She felt, without knowing why, a sense of oppression at the prospect of coming into closer contact with the young lieutenant; but at the same time she would not for a great deal have refused the offer.
As for Salve, during the first few days after coming home he was a happy man. He was in love: he had received from his captain a hundred-daler note, accompanied by a promise that as soon as he had learnt navigation he should be third mate on board the Juno; and he heard himself admired on all sides by his equals and associates. There was so much work to be done, though, in discharging the cargo and getting the vessel into dock for repairs—they had managed to get her up as far as Arendal—that it would be Saturday evening before he could get his so longed-for home-leave.
On the day before, as he was sitting on watch in the early morning under the lee of the bulwark, he accidentally overheard a conversation going on upon the slip below that set his blood on fire.
The carpenters had just come to their work, and one of them was telling the story of old Jacob’s death, and of the heroism which his granddaughter had displayed.
“They say,” he went on, “that Captain Beck is to have him buried on Monday next, and that he is to provide for the granddaughter—the navy lieutenant has seen to that.”
The noise and the clinking of the hammers that were now at work made Salve lose a good deal of the conversation here.