Salve, notwithstanding this interview, was far from being at ease next day, and he felt the courage he had mustered up, to go straight to Elizabeth with the dress and ring, altogether gone.
In the evening, when all the crew were given leave from the ship for three weeks, he went off to his father instead, to see if he could learn more of the situation through inquiries from him; and on the following Monday both were present at old Jacob’s interment in Tromoe churchyard.
All these events had come upon Elizabeth with overwhelming suddenness. It seemed to her like a confused dream. Yet the fact remained that there she was, dressed in black, an inmate of one of those handsome houses, the interiors of which she had so often pictured to herself out on Torungen.
Captain Beck was married to a second wife, a woman of stern principles, full of decision and respectability, who had brought him a considerable fortune, and, under her lynx-eyed rule, had restored that order in household matters which, during the period her husband was a widower, had been far too much neglected; and though his power might still be absolute on board the Juno, it had long since ceased to be so in his own house. By her grown-up step-children Madam Beck was in the highest degree respected, though not exactly loved, owing to the various unaccustomed restraints to which they now found themselves subjected; and as to Carl, his easy tact, notwithstanding the independent position which he enjoyed in his home as salaried member of a coast commission, enabled him to keep on the best of terms with his imperious stepmother. His duties would detain him about home for another year, to be still feted by the town, and idolised by his sisters, who were never tired of speculating upon eligible matches for him.
From the very first, Elizabeth, who, in her utter ignorance how to behave, committed one egregious blunder after another, had perceived with her strong sense that it would require all the cleverness and patience she possessed to enable her to maintain the situation; and she began by following Madam Beck about untiringly like a lamb. Many a painful scene had she to go through during the earlier period of their connection, and she bore them with a quiet gentleness which Madam Beck took for modest docility, but which had its real origin in a fixed determination to succeed. Every now and then, however, she would give it up as hopeless, and would seat herself disconsolately by the window with her cheek upon her hand, and gaze wistfully out over the harbour. She longed so for cold fresh air, and would end by throwing up the window and stretching herself with her heated face as far out of it as she possibly could, till Madam Beck would come in, and in a stern voice call her back. Madam Beck, in her irritation, used to say that it was almost as if they had taken a wild thing into the house.