He looked dejected; and as he said good-bye to her, offered to take her hand. But she would not give it to him, and merely added instead—
“Remember that it is an old woman who has seen a good deal in the world who tells you this.”
He went away then; and while he was being rowed across to Sandvigen he changed his mind again, and determined that his plan of plying to Holland should be carried out.
Skipper Garvloit, into whose family Elizabeth had come, occupied one of the many-storeyed houses, with green window-shutters, narrow entrance-doors, and polished brass knockers, after the usual Dutch fashion, in the lively street leading down to the dock in Amsterdam, with the canal on the other side, with its various bridges, and vessels and barges of all kinds unlading, running up from it into the heart of the town.
Madam Garvloit had four young children, and was not very strong, so that Elizabeth’s robust, healthy nature had been a perfect godsend to her in the house, and she was content to overlook her occasional shortcomings of manner or temper in consideration of the assistance which she rendered in every department of the housekeeping.
Elizabeth had always had a pretty strong will of her own; and here, where she virtually had the control of everything, her tendency to self-assertion had been considerably developed. The force and decision with which she gave her opinion about everything seemed to Madam Garvloit sometimes (although she said nothing) rather like a reversing of their relative positions; and on days when she was in a captious humour—and those were her days of most feverish activity—she would even go so far as to set aside her mistress’s orders altogether. In a general way her moods were very uncertain: one day she would be in tearing spirits, racing up and down the stairs with the children, as if she had been inhaling the wild air of Torungen again; and another she would be so pensive and taciturn that they thought she must be pining after home.
She had many admirers, both among young and old, her gay moods attracting the former, and her serious ones the latter. Among the former were two young gentlemen acquaintances of the house, relatives of Garvloit—one a smart young clerk from one of the larger counting-houses in the town, who rather affected the gentleman; and the other a light-haired, pink-complexioned, skipper’s son from Vlieland. They both came regularly every Sunday, were frantically jealous of one another, tried to outbid each other whenever an opportunity offered, and were both fully convinced that they sighed in vain. She was so different, they felt, from the other specimens of femininity of their acquaintance to whom their weak attentions had sometimes proved acceptable. There was something almost imperious in Elizabeth’s manner at times that made them feel quite small beside her; and however careless she might be of the convenances in her way of speaking to them, they had very soon found that wherever she chose to draw the line, so far could they go and no farther.