“Your aunt has told me all about it, Elizabeth. Don’t let us mention the subject again.”
“And you haven’t a doubt about me in your heart? For that I never will bear, Salve, like to-day,—I can’t bear it, do you understand?” she said, with a shake in her voice, and looking as it were down into his very soul.
“Doubt!” he said; and for that moment, at all events, he was evidently convinced that she had never given her real heart to any one but himself.
A look of inexpressible happiness came into her face; he caught her into his arms, and they stood as if they never would let go of each other again, cheek to cheek, not speaking, not thinking even. There was something convulsive in their embrace, as if they could not believe in the reality of their happiness, and as if they felt an instinctive dread that they should lose it again.
Unobserved by either of them the door had opened, and in the doorway stood pursy Garvloit, gazing in helpless bewilderment at the scene before him. At last Elizabeth caught sight of him, and—not with any confusion, but only eager to communicate her happiness—exclaimed—
“It is my lover—”
“Your lover!” and he fell back a step, as if he did not know what he was doing.
“My name is Salve Kristiansen, master of the Apollo,” added Salve, without letting her go, and feeling everything around him infinitely small at that moment.
Garvloit turned round and shouted several times from the top of the stairs, raising his voice at each repetition, “Andrea! Andrea!” to his wife; and as she did not come immediately, he stumbled as fast as his corpulence would allow him down the stairs, pausing, however, with a vacant look upon the last step.
Madam Garvloit came out with her work in her hand, and asked what the matter was.
“The matter is,” replied her husband, dismally, “that I am ruined. There is Elizabeth up there sitting with some skipper, God knows whom, who she says is her lover.”
“Is it possible?”
“Go and see for yourself;” and as his wife hurried past him up the stairs, he added in the same dismal tone—“Who shall we get to look after the house now? we shall never have another like her;” and he sighed profoundly.
When Madam Garvloit appeared at the door, Elizabeth finished her interrupted explanation.
“I have known him ever since I was a little girl,” she said.
It was at once evident to her mistress that there must be a romantic story here; but though brimming over with curiosity, she deferred her questions until a more convenient season. In the meantime she manifested the most lively sympathy; and after winning Salve’s heart by telling him what a treasure Elizabeth had been to her, she begged that as long as he remained in Amsterdam he would come in and out of the house as he pleased.