It was a lovely sunshiny day, and the tall light-brown form went briskly on its way, moving its arms unconsciously, as if rehearsing the scene which was shortly to follow. In the left-hand pocket of his coat he had a silk handkerchief, which had long been his dream, of a bright orange colour with a light-blue border, and of which the corner was seen protruding from his pocket. It was not at all his intention to put the handkerchief to its legitimate use; for that purpose he had a red cotton one, adorned with Abraham Lincoln’s portrait. The silk handkerchief was to be used only for effect, and every time he met any one in the avenue before whom he thought it worth while to show off, and that was nearly every passer-by, he drew the brilliant handkerchief from his pocket, raised it carefully to his face, and let it fall again. He derived the greatest satisfaction from feeling the rough surface of the silk cling to the hard skin on the inside of his hands.
At the building-yard he met Martin, who was coming hastily along in the opposite direction.
“Is your sister at home?” asked Torpander.
“Yes, you will find her at home,” answered Martin, with an ominous smile.
In the yard close to the house at Sandsgaard, Martin met Pastor Martens, who was on his way from the town, dressed in cassock and ruff.
Martin touched his cap. “Will you come and see my sister, sir? She is at the point of death.”
“Who is your sister?” asked the pastor.
“Marianne, sir; Anders Begmand’s granddaughter.”
“Oh yes, I remember now,” answered the pastor, who knew her history perfectly well. “But I cannot come just now; I have to go in here first. Consul Garman is also on his death-bed. But I will come afterwards.”
“Oh yes, this is just what I might have expected,” muttered Martin, turning to go away.
“Wait a moment, young man,” cried the pastor. “If you think that time presses, I will go and see your sister. It’s the last house, is it not?” Upon which he went on past Sandsgaard, and on towards West End.
Martin was astonished, if not almost disappointed. The pastor meanwhile continued his way, which he did not find very pleasant when he had to pass among the cottages. Ragged urchins waylaid him, the girls and the old women put their heads out of the doors and gaped after him, while a group of children who were grovelling on the shore cheered him lustily. Wherever he turned, all reeked of filth and poverty.
As Torpander could get nothing out of Anders Begmand, whom he found huddled up in a corner of the room, he went upstairs and knocked at Marianne’s door. No one said “Come in,” and he therefore ventured to open the door slightly and look into the room.