Madame Rasmussen came running to meet him. “My dear Mr. Martens, dinner. Why, it’s half-past two! Why, how exhausted you look!”
“Let us rejoice, Madame Rasmussen,” answered the clergyman, with a bland smile, “when we are thought worthy to endure trials.”
He was indeed a heavenly man, was the pastor. How pious and amiable he looked as he sat at table! No one could ever have suspected that he wore a wig.
Madame Rasmussen sat down to embroider some cushions to put in the window, for the chaplain could not bear the slightest draught.
Consul Garman’s death caused a great sensation in the town. The wonderful escape of the ship was already material enough for several weeks’ gossip; and now there came this death, with all its immediate circumstances and possible consequences. The whole town was fairly buzzing with stories and gossip.
The business men gave each other a knowing wink. The old man at Sandsgaard had been a hard nut to crack, but now they would have more elbow-room, and Morten was not so dangerous.
The preparations for the funeral were on the grandest scale. The body was to be taken from Sandsgaard and laid in the church, where Dean Sparre was to deliver a discourse, while the chaplain was to conduct the funeral service at the cemetery.
All the different guilds were to follow with their banners, and the town band was busy practising till late at night. A regular committee of management was formed, and there was almost as much stir as if it was the 17th of May.[B]
[Footnote B: Anniversary
of the declaration of the
Norwegian Independence in 1814.]
Jacob Worse did not take any part in all this. He truly regretted the Consul, who had always been almost like a father to him.
Mrs. Worse was more annoyed than sorry. “It was too bad, it was really too bad,” she grumbled, “of the Consul to go and die!” She was sure that he would have arranged the match, such a sensible man as he was; but now that there were nothing but a lot of women in the house—for the attache was little better than an old woman himself—And so on, and so on, thought the old lady, and she wondered that Rachel, who had such a clever father, had not inherited a little more sense.
Sandsgaard was silent and desolate from top to bottom. The body lay upstairs in the little room on the north side, and white curtains were hanging in front of all the windows of the second story. Not a sound was heard, except the monotonous step of one, who went pacing unceasingly to and fro in the empty rooms. Thus had Uncle Richard been wandering every day since his brother’s death. Restlessly he passed in and out of one room after another, then up and down the long ballroom; now and again into the room where the body lay, ever to and fro, in and out, the whole livelong day, and far into the night.