He put his eye down again to the telescope, and threw away his cigarette. There was no doubt about it—there was his own Madeleine hanging round Per’s neck. He rubbed the glass excitedly with his pocket-handkerchief. They were now going respectably enough side by side; now they were among the grassy knolls, and behind one of them they disappeared from his sight. He thoughtfully directed the telescope to the other side of the hillock and waited. “What now?” muttered he, giving the glass another rub. They had not yet come from behind the hillock. For a few minutes the father was quite nervous. At last he saw one form raise itself, and immediately after another.
The telescope was perfect, and the old gentleman took in the situation just as well as if he had himself been sitting by their side.
“Ah! it’s well it’s no worse,” he murmured; “but it’s bad enough as it is. I shall have to send her off to the town.”
When they were at dinner, he said, “You know, Madeleine, we have long been talking about your staying a little while at Sandsgaard.”
“Oh no, father,” broke in Madeleine, looking beseechingly at him.
“Yes, child; it’s quite time now in my opinion.” He spoke in an unusually determined tone.
Madeleine could see that he knew everything, and all at once the events of the morning stood in their true light before her. As she sat there, in their well-appointed room, opposite her father, who looked so refined and stately, Per and the shore, and everything that belonged to it, bore quite a different aspect, and instead of the joyful confession she had pictured to herself as she went homewards, she looked down in confusion and blushed to the very roots of her hair.
The visit was thus arranged, and Madeleine was delighted that her father had not observed her confusion; and he was glad enough to escape any further explanation on the subject, for it was just in such matters that the old gentleman showed his weakest point. The next day he rode into the town.
"Avoir, avant, avu—that’s how it goes! That’s right, my boy; avoir, avant.”
The whole class could see clearly that the master was lost in thought. He was pacing up and down, with long steps and half-closed eyes, gesticulating from time to time, as he kept repeating the ill-used auxiliary. On the upper benches the boys began to titter, and those on the lower ones, who had not such a fine ear for the French verbs, soon caught the infection; while the unhappy wretch who was undergoing examination, sat trembling lest the master should notice his wonderful method of conjugating the verb. This unfortunate being was Gabriel Garman, the Consul’s younger son. He was a tall, slender boy of about fifteen or sixteen, with a refined face, prominent nose, and upright bearing.
Gabriel was sitting in the lower half of the class, which was, in the opinion of the master, a great disgrace for a boy of his ability. He was, however, a curious, wayward boy. In some things, such as arithmetic and mathematics generally, he distinguished himself; but in Greek and Latin, which were considered the most important part of his education, he showed but little proficiency, although he was destined for a university career.