The bandsmen, who had been standing in a group among the mourners, keeping their instruments under their coats, so that they might not get cold, suddenly broke out into music, at a mysterious sign from the bandmaster. The effect was striking. Just as when a stone is thrown into the water, and the ripples roll outwards in an ever-widening circle, so did the mighty waves of sound drive back the bystanders in all directions, until there was quite an open place around the players. The undertaker turned the opportunity to advantage, and took his place at the head of the procession, which returned in the same order as it came.
At a short distance behind the musicians, came the precentor with his choristers. He was terribly annoyed by the band, and in a great state of anxiety, lest the sorrowing relatives of the deceased should not notice, how much extra trouble he had taken with the singing.
The undertaker, on the contrary, was extremely pleased with the band, which had made such a nice clear space for him, and when he got home to his wife he said, “Even if the drums of my ears are nearly broken, I must say I fully appreciate the effect of a brass band. Nothing can be more opportune, when one has to lead a procession through a large crowd at a respectable funeral.”
At a short distance from the grave, the clergyman left the cortege and went in a different direction across the cemetery. As soon as he was out of sight of the crowd, he took a short cut over the graves, which in that part of the cemetery were low and overgrown with grass, and every now and then he held up his cassock, and stepped over one which lay in his path.
Abraham the sexton had got an extra lurch on, in honour of the grand funeral, and came stumbling along after the pastor, carrying the black box, which was the same that was used for all burials, without distinction.
When the pastor arrived at Marianne’s grave, he found Anders Begmand and some others from the West End, who had already been in the Consul’s procession. The chaplain took off his hat and wiped his brow, as he stood looking round for Abraham. The others also uncovered their heads. At length Abraham came up, and the three handfuls of earth fell, hurriedly and mechanically, on the simple coffin. “Of earth thou art, to earth thou shalt return, and from the earth thou shalt rise again. Amen.”
The pastor went scrambling along farther over the graves. There were still some other poor people to be buried, and it was getting late.
The young Consul’s death did not bring with it any great changes, either in the household or in the business. Everything was in such a solid and well-regulated condition, that it kept on going like a good machine. The new driver had as much as he could manage, and there were some who thought that the more delicate parts of the complicated mechanism would be likely to suffer under his hands.