“I start to-night, and say farewell thus to spare us both a painful parting. Farewell!” This was all the note contained.
Her lovely complexion turned almost to an ashen grey, but only for a moment. The whole night she lay awake, listening to her husband, who lay breathing heavily by her side; but the next morning found her sitting by her window, as calm and bright as ever. Many of her friends, as she had expected, came to visit her, but she disappointed them all. Delphin’s sudden departure was a subject of conversation in which she joined, jesting and laughing as usual. Her friends could perceive no change in her, and yet how much scandal had been talked about her and Delphin! It was a lesson to people to keep their tongues to themselves.
But Fanny herself noticed several changes in her appearance, and was reminded of it every time she saw her reflection in the glass.
In small circles great events seem to come all at once, one after another in startling succession. The worthy town had been quite upset by all those remarkable events, of a joyful, mournful, or mixed nature, which followed after the night of the fire at Sandsgaard; and while busy tongues kept reverting to the materials for gossip thus provided, the years rolled by without anything further taking place.
Tom Robson had taken Martin with him to America, where they disappeared.
Contrary to his intention, Torpander did not travel home to Sweden. He put off his departure from time to time. Her grave never seemed pretty enough, and he never felt perfectly certain that it would be kept properly in order. He thus remained where he was, and at last moved over to old Anders Begmand’s cottage. The old man’s head had become somewhat affected. He received his week’s pay every Saturday, without, however, doing any work to earn it. And now Torpander grew to be quite a fixture in the cottage, and the two would sit for many a winter’s evening over the fire, repeating to each other the same stories, which never varied year after year, about her who had been, and still continued for both, the very sunshine of their lives.
Uncle Richard soon gave up the lighthouse at Bratvold, and he and Mrs. Garman shared Sandsgaard between them. Downstairs the lady went about in her wheel-chair, and she had had all the thresholds of the doors removed, so that she might be able to have herself rolled into the kitchen.
Upstairs Uncle Richard continued his ceaseless wanderings, in and out, to and fro, just as he had begun on the day after his brother’s death. Once only he had had Don Juan saddled; but when he was brought round to the door, the old gentleman, thought he was too fresh for him. He put his hand before his eyes, and had Don Juan taken back again, to the stable.
Summer and winter, day after day, the sound of his footfall overhead never ceased. A long strip of soft carpet had been put down the whole length of the house, partly for warmth, and partly to deaden the sound of his step.