Mr. Aalbom was walking up and down the broad path in front of the house, encircled by his wife’s bony arm, as Mr. Delphin kindly put it, while they were waiting for coffee. He was still annoyed at his failure, and at the slights he had endured, and his wife was doing her utmost to pacify him.
“How can a man of your standing bother about such nonsense? These young upstarts will only be here for a time. They will soon make themselves unwelcome in some way or another. There is no doubt that we are considered superior to the rest. You must have noticed that the Consul took me in to dinner.”
“Nonsense!” answered her husband. “What have I in common with these tradesmen and their moneybags? But for a man of my intelligence, and of my attainments in literature and education, to have to put up with such impertinent answers from a set of youngsters, from such—” and from his rich repertoire of abuse the master poured out a choice stream of invective, which afforded some relief to his feelings.
The Aalboms lived about half-way between Sandsgaard and the town, which had been the original cause of their being invited to the Garmans’ house.
Since then they had shown themselves such good neighbours that the Garmans were generally glad to fall back upon them when they wanted to get a few people together in a hurry. Mr. Garman had also assisted the master in some unexpected difficulties he had encountered in writing a short paper on the origin of the French language, and its connection with history. The pamphlet was headed “For Use in Schools,” but from want of perception and appreciation on the part of the authorities, this pearl of literature had not been taken into use in a single school in the country.
Both the elder Garmans were in the habit of retiring to their rooms and taking a short nap after dinner; but on this occasion they did not sleep long, as they were engaged in talking over Madeleine’s projected visit to the town. It was arranged that she was to come in two or three days, and have a room upstairs, close by Miss Cordsen’s.
Gabriel, having annexed a cigar, had wandered off to the ship-yard, in a happy and contented mood, to make an inspection of the vessel and talk English with Mr. Robson.
The first acquaintance Madeleine made in her new home was with the sewing-maid, for naturally there were a good many repairs of various kinds to be seen to. She had already made some acquaintance with the family by previous short visits to Sandsgaard, and the same impression of coldness which she had hitherto received from her relations still oppressed her. Not that Madeleine was of a timid nature—far from it; but the change from a free and open-air life to the regularity of a well-ordered house was too abrupt. She tried in vain to adapt herself to her new surroundings, and during the first few weeks she fretted herself quite out of health. For a reason she could scarcely define, she concealed this fact from her father when writing to him.