“Oh!” broke in Martin, “I don’t know what you are talking about, grandfather. I don’t see that you have got much to boast of. What about my father, and Uncle Svend, and Uncle Reinert,—every one lost in the Consul’s ships; and what have you got by it all? Two empty hands, and just as much food as will keep body and soul together. Or perhaps you think,” continued he, with a fiendish laugh, “that we have some connection with the family because of Marianne!”
“Martin, it’s—it’s—” began the old man, his face crimsoning up to the very roots of his hair, and struggling vainly with his infirmity.
“Have a drink, old un,” said Tom, good naturedly, handing Begmand the mug.
The old man paused for breath. “Thanks, Mr. Robson,” said he, taking a long breath.
Tom Robson made signs to the others to leave him alone. Begmand put his pipe into his waistcoat pocket, got up, and went into the little room by the kitchen, where he slept. The unwonted drink had roused again the fire of his youth, and never had he felt his helplessness so keenly as he did that evening.
The others still sat drinking till there was no more, and the lamp began to grow dim as the oil gave out. Then they staggered off; Woodlouse away through West End, while Tom clambered up a steep path that led over the hill at the back of Begmand’s cottage. He lived with a widow in a small house near the farm buildings of Sandsgaard.
Torpander went with Robson, because he was afraid to go through West End alone, and because he wanted to have a last glance at Marianne’s window, which looked on to the hillside.
Martin shut the door after them, and managed to lift up the lid of a sort of locker in which he was going to sleep. He did not see that there were some empty bottles on the locker, and they rolled down on the floor, and one of them was broken against the spittoon. The lid slipped out of his hand, and, without trying to undress, he let himself fall just as he was into the bedclothes.
The last remaining drop of oil in the lamp was now gone, and the last blue flame flickered up through the chimney and was quenched. Then followed a thick grey smoke, which came curling up from the still glowing wick, and wreathed itself in graceful spirals through the glass and glided out into the room, until it looked like a maze of fairy threads in the faint light from the window.
Nothing was heard but the sound of heavy breathing. The old man’s respiration was short and broken, while Martin, after turning over a few times, lay quiet, and at length began to snore. Before long he started up again uneasily, heated as he was by drink and passion.
Still a little longer smouldered the red glow of the wick, while the smoke wreathed up thinner and thinner through the glass and spread itself in the darkness.
Fanny Garman had from the first shown herself particularly well disposed towards Madeleine, and had more than once invited her to come and pay her a visit in the town. Nothing had hitherto come of the invitation, for even Madeleine, unversed as she was in the ways of society, could see that nothing more was meant than a compliment.