“I think she ought to be ready next spring,” said the Consul one day in the beginning of July.
“In about eight or nine months, if the winter is not too wet,” answered Tom.
“I should be very pleased if we could manage to launch her on the 15th of May,” said the Consul, in a low tone; “but you must not mention the day to any one; you understand, Mr. Robson?”
“All right, sir,” answered Tom.
Tom did not betray the day, even to his friend Master Gabriel; he only said it was to be some time in the spring, and with that Gabriel had to be content: but he still showed great curiosity as to what the name of the ship was to be. Tom swore that he knew nothing about it, and Morten answered that it was “a thing which did not concern schoolboys.” From which Gabriel inferred that neither of them knew much about it, and, at all events, not Morten.
During the summer Gabriel got on but poorly at school; it seemed really too hard that he should have to pore over his books, while the work was going on with all its noise and bustle in the ship-yard. His character-book showed a sad spectacle, and each month when he had to take it in to his father, he made up his mind to make a little speech, of which the burden was to be, that he did not wish to continue his studies, but to be employed in the office, or be allowed to go to sea, or anywhere his father chose to send him. But each time when he stood before those cold blue eyes, every word seemed to vanish from his memory, and he looked so helpless and confused that his father shook his head as he left the room, and said—
“I can’t make the boy out. I don’t think he will ever grow into a man.”
When first Madeleine came to Sandsgaard, Gabriel had found it a great relief to confide his woes to her. But now she had got too clever for him, and refused to be frightened by his threats of running away to sea, or giving his master, Mr. Aalbom, some rat-poison in his toddy, and he ended by feeling jealous of Delphin.