The friendship between Per and Madeleine was very cordial on both sides. At first some of the other young fellows tried to take her from him, but one day it so happened that when she was out with Per, a fresh north-westerly breeze sprang up. Per’s boat and tackle were always of the best, so that there was no real danger; but nevertheless her father, who had seen the boat through the big telescope, came in all haste down to the shore, and went out on to the little pier to meet them.
“There’s father,” said Madeleine; “I wonder if he is anxious about us?”
“I think he knows better than that,” said Per, thoughtfully.
All the same the attache could not help feeling a little uneasy as he stood watching the boat; but when Per with a steady hand steered her in through the fairway, and swung her round the point of the pier, so that she glided easily into the smooth water behind it, the old gentleman could not help being impressed by his skill. “He knows what he’s about,” he muttered, as he helped up his daughter; and instead of the lecture he had prepared, he only said, “You are a smart lad, Per; but I never gave you permission to sail with her alone.”
There was no one near enough to hear the old gentleman’s words, but when the spectators who were standing near saw that Per shook hands with both Madeleine and her father in a friendly manner, they could all perceive that Per was in the lighthouse-keeper’s good books for the future, and from that day it was taken for granted that Per alone had the right to escort the young lady.
Per thought over and over whom he should take with him in the boat. He saw well enough that the whole pleasure would be spoilt if one of his friends came with them. At length he hit upon a poor half-witted lad, who was also hard of hearing into the bargain. No one could make out what Per wanted with “Silly Hans” in his boat; but there! Per always was an obstinate fellow. Both he and Madeleine were well contented with his choice; and when, a few days after, she put her head in at the door, and called to her father, “I’m just going for a little sail with Per,” she was able to add with a good conscience, “Of course, he has got some one with him, since you really make such a point of it.” She could not help laughing to herself as she ran down the slope.
Richard, in the mean time, betook himself to the big telescope. Right enough: Per was sitting aft, and he saw Madeleine jump down into the boat. On the forward thwart there sat a male creature, dressed in homespun, with a yellow sou’wester on its head.
“Bien!” said the old gentleman, with a sigh of relief. “It is well they have got some one with them—in every respect.”
The highest point on the seven miles of flat, sandy coast was the headland of Bratvold, where the lighthouse was built just on the edge of the slope, which here fell so steeply off towards the sea as to make the descent difficult and almost dangerous, while in ascending it was necessary to take a zigzag course. The sheep, which had grazed here from time out of mind, had cut out a network of paths on the side of the hill, so that from a distance these paths seemed to form a pattern of curves and projections on its face.