“You need not trouble about that. I will make such charming and plausible excuses for you, that you will really feel quite rewarded for all the trouble you have had in teaching me the ways of society. Look now, I will begin like this;” and Madeleine, who had now got on her dress, curtsied and smiled, and began a most pathetic story about dear Fanny’s dreadful headache. Fanny began to laugh, until it gave her head so much pain that she could not help crying out. She, however, allowed herself to be persuaded, and Madeleine drove off alone.
Madeleine now began to find herself at home in her new life. Fanny was so good and kind to her, that the young girl at last got the better of her shyness, and told her friend the whole story about Per, and the rest of her doings at home.
Fanny did not laugh at her in the least; on the contrary, she said that she quite envied Madeleine the romantic little episode, which would be a sweet recollection for the rest of her life. But when Madeleine timidly said that she considered it more than a recollection, and that she regarded herself as really engaged, she met with such a determined opposition that she did not know what to think. “Young girls, often have these absurd adventures,” said Fanny, “when they are not old enough to know better.” She had herself been madly in love with a chimney-sweep—a common chimney-sweep, just think of that!
The more Madeleine became accustomed to town life the easier she found it to deaden her recollections of the past. But however successful she was in burying them out of sight for the time, they would recur whenever she was alone. But she refused to listen to them; they could never become realities. Still, she never cared to go home to Bratvold with her father, even for a few days. She seemed to dread looking on the sea again.
All that day Rachel had waited in vain; she was beginning to be uneasy. Why did he not come to see her—she who had been so much the cause of his enterprise? He must know how anxious she was to talk with him, and to thank him. It was surely impossible for him to think that she also believed that he had gone too far. Should he not come to-morrow, she would write to him.
There was but little conversation that evening at dinner. The Consul was as precise and polite as he generally was when he was alone with the ladies. Fanny, who had come in hopes of curing her headache, was silent and suffering. By ten o’clock the whole house was perfectly quiet, but Rachel was still sitting in her room, lost in thought. She could not read, but several times she took up a pen to write, she scarcely knew what. She never accomplished her intention, and at last she put out the light, and sat down and gazed over the fjord, which lay sparkling in the moonlight. If, forsaken by every one, he now came to her and prayed for even more than her friendship, for this too she was prepared, and had finally decided on her answer. He was a man, and a courageous one, and she was determined to follow him. What a joy it had been to her to meet such a man! But why was she out of spirits now?