The pair had just reached the place at which two paths crossed each other, which was illuminated by a broad patch of moonlight. Madeleine could not help being curious to see who it might be, and still stood leaning out of the window, holding on to the fastening of the sun-blind. The lovers stood still for a moment, as if they felt that there was danger in passing the place. At length they took courage, and sped hastily by. But not hastily enough—Madeleine had recognized them both. Her pulse seemed to stop and her heart to sink within her, and without uttering a sound she slipped down on the floor under the window. In the passage, outside her door, she heard Morten go grumbling back from the bedroom which he and Fanny usually occupied, and in which she was not to be found.
Madeleine’s head became clear in a moment In another instant he would be down the staircase, out in the garden, and then—They must be saved, but why she did not know, nor how; but save them she must. Her first idea was to close the window with a bang, but she did not dare to stand up. In her need she saw the water-bottle on the table. She seized it, and, without lifting her head, put it on the window-sill. She gave it a push, and a second after she heard the crash of the glass, and the splash of the water on the paving-stones with which the house was surrounded. She lay still, crouched in a heap under the window.
A light hurried step and the rustle of a dress were heard over the lawn. All was so still, and her nerves were in such a state of tension, that Madeleine could hear one of the French windows carefully opened and closed again. The step came upstairs, and as it passed her door she heard Morten’s voice say, “I am sure you never thought that I should come out this evening;” and Fanny’s answer, “Oh, one feels that sort of thing instinctively!”
Madeleine breathed again. It was indeed Fanny’s voice, in its most insinuating and deceitful tones.
A short time afterwards she got up and closed her window, and withdrawing into the farthest corner of the room, she hastily undressed and crept into bed. Her tears flowed the whole time, but she was utterly crushed, and soon fell into a heavy slumber.
A good hour after Madeleine had gone to sleep, her door opened noiselessly, and a tall shadowy form glided into the chamber. The form placed a water-bottle upon the table. The moon had reached the point at which it shone obliquely into the window, and down upon the bed where Madeleine was sleeping. The apparition drew the curtains more closely, and the while a beam of moonlight passed over its features. They were furrowed with innumerable small wrinkles, and a night-cap with starched strings was knotted tightly under the chin.
Noiselessly as it had entered, the apparition glided out again, and the door closed.