The chaplain was on his way to Sandsgaard, with his newly acquired smile on his features. The lovely weather enlivened him, and made his thoughts cheerful and full of hope; for the chaplain was going a-wooing.
It was fully two years since Martens had lost his first wife; he had really regretted his loss, but now it was a long time ago. It would have been quite improper, and not at all in accordance with the views of the congregation, for so young a widower to remain single longer than was absolutely required by the ordinary rules of society. Now, the chaplain knew just as well as any one that a particular charm attaches to an unmarried clergyman—that is, for a time; and he also fully agreed with Dean Sparre, when he said a short time previously, “If a congregation is to have the peaceful, comforting feeling that their souls are well cared for, they should have the example of a peaceful, homely life before their eyes, in the form of a motherly wife at the rectory, and even better still, a family of happy children.”
And besides, Pastor Martens was really in love. Madeleine Garman had long ago, in fact as soon as ever she left Bratvold, taken possession of his heart by her modest and natural demeanour; and no worldly expectations mingled in the chaplain’s affections. He knew that Richard Garman had not a shilling, and he was sufficiently free from prejudice to disbelieve the general report that Madeleine’s father had never been properly married to her mother. In Madeleine he hoped to find the retiring and simple-minded woman for whom he was seeking, and latterly, since her manners had become even more quiet, he had paid her greater attention, and it appeared to him that she met him in a modest and womanly manner.
On his arrival at Sandsgaard, he met Mrs. Garman in her room, and to her he entrusted his secret. At first she did not seem to take to the idea, but on second thoughts she appeared more favourably disposed. She considered that sooner or later something of the kind must happen, and it was perhaps just as well that the chaplain, who was already so dear to her should become a member of the family. She therefore said, when she had made up her mind—
“Well, Mr. Martens, if you really think that Madeleine will make you a good wife in the eyes of God and man, I have nothing to do but give you my very best wishes on the choice you have made. You will find Madeleine in the green-room.”
Pastor Martens went off to the green-room, and returned after a quarter of an hour had elapsed; but Mrs. Garman’s astonishment defies description, when she learnt that he had met with a refusal.
“Tell me,” she groaned—“tell me every word. Oh, the poor misguided child!”
“I am afraid I cannot tell you every word that passed, Mrs. Garman,” answered Martens, pale with emotion; “I am too much shocked and—”
“And surprised too, I am sure,” said Mrs. Garman, concluding his sentence; “yes, that I can readily believe. What is the matter with the child? What reason did she give?”