In the room below she heard her grandfather stumbling about, drinking up what was left in the glasses. Marianne clasped her hands, and prayed that she might die; but in the night she got up, and felt herself throbbing with heat and shivering with fever. She thought she could hear a tumult, and the sound of many voices.
Mrs. Garman had already gone to bed after her long and tiring day. Madeleine had also slipped out of the way, as she always tried to do when Fanny came. Both Fanny and Morten were at Sandsgaard that evening. The latter behaved to Madeleine just as before, and was so smiling and kind that Madeleine had often to ask herself if she had not, after all, been dreaming on that moonlight evening.
It was nearly eleven o’clock, and Gabriel had just returned from his expedition to the field above the West End. He had heard a noise up there when he had gone out to see how the wind was.
The Consul and Uncle Richard were playing chess. Morten, Fanny, and Rachel were talking of to-morrow’s ball, and they every now and then addressed themselves to Miss Cordsen, who was sitting by the fireside polishing the silver.
“It is a south wind, is it not, Gabriel?” said the Consul, as he listened to the sough of the wind through the trees.
“South-west, and blowing fresh, father,” answered Gabriel.
“Good!” said the Consul. “It won’t do us any harm if only the wind doesn’t get round to the northward, because that drives the sea right in on to the yard.”
The ladies were getting up to say good night, and Morten was just going to brew himself another glass of toddy, when excited voices were heard below. Some one came hurriedly up the staircase, the door opened, and in rushed Anders Begmand. His face was as white as it could be for sweat and pitch, his stiff hair was standing on end, while, hat in hand and with his eyes fixed on the young Consul, he began—“The—the—the”—quicker and quicker. It was quite plain that it was something of great importance, and his face grew as red as fire with the effort. “The—the—the—”
“Sing, will you?” shouted the young Consul, stamping on the floor.
Begmand began singing to a merry little air, “A fire’s broken out in the pitch-house!”
At the same moment some one in the yard below shouted at the top of his voice, “Fire! fire!”
Morten tore aside the blind, and the red glare could be seen on the dewy panes. Every one sprang to the window.
“Silence!” cried the young Consul, while every one paused and looked at him. The little man was standing as erect as an arrow, his eyes calm and clear, and his lower jaw projecting as usual; and as if conscious that he was the chief of the house, he said, “A fire has broken out in the building-yard. You, Morten, go and get the two engines from the warehouse. The keys are hanging in the men’s bedroom. Take the fire-buckets with you.”