“All right. Good night then, mother. Pleasant dreams to you.”
Henrik found Marie sitting by the open window looking over the tops of the shrubbery in the garden. The light from the setting sun bathed her in its glow, increasing the beauty of an already beautiful face. Henrik stepped up behind the girl and placed his hands under her chin. She did not turn her head.
“This is a surprise,” he said, “but I am so glad to see you. Did you have a pleasant time at Skarpen?”
There was no reply. The young woman still surveyed the garden and the darkening shadows on the lawn.
“What is the matter, little girl?” he asked. He felt the trembling of her chin as she removed his hands.
“No,” she replied, “I did not have a good time.”
“I’m sorry. What was wrong?”
“You were not there—you were somewhere else, where your heart is more than with me—you were, no doubt at Osterhausgade.” She hardened her tone as she proceeded.
“Oh, I’m not there all the time,” he laughed.
“You think more of the people you meet there than you do of me, at any rate.”
“What makes you think so?”
“You, and your actions. O, Henrik, could you but hear the talk—I hear it, and people look so strangely at me, and pity me ... I can’t stand it!” She arose as if to escape him, walked across the room, then sat down by the center table. He closed the window blind, then lighted the gas, and seated himself opposite her by the table. There was a pause which she at last broke by saying:
“I hear that you are actually going to join those horrid people—is that true?”
There was another long silence as they looked at each other across the table.
“Yes,” he said.
“That was my intention—yes.”
“And we were to be married next month?”
“Well, I want to tell you, Henrik, that if you join those people the wedding day will have to be postponed.”
“For how long?”
“For a long, long time.”
“Well—I had thought to be baptized next week; but, of course, I can postpone it.”
“For good, Henrik—say for good.”
“No; I can’t say that; for a little while—to please you, to let you think a little longer on the matter. I want you to choose deliberately, Marie. There need be no undue haste. I don’t want you to make up your mind unalterably to reject me because of the step which I am going to take.”
“I have already made up my mind.”
“You must choose between me or—”
“Don’t say it, don’t; you’ll be sorry some day, if you do; for the less said, the less there is to retract.”
Marie arose. “I’m not going to take anything back,” she answered with forceful anger. “I thought you loved me, but—I—have been mistaken. I shall not annoy you longer. Good night.”