Absalom's Hair eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about Absalom's Hair.

Her husband’s behaviour towards her was such that, had she not been very popular, she could not have remained at Hellebergene; that is to say, he opposed and thwarted her in every way he could; but every one took her part.

The boy!  Could not he have been a bond of union?  On the contrary, there were those who declared that it was from the time of his birth that things had gone amiss between the parents.  The first time that his father saw him the nurse reported that he “came in like a lord and went out like a beggar!” The mother lay down again and laughed; the nurse had never seen the like of it before.  Had he expected that his child must of necessity resemble him, only to find it the image of its mother?

When the boy was old enough he loved to wander across to his father’s rooms where there were so many curious things to see; his father always received him kindly, talking in a way suited to his childish intelligence, but he would take occasion to cut away a quantity of his hair.  His mother let it grow free and long like her own, and his father perpetually cut it.  The boy would have been glad enough to be rid of it, but when he grew a little older, he comprehended his father’s motive, and thenceforth he was on his guard.

When the people on the estate had told him something of his father’s highly-coloured histories of his feats of strength and his achievements by land and water, the boy began to feel a shy admiration for him, but at the same time he felt all the more strongly the intolerable yoke which he laid upon them—­upon every living being on the estate.  It became a secret religion with him to oppose his father and help his mother, for it was she who suffered.  He would resemble her even to his hair, he would protect her, he would make it all up to her.  It was a positive delight to him when his father made him suffer:  he absolutely felt proud when he called him Rafaella, instead of Rafael, the name which his mother had chosen for him; it was the one that she loved best.

No one was allowed to use the boats or the carriage, no one might walk through the woods, which had been fenced in, the horses were never taken out.  No repairs were undertaken; if Fru Kaas attempted to have anything done at her own expense, the workmen were ordered off:  there could no longer be any doubt about it, he wished everything to go to rack and ruin.  The property went from bad to worse, and the woods—­well!  It was no secret, every one on the place talked about it—­the timber was being utterly ruined.  The best and largest trees were already rotten; by degrees the rest would become so.

At twelve years of age Rafael began to receive religious teaching from the Dean:  the only subject in which his mother did not instruct him.  He shared these lessons with Helene, the Dean’s only child, who was four years younger than Rafael and of whom he was devotedly fond.

The Dean told them the story of David.  The narrative was unfolded with additions and explanations; the boy made a picture of it to himself; his mother had taught him everything in this way.

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Absalom's Hair from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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