THE HARVARD CLASSICS SHELF OF FICTION [From Vol. 20] SELECTED BY CHARLES W ELIOT LL D
BY ALEXANDER L. KIELLAND
EDITED WITH NOTES AND INTRODUCTIONS BY WILLIAM ALLAN NEILSON PH D
P F COLLIER & SON NEW YORK
Published under special arrangement with The Macmillan Company
Copyright, 1886 By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Copyright, 1917 By P. F. COLLIER & SON
CRITICISMS AND INTERPRETATIONS: I. BY H. H. BOYESEN II. BY WILLIAM H. CARPENTER
Alexander Kielland was born in Stavanger, Norway, on February 18, 1849, of a wealthy family of shipowners. After studying law at the University of Christiania he bought a brick and tile factory at Malk, near his native town, and for some years it appeared as if he were to follow the family tradition and become merely a substantial citizen of provincial importance. But about 1878 he began to publish some short stories in the Christiania "Dagblad," and in 1879 and 1880 there appeared two volumes of "Novelettes." These were marked by a light satirical touch and a sympathy with liberal ideas, and were written in a style which may well have owed some of its clarity to the study of French models, made during the author's visits to Paris. His first regular novel was "Garman and Worse," a picture of the same small-town society which we find in the novel here printed. "Laboring People" followed in 1881, when Kielland sold out his business and became purely a man of letters. "Skipper Worse" was his third novel, and among the more important of his other works are "Poison," "Fortuna," "Snow," "St. John's Eve," "Jacob," and a number of dramas and comedies. He died at Bergen, on April 6, 1906.
Kielland's method is realistic, and a number of his works are written with a fairly distinct "purpose." As this purpose often involves sharp criticism of conventions and beliefs dear to the comfortable classes, Kielland roused no small amount of opposition and disapproval. But as it grows more possible to see his work in perspective, it becomes more evident that his clear-sightedness and honesty of purpose as well as his mastery of style will give him an honored place among Norwegian writers.
"Skipper Worse" is not only thoroughly typical of Kielland's work, but, so far as there can be said to be general agreement, it is regarded as his masterpiece. Like so many of his books, it gives a picture of the well-to-do merchants, shippers, and fisher-folk of the west coast of Norway, the special subject being the workings of the Haugian pietistic movement. Although this particular movement was specifically Norwegian, it is sufficiently typical of a kind of revival familiar in many countries to make this study of it interesting to foreign readers. Kielland's handling of the Haugians is remarkable for its fairness and restraint. The sincerity of the best representatives of the sect is abundantly exhibited, as well as the limitations of the weaker brethren; but this balanced treatment does not prevent the author from showing with great force and poignancy the deplorable crushing of the innocent human affections by unintelligent fanaticism.
The portraiture of individuals is as successful as that of the society in which they move. Worse himself is rendered with a rare mingling of humor and pathos; Hans Nilsen is a striking example of the religious enthusiast, drawn with feeling and subtlety; and Madame Torvestad, though belonging to a familiar type, is well individualized.
It requires a high degree of art to take a provincial group, in special local circumstances, and to present these in such a way as not only to interest the outsider, but to convince him of the truth of the presentation by showing the characters as acting from motives valid for human nature in general. This is what Kielland does, displaying in the doing of it, an uncommon delicacy of perception and accuracy of perspective. He is one of the writers who have done most to make Scandinavia count in the modern world.
W. A. N.
CRITICISMS AND INTERPRETATIONS
I BY H. H. BOYESEN
Kielland's third novel, "Skipper Worse," marked a distinct step in his development. It was less of a social satire and more of a social study. It was not merely a series of brilliant, exquisitely finished scenes, loosely strung together on a slender thread of narrative, but was a concise and well-constructed story, full of admirable portraits. The theme is akin to that of Daudet's "L'Evangeliste"; but Kielland, as it appears to me, has in this instance outdone his French confrere, as regards insight into the peculiar character and poetry of the pietistic movement. He has dealt with it as a psychological and not primarily as a pathological phenomenon. A comparison with Daudet suggests itself constantly in reading Kielland. Their methods of workmanship and their attitude toward life have many points in common. The charm of style, the delicacy of touch, and felicity of phrase, are in both cases preeminent. Daudet has, however, the advantage (or, as he himself asserts, the disadvantage) of working in a flexible and highly finished language, which bears the impress of the labors of a hundred masters; while Kielland has to produce his effects of style in a poorer and less pliable language, which often pants and groans in its efforts to render a subtle thought. To have polished this tongue and sharpened its capacity for refined and incisive utterance, is one—and not the least—of his merits.
Though he has by nature no more sympathy with the pietistic movement than Daudet, Kielland yet manages to get psychologically closer to his problem. His pietists are more humanly interesting than those of Daudet, and the little drama which they set in motion is more genuinely pathetic. Two superb figures—the lay preacher Hans Nilsen and Skipper Worse—surpass all that the author had hitherto produced in depth of conception and brilliancy of execution. The marriage of that delightful, profane old sea-dog, Jacob Worse, with the pious Sara Torvestad, and the attempts of his mother-in-law to convert him, are described not with the merely superficial drollery to which the subject invites, but with a sweet and delicate humor which trembles on the verge of pathos.—From "Essays on Scandinavian Literature" (1895).
II BY WILLIAM H. CARPENTER
Alexander Kielland is the least Norwegian of all the Norwegian writers, not only among his contemporaries, like Bjornson and Jonas Lie, but among the newer men of the subsequent generation, like Gabriel Finne, Knut Hamsun, and Vilhelm Krag, whose names we Americans have hardly yet learned to know. I mean this, however, less in regard to his matter than to his manner. Although several of his short stories are French in their setting and others are Danish, the greater part of his work and all of the important novels and plays act and have their being in Norway. Kielland's attitude towards his material, on the other hand, is new to Norwegian literature. For the first time in his pages, among both his forbears and his contemporaries, we meet with the point of view of a man of the world. Bjornson and Jonas Lie have always a sort of homely provincialism, inherent and characteristic, that is part and parcel of their literary personality, whose absence would be felt under the circumstances as a lack of necessary vigour. Kielland, on the contrary, as inherently, has throughout unmistakably an air of savoir vivre, in the long run much surer in its appeal to us outside of Norway because of its more general intelligibility. Bjornson and Jonas Lie in this way have secured places in literature in no small part because of their characteristic Norwegianism; Kielland to some little extent has secured his place because of the want of it. Ibsen is here left out of the discussion. He is quite sui generis, and apart from the mere choice of environment, for his work could belong anywhere....
Kielland's novels are one and all novels of tendency. With his first short stories as a criterion, and a knowledge of his own personal antecedents and the almost necessary predilections that he might be supposed to possess, his career as a novelist could not have been foreseen. His early stories betray no great seriousness of purpose, and his personal environment removed him as far as possible from liberalism in ethics and religion, from socialistic proclivities even remotely democratic, and a ready susceptibility to the whole spirit of the age. Yet these are just the characteristics of his later books. They are strong, liberal, and modern; so much so that many of them have evoked a loud spirit of protest in Norway, where leaven of this sort is still striven against in many quarters.—From "Alexander Kielland," in "The Bookman" (1896).
"Here, Lauritz, you young scamp, go aloft and clear the dogvane."
Skipper Worse was standing on his quarter-deck, a fresh north wind was blowing in the fjord, and the old brig was gliding along quietly under easy sail.
A chopping sea, caused by the ebbing tide, was breaking outside the cape which marked the entrance to Sandsgaard Bay.
As the Hope of the Family rounded the point, she seemed to feel that she was safe at home. Captain Worse winked at the helmsman, and declared that the old thing knew well enough where she was now that they were round.
The Hope of the Family was not quite like other ships. It might be that some looked smarter and lighter; indeed, it was not entirely beyond the range of possibility—though, as for Jacob Worse, he had never yet seen such a one—that, amongst the new-fangled English craft, one or two might be found that could sail just the least trifle better.
No further admission, however, would he make. Anything stronger, more seaworthy, or more complete than the Hope did not, and never would, float upon the sea. The sun shone brightly upon the buildings at Sandsgaard, on the garden and the wharf, and over all the pleasant bay, where the summer ripples chased each other to the land, hurrying on with the news that Jacob Worse had entered the fjord.
Zacharias, the man at the wharf, had, however, already announced the fact.
"Are you so sure about it?" asked Consul Garman sharply.
"We've made her out with the telescope, Herr Consul, and I'm as sure it's the Hope as that I am a living sinner. She is steering right in for Sandsgaard Bay."
Morten W. Garman rose up from his armchair. He was a tall, ponderous man, with crisp white hair and a heavy underlip.
As he took his hat and stick, his hand trembled a little, for the Hope had been away a very long time at sea. In the outer office the book-keeper was standing by the little outlook window; taking the telescope from his hand, the Consul spied out over the fjord, and then closing the glass, said: "All right; Jacob Worse is a man one can depend upon."
It was the first time that a ship from those parts had sailed to Rio de Janeiro, and the perilous voyage had been due entirely to Jacob Worse's enterprise.
He had, however, been away so long that the Consul had given up the Hope, as he had given up so many other ships of late years.
Although he was now relieved of all anxiety on account of the ship and his trusty Captain Worse, his footstep was heavy, and resounded sadly as he left the office and strode through the entrance hall, whence a broad staircase led up to the next story.
Much more, indeed, than merely a profitable voyage would be required in order to console the embarrassed merchant, for his home at Sandsgaard was empty and desolate. Youth and social pleasures had fled, and little remained but bygone memories of gay friends and brilliant ladies; a faint odour of the past lingering in out-of-the-way corners, and causing his heart to beat again.
Ever since the death of his wife in the past summer, all the reception-rooms had been closed. Both his sons were abroad, Christian Frederik in London, and Richard in Stockholm; and Consul Garman, who had always been accustomed to gay company, found that living alone with the sisters of his deceased wife—two elderly spinsters who quarrelled over the management of his domestic affairs—was not very exhilarating.
As Jacob Worse, standing on the deck of his good ship, gazed at the stir along the wharves and round about the bay, his heart swelled with pride.
All the boats in the place came rowing out towards the brig. The relatives of his men, the mothers and the sweethearts, waved handkerchiefs and wept for joy. Many of them had, indeed, long since given up the Hope as lost.
No relations came out to welcome Skipper Worse. He was a widower, and his only son was away at a commercial school in Lubeck. What he looked forward to was talking about Rio with the other captains at his club, but the chief pleasure in store for him was the yarns he would spin with Skipper Randulf.
What would Randulf's much-boasted voyage to Taganrog be, compared with Rio? Would not he—Worse—just lay it on thickly?
In his younger days Jacob Worse had been a little wild, and was now a jovial middle-aged man, about fifty years of age.
His body was thickset and short, his face that of a seaman—square, ruddy, frank, and pleasant. If any one could have counted the hairs upon his head, the result would have been surprising, for they were as close as on an otter's skin, and growing in a peculiar manner. They looked as if a whirlwind had first attacked the crown of his head from behind, twisting up a spiral tuft in the centre, and laying the remainder flat, pointing forwards, along the sides. It seemed as if his hair had remained fixed and unmoved ever since. About his ears there were rows of small curls, like the ripple-marks on sand after a breeze of wind.
When Jacob Worse saw the "ladies' boat" waiting, ready manned, alongside the quay, he rubbed his hands with delight, for this preparation betokened a singular distinction; and when he saw the Consul step into this boat, he skipped round the deck in boyish glee. It was, in fact, unusual for the Consul to come on board to welcome the arrival of a ship. Generally some one was sent from the office, if neither of the sons was at home: for both Christian Frederik, and especially Richard, liked to board the ships far out of the fjord, that they might have a sail homewards and drink marsala in the cabin.
[Footnote 1: In the larger mercantile houses of Norway, at the seaports, a "Fruens Baad," or ladies' boat, is kept for the especial use of the lady of the house.]
When the brig came to anchor, the ladies' boat was still a little way off; Skipper Worse, however, could no longer restrain himself. Laying hold of a shroud, he swung himself on the top rail and waving his hat, cried out, in a voice that rang out all over Sandsgaard, "We come late, Herr Consul, but we come safely."
Consul Garman smiled as he returned the salute, at the same time quietly removing the rings from the fingers of his right hand; for he dreaded the grip of Jacob Worse on his return from a voyage.
The delighted captain stood on deck, hat in hand, in a respectful attitude, whilst the Consul, with stiff and cautious steps, ascended the accommodation ladder.
"Welcome, Jacob Worse."
"Many thanks, Herr Consul."
The Consul surrendered his hand to be duly squeezed.
The crew stood round in a respectful circle to receive the friendly salute of the owner; they were already cleaned up and in their shore-going clothes, for so many friends and relations had boarded the brig as she was standing in, that there was no necessity for them to lend a hand in mooring the brig.
The manly, sunburnt faces bore a somewhat strange aspect here in the cool early summer time, and one or two wore a red shirt, or a blue Scotch bonnet brought from that wonderful Rio.
Their beaming faces showed what heroes they considered themselves, and they longed to get on shore to recount their adventures.
"Here's a young scamp," said Captain Worse, "who went out a cabin boy, but now we have given him the rating of an apprentice. The Consul must know that we had two deaths at Rio—the devil's own climate.—Come, Lauritz, step forward and show yourself."
A lad of about seventeen was at last shoved forward, awkward and blushing; much soaping had made his chubby red face shine like an apple.
"What is his name?" said the Consul.
"Lauritz Seehus," answered the lad.
"Lauritz Boldemand Seehus," added the captain, giving the name in full.
The men tittered at this, for they were in the habit of calling him "Bollemand," or "The Baker."
"We always give special attention to Captain Worse's recommendations, and if the young man will but follow the example of such a worthy officer"—here the Consul made a low bow to the captain—"the firm will advance him according to his merits. Moreover, when we come to pay off, the crew will receive a bonus, in consideration of the long and perilous voyage. The firm offers its best thanks to all for good and faithful service."
The Consul bowed to them all, and went below with the captain.
The men were much pleased, both on account of the bonus, and because it was unusual for shipowners thus to come on board and speak to common folk. It was not the habit of Consul Garman to trouble himself much about the persons in his employ. Not that he was a hard master—on the contrary, he always returned a salute with courtesy, and had a word or two for everybody; but his manner was so extremely distant and lofty, that the least demonstration of friendliness on his part was a condescension accepted with gratitude and wonder.
Half an hour later, when he entered his boat again to go on shore, the men cheered him. Standing up, he raised his hat to them; he was, in fact, much moved, and was anxious to get home, and to be alone in his office.
The Consul took the ship's papers and a bag of gold on shore with him, for the venture had been a prosperous one. The firm "C. F. Garman" had not done so good a business for a long time. So far it was satisfactory, but it was not enough; for in spite of all Morten Garman's efforts during the years that had elapsed since his father's death, he had never succeeded in bringing life and vigour to the large and widely extended business.
The firm had suffered so much during the period of war, and from a reduction in the currency, that it was paralyzed for many years, and at one time indeed seemed past recovery.
The fact was that from the first its means were locked up in landed property to an extent which was out of all proportion to its diminished available capital. Besides this, there were debts which pressed heavily upon it.
Time brought no improvement; Morten W. Garman, who was an exceptionally able man of business, was compelled to put forth all his energy and diligence to maintain the ancient reputation of his firm.
So long as he remained young, the concern struggled on; but now that he was advanced in years, his wife dead, and his home desolate, it pained him to think that he might leave the business which had been his joy and pride, and which he had hoped to make so great and so enduring, bereft of its vitality and in a feeble and disorganized condition.
The household expenditure at Sandsgaard had always been considerable, for his attractive and vivacious wife had been fond of parties, masquerades, and entertainments, and her tastes had been fully shared by her husband.
The freer mode of life which came in with the century, as well as his position as the eldest son of a large mercantile family, had encouraged somewhat extravagant views of life, and in the town his ostentation had given rise to not a little derision and offence. Of this, however, nothing reached his ears.
Owing to his foreign education, and to his frequent journeys abroad, he brought back a peculiar atmosphere which pervaded his whole life, his views, and his opinions—which latter were, indeed, very different from those prevailing in the frugal little town, which at this period found itself in a state of fermentation, owing on the one hand to commercial progress, and on the other to a strong religious movement.
As yet, however, the old-fashioned mode of entertainment prevailed at Sandsgaard, where the civil and military personages of the grander sort kept up their ancient traditions at festivals where they ate well and drank deeply. Freedom and courtesy were so well balanced in this society, that little restraint was put upon conversation. A risque word, the stray touch of a too daring hand or foot, or a whisper behind a fan, which was in truth a furtive kiss, with a hundred other trifling liberties, were permitted. Frivolity enveloped the company as with a silken veil, and yet everything moved as politely and as sedately as a minuet.
In this sort of life Consul Garman carried himself as easily and as adroitly as a fish in its native element.
When he sat in his office on the mornings of his great dinner parties, his pen flew over the paper, and on such occasions he indited his ablest letters.
His thoughts were so clear, and his mind so prompt and unembarrassed, that everything was arranged and ordered with the utmost precision.
In the same despatch in which he bespoke a cargo of coffee, he would not forget twelve packets of sealing-wax and two hampers of Dutch tobacco pipes for his store. He would descend without difficulty from instructions to a captain who had lost his ship, to the most minute details respecting certain stove pipes which he had seen in London, and which he wished to introduce into the town hospital.
But when the post had been despatched, and the hour of three—the usual hour for dinner parties—approached, and when the Consul had shaved himself carefully, and had applied himself to sundry pots and flasks of pomades and essences, he stepped up the broad staircase, dressed in a long-skirted blue coat with bright buttons, a closely fitting waistcoat, and a frilled shirt with a diamond breast-pin, his comely iron-grey hair slightly powdered and curled. Perhaps, too, he would be humming some French ditty of questionable propriety, thinking of the gallantries of his youth; and as he stepped daintily forward with his shapely legs, he would sometimes indulge in a hope that knee breeches would again come into fashion.
In spite of his gallantries, however, Consul Garman had been an exemplary husband, according to the standard of the times; and when his wife died he really grieved for her, placing sundry tablets with affectionate inscriptions in those parts of the garden which were her special favourites.
After her death he gave up society, so that this item of expenditure diminished perceptibly. Two other items, however, showed a tendency to increase—the expenses connected with his sons, especially Richard.
His affections were now bestowed upon these sons. Richard was at once his pride and his weakness; a handsome exterior and easy temperament were a reflection of his own youth; and when Richard took his best horse and saddle, as well as his riding whip, which no one else was allowed to touch, he stole from window to window, as long as his son was in sight, pleased to observe his bearing and his seat on horseback.
With his eldest son, Christian Frederik, the Consul was, however, more strict.
He would write to Richard somewhat after the following fashion, when his extravagance became serious:
"I can well understand that the carriere which you, with the sanction of your parents, have adopted, involves you in sundry expenses, which, although apparently unnecessary, may on a closer scrutiny be found, to a certain extent, warranted by circumstances. On the other hand, however, I would have you to consider whether you could not, at a perceptibly less cost, attain the same results as regards your future in the diplomatic profession.
"Especially would I exhort you to keep regular accounts. Not so much that I desire to limit your expenditure, as that, according to my own experience, such accounts are an aid to self-control."
But accounts, and especially regular ones, were not to Richard's liking. Sometimes, indeed, he pretended to render them; but the letter soon drifted into jests and amusing stories, which diverted his father, and made him forget all about the money.
Christian Frederik, however, had sent regular monthly extracts from his account book ever since he had been at the Institute in Christiania, and these extracts were scrutinized by his father with unfailing rigour.
If there was any error in the address, not to mention any mistake in the posting up, or if any item appeared which seemed unusual or excessive, the son received a sharp admonition, warning him that inaccuracy or extravagance were absolutely unpardonable in a man of business.
This kept Christian Frederik in constant dread of his father, and sometimes he felt much hurt; but he would have been consoled had he known with what satisfaction the Consul examined these well-kept accounts, and with what care they were filed and laid aside in a certain drawer.
Christian Frederik, however, was the only person whom the Consul admitted to his confidence, and in the copious letters which he wrote to him at least once a month, he kept him informed upon business matters. Latterly, too, he had sometimes asked him his opinion upon one thing or another. The Consul was much interested, and to some degree disturbed, by the development of the town during the last two years. Moneyed strangers, who bought and cured herrings on their own account, shipping them off by thousands of barrels in the spring season, began to appear.
Large fortunes were made by the Haugians and others, who interlarded their business letters with Scripture phrases, and who had not the least idea of book-keeping.
The town was alive with stir and business, mixed up with religion, to the unceasing astonishment of the old merchant. Money, too, was abundant among these new folks.
At this period the anxieties of the Consul were revived, but he kept them to himself. On no account should Christian Frederik know what difficulties he often had to encounter.
The Hope lay safely moored, with her ensign at the peak, and flying the distinguished flag of the firm. Whilst the crew went on shore, a constant stream of visitors came on board, both from Sandsgaard and from the town.
The captain's white gig having been manned, he seated himself in the stern sheets, a large flag trailing in the water behind him. Lauritz Seehus, creeping in behind him, took the yoke lines, so that everything should be done man-of-war fashion. The six men pulled with a long stroke, their oars dipping along the surface of the sea as they feathered them.
It was in this style that Captain Worse had always looked forward to making his appearance on his return, and as he neared the quay he became highly elated.
It would never have suited him to be landed at Sandsgaard and to go on foot thence to the town, although it was the shortest and quickest way. It was one of his fancies to look upon Sandsgaard as an island, and, however bad the weather, he always went by boat to and from the town.
He could see that a flag was displayed at his own warehouse by the market quay—for he owned a straggling old building which occupied one side of the market, and ended in a large five-storied structure projecting into the sea. Jacob Worse was, in fact, a rich man, partly from his own savings during many years as a captain, and partly from successful speculations of his own.
But when he was at home for the winter season, he busied himself with the fishery from the moment it began, buying selling, and curing on his own account. The firm "C. F. Garman" did not trouble itself with the herring fishery; it traded directly and by commission in salt and grain, in addition to its banking and discounting business.
Captain Worse had in the course of years become a comparatively wealthy man, and when, as on this occasion, he had been away for a long time, he was anxious to learn how the persons in his employ had conducted themselves in his absence.
But his chief desire was to meet Captain Randulf; and every time he thought of it he slapped his leg and laughed aloud.
As it was summer, there were but few vessels in the harbour; most of these, however, hoisted their colours when they saw Jacob Worse's boat approaching. His acquaintances hailed him from wharf and warehouse on each side of the bay, and he saluted in return, beaming with pride and pleasure.
"Where are you going to lodge, Lauritz?" said he, as they approached the wharf, for Lauritz Seehus's home was away at Flekkefjord.
"I think I shall stay with Madame Torvestad, where I always used to lodge," said the lad.
"Oh, bother!" said Skipper Worse; "now that you are grown up you cannot stay with that old bundle of tracts."
Observing, however, a certain expression on the countenances of his men, he remembered himself, and added, "Ah, you scamp, it is for the girls' sake that you wish to go to Madame Torvestad's. Mind what you are about; remember that I command that ship too."
This was his joke, for Madame Torvestad rented a portion of the back of his house.
When Skipper Worse reached the market quay he met with a sad disappointment. Captain Randulf was away in the Baltic with a cargo of herrings.
"Sarah, are you going to the meeting this afternoon?" said Madame Torvestad to her eldest daughter.
"Captain Worse has returned; I shall step across and welcome him home. The poor man is probably still in his sins. Only think, Sarah, if it should be granted to one of us to recover this wanderer from the fold!"
Madame Torvestad looked hard at her daughter as she said this, but Sarah, who stood at the kitchen dresser washing up the dinner plates, did not raise her eyes, which were dark and large, with long eyelashes, and heavy black eyebrows.
"You can just inquire among the friends if any would like to drop in and talk over the subjects discussed at this meeting, that we may strengthen and encourage one another."
Madame Torvestad went into the sitting-room, which was rather dark, being at the back part of the building. For the rest, it was well and solidly furnished, very clean and orderly, but withal a little formal. She was the widow of an elder among the Brethren, and after her husband's death no other person had been forthcoming to supply his place. The number of the genuine Herrnhutters was neither large nor increasing, for the prevailing religious movement was rather in the direction of Haugianism.
There was, however, so much conformity of doctrine, and such a similarity in outward conduct, that the ordinary public could hardly see a shade of difference between the Herrnhutters and the Haugians; and, in truth, there was a gradual amalgamation of the two sects.
Originally there was no small difference between the Brethren and the followers of Hauge. Hauge sought and found his earliest and most devoted disciples among the peasants. The Brethren, on the other hand, consisted chiefly of well-to-do townspeople, who, under their German leaders, and by their frequent visits to Christiansfeldt and other stations of the Herrnhutters, had attained a higher degree both of intellectual and social culture.
But at a later period, when Hans Nilsen Hauge's revivals had overrun the land, and had emerged from innumerable troubles; especially, too, when Hauge's long imprisonment and subsequent death became known, as well as the disgraceful persecution which blameless and God-fearing people had undergone at the hands of the authorities—the movement gained adherents among those who had hitherto looked with contempt and aversion upon the peasant fanatics and visionaries.
All this contributed to an amalgamation of the two sects; Hauge's followers were, moreover, always inclined to tolerance and brotherly love when they met with living Christian faith. The Herrnhutters, on their part, were neither strong nor numerous enough to maintain a completely independent position, even had they desired it.
It was for such reasons that Madame Torvestad sent her daughter to the new Haugian meeting-house; and in the same way the converts of both persuasions came to her own small meetings. She retained certain words and phrases which reminded those who frequented them of her long residence in Gnadau, and she was also in the habit of reading aloud to her guests certain small tracts which she herself had partly translated from the German.
Madame Torvestad passed from the parlour to the workroom, where the servant girl sat weaving steadily and skilfully. Distaffs and reels of yarn lay about, and on the table by the window materials for dressmaking; for this was a house where devotion was mixed up with constant and useful work.
"Where is Henrietta?" asked Madame Torvestad.
"She went out to learn why the vessels in port have hoisted their colours," said the girl.
"Ah, Martha, how the hearts of the young are drawn to worldly follies!"
In the mean time, Sarah continued her work, humming a psalm tune. This week it was her turn to manage the kitchen; she took it turn about with the girl, for Henrietta was as yet too young.
Sarah was twenty-six years of age. Although a laborious and regular life had made her strong and robust, she was very pale, for she seldom went out of doors, and never farther than the church or meeting. Her comely face contrasted pleasantly with the full chin, which bore a trace of the commanding expression of her mother. She wore her hair quite smooth, with plaits coiled round the back of her head.
The charm of Sarah's face and figure was not such as is apparent one year and vanishes the next; on the contrary, there was something about her soft rounded features, pale clear complexion, and steadfast eyes resulting in a calm, attractive beauty which promised to be lasting.
Standing at the dresser amid the clatter of plates and cups, humming her psalm tune, she did not hear the footsteps of a man ascending the kitchen stairs; but when the door opened, she turned round, then blushed a little, and cast her eyes down upon the ground.
The man in the doorway, who was tall and broad-shouldered, also cast his eyes down, and said: "Look here, Sarah, I bring you 'Life in Death,' the book we were speaking of. I hope you will like it."
"Thanks, Hans Nilsen," answered Sarah, without looking up from her work. She could not take the book in her hands because they were wet, so he laid it on the bench by her side and went away.
She listened to his step as he went up the stairs to the attic, for Hans Nilsen Fennefos was one of Madame Torvestad's lodgers. Sarah dried her hands hastily, and took up the book, dipping into it here and there with evident interest and pleasure.
It was written by Hauge himself, of whom Fennefos often spoke, but for whom her mother did not seem to care much; at all events she possessed none of his works.
Sarah had, however, something else to do than to read; so she laid the precious little volume, which Fennefos had bound with his own hands, upon the window seat by her side, and renewed her work and her hymn, a little more vigorously than before.
Sometimes she leant forward, and as she turned her head on one side, gazing up at the narrow streak of blue sky which was visible between the roofs, her dark eyes shone with a guileless, rapturous light, as if they were piercing the vault of heaven itself.
Soon, however, another footstep became audible on the stairs below, and this time Sarah heard it distinctly. It was Henrietta—there could be no mistake about that. Two or three careless hasty steps, then a stumble, and then much clatter, then more steps; just as young girls blunder up a staircase when they first wear long gowns.
Henrietta, who entered heated, radiant, and out of breath, with her hair in a tangle, exclaimed: "Oh, Sarah, you should have seen it! Do you know who has come back?"
"Hush, hush! Henrietta," said Sarah, chiding her; "only think if our mother were to see you such a figure."
Upon this Henrietta began to smooth her unruly hair; but, unable to restrain herself, she whispered with portentous eagerness: "I was in the market, right down by the quay—don't tell it to mother—and Skipper Worse came rowing—Skipper Worse has arrived from Rio, you know—came rowing in with a six-oared boat and a flag, and behind him sat Lauritz. I did not recognize him till he jumped on shore; he has grown so tall"—raising her hand up. "He saw me; indeed, I think he is following me here."
"Oh, Henrietta!" said Sarah, somewhat severely, knitting her eyebrows.
But the graceless Henrietta stuck her tongue out and stole into the passage, whence she hoped to reach the workroom unobserved. Sarah's look grew anxious; she could not comprehend her unruly sister. She herself had never been like this. Such a worldly disposition must needs be subdued.
Nevertheless, she sometimes felt touched when Henrietta boiled over with youthful animation, and almost felt a wish to share her high spirits.
There was the old Adam in her, which ought to be suppressed and overcome; but yet—but yet——
Presently she was again disturbed by the appearance of a round, sunburnt, smiling face at the kitchen door. But the smile vanished as Lauritz, looking sheepish and awkward, walked in. He had evidently expected to see some one else.
"Welcome home, Lauritz," said Sarah, in a friendly voice.
"Thank you," said Lauritz, in his deepest tones, as he stood rubbing his hands together in the doorway.
"Do you wish to see my mother?"
"Yes; I want to know if I can lodge here."
"My mother is in the sitting-room."
Lauritz Seehus was almost like a younger brother to Sarah, for he had boarded at Madame Torvestad's ever since his school days. His own home at Flekkefjord was not a happy one; his father drank, and there was a swarm of small children.
In a few moments Lauritz reappeared, crestfallen and wretched.
"What, Lauritz," said Sarah, "are you going away so soon?"
"Yes," said he, hurrying out, "I could not manage it."
As he descended the old well-known kitchen stairs, he thought himself the most unfortunate creature in the world; in fact, he wept—for the first time since his boyhood.
During the whole of the voyage he had dreamt of securing his old attic room again, of being constantly near Henrietta, and of presenting her with all the wonderful things he had brought back in his sea chest. He had dreamt of stealing out with her in a boat, or of gliding with her on a hand sledge on the moonlight winter evenings when Madame Torvestad was at meeting.
All these glorious plans had been carefully cherished and pondered over a hundred times, and pictured down to the smallest detail, as he paced the deck in the long and lonely night watches.
Now, however, it seemed as if there was no more hope or pleasure for him, either in this world or the next.
Sarah seemed to take pity on him. Her mother came out and said:
"You saw Lauritz, Sarah?"
"Did you speak to him?"
"No; I merely gave him a welcome."
"Do you think that he is changed?"
Sarah hardly knew what to answer, but her mother added with severity: "Say no, my child; repentant sinners have a very different appearance."
In her heart Sarah could not but allow that her mother was in the right, especially when it occurred to her that Lauritz and Henrietta were no longer children, and that sinful affections might take the place of the old companionship.
Since she had entered the room she had also come to the conclusion that it was her duty to confide her misgivings to her mother. Now, however, she was spared this, and she was satisfied that it would be better for the young people that they should be separated.
But then, again, she remembered how miserable he looked, as he crept out of the kitchen, and she thought how disappointed Henrietta would be; for had he not always lodged there?
No doubt it would be for the good of both that temptation should be removed—but nevertheless—
By five o'clock Jacob Worse had returned home from the club; he could stand it no longer. Everything had gone wrong, and nothing had happened as he wished, from the time that he had set his foot on shore.
At the club he had met two Finn captains, whose ships were detained in the harbour, quite young fellows, who had lately arrived from America.
One of them, a mere puppy, with a beard of English cut and a gold chain, had been at Rio—and twice!
Oh! Randulf, Randulf, why were you away in the Baltic?
It happened to Skipper Worse as it happens to all easy temperaments. The slightest pleasure would put him in good humour, and help him over the greatest difficulties; but if, on the other hand, he encountered any trifling annoyance, everything seemed to go wrong, misfortune seemed to accumulate upon his head, and he thought that no one was ever so persecuted and maltreated by fate as himself—but for one day only. A night's rest generally restored his equanimity.
This was just one of his unlucky days from the moment when he heard of Randulf's absence. Nothing had satisfied him, either at the club, at the office, or at his warehouse; although there was absolutely nothing to complain of in the management of his affairs during his absence.
The people in his employ had, in fact, deserved much more praise than he had vouchsafed to them.
Grumbling and dispirited, he traversed the well-kept rooms. The sun was low in the north-west, and in the sunset glow he could distinguish the Hope's top-gallant yards over the point of land that separated the harbour from Sandsgaard Bay.
Nothing, however, could cheer him up. Moreover, after a while he bethought him how old Harbour-master Snell had led him aside into a corner at the club, and had whispered, as he laid his finger to his long red nose; "Pop—pop—Jacob, it was about time that you brought the old one some cash; they say—pop—pop—that he is in want of it just now."
"What in the world did he mean?" thought Skipper Worse, as he recalled the conversation. "Does the old swindler think to persuade me that C. F. Garman is in want of cash?"
"What do you want, Lauritz!" cried he suddenly, seeing the lad at the door.
"Nothing, captain," said Lauritz, meekly, going out again.
But Worse following him, caught him in the passage, and pulled him back into the room.
That Lauritz did not want anything was true; but when in his sorrow and despondency he saw the captain, who had always been so good to him, passing the window to and fro, he ventured to approach him on the chance of meeting with some comfort.
Worse gripped him by the neck and looked at him.
"H'm! so there's another who has found little satisfaction in coming home. Come, let us have a drop of something together, my son, and you shall then tell me what is the matter."
Skipper Worse opened a door in the corner cupboard, produced two round Dutch glasses, and poured out some cherry brandy for Lauritz and some old Jamaica rum for himself.
"Now, then," said Worse, when they had emptied their glasses, "let's hear all about your troubles."
But instead of beginning his story, Lauritz suddenly replaced his glass on the shelf, seized the captain's, put it away also, slammed to the cupboard, and seated himself on a wooden chair near the door.
Worse thought the lad was going out of his senses; but before his wrath had time to break out, there was a knock at the door, and Madame Torvestad entered.
Lauritz had seen her pass the window, and respect for her was so thoroughly ingrained in him, that her appearance drove everything else out of his head.
Anything rather than that she should see they were drinking. Even Worse himself would not have wished Madame Torvestad to find him hob-nobbing with the young man, and comprehending the position of affairs, he winked amiably at Lauritz, as he conducted Madame Torvestad to a seat upon the sofa.
She wore a black silk cloak, a dark grey hat with a wide brim, and a broad satin ribbon under her chin.
Her dress and bearing gave the impression of solid wellbeing, and steadfast purpose.
The somewhat full double chin, and the carriage of her head, gave her a masterful look. In this she differed from others of her sect, who strove to convey the idea of humility both outwardly and inwardly. Moreover, it had become the fashion among the Haugians of the west country to speak in a soft, lisping tone.
Madame Torvestad never allowed herself to forget that she was the widow of an elder among the Brethren, and it was her ambition to constitute both herself and her house a centre of the religious movement. She therefore thought much of her own small meetings, which were half-religious, half-social. For the same reason she took in lodgers, although as far as money was concerned there was no need to do so.
Lauritz had not been admitted upon these grounds; she took him at the earnest request of friends in Flekkefjord. Generally, her lodgers were spiritually minded young men, often wandering lay-preachers, who came and went, remaining a few days among the Brethren in order to exhort and edify one another.
By such means as these, Madame Torvestad had succeeded in making her house a place of rendezvous for the Brethren in the town, and herself one of its most influential matrons, one whom the elders often consulted.
She was always a little less austere with Skipper Worse than with others, either because she had been his tenant for so many years, or that she considered such behaviour more likely to win him over, or perhaps, for some other reason.
At all events, it was strange how seldom she brought Scripture phrases into her conversation with him. She tolerated, indeed she sometimes even smiled at the gallant captain's pleasantries, when they were of a harmless sort.
After she had spoken a few words of welcome, and chatted with him on sundry matters which had occurred during his absence, she concluded by asking whether, as he was alone, he would come to supper at her house. It would greatly please her daughters.
"Anybody else coming?" inquired Worse, suspiciously.
"Possibly two or three of the Brethren might drop in on their way back from meeting."
"Thank you, indeed," muttered the skipper, with some signs of irritation; "but you know that I am not fit for such company, madame."
"Do not say so, Captain Worse; let us rather hope that you may be fitted for company where the word of God is heard." This she said with much cordiality, at the same time watching him closely.
Skipper Worse was a little embarrassed, and paced round the room. It was not easy to give an answer; he could not abide her meetings, but he was at a loss for a decent excuse.
At this moment Lauritz rose from his chair, and made as if he would take his departure.
"No, no, Lauritz!" cried the captain; "you can't leave yet. We must have a word or two together. Where are you bound?"
"I must go to the town and seek lodgings for the night," answered Lauritz, gloomily, but still a little emboldened by the cherry brandy he had drunk.
"What! aren't you going to lodge at Madame Torvestad's? Can't he, madame?"
"No," she replied drily. "You know that those who lodge with me are chiefly religious persons. I do not take in sailors."
"Yes; but your house has hitherto been like a home to Lauritz. It is hard for the poor lad on his return to find himself turned out into the street."
Worse now understood the young man's troubles, and, in his good nature, would willingly endeavour to help him. But Madame Torvestad made no response; she gathered up the folds of her cloak and prepared to depart.
"Well, good-bye, Captain Worse," said she; "I am heartily glad to welcome you home again. In half an hour or so I expect Sarah and a few friends from the meeting. Do you feel no inclination to join them, and to offer thanks to Him who has protected you in the tempest, and has brought you home unhurt over the stormy sea?"
"Yes, yes—of course, madame; you see—but—" and Jacob Worse stood and fidgeted about.
"Come now, you will not refuse," said she, holding out her hand, and looking at him with an expression of kindness.
But Worse still held back, and said, half in jest: "I am sorry to seem so obstinate; but I think that you too, Madame Torvestad, are also a little obstinate in your refusal to give house room to this poor lad. Come, let us make a bargain. I will attend your meeting if you will allow Lauritz to lodge with you. Will you say 'done,' Madame Torvestad?"
"I would willingly do more than that, Captain Worse, if it would tend to satisfy you," said she, offering him her hand.
Then, turning to Lauritz, she added, in her usual tone: "Mind, I do this for the captain's sake. I trust that you will so conduct yourself that I may not have to repent of it. You can have your old room; it is quite ready for you."
Saying this, she left the room.
But the captain and Lauritz paid another visit to the cupboard. This exhilarated Worse, and when he saw with what unbounded glee Lauritz rushed off towards the wharf, in order to bring up his sea chest, containing all his treasures, he forgot for a moment how dearly he had paid for his young friend's little loft in the attic.
Hans Nilsen Fennefos came of a family that had long since become followers of Hauge, on the occasion of one of his visitations to their neighbourhood. From his earliest childhood he had heard of the beloved teacher; his mother used to sing the hymns he had written, and Fennefos himself was named after him.
There was, therefore, much that might seem likely to make him a disciple; but the boy had a headstrong and passionate disposition, and up to his twentieth year his wild and thoughtless life was a source of grief to his mother.
One night, however, it happened that he came home late from a dance, and as he crept up to his bedroom, he heard his mother singing, as she laid awake:
"Commit thou all thy goings, Thy sorrows all confide, To Him who rules the heavens, The ever-faithful Guide. For He who stills the tempest, And calms the rolling sea, Will lead thy footsteps safely, And smooth a way for thee."
It was a hymn lately introduced into the neighbourhood, and one which his mother, as he knew, prized greatly; but hitherto he had never taken any special notice of it.
At the sound of his mother's voice, the recollections of the dance and the fumes of drink vanished, and, as he listened, the words took a marvellous hold of him.
He wandered all night in fear and sorrow round his father's house, and it was not until the rising of the sun that he was enabled to find any peace.
It was the first time that he had been absent a whole night. As he entered the room, his mother rose up from her seat, and was about to rebuke him; but when she saw his altered look and bearing, she only said gently: "My son, the Lord has visited you this night."
From that time forward Hans Nilsen went no more to dances. After many years of tribulation and inward struggles, he at last gained confidence, and spoke with his friends and others of the one thing needful. He appeared also at the meetings, and it was the general opinion that so captivating a speaker had not been heard among them for many a day.
But the elders, mindful of Hauge's injunctions, would not permit him to go forth among the Brethren round about the country until he was thoroughly grounded in doctrine, and until a change of life had manifested itself in him.
He was more than twenty-five when he was first sent out; and after five or six years of almost uninterrupted wanderings from place to place, partly by invitation, and partly as he was led by the Spirit, he had become a well-known and highly valued lay-preacher over all the west country and northward, even beyond Trondhjem.
The times had long since gone by when a clergyman, accompanied by a bailiff or a drunken lieutenant, could break up the meetings, revile the lay-preacher, spit in his face, and cause him to be driven out of the parish.
But if the lay-preachers were less exposed to outward violence than in the old days of persecution, there were dangers of another sort, which in many ways made their position difficult.
The clergy had not changed their minds; but as they could no longer imprison or publicly revile "these enthusiasts, deceivers, and hypocrites," they preferred to scheme against and vilify them in private.
A new ordeal of patience and long-suffering was thus imposed upon the Brethren, especially upon their leaders and preachers; for as their numbers increased, it could not but happen that some disciples would fall into open sin, or be discovered to be hypocrites and impostors.
On such occasions the clergy were on the alert; active and energetic, both in public and in private, they gave currency to disparaging stories about the Haugians, men who despised the house of God, and worshipped Him in their own dismal meetings, where all sorts of profanities were said to be carried on.
From the official class this spirit of suspicion, and often of hatred, spread itself among educated people, to the injury of these peaceable and thoroughly worthy folks.
From such sources the current literature also proceeded to picture the ignorant lay-preachers, and to draw comparisons with the regular deans and pastors, the men of light and peace. The writers of the day, as a rule, knew but little about the lay-preachers, and relied on these descriptions; the clergyman they were well acquainted with.
Most people knew him from holiday visits to the parsonage, which stood out as bright spots in the memories of their younger days—the journey thither in summer by moonlight through the woods, and in winter over the crisp white snow, with accompaniment of tinkling sledge-bells.
It was thus that they knew their pastor, genial, friendly, and earnest. What a capital talker he was at the social board, and how ready to join in harmless merriment! How pleasant, too, was the great roomy parsonage, full of youthful mirth, tempered by the gentle gravity of their reverend host!
He was the central point of attraction for all, not only for the cares of wives and daughters, but in all the joys and sports of youth. "Father's" presence was looked upon as necessary to complete enjoyment.
His meerschaum pipe was kept filled for him, and when it went out, the children rushed to light it again with paper spills. When the wife, with a practised hand, enveloped him in his furs and wraps as he drove off to his other church the day after Christmas, all gathered round him, in an affectionate circle.
Nor could any one forget the quiet Saturday afternoons when all left the house in order not to disturb the pastor, who was preparing his sermon in the study, the smoke of his pipe stealing out of the keyhole like a blue serpent. Nor could they forget the Sunday mornings when his reverence took his dose of egg-flip before church, in order to clear his voice.
But this genial pastor could be quite another man when he sat alone among his peasants, discussing school or parish affairs; for language such as one would hardly expect from a man of light and peace might then be heard inside his study.
Sometimes it happened that, if on such occasions the young people gathered in the hall to seek their coats and cloaks for some outing, a frieze-clad peasant would come tumbling out of the study, and a momentary glimpse of a red face and a violently agitated dressing-gown would be obtained through the open door.
Then the wife or one of the daughters would say: "Poor father! that is one of those horrid Haugians, who give him so much trouble in the parish."
This feeling against the sectaries did not die out, even after the movement had become respected and honoured by the university.
The new teachers and clergy who were indebted to Hauge and his movement, not only for greater sincerity in doctrine and in its application, but who had even adopted the humble exterior and meek tones which prevailed from the time that Haugianism began to wane, seemed suddenly to forget that the Christian life, on the feeble remains of which they took their stand, was something that the people, after a long struggle, had gradually acquired of themselves.
Like their imperious predecessors, they coolly began to assume that they alone were the people's pastors and guides, and that any one who would so much as touch a hair of their heads, who would deprive them of one iota of their power and authority, destroyed—yes, destroyed the people's respect for all that was sacred, and disturbed with a presumptuous hand the ancient, beautiful, and patriarchal relations between the flocks and their beloved pastors.
But when Fennefos first began his wanderings, he encountered clergy of the old school who lay in wait for every word and deed, causing all the injury and annoyance in their power, both to him and to his friends.
The utmost circumspection became necessary, and the young preacher had to bear up against much strife and opposition. His undaunted spirit was, however, in proportion to his vast bodily strength.
Old people declared that he reminded them of Hauge in his earlier days, before he had been enfeebled by persecution.
For this reason the letters from the elders at home, which preceded Fennefos's visits to the Brethren at a distance, always urged that the young man should be exhorted to submit to those in authority, in order to avoid strife and offence.
He gradually learnt to control himself, and, in many instances, even succeeded in preventing disputes between the clergy and their flocks.
This had always been Hauge's desire, and Fennefos, like all the rest of the Brethren, conformed to it.
In this way, like many other lay-preachers, he so prepared the minds of the people that a pastor could almost everywhere, and without any exertions on his own part, find a little nucleus of Christian folk prepared to attach themselves to any teachers who would not merely, like the former clergy, give them stones for bread.
Sometimes, however, he found it difficult to control himself. In his earlier days at home, at Fennefos, he had learnt from the older people all the circumstance of Hauge's life. He knew the names not only of all the bailiffs and magistrates, but especially of the clergy, who had scoffed at, persecuted, and almost worried to death, the beloved teacher.
And now, as he journeyed through the land, he encountered the same names. Both bench and pulpit were filled not only in spirit, but in the body, by the actual successors of the odious persecutors of the past, past generation.
This often made his young blood boil again; and when, at the meetings, plain and free speech prevailed, he observed the same glow among his companions. Still they rebuked and restrained one another; for the powers that be are ordained of God.
When he journeyed in West Norway, Fennefos always stayed awhile with Madame Torvestad. The town was a central point in the widely ramified religious movement, and gradually her house became more of a home to him than his native place, Fennefos.
Here, too, he received letters and communications from the Brethren round about the country, when anything went wrong with them, or when they particularly wished him to preach to them.
He was in the habit of visiting or writing to them; and here the elders sent to him, if they happened to have a trustworthy envoy.
It was not, however, the Brethren or Madame Torvestad that attached him so much to the place; in fact, he was more at home among the peasantry.
He had, indeed, great objections to Madame Torvestad.
Upon some points she was too lax; and she was full of German mysticism, which he could not endure. Above all, she was too imperious and ambitious, both among the disciples and in her own house.
What really attracted him was Sarah; not that he was actually in love with her, of this he was confident. But she was so penetrated by the spirit of the movement, and so well versed in the Bible and in religious books, that he knew of no one with whom it was more delightful to converse.
Sarah stood very high in the estimation of the Brethren, and it was a real pleasure to the older people to hear her at the meetings. It was, however, but seldom that she spoke, and she had not much that was original to say; but she knew so many hymns, texts, and passages of good books by heart, and, above all, she was so familiar with the Scriptures, that among all the Brethren her equal was hardly to be found.
On the table, in Madam Torvestad's sitting-room, there was a fixed desk, and upon it an open Bible; this was Sarah's place, and by her side Madame Torvestad had this day placed a comfortable chair for Skipper Worse.
Several women had arrived, who seated themselves round the room, laid their hands on their laps, and sighed. Near the stove a couple of young girls packed themselves by the side of Henrietta, on a bench that was too short for them; and a small boy, with a sallow face, whose parents dragged him from meeting to meeting, seated himself on the extreme end of a bench by the door.
By-and-by the men began to arrive in succession. There were the brothers Endre and Nicolai Egeland, who had the largest store in the town; Sivert Jespersen, who in a few years had made a fortune out of herrings; and four or five of the most eminent followers of Hauge, either artisans or shopmen.
Madame Torvestad shook hands with them all, and found seats for them, not a very easy task after a while, although the room was spacious and the chairs abundant.
Hans Fennefos entered, saluted Sarah, and at the same time inquired for whom the armchair was placed by her side.
"Skipper Worse is coming this evening," said Sarah, without looking up.
Hans Nilsen was surprised, and a little disquieted, although he hardly knew why. Madame Torvestad, who received him graciously, did not take her usual seat, but moved about in a restless manner, until at last Jacob Worse arrived.
As he opened the door, an involuntary desire to escape seized him. He had come from his own airy room, bright with the twilight afterglow. Here it was dark and stuffy. Two tallow candles in brass candlesticks threw some light on the table and the reading-desk, but out in the room nothing was visible, save a row of faces along the wall.
Escape, however, was out of the question; for Madame Torvestad, with a friendly gesture, took him by the hand and led him in. Moreover, every one knew him, and all the men came forward to shake his hand, and to welcome him home again.
His presence at the meeting gave general satisfaction; for Jacob Worse was an important man in the town, and hitherto he had rather belonged to those who opposed and derided the Haugians.
They nodded and smiled at Madame Torvestad, who greatly enjoyed her triumph.
Sivert Jespersen was especially pleased—he and Worse were acquaintances of old, up at the northern fishery; and Sivert Gesvint, as he was nick-named, was, when outside the meeting-house, a lively and enterprising man. Whilst, on the one hand, his tongue was always ready with texts and hymns, he was no less ready at a pinch to give any one a helping hand, or to "carry on" recklessly if it was a question of sailing out first to the fishing grounds.
Skipper Worse growled a little and rubbed his head, when Sivert Gesvint pressed his hand and welcomed him with effusion. There was an old affair between them about a consignment of salt, respecting which Skipper Worse declared that Sivert had cheated him; indeed, he had told him as much, to his face, many times, when they had met at the fishing. Sivert Gesvint, however, used only to smile, and pat him on the shoulder.
Madame Torvestad now led Worse to the armchair. He felt extremely ill at ease, and inwardly cursed both Madame Torvestad and Lauritz, which latter sat on a low stool behind two stout females, where he could catch a glimpse of Henrietta.
Sarah bashfully welcomed Skipper Worse, who patted her on the head; he had known her ever since she was a small child.
When they were all seated, and order was restored, Madame Torvestad said: "Now little Erik Pontoppidan, what was the subject discussed at the meeting?"
"Sanctification," said the pale boy near the door, in a prompt but mechanical manner.
"What hymn did they sing, Henrietta," said her mother; "you remember of course?"
Henrietta had indeed been at the meeting, but being quite absorbed by the sad news that Lauritz could not lodge with them, she had derived but scanty benefit from it. When she returned home and learnt that after all he had received permission, she was so delighted that now her mother's question came upon her like a bucket of cold water.
She turned very red, and felt as if her senses were leaving her.
Madame Torvestad looked severely at her for a while, and then turned to Erik Pontoppidan, who gave the first line of the hymn, without hesitation, the moment he caught her eye.
People nodded and smiled approvingly at the boy. His mother, a stout, pale woman, and his father, Endre Egeland, were proud of him. Erik Pontoppidan himself, however, took it very composedly.
Except Lauritz, no one looked at Henrietta, who felt very much ashamed, and crept behind her two friends. Madame Torvestad now struck up a hymn, in which all the company joined. To Jacob Worse's ear, all these voices in the low room, the subdued tones of the women, and the rough bass of the men, sounded weird and unpleasing.
They sang so very slowly that it seemed as if the hymn would never finish, especially as Sivert Jespersen, in a manner peculiar to him, threw in certain shakes and quavers at the end of each verse.
One of the elders had delivered an address at the meeting, and, as she did not happen to be present, Madame Torvestad inquired whether any one could tell her something of what he had said. She turned towards Fennefos, as did several others; but he sat unmoved, with his lips firmly closed, and looking as if he would not utter a word that evening.
"According to my poor opinion," said Sivert Jespersen, "the old man spoke well and simply; it was on the work of the Spirit, as little Erik remembered so well. He took for his subject Luther's words on the article, which says: 'I believe that of my own strength and wisdom I can neither believe in Christ nor come to Him;' and he showed clearly, at least in my opinion, both from Scripture and from our daily experience, our miserable shortcomings in the spiritual as well as in the temporal life, so long as we put our trust only 'in the arm of flesh and in our own feeble judgment.'"
At this point Nicolai Egeland, who was not very highly gifted in a spiritual sense, exclaimed: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!"
He knew, in fact, no more than five or six texts, and these he brought in as they occurred to him, often quite inappropriately; but the Brethren knew his sincerity, and were lenient with him. He was not one of those servants to whom many talents had been entrusted.
One of the women sighed, and said: "Yes, that is true, indeed, Sivert Jespersen; we should not trust to our own wisdom in spiritual things."
Madame Torvestad now took up the conversation, as she sat turning over the leaves of sundry small books, which lay on the table by her side, just opposite to where Sarah was seated.
Some of these were tracts, and some, books of hymns; and as she met with any passage that struck her, she wove it into her conversation in such a manner that it seemed to be half her own utterance and half a quotation.
"A Christian should always bear in mind," she began, "that much that is high and mysterious can never in this life be comprehended by feeble man. We should, therefore, never attempt to fathom it, but should resign ourselves to the might and truth of God, who has brought us into contact with it. Yes, directly our own wisdom begins to dwell upon the possibility of that which is revealed to us, we may be sure that temptation and Satan are at hand—the old wily serpent who deceived Eve; and we should instantly invoke the protection of the Almighty against death and hell itself. To this end may grace be vouchsafed to all of us."
"Amen," said Nicolai Egeland.
"But," asked Sivert Jespersen, turning to the younger people, "how should we receive this grace?"
"It is the work of the Holy Spirit," said a voice by the door.
"Very properly answered, little Erik. And what do you mean by the Spirit's work?"
"And of how many parts does sanctification consist? can you give me an answer to that also?"
"New birth, justification, and regeneration."
Everybody was pleased with the quickness of the boy, who sat without moving a muscle of his face, his mouth open, and generally prepared to give answers much as an instrument responds to its keys.
At this point Nicolai Egeland became ambitious, and thrust himself into the conversation, quoting the longest text he knew—"By man sin came into the world;" but Madame Torvestad interrupted him quietly:
"Very wonderful is the state of the regenerate man; he is the slave neither of sin nor of worldly affections, not even indeed of innocent things. When I say that he is not a slave, I do not assert that in a moment of weakness he may not be overtaken by sin, but that he will not continue in it. If surprised by the flesh or the devil, he may fall into sin; but he will rise up and lay his troubles before God, and seek forgiveness. So long as he is thus established again in faith, and enjoys peace with God, he remains superior to sin, and continues to walk in the Spirit."
Sarah watched Fennefos, for she was certain that he would not approve of the book her mother was reading from. He made no signs, however; and in the feeble glimmer she could see only the vigorous, clear cut profile, somewhat turned upwards, as if gazing at the ceiling.
When it became manifest that he would not speak that evening, the conversation dragged on without animation for about another quarter of an hour.
All this time Sarah sat by the Bible, and, in the course of the conversation, looked out a text here and there, sometimes on her own account, and sometimes when one of the company sought to have his memory refreshed. She readily found all that was required, and in many cases was able to repeat the passage at once by heart.
Skipper Worse could not understand what they were talking about, and he became very weary. The only thing that kept him awake was Sarah's shapely fingers moving deftly among the pages of the sacred book.
But at last, as he was on the point of dropping asleep, Madame Torvestad proposed that they should conclude with a hymn.
Sarah took a hymn-book, and held it up for the captain, and the singing began.
As Worse was sitting half asleep, watching Sarah's fingers, she suddenly turned her great dark eyes upon him, and said:
"Sing with us."
In a moment Skipper Worse was wide awake, and began to hum, as she moved her fingers along the lines. He had never been very good at such singing, and when he came to sacred words he felt ashamed to pronounce them with his sinful lips.
But he was awake, and, more than this, he began to be at his ease. Now and then he looked up at Sarah's well-turned shoulders, her white neck, and the throat which swelled so gracefully as she sang.
They sat so close to each other, as she bent towards him with the hymn-book, that Skipper Worse was conscious of something pleasant in her company, the first homelike feeling he had experienced that day.
There was another person also who enjoyed himself thoroughly, although he did not give a very close attention to the meeting, and this was Lauritz Seehus in his corner.
He was so elated after his first disappointment, that he did not find the meeting as wearisome as usual—he could see Henrietta.
Moreover, the sacred words and the singing made so great an impression on one who had long been absent from such things that he was much affected, and thanked the Almighty, who had sent him a brief but bitter trial, that he might the better learn how all things worked together for his good.
As soon as the hymn was finished, the daughters of the house brought in tea and bread and butter. After a grace from Endre Egeland, they all ate well, and drank much tea; and at nine o'clock the party broke up.
When Worse returned to his own rooms, and saw Madame Torvestad's guests crossing the market-place as they left her house, he hardly knew whether to be amused or angry at having been compelled to spend his first evening on shore among such people.
There among them he observed Endre Egeland, whose moral reputation was none of the best, and Sivert Jespersen, who had overreached him so confoundedly in the matter of the salt.
"If Randulf should hear of all this!"
Nevertheless, he could not help remembering how pleasant it had been by the side of Sarah, and he felt how dull and lonely were his own spacious rooms.
The following evenings, Skipper Worse visited the club again, and enjoyed himself amazingly. It was only on the first evening, when he met with the two young captains from America, that things had been so contrary.
By-and-by, as his old friends rallied round him, he spun many a yarn about Rio. He also sang a couple of English songs with a Spanish refrain, which he had learnt from a very nice young lady whom he had met with, swinging in a grass hammock slung between two palm trees.
These two songs rather took at the club, where there was singing almost every evening; and when the company had mastered the Spanish refrain, their chorus made the spoons rattle again in the steaming tumblers of toddy.
There was Harbour-master Snell, the Exciseman Aarestrup, and the Custom-house Officer Preuss, the chief of the fire brigade, and several captains and shipowners.
Of course, it was soon noised about the town that Skipper Worse had been at the Haugian meeting, and he had to submit to a good deal of rallying in consequence.
He preferred to join in the laugh, for there was nothing to gain by losing his temper, and at last the reprobate even gave an imitation of Endre Egeland's grace.
Moreover, he was not entirely displeased to find it the prevalent opinion in the club that Jacob Worse was a sly old dog, who had visited the sectaries for a certain young woman's sake.
Madame Torvestad had not molested him of late. When they met, she merely invited him to look in whenever it was agreeable to him; and when he did not respond to these invitations, she manifested no annoyance.
When he got all his things on shore, he sent Lauritz to Sarah, with a box covered with shells. This was the greatest treasure which he had brought from Rio.
Madame Torvestad, on Sarah's behalf, thanked the captain for the handsome present he had made, remarking at the same time, in a somewhat admonitory tone, that such fine things were calculated to arouse worldly thoughts and vanity in the young.
In the course of the summer he became reconciled to the absence of Randulf. The interval of tranquillity at home was not irksome to him; his business prospered, and his voyage to Rio procured him a certain amount of consideration among his fellowtownsmen.
He did not hear often from his son in Lubeck; but the bills he had to pay for him showed that he was alive, and apparently enjoying life pretty freely.
Their mutual relations had never been of a very intimate description, partly because the father had been so much away from home, and partly because the son had been much spoilt and indulged by the mother, who was an affected, sentimental sort of person, full of romantic notions, and whose thoughts ran only on knights and damsels, combats, moonlight, long tresses, trapdoors, and winding staircases.
Once upon a time she had fascinated Worse when he was a mate, during a certain boating excursion by moonlight. Such a fine lady, with such large bright eyes, and such long auburn hair, he had never seen, either in the Baltic or the Mediterranean.
She had consented to become his for life or death on that occasion, when, after the company had taken coffee on a little island, he bore her in his arms, and waded out to the boat with her, instead of waiting until it could be brought to the shore.
It reminded her a little of Romarino, who, encircling Miranda's slender waist with his strong right arm, swung himself into the saddle with his gentle burden, and rode out through the castle gates upon his snorting steed.
It proved, however, a most unfortunate expedition for both of them. He was as little like a knight-errant as she was to a sea captain's wife. When she had devoured all the romances in the lending library, she lapsed into a sickly dreaminess, from which she aroused herself only to lament and bewail her fate; and it was this which drove Jacob Worse to sail on long voyages.
On one occasion, when he was expected home from Lisbon, a child was born to him, and his wife hastened to have it christened "Romarino."
This went to Worse's heart. He could take no pleasure in the pale little creature in its cradle, on account of its name, which seemed to separate the child from him, and to remove it to the fantastic world of the mother. In fact, to hear Skipper Worse utter the word Romarino was one of the most ludicrous things imaginable.
When the feeble, querulous mother died, Romarino was fifteen years of age. He was then sent to Copenhagen to live in a family which received him at the request of Consul Garman. It was out of the question that he should remain in the great lonely house, his father being away so much at sea.
At the present time he was about twenty, and just before Jacob Worse had sailed on his long voyage to Rio, Romarino had paid a visit to his home.
He was a pale little creature, with light hair. He wore an olive green coat, yellow waistcoat, and light grey trousers, strapped over his boots. His extravagantly tall fluffy hat was so perched on the top of his head that it was a wonder it did not fall off more frequently.
In this costume he created a great sensation in the little fishing town, strutting about flourishing a thin cane, and surveying everybody and everything with disdain.
Moreover, he could not speak Norwegian properly.
His father's feelings were divided between admiration and embarrassment; but the admiration received a serious blow when Thomas Randulf swore that Romarino used pomatum on his pocket-handkerchief.
However, Worse still thought a good deal of his son, although he could have wished that there was more of his own sailor spirit in him.
He often thought that if he could have resigned the Hope to a son, such a one as Lauritz Seehus that son ought to have been.
Romarino Worse was, however, what he seemed to be, an idler who spent his father's money; while in his heart he despised the simple captain, as he had long since been taught to do by his mother.
When Skipper Worse had settled himself down to his life in the town, he often wondered what was the matter at Sandsgaard. It was not at all as it used to be; what in the world ailed the place?
Madame Garman's death had, of course, made a great difference, but would hardly suffice to explain the dullness and constraint which prevailed there.
At last he began to feel uneasy. It was not only that Harbour-master Snell had, on the occasion of the first evening, hinted at the pecuniary difficulties of C. F. Garman, but the same story reached him from all sides. At first he ridiculed it; but little by little it began to make some impression on him.
Several times when he had gone in his boat to Sandsgaard, he had determined to speak to the Consul.
Heavens! if the firm of C. F. Garman really was in want of money, Jacob Worse had plenty at hand, and could procure more. But he never could muster up courage enough to put the question.
It was the established custom at Sandsgaard, that whenever Worse's boat was seen entering the bay, Zacharias, the man at the wharf, was ordered to take a large cod out of the fish-tank; for this was Jacob Worse's favourite dish.
The Consul's two sisters-in-law, the spinsters Mette and Birgitte, were always delighted when he came, although they were prodigiously angry with him when he teased them, as he always did.
After paying his respects to the ladies, Jacob Worse always made for the office, which, with its door usually open, was close to the sitting-room. Here he conned the almanac and when he found that it was the day of Saint Crispin or Saint Hieronymus, or some such other saint, he used to rub his hands saying:
"Is it, indeed? I remember him when I was in Italy—one of the grandest of the lot. Yes, we must certainly have some toddy this evening."
Consul Garman would smile, and the old book-keeper, Adam Kruse, seated behind his desk, would prick up his ears. He was always invited to take a glass when the captain was there.
Worse, who was free of the house, would then take the keys of the office cupboard, and bring out certain old-fashioned square Dutch flasks.
In the evening, he played cards, with the spinsters, the Consul looking on and laughing heartily, whilst the captain played so unfairly, and so befooled the good ladies, that their very capstrings quivered with rage.
At other times, the Consul and Worse would talk politics, and discuss the Hamburg "Nachrichten," whilst the old book-keeper, with his tumbler and his long clay pipe, sat in silence in his humble corner behind the big clock.
In the old sitting-room, which looked out upon the harbour, two tallow candles were placed every evening on the table near the sofa, where the Consul was wont to sit; and when there were guests, two more were placed on the toddy-table by the stove.
Above the white panelling, which was carried up as high as the tops of the straight-backed chairs, the walls were covered with canvas, painted green. The grey window-blinds which had lately come from Copenhagen, were decorated with representations of Christiansborg, Kronborg, and Frederiksborg. A tall wayfarer under a tree in the foreground gazed across the water at the castle, while three ladies with long shawls, and bonnets like the hoods of carriages, walked towards the right. In the corner by the stove stood a winder for yarn, which the two sisters used when they were not running after one another, looking after the household work.
After his wife's death, the Consul had never succeeded in dividing this duty satisfactorily between them. When Birgitte had inspected the table linen and silver, and had looked over the washing, etc., she felt an uncontrollable desire to see that too much butter was not used in the kitchen; and when Mette, during her week, had controlled the household expenses and the cooking, she could not sleep until she had counted over the spoons and napkins.
This led to no little confusion in domestic matters, and to serious bickering between the sisters, of which, however, only distant echoes reached the Consul.
There was but one subject on which they were in accord, and that was the canary bird. In the course of years they had possessed many, and every time the cat took one they protested that never again would they expose themselves to such a calamity.
But, according to Captain Worse's calculation, the period of court mourning for the canary bird lasted precisely three weeks, after which a new one was installed. They were always hens; for the sisters objected to males of every description; moreover, they objected to the singing.
Their present canary was quite the most delightful little creature they had ever possessed. In addition to all its other perfections, there was one which embarrassed them—it could lay an egg.
But the crafty little thing would not provide a nest, but laid its eggs in such places that they were soon destroyed.
This greatly distressed Birgitte and Mette, who devised many plans to induce the bird to act more circumspectly.
They placed cotton and fine wool all about the room, and even endeavoured to construct small nests of wool and horsehair. But the incorrigible little creature seemed to take an especial delight in eluding them, and in laying eggs in out-of-the-way places.
This grieved the sisters, and in moments of irritation they went so far as to blame one another.
One evening at the club, the harbour-master inquired maliciously: "Is old Adam gone to Bergen?"
"Yes; he went last week," answered Worse.
"What in the world does he go there for?"
"Business, of course. C. F. Garman has many transactions in Bergen."
"Borrow money, perhaps?"
"Come, harbour-master, we have had enough of this!" exclaimed Jacob Worse.
But the other, taking no notice of him, went on.
"No knowing; bad times for all. Spoke to Captain Andersen, Freya, just come from Bergen. Old Adam wanted two thousand dollars, they say, if he could only get them; but he could not, not a rap. No; those Bergensers are not to be taken in."
This was too bad. Worse went home. It was in everybody's mouth that things were going ill with the firm C. F. Garman, and if its credit was impaired, it was high time for him, Jacob Worse, to come to the rescue.
Next morning he presented himself at the office, and entering, shut the door towards the sitting-room, as well as that to the inner office. He desired to have a few words quite alone with the Consul.
His manner was so very strange that morning—a mixture of hesitation and craftiness—that it made the Consul lean back in his armchair, and inquire if anything had happened to him.
"No, nothing whatever, nothing," answered Worse as he stood and shifted uneasily from one leg to another; "it was only something I wished to ask the Consul."
"We are always ready to meet all the reasonable wishes of our old friends, as far as it lies in our power. Sit down, Captain Worse."
"Well, it was just this. I was thinking of going to the fishing this winter on my own account, and—so—so—"
"I opine that Captain Worse knows that when he has been at home in the winter season we have never raised any objection to his trading on his own account at the herring fishery, nor do we now."
"Yes, thank you; I am quite aware of it; many thanks, but that was not it. H'm! A deal of money will be wanted, Herr Consul."
At these words a somewhat rigid expression stole over the Consul's face; but Worse mustered up his courage, and fired off his big gun.
"Will the Consul lend me two thousand dollars on my note of hand?"
Morten Garman gave a start in his armchair. "What! does Jacob Worse also want to borrow money?"
"Yes. You see, Herr Consul, everybody wants money for the autumn fishing, and I particularly wish to cope on equal terms with Sivert Jespersen and the others up there."
"Yes, that is just how it is," exclaimed the Consul; "that is how it is nowadays! One wishes to outstrip the other, and so they borrow and speculate; but when the day of reckoning comes, then comes the pinch."
"As for that, Herr Consul, the firm must be aware that Jacob Worse is good for two thousand dollars, and a little more besides."
"No doubt, no doubt," answered the Consul. "But now we have demands upon us for money from all sides, there seems no end to them; it is really more than we can do these bad times."
Jacob Worse was beginning to be pleased with the success of his little comedy, and now proceeded farther with it.
"It is very sad," said he, "that I should have to turn elsewhere. People will say that I have quarrelled with the firm, or, perhaps, they will believe some of the lies concerning C. F. Garman which are going about."
"What do you mean? What do they say about the firm?" asked the Consul, quickly.
"Ah! well, for example, it was reported in the club yesterday that a certain person had gone to Bergen in order to borrow money for certain people."
Consul Garman turned his face away and looked out into the garden, where the first yellow leaves of autumn were beginning to fall.
Never before had he seen danger so imminent; his easy disposition and his pride had never permitted him to realize that the firm C. F. Garman, the old Sandsgaard house, was hanging by a thread, and that it was possible for it to collapse in a vulgar insolvency.
"Yes," he muttered, "it was a mistake, sending Kruse to Bergen; but—" And then all of a sudden, as if weary of bearing his burden alone, he turned full round upon Worse, and said: "Things are not so prosperous with C. F. Garman as you suppose, Jacob."
He called him Jacob, as in the old days when Jacob Worse was a sailor lad, and he, Morten Garman, a schoolboy.
The cunning Skipper Worse had now reached the decisive point. He tore open his coat, produced a bundle of banknotes from his breast pocket, threw them on the table in front of the Consul, and said: "Five thousand dollars to begin with, Herr Consul, and twice as much more if necessary, when I have had time to scrape it together."
His face beamed with pleasure, and he laughed with an internal chuckling sound; his joy, however, was suddenly damped when the Consul pushed the notes from him, and inquired in his iciest manner:
"What does all this mean? What do you wish me to do with this money?"
"Use it, borrow it, keep it as long as you will, Herr Consul."
"Oh! that is what I am to understand, is it? You have allowed yourself a little diversion at our expense; very fine, indeed, Herr Captain Worse. Things are not come to such a pass with the firm that it must borrow of its own people."
The crafty captain sat for a moment quite dumbfounded; but he could bear it no longer. His spirit was up, and bringing his fist down with a thump, he exclaimed: "Morten, you are a little too bad with your confounded airs! If the firm wants money, is it unreasonable to borrow it of me, I who have gained every farthing I possess in the service of your father and you?"
"But don't you understand," said the Consul, who was getting rather excited; "cannot you see how our credit would suffer, if it were known that one of our own captains had helped the firm out of difficulties?"
"Stuff and nonsense with your credit; cash beats credit any day. My money is as good as yours, Morten Garman; and if you won't have it, you are not the man I take you for."
Jacob Worse was now beside himself with eagerness, and, without either of them noticing it, the ceremonious style was dropped, and they talked in familiar language.
"Come, come, Jacob, don't let us quarrel," said the Consul, pulling up his neckcloth. It was the first time that any one had thus got the better of him.
He looked at the money, and then gazed out upon the garden. A long pause ensued.
Skipper Worse had got up and stood with his back to the table, examining a map on the wall. The old clock in the sitting-room ticked terribly slowly.
At last Consul Garman got up, and approaching him, said: "Listen, Jacob Worse. I will take your money if you will enter into partnership with me."
"What! what do you say? Partnership? Are you mad, Herr Consul?"
"Listen to me. You invest your capital—that is to say, as much of it as you please—in the business, and to that extent you become a partner in the firm of Garman and Worse. The rest we can arrange at leisure."
"No, no, Herr Consul; I never intended this. Change the name of the firm indeed! It is out of the question, and you don't mean it, either."
"Yes, I do mean it. It is the only way in which the affair can be arranged. Let us sit down and examine the matter calmly. It is absolutely intolerable to me to borrow money of you; but, on the other hand, there is no reason, as far as my own feelings are concerned, or as regards the external relations of the firm, why we, at a busy and, shall I say, a critical moment, should not admit into the house, a man who for many years has worked with us, or why we should not, as a consequence of the agreement, add his name to ours, so that for the future the business should be carried on under the name of 'Garman and Worse.'"
"Yes; but—but—all the rest is practicable; but the name—your father's name!"
"Possibly my father would not have done it, but I will have it so. This arrangement is—h'm—the saving of the firm; I am bound to acknowledge it, and I therefore urge you to agree to my proposal."
"But my good Herr Consul," resumed Worse, who had suddenly come down again to his former position, and could not reconcile himself to the notion of entering into partnership with Morten W. Garman, the Consul himself.
The other, however, held firmly to his purpose; and as he made a request, there was nothing for it but to accept the offer.
They remained in conversation a long time, discussing future arrangements. The Consul said plainly that he did not expect Jacob Worse to mix himself up with the business, an idea which made him laugh outright, as it would never occur to him to interfere.