« ForrigeFortsett »
Uwen replied, with displeasure :
'It was not the book that made us cry. But if you do not choose to tell me why you were so unkind to Freda--'
He was about to rise, but at the same moment Teda threw both her arms passionately round his neck, so that his head fell back on to the sands, while she, bending over him, pressed half a dozen kisses in breathless haste upon his lips. It was the first time in his life that such a thing had happened to him. When she had let him go, he remained for some time, his face all crimson, as he struggled for breath, quite unable to utter a word; he could only gaze like one bewildered into the eyes that flashed close upon his.
She laughed again, but more naturally.
'Yes, it was very wrong of me; but now I have atoned for it. Do you forgive me?'
He sat holding her hand, but he knew not what to say. Teda's lips had silently declared what words would fail to express, and her manner indicated that she wished nothing further to be said about the matter, now that she had so plainly manifested her self-reproach and sought his forgiveness.
Uwen's heart beat as it had never yet done. It crossed his mind as something strange that only once in his life had he ever before felt such a passionate throbbing, and that was long years ago, when he had seen Freda's golden hair engulfed by the flowing tide. This remembrance gave his thoughts the direction and his lips the words, which he sought in order to answer without embarrassment the assertion which Teda had made. He said :
'You did no wrong to me, only I was sorry to see Freda go away so sad. But'—and a happy thought struck him—'we can make it all right again, so that she will forget it to-morrow.'
• How so?'
I saw where the book fell into the water, and can perhaps find it ; then you can return it to her.'
A shade of annoyance appeared on Teda's brow, but a strange flash of light gleamed for a moment in her eyes, as she added :
*You cannot possibly find it; the water is too deep there.' 'I can swim and, if it is necessary, dive.' To this she replied :
'You are quite right; it would please Freda, and it was very wrong of me.'
Well, then, you stay here; I shall come back to you as soon as I have found the book.'
Uwen ran quickly away; he longed to be for a moment alone with this wild feeling of rapture in his heart. As he rounded the little sandy headland the shades of evening lay upon the isle, and a bright crimson glow mingled with the twilight's misty gray.
He reached the spot from whence the book had been thrown, and tried to recall exactly the direction in which it had fallen, as he hastily laid aside his clothes and slipped down into the gently rolling waves. The cold water seemed to do him good, there was something fairy-like in the last glow of evening; when the water beneath him was for a moment smooth, it reflected the image of an athletic form, clad, as it were, in a garment of crimson rays.
He found his design less easy to accomplish than he had expected ; the sea had evidently rolled its light prey hither and thither, instead of letting it rest on the spot where it had fallen. He looked all about in vain ; now and then he dived, thinking he felt something, but it was only a large shell or stone. Then, by a happy chance, his foot trod on the very object of his search; he stooped, picked up the book, and hastened triumphantly to the shore. By an easy transition of thought, Schiller's 'Diver' occurred to his mind; he pictured himself like him who bore back the goblet to the expectant princess. Suddenly the thought startled him-suppose Freda were by chance to return to the beach ; she would come over the ridge of the downs and catch sight of him in this state before he was aware of it. With a beating heart he ran to the shore, dressed himself in haste and then, more composed, bent his steps along the strand to rejoin Teda. The twilight was now falling like a gray veil let down by invisible hands. When he reached the spot where he had left Teda sitting, the place was deserted; she was no longer there. He climbed to the top of the little promontory in search of her ; but inland, too, she was nowhere to be seen. Then on turning round again, he saw her appear, after all, in the direction from which he had just come. Evidently she had been hiding somewhere amongst the sandhills in order to tease him. The thought occurred to him that he would serve her the same ; she could not yet have seen the book in his hand. He hid it quickly behind his back, and called out to her :
Why, I saw it just now in your hand.' Drawing forward his arm, he replied to this, with surprise :
'Why, you must have eyes like a sea-gull. I should never have recognised anything you had at such a distance and in this light.
She laughed aloud at this.
'You have long known that my eyes are the keenest on the island.'
He replied :
' I was beginning to get tired, and wanted to go home, for I thought you might be searching ever so late, and it was very cold sitting there. How did you find it?
How did you find it? Do pray forgive me for having stupidly caused you so much trouble.'
Her words flowed quicker, with more warmth and less hesitation than usual. It struck Uwen that she sought to bury the past, and did not want it referred to any more.
And yet her own face betrayed a restless consciousness of something she had done; instead of being chilled by the evening air, her cheeks were of a burning red. Evidently she was in a feverish state, for her whole frame trembled every now and then with strong emotion.
Uwen proposed that she should at once take the book to Freda, but she persisted in waiting till it was dried, and not taking it back until the next day. On looking at her as he spoke, she turned her eyes away from his with a shyness that he had never seen in her before ; but her arm clung to his more and more tightly with every step. In this way they approached the parsonage. In Uwen's mind not a thought remained of all that had so recently agitated his innermost soul; he had even forgotten the death of the hero he had so ardently worshipped--Ferdinand von Schill.
COMING EVENTS CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEFORE.
On the following Sunday Pastor Remmert concluded his sermon with a special form of thanksgiving that had been forwarded to him by the ecclesiastical authorities at Aurich. He therein thanked the Divine Providence, Wisdom, and Justice that had given victory to the Dutch troops in the city of Stralsund, and had by this means overthrown and punished an atrocious rebel against God's anointed sovereign, the Emperor Napoleon.
Uwen gazed fixedly at the preacher as he calmly uttered the words, but he took care not to fold his hands at the conclusion, and so make the thanksgiving his own. A cold shiver came over him, although the summer sunshine fell bright and warm within the church, and, as soon as the service was ended, he ran out alone on to the downs. There he sat for hours, immovable, his eyes vaguely fixed on the boundless deep.
A few weeks passed by; then came the news of the Treaty of Schönbrunn, by which Austria was obliged to give up a great part of her lands to France and the French allies. Almost at the same time came the report that forty thousand men had been landed by the English fleet at the mouth of the Scheldt, and, after a short engagement, had been compelled, with very heavy loss, to re-embark. There was not a single enemy left who could now oppose the Emperor of the French. Allied with Russia, he ruled all Europe, except the impregnable kingdom of Great Britain. Bleeding and dismembered, Germany lay more hopelessly crushed than ever beneath the tyrant's cruel power.
Uwen and Freda's daily meetings on the downs had now ceased, and they seldom saw each other. The change had not arisen on his side, nor had the girl ever referred again to the matter, but her conduct showed that she had firmly resolved to discontinue the old custom, in order that she might give Teda no cause for ill-humour or complaint. At the hour when she formerly read with Uwen, she now always went out fishing with Roeluf, and during the rest of the day she relieved Walmot, as far as possible, of all household duties. Above all, she never quitted the neighbourhood of her own home; she no longer visited the other side of the island, nor had she any further cause for doing so. No reports, good or bad, reached them henceforth from the Continent. Germany lay silent as the grave, no longer agitated either by hopes or fears ; even under Walmot's roof the mournful overthrow of their country was no longer mentioned.
A severe winter came on early, beginning with violent storms, which flooded the neck of land very deeply and increased the difficulty of intercourse between the two parts of the island. The rafts that had formerly served the children for passing to and fro, had long lain broken and decayed; they were not now in request, and no one missed them. The fishermen, who sometimes made use of the junction path, waded through the water, quite indifferent as to its rising above the tops of their high-legged boots, and the women, after the fashion of the island, never hesitated to lift their skirts as high as might be necessary to prevent them from getting wet. But days often passed without anybody being seen near the ford.
Time went on at the parsonage in a very monotonous way. Teda, however, no longer shared in Uwen's more advanced classical studies, but she joined him in teaching the village children. This occupation suited her innate desire to become a schoolmistress; she had not been influenced by any wish to relieve her father of a burden, any more than she had ever thought of giving her mother assistance in household matters. Parents and daughter had never been united by any bond of filial or parental love, so neither of them now missed it or felt any need of it. Pastor Remmert was perfectly satisfied with his daughter's religious views, and just as her soul was to him of no greater importance than any other soul, so did Deena regard her child only as a burden on the household, like Uwen or any other stranger. But Teda clearly manifested in her character a singular combination of both father and mother, only she lacked the self-denial of the former, and his philanthropic desire for the eternal welfare of his fellow-creatures. The girl closely connected her pious aspirations towards heaven with her earthly interests, and both were nourished from the same
It was selfishness alone that made her rigidly fulfil every requirement of her creed, so that, after this short life on earth, she might be assured of a share in the eternal joys above. And even as to these she thought of herself alone; the salva