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tion or the perdition of her fellow-creatures gave her no con
Uwen was the only inmate of the parsonage who felt the lack of family ties. In his early childhood he had known a mother's love. A mist had gathered over the remembrance, it is true, but it was dispelled as by a sunbeam whenever he thought of Walmot's home, and the fond affection that united those who were not really mother and daughter.
He had a vague consciousness that Teda's thoughts and actions sprang solely from a regard for her own interests; but, in spite of this, he clung to her like a shipwrecked mariner to his sole support. The comparison is perfectly just, for he drifted on a sea, amid waves which he was unable by his own strength to control. A restless longing possessed him ; he knew not what he wanted, what he sought. He had nearly finished his preparation for theological studies; in the coming
; year he would be able to go through the examination required for entering the University. But his thoughts and aims were no longer fixed in that direction. He could not bear to think of quitting the island, and he had a secret consciousness of his own unfitness for pastoral work. Above all, he did not want to leave Teda. In the relation between the two, a feeling had arisen which their eyes alone revealed. Their lips never gave expression to it—at least, not in words.
It happened now and then, when they met by chance at dusk in the hall, or in one of the solitary rooms, that Teda would throw her arms round Uwen's neck, and hurriedly press on his lips warm, passionate kisses. In this she manifested a third impulse which combined with the two other mainsprings of her character, and this was the possession of a passionate temperament, mysteriously bestowed on her by Nature, and of which she had given many proofs while still a child. This passionate impulse owned no bounds, imposed by the rights and happiness of another; it heeded not the voice within ; it recognised nought but itself—its own will and demand. But from the arms, the lips, of Teda flowed an intoxicating draught, when, in sportive jest, she thus suddenly embraced Uwen, leaving him almost breathless. A magic spell
, wrought by long years of close association, bound him to her side. After one of these outbursts, the two would spend days together in a calmer fashion, like brother and sister. The word 'love,' or, indeed, any expression or sign of a mutual understanding, never crossed their lips, but anyone who had seen these occasional embraces could not for a moment have looked upon these two in any other light than as a pair of lovers.
Deena came unexpectedly into the room on one of these occasions. Her countenance expressed no surprise, but her lips slightly quivered, as she said, with scornful indifference:
‘Have you two fools got as far as that? Then you had better be quick and get married.'
These words made the blood rush to their cheeks, and their eyes shyly avoided each other for days after.
WAKING AND WARNING.
EXTREME want and suffering prevailed throughout the winter along the whole coast of Holland, from the mouth of the Scheldt to that of the Weser. An inundation, such as had never been known in the memory of man, burst through the dikes, flooding the broad marshes, and utterly destroying many of the villages. The wind and waves raged in East Friesland with a degree of fury never before known, bringing many a wealthy landowner to ruin in a single night, and many persons scarcely escaping with bare life.
The islands were protected from the most imminent danger by the encircling downs, but oftentimes the surge was driven high above their sandy crest, while the dashing waves caused the little hills to vibrate, as if moved by some subterranean force. The continual shaking and rattling of the movable articles in the rooms, together with the terrific crashing and thundering outside in the darkness, excited even the callous senses of the fishermen to a feverish degree. It seemed to them as if the world were coming to an end.
At the parsonage alone did the wonted stillness prevail. The pastor did not even think it necessary to remind the inmates, that the hand of God wrought His will equally in the storm as in the calm. Deena would say with a yawn, 'Well, those who don't wake up in the morning will be saved all further bother,' and she went to rest as usual. Teda and Uwen also sought their rooms. The former knew no fear; like her father, she was ready at any moment to exchange this
earthly life for heavenly joys. But with her the interests of soul and body were kept completely apart; so long as she existed in the flesh, so long as she felt the beating of her pulse, she was unwilling to suffer either hunger or cold, or to deny the body any of its demands. She parted from Uwen at her chamber door. 'If it gets much worse,' she said to him, and you think the water is likely to reach us, you can come and waken me. Then we can see if it is God's will to save us, and let us live a little longer together.'
From her eyes a hasty look darted into his. It was a look that followed him, and which he still saw before him in the darkness, as he threw himself upon his bed. It was impossible to sleep. He listened. Was the storm growing worse or dying away? What he hoped or wished for in either case, he did not know. Reason and experience told him that the sandy rampart was too high and strong even for the Northern Ocean, which would never be able to surmount or break it down. But suppose it did after all ? Deceived by his senses, he fancied he heard a towering wave thunder round the house ; he imagined himself starting up, rushing to Teda, snatching her in his arms, clasping her to his breast, and carrying her away. Whither? On to the roof, to the churchtower, anywhere where there was a chance of safety, that they might still live—live together!
Was it time now? He listened with feverish excitement to the roar without. His heart throbbed faster and faster, uttering a “Yes, yes,' and urging him to awake the sleeper, and stand prepared to rescue her. His overwrought imagination presented her vividly before his eyes, with every expression of her features, just as he had parted from her downstairs. Only the waves with which he was fighting for her, had unloosened her dark locks, and the gray robe she had worn was changed into a pale pinky hue. But amidst the froth and foam, her eyes gleamed upon him, just as they had done when she said 'Good-night.' He sprang from his bed, and stood on the floor of his chamber.
Had he not been really awake then, but only in a halfdream, which still hovered strangely before his eyes ? He seemed as if he still felt the splashing of the froth and foam, still saw Teda's head raised above them, only the long dark hair, floating behind, had become of a lighter hue, had assumed a golden tint, as though the sun shone on it. And then the
face gradually sank into the abyss, while the hair above still floated like sunbeams on the water.
All at once Uwen regained consciousness, and at the same time a very different picture arose before him, and a very different thought completely wiped out all those that had previously filled his mind. The picture was that of Walmot's cottage, the thought was that the downs on the other side of the island were much lower and more broken than on his side; and even if no mischief occurred here, still, the sea might break through the weaker rampart over there, and with irresistible fury sweep away all before it. Perhaps this had happened already; perhaps the inmates of the cottage were at this very moment helpless, struggling against the waves.
Uwen's feverish beating of the heart was stilled. Something else now set him shivering; he felt more keenly the cold wintry night, and at the same time he was seized by an overwhelming anxiety for the safety of his friends. Here he was quite useless, here there was nothing to rescue ; but over there he might render help. His excited fancy represented to him as a frightful reality the danger that threatened Walmot's home. He felt as if in his state of drowsy bewilderment he had failed to recognise the call which by the beating of his heart had summoned him to rush from bed. With trembling, fitful haste, he put on his clothes, let himself down through the window, and ran with all his might across the isle.
It was nearly midnight. The powers of Nature threw over the sea-girt land a terrible beauty both for eye and ear. All the conditions for causing the highest possible flood were present: the moon, the spring-tide, and the storm-flood of the hurricane raging from the north-west, were all combined. Black masses of cloud flew across the sky, too swiftly even to discharge themselves on earth; now they covered everything with blackest night, now they were riven into the most fantastic shapes; every now and then the moon's round disc appeared in some open space like a silver ball flying across the heavens, throwing a mystic light over the wild billows below, and, in spite of its own soft radiance, almost blinding the eyes by the sudden contrast. The whole air was filled with a mingled spray of foam and sand ; the very ground seemed ready to join in the general whirl, and when the mystic light broke forth, the downs looked, like the white crests of the waves, ready to swallow
the interior of the isle.
Uwen ran in breathless haste; his mind shared in the chaotic confusion of heaven and earth, of air and water that surrounded him, but his thoughts had already outstripped him and were with Walmot's threatened, perhaps no longer existing, home. He could not think how he came to lie waiting in bed for hours. What had he waited for ? Every beating of his heart uttered the intolerable reproach that it would be his fault and serve him right, if he never saw the house again. At this moment it seemed to him like the home of his mother, of his sister, and he had had no thought for them in their danger. It was a fearful accusation ; he felt that he was left all alone in the world, and that it was just what he had deserved.
Of course, the little isthmus that joined the two halves of the island was deeply flooded. This did not stop Uwen for a moment; he plunged in at once. The water reached to his waist, but he waded through and rushed quickly over the ground. The distance seemed to him endless, but he had a faint sense of relief when he felt himself once more on dry land.
Now at last he saw a light gleaming before him. It could only come from the window of Walmot's sitting-room ; her house was still standing then. The faint ray of lamplight was to him like one of heaven's bright stars ; his eye had never seen anything more welcome. He sank involuntarily upon his knees and clasped his hands to render thanks for this great mercy. But his fingers fell apart as soon as they met, and his tongue found no words. To whom should he render thanks for the preservation of the cottage that stood there before him? To Him to whom Pastor Remmert's thanks had been given from the pulpit for having smitten Schill to the ground by Dutch bullets, and having left the whole German nation, the good as well as the wicked, to tremble, bleeding for years beneath the scourge of a foreign conquerer? He who could suffer such things as these would be the last to hold a protecting hand over the abode of Walmot, whose thoughts were set, not upon the life beyond, but on man's life on earth. So Uwen sprang up without saying a word, and ran on once more towards his goal.
Uwen was quite out of breath when he reached the door of the dwelling-room. The three inmates of the cottage were sitting by the table fully dressed. They gazed in astonishment at their panting visitor.