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• He will never be a parson.'
After a short pause the answer came, in a low, half-hesitating voice :
'No, I am afraid he can't.'
“That would be no misfortune—nothing to grieve about,' replied Walmot. Freda turned her face away.
Oh, but it would. Pastor Remmert would be very angry about it, and that would be unfortunate for him and for Teda.'
Well, time will show. But my Freda's eyes look sleepy ; let us go to bed, my child.'
During this time Uwen was acting in the most erratic fashion. He had at first walked straight on as fast as he could ; then he had turned aside and, resting against one of the sandy hillocks, had fixed his eyes upon the gleam of light that still shone from the cottage window. Not till this was put out did he arise and resume his course ; but he walked very slowly until he reached the ford. Here he paced up and down, hesitating, as though he was now afraid to cross, or was firmly held back on this side of the island by some invisible force. Walmot had been right—the storm was subsiding, the flood had not extended. The moon was slowly slanting towards the west, and the night must be pretty well advanced. With a sudden resolution Uwen again waded through the water that lay between him and the parsonage.
When he reached the land on the other side, a feeling came over him as though he had crossed a boundary between two contending powers ; a second and contrary impulse seemed now to govern him. It compelled him to walk faster and, at last, to run ; as he had before reached the cottage of Walmot, so now he reached the parsonage, quite out of breath. All was in silent darkness. Quietly he opened the door, which was always left unlocked, and then he sought his chamber. Throwing off his wet garments, he lay down at once, shivering with cold, although his pulse was feverishly beating, just as it had been when he sprang from his bed hours before.
He listened intently and, amid the stillness of the house, a voice seemed to resound in his ear, as if calling him by name. He fell at last into a restless, half-sleepy condition, out of which he again awoke, and then he had to consider for some time before he knew where he was. It seemed to him as though his visit to Walmot's little room could have been nothing but a dream.
The next day the island wore the same look as usual, only here and there the storm had done some damage to a roof, and this the villagers were already busied in repairing. Teda's face and manner were, however, quite different—at least, as far as Uwen was concerned. She did not pay him the slightest attention ; she scarcely seemed to see him, and never spoke one word to him during the whole day. At last he could bear it no longer, so he contrived to meet her alone in the dusk, and then asked her why she had treated him with such indifference. At first she would not answer ; then, however, she suddenly turned, and said :
'Well, you would not have troubled about me, if the flood had burst
us.' With a slight hesitation he answered : Why do you imagine that?'
'I suppose I have imagined that you did not spend the night in—that you left the house in the night.' The words escaped her so hastily, she seemed not to have had time to weigh their significance, and had found it necessary to alter them; she quickly added : 'I was unable to sleep, and heard your door open and your footsteps pass by my room. Where were you going ?'
Uwen hurriedly responded :
'I went out of doors. I, too, could not sleep, and I wanted to be sure whether any danger was at hand.'
He paused. It was no lie; still, it was not the whole truth. He felt that his own words, his presence there, the girl before him, were all intrinsically false. Teda, however, accepted his explanation and inquired no further ; she wanted, apparently, to drop the subject and let it be forgotten. She only added :
'I must have fallen asleep afterwards, for I did not hear you come in again. But it was silly of me to be offended ; the storm is over, and we, too, may be at peace, and friends again.'
She raised herself on tip-toe, and, laughingly giving him a kiss in token of forgiveness, ran quickly away.
A heavy weight was lifted from his bosom. She had not, then, guessed where he had been during the night, or what had driven him, like one mad, away beyond her reach? She had heard him, however; her ears must be singularly sharp, just as sharp as her eyes. And then he thought of the evening, when she had seen him in the dusk, with the book which he had fetched up out of the sea.
All at once he remembered that he had not gone past her door, but had let himself down through his own window. She could not have heard this, as her room was too far away ; besides, she had spoken of hearing his footstep. Uwen pondered for a moment over the strange contradiction, and then he found a clue. She must have made a mistake, and have heard, not his going out, but his coming in, and, in her half-sleepy state, she must have taken the one for the other. It did not certainly quite agree with her statement that she had first heard his door open ; it must have been just the other way—she must have heard the door shut after the footsteps had passed by her own room. But this mistake was also probably due to her having been only half awake.
But though this and the neighbouring islands had passed uninjured through the wild, tempestuous night, day dawned on a wide and terrible scene of devastation all along the opposite coast of East Friesland.
The inundation had burst through the dykes in several places, and especially in the district of Harlinger, where many square miles of the most fertile marsh-lands had been flooded and converted into sandy plains. On many farms, and even in whole villages, the dwellers had been thankful to escape with bare life, and everywhere might be seen houses, barns, and stalls lying broken up on the ground, and the harvests of the coming year were hopelessly destroyed.
Only a general rumour of the disaster reached the islands, but for many months the victims of the misfortune could think of nothing else but how they might best repair the losses which they had sustained. It was not until the end of spring that Pastor Remmert received a letter from one of his sisters, conveying the news that his father's homestead of Osterloo had suffered severely from the flood. The writer described the dreadful hours they had spent on that fearful night, when, having taken refuge on the roof of their house, they were
expecting every moment it would fall beneath the attack of the roaring waves that encompassed it on every side.
They had indeed escaped this final stroke, but the damage to the buildings and the tilled fields had been very serious, and a season of anxious privation awaited them all. The preceding years had been years of failure and scarcity; the health of Pastor Remmert's father, Farmer Meynolt, who, though in his seventyfifth year, had hitherto preserved all his activity, had been completely shattered by the injuries received when rendering assistance on that bitterly cold night, and he had been ailing ever since. But he was suffering still more from mental than even from bodily pain; cares for the future racked his mind; he wondered how he should make up his irretrievable losses and satisfy his creditors at the end of the year. The daughter said it was a cruel thought to them all that her gray-haired father, in his sick and helpless condition, should be forced to quit his ancestral roof; if ever Heaven permitted a flagrant injustice in this world, she should regard this as such. She would rather sacrifice her own life a hundred times than suffer it. Her brothers, Sokko and Waling, did all that men could do, toiling from morn till night at the heaviest farm-labourer's work; but with all their efforts it would be impossible for them to make up the sum of money required at the year's end, and they had been for many months without any news of their sailor brothers, Ulbert and Tyalka, in consequence of the unfortunate Continental Blockade. This in particular was filling up the cup public misery; it was the heaviest curse that had ever befallen East Friesland, and its continuance must infallibly cause the complete ruin of the country.
This letter, written in the most simple language, expressed just as simply and without the least design the loving solicitude of a daughter who thought not of her own, but of her parents' troubles, and Pastor Remmert proved himself at once the son that 'honoured father and mother,' and helped them in their time of need to the very utmost of his power. He hastily reckoned what would be the very smallest sum required for his own household expenses to the end of the year; then, after subtracting that indispensable sum from the money he had in his chest, he took and enclosed the remainder in a letter, which he despatched at once to his parents. “He committed them,' he said, 'in fullest confidence to the mercy and protection of the Most High, who had permitted this trial to come
upon them, but who would make a way to deliver them from their undeserved suffering and let them feel and recognise His fatherly hand.
But Pastor Remmert was by no means satisfied with the remittance of the money which he was able at once to send ; he gave at the same time to the returning boatman a letter addressed to the ecclesiastical authorities in Aurich, requesting that his stipend for the current year might be paid over, not to himself, but to his parents at Osterloo. He did not entertain a single thought of self, but honoured and supported his father and his mother even at the risk of coming himself to want.
A few days elapsed, and then another message reached the island, which had the effect of drawing it gradually into the vortex of political events. It was an unprecedented occurrence, but by no means surprising to anyone who had watched the recent 'signs of the times.'
The all-powerful Emperor Napoleon had drawn at random, on the map of North-west Germany, a straight line from the Elbe to the Rhine, apportioning the southern part to his brother Jerome's kingdom of Westphalia, and the part lying to the north to his own French Empire. Seriously displeased with his other brother, Louis, he had compelled him to abdicate the throne. There was no longer a kingdom of Holland ; it now constituted a province of France, and East Friesland had become the French department of East Ems. In Aurich, which still remained the chief town of the department, there arrived a French Prefect, who was to organize the administration of East Friesland as quickly as possible after the French pattern, and he had instructions to enforce the blockade with the strictest rigour. King Louis' tolerance, for the sake of Holland, of the contraband trade in English goods had been one chief cause of the displeasure of Napoleon, who was anxious at any cost to break the power of Great Britain. With this object in view, energetic men, regardless of consequences, were selected for the highest official posts in the country. Throughout all the late Dutch provinces were now to be seen strong bands of coastguards occupying the whole sea-coast, in order to keep the strictest watch, and sternly inflict the severest punishment on any who should dare to continue the secret introduction of the forbidden commodities.
The closest supervision of the coast was required, as the purposed closure of the