The fire was Herr Mack’s doing. I saw through it from the first. I lost my skins and my birds’ wings, I lost my stuffed eagle; everything was destroyed. What now? I lay out for two nights under the open sky, without going to Sirilund to ask for shelter. At last I rented a deserted fisher-hut by the quay. I stopped the cracks with dried moss, and slept on a load of red horseberry ling from the hills. Once more my needs were filled.
Edwarda sent me a message to say she had heard of my misfortune and that she offered me, on her father’s behalf, a room at Sirilund. Edwarda touched! Edwarda generous! I sent no answer. Thank Heaven, I was no longer without shelter, and it gave me a proud joy to make no answer to Edwarda’s offer. I met her on the road, with the Baron; they were walking arm in arm. I looked them both in the face and bowed as I passed. She stopped, and asked:
“So you will not come and stay with us, Lieutenant?”
“I am already settled in my new place,” I said, and stopped also.
She looked at me; her bosom was heaving. “You would have lost nothing by coming to us,” she said.
Thankfulness moved in my heart, but I could not speak.
The Baron walked on slowly.
“Perhaps you do not want to see me any more,” she said.
“I thank you, Edwarda, for offering me shelter when my house was burned,” I said. “It was the kinder of you, since your father was hardly willing.” And with bared head I thanked her for her offer.
“In God’s name, will you not see me again, Glahn?” she said suddenly.
The Baron was calling.
“The Baron is calling,” I said, and took off my hat again respectfully.
And I went up into the hills, to my mining. Nothing, nothing should make me lose my self-possession any more. I met Eva. “There, what did I say?” I cried. “Herr Mack cannot drive me away. He has burned my hut, and I already have another hut . . . ” She was carrying a tar-bucket and brush. “What now, Eva?”
Herr Mack had a boat in a shed under the cliff, and had ordered her to tar it. He watched her every step — she had to obey.
“But why in the shed there? Why not at the quay?” “Herr Mack ordered it so..
“Eva, Eva, my love, they make a slave of you and you do not complain. See! now you are smiling again, and life streams through your smile, for all that you are a slave.”
When I got up to my mining work, I found a surprise. I could see that someone had been on the spot. I examined the tracks and recognised the print of Herr Mack’s long, pointed shoes. What could he be ferreting about here for? I thought to myself, and looked round. No one to be seen — I had no suspicion.
And I fell to hammering with my drill, never dreaming what harm I did.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55