The head of the household was absent on a hunting party. He may not have been a very interesting man, but even a less entertaining person to whom one is accustomed, may by his absence leave a hole, an emptiness, which it is difficult to fill, especially in the country where the postman is not expected for another day or two, or where the farmhand has returned from his last trip to town with the wrong books from the circulating library or perhaps with no books at all.
Fortunately Lundtofte had its own library. After impatiently putting aside her embroidery, the young girl fetched a copy of Oehlenschlager’s poems, and at the request of the older lady began reading aloud. It was the romance about Aage and Else. Before she had reached the end, she suddenly stopped, exclaiming, “I wonder how these legends arise, about lovers who step forth from their graves? I am sure they are not taken from real life.”
Conversation to the subject
The old lady’s reply led the conversation to the subject of ghosts; then with a jump it turned again to love, and once more drifted on to ghosts, until the young girl said: “It would be worth while meeting some one in this life who had the power and the will to appear to us after death.”
The old lady replied: “Those who would do that for us, we probably do not see in the right light until they are in their graves.”
Then silence followed in which each was occupied with her own thoughts.
Suddenly the maid appeared and said, “Someone is outside asking for shelter.”
“What sort of person?” demanded the old lady.
“I don’t know. He looks awful, as if he was steeped in his own clothes.”
“Is he a journeyman?”
“No, he wears a white shirt—even though it is no longer white.”
“I wonder who it can be? Ask him his name.”
The maid left, but returned immediately, saying, “He is lying outside.”
“What do you mean?”
“Yes, he is lying outside. I am afraid he is dead.”
They all hurried into the hall. The young girl uttered a cry at the sight of Henry Falk, for he it was—our wandering doctor—as my reader no doubt has guessed. The old lady gave instructions to get a room ready, to put warm sheets on the bed, and so forth.
Henrik and Rosalie part 8
It took several days before the doctor regained consciousness, and when it happened, he experienced something which everyone in his own way may expect to encounter once in his life, namely, a miracle —something so wonderful and exquisite that it does not seem to come to us from natural sources according to rules and merits or even by accident, but must have befallen us by the grace of God.
Rosalie was sitting at his bedside, lovelier than ever, beautified through her very sacrifice, fairylike and glorified by the suddenness, the strangeness, and the enchantment of the whole occurrence.
How these two again joined the bond that had been torn asunder more than five years ago, my reader must picture for himself. Such reconciliations are made in words which have a strange and mysterious power over those by whom they are expressed and those for whom they are intended, but to everyone else they lose their wondrous sound.
It may be said, however, that the reconcilement was so much easier as Rosalie had never really thought that the connection had been broken entirely and, strange as it may sound, when she wrote her little note to Henrik she had a feeling, not as if the tie were cut forever, but rather as if it were being prolonged for an indefinite time. Let him who can explain it, though it is of no vital importance any more than the fact that it soon occurred to Henrik that he, too, had had the same feeling.
Exhilarating and refreshing influence
However this may be, there was one thing which still lingered in Rosalie’s memory after the first rapture—in which the whole estate participated—had subsided, and which never ceased to have an exhilarating and refreshing influence on her married life: it was the delight she took in picturing to herself Henrik traversing the heath guided by her love, although ignorant thereof and even unwilling in his suffering condition.
It seemed to her that she had Seen with her own eyes life’s poetry brought into reality, by his side, with her hand on his shoulder, leading him through the wet heather, forcing him forward step by step, toward the happiness which had once been lost. These memories were forever a source of great happiness to her, and every time the subject was discussed it brought to the doctor’s face a tender and grateful smile, yet at the same time gave him an uncomfortable feeling which he carefully concealed, for he had not the heart to tell his wife in plain words that this wonderful, blessed, romantic turn in their lives was due to an unromantic pig who had got a bone in his throat.