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Absalom's Hair

CHAPTER 3
It was a bright evening in the beginning of June that they disembarked from the
steamer, and at once left the town in the boat which was to take them to
Hellebergene. They did not know any of the boatmen, although they were from
the estate; the boat also was new.
But the islands among which they were soon rowing were the old ones, which
had long awaited them and seemed to have swum out to meet them, and now to
move one behind the other so that the boat might pass between them. Neither
mother nor son spoke to the men, nor did they talk to each ether. In thus keeping
silence they entered into each other's feelings, for they were both awestruck. It
came upon them all at once. The bright evening light over sea and islands, the
aromatic fragrance from the land,--the quick splash of a little coasting steamer as
she passed them--nothing could cheer them.
Their life lay there before them, bringing responsibilities both old and new. How
would all that they were coming to look to them, and how far were they
themselves now fitted for it?
Now they had passed the narrow entrance of the bay, and rounded the last point
beneath the crags of Hellebergene. The green expanse opened out before them,
the buildings in its midst. The hillsides had once been crowned and darkly clad
with luxuriant woods. Now they stood there denuded, shrunk, formless, spread
over with a light green growth leaving some parts bare. The lowlands, as well as
the hills which framed them, were shrunk and diminished, not in extent but in
appearance. They could nut persuade themselves to look at it. They recalled it all
as it had been and felt themselves despoiled.
The buildings had been newly painted, but they looked small by contrast with
those which they had in their minds. No one awaited them at the landing, but a
few people stood about near the gallery, looking embarrassed--or were they
suspicious? The travellers went into Fru Kaas's old rooms, both up stairs and
down. These were just as they had left them, but how faded and wretched they
looked! The table, which was laid for supper, was loaded with coarse food like
that at a farmer's wedding.
The old lime-trees were gone. Fru Kaas wept.
Suddenly she was reminded of something. "Let us go across to the other wing,"
she said this as if there they would find what was wanting. In the gallery she took
Rafael's arm; he grew curious. His father's old rooms had been entirely
renovated for him. In everything, both great and small, he recognised his
mother's designs and taste. A vast amount of work, unknown to him, an endless
 
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