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Absalom's Hair

CHAPTER 4
He came to Christiania like a tall ship gay with flags. His love was the music on
board.
His numerous relations were ready to receive him. Of these many were
engineers, who were a jour with all his writings, which they had taken care should
be well known. Some of the largest mechanical undertakings in the country were
in their hands, so that they had connections in every direction.
Once more the family had a genius in its midst; that is to say, one to make a
show with. Rafael went from entertainment to entertainment, from presentation to
presentation, and wherever he or his mother went court was paid to them.
In all this the ladies of the family were even more active than their lords; and they
had not been in the town many days before every one knew that they were to be
the rage.
There are some people who always will hold aloof. They are as irresponsive as a
sooty kettle when you strike it. They are like peevish children who say "I won't,"
or surly old dogs who growl at every one. But HE was so exceedingly genial, a
capital fellow with the highest spirits. He had looks as well; he was six feet high;
and all those six feet were clothed in perfect taste. He had large flashing eyes
and a broad forehead. He was practised in making clear to others all in which he
was interested, and at such times how handsome he looked! He was a thorough
man of the world, able to converse in several languages at the cosmopolitan
dinners which were a speciality of the Ravns. He was the owner of one of the few
extensive estates in Norway, and had the control, it was said, of a considerable
fortune besides.
The half of this would have been enough to set all tongues wagging; therefore,
first the family, then their friends, then the whole town feted him. He was a nine
days' wonder! One must know the critical, unimaginative natives of Christiania,
who daily pick each other to pieces to fill the void in their existences; one must
have admired their endless worrying of threadbare topics to understand what it
must be when they got hold of a fresh theme.
Nothing which flies before the storm is more dangerous than desert sand,
nothing can surpass a Christiania FUROR.
When it became known that two of his relations who were conversant with the
subject, together with a distinguished geologist and a superintendent of mines,
had been down to Hellebergene with Rafael, and had found that his statements
were well grounded, he was captured and borne off in triumph twenty times a
 
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