Absalom's Hair HTML version
Within a few days of the funeral mother and son were in England.
Rafael was now to enter upon a long course of study, for which, by his earlier
education, his mother had prepared him, and for which, by painful privations, she
had saved up sufficient money.
The property was to the last degree impoverished, and burdened with
mortgages, and the timber only fit for fuel.
Their neighbour the Dean, a clear-headed and practical man, took upon himself
the management of affairs; as money was needed the work of devastation must
begin at once. The mother and son did not wish to witness it.
They came to England like two fugitives who, after many and great trials, for
affection's sake seek a new home and a new country.
Rafael was then twelve years old.
They were inseparable, and in the shiftless life that they led in their new
surroundings they became, if possible, more closely attached to each other.
Yet not long afterwards they had their first disagreement.
He had gone to school, had begun to learn the language and to make friends,
and had developed a great desire to show off.
He was very tall and slender and was anxious to be athletic. He took an active
part in the play-ground, but here he achieved no great success. On the other
hand, thanks to his mother, he was better informed than his comrades, and he
contrived to obtain prominence by this. This prominence must be maintained,
and nothing answered so well as boasting about Norway and his father's exploits.
His statements were somewhat exaggerated, but that was not altogether his
fault, He knew English fairly well, but had not mastered its niceties. He made use
of superlatives, which always come the most readily. It was true that he had
inherited from his father twenty guns, a large sailing-boat, and several smaller
ones; but how magnificent these boats and guns had become!
He intended to go to the North Pole, he said, as his father had done, to shoot
white bears, and invited them all to come with him.
He made a greater impression on his hearers than he himself was aware of; but
something more was wanted, for it was impossible to foretell from day to day