Garman and Worse by Alexander Lange Kielland


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Page 2

As far as that went, Richard himself was not perfectly clear how it had
all come about; there was something about Christian Frederick he could
not understand. Whenever he met his brother, or even got a letter from
him, his whole nature seemed to change; things he would otherwise never
have thought of attempting appeared all at once quite easy, and he did
feats which afterwards caused him the greatest astonishment. When, in a
state of doubt and uncertainty, he wrote home for the last time, to beg
his brother to take charge of little Madeleine, his only thought was to
make an end of his wasted life, the sooner the better, directly his
daughter was placed in safety. But just then he happened to get a
remittance enclosed in an extraordinary letter, in which occurred
several puzzling business terms. There was something about
"liquidation," and closing up an account which required his presence,
and in the middle of it all there were certain expressions which seemed
to have stumbled accidentally into the commercial style. For instance,
in one place there was "brother of my boyhood;" and further on, "with
sincere wishes for brotherly companionship;" and finally, he read, in
the middle of a long involved sentence, "Dear Richard, don't lose
heart." This stirred Richard Garman into action: he made an effort, and
set off home. When he saw his brother come on board the steamer the
tears came to his eyes, and he was on the point of opening his arms to
embrace him. The Consul, however, held out his hand, and said quietly,
"Welcome, Richard! Where are your things?"

Since then nothing had been said about the letter; once only had Richard
Garman ventured to allude to it, when the Consul seemed to imagine that
he wished to settle up the accounts that were therein mentioned. Nothing

the bare idea was almost an injury. "Christian Frederick is a wonderful
man," thought Richard; "and what a man of business he is!"

One day Consul Garman said to his brother, "Shall we drive out to
Bratvold, and have a look at the new lighthouse?"

Richard was only too glad to go. From his earliest days he had loved the
lonely coast, with its long stretches of dark heather and sand, and the
vast open sea; the lighthouse also interested him greatly.

When the brothers got into the carriage again to drive back to the town,

position more suitable to such a wreck as myself than that of
lighthouse-keeper out here."

"There is no reason you should not have it," answered his brother.

"Nonsense! How could it be managed?" answered Richard, as he knocked the
ashes off his cigar.

"Now listen, Richard," replied the Consul, quickly. "If there is a thing
I must find fault with you for, it is your want of self-reliance. Don't
you suppose that, with your gifts and attainments, you could get a far
higher post if you only chose to apply for it?"

brother with astonishment.

"It's perfectly true," replied the Consul. "If you want the post, they
must give it to you; and if there should be any difficulty, I feel
pretty certain that a word from us to the authorities would soon settle

The matter was thus concluded, and Richard Garman was appointed
lighthouse-keeper at Bratvold, either because of his gifts and
attainments or by reason of a timely word to the authorities. The very
sameness of his existence did the old cavalier good; the few duties he
had, he performed with the greatest diligence and exactitude.

He passed most of his spare time in smoking cigarettes, and looking out
to sea through the large telescope, which was mounted on a stand, and
which he had got as a present from Christian Frederick. He was truly
weary, and he could not but wonder how he had so long kept his taste for
the irregular life he had led in foreign lands. There was one thing that
even more excited his wonder, and that was how well he got on with his
income. To live on a hundred a year seemed to him nothing less than a
work of art, and yet he managed it. It must be acknowledged that he had
a small private income, but his brother always told him it was as good
as nothing; how much it was, and from what source it was really derived,
he never had an idea. It is true that there came each year a current
account from Garman and Worse, made out in the Consul's own hand, and he
also frequently got business letters from his brother; but neither the
one nor the other made things clearer to him. He signed his name to all
papers which were sent to him, in what appeared the proper place.
Sometimes he got a bill of exchange to execute, and this he did to the
best of his ability; but everything still remained to him in the same
state of darkness as before.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 13:28