"And has he asked for the sacrament?"
The pilot stepped across the threshold and entered the room. He proceeded slowly to pull off his mittens; then looking up at the pastor's face, upon which a vague sheen fell from the stove, he broke out:
"Will you come or will you not? You wouldn't help him to live; now will you help him to die?"
The words, thrust forth with a slow, panting emphasis, hit the pastor like so many blows.
"I will come," he said, with solemn resolution. "Sit down till I get ready."
He had expected some expression of gratification or thanks, for Atle well knew what he had asked. It was his life the pastor risked, but this time in his calling as a physician, not of bodies, but of souls. It struck him, while he took leave of his wife, that there was something resentful and desperate in the pilot's manner, so different from his humble pleading at their last meeting.
As he embraced the children one by one, and kissed them, he missed Carina, but was told that she had probably gone to the cow-stable with the dairy-maid, who was her particular friend. So he left tender messages for her, and, summoning Atle, plunged out into the storm. A servant walked before him with a lantern, and lighted the way down to the pier, where the boat lay tossing upon the waves.
"But, man," cried the pastor, seeing that the boat was empty, "where are your boatmen?"