Garman and Worse/Chapter XIV

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
 

CHAPTER XIV.

The autumn rains had now begun in earnest. Day after day the water came down in streams, and at night it could be heard pattering on the window panes, and dripping from the eaves, every time one woke.

At first the rain came for a long time from the south-west, but there was nothing wonderful in that, for the south-west is a rainy quarter. But when it rained for a whole fortnight with a north wind, people who were weather-wise maintained that if it once began to rain steadily from the north, there would be no end to it.

One morning the wind ceased, but the clouds lay heavy and lowering overhead; and now the weather-wise averred, with much shaking of heads, that it would be worse than ever. The morning, however, actually passed without rain, and the air grew lighter and clearer; but just as the aspect began to improve, the drizzle again commenced.

The rain now set in with renewed vigour, with all its pleasing varieties of shower and deluge; but the worst form it took was when it poured persistently and unmercifully from morning to night.

The new moons came in with rain and went out with rain, and every day of the calendar was alike wet. The wind veered about to every point of the compass, and heaped up banks of fog out to sea, and heavy masses of cloud up in the mountains, which finally drifted together, and poured down their contents in torrents all along the west coast.

And now the storms began in earnest, and went soughing through the trees in the avenue, and whistling in the rigging of the vessels that were laid up for the winter.

In the old house at Sandsgaard each separate wind had its own pet corner, to which it returned with delight every autumn. The north wind came howling along between the warehouses; the south wind took the wet leaves from the garden and hurled them in handfuls against the window-panes; the east wind whirled down the chimneys till all the rooms were full of smoke; while the pet amusement of the west wind was to make a clatter with all the loose tiles on the roof, during the whole livelong night.

The Consul kept going and looking at the barometer, and tapping it to see if the quicksilver was rising or falling: but, to tell the truth, it did not seem to make much matter which it did; for the sky, the clouds, the rain, and the storm had all got into such a jumble, that the weather continued equally abominable, week after week, during the whole winter.

In the ship-yard work went on but slowly, for Garman and Worse were not so new-fangled as to build under cover; but Mr. Robson still thought that he would be ready by the appointed day, although the weather certainly was "the very devil!"

But the person who most of all anathematized the weather, and indeed the whole west coast, and everything that belonged to it, was our friend Mr. Aalbom. When he left his house in the morning, the wind and rain would persist in beating in his face, and when he came out of school, they were so obliging as to follow him right up again to his very door. When he had gone part of the way down the avenue, the wind managed to blow down on the top of his umbrella, which, after many struggles, it finally pressed down until his hat got jammed in among the ribs. Then all at once it began the same tactics from below, and blew up under the umbrella, and between the master's long legs, filling out the closely buttoned waterproof, until it bid fair to blow it away altogether.

All October and November went on much in the same fashion, and people who were given to jokes began to say that they had quite forgotten the sun's appearance.