Love and Bread part 5

After a couple of months more Louise Falk became strangely indisposed. Had she caught cold? Or had she perchance been poisoned by the metal kitchen utensils ? The doctor who was called in merely laughed, and said it was all right—a queer diagnosis, to be sure, when the young lady was seriously ailing. Perhaps there was arsenic in the wall-paper. Falk took some to a chemist, bidding him make a careful analysis. The chemist’s report stated the wall-paper to be quite free from any harmful substance.

Papa and mamma

His wife’s sickness not abating, Gustaf began to investigate on his own account, his studies in a medical book resulting in a certainty as to her ailment, She took warm foot-baths, and in a month’s time her state was declared entirely promising. This was sudden—sooner than they had expected; yet how lovely to be papa and mamma! Of course the child would be a boy—no doubt of that; and one must think of a name to give him. Meanwhile, though, Louise took her husband aside, and rejoinder him that since their marriage he had earned nothing to supplement his salary, which had proved far from sufficient. Well, it was true they had lived rather high, but now a change should be made, and everything would be satisfactory!

Next day the assistant councilor went to see his good friend the barrister, with a request that he indorse a promissory note. This would allow him to borrow the money that would be needed to meet certain unavoidable forthcoming expenses—as Falk made clear to his friend. “Yes,” agreed the man of law, “marrying and raising a family is an expensive business. I have never been able to afford it.”

Falk felt too much ashamed to press his request, and when he returned home, empty-handed, was greeted with the news that two strangers had been to the house, and had asked for him. They must be lieutenants in the army, thought Gustaf, friends belonging to the garrison of Fort Vaxholm. No, he was told, they could not have been lieute-nants; they were much older-looking men. Ah, then they were two fellows he used to know in Upsala; they had probably heard of his marriage, and had come to look him up. Only the servant said they were not from Upsala, but were Stockholmers, and carried sticks. Mysterious —very; but no doubt they would come back.

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