Karsten Bernick, a shipbuilder and a pillar of society who says that his every action is performed to help the community. Actually, Bernick is guilty of an intrigue with Mrs. Dorf, now dead, and of letting his brother-in-law, Johan Tönnesen, assume his guilt and flee to America. Because his mother’s finances were in bad shape, he also permitted and helped circulate a rumor that Johan had run off with her cash box. Now he is planning to let an American ship manned with a drunken crew set sail with inadequate repairs to avoid criticism from the press. When his brother-in-law, who has returned from America, plans to sail on the vessel, the Indian Girl, Bernick does nothing to prevent him because Johan is the only one who can accuse him. When his own son Olaf, a boy of fourteen, plans to run away and ship aboard the Indian Girl, Bernick is horrified. After the son has been saved and the citizens of the town come to recognize him as a pillar of society, Bernick confesses his guilt. He had married his wife Betty because she would inherit money from her aunt, and he needed money to get his mother’s business out of trouble. Betty forgives him and hopes to win him. His repentance is difficult to accept.
Johan Tönnesen, Mrs. Bernick’s younger brother. Johan had taken Bernick’s guilt upon himself because Bernick was willing to help him go to America and was courting his sister Betty, who would not have married Bernick if she had known he was implicated with Mrs. Dorf. Johan comes home because his half sister, Lona Hessel, insists that she is homesick. He meets Dina, Mrs. Dorf’s daughter, and they plan to marry. When Dina decides to go to America with him, Johan changes his passage from the Indian Girl to the Palm Tree, a ship in good repair. Although...
(The entire section is 764 words.)