Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Nicole Apostola
A Danish Romance
by Hans Christian Andersen
Author of the "Improvisatore" and the "Two Baronesses"
"Quod felix faustumque sit!"
There is a happiness which no poet has yet properly sung, which no
lady-reader, let her be ever so amiable, has experienced or ever
will experience in this world. This is a condition of happiness
which alone belongs to the male sex, and even then alone to the
elect. It is a moment of life which seizes upon our feelings,
our minds, our whole being. Tears have been shed by the innocent,
sleepless nights been passed, during which the pious mother, the
loving sister, have put up prayers to God for this critical moment
in the life of the son or the brother.
Happy moment, which no woman, let her be ever so good, so
beautiful, or intellectual, can experience--that of becoming a
student, or, to describe it by a more usual term, the passing of
the first examination!
The cadet who becomes an officer, the scholar who becomes an
academical burgher, the apprentice who becomes a journeyman, all
know, in a greater or less degree, this loosening of the wings,
this bounding over the limits of maturity into the lists of
philosophy. We all strive after a wider field, and rush thither
like the stream which at length loses itself in the ocean.
Then for the first time does the youthful soul rightly feel her
freedom, and, therefore, feels it doubly; the soul struggles for
activity, she comprehends her individuality; it has been proved and
not found too light; she is still in possession of the dreams of
childhood, which have not yet proved delusive. Not even the joy of
love, not the enthusiasm for art and science, so thrills through
all the nerves as the words, "Now am I a student!"
This spring-day of life, on which the ice-covering of the school is
broken, when the tree of Hope puts forth its buds and the sun of
Freedom shines, falls with us, as is well known, in the month of
October, just when Nature loses her foliage, when the evenings
begin to grow darker, and when heavy winter-clouds draw together,
as though they would say to youth,--"Your spring, the birth of the
examination, is only a dream! even now does your life become
earnest!" But our happy youths think not of these things, neither
will we be joyous with the gay, and pay a visit to their circle. In
such a one our story takes its commencement.
"At last we separate:
To Jutland one, to Funen others go;
And still the quick thought comes,
--A day so bright, so full of fun,
Never again on us shall rise."--CARL BAGGER.
It was in October of the year 1829. Examen artium had been passed
through. Several young students were assembled in the evening at
the abode of one of their comrades, a young Copenhagener of
eighteen, whose parents were giving him and his new friends a
banquet in honor of the examination. The mother and sister had
arranged everything in the nicest manner, the father had given
excellent wine out of the cellar, and the student himself, here the
rex convivii, had provided tobacco, genuine Oronoko-canaster. With
regard to Latin, the invitation--which was, of course, composed in
Latin--informed the guests that each should bring his own.
The company, consisting of one and twenty persons--and these were
only the most intimate friends--was already assembled. About one
third of the friends were from the provinces, the remainder out of
"Old Father Homer shall stand in the middle of the table!" said one
of the liveliest guests, whilst he took down from the stove a
plaster bust and placed it upon the covered table.
"Yes, certainly, he will have drunk as much as the other poets!"
said an older one. "Give me one of thy exercise-books, Ludwig! I
will cut him out a wreath of vine-leaves, since we have no roses
and since I cannot cut out any."
"I have no libation!" cried a third,--"Favete linguis." And he
sprinkled a small quantity of salt, from the point of a knife, upon
the bust, at the same time raising his glass to moisten it with a
few drops of wine.
"Do not use my Homer as you would an ox!" cried the host. "Homer
shall have the place of honor, between the bowl and the garland-cake!
He is especially my poet! It was he who in Greek assisted me to
laudabilis et quidem egregie. Now we will mutually drink healths!
Jorgen shall be magister bibendi, and then we will sing 'Gaudeamus
igitur,' and 'Integer vitae.'"
"The Sexton with the cardinal's hat shall be the precentor!" cried
one of the youths from the provinces, pointing toward a rosy-cheeked
"O, now I am no longer sexton!" returned the other laughing. "If
thou bringest old histories up again, thou wilt receive thy old
school-name, 'the Smoke-squirter.'"
"But that is a very nice little history!" said the other. "We
called him 'Sexton," from the office his father held; but that,
after all, is not particularly witty. It was better with the hat,
for it did, indeed, resemble a cardinal's hat. I, in the mean time,
got my name in a more amusing manner."
"He lived near the school," pursued the other; "he could always slip
home when we had out free quarters of an hour: and then one day he
had filled his mouth with tobacco smoke, intending to blow it into
our faces; but when he entered the passage with his filled cheeks
the quarter of an hour was over, and we were again in class: the
rector was still standing in the doorway; he could not, therefore,
blow the smoke out of his mouth, and so wished to slip in as he
was. 'What have you there in your mouth?' asked the rector; but
Philip could answer nothing, without at the same time losing the
smoke. 'Now, cannot you speak?' cried the rector, and gave him a
box on the ear, so that the smoke burst through nose and mouth.
This looked quite exquisite; the affair caused the rector such
pleasure, that he presented the poor sinner with the nota bene."
"Integer vitae!" broke in the Precentor, and harmoniously followed
the other voices. After this, a young Copenhagener exhibited his
dramatic talent by mimicking most illusively the professors of the
Academy, and giving their peculiarities, yet in such a good-natured
manner that it must have amused even the offended parties
themselves. Now followed the healths--"Vivant omnes hi et hae!"
"A health to the prettiest girl!" boldly cried one of the merriest
brothers. "The prettiest girl!" repeated a pair of the younger
ones, and pushed their glasses toward each other, whilst the blood
rushed to their cheeks at this their boldness, for they had never
thought of a beloved being, which, nevertheless, belonged to their
new life. The roundelay now commenced, in which each one must give
the Christian name of his lady-love, and assuredly every second
youth caught a name out of the air; some, however, repeated a name
with a certain palpitation of the heart. The discourse became more
animated; the approaching military exercises, the handsome uniform,
the reception in the students' club, and its pleasures, were all
matters of the highest interest. But there was the future
philologicum and philosophicum--yes, that also was discussed;
there they must exhibit their knowledge of Latin.
"What do you think," said one of the party, "if once a week we
alternately met at each other's rooms, and held disputations? No
Danish word must be spoken. This might be an excellent scheme."
"I agree to that!" cried several.
"Regular laws must be drawn up."
"Yes, and we must have our best Latin scholar, the Jutlander, Otto
Thostrup, with us! He wrote his themes in hexameters."
"He is not invited here this evening," remarked the neighbor, the
young Baron Wilhelm of Funen, the only nobleman in the company.
"Otto Thostrup!" answered the host. "Yes, truly he's a clever
fellow, but he seems to me so haughty. There is something about him
that does not please me at all. We are still no dunces, although
he did receive nine prae caeteris!"
"Yet it was very provoking," cried another, "that he received the
only Non in mathematics. Otherwise he would have been called in.
Now he will only have to vex himself about his many brilliant
"Yes, and he is well versed in mathematics!" added Wilhelm "There
was something incorrect in the writing; the inspector was to blame
for that, but how I know not. Thostrup is terribly vehement, and
can set all respect at defiance; he became angry, and went out.
There was only a piece of unwritten paper presented from him,
and this brought him a cipher, which the verbal examination could
not bring higher than non. Thostrup is certainly a glorious fellow.
We have made a tour together in the steamboat from Helsingoer to
Copenhagen, and in the written examination we sat beside each other
until the day when we had mathematics, and then I sat below him. I
like him very much, his pride excepted; and of that we must break
"Herr Baron," said his neighbor, "I am of your opinion.
Shall not we drink the Thou-brotherhood?"
"To-night we will all of us drink the Thou!" said the host; "it is
nothing if comrades and good friends call each other _you_."
"Evoe Bacchus!" they joyously shouted. The glasses were filled, one
arm was thrown round that of the neighbor, and the glasses were
emptied, whilst several commenced singing "dulce cum sodalibus!"
"Tell me what thou art called?" demanded one of the younger guests
of his new Thou-brother.
"What am I called?" replied he. "With the exception of one letter,
the same as the Baron."
"The Baron!" cried a third; "yes, where is he?"
"There he stands talking at the door; take your glasses! now have
all of us drank the Thou-brotherhood?"
The glasses were again raised; the young Baron laughed, clinked his
glass, and shouted in the circle, "Thou, Thou!" But in his whole
bearing there lay something constrained, which, however, none of
the young men remarked, far less allowed themselves to imagine that
his sudden retreat, during the first drinking, perhaps occurred
from the sole object of avoiding it. But soon was he again one of
the most extravagant; promised each youth who would study theology
a living on his estate when he should once get it into his own
hands; and proposed that the Latin disputations should commence
with him, and on the following Friday. Otto Thostrup, however,
should he of the party--if he chose, of course being understood;
for he was a capital student, and his friend they had made a
journey together and had been neighbors at the green table.
Among those who were the earliest to make their valete amici was
the Baron. Several were not yet inclined to quit this joyous
circle. The deepest silence reigned in the streets; it was the most
beautiful moonlight. In most houses all had retired to rest--only
here and there was a light still seen, most persons slept, even
those whose sense of duty should leave banished the god of sleep:
thus sat a poor hackney-coachman, aloft upon his coach-box, before
the house where he awaited his party, and enjoyed, the reins wound
about his hand, the much-desired rest. Wilhelm (henceforth we will
only call the young Baron by his Christian name) walked alone
through the street. The wine had heated his northern blood--besides
which it never flowed slowly; his youthful spirits, his jovial
mood, and the gayety occasioned by the merry company he had just
quitted did not permit him quietly to pass by this sleeping
Endymion. Suddenly it occurred to him to open the coach-door and
leap in; which having done, he let the glass fall and called out
with a loud voice, "Drive on!" The coachman started up out of his
blessed sleep and asked, quite confused, "Where to?" Without
reflecting about the matter, Wilhelm cried, "To the Ship in West
Street." The coachman drove on; about half-way, Wilhelm again
opened the coach-door, a bold spring helped him out, and the coach
rolled on. It stopped at the public-house of the Ship. The coachman
got down and opened the door; there was no one within; he thrust
his head in thoroughly to convince himself; but no, the carriage
was empty! "Extraordinary!" said the fellow; "can I have dreamed
it? But still I heard, quite distinctly, how I was told to drive to
the Ship! Lord preserve us! now they are waiting for me!" He leaped
upon the box and drove rapidly back again.
In the mean time Wilhelm had reached his abode in Vineyard Street;
he opened a window to enjoy the beautiful night, and gazed out upon
the desolate church-yard which is shut in by shops. He had no
inclination for sleep, although everything in the street, even the
watchmen not excepted, appeared to rejoice the gift of God. Wilhelm
thought upon the merry evening party, upon his adventure with the
poor hackney-coachman, then took down his violin from the wall and
began to play certain variations.
The last remaining guests from the honorable carousal, merrier than
when Wilhelm left them, now came wandering up the street. One of
them jodeled sweetly, and no watchman showed himself as a
disturbing principle. They heard Wilhelm violin and recognized the
"Play us a Francaise, thou up there!" cried they.
"But the watchman?" whispered one of the less courageous.
"Zounds, there he sits!" cried a third, and pointed toward a
sleeping object which leaned its head upon a large wooden chest
before a closed booth.
"He is happy!" said the first speaker. "If we had only the strong
Icelander here, he would soon hang him up by his bandelier upon one
of the iron hooks. He has done that before now; he has the strength
of a bear. He seized such a lazy fellow as this right daintily by
his girdle on one of the hooks at the weighing-booth. There hung
the watchman and whistled to the others; the first who hastened to
the spot was immediately hung up beside him, and away ran the
Icelander whilst the two blew a duet."
"Here, take hold!" cried one of the merry brothers, quickly opening
the chest, the lid of which was fastened by a peg. "Let us put the
watchman into the chest; he sleeps indeed like a horse!" In a
moment, the four had seized the sleeper, who certainly awoke during
the operation, but he already lay in the chest. The lid flew down,
and two or three of the friends sprang upon it whilst the peg was
stuck in again. The watchman immediately seized his whistle and
drew the most heart-rending tones from it. Quickly the tormenting
spirits withdrew themselves; yet not so far but that they could
still hear the whistle and observe what would take place.
The watchmen now came up.
"The deuce! where art thou?" cried they, and then discovered the
"Ah, God help me!" cried the prisoner. "Let me out, let me out! I
"Thou hast drunk more than thy thirst required, comrade!" said the
others. "If thou hast fallen into the chest, remain lying there,
thou swine!" And laughing they left him.
"O, the rascals!" sighed he, and worked in vain at opening the lid.
Through all his powerful exertions the box fell over. The young men
now stepped forth, and, as though they were highly astonished at
the whole history which he related to them, they let themselves be
prevailed upon to open the box, but only upon condition that he
should keep street free from the interference of the other
watchmen whilst they danced a Francaise to Wilhelm's violin.
The poor man was delivered from his captivity, and must obligingly
play the sentinel whilst they arranged them for the dance. Wilhelm
was called upon to play, and the dance commenced; a partner,
however, was wanting. Just then a quiet citizen passed by. The
gentleman who had no partner approached the citizen with comic
respect, and besought him to take part in the amusement.
"I never dance!" said the man, laughing, and wished to pursue his
"Yes," replied the cavalier, "yet you must still do me this
pleasure, or else I shall have no dance." Saying this he took hold
of him by the waist and the dance commenced, whether the good man
would or no.
"The watchman should receive a present from every one!" said they,
when the Francaise was at an end. "He is an excellent man who thus
keeps order in the street, so that one can enjoy a little dance."
"These are honest people's children!" said the watchman to himself,
whilst he with much pleasure thrust the money into his leathern
All was again quiet in the street; the violin was also silent.
"Who looks into the shadowy realm of my heart?"
A. V. CHAMISSO.
In the former chapter we heard mention made of a young student,
Otto Thostrup, a clever fellow, with nine prae caeteris, as his
comrades said, but also of a proud spirit, of which he must be
broken. Not at the disputations, which have been already mentioned,
will we make his acquaintance, although there we must be filled
with respect for the good Latin scholar; not in large companies,
where his handsome exterior and his speaking, melancholy glance
must make him interesting; as little in the pit of the Opera
although his few yet striking observations there would show him to
be a very intellectual young man; but we will seek him out for the
first time at the house of his friend, the young Baron Wilhelm. It
is the beginning of November: we find them both with their pipes in
their mouths; upon the table lie Tibullus and Anacreon, which they
are reading together for the approaching philologicum.
In the room stands a piano-forte, with a number of music-books;
upon the walls hang the portraits of Weyse and Beethoven, for our
young Baron is musical, nay a composer himself.
"See, here we have again this lovely, clinging mist!" said Wilhelm.
"Out of doors one can fairly taste it; at home it would be a real
plague to me, here it only Londonizes the city."
"I like it!" said Otto. "To me it is like an old acquaintance from
Vestervovov. It is as though the mist brought me greetings from the
sea and sand-hills."
"I should like to see the North Sea, but the devil might live
there! What town lies nearest to your grandfather's estate?"
"Lernvig," answered Otto. "If any one wish to see the North Sea
properly, they ought to go up as far as Thisted and Hjorring. I
have travelled there, have visited the family in Borglum-Kloster;
and, besides this, have made other small journeys. Never shall I
forget one evening; yes, it was a storm of which people in the
interior of the country can form no conception. I rode--I was then
a mere boy, and a very wild lad--with one of our men. When the
storm commenced we found ourselves among the sand-hills. Ah!
that you should have seen! The sand forms along the strand high
banks, which serve as dikes against the sea; these are overgrown
with sea-grass, but, if the storm bursts a single hole, the whole
is carried away. This spectacle we chanced to witness. It is a true
Arabian sand-storm, and the North Sea bellowed so that it might be
heard at the distance of many miles. The salt foam flew together
with the sand into our faces."
"That must have been splendid!" exclaimed Wilhelm, and his eyes
sparkled. "Jutland is certainly the most romantic part of Denmark.
Since I read Steen-Blicher's novels I have felt a real interest for
that country. It seems to me that it must greatly resemble the
Lowlands of Scotland. And gypsies are also found there, are they
"Vagabonds, we call them," said Otto, with an involuntary motion of
the mouth. "They correspond to the name!"
"The fishermen, also, on the coast are not much better! Do they
still from the pulpit pray for wrecks? Do they still slay
"I have heard our preacher, who is an old man, relate how, in the
first years after he had obtained his office and dignity, he was
obliged to pray in the church that, if ships stranded, they might
strand in his district; but this I have never heard myself. But
with regard to what is related of murdering, why, the fishermen--
sea-geese, as they are called--are by no means a tender-hearted
people; but it is not as bad as that in our days. A peasant died in
the neighborhood, of whom it was certainly related that in bad
weather he had bound a lantern under his horse's belly and let it
wander up and down the beach, so that the strange mariner who was
sailing in those seas might imagine it some cruising ship, and thus
fancy himself still a considerable way from land. By this means
many a ship is said to have been destroyed. But observe, these are
stories out of the district of Thisted, and of an elder age, before
my power of observation had developed itself; this was that golden
age when in tumble-down fishers' huts, after one of these good
shipwrecks, valuable shawls, but little damaged by the sea, might
be found employed as bed-hangings. Boots and shoes were smeared
with the finest pomatum. If such things now reach their hands, they
know better how to turn them into money. The Strand-commissioners
are now on the watch; now it is said to be a real age of copper."
"Have you seen a vessel stranded?" inquired Wilhelm, with
"Our estate lies only half a mile from the sea. Every year about
this time, when the mist spreads itself out as it does to-day and
the storms begin to rage, then was it most animated. In my wild
spirits, when I was a boy, and especially in the midst of our
monotonous life, I truly yearned after it. Once, upon a journey to
Borglum-Kloster, I experienced a storm. In the early morning; it
was quite calm, but gray, and we witnessed a kind of Fata Morgana.
A ship, which had not yet risen above the horizon, showed itself in
the distance, but the rigging was turned upside down; the masts
were below, the hull above. This is called the ship of death, and
when it is seen people are sure of bad weather and shipwreck.
Later, about midday, it began to blow, and in an hour's time we had
a regular tempest. The sea growled quite charmingly; we travelled
on between sand-hills--they resemble hills and dales in winter
time, but here it is not snow which melts away; here never grows
a single green blade; a black stake stands up here and there, and
these are rudders from wrecks, the histories of which are unknown.
In the afternoon arose a storm such as I had experienced when
riding with the man between the sand-hills. We could not proceed
farther, and were obliged on this account to seek shelter in one of
the huts which the fishermen hail erected among the white sand-hills.
There we remained, and I saw the stranding of a vessel: I shall never
forget it! An American ship lay not a musket-shot from land. They cut
the mast; six or seven men clung fast to it in the waters. O, how
they rocked backward and forward in the dashing spray! The mast took
a direction toward the shore; at length only three men were left
clinging to the mast; it was dashed upon land, but the returning
waves again bore it away; it had crushed the arms and legs of the
clinging wretches--ground them like worms! I dreamed of this for
many nights. The waves flung the hull of the vessel up high on the
shore, and drove it into the sand, where it was afterward found.
Later, as we retraced our steps, were the stem and sternpost gone:
you saw two strong wooden walls, between which the road took its
course. You even still travel through the wreck!"
"Up in your country every poetical mind must become a Byron," said
Wilhelm. "On my parents' estate we have only idyls; the whole of
Funen is a garden. We mutually visit each other upon our different
estates, where we lead most merry lives, dance with the peasant-girls
at the brewing-feast, hunt in the woods, and fish in the lakes. The
only melancholy object which presents itself with us is a funeral,
and the only romantic characters we possess are a little hump-backed
musician, a wise woman, and an honest schoolmaster, who still firmly
believes, as Jeronimus did, that the earth is flat, and that, were it
to turn round, we should fall, the devil knows where!"
"I love nature in Jutland!" exclaimed Otto. "The open sea, the
brown heath, and the bushy moorland. You should see the wild moor
in Vendsyssel--that is an extent! Almost always wet mists float
over its unapproachable interior, which is known to no one. It is
not yet fifty years since it served as an abode for wolves. Often
it bursts into flames, for it is impregnated with sulphuric gas,--
one can see the fire for miles."
"My sister Sophie ought to hear all this!" said Wilhelm. "You would
make your fortune with her! The dear girl! she has the best head at
home, but she loves effect. Hoffman and Victor Hugo are her
favorites. Byron rests every night under her pillow. If you related
such things of the west coast of Jutland, and of heaths and moors,
you might persuade her to make a journey thither. One really would
not believe that we possessed in our own country such romantic
"Is she your only sister?" inquired Otto.
"No," returned Wilhelm, "I have two--the other is named Louise; she
is of quite an opposite character: I do not know of which one ought
to think most. Have you no brothers or sisters?" he asked of Otto.
"No!" returned the latter, with his former involuntary, half-melancholy
expression. "I am an only child. In my house it is solitary and silent.
My grandfather alone is left alive. He is an active, strong man, but
very grave. He instructed me in mathematics, which he thoroughly
understands. The preacher taught me Latin, Greek, and history: two
persons, however, occupied themselves with my religious education--
the preacher and my old Rosalie. She is a good soul. How often have
I teased her, been petulant, and almost angry with her! She thought
so much of me, she was both mother and sister to me, and instructed
me in religion as well as the preacher, although she is a Catholic.
Since my father's childhood she has been a sort of governante in the
house. You should have seen her melancholy smile when she heard my
geography lesson, and we read of her dear Switzerland, where she was
born, and of the south of France, where she had travelled as a child.
The west coast of Jutland may also appear very barren in comparison
with these countries!"
"She might have made you a Catholic! But surely nothing of this
still clings to you?"
"Rosalie was a prudent old creature; Luther himself need not have
been ashamed of her doctrine. Whatever is holy to the heart of man,
remains also holy in every religion!"
"But then, to erect altars to the Madonna!" exclaimed Wilhelm; "to
pray to a being; whom the Bible does not make a saint!--that is
rather too much. And their tricks with burning of incense and
ringing of bells! Yes, indeed, it would give me no little pleasure
to cut off the heads of the Pope and of the whole clerical body! To
purchase indulgence!--Those must, indeed, be curious people who can
place thorough faith in such things! I will never once take off my
hat before the Madonna!"
"But that will I do, and in my heart bow myself before her!"
answered Otto, gravely.
"Did I not think so? she has made you a Catholic!"
"No such thing! I am as good a Protestant as you yourself: but
wherefore should we not respect the mother of Christ? With regard
to the ceremonials of Catholicism, indulgence, and all these
additions of the priesthood, I agree with you in wishing to strike
off the heads of all who, in such a manner, degrade God and the
human understanding. But in many respects we are unjust: we so
easily forget the first and greatest commandment, 'Love thy
neighbor as thyself!' We are not tolerant. Among our festivals we
have still one for the Three Kings--it is yet celebrated by the
common people; but what have these three kings done? They knelt
before the manger in which Christ lay, and on this account we honor
them. On the contrary, the mother of God has no festival-day; nay,
the multitude even smile at her name! If you will only quietly
listen to my simple argument, we shall soon agree. You will take
off your hat and bow before the Madonna. Only two things are to be
considered--either Christ was entirely human, or He was, as the
Bible teaches us, a divine being. I will now admit the latter. He
is God Himself, who in some inexplicable manner, is born to us of
the Virgin Mary. She must therefore be the purest, the most perfect
feminine being, since God found her worthy to bring into the world
the Son, the only one; through this she becomes as holy as any
human being can, and low we must bow ourselves before the pure, the
exalted one. Take it for granted that Christ was human, like
ourselves, otherwise He cannot, according to my belief, call upon
us to imitate Him; neither would it be great, as God, to meet a
corporeal death, from which He could remove each pain. Were He only
a man, born of Mary, we must doubly admire Him; we must bow in the
dust before His mighty spirit, His enlightening and consoling
doctrine. But can we then forget how much the mother has must have
influenced the child, how sublime and profound the soul must have
been which spoke to His heart? We must reverence and honor her!
Everywhere in the Scriptures where she appears we see an example of
care and love; with her whole soul she adheres to her Son. Think
how uneasy she became, and sought for Him in the temple--think of
her gentle reproaches! The words of the Son always sounded harsh in
my ears. 'Those are the powerful expressions of the East!' said my
old preacher. The Saviour was severe, severe as He must be! Already
there seemed to me severity in His words! She was completely the
mother; she was it then, even as when she wept at Golgotha.
Honor and reverence she deserves from us!"
"These she also receives!" returned Wilhelm; and striking him upon
the shoulder he added, with a smile, "you are, according to the
Roman Catholic manner, near exalting the mother above the Son! Old
Rosalie has made a proselyte; after all, you are half a Catholic!"
"That am I not!" answered Otto, "and that will I not be!"
"See! the thunder-cloud advances!"
resounded below in the court: the sweet Neapolitan song reached the
ears of the friends. They stepped into the adjoining room and
opened the window. Three poor boys stood below in the wind and
rain, and commenced the song. The tallest was, perhaps, fourteen or
fifteen years old, his deep, rough voice seemed to have attained
its strength and depth more through rain and bad weather than
through age. The dirty wet clothes hung in rags about his body; the
shoes upon the wet feet, and the hat held together with white
threads, were articles of luxury. The other two boys had neither
hat nor shoes, but their clothes were whole and clean. The youngest
appeared six or seven years old; his silvery white hair formed a
contrast with his brown face, his dark eyes and long brown
eyelashes. His voice sounded like the voice of a little girl, as
fine and soft, beside the voices of the others, as the breeze of an
autumnal evening beside that of rude November weather.
"That is a handsome boy!" exclaimed the two friends at the same
"And a lovely melody!" added Otto.
"Yes, but they sing falsely!" answered Wilhelm: "one sings half a
tone too low, the other half a tone too high!"
"Now, thank God that I cannot hear that!" said Otto. "It sounds
sweetly, and the little one might become a singer. Poor child!"
added he gravely: "bare feet, wet to the very skin; and then the
elder one will certainly lead him to brandy drinking! Within a
month, perhaps, the voice will be gone! Then is the nightingale
dead!" He quickly threw down some skillings, wrapped in paper.
"Come up!" cried Wilhelm, and beckoned. The eldest of the boys flew
up like an arrow; Wilhelm, however, said it was the youngest who
was meant. The others remained standing before the door; the
youngest stepped in.
"Whose son art thou?" asked Wilhelm. The boy was silent, and cast
down his eyes in an embarrassed manner. "Now, don't be bashful!
Thou art of a good family--that one can see from thy appearance!
Art not thou thy mother's son? I will give thee stockings and--the
deuce! here is a pair of boots which are too small for me; if thou
dost not get drowned in them they shall be thy property: but now
thou must sing." And he seated himself at the piano-forte and
struck the keys. "Now, where art thou?" he cried, rather
displeased. The little one gazed upon the ground.
"How! dost thou weep; or is it the rain which hangs in thy black
eyelashes?" said Otto, and raised his head: "we only wish to do
thee a kindness. There--thou hast another skilling from me."
The little one still remained somewhat laconic. All that they
learned was that he was named Jonas, and that his grandmother
thought so much of him.
"Here thou hast the stockings!" said Wilhelm; "and see here! a coat
with a velvet collar, a much-to-be-prized keepsake! The boots! Thou
canst certainly stick both legs into one boot! See! that is as good
as having two pairs to change about with! Let us see!"
The boy's eyes sparkled with joy; the boots he drew on, the
stockings went into his pocket, and the bundle he took under his
"But thou must sing us a little song!" said Wilhelm, and the little
one commenced the old song out of the "Woman-hater," "Cupid never
can be trusted!"
The lively expression in the dark eyes, the boy himself in his wet,
wretched clothes and big boots, with the bundle under his arm; nay,
the whole had something so characteristic in it, that had it been
painted, and had the painter called the picture "Cupid on his
Wanderings," every one would have found the little god strikingly
excellent, although he were not blind.
"Something might be made of the boy and of his voice!" said
Wilhelm, when little Jonas, in a joyous mood, had left the house
with the other lads.
"The poor child!" sighed Otto. "I have fairly lost my good spirits
through all this. It seizes upon me so strangely when I see misery
and genius mated. Once there came to our estate in Jutland a man
who played the Pandean-pipes, and at the same time beat the drum
and cymbals: near him stood a little girl, and struck the triangle.
I was forced to weep over this spectacle; without understanding how
it was, I felt the misery of the poor child. I was myself yet a
"He looked so comic in the big boots that I became quite merry, and
not grave," said Wilhelm. "Nevertheless what a pity it is that such
gentle blood, which at the first glance one perceives he is, that
such a pretty child should become a rude fellow, and his beautiful
voice change into a howl, like that with which the other tall Laban
saluted us. Who knows whether little Jonas might not become the
first singer on the Danish stage? Yes, if he received education of
mind and voice, who knows? I could really have, pleasure in
attempting it, and help every one on in the world, before I myself
am rightly in the way!"
"If he is born to a beggar's estate," said Otto, "let him as beggar
live and die, and learn nothing higher. That is better, that is
more to be desired!"
Wilhelm seated himself at the piano-forte, and played some of his
own compositions. "That is difficult," said he; "every one cannot
"The simpler the sweeter!" replied Otto.
"You must not speak about music!" returned the friend "upon that
you know not how to pass judgment. Light Italian operas are not
difficult to write."
In the evening the friends separated. Whilst Otto took his hat,
there was a low knock at the door. Wilhelm opened it. Without stood
a poor old woman, with pale sharp features; by the hand she led a
little boy--it was Jonas: thus then it was a visit from him and his
The other boys had sold the boots and shoes which had been given
him. They ought to have a share, they maintained. This atrocious
injustice had induced the old grandmother to go immediately with
little Jonas to the two good gentlemen, and relate how little the
poor lad had received of flint which they had assigned to him
Wilhelm spoke of the boy's sweet voice, and thought that by might
make his fortune at the theatre; but then he ought not now to be
left running about with bare feet in the wind and rain.
"But by this means he brings a skilling home," said the old woman.
"That's what his father and mother look to, and the skilling they
can always employ. Nevertheless she had herself already thought of
bringing him out at the theatre,--but that was to have been in
dancing, for they got shoes and stockings to dance in, and with
these they might also run home; and that would be an advantage."
"I will teach the boy music!" said Wilhelm; "he can come to me
"And then he will, perhaps, get a little cast-off clothing, good
sir," said the grandmother; "a shirt, or a waistcoat, just as it
"Become a tailor, or shoemaker," said Otto, gravely, and laid his
hand upon the boy's head.
"He shall be a genius!" said Wilhelm.
When in the wood the snow shines bright."
We again let several weeks pass by; it was Christmas Eve, which
brings us the beautiful Christmas festival. We find the two friends
taking a walk.
Describe to an inhabitant of the south a country where the earth
appears covered with the purest Carrara marble, where the tree
twigs resemble white branches of coral sprinkled with diamonds, and
above a sky as blue as that belonging to the south, and he will say
that is a fairy land. Couldst thou suddenly remove him from his
dark cypresses and olive-trees to the north, where the fresh snow
lies upon the earth, where the white hoar-frost has powdered the
trees over, and the sun shines down from the blue heaven, then
would he recognize the description and call the north a fairy land.
This was the splendor which the friends admired. The large trees
upon the fortification-walls appeared crystallized when seen
against the blue sky. The Sound was not yet frozen over; vessels,
illuminated by the red evening sun, glided past with spread sails.
The Swedish coast seemed to have approached nearer; one might see
individual houses in Landskrona. It was lovely, and on this account
there were many promenaders upon the walls and the Langelinie.
"Sweden seems so near that one might swim over to it!" said
"The distance would be too far," answered Otto; "but I should love
to plunge among the deep blue waters yonder."
"How refreshing it is," said Wilhelm, "when the water plays about
one's cheeks! Whilst I was at home, I always swam in the Great
Belt. Yes, you are certainly half a fish when you come into the
"I!" repeated Otto, and was silent; but immediately added, with a
kind of embarrassment which was at other times quite foreign to
him, and from which one might infer how unpleasant confessing any
imperfection was to him, "I do not swim."
"That must be learned in summer!" said Wilhelm.
"There is so much to learn," answered Otto; "swimming will
certainly be the last thing." He now suddenly turned toward the
fortress, and stood still. "Only see how melancholy and quiet!"
said he, and led the conversation again to the surrounding scenery.
"The sentinel before the prison paces so quietly up and down, the
sun shines upon his bayonet! How this reminds me of a sweet little
poem of Heine's; it is just as though he described this fortress
and this soldier, but in the warmth of summer: one sees the picture
livingly before one, as here; the weapon glances in the sun, and
the part ends so touchingly,--'Ich wollt', er schosse mich todt!'
It is here so romantically beautiful! on the right the animated
promenade, and the view over the Sund; on the left, the desolate
square, where the military criminals are shot, and close upon it
the prison with its beam-fence. The sun scarcely shines through
those windows. Yet, without doubt, the prisoner can see us walking
here upon the wall."
"And envy our golden freedom!" said Wilhelm.
"Perhaps he derides it," answered Otto. "He is confined to his
chamber and the small courts behind the beam-lattice; we are
confined to the coast; we cannot fly forth with the ships into the
mighty, glorious world. We are also fastened with a chain, only
ours is somewhat longer than that of the prisoner. But we will not
think of this; let us go down to where the beautiful ladies are
"To see and to be seen," cried Wilhelm. "'Spectatum veniunt;
veniunt spectentur ut ipsae,' as Ovid says."
The friends quitted the wall.
"There comes my scholar, little Jonas!" cried Wilhelm. "The boy was
better dressed than at his last appearance; quickly he pulled his
little cap off and stood still: a young girl in a wretched garb
held him by the hand.
"Good day, my clever lad!" said Wilhelm, and his glance rested on
the girl: she was of a singularly elegant form; had she only
carried herself better she would have been a perfect beauty. It was
Psyche herself who stood beside Cupid. She smiled in a friendly
manner; the little lad had certainly told her who the gentlemen
were; but she became crimson, and cast down her eyes when Wilhelm
looked back after her: he beckoned to Jonas, who immediately came
to him. The girl was his sister, he said, and was called Eva.
Wilhelm nodded to her, and the friends went on.
"That was a beautiful girl!" said Wilhelm, and looked back once
more. "A rosebud that one could kiss until it became a full blown
"During the experiment the rosebud might easily be broken!"
answered Otto; "at least such is the case with the real flower. But
do not look back again, that is a sin!"
"Sin?" repeated Wilhelm; "no, then it is a very innocent sin!
Believe me, it flatters the little creature that we should admire
her beauty. I can well imagine how enchanting a loving look from a
rich young gentleman may be for a weak, feminine mind. The sweet
words which one can say are as poison which enters the blood. I
have still a clear conscience. Not ONE innocent soul have I
"And yet you are rich and young enough to do so," returned Otto,
not without bitterness. "Our friends precede us with a good
example: here come some of our own age; they are acquainted with
"Good evening, thou good fellow!" was the greeting Wilhelm received
from three or four of the young men.
"Are you on Thou-terms with all these?" inquired Otto.
"Yes," answered Wilhelm; "we became so at a carouse. There all
drank the Thou-brotherhood. I could not draw myself back. At other
times I do not willingly give my 'thou' to any but my nearest
friends. _Thou_ has something to my mind affectionate and holy.
Many people fling it to the first person with whom they drink a
glass. At the carouse I could not say no."
"And wherefore not?" returned Otto; "that would never have troubled
The friends now wandered on, arm-in-arm. Later in the evening we
again meet with them together, and that at the house of a noble
family, whose name and rank are to be found in the "Danish Court
Calendar;" on which account it would be wanting in delicacy to
mention the same, even in a story the events of which lie so near
Large companies are most wearisome. In these there are two kinds of
rank. Either you are riveted to a card-table, or placed against the
wall where you must stand with your hat in your hand, or, later in
the evening, with it at your feet, nay, even must stand during
supper. But this house was one of the most intellectual. Thou who
dost recognize the house wilt also recognize that it is not to be
reckoned with those,--
"Where each day's gossiping stale fish
Is served up daily for thy dish."
This evening we do not become acquainted with the family, but only
with their beautiful Christmas festival.
The company was assembled in a large apartment; the shaded lamp
burned dimly, but this was with the intention of increasing the
effect when the drawing-room doors should open and the children
joyfully press in together.
Wilhelm now stepped to the piano-forte; a few chords produced
stillness and attention. To the sounds of low music there stepped
forth from the side-doors three maidens arrayed in white; each wore
a long veil depending from the back of her head,--one blue, the
other red, and the third white. Each carried in her arms an urn,
and thus they represented fortune-tellers from the East. They
brought good or ill luck, which each related in a little verse.
People were to draw a number, and according to this would he
receive his gift from the Christmas-tree. One of the maidens
brought blanks--but which of them? now it was proved whether you
were a child of fortune. All, even the children, drew their
uncertain numbers: exception was only made with the family
physician and a few elderly ladies of the family; these had a
particular number stuck into their hands--their presents had been
"Who brings me good luck?" inquired Otto, as the three pretty young
girls approached him. The one with a white veil was Wilhelm's
eldest sister, Miss Sophie, who was this winter paying a visit to
the family. She resembled her brother. The white drapery about her
head increased the expression of her countenance. She rested her
gaze firmly upon Otto, and, perhaps, because he was the friend of
her brother, she raised her finger. Did she wish to warn or to
challenge him? Otto regarded it as a challenge, thrust his hand
into the urn, and drew out number 33. All were now provided. The
girls disappeared, and the folding-doors of the drawing-room were
A dazzling light streamed toward the guests. A splendid fir-tree,
covered with burning tapers, and hung over with tinsel-gold, gilt
eggs and apples, almonds and grapes, dazzled the eye. On either
side of the tree were grottoes of fir-trees and moss, hung with red
and blue paper lamps. In each grotto was an altar; upon one stood
John of Bologna's floating Mercury; upon the other, a reduced cast
in plaster of Thorwaldsen's Shepherd-boy. The steps were covered
with presents, to which were attached the different numbers.
"Superbe! lovely!" resounded from all sides; and the happy children
shouted for joy. People arranged themselves in a half-circle, one
row behind the other. One of the cousins of the family now stepped
forth, a young poet, who, if we mistake not, has since then
appeared among the Anonymouses in "The New Year's Gift of Danish
Poets." He was appareled this evening as one of the Magi, and
recited a little poem which declared that, as each one had himself
drawn out of the urn of Fate, no one could be angry, let him have
procured for himself honor or derision--Fate, and not Merit, being
here the ruler. Two little boys, with huge butterfly wings and in
flowing garments, bore the presents to the guests. A number, which
had been purposely given to one of the elder ladies, was now called
out, and the boys brought forward a large, heavy, brown earthen
jug. To the same hung a direction the length of two sheets of
paper, upon which was written, "A remedy against frost." The jug
was opened, and a very nice boa taken out and presented to the
"What number have you?" inquired Otto of Wilhelm's sister, who,
freed from her long veil, now entered the room and took her place
"Number 34," she answered. "I was to keep the number which remained
over when the others had drawn."
"We are, then, neighbors in the chain of Fate," returned Otto; "I
have number 33."
"Then one of us will receive something very bad!" said Sophie.
"For, as much as I know, only every other number is good." At this
moment their numbers were called out. The accompanying poem
declared that only a poetical, noble mind deserved this gift. It
consisted of an illuminated French print, the subject a simple but
touching idea. You saw a frozen lake, nothing but one expanse of
ice as far as the horizon. The ice was broken, and near to the
opening lay a hat with a red lining, and beside it sat a dog with
grave eyes, still and expectant. Around the broken opening in the
ice were seen traces of the dog having scratched into the hard
crust of ice. "Il attend toujours" was the simple motto.
"That is glorious!" exclaimed Otto. "An affecting thought! His
master has sunk in the depth, and the faithful log yet awaits him.
Had that picture only fallen to my lot!"
"It is lovely!" said Sophie, and a melancholy glance made the young
girl still more beautiful.
Soon after Wilhelm's turn came.
"Open the packet, thou shalt see
The very fairest gaze on thee!"
ran the verse. He opened the packet, and found within a small
mirror. "Yes, that was intended for a lady," said he; "in that case
it would have spoken the truth! in my hands it makes a fool of me.
"For me nothing certainly remains but my number!" said Otto to his
neighbor, as all the gifts appeared to be distributed.
"The last is number 33," said the cousin, and drew forth a roll of
paper, which had been hidden among the moss. It was unrolled. It
was an old pedigree of an extinct race. Quite at the bottom lay the
knight with shield and armor, and out of his breast grew the many-branched
tree with its shields and names. Probably it had been bought, with other
rubbish, at some auction, and now at Christmas, when every hole and
corner was rummaged for whatever could be converted into fun or
earnest, it had been brought out for the Christmas tree. The cousin
read the following verse:--
"Art thou not noble?--then it in far better;
This tree unto thy father is not debtor;
Thyself alone is thy ancestral crown.
From thee shall spring forth branches of renown,
And if thou come where blood gives honor's place,
This tree shall prove thee first of all thy race!
From this hour forth thy soul high rank hath won her,
Not will forget thy knighthood and thy honor."
"I congratulate you," said Wilhelm, laughing. "Now you will have to
pay the nobility-tax!"
Several of the ladies who stood near him, smiling, also offered a
kind of congratulation. Sophie alone remained silent, and examined
the present of another lady--a pretty pincushion in the form of a
The first row now rose to examine more nearly how beautifully the
Christmas tree was adorned. Sophie drew one of the ladies away with
"Let us look at the beautiful statues," said she; "the Shepherd-boy
and the Mercury."
"That is not proper," whispered the lady; "but look there at the
splendid large raisins on the tree!"
Sophie stepped before Thorwaldsen's Shepherd-boy. The lady
whispered to a friend, "It looks so odd that she should examine the
"Ah!" replied the other, "she is a lover of the fine arts, as you
well know. Only think! at the last exhibition she went with her
brother into the great hall where all the plaster-casts stand, and
looked at them!--the Hercules, as well as the other indecent
figures! they were excellent, she said. That is being so natural;
otherwise she is a nice girl."
"It is a pity she is a little awry."
Sophie approached them; both ladies made room for her, and invited
her most lovingly to sit clown beside them. "Thou sweet girl!" they
"Hark to trumpets and beaten gongs,
Squeaking fiddles, shouts and songs.
The Doctor is here;
And here the hills where fun belongs."
J. L. HEIBERG.
We will not follow the principal characters of our story step for
step, but merely present the prominent moments of their lives to
our readers, be these great or small; we seize on them, if they in
any way contribute to make the whole picture more worthy of
The winter was over, the birds of passage had long since returned;
the woods and fields shone in the freshest green, and, what to the
friends was equally interesting, they had happily passed through
their examen philologicum. Wilhelm, who, immediately after its
termination, had accompanied his sister home, was again returned,
sang with little Jonas, reflected upon the philosophicum, and also
how he would thoroughly enjoy the summer,--the summer which in the
north is so beautiful, but so short. It was St. John's Day.
Families had removed from Copenhagen to their pretty country-seats
on the coast, where people on horseback and in carriages rushed
past, and where the highway was crowded with foot-passengers. The
whole road presented a picture of life upon the Paris Boulevard.
The sun was burning, the dust flew up high into the air; on which
account many persons preferred the pleasanter excursion with the
steamboat along the coast, from whence could be seen the traffic on
the high-road without enduring the annoyance of dust and heat.
Boats skimmed past; brisk sailors, by the help of vigorous strokes
of the oar, strove to compete with the steam-packet, the dark smoke
from which, like some demon, partly rested upon the vessel, partly
floated away in the air.
Various young students, among whom were also Wilhelm and Otto,
landed at Charlottenlund, the most frequented place of resort near
Copenhagen. Otto was here for the first time; for the first time he
should see the park.
A summer's afternoon in Linken's Bad, near Dresden, bears a certain
resemblance to Charlottenlund, only that the Danish wood is larger;
that instead of the Elbe we have the Sound, which is here three
miles broad, and where often more than a hundred vessels, bearing
flags of all the European nations, glide past. A band of musicians
played airs out of "Preciosa;" the white tents glanced like snow or
swans through the green beech-trees. Here and there was a fire-place
raised of turf, over which people boiled and cooked, so that the
smoke rose up among the trees. Outside the wood, waiting in long
rows, were the peasants' vehicles, called "coffee-mills," completely
answering ho the couricolo of the Neapolitan and the coucou of the
Parisian, equally cheap, and overladen in the same manner with
passengers, therefore forming highly picturesque groups. This scene
has been humorously treated in a picture by Marstrand. Between fields
and meadows, the road leads pleasantly toward the park; the friends
pursued the foot-path.
"Shall I brush the gentlemen?" cried five or six boys, at the same
time pressing upon the friends as they approached the entrance to
the park. Without waiting for an answer, the boys commenced at once
brushing the dust from their clothes and boots.
"These are Kirsten Piil's pages," said Wilhelm, laughing; "they
take care that people show themselves tolerably smart. But now we
are brushed enough!" A six-skilling-piece rejoiced these little
The Champs Elysees of the Parisians on a great festival day, when
the theatres are opened, the swings are flying, trumpets and drums
overpowering the softer music, and when the whole mass of people,
like one body, moves itself between the booths and tents, present a
companion piece to the spectacle which the so-called Park-hill
affords. It is Naples' "Largo dei Castello," with its dancing apes,
shrieking Bajazzoes, the whole deafening jubilee which has been
transported to a northern wood. Here also, in the wooden booths,
large, tawdry pictures show what delicious plays you may enjoy
within. The beautiful female horse-rider stands upon the wooden
balcony and cracks with her whip, whilst Harlequin blows the
trumpet. Fastened to a perch, large, gay parrots nod over the heads
of the multitude. Here stands a miner in his black costume, and
exhibits the interior of a mine. He turns his box, and during the
music dolls ascend and descend. Another shows the splendid fortress
of Frederiksteen: "The whole cavalry and infantry who have endured
an unspeakable deal; here a man without a weapon, there a weapon
without a man; here a fellow without a bayonet, here a bayonet
without a fellow; and yet they are merry and contented, for they
have conquered the victory." [Note: Literal translation of the
real words of a showman.] Dutch wafer-cake booths, where the
handsome Dutch women, in their national costume, wait on the
customers, entice old and young. Here a telescope, there a rare
Danish ox, and so forth. High up, between the fresh tree boughs,
the swings fly. Are those two lovers floating up there? A current
of air seizes the girl's dress and shawl, the young man flings his
arm round her waist; it is for safety: there is then less danger.
At the foot of the hill there is cooking and roasting going on; it
seems a complete gypsy-camp. Under the tree sits the old Jew--this
is precisely his fiftieth jubilee; through a whole half-century has
he sung here his comical Doctor's song. Now that we are reading
this he is dead; that characteristic countenance is dust, those
speaking eyes are closed, his song forgotten tones. Oehlenschlager,
in his "St. John's Eve," has preserved his portrait for us, and it
will continue to live, as Master Jakel (Punch), our Danish Thespis,
will continue to live. The play and the puppets were transferred from
father to son, and every quarter of an hour in the day the piece is
repeated. Free nature is the place for the spectators, and after every
representation the director himself goes round with the plate.
This was the first spectacle which exhibited itself to the friends.
Not far off stood a juggler in peasant's clothes, somewhat advanced
in years, with a common ugly countenance. His short sleeves were
rolled up, and exhibited a pair of hairy, muscular arms. The crowd,
withdrawing from Master Jakel when the plate commenced its
wanderings, pushed Otto and Wilhelm forward toward the low fence
before the juggler's table.
"Step nearer, my gracious gentlemen, my noble masters!" said the
juggler, with an accentuation which betrayed his German birth. He
opened the fence; both friends were fairly pushed in and took their
places upon the bench, where they, at all events, found themselves
out of the crowd.
"Will the noble gentleman hold this goblet?" said the juggler, and
handed Otto one from his apparatus. Otto glanced at the man: he was
occupied with his art; but Otto's cheek and forehead were colored
with a sudden crimson, which was immediately afterward supplanted
by a deathly paleness: his hand trembled, but this lasted only a
moment; he gathered all his strength of mind together and appeared
the same as before.
"That was a very good trick!" said Wilhelm.
"Yes, certainly!" answered Otto; but he had seen nothing
whatsoever. His soul was strangely affected. The man exhibited
several other tricks, and then approached with the plate. Otto laid
down a mark, and then rose to depart. The juggler remarked the
piece of money: a smile played about his mouth; he glanced at Otto,
and a strange malicious expression lay in the spiteful look which
accompanied his loudly spoken thanks: "Mr. Otto Thostrup is always
so gracious and good!"
"Does he know you?" asked Wilhelm.
"He has the honor!" grinned the juggler, and proceeded.
"He has exhibited his tricks in the Jutland villages, and upon my
father's estate," whispered Otto.
"Therefore an acquaintance of your childhood?" said Wilhelm.
"Of my childhood," repeated Otto, and they made themselves a way
through the tumult.
They met with several young noblemen, relatives of Wilhelm, with
the cousin who had written the verses for the Christmas tree; also
several friends from the carouse, and the company increased. They
intended, like many others, to pass the night in the wood, and at
midnight drink out of Kirsten Piil's well. "Only with the
increasing darkness will it become thoroughly merry here," thought
they: but Otto had appointed to be in the city again toward
evening. "Nothing will come out of that!" said the poet; "if you
wish to escape, we shall bind you fast to one of us."
"Then I carry him away with me on my back," replied Otto; "and
still run toward the city. What shall I do here at night in the
"Be merry!" answered Wilhelm. "Come, give us no follies, or I shall
Hand-organs, drums, and trumpets, roared against each other;
Bajazzo growled; a couple of hoarse girls sang and twanged upon the
guitar: it was comic or affecting, just as one was disposed. The
evening approached, and now the crowd became greater, the joy more
"But where is Otto?" inquired Wilhelm. Otto had vanished in the
crowd. Search after him would help nothing, chance must bring them
together again. Had he designedly withdrawn himself? no one knew
wherefore, no one could dream what had passed within his soul. It
became evening. The highway and the foot-path before the park
resembled two moving gay ribbons.
In the park itself the crowd perceptibly diminished. It was now the
high-road which was become the Park-hill. The carriages dashed by
each other as at a race; the people shouted and sung, if not as
melodiously as the barcarole of the fisher men below Lido, still
with the thorough carnival joy of the south. The steamboat moved
along the coasts. From the gardens surrounding the pretty country-houses
arose rockets into the blue sky, the Moccoli of the north above the
Carnival of the Park.
Wilhelm remained with his young friends in the wood, and there they
intended, with the stroke of twelve, to drink out of Kirsten's
well. Men and women, girls and boys of the lower class, and jovial
young men, meet, after this manner, to enjoy St. John's Eve. Still
sounded the music, the swings were in motion, lamps hung out,
whilst the new moon shone through the thick tree boughs. Toward
midnight the noise died away; only a blind peasant still scratched
upon the three strings which were left on his violin; some servant-girls
wandered, arm-in-arm, with their sweethearts, and sang. At twelve
o'clock all assembled about the well, and drank the clear, ice-cold
water. From no great distance resounded, through the still night,
a chorus of four manly voices. It was as if the wood gods sang in
praise of the nymph of the well.
Upon the hill all was now deserted and quiet. Bajazzo and il
Padrone slept behind the thin linen partition, under a coverlid.
The moon set, but the night was clear; no clear, frosty winter
night has a snore beautiful starry heaven to exhibit. Wilhelm's
party was merry, quickly flew the hours away; singing in chorus,
the party wandered through the wood, and down toward the strand.
The day already dawned; a red streak along the horizon announced
Nature sang to them the mythos of the creation of the world, even
as she had sung it to Moses, who wrote down this voice from God,
interpreted by Nature. Light banished the darkness, heaven and
earth were parted; at first birds showed themselves in the clear
air; later rose the beasts of the field; and, last of all, appeared
"The morning is fairly sultry," said Wilhelm; "the sea resembles a
mirror: shall we not bathe?"
The proposal was accepted.
"There we have the Naiades already!" said one of the party, as a
swarm of fishermen's wives and daughters, with naked feet, their
green petticoats tucked up, and baskets upon their backs, in which
they carried fish to Copenhagen, came along the road. The gay young
fellows cast toward the prettiest glances as warm and glowing as
that cast by the sun himself, who, at this moment, came forth and
shone over the Sound, where a splendid three-masted vessel had
spread all her sails to catch each breeze. The company reached the
"There is some one already swimming out yonder," said Wilhelm. "He
stands it bravely. That is an excellent swimmer!"
"Here lie his clothes," remarked another.
"How!" exclaimed Wilhelm: "this is Otto Thostrup's coat! But Otto
cannot swim; I have never been able to persuade him to bathe. Now,
we will out and make a nearer acquaintance."
"Yes, certainly it is he," said another; "he is now showing his
"Then he must have been all night in the wood," exclaimed Wilhelm.
"Yes, indeed, he's a fine bird. Does he fly us? He shall pay for
this. Good morning, Otto Thostrup," criedhe; "have you lain all
night in the water, or in any other improper place? To quit friends
without saying a word does not appertain to the customs of
civilized people. Since you, therefore, show yourself such a man of
nature, we will carry away your garments; it cannot annoy you in
puris naturalibus to seek us out in the wood."
Otto raised his head, but was silent.
"Now, will you not come forth?" cried Wilhelm. "Only kneeling
before each of us can you receive the separate articles of your
dress, so that you may again appear as a civilized European." And
saying this he divided the clothes among the others; each one held
an article in his hand.
"Leave such jokes!" cried Otto with singular earnestness. "Lay down
the clothes, and retire!"
"Aye, that we will, presently," returned Wilhelm. "You are a fine
fellow! You cannot swim, you say. Now, if you should not kneel"--
"Retire!" cried Otto, "or I will swim out into the stream, and not
"That might be original enough," answered Wilhelm. "Swim forth, or
come and kneel here!"
"Wilhelm!" cried Otto, with an affecting sigh, and in a moment swam
forth with quick strokes.
"There he shoots away," said one of the party. "How he cuts the
waves! He is a splendid swimmer!"
Smiling they gazed over the expanse; Otto swam even farther out.
"But where will he swim to?" exclaimed, somewhat gravely, one of
the spectators. "He will certainly lose his strength before he
returns the same distance."
They unmoored the boat. Otto swam far out at sea; with quick
strokes of the oars they rowed after him.
"Where is he now?" cried Wilhelm shortly afterwards; "I see him no
"Yes, there he comes up again," said another; "but his strength is
"On! on!" cried Wilhelm; "he will be drowned if we do not come to
his help. Only see--he sinks!"
Otto had lost all power; his head disappeared beneath the water.
The friends had nearly reached him; Wilhelm and several of the best
swimmers flung from themselves boots and coats, sprang into the
sea, and dived under the water. A short and noiseless moment
passed. One of the swimmers appeared above water. "He is dead!"
were the first words heard. Wilhelm and the three others now
appeared with Otto; the boat was near oversetting as they brought
him into it. Deathly pale lay he there, a beautifully formed marble
statue, the picture of a young gladiator fallen in the arena.
The friends busied themselves about him, rubbing his breast and
hands, whilst two others rowel toward the land.
"He breathes!" said Wilhelm.
Otto opened his eyes; his lips moved; his gaze became firmer; a
deep crimson spread itself over his breast and countenance; he
raised himself and Wilhelm supported him. Suddenly a deep sigh
burst from his breast; he thrust Wilhelm from him, and, like a
madman, seized an article of dress to cover himself with; then,
with a convulsive trembling of the lips, he said to Wilhelm, who
held his hand, "I HATE YOU!"
--"Art thou Prometheus, pierced with wounds?
The Vulture thou that tugs at his heart?"
J. CHR. V. ZEDLITZ'S Todtenkranze.
Not half an hour after this adventure a carriage rolled toward the
city--a large carriage, containing three seats, but, beside the
coachman, there was only one person within. This was Otto; his lips
were pale; death, it is true, had touched them. Alone he dashed
forward; his last words to Wilhelm had been his only ones.
"He has lost his wits," said one of the friends.
"It is a fit of madness," answered another, "such as he was seized
with at the examination, when he only sent in a scrap of white
paper for the mathematical examination, because he felt himself
offended by the inspector."
"I could quite vex myself about my stupid joke," said Wilhelm. "I
ought to have known him better; he is of a strange, unhappy
character. Give me your hands! We will mention to no one what has
occurred; it would only give occasion to a deal of gossip, and
wound him deeply, and he is an excellent, glorious fellow."
They gave their hands upon it, and drove toward the city.
The same day, toward evening, we again seek Otto. We find him in
his chamber. Silent, with crossed arms, he stands before a print, a
copy of Horace Vernet's representation of Mazeppa, who, naked and
bound upon a wild horse, rushes through the forest. Wolves thrust
forth their heads and exhibit their sharp teeth.
"My own life!" sighed Otto. "I also am bound to this careering wild
horse. And no friend, not a single one! Wilhelm, I could kill thee!
I could see you all lying in your blood! O, Almighty God!" He
pressed his hands before his face and threw himself into a seat;
his eyes, however, again directed themselves toward the picture; it
exhibited a moment similar to the condition of his own mind.
The door now opened, and Wilhelm stood before him.
"How do you find yourself, Thostrup?" he inquired. "We are still
friends as before?" and he wished to give his hand. Otto drew back
his. "I have done nothing which could so much offend you," said
Wilhelm; "the whole was merely a joke! Give me your hand, and we
will speak no more of the affair!"
"To the man whom I hate, I never reach my hand," replied Otto and
his lips were white like his cheeks.
"A second time to-day you speak these words to me," said Wilhelm,
and the blood rushed to his face. "We were friends, wherefore
cannot we be so still? Have people slandered me to you? Have they
told lies about me? Only tell me faithfully, and I shall be able to
"You must fight with me!" said Otto; and his glance became more
gloomy. Wilhelm was silent; there reigned a momentary stillness.
Otto suppressed a deep sigh. At length Wilhelm broke silence, and
said, with a grave and agitated voice,--"I am so thoughtless, I
joke so often, and regard everything from the ridiculous side. But
for all that I have both heart and feeling. You must have known how
much dearer you were to me than most other people. You are so
still, although you offend me. At this moment your blood is in a
fever; not now, but after a few days, you yourself will best see
which of us is the offended party. You demand that I fight with
you; I will if your honor requires this satisfaction: but you must
lay before me an acceptable reason. I will know wherefore we risk
our lives. Let some days pass by; weigh all with your understanding
and your heart! It will still depend upon yourself whether we
remain friends as before. Farewell!" And Wilhelm went.
Each of his words had penetrated to Otto's heart. A moment he stood
silent and undecided, then his limbs trembled involuntarily, tears
streamed from his eyes--it was a convulsive fit of weeping; he
pressed his head back. "God, how unfortunate I am!" were his only
So passed some minutes; he had ceased to weep, and was calm;
suddenly he sprang up, shot the bolt in the door, drew down the
blinds, lighted his candle, and once more looked searchingly
around: the key-hole was also stopped up. He then flung his coat
away from him and uncovered the upper part of his body.
"The towers pass by, even before we perceive them."
OEHLENSCHLAER'S Journey to Funen.
Early the following morning, whilst Wilhelm still slept and dreamed
of his beloved sisters, well-known footsteps sounded on the stairs,
the door opened, and Otto stepped into the sleeping-room. Wilhelm
opened his eyes. Otto was pale; a sleepless night and sorrow of
heart had breathed upon his brow and eyes.
"Thostrup!" cried Wilhelm, with joyous surprise, and stretched
forth his hand toward him, but it again sank; Otto seized it, and
pressed it firmly in his own, adding at the same time, with
gravity,--"You have humbled me! Is that sufficient satisfaction for
"We are then friends!" said Wilhelm. "Friends must be very
indulgent toward each other. Yesterday you were a little strange,
to-morrow I may be so; that is the way in which one retaliates."
Otto pressed his hand. "We will never speak again of the occurrence
"Never!" repeated Wilhelm, affected by the strange gravity of his
"You are a noble, a good creature!" said Otto, and bent over him;
his lips touched Wilhelm's forehead.
Wilhelm seized his hand, and gazed frankly into his eye. "You are
not happy!" exclaimed he. "If I cannot assist you, I can, at least,
dear Otto, honestly share the grief of a friend!"
"Even on that very point we may never speak!" replied Otto.
"Farewell! I have determined on travelling home; we have only
vacation for a few weeks, and I have not been in Jutland since I
became a student. Even a month's sojourn there cannot throw me
back; I am well prepared for the philosophicum."
"And when will you set out?" asked Wilhelm.
"To-morrow, with the steamboat. It is hot and sultry here in the
city: my blood becomes heated: it will, also, soon be a year since
I saw my family."
"Thostrup!" exclaimed Wilhelm, through whom a thought suddenly
flashed, "I should also like to see my family; they have written to
me to come. Listen: make your journey through Funen, and only
remain three or four days with us. My mother's carriage shall
convey you then to Middelfart. Say 'Yes,' and we will set out this
"That cannot be done!" replied Otto; but half an hour later, as
both sat together over the tea-table, and Wilhelm repeated his
wish, Otto consented, but certainly more through a feeling of
obligation than through any pleasure of his own. Toward evening,
therefore, they set out in the beautiful summer night to travel
Smartly dressed families wandered pleasantly through the city gate
toward the summer theatre and Fredericksberg. The evening sun shone
upon the column of Liberty; the beautiful obelisk, around which
stand Wiedewelt's statues, one of which still weeps,
"In white marble clothing,
Hand upon the breast,
Looking down upon the gloomy sea,"
where were closed the eyes of the artist. Was it the remembrance
which here clouded Otto's glance, as his eye rested upon the
statues as they drove past, or did his own soul, perhaps, mirror
itself in his eyes?
"Here it is gay and animated!" said Wilhelm, wishing to commence a
conversation. "Vesterbro is certainly your most brilliant suburb.
It forms a city by itself,--a little state! There upon the hill
lies the King's Castle, and there on the left, between the willows,
the poet's dwelling, where old Rahbek lived with his Kamma!"
"Castle and poet's dwelling!" repeated Otto; "the time will be when
they will inspire equal interest!"
"That old place will soon be pulled down!" said Wilhelm; "in such
a beautiful situation, so near the city, a splendid villa will be
raised, and nothing more remind one of Philemon and Baucis!"
"The old trees in the park will be spared!" said Otto; "in the
garden the flowers will scent the air, and remind one of Kamma's
flowers. Rahbek was no great poet, but he possessed a true poet's
soul, labored faithfully in the great vineyard, and loved flowers
as Kamma loved them."
The friends hail left Fredericksberg behind them. The white walls
of the castle glanced through the green boughs; behind Sondermark,
the large, wealthy village stretched itself out. The sun had set
before they reached the Dam-house, where the wild swans, coming
from the ocean, build in the fresh water fake. This is the last
point of beauty; nothing but lonely fields, with here and there a
cairn, extend to the horizon.
The clear summer's night attracted their gaze upward; the postilion
blew his horn, and the carriage rolled toward the town of
Roeskilde, the St. Denis of Denmark, where kings turn to dust;
where Hroar's spring still flows, and its waters mingle with those
They drove to a public-house to change horses. A young girl
conducted the friends into the public room; she lighted the way for
them. Her slender figure and her floating gait drew Wilhelm's
attention toward her; his hand touched her shoulder, she sprang
aside and fixed her beautiful grave eyes upon him; but their
expression became milder, she smiled and colored at the same time.
"You are the sister of little Jonas!" cried Wilhelm, recognizing
the young girl he had seen with him at Christmas.
"I must also thank you," said she, "for your kindness toward the
poor boy!" She quickly placed the lights on the table, and left the
room with a gentle glance.
"She is beautiful, very beautiful!" exclaimed Wilhelm. "That was
really quite a pleasant meeting."
"Is it then you, Herr Baron, who honor me thus?" cried the host,
stepping in--an elderly man with a jovial countenance. "Yes, the
Baron will doubtless visit his dear relations in hunch? It is now
some little time since you were there."
"This is our host!" said Wilhelm to Otto. "He and his wife were
born upon my parent's estate."
"Yes," said the host, "in my youth I have shot many a snipe and
wild duck with the Herr Baron's father. But Eva should spread the
table; the gentlemen will certainly take supper, and a glass of
good punch the Herr Baron will certainly not despise, if he is like
his blessed father."
The young girl spread the cloth in an adjoining room.
"She is pretty!" Wilhelm whispered to the old man.
"And just as pious and innocent as she is pretty!" returned he;
"and that is saying much, as she is a poor girl, and from
Copenhagen. She is of good service to us, and my wife says Eva
shall not leave us until she is well married."
Wilhelm invited the host to join them at a glass. The old man
became more animated, and now confided to him, half mysteriously,
what made Eva so honorable in the eyes of his wife, and what was,
indeed, really very nice of her. "My old woman," said he, "was in
Copenhagen, in search of a waiting-girl. Yes, there are enough to
be had, and they are fine girls; but mother has her own thoughts
and opinions: she has good eyes--that she has! Now, there came
many, and among others Eva; but, good Lord! she was very poorly
clad, and she looked feeble and weak, and what service could one
get out of her! But she had a good countenance, and the poor girl
wept and besought mother to take her, for she was not comfortable
at home, and would not remain at Copenhagen. Now, mother knows how
to make use of her words: it is unfortunate that she is not at home
to-night; how pleased she would have been to see the Herr Baron!
Yes, what I would say is, she so twisted her words about, that Eva
confessed to her why she wished to leave home. You see the girl is
petty; and the young gallant gentlemen of Copenhagen had remarked
her smooth face,--and not alone the young, but the old ones also!
So an old gentleman--I could easily name him, but that has nothing
to do with the affair--a very distinguished man in the city, who
has, besides, a wife and children, had said all sorts of things to
her parents; and, as eight hundred dollars is a deal of money to
poor people, one can excuse them: but Eva wept, and said she would
rather spring into the castle-ditch. They represented all sorts of
things to the poor girl; she heard of the service out here with us.
She wept, kissed my old woman's hand, and thus came to us; and
since then we have had a deal of service from Eva, and joy also!"
Some minutes after Eva stepped in, Otto's eye rested with a
melancholy expression upon the beautiful form: never had he before
so gazed upon a woman. Her countenance was extraordinarily fine,
her nose and forehead nobly formed, the eyebrows dark, and in the
dark-blue eyes lay something pensive, yet happy: one might employ
the Homeric expression, "smiling through tears," to describe this
look. She announced that the carriage was ready.
A keen observer would soon have remarked what a change the host's
relation had worked in the two friends. Wilhelm was no longer so
free toward poor Eva. Otto, on the contrary, approached her more,--
and at their leave-taking they offered her a greater present than
they would otherwise have given.
She stood with Otto at the door, and assisted him on with his
"Preserve your heart pure!" said he, gravely; "that is more than
The young girl blushed, and gazed at him with astonishment; in such
a manner had no one of his age ever before spoken to her.
"The poor girl!" said Otto; "but I think she is come to good
"She has a strange glance!" said Wilhelm. "Do you know that there
is really a certain affinity between you and her? It was to me
"That is a compliment which I cannot accept," returned Otto,
smiling. "Yet, perhaps, I might resemble her."
It was not yet three o'clock when the friends reached Ringsted.
"I have never before been so far in Zealand," said Otto.
"Shall I be your guide?" returned Wilhelm. "Ringsted has a street
and an inn, and one is very badly served there, as you will soon
both see and experience yourself. Meanwhile, one can think of
Hagbarth and Signe; not far from here, at Sigersted, he hung his
mantle on the oak, and Signelil's abode stood in flames. Now only
remain fields and meadows, a cairn, and the old popular song. Then
we rush past the friendly Soroe, that mirrors itself with the wood
in the lake, which forms itself into so many bays; but we do not
see much of it. We have here another romantic spot, an old castle
converted into a church, high up on the hill near the lake, and
close to it the dismal place of execution. We then reach Slagelse,
an animated little town; with the Antvorskov convent, the poet
Frankenau's grave, and a Latin school, celebrated on account of its
poets. It was there Baggesen and Ingemann learned their Latin. When
I once questioned the hostess regarding the lions of the town, she
would only acknowledge two,--Bastholm's library, and the English
fire-engine. The curtain in the theatre represents an alley with a
fountain, the jets of which are painted as if spouting out of the
prompter's box; or is this, perhaps, the English fire-engine? I
know not. The scene-decoration for towns represents the market-place
of Slagelse itself, so that the pieces thus acquire a home-feeling.
This is the modern history of the little town; and, with regard to
its older and romantic history, learn that the holy Anders was
preacher here! Yes, indeed, that was a man! He has been also
sung of by our first poets. We end with Korsoer, where Baggesen
was born and Birckner lies buried. In the more modern history
of this town, King Solomon and Jorgen the hatter play a considerable
role. Besides this, I know that the town is said once to have
possessed a private theatre; but this soon was done for, and the
decorations were sold; a miller bought them, and patched his
windmill sails with them. Upon one sail was a piece of a wood,
upon another a shred of a room, or a street; and so they rushed
round one after the other. Perhaps this is mere slander, for I have
my information from Slagelse; and neighboring towns never speak
well of each other."
In this manner Wilhelm gossiped on, and the friends travelled over
the way he had described. Slagelse, and the peasant village of
Landsgrav, they had already behind them, when Wilhelm ordered the
coachman to diverge from the high-road toward the right.
"Where will you take us to?" asked Otto.
"I will give you a pleasure!" returned Wilhelm. "We shall reach the
weariful Korsoer early enough: the steamboat leaves at ten, and it
is not yet seven. You shall be surprised--I know well that you are
half a Catholic; I will conduct you where you may believe yourself
carried back several centuries, and may imagine yourself in a
Catholic country. That is right pleasant, is it not?"
Otto smiled. The friends alighted from the coach and walked over a
corn-field. They found themselves upon a hill, the whole landscape
spread itself out before them--they saw the Belt, with Sprogoe and
Funen. The surrounding country was certainly flat, but the variety
of greens, the near meadow, the dark stretch of wood in the
neighborhood of Korsoer, the bay itself, and all this seen in a
warm morning light, produced effect. The friends diverged to the
right; and before them, upon a hill, stood a large wooden cross,
with the figure of the Crucified One. Above the cross was built a
small roof to carry off the rain,--such as one may yet find in
Bavaria. The figure of the Redeemer was of wood, painted with
strong, tawdry colors; a withered garland of corn-flowers still
hung around his bowed head.
"It is extraordinary," said Otto, "to find in our time, in the year
1830, such a Catholic symbol in Lutheran Denmark! And yet--yes, you
will laugh at me, but I find it lovely: it affects me, moves me to
"That tawdry, tasteless figure!" cried Wilhelm. "Only see how
coarse! the hair is covered with tar to keep off the rain! The
peasants here have their peculiar superstition. If they allow the
cross to fall they have no luck with their lands. It was upon this
hill that the holy Anders, the celebrated preacher of Slagelse,
awoke. He visited the sepulchre of Christ, but through praying
there too long the ship sailed without him, and he was forced to
stay behind. Then came a man and took him upon his horse, and they
would ride to Joppa: the holy Anders fell asleep; but when he awoke
he lay here, and heard the bells ringing in Slagelse. Upon a foal,
only one night old, he rode round the extensive city lands, whilst
King Waldemar lay in his bath. He could hang his glove upon the
beams of the sun. This hill, where he awoke, was called Rest-hill;
and the cross, with the figure of the Redeemer erected upon it,
which still stands here, reminds us of the legend of the holy
A little peasant girl at this moment mounted the hill, but paused
when she perceived the strangers.
"Don't be afraid, my child!" said Wilhelm. "What hast thou there? a
garland! shall it hang here upon the cross? Only come, we will help
"It should hang over our Lord," said the little one, holding, in an
embarrassed manner, the garland of pretty blue cornflowers in her
hand. Otto took the garland, and hung it up in place of the faded
"That was our morning adventure!" said Wilhelm, and soon they were
rolling in the deep sand toward Korsoer, toward the hill where the
poet watched the sun and moon sink into the sea, and wished that he
had wings that he might catch them.
Melancholy and silent lies the town on the flat coast, the old
castle turned into a farm-house--high grass grows upon the walls.
In a storm, when the wind blows against the city, the surf beats
against the outermost houses. High upon the church stands a
telegraph; the black wooden plates resemble mourning-flags hung
above the sinking town. Here is nothing for the stranger to see,
nothing except a grave--that of the thinker Birckner. The friends
drove to the public-house on the strand. No human being met them in
the street except a boy, who rung a hand-bell.
"That calls to church," said Wilhelm. "Because there are no bells
in the tower, they have here such a wandering bell-ringer as this.
Holla! there lies the inn!"
"Baron Wilhelm!" cried a strong voice, and a man in a green jacket
with pockets in the breast, the mighty riding-boots splashed above
the tops, and with whip in hand, approached them, pulled his horse-hair
cap, and extended his hand to Wilhelm.
"The Kammerjunker from Funen!" said Wilhelm; "my mother's neighbor,
one of the most industrious and rich noblemen in all Funen."
"You will come one of the first days to me!" said the Kammerjunker;
"you shall try my Russian steam-bath: I have erected one upon my
estate. All who visit me, ladies and gentlemen without any
exception, must try it!"
"And do the cherry-trees bear well this year?" asked Wilhelm.
"No, no," answered the Kammerjunker, "they are good for nothing;
but the apples are good! All the old trees in the hill-garden stand
in full splendor: I've brought them into condition! Two years ago
there was not, on all the trees together, a bushel of fruit. But I
had all the horses which had to be bled led under the trees, and
had the warm blood sprinkled upon the roots; this happened several
times, and it has been a real inoculation for life."
"The wind is certainly favorable," said Otto, whom this
conversation began to weary.
"No, just the contrary!" said the Kammerjunker. "The vane upon the
little house yonder lies; it points always to Nyborg, always shows
a good wind for us when we want to leave. In Nyborg is also a vane,
which stands even as firmly as this, and prates to the folk there
of good wind. I regard both vanes as a kind of guide-post, which
merely says, There goes the way! No, if we had had a wind I should
have gone with the boat, and not with the little splashing thing,
as the seamen call the steamboat. The carriage is doubtless
awaiting the young gentleman in Nyborg?" pursued he. "I will join
company with you--my brown horse waits for me at Schalburg. You
should see him! He has sinews like steel springs, and legs like a
dancing-master! He is my own brown."
"No one knows that we are coming," answered Wilhelm. "We shall,
therefore, take a carriage from Nyborg."
"We will join company," said the Kammerjunker, "and then you will
pay me a visit with the young gentleman. You shall sleep in the
black chamber! Yes, you will give me the pleasure?" said he to
Otto. "If you are a lover of the antique, my estate will afford you
pleasure; you find there moats, towers, guard-rooms, ghosts, and
hobgoblins, such as belong to an old estate. The black chamber!
after all, it is not quite secure there; is it, Herr Baron?"
"No, the deuce remain a night with you!" said Wilhelm; "one gets to
bed late, and even then it is not permitted one to close one's
eyes. You, your sister, and the Mamsell,--yes, you are a pretty
clover-leaf! Yes, Thostrup, you cannot believe what pranks are
hatched upon the Kammerjunker's estate! One must be prepared for
it! It is said to be haunted, but if the dead will not take that
trouble the living do. The Kammerjunker is in the plot with his
women-folk. They sewed me lately live cockchafers into my pillow,
and they crawled and scrambled about till I did not know what the
deuce it could be! A live cock they had also placed under my bed,
and just in the morning, when I would go to sleep, the creature
began to crow!"
"The women-folk had done that," said the Kammerjunker. "Did they
not the very same night fasten a door-bell to the head of my bed? I
never thought of it; fat Laender slept in the same room, and had
fastened along the wall a string to the bell. I awoke with the
ringing. 'What the devil is that bell?' said I, and glanced about
the room, for I could not conceive what it was. 'Bell?' asked
Laender--'there is no bell here!' The ringing also ceased. I
thought I must have dreamed, or that our merry evening must have
left some buzzing in my ears. Again it began to ring. Laender
looked so innocent all the time, I could not comprehend myself;
I thought it must be my imagination. I became quite fainthearted, I
denied my own hearing, and said, 'No, I have only dreamed!' and
commenced reckoning and counting to employ my mind; but that did
no good, and it nearly drove me mad! I sprang out of bed, and then
I found out the trick: but how Laender grinned! he was swollen and
red in the face with his mirth."
"Do you play such jokes on your estate?" inquired Otto, addressing
himself to Wilhelm.
"No, not such refined ones!" returned the Kammerjunker; "perhaps a
piece of wood, or a silly mask, is laid in your bed. Miss Sophie
gives us other clever things for amusement--tableaux and the magic-lantern.
I was once of the party. Yes, what was it I represented? Ah, I played,
Heaven help me! King Cyrus: had a paper crown on my head, and Miss
Sophie's cloak about me, the wrong side turned outward, for it is
lined with sable. I looked like Satan!"
The steamboat passengers were summoned on board, the company went
down to the vessel, and soon it was cutting through the waves of
"See now, Funen signifieth _fine_,
And much in that word lies;
For Funen is the garden fine,
Where Denmark glads its eyes."
The nakedness which the last aspect of Zealand presents occasions
one to be doubly struck by the affluent abundance and luxuriance
with which Funen steps forth. Green woods, rich corn-fields, and,
wherever the eye rests, noblemen's seats and churches. Nyborg
itself appears a lively capital in comparison with the still
melancholy Korsoer. One now perceives people upon the great bridge
of boats, on the ramparts, and in the broad streets with their high
houses; one sees soldiers, hears music, and, what is especially
animating upon a journey, one comes to an excellent inn. The drive
out through the arched gateway is an astonishment; it is the same
length and breadth as one of the gates of Copenhagen. Villages and
peasants' houses here assume a more well-to-do aspect than in
Zealand, where one often on the way-side imagines one sees a
manure-heap heaped upon four poles, which upon nearer examination
one finds is the abode of a family. On the highroads in Funen one
perceives only clean houses; the window-frames are painted; before
the doors are little flower-gardens, and wherever flowers are
grown, as Bulwer strikingly remarks, the peasant is in a higher
state of civilization; he thinks of the beautiful. In the ditches
along the highway one sees lilac with their white and lilac
flowers. Nature herself has here adorned the country with a
multitude of wild poppies, which for splendor of color might vie
with the most admired and beautiful in a botanic garden. Especially
in the neighborhood of Nyborg do they grow in exceeding abundance.
"What a dazzling color!" exclaimed Otto, as the friends rolled past
these beautiful red flowers.
"That is a proud color!" said the Kammerjunker, who rode near them
upon his brown steed, "a proud color! but they are manured with the
blood of Andalusian horses. It was just here where the battle
between these beasts took place. You know that sit the year 1808
the Spaniards lay in Funen; the English ships were cruising about
in the Belt, and Romana fled with his whole army on board, but they
could net take their horses with them. These were the most splendid
Andalusian creatures that eyes ever saw. The Spaniards took off
their bridles, and left them here to scamper about the fields like
wild horses. The horses of Nyborg chanced also to graze here, and
as soon as the Andalusian steeds became aware of ours they arranged
themselves in a row, and fell upon the Danish horses: that was a
combat! At length they fell upon each other, and fought until they
fell bleeding to earth. Whilst still a boy I saw little skull of
one of these beasts. This is the last adventure left us from the
visit of the Spaniards to Denmark. In the village through which we
shall now pass are some outer remembrances. Remark the young lads
and lasses,--they are of a darker complexion than the inhabitants
of other Funen valleys; that is Spanish blood, it is said. It was
in this village that the story took its rise of the preacher's
servant-girl, who wept and was so inconsolable at the departure of
the Spaniards. But not on account of her bridegroom did she weep,--
not over her own condition. The preacher consoled her, and then she
said she only wept to think that if the innocent child resembled
its father it certainly would speak Spanish, and then not a soul
would understand it! Yes, such histories as this have we in Funen!"
said he laughingly to Otto.
With similar relations, and some agricultural observations,
according as they were called forth by surrounding objects, did our
excellent landed proprietor amuse our young gentlemen. They were
already distant several miles from Nyborg, when he suddenly broke
off in the midst of a very interesting discourse upon a
characteristic of a true inhabitant of Funen, which is, that
whenever he passes a field of buckwheat he moves his mouth as if
chewing, and made Wilhelm observe a Viennese carriage, which
approached them by a neighboring road. To judge from the coachman
and the horses, it must be the family from the hall.
This was the case--they returned from paying a visit. Where the
roads crossed they met each other. Otto immediately recognized Miss
Sophie, and near to her sat an elderly lady, with a gentle, good-humored
countenance; this was the mother. Now there was surprise and joy.
Sophie blushed--this blush could not have reference to the brother;
was it then the Kammerjunker? No: that appeared impossible! therefore,
it must concern Otto. The mother extended her hand to him with a
welcome, whilst at the same time she invited the Kammerjunker to
spend the afternoon with them. There lay, in the manner with which
she proposed this, so much attention and consideration, that Otto
felt the man was here held in greater esteem, and was otherwise
regarded than he, during their short acquaintance, had imagined possible.
Sophie added, smiling, "You must stay!" To which the Kammerjunker
replied with an apology for his travelling-dress.
"We are not strangers!" said the mother; "it is only a family meal!
You see the usual circle. You, Mr. Thostrup," added she, with a
most obliging manner, "I know so well from Wilhelm's letters, that
we are no strangers. The gentlemen are acquainted with each other!"
"I accept the invitation," said the Kammerjunker, "and I will now
show you into what a gallop I can put my steed! It is Carl Rise,
[Translator's Note: Name of one of the heroes in Waldemar the
Conqueror, a romance by Ingemann.] as you see, young lady--you
called him so yourself!"
"Yes, ride forward," said Sophie, smiling. "By that means you will
oblige my sister. She might otherwise be quite frightened, did she
see such a mighty caravan approach the house, did she had not
properly prepared the dinner-table."
"As my gracious young lady commands!" said the rider, and sprang
The country became more woody; the road passed various small lakes,