Part 2 out of 6
almost overgrown with water-lilies and shaded by old trees; the
old-fashioned, indented gable-ends of the hall now peeped forth.
They drove through an avenue of wild chestnut-trees; the stone
pavement here threatened to smash the carriage axles. On the right
lay the forge, through the open door of which flew the sparks. A
little girl, with bare feet, opened a gate, and they now found
themselves in a large open space before the red-painted out-buildings.
The ground was covered with straw, and all the cows of the farm were
collected here for milking. Here they were obliged to drive, step
by step, until by the gateway they reached the larger courtyard,
which was inclosed by the barns and the principal building itself.
This was surrounded by broad ditches, almost grown over with reeds.
Over a solid bridge, resting upon pillars of masonry, and through
a principal wing which bore the armorial bearings and initials of
the old possessor, they arrived in the innermost court, which was
shut in by three wings, the antique one already mentioned, and two
others: the fourth side was inclosed by a low trellis-work which
adjoined the garden, where the canals lost themselves in a small lake.
"That is an interesting old court!" exclaimed Otto.
"O, that is not to be compared with the Kammerjunker's!" returned
Wilhelm: "you should first see his!"
"Yes, you must come over some of these days," said the
Kammerjunker. "Silence, Fingal! Silence, Valdine!" cried he to the
barking dogs. A couple of turkey-cocks spread their feathers out,
and gobbled with all their might. Men and women servants stood at
the door: that was their reception!
"Thostrup will have the red room, will he not?" said Wilhelm, and
the friends ascended the stairs together.
A pale young girl, not free from freckles, but with eyes full of
soul, hastened toward them; this was Wilhelm's youngest sister. She
pressed her brother to her breast, and took Otto's hand with
kindness. She is not beautiful! was the first impression she made
upon him. His chamber was vaulted, and the walls painted in the
style of Gobelin tapestry; they represented the whole of Olympus.
On the left was an old fire-place, with decorations and a gilt
inscription; on the right stood an antiquated canopy-bed, with red
damask hangings. The view was confined to the moat and the interior
court. But a few minutes and Otto and Wilhelm were summoned to
table. A long gallery through two wings of the hall, on one side
windows, on the other entrances to the rooms, led to the dining-room.
The whole long passage was a picture-gallery. Portraits the size
of life, representing noble knights and ladies shining forth in
red powdered periwigs, children adorned like their elders, with
tulips in their hands, and great hounds by their sides, together
with some historical pieces, decorated the walls.
"Have we no garland on the table?" asked Sophie, as she entered the
dining-room with the others.
"Only a weak attempt to imitate my sister!" said Louise, smiling.
"But there is not a single flower in the garland! What economy! And
yet it is sweet!"
"How tasteful!" exclaimed Otto, examining the garland which Louise
All kinds of green leaves, with their innumerable shades, a few
yellow linden-leaves, and some from the copper-beech, formed,
through their varied forms and colors, a tasteful garland upon the
"You receive a thistle and a withered leaf!" whispered Wilhelm, as
Otto seated himself.
"But yet the most beautiful!" answered he. "The copper beech
contrasts so sweetly with the whitish-green thistle and the yellow
"My sister Sophie," said Louise, "lays us each day a different
garland;--it is such a pretty decoration! If she is not here we get
none; that would have been the case to-day, but when I learned that
Wilhelm was coming, and that we," she added, with a friendly
glance, "should have two other guests, I in great haste, made an
"And wished to show how nicely it could be made without robbing
your flowers!" interrupted Sophie, laughing. "In reality, I am very
cruel! I cut all the heads of her favorites off. To-morrow, as a
parody upon her garland of to-day, will I make one of green cabbage
"Madeira or port wine?" asked the Kammerjunker, and led the
conversation from flowers to articles of food and drink.
"One feels one's self comfortable here at the hall! Miss Louise
cares for the body, and Miss Sophie for the soul!"
"And mamma bestows a good cup of coffee," said the mother; "you
must also praise me a little!"
"I give music after dinner!" cried Wilhelm; "and thus the whole
family will have shown their activity!"
"But no voluntaries!" said the Kammerjunker; "no voluntaries, dear
friend! No, a brisk song, so that one can hear what it is! but none
of your artificial things!" A right proper blow on the shoulders
was intended to soften his expression.
"She sees if the cloth is clean and white
--If the bed has pillows and sheets;
If the candle fits in the candlestick. ...
"Modest she is, although you know
She makes the whole of the place;
And in she slips in the evening glow,
To light the room with her merry face "--OEHLENSCHLAGER
A quiet, busy house-fairy was Louise; the beautiful, fragrant
flowers were her favorites. Good-humoredly she smiled at the
raillery of her sister, quietly listened to each thoughtless jest;
but if any one, in joke, touched upon what was holy to her soul,
she was aroused from her calmness and attained a certain eloquence.
We will now become more nearly acquainted with the sisters, and on
this account pass over to one of the following days.
An abode together of a week, at a country-seat, will often bring
about a greater intimacy than if, throughout a whole winter, people
had met in large companies in cities. Otto soon felt himself at
home; he was treated as a near relative. Wilhelm related all he
knew of the beautiful Eva, and Sophie discovered that she was a
romantic character. Mamma pitied the poor child, and Louise wished
she had her on the estate: an inn was, after all, no proper place
for a respectable girl. They then spoke of the winter enjoyments in
Copenhagen, of art, and the theatre. Louise could not speak much
with them upon these subjects, although she had seen one play,
"Dyveke:" the amiable nature of the actress had spoken deeply to
Several days had passed; the sky was gray; the young people
assembled round the table; they were at no loss for a subject of
conversation. All those who have brothers or sons who study well,
have remarked how much they are especially fascinated by the
lectures on natural philosophy and astronomy; the world, as it
were, expands itself before the intellectual eye. We know that the
friends, during the past summer, had participated in these
lectures, and, like the greater number, were full of these
subjects, from the contemplation of a drop of water, with its
innumerable animalculae, to the distance and magnitude of stars and
To most of us these are well-known doctrines; to the ladies, also,
this was nothing entirely new: nevertheless, it interested them;
perhaps partly owing to Otto's beautiful eloquence. The gray, rainy
weather led the conversation to the physical explanation of the
origin of our globe, as the friends, from Orsted's lectures,
conceived it to have been.
"The Northern and Grecian myths agree also with it!" sail Otto. "We
must imagine, that in infinite space there floated an eternal,
unending mist, in which lay a power of attraction. The mist
condensed itself now to one drop--our globe was one enormous egg-shaped
drop; light and warmth operated upon this huge world egg, and hatched,
not alone ONE creature, but millions. These must die and give way
to new ones, but their corpses fell as dust to the centre: this
grew; the water itself condensed, and soon arose a point above
the expanse of ocean. The warmth of the sun developed moss and
plants; fresh islands presented themselves; for centuries did a
more powerful development and improvement show themselves, until
the perfection was attained which we now perceive!"
"But the Bible does not teach us thus!" said Louise.
"Moses invented his account of the creation," answered Otto; "we
keep to Nature, who has greater revelations than man."
"But the Bible is to you a holy book?" asked Louise, and colored.
"A venerable book!" returned Otto. "It contains the profoundest
doctrines, the most interesting histories, but also much which
belongs not at all to a holy book."
"How can you say such things?" exclaimed Louise.
"Do not touch upon religion in her presence," said Sophie; "she
is a pious soul, and believes, without desiring to know wherefore."
"Yes," said Wilhelm, "this winter she became quite angry, and, as I
believe, for the first time angry with me, because I maintained
that Christ was a man."
"Wilhelm!" interrupted the young girl, "do not speak of that; I
feel myself unhappy at this thought; I can and will not see the
Holy brought down to my level, and to that of every-day life. It
lies in my nature that I commit a sin if I think otherwise than I
have learned and than my heart allows me. It is profane, and if you
speak longer of religion in this strain I shall leave the room."
At this moment the mother entered. "The festival has commenced,"
said she; "I have been forced to give my brightest silver skilling.
Does Mr. Thostrup know the old custom which is observed here in the
country, when beer is brewed for the mowing-feast?"
A piercing cry, as from a horde of savages, at this moment reached
the ears of the party.
The friends descended.
In the middle of the brew-house stood a tub, around which danced
all the female servants of the estate, from the dairymaids down to
the girl who tended the swine; their iron-bound wooden shoes dashed
against the uneven flag-stones. The greater number of the dancers
were without their jackets, but with their long chemise-sleeves and
narrow bodices. Some screamed, others laughed, the whole was
blended together in a howl, whilst they danced hand in hand around
the tub in which the beer should be brewed. The brewing-maid now
flung into it the silver skilling, upon which the girls, like wild
Maenades, tore off each other's caps, and with bacchanalian
wildness whirled round the tub. By this means should the beer
become stronger, and work more intoxicatingly at the approaching
Among the girls, one especially distinguished herself by her Strong
frame of body, and her long black hair, which, now that her cap was
torn off, hung in disorder over her red face. The dark eyebrows
were grown together. All seemed to rage most violently within her,
and in truth she assumed something wild, nay almost brutal. Both
arms she raised high in the air, and with outstretched fingers she
"That is disgusting!" whispered Otto: "they all look like crazy
Wilhelm laughed at it. The wild merriment was lost in a joyous
burst of laughter. The girl with the grown-together eyebrows let
fall her arms; but still there lay in her glance that wild
expression, which the loose hair and uncovered shoulders made still
more striking. Either one of the others had had the misfortune to
scratch her lip, or else she herself had bitten it in bacchanalian
wildness until it bled: she accidentally glanced toward the open
door where stood the friends. Otto's countenance became clouded, as
was ever the case when anything unpleasant affected him. She seemed
to guess his thoughts, and laughed aloud. Otto stepped aside; it
was as though he in anticipation felt the shadow which this form
would one day cast across his life.
When he and Wilhelm immediately afterward returned to Sophie and
Louise, he related the unpleasant impression which the girl had
made upon him.
"O, that is my Meg Merrilies!" exclaimed Sophie. "Yes, spite of her
youth, do you not find that she has something of Sir Walter Scott's
witch about her? When she grows older, she will be excellent. She
has the appearance of being thirty, whereas she is said not to be
more than twenty years old: she is a true giantess."
"The poor thing!" said Louise; "every one judges from the exterior.
All who are around her hate her, I believe, because her eyebrows
are grown together, and that is said to be a sign that she is a
nightmare: [Note: This superstition of the people is mentioned in
Thieles's Danish traditions: "When a girl at midnight stretches
between four sticks the membrane in which the foal lies when it is
born, and then creeps naked through it, she will bear her child
without pains; but all the boys she conceives will become were-wolves,
and all the girls nightmares. You will know them in the daytime by
their eyebrows grown together over the nose. In the night she creeps
in through the key-hole, and places herself upon the sleeper's bosom.
The same superstition is also found in German Grimm speaks thus
about it: If you say to the nightmare,--
Old hag, come to-morrow,
And I from you will borrow,
it retreats directly, and comes the next morning in the shape of a
man to borrow something."] they are angry with her, and how could
one expect, from the class to which she belongs, that she should
return scorn with kindness? She is become savage, that she may not
feel their neglect. In a few days, when we have the mowing-feast,
you yourself will see how every girl gets a partner; but poor
Sidsel may adorn herself as much as she likes, she still stands
alone. It is truly hard to be born such a being!"
"The unfortunate girl!" sighed Otto.
"O, she does not feel it!" said Wilhelm: "she cannot feel it; for
that she is too rude, too much of an animal."
"Were the pease not tender, and the vegetables fresh and sweet as sugar
What was the matter with the hams, the smoked goose-breasts, and the
herrings? What with the roasted lamb, and the refreshing red-sprinkled
head-lettuce? Was not the vinegar sharp, and the nut-oil balmy? Was not
the butter as sweet as a nut, the red radishes tender? What?" --VOSS'S
"Mr. Thostrup shall see the Kammerjunker's old country-seat;
to-morrow we must go over."
Louise could not go with them, a hundred small duties chained her
to the house. The most important of them all was ironing.
"But that the house-maid can do," said Sophie. "Do come with us."
"When thou seest thy linen nice and neat in thy drawers," returned
Louise, "thou wilt certainly pardon me for remaining at home."
"Yes, thou art a glorious girl!" said Sophie; "thou dost deserve to
have been known by Jean Paul, and made immortal in one of his
books. Thou dost deserve the good fortune of being sung of by such
"Dost thou call it good fortune," answered the sister, "when the
whole world directs its attention to one person?--that must be
painful! unhappy! No, it is much better not to be remarked at all.
Take my greetings with you, and ask for my Claudius back; they have
had it now a whole half year."
"There, they have kept half my sister's library," said Sophie,
smiling to Otto. "You must know she has only two books: Mynster's
Sermons, and the 'Wandsbecker Boten.'"
The carriage rolled away through the chestnut avenue. "There upon
the hill, close by the wood, did I act the elf-maiden," said
Sophie. "I was not yet confirmed; there were strangers staying with
us at the hall, and we wandered in the beautiful moonlight through
the wood. Two of my friends and I hastened toward the hill, took
hold of each other's hands and danced in a ring. The day after, two
persons of the congregation told the preacher about three elfin-maidens,
clad in white, who had danced upon the hill in the moonlight. The
elfin-maidens were we; but that our backs were hollow as baking-troughs,
and that the hill glanced like silver, was their own invention."
"And in this oak," exclaimed Wilhelm, "when a boy, I killed the
first bird which fell from my shot. It was a crow, and was very
"Yes, beneath my sister's weeping-willow," said Sophie. "We buried
it in an old chapeaubras, adorned with white bows; the grave was
decorated with peony-leaves and yellow lilies. Wilhelm, who was
then a big boy, made an oration, and Louise strewed flowers."
"You were little fools!" said the mother. "But see, who comes
"O, my little Dickie, my dwarf of Kenilworth!" exclaimed Sophie, as
a little hump-backed man, with thin legs and an old face,
approached. He was dressed as a peasant, and bore upon his back a
little knapsack of red calfskin, the hairy side turned outward: in
this he carried his violin.
"Is he called Dickie?" asked Otto.
"No, that is only a joke of Sophie's," pursued Wilhelm; "she must
always make suitable people romantic. He is called commonly
'Musikanti.' The inhabitant of Funen Italianizes most names;
otherwise he is called Peter Cripple."
"You will hear his tones," said Sophie. "The day after to-morrow,
when we have the mowing-feast, he will he number one. He
understands music with which you are scarcely acquainted; he will
play you the 'Shoemaker's Dance' as well as 'Cherry-soup:' such
dances as these have people here in the country."
"We are now beyond my lands, and upon our neighbor's," said the old
lady. "You will see a thorough old mansion."
"Now, I should like to know how the inhabitants will please Mr.
Thostrup," said Sophie. "The Kammerjunker you know; he is an
excellent country gentleman. His sister, on the contrary, is a
little peculiar: she belongs to that class of people who always,
even wily the best intentions, say unpleasant things. She has for
this quite a rare talent--you will soon experience this; but she
does not intend anything so bad. She can also joke! Thank God that
you will not remain there over night, otherwise you would
experience what she and the Mamsell can invent!"
"Yes, the Mamsell is my friend!" said Wilhelm. "You will see her
work-box with all the curiosities. That little box plays a great
part: it is always taken out with her when she pays a visit--for
the sake of conversation it is brought out; all is then looked
through, and every article goes the round of the company. Yes,
there are beautiful things to be seen: a little wheelbarrow with a
pincushion, a silver fish, and the little yard-measure of silk
"Yes, and the amber heart!" said Sophie; "the little Napoleon of
cast iron, and the officer who is pasted fast to the bottom of the
box: that is a good friend in Odense, she lately told to me in
"See what beautiful stone fences the Kammerjunker has made!" said
the mother. "And how beautifully the cherry-trees grow! He is an
They approached the garden. It was laid out in the old French
style, with straight walks, pyramids of box, and white painted
stone figures: satyrs and goddesses peeped through the green
foliage. You now caught sight of a high tower with a spire; and
soon the whole of the old mansion presented itself to view. The
water was conveyed away from the broad moats, where the weeping
willows with bowed heads and uncovered roots stood in the warm
sunshine. A number of work-people were busily employed in clearing
the moats of mud, which was wheeled in barrows on both sides.
They soon reached the principal court-yard. The barns and the
out-buildings lay on the opposite side. A crowd of dogs rushed forth
barking toward the carriage--all possible races, from the large
Danish hound, which is known to the Parisian, down to the steward's
little pug-dog, which had mixed with this company. Here stood the
greyhound, with his long legs, beside the turnspit. You saw all
varieties, and each had its peculiar and melodious bark. A couple
of peacocks, with bright outspread tails, raised at the same time a
cry, which must have made an impression. The whole court-yard had a
striking air of cleanliness. The grass was weeded from between the
stones; all was swept and arranged in its appointed order. Before
the principal flight of steps grew four large lime-trees; their
tops, from youth bent together and then clipped short, formed in
spring and summer two large green triumphal arches. On the right
stood upon an upright beam, which was carved and formed into a
pillar, a prettily painted dove-cot; and its gay inhabitants
fluttered and cooed around. The peacock-pigeon emulated the peacock
in spreading its tail; and the cropper-pigeon elevated itself upon
its long legs, and drew itself up, as though it would welcome the
strangers with the air of a grand gentleman. The reddish-brown
tiles and the bright window-panes were the only things which had a
modern air. The building itself, from the stone window-seats to the
old-fashioned tower through which you entered, proclaimed its
antiquity. In the vaulted entrance-hall stood two immense presses:
the quantity of wood which formed them, and the artistical carving,
testified to their great age. Above the door were fastened a couple
The Kammerjunker's sister, Miss Jakoba, a young lady of about
thirty, neither stout nor thin, but with a strange mixture of
joviality and indolence, approached them. She appeared to rejoice
very much in the visit.
"Well, you are come over, then!" said she to Wilhelm. "I thought
you had enough to do with your examination."
Wilhelm smiled, and assured her that after so much study people
"Yes, you doubtless study in handsome boots!" said the young lady,
and in a friendly manner turned toward Sophie. "Good heavens,
miss!" she exclaimed, "how the sun has burnt your nose! That looks
horrible! Don't you ever wear a veil? you, who otherwise look so
Otto was a stranger to her. He escaped such unpleasant remarks.
"They should spend the whole day there," insisted Miss Jakoba; but
mamma spoke of being at home by noon.
"Nothing will come of that!" said Jakoba. "I have expected you; and
we have cooked a dinner, and made preparations, and I will not have
had all this trouble in vain. There are some especial dishes for
you, and of these you shall eat." This was all said in such a
good-humored tone that even a stranger could not have felt himself
offended. The Kammerjunker was in the fields looking after his
flax; he would soon be back. Squire Wilhelm could in the mean time
conduct Mr. Thostrup about the premises: "he would otherwise have
nothing to do," said she.
No one must remain in the sitting-room; it was so gloomy there!
The walls were still, as in by-gone days, covered with black
leather, upon which were impressed gold flowers. No, they should go
to the hall--that had been modernized since the Baroness was last
there. The old chimney-piece with carved ornaments was removed, and
a pretty porcelain stove had taken its place. The walls were
covered with new paper from Paris. You could there contemplate all
the public buildings of that city,--Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice, and
the Tuileries. Long red curtains, thrown over gilt rods, hung above
the high windows. All this splendor was admired.
"I prefer the antique sitting-room, after all," said Sophie; "the
old chimney-piece and the leather hangings. One fairly lives again
in the days of chivalry!"
"Yes, you have always been a little foolish!" said Jakoba, but
softened her words by a smile and a pressure of the hand. "No, the
hall is more lively. Ah!" she suddenly exclaimed; "Tine has placed
her work-box in the window! That is disorder!"
"O, is that the celebrated work-box, with its many fool's tricks?"
inquired Wilhelm, as he laughingly took it up.
"There are neither fools nor tricks in the box," said Jakoba. "But
only look in the mirror in the lid, and then you will perhaps see
one of the two."
"No rude speeches, my young lady!" said Wilhelm; "I am an
The Kammerjunker now entered, attired in the same riding dress in
which we made his acquaintance. He had visited his hay and oats,
had seen after the people who were working at the fences, and had
been also in the plantation. It had been a warm forenoon.
"Now, Miss Sophie," said he, "do you see how I am clearing out the
court? It costs me above five hundred dollars; and still they are
the peasants of the estate who clear away the mud. But I shall get
a delicate manure-heap, so fit and rich that it's quite a pleasure.
But, Jakoba, where is the coffee?"
"Only let it come in through the door," said Jakoba, somewhat
angrily. "You certainly ate something before you went from home.
Let me attend to the affairs of the ladies, and do thou attend to
the gentlemen, so that they may not stand and get weary."
The Kammerjunker conducted the friends up the winding stone stairs
into the old tower.
"All solid and good!" said he. "We no longer build in this manner.
The loop-holes here, close under the roof, were walled up already
in my father's time. But only notice this timber!"
The whole loft appeared a gigantic skeleton composed of beams, one
crossing the other. On either side of the loft was a small vaulted
chamber, with a brick fire-place. Probably these chambers had been
used as guard-rooms; a kind of warder's walk led from these,
between the beam-palisade and the broad wall.
"Yes, here," said the Kammerjunker, "they could have had a good
lookout toward the enemy. Look through my telescope. You have here
the whole country from Vissenberg to Munkebobanke, the Belt, and
the heights of Svendborg. Only see! The air is clear. We see both
Langeland and Zealand. Here one could, in 1807, have well observed
the English fleet."
The three climbed up the narrow ladder and came past the great
clock, the leaden weights of which, had they fallen, would have
dashed through the stone steps, and soon the gentlemen sat on the
highest point. The Kammerjunker requested the telescope, placed it
"Did I not think so? If one has not them always under one's eyes
they begin playing pranks! Yes, I see it very well! There, now, the
fellows who are working at the fences have begun to romp with the
girls! they do nothing! Yes, they don't believe that I am sitting
here in the tower and looking at them!"
"Then a telescope is, after all, a dangerous weapon!" exclaimed
Wilhelm. "You can look at people when they least expect it.
Fortunately, our seat lies hidden behind the wood: we are, at all
"Yes, that it is, my friend," returned the other; "the outer sides
of the garden are still bare. Did I not, last autumn, see Miss
Sophie quite distinctly, when she was gathering service-berries in
her little basket? And then, what tricks did she not play? She
certainly did not think that I sat here and watched tier pretty
They quitted the tower, and passed through the so-called Knight's
Hall, where immense beams, laid one on the other, supported the
roof. At either end of the hall was a huge fireplace, with armorial
bearings painted above: the hall was now used as a granary; they
were obliged to step over a heap of corn before reaching the family
pew in the little chapel, which was no longer used for divine
"This might become a pretty little room," said the Kammerjunker,
"but we have enough, and therefore we let this, for curiosity's
sake, remain in its old state. The moon is worth its money!" and he
pointed toward the vaulted ceiling, where the moon was represented
as a white disk, in which the painter, with much naivete, had
introduced a man bearing a load of coals upon his back; in faithful
representation of the popular belief regarding the black spot in
the moon, which supposes this to be a man whom the Lord has sent up
there because he stole his neighbor's coal. "That great picture on
the right, there," pursued he, "is Mrs. Ellen Marsviin; I purchased
it at an auction. One of the peasants put up for it; I asked him
what he would do with this big piece of furniture--he could never
get it in through his door. But do you know what a speculation he
had? It was not such a bad one, after all. See! the rain runs so
beautifully off the painted canvas, he would have a pair of
breeches made out of it, to wear in rainy weather behind the
plough; they would keep the rain off! I thought, however, I ought
to prevent the portrait of the highly honorable Mrs. Ellen Marsviin
being so profaned. I bought it: now she hangs there, and looks
tolerably well pleased. The peasant got a knight instead--perhaps
one of my own ancestors, who was now cut up into breeches. See,
that is what one gets by being painted!"
"But the cupboard in the pillar there?" inquired Otto.
"There, certainly, were Bibles and Prayer-books kept. Now I have in
it what I call sweetmeats for the Chancery-counselor Thomsen: old
knives of sacrifice, coins and rings, which I have found in the
horse-pond and up yonder in the cairns: not a quarter of a yard
below the turf we found one pot upon another; round each a little
inclosure of stones--a flat stone as covering, and underneath stood
the pot, with burnt giants' bones, and a little button or the blade
of a knife. The best things are already gone away to Copenhagen,
and should the Counselor come, he will, God help me! carry away the
rest. That may be, then, willingly, for I cannot use the stuff,
After coffee, the guests wandered through the old garden: the
clearing away of the mud was more closely observed, the dairy and
pig-sty visited, the new threshing-machine inspected. But now the
Russian bath should be also essayed; "it was heated!" But the end
of the affair was, that only the Kammerjunker himself made use of
it. The dinner-table was prepared, and then he returned. "But here
something is wanting!" exclaimed he; left the room, and returned
immediately with two large bouquets, which he stuck into an ale-glass
which he placed upon the table. "Where Miss Sophie dines, the table
must be ornamented with flowers: certainly we cannot lay garlands,
as you do!" He seated himself at the end of the table, and wished,
as he himself said, to represent the President Lars: they had had
the "Wandsbecker Boten" half a year in the house, and it would
certainly please Miss Sophie if they betrayed some acquaintance
with books. This Lars and the flowers, here, meant quite as much
as in the south a serenade under the windows of the fair one.
When, toward evening, the carriage for their return drew up before
the door, Otto still stood contemplating some old inscriptions
which were built into the tower-wall.
"That you can look at another time," said Jakoba; "now you must be
of use a little!" And she reached him the ladies' cloaks.
Amidst promises of a return visit and the parting yelping of the
dogs the carriage rolled away.
"I have fairly fallen in love with the old place!" said Sophie.
"The Kaminerjunker gains much upon nearer acquaintance," said Otto.
They bad now reached the furthest extremity of the garden. A flower-rain
showered itself over them and the carriage. The Kammerjunker, Jakoba,
and the Mamsell, had taken a shorter way, and now waved an adieu to
the travellers, whilst at the same time they scattered hyacinths
and stocks over them. With a practiced hand Jakoba threw, as a
mark of friendship, a great pink straight into Otto's face. "Farewell,
farewell!" sounded from both sides, and, accompanied by the sound
of the evening-bell from the near village, for it was sunset, the
carriage rolled away.
"Dance and stamp
Till the shoe-soles drop!"
--Danish Popular Song.
On the following day should the much-talked-of mowing-festival take
place. It was the hay-harvest which occasioned all this merriment.
[Author's Note: It is true that serfdom is abolished, but the
peasant is still not quite free; neither can he be so. For his
house and land he must pay a tribute, and this consists in labor.
His own work must give way to that of his lord. His wagon, which he
has had prepared to bring home his own harvest, must, if such be
commanded, go to the nobleman's land, and there render service.
This is, therefore, a kind of tax which he pays, and for the
faithful payment of which he is rewarded by a harvest and mowing-feast;
at the latter he receives a certain quantity of brandy, and as much
ale as he can drink. The dance generally takes place in the middle
of the court-yard, and the dancers themselves must pay their musicians.]
During three afternoons in succession, in the inner court and under
free heaven, should a ball be held. Along the walls, rough planks,
laid upon logs of wood, formed a row of benches. At both ends of
the court lay two barrels of the newly brewed ale, which had
received more malt than usual, and which, besides, through the
silver skilling, and the magic dance of the maidens round the tub,
had acquired extraordinary strength. A large wooden tankard,
containing several measures of brandy, stood upon a table; the man
who watched the bleaching-ground was placed as a kind of butler to
preside at this sideboard. A bread-woman, with new white bread from
Nyborg upon her barrow, wheeled into the court, and there
established her stall for every one; for it was only liquors the
guests received gratis.
The guests now entered the court by pairs; the men, part in
jackets, part in long coats which hung down to their ankles. Out of
the waistcoat-pocket protruded a little nosegay of sweet-williams
and musk. The girls carried their "posies," as they called them, in
their neatly folded pocket-handkerchiefs. Two musicians--one quite
a young blade, in a laced coat with a stiff cravat, mid the other
the well-known Peter Cripple, "Musikanti" as he was called--led the
procession. They both played one and the same piece, but each
according to his own manner. It was both good and old.
They now began to draw lots, who should dance before the door of
the family and who before that of the steward; after which the two
parties drew lots for the musicians. The girls seated themselves in
a row upon the bench, from whence they were chosen. The gallantry
accorded with the ball-room,--the hard stone pavement. Not even had
the grass been pulled up, but that would be all right after dancing
there the first day. "Nay, why art thou sitting there?" spoken with
a kind of morose friendliness, was the invitation to dance; and
this served for seven dances. "Only don't be melancholy!" resounded
from the company, and now the greater portion moved phlegmatically
along, as if in sleep or in a forced dance: the girl with her eyes
staring at her own feet, her partner with his head bent toward one
side, and his eyes in a direct line with the girl's head-dress. A
few of the most active exhibited, it is true, a kind of animation,
by stamping so lustily upon the stone pavement that the dust
whirled up around them. That was a joy! a joy which had occupied
them many weeks, but as yet the joy had not reached its height;
"but that will soon come!" said Wilhelm, who, with his sister
and Otto, had taken his place at an open window.
The old people meanwhile kept to the ale-barrels, and the brandy.
The latter was offered to the girls, and they were obliged, at
least, to sip. Wilhelm soon discovered the prettiest, and threw
them roses. The girls immediately sprang to the spot to collect the
flowers: but the cavaliers also wished to have them, and they were
the stronger; they, therefore, boldly pushed the ladies aside, so
that some seated themselves on the stone pavement and got no roses:
that was a merry bit of fun! "Thou art a foolish thing! It fell
upon thy shoulder and thou couldst not catch it!" said the first
lover to his lady, and stuck the rose into his waistcoat-pocket.
All got partners--all the girls; even the children, they leaped
about to their own singing out upon the bridge. Only ONE stood
forlorn,--Sidsel, with the grown-together eyebrows; she smiled,
laughed aloud; no one would become her partner. Peter Cripple
handed his violin to one of the young men and asked him to play,
for he himself wished to stretch his legs a little. The girls drew
back and talked with each other; but Peter Cripple stepped quietly
forward toward Sidsel, flung his arms around her, and they danced a
whirling dance. Sophie laughed aloud at it, but Sidsel directed her
extraordinary glance maliciously and piercingly toward her. Otto
saw it, and the girl was doubly revolting and frightful in his
eyes. With the increasing darkness the assembly became more
animated; the two parties of dancers were resolved into one. At
length, when it was grown quite dark, the ale barrels become empty,
the tankard again filled and once more emptied, the company
withdrew in pairs, singing. Now commenced the first joy, the
powerful operation of the ale. They now wandered through the wood,
accompanying each other home, as they termed it; but this was a
wandering until the bright morning.
Otto and Wilhelm were gone out into the avenue, and the peasants
shouted to them a grateful "Good night!" for the merry afternoon.
"Now works the witchcraft!" said Wilhelm; "the magical power of
the ale! Now begins the bacchand! Give your hand to the prettiest
girl, and she will immediately give you her heart!"
"Pity," answered Otto, "that the Maenades of the north possess only
that which is brutal in common with those of the south!"
"See, there goes the smith's pretty daughter, to whom I threw the
best rose!" cried Wilhelm. "She has got two lovers, one under
"Yes, there she goes!" simpered a female voice close to them. It
was Sidsel, who sat upon the steps of a stile almost concealed in
the darkness, which the trees and the hedge increased still more.
"Has Sidsel no lover?" asked Wilhelm.
"Hi, hi, hi," simpered she; "the Herr Baron and the other gentleman
seek, doubtless, for a little bride. Am I beautiful enough? At
night all cats are gray!"
"Come!" whispered Otto, and drew Wilhelm away from her. "She sits
like some bird of ill omen there in the hedge."
"What a difference!" exclaimed Wilhelm, as he followed; "yes, what
a difference between this monster, nay, between the other girls and
Eva! She was, doubtless, born in the same poverty, in similar
circumstances, and yet they are like day and night. What a soul has
been given to Eva! what inborn nobility! It must be, really, more
than a mere freak of Nature!"
"Only do not let Nature play her freaks with you!" said Otto,
smiling, and raised his hand. "You speak often of Eva."
"Here it was association of ideas," answered Wilhelm. "The contrast
Otto entered his chamber--he opened the window; it was a moonlight
night. From the near wood resounded laughter and song. They came
from the young men and girls, who, on their wandering, gave
themselves up to merriment. Otto stood silent and full of thought
in the open window. Perhaps it was the moon which lent her paleness
to his countenance. On what did he reflect? Upon his departure,
perhaps? Only one more day would he remain here, where he felt
himself so much at home; but then the journey was toward his own
house, to his grandfather, to Rosalie, and the old preacher, who
all thought so much of him. Otto stood listening and silent. The
wind bore the song more distinctly over from the wood.
"That is their joy, their happiness!" said he. "It might have been
my joy also, my happiness!" lay in the sigh which he heaved. His
lips did not move, his thoughts alone spoke their silent language.
"I might have stood on a level with these; my soul might have been
chained to the dust, and yet it would have been the same which I
now possess, with which I long to compass all worlds! the same,
endowed with this sentiment of pride, which drives me on to active
exertion. My fate wavered whether I should become one such as these
or whether I should rise into that circle which the world calls the
higher. The mist-form did not sink down into the mire, but rose
above into the high refreshing air. And am I become happy through
this?" His eye stared upon the bright disk of the moon. Two large
tears rolled over his pale cheeks. "Infinite Omnipotence! I
acknowledge Thy existence! Thou dost direct all; upon Thee will I
A melancholy smile passed over his lips; he stepped back into the
chamber, folded his hands, prayed, and felt rest and peace.
"The travellers roll through the world of men,
Like rose leaves in a stream.
The past will ne'er come back again,
But fade into a dream."--B. S. INGEMANN.
The following day, the last before Otto's departure, whilst he and
Wilhelm were walking in the garden, Sophie approached them with a
garland made of oak-leaves: this was intended for Otto; they were
now really to lose him.
"Sophie will scarcely be up so early to-morrow morning," said
Louise; "she is, therefore, obliged to present her garland to-day.
I am never missing at the breakfast-table, as you well know; and I
shall then bring my bouquet."
"I shall preserve both until we meet again," returned Otto; "they
are vignettes to my beautiful summer-dream. When I again sit in
Copenhagen, when the rain patters and the winter approaches with
cold and a joyless sky, I shall still see before me Funen with its
green woods, flowers, and sunshine; it will appear to me that it
must still be so there, and that the garland and bouquet are only
withered because they are with me in the winter cold."
"In Copenhagen we shall meet again!" said Sophie.
"And I shall see you again with the swallows!" said Louise, "when
my flowers spring up again, when we have again warm summer days!
As far as I am concerned, you belong to the summer, and not to the
cold, calm winter."
Early on the following morning was Sophie, after all, at the
breakfast table. That was to honor Otto. Mamma showed herself as
the carriage was at the door. Wilhelm would accompany him as far as
Odense. It was, therefore, a double leave taking, here and there.
"We will always remain friends, faithful friends!" said Wilhelm,
when they parted.
"Faithful friends!" repeated Otto, and they rolled away toward
Middelfart; thus far should mamma's own carriage convey the
excellent Otto. Wilhelm remained behind in Odense; his coachman
drove Otto, and they discoursed upon the way. They passed
Vissenberg: the high, wooded hills there have received the name of
the Funen Alps. The legend relates of robbers who had here deep
passages underneath the high-road, where they hung bells which rang
when any one passed above. The inhabitants are still looked upon
with suspicion. Vissenberg appears a kind of Itri, between
Copenhagen and Hamburg. [Author's Note: "Itri," Fra Diavolo's
birthplace, lies in the Neapolitan States, on the highway between
Rome and Naples. The inhabitants are not, without reason, suspected
of carrying on the robber's trade.] Near the church there formerly
lay a stone, on which Knud, the saint, is said to have rested
himself when flying from the rebellious Jutlanders. In the stone
remained the impression of where he had sat; the hard stone had
been softer than the hearts of the rebellious people.
This, and similar legends, the coachman knew how to relate; he was
born in this neighborhood, but not in Vissenberg itself, where they
make the false notes. [Author's Note: A number of years ago a band
of men were seized in Vissenberg who had forged bank-notes.] Every
legend gains in interest when one hears it in the place with which
it is connected. Funen is especially rich in such relations.
"That cairn elevates itself at Christmas upon four red posts, and
one can then see the dance and merriment of the goblins within.
Through that peasant's farm there drives every night a glowing
coach, drawn by four coal-black horses. Where we now see a pond
overgrown with reeds and roots there once stood a church, but it
sank as the godless desecrated it; at midnight we still hear their
sighs, and hymns of repentance."
It is true that the narrator mixed up together certain leg-ends
which related to other places in the country--that he took little
springs, and mingled his own thoughts with his relations; but Otto
listened to him with great interest. The discourse turned also upon
the family at the hall.
"Yes, they are very much liked!" said the coachman; "the gentleman
may believe we know how to value them."
"And now, which of the young ladies is the best?" asked Otto.
"Yes, every one is best served by Miss Louise," returned the
"Miss Sophie is the prettiest," said Otto.
"Yes, she is also very good,--she belongs to the learned ones! She
knows German, that she does! she can act comedy very excellently! I
once got permission with the rest of the people to be up-stairs in
the sitting-room--we stood behind the family; she did not manage
her affairs at all badly."
However much the old legends interested Otto, it seemed as though
he listened with more pleasure to the simple reasonings of the
coachman upon the family who were become so dear to him. Words and
thoughts were busied about the objects there. Wilhelm, however, was
and still remained the dearest; he recollected with what mildness
Wilhelm had stretched forth his hand in reconciliation, when he
himself had thrust him from him. Already the happy summer days
which he had spent at the country-seat, the whole visit, appeared a
beautiful but short dream.
Otto felt an inward impulse to express his gratitude; his pride
even, which was a fundamental feature of his character, commanded
him to do this. Wilhelm's affection, his desire for a continued
friendship, Otto thought he must reward; and on this account he
added the following words to the few lines which he gave the
coachman before his passage over the Little Belt:--
"Wilhelm, in future we will say thou to each other; that is more
confidential!" "He is the first to whom I have given my thou," said
Otto, when the letter was dispatched. "This will rejoice him: now,
however, I myself have for once made an advance, but he deserves
A few moments later it troubled him. "I am a fool like the rest!"
said he, and wished he could annihilate the paper. He was summoned
on board. The Little Belt is only a river between the two
countries; he soon found himself upon Jutland ground; the whip
cracked, the wheels turned round, like the wheels of fortune, up
and down, yet ever onward.
Late in the evening he arrived at an inn. From his solitary chamber
his thoughts flew in opposite directions; now toward the solitary
country-seat of his grandfather, among the sand-hills; now toward
the animated mansion in Funen, where the new friends resided. He
had opened his box and taken out what lay quite at the top, the
garland of oak-leaves and the beautiful bouquet of flowers of this
Most people maintain that one dreams at night of that which one has
thought much about. According to this, Otto must have thought a
deal about the North Sea, for of it he dreamed the whole night,--
not of the young ladies.
"The heat-lark warbles forth his sepulchral melodies."
S. S. BLICHER.
The peninsula of Jutland possesses nothing of the natural beauty
which Zealand and Funen present--splendid beeches and odoriferous
clover-fields in the neighborhood of the salt sea; it possesses at
once a wild and desolate nature, in the heath-covered expanses and
the far-stretching moors. East and west are different; like the
green, sappy leaf, and grayish white sea-weed on the sea shore.
From the Woods of Marselisborg to the woods south of Coldinger
Fjord, is the land rich and blooming; it is the Danish Nature in
her greatness. Here rises the Heaven Mountain, with its wilderness
of coppice and heather; from here you gaze over the rich landscape,
with its woods and lakes, as far down as the roaring Cattegat.
The western coast, on the contrary, lies without a tree, without
bushes, with nothing but white sand-hills stretching along the
roaring ocean, which scourges the melancholy coast with sand-storms
and sharp winds. Between these contrasts, which the east and west
coasts present, the Hesperides and Siberia, lies the vast heath
which stretches itself from the Lyneborg sand to the Skagen's reef.
No hedge shows here the limits of possession. Among the crossing
tracks of carriage wheels must thou seek thy way. Crippled oaks,
with whitish-green moss overgrown to the outermost branches, twist
themselves along the ground, as if fearing storms and the sea-mist.
Here, like a nomadic people, but without flocks, do the so-called
Tartar bands wander up and down, with their peculiar language and
peculiar ceremonies. Suddenly there shows itself in the interior of
the heathy wilderness a colony--another, a strange people, German
emigrants, who through industry compel the meagre country to
From Veile, Otto wished to take the road through Viborg, as the
most direct and the shortest to his grandfather's estate, which lay
between Nisumfjord and Lemvig.
The first heath-bushes accosted him as dear friends of his
childhood. The beautiful beech-woods lay behind him, the expanse of
heath began; but the heath was dear to him: it was this landscape
which formed the basis of many dear recollections.
The country became ever higher with brown heights, beyond which
nothing was visible; houses and farms became more rare, the cherry
orchards transformed themselves into cabbage-gardens. Only single
spots were free from heather, and here grew grass, but short, and
like moss or duckweed which grows upon ponds: here birds
congregated by hundreds, and fluttered twittering into the air as
the carriage drove past.
"You know where to find the green spot in the heath, and how to
become happy through it," sighed Otto. "Could I only follow your
At a greater distance rose bare hills, without ling or ploughed
land; the prickly heath looked brown and yellow on the sharp
declivities. A little boy and girl herded sheep by the way-side;
the boy played the Pandean pipe, the little girl sang a psalm,--it
was the best song which she knew how to sing to the traveller, in
order to win a little present from him.
The day was warm and beautiful, but the evening brought the cold
mist from the sea, which, however, in the interior of the country
loses something of its power.
"That is a kiss of welcome from my home," said Otto; "the death-kiss
of the mermaid! In Funen they call it the elf maiden."
Within the last few years a number of children have been sent from
the Orphan Asylum to the heath, in order that, instead of
Copenhagen rogues, they may become honest Jutland peasants. Otto
had a boy of this description for his coachman. The lad was very
contented, and yet Otto became low-spirited from his relation.
Recollections from his own life stirred within his breast. "Return
thanks to God," said he, and gave the lad a considerable present;
"on the heath thou hast shelter and a home; in Copenhagen, perhaps,
the sandy beach would have been thy nightly resting-place, hunger
and cold the gifts which the day would bring thee."
The nearer he approached the west, the more serious became his
frame of mind; it was as if the desolate scenery and cold sea-mist
entered his soul. The pictures of the gay country-seat at Funen
were supplanted by recollections of his home with his grandfather.
He became more and more low-spirited. It was only when a single
mile separated him from his home that the thought of surprising his
dear friends conquered his melancholy.
He caught sight of the red roof of the house, saw the willow
plantations, and heard the bark of the yard-dog. Upon the hillock
before the gate stood a group of children. Otto could no longer
endure the slow driving through the deep ruts. He sprang out of the
carriage, and ran more than he walked. The children on the hillock
became aware of him, and all looked toward the side from whence he
The slow driving, and his being absorbed in melancholy fancies, had
relaxed his powerful frame; but now in one moment all his
elasticity returned: his cheeks glowed, and his heart beat loudly.
From the court resounded singing--it was the singing of a psalm. He
stepped through the gateway. A crowd of peasants stood with bared
heads: before the door stood a carriage, some peasants were just
raising a coffin into it. In the doorway stood the old preacher,
and spoke with a man clad in black.
"Lord Jesus! who is dead?" were Otto's first words, and his
countenance became pale like that of a corpse.
"Otto!" all exclaimed.
"Otto!" exclaimed also the old preacher, astonished; then seized
his hand, and said gravely, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken
away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"
"Let me see the face of the dead!" said Otto. Not a tear came to
his eye; surprise and sorrow were too great.
"Shall I take out the screws?" inquired the man who had just
screwed up the coffin.
"Let him sleep the eternal rest!" said the preacher.
Otto stared at the black coffin in which his grandfather lay. The
carriage drove away with it. Otto followed after with the preacher,
heard him throw earth upon it, heard words which he did not
comprehend, saw the last corner of the coffin, and it was then
removed from his sight. All was as a dream to him.
They returned back to the preacher's abode; a pale figure
approached him: it was Rosalie--old Rosalie.
"We have here no abiding-place, we all hasten toward futurity!"
said the old preacher. "Strengthen yourself now with meat and
drink! The body cannot suffer like the soul. We have accompanied
him to His sleeping chamber; his bed was well prepared! I have
prayed the evening prayer; he sleeps in God, and will awaken to
behold His glory. Amen!"
"Otto! thou dear Otto!" said Rosalie. "The bitterest day brings me
this joy! How have I thought of thee! Amongst strangers shouldst
thou receive the tidings of his death! with no one who could feel
for thy sorrow! where thou shouldst see no eye weep for what thou
hast lost! Now thou art here! now, when I believed thee so far
distant--it is a miracle! Thou couldst only have received the
letter to-day which carried the intelligence of thy grandfather's
death to thee!"
"I wished to surprise you," said Otto. "A melancholy surprise
"Sit down, my child!" said the preacher, and drew him toward the
covered table. "When the tree falls which gave us shade and fruit,
from which we, in our own little garden, have planted shoots and
sown seeds, we may well look on with sadness and feel our loss: but
we must not forget our own garden, must not forget to cherish that
which we have won from the fallen tree: we must not cease to live
for the living! I miss, like you, the proud tree, which rejoiced my
soul and my heart, but I know that it is planted in a better
garden, where Christ is the gardener."
The preacher's invitation to remain with him, during his stay, in
his house, Otto declined. Already this first night he wished to
establish himself in his own little chamber in the house of
mourning. Rosalie also would return.
"We have a deal to say to each other," said the old preacher, and
laid his hand upon Otto's shoulder. "Next summer you will hardly
press my hand, it will be pressed by the turf."
"To-morrow I will come to you," said Otto, and drove back with the
old Rosalie to the house.
The domestics kissed the hand and coat of the young master--he
wished to prevent this; the old woman wept. Otto stepped into the
room; here had stood the corpse, on account of which the furniture
had been removed, and the void was all the more affecting. The long
white mourning curtains fluttered in tire wind before the open
window. Rosalie led him by the hand into the little sleeping-room
where the grandfather had died. Here everything yet stood as
formerly--the large book case, with the glass doors, behind which
the intellectual treasure was preserved: Wieland and Fielding,
Millot's "History of the World," and Von der Hagen's "Narrenbuch,"
occupied the principal place: these books had been those most read
by the old gentleman. Here was also Otto's earliest intellectual
food, Albertus Julius, the English "Spectator," and Evald's
writings. Upon the wall hung pikes and pistols, and a large old
sabre, which the grandfather had once worn. Upon the table beneath
the mirror stood an hour-glass; the sand had run out. Rosalie
pointed toward the bed. "There he died," said she, "between six
and seven o'clock in the evening. He was only ill three days; the
two last he passed in delirium: he raised himself in bed, and shook
the bed posts; I was obliged to let two strong men watch beside
him. 'To horse! to horse!' said he; 'the cannons forward!' His
brain dreamed of war and battles. He also spoke of your blessed
father severely and bitterly! Every word was like the stab of a
knife; he was as severe toward him as ever!"
"And did the people understand his words?" asked Otto with a
"No, for the uninitiated they were dark words; and even had they
possessed any meaning, the men would have believed it was the
sickness which spoke out of him. 'There stands the mother with the
two children! The one shall fall upon the flank of the enemy and
bring me honor and joy. The mother and daughter I know not!' That
was all which I heard him say about you and your mother and sister.
By noon on the third day the fever had spent itself; the strong,
gloomy man was become as weak and gentle as a child; I sat beside
his bed. 'If I had only Otto here!' said he. 'I have been severely
attacked, Rosalie, but I am now much better: I will go to sleep;
that strengthens one.' Smilingly he closed his eyes and lay quite
still: I read my prayers, withdrew gently so as not to wake him; he
lay there unchanged when I returned. I sat a little while beside
his bed; his hands lay upon the coverlid; I touched them, they
were ice-cold. I was frightened, touched his brow, his face--he was
dead! he had died without a death-struggle!"
For a long time did they converse about the dead man; it was near
midnight when Otto ascended the narrow stairs which led to the
little chamber in the roof, where as child and boy he had slept.
All stood here as it had done the year before, only in nicer order.
Upon the wall hung the black painted target, near to the centre of
which he had once shot. His skates lay upon the chest of drawers,
near to the nodding plaster figure. The long journey, and the
overpowering surprise which awaited him on his return, had strongly
affected him: he opened the window; a large white sand-hill rose
like a wall straight up before it, and deprived him of all view.
How often, when a child, had the furrows made by rain in the sand,
and the detached pieces, presented to him pictures,--towns, towers,
and whole marching armies. Now it was only a white wall, which
reminded him of a winding-sheet. A small streak of the blue sky was
visible between the house and the steep slope of the hill. Never
before had Otto felt, never before reflected, what it was to stand
alone in the world, to be lovingly bound to no one with the band of
"Solitary, as in this silent night do I stand in the world!
solitary in the mighty crowd of human beings! Only ONE being can I
call mine! only ONE being press as kindred to my heart! And I
shudder at the thought of meeting with this being--I should bless
the thought that she was dead! Father! thou didst ruin one being
and make three miserable. I have never loved thee; bitterness
germinated within my breast when I became acquainted with thee!
Mother! thy features have died out of my recollection; I revere
thee! Thou wast all love; to love didst thou offer up thy life--
more than life! Pray for me with thy God! Pray for me, ye dead! if
there is immortality; if the flesh is not alone born again in grass
and the worm; if the soul is not lost in floods of air! We shall be
unconscious of it: eternally shall we sleep! eternally!" Otto
supported his forehead upon the window-frame, his arm sank
languidly, "Mother! poor mother! thou didst gain by death, even if
it be merely an eternal sleep,--asleep without dreams! We have only
a short time to live, and yet we divide our days of life with
sleep! My body yearns after this short death! I will sleep--sleep
like all my beloved ones! They do not awaken!" He threw himself
upon the bed. The cold air from the sea blew through the open
window. The wearied body conquered; he sank into the death-like
sleep, whilst his doubting soul, ever active, presented him with
"Man seems to me a foolish being; he drives along over the waves of
time, endlessly thrown up and down, and descrying a little verdant
spot, formed of mud and stagnant moor and of putrid green
mouldiness, he cries out, Land! He rows thither, ascends--and sinks
and sinks--and is no more to be seen."--The Golden Fleece of GRILLPARZER.
Old Rosalie was pouring out coffee when Otto came down the next
morning. Peace and resignation to the will of God lay in her soft
countenance. Otto was pale, paler than usual, but handsomer than
Rosalie had seen him before: a year had rendered him older and more
manly; a handsome, crisp beard curled over his chin; manly gravity
lay in his eyes, in which, at his departure, she had only remarked
their inborn melancholy glance. With a kind of satisfaction she
looked upon this beautiful, melancholy countenance, and with
cordial affection she stretched forth her hand toward him.
"Here stands thy chair, Otto; and here thy cup. I will drink to thy
welcome. It seems to me long since I saw thee, and yet it is, now I
have thee again, only a short time. Were that place only not
empty!" and she pointed to the place at the table which the
grandfather had used to occupy.
"If I had only seen him!" said Otto.
"His countenance was so gentle in death," said Rosalie. "The
severity and gravity which had settled in his eyes were softened
away. I was myself present when he was dressed. He had his uniform
on, which he always wore upon occasions of ceremony, the sabre by
his side and the great hat upon his head. I knew that this was his
wish!" Quietly she made the sign of the cross.
"Are all my grandfather's papers sealed?" inquired Otto.
"The most important--those which have the greatest interest for
thee," said Rosalie, "are in the hands of the preacher. Last year,
the day after thy departure, he gave them to the preacher; thy
father's last letter I know is amongst them."
"My father!" said Otto, and glanced toward the ground. "Yes,"
continued he, "there is truth in the words of Scripture,--the sins
of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and
"Otto!" said Rosalie, with a beseeching and reproachful look, "thy
grandfather was a severe man. Thou last known him, hast seen his
darkest moments, and yet then age and cares had softened him: his
love to thee calmed every outbreak. Had he only loved thy father as
he loved thee, things would, perhaps, have ended better: but we may
"And what have I done?" said Otto. "Thou, Rosalie, knowest the
history of my life. Is it not as if a curse rested upon me? I was a
high-spirited boy, I often occasioned thee tears; yet didst thou
always place thyself between me and punishment. It was my evil
blood, the blood of my birth in which the curse lay, that drove me
"But thou didst become good and full of love, as thou art now!"
"Only when I became acquainted with myself and my destiny. In the
thoughtlessness of childhood, unacquainted with myself and the
world, did I myself have that sign of my misery, which now presses
down my soul, cut into my flesh. Yes, Rosalie! I remember this very
well, and have clearly preserved this, my earliest recollection
before my grandfather took me, and I came here a boy. I remember
the great building from whence I was brought, the number of people
who there worked, sang, and laughed, and who told me extraordinary
stories of how badly people were treated in the beautiful world.
This was my parents' home, thought I, when I began to ponder upon
parents and their connection with children. It was a large
manufactory which they possessed, thought I; I remembered the
number of work-people. All played and romped with me. I was wild
and full of boisterous spirits a boy of only six years old, but
with the perseverance and will of one of ten. Rosalie, thou sawest
many proofs of the evil which lay in my blood; it bordered upon
insolence. I remembered well the strong, merry Heinrich, who always
sang at his loom; he showed me and the others his tattooed breast,
upon which he had his whole mournful history imprinted. Upon his
arm were his own and his bride's names. That pleased me; I wished
to have my name also on my arm. 'It is painful!' said he; 'then
thou wilt pipe, my lad!' That was spur enough to make me desire it.
I allowed him to puncture my skin, to puncture an O and a T upon my
shoulder, and did not cry,--no, not once whilst the powder burnt
into it; but I was praised, and was proud to bear the initials--
proud of them until three years ago, when I met Heinrich here. I
recognized him, but he did not recognize me. I showed him my
shoulder, and besought him to read the name, this O and T: but he
did not say Otto Thostrup; he named a name which destroyed the
happiness of my childhood, and has made me miserable forever!"
"It was a fearful day!" said Rosalie. "Thou didst demand from me an
explanation, thy grandfather gave it thee, and thou wast no longer
the Otto thou hadst formerly been. Yet wherefore speak of it? Thou
art good and wise, noble and innocent. Do not fill thy heart with
sorrow from a time which is past, and which, for thy sake, shall be
"But Heinrich still lives!" said Otto; "I have met with him, have
spoken with him: it was as if all presence of mind forsook me."
"When and where?" asked Rosalie.
Otto related of his walk with Wilhelm in the park, and of the
juggler, in whom he had recognized Heinrich. "I tore myself from my
friends, I wandered the whole night alone in the wood. O Rosalie, I
thought of death! I thought of death as no Christian ought to do. A
beautiful morning followed, I wandered beside the sea which I love,
and in which I have so often dived. Since that explanation of the
initials on my shoulder was suggested, that explanation which
reminded me of my unhappy birth, I have never uncovered them before
any one. O, I have rubbed thorn with a stone, until they were
bloody! The letters are gone, but still I imagine I can read them
in the deep scar--that in it I see a Cain's mark! That morning the
desire to bathe came upon me. The fresh current infused life once
more into my soul. Just then Wilhelm and several acquaintance came
down; they called to me and carried off my clothes; my blood
boiled; all my unhappiness, which this night had stirred within my
soul, again overwhelmed me: it was as though the obliterated
initials on my shoulder would reveal themselves in the scar and
betray the secret of my grief. Disgust of life seized upon me. I no
longer knew what I shouted to them, but it seemed to me as if I
must swim out into the stream and never return. I swam until it
became night before my eyes. I sank, and Wilhelm rescued me! Never
since then have we spoken of this hour! O Rosalie! long is it since
I have been able to open my heart as before thee at this moment.
What use is it to have a friend if one cannot lay before him one's
whole thoughts? To no one have I been able to unfold them but to
thee, who already knowest them. I suffer, as a criminal and yet am
I innocent,--just as the misshapen, the deformed man, is innocent
of his ugliness!"
"I do not possess thy knowledge, Otto," said Rosalie, and pressed
his hand; "have never rejoiced in such a clear head as thine; but I
have that which thou canst not as yet possess--experience. In
trouble, as well as in joy, youth transforms the light cobweb into
the cable. Self-deception has changed the blood in thy veins, the
thoughts in thy soul; but do not forever cling to this one black
spot! Neither wilt thou! it will spur thee on to activity, will
enervate thy soul, not depress thee! The melancholy surprise of thy
grandfather's death, whom thou didst believe active and well, has
now made thee dejected, and thy thoughts so desponding. But there
will come better days! happy days! Thou art young, and youth brings
health for the soul and body!"
She led Otto into the garden, where the willow plantations
protected the other trees from the sharp west wind. The gooseberry-bushes
bore fruit, but it was not yet ripe: one bush Otto had planted when
a cutting; it was now large. Rosalie had tied the twigs to a palisade,
so that, as an espalier, it could thoroughly drink in the sun's rays.
Otto regarded the fetters more than the good intention.
"Let it grow free!" said he; "if that brittle palisade should
tumble down, the twigs would be broken." And he cut the bands.
"Thou art still the old Otto," said Rosalie.
They went into her little room, where the crucifix, and before it a
small vase of flowers, adorned the table. Above the cross hung a
garland of withered heather.
"Two years ago didst thou give me that, Otto!" said Rosalie. "There
were no more flowers, there was nothing green but the heath, and
thou twinedst a garland of it for me. Afterward I would not take it
down from the crucifix."
They were interrupted by a visit. It was from the old preacher.
"His coal was coarse, its fashion old;
He asked no dress of greater worth
Than that which kept from storm and cold
The Baptist when he preached on earth."
C. J. BORE.
Not alone of Otto's affairs, but also of "the city yonder," as the
preacher called Copenhagen, would he speak. Only once a week came
the "Viborg Collector" to hint, and the Copenhagen papers were a
whole month going their round. "One would willingly advance with
the time," said he. Yesterday, at the interment, he had not found
it seemly to gratify his desire of hearing dear Otto talk about the
city, but to-day he thought it might well be done, and therefore he
would not await Otto's visit but come over to pay one himself.
"Thou hast certainly seen our good king?" was his first question.
"Lord help the anointed one! he is then as vigorous and active as
ever--my good King Frederik!" And now he must relate a trait which
had touched his heart, and which, in his opinion, deserved a place
in the annals of history. This event occurred the last time that
the king was in Jutland; he had visited the interior of the country
and the western coast also. When he was leaving a public-house the
old hostess ran after him, and besought that the Father would, as a
remembrance, write his name with chalk upon a beam. The grand
gentlemen wished to deter her, but she pulled at the king's coat;
and when he had learned her wish he nodded in a friendly manner,
and said, "Very willingly!" and then turned back and wrote his name
on the beam. Tears came into the old man's eyes; he wept, and
prayed for his king. He now inquired whether the old tree was still
standing in the Regent's Court, and then spoke of Nyerup and
Abrahamson, whom he had known in his student days.
In fact, after all, he was himself the narrator; each of his
questions related to this or that event in his own life, and he
always returned to this source--his student-days. There was then
another life, another activity, he maintained. His royal idea of
beauty had been Queen Matilda. [Translator's Note: The unhappy wife
of Christian VII. and daughter of our George III.] "I saw her often
on horseback," said he. "It was not then the custom in our country
for ladies to ride. In her country it was the fashion; here it gave
rise to scandal. God gave her beauty, a king's crown, and a heart
full of love; the world gave her--what it can give--a grave near to
the bare heath!"
Whilst he so perpetually returned to his own recollections, his
share of news was truly not new, but he was satisfied. Copenhagen
appeared to him a whole world--a royal city; but Sodom and Gomorrah
had more than one street there.
Otto smiled at the earnestness with which he said this.
"Yes, that I know better than thou, my young friend!" continued the
old preacher. "True, the devil does not go about like a roaring
lion, but there he has his greatest works! He is well-dressed, and
conceals his claws and his tail! Do not rely upon thy strength! He
goes about, like the cat in the fable, 'pede suspenso,' sneakingly
and cautiously! It is, after all, with the devil as it is with a
Jutland peasant. This fellow comes to the city, has nothing, runs
about, and cleans shoes and boots for the young gentlemen, and by
this means he wins a small sum of money. He knows how to spare. He
can now hire the cellar of the house in which thou livest, and
there commence some small trade. The trade is successful, very
successful. It goes on so well that he can hire the lower story;
then he gains more profit, and before thou canst look about thee
he buys the whole house. See, that is the way with the Jutland
peasant, and just the same with the devil. At first he gets the
cellar, then the lower story, and at last the whole house!"
"Sure 'tis fair in foreign land,
But not so fair as home;
Let me but see thy mountains grand
Glaciers and snowy dome!
Let me but hear the sound that tells
Of climbing cattle, dressed with bells."
The Switzer's Homesickness.
Not until after breakfast did the preacher pass over to Otto's
affairs. His grandfather's will made him the sole heir to the large
property; a man in Copenhagen, the merchant Berger, should be his
guardian, since the preacher did not wish to undertake the office.
Rosalie was not forgotten: her devotion and fidelity had won for
her a relative's right. Her last days should be free from care: she
had truly striven to remove all care from the dead whilst yet he
lived. An old age free from care awaited her; but Otto wished that
she should also have a happy old age. He imparted his plan to the
preacher; but the latter shook his head, thought it was not
practicable, and regarded it as a mere fancy--a whim. But such it
Some days passed by. One afternoon Rosalie sat upon a small wooden
bench under the cherry-trees, and was making mourning for the
"This is the last summer that we shall sit here," said she; "the
last summer that this is our home. Now I am become equally rooted
to this spot; it grieves me that I must leave it."
"Thou wast forced to leave thy dear Switzerland," said Otto; "that
was still harder!"
"I was then young," answered she. "The young tree may be easily
transplanted, but the old one has shot forth deeper roots. Denmark
is a good land--a beautiful land!"
"But not the west coast of Jutland!" exclaimed Otto. "For thy green
pasture hast thou here heath; for thy mountains, low sand-hills."
"Upon the Jura Mountains there is also heath," said Rosalie. "The
heath here often reminds me of my home on the Jura. There also is
it cold, and snow can fall already in August. The fir-trees then
stand as if powdered over."
"I love Switzerland, which I have never seen," pursued Otto. "Thy
relation has given me a conception of the picturesque magnificence
of this mountain-land. I have a plan, Rosalie. I know that in the
heart of a mountaineer homesickness never dies. I remember well how
thy eyes sparkled when thou toldest of the walk toward Le Locle and
Neufchatel; even as a boy I felt at thy words the light mountain
air. I rode with thee upon the dizzy height, where the woods lay
below us like potato fields. What below arose, like the smoke from
a charcoal-burner's kiln, was a cloud in the air. I saw the Alpine
chain, like floating cloud mountains; below mist, above dark shapes
with glancing glaciers."
"Yes, Otto," said Rosalie, and her eyes sparkled with youthful
fire; "so looks the Alpine chain when one goes from Le Locle to
Neulfchatel: so did I see it when I descended the Jura for the list
time. It was in August. The trees, with their autumnal foliage,
stood yellow and red between the dark firs; barberries and hips
grew among the tall fern. The Alps lay in such a beautiful light,
their feet blue as heaven, their peaks snow-white in the clear
sunshine. I was in a sorrowful mood; I was leaving my mountains!
Then I wrote in my book--O, I remember it so well!--The high Alps
appear to me the folded wings of the earth: how if she should raise
them! how if the immense wings should unfold, with their gay images
of dark woods, glaciers, and clouds! What a picture! At the Last
Judgment will the earth doubtless unfold these pinions, soar up to
God, and in the rays of His sunlight disappear! I also have been
young, Otto," pursued she, with a melancholy smile. "Thou wouldst
have felt still more deeply at the sight of this splendor of
nature. The lake at the foot of the mountains was smooth as a
mirror; a little boat with white sails swam, like a swan, upon its
expanse. On the road along which we drove were the peasants beating
down chestnuts; the grapes hung in large black bunches. How an
impression such as this can root itself in the memory! It is five
and thirty years since, and yet I still see that boat with the
white sail, the high Alps, and the black grapes."
"Thou shalt see thy Switzerland again, Rosalie," exclaimed Otto;
"again hear the bells of the cows upon the green pastures! Thou
shalt go once more to the chapel in Franche Compte, shalt visit
thy friends at Le Locle, see the subterranean mill, and the Doub
"The mill wheel yet goes round, the water dashes down as in my
youth; but the friends are gone, my relatives dispersed! I should
appear a stranger there; and when one has reached my age, nature
cannot satisfy--one must have people!"
"Thou knowest, Rosalie, my grandfather has settled a sum upon thee
so long as thou livest. Now I have thought thou couldst spend thy
latter days with thy beloved ones at home, in the glorious
Switzerland. In October I take my philosophicum; the following
summer I would then accompany thee. I must also see that splendid
mountain-land,--know something more of the world than I have yet
known. I know how thy thoughts always dwell upon Switzerland.
Thither will I reconduct thee; thou wilt feel thyself less lonely
there than here in Denmark."
"Thou art carried away by the thoughts of youth, as thou shouldst
and must be, thou dear, sweet soul!" said Rosalie, smiling. "At my
age it is not so easy."
"We will make short days' journeys," said Otto, "go with the
steamboat up the Rhine--that is not fatiguing; and from Basel one
is soon in Franche Compte on the Jura."
"No, upon the heath, near Vestervovov, as it is called here, will
old Rosalie die; here I have felt myself at home, here I have two
or three friends. The family at Lemvig have invited me, have for me
a place at table, a little room, and friendly faces. Switzerland
would be no longer that Switzerland which I quitted. Nature would
greet me as an old acquaintance; it would be to me music, once more
to hear the ringing of the cows' bells; it would affect me deeply,
once again to kneel in the little chapel on the mountain: but I
should soon feel myself a greater stranger there than here. Had it
been fifteen years ago, my sister would still have been living, the
dear, pious Adele! She dwelt with my uncle close on the confines of
Neufchatel, as thou knowest, scarcely a quarter of a mile from Le
Locle--_the town_, as we called it, because it was the largest
place in the neighborhood. Now there are only distant relations of
mine living, who have forgotten me. I am a stranger there. Denmark
gave me bread, it will also give me a grave!"
"I thought of giving thee a pleasure!" said Otto.
"That thou dost by thy love to me!" returned she.
"I thought thou wouldst have shown me thy mountains, thy home, of
which thou hast so often spoken!"
"That can I still do. I remember every spot, every tree--all
remains so clear in my recollection. Then we ascend together the
Jura higher and higher; here are no more vineyards to be found, no
maize, no chestnuts only dark pines, huge cliffs, here and there a
beech, as green and large as in Denmark. Now we have the wood
behind us, we are many feet above the sea; thou canst perceive this
by the freshness of the air. Everywhere are green meadows;
uninterruptedly reaches our ear the ringing of the cow-bells. Thou
as yet seest no town, and yet we are close upon Le Locle. Suddenly
the road turns; in the midst of the mountain-level we perceive a
small valley, and in this lies the town, with its red roofs, its
churches, and large gardens. Close beneath the windows rises the
mountain-side, with its grass and flowers; it looks as though the
cattle must be precipitated upon the houses. We go through the long
street, past the church; the inhabitants are Protestants--it is a
complete town of watchmakers. My uncle and Adele also sat the whole
day, and worked at wheels and chains. That was for Monsieur
Houriet, in Le Locle. His daughters I know; one is called Rosalie,
like myself. Rosalie and Lydia, they will certainly have forgotten
me! But it is true that we are upon our own journey! Now, thou
seest, at the end of the town we do not follow the broad road--that
leads to Besancon; we remain in the lesser one, here in the valley
where the town lies. The beautiful valley! The green mountain-sides
we keep to our right; on it are scattered houses, with large stones
upon their steep wooden roofs, and with little gardens tilled with
plum-trees. Steep cliff-walls shut in the valley; there stands up a
crag; if thou climbest it thou canst look straight into France: one
sees a plain, flat like the Danish plains. In the valley where we
are, close under the rock, lies a little house; O, I see it
distinctly! white-washed and with blue painted window-frames: at
the gate a great chained dog. I hear him bark! We step into that
quiet, friendly little house! The children are playing about on the
ground. O, my little Henry-Numa-Robert! Ah, it is true that now he
is older and taller than thou! We descend the steps toward the
cellar. Here stand sacks and chests of flour; under the floor one
hears a strange roaring; still a few steps lower, and we must light
the lamp, for here it is dark. We find ourselves in a great water-mill,
a subterranean mill. Deep below in the earth rushes a river--
above no one dreams of it; the water dashes down several fathoms
over the rushing wheel, which threatens to seize our clothes and
whirl us away into the circle. The steps on which we stand are
slippery: the stone walls drip with water, and only a step beyond
the depth appears bottomless! O, thou wilt love this mill as I love
it! Again having reached the light of day, and under free heaven,
one only perceives the quiet, friendly little house. Dost thou
know, Otto, often as thou hast sat quiet and dreaming, silent as a
statue, have I thought of my mill, and the repose which it
presented? and yet how wildly the stream roared in its bosom, how
the wheels rushed round, and how gloomy it was in the depth!"
"We will leave the mill!" said Otto, and sought to lead her from
her reflections back to her own relation. "We find ourselves in the
wood, where the ringing of the evening-bell reaches our ear from
the little chapel in Franche Compte."
"There stands my father's house!" said Rosalie. "From the corner-window
one looks over the wood toward Aubernez, [Author's Note: A village
in the canton Neufchatel, lying close upon the river Doub, where
it forms the boundary between Switzerland and France.] where the
ridge leads over the Doub. The sun shines upon the river, which,
far below, winds along, gleaming like the clearest silver."
"And the whole of France spreads itself out before us!" said Otto.
"How beautiful! O, how beautiful!" exclaimed Rosalie, and her eyes
sparkled as she gazed before her; but soon her glance became sad,
and she pressed Otto's hand. "No one will welcome me to my home! I
know neither their joys nor their sorrows--they are not my own
family! In Denmark--I am at home. When the cold sea-mist spreads
itself over the heath I often fancy I am living among my mountains,
where the heather grows. The mist seems to me then to be a snow-cloud
which rests over the mountains, and thus, when other people are
complaining of the bad weather, I am up among my mountains!"
"Thou wilt then remove to the family at Lemvig?" asked Otto.
"There I am welcome!" returned she.
"Look at the calming sea. The waves still tremble in the depths,
and stem to fear the gale.--Over my head is hovering the shadowy
mist.--My curls are wet with the filling dew."--OSSIAN.
Otto had not as yet visited the sand-hills on the strand, the
fishermen, or the peasants, among whom formerly he had spent all
his spare time.
The beautiful summer's day drove him forth, his heart yearned to
drink in the summer warmth.
Only the roads between the larger towns are here tolerable, or
rather as tolerable as the country will allow. The by-ways were
only to be discerned by the traces of cart-wheels, which ran on
beside each other; at certain places, to prevent the wheels sinking
into the deep sand, ling had been spread; where this is not the
case, and the tracks cross each other, a stranger would scarcely
find the way. Here the landmark places its unseen boundary between
Every farm, every cottage, every hill, was an old acquaintance to
Otto. He directed his steps toward Harbooere, a parish which, one
may say, consists of sand and water, but which, nevertheless, is
not to be called unfruitful. A few of the inhabitants pursue
agriculture, but the majority consists of fishermen, who dwell in
small houses and have no land.
His first encounter upon his wandering was with one of those large
covered wagons with which the so-called eelmen, between the days of
St. John and St. Bartholomew, go with eels toward the small towns
lying to the south and east, and then, laden with apples and garden
produce, return home--articles which are rapidly consumed by the
common people. The eelman stopped when he saw and recognized
"Welcome, Mr. Otto!" said he. "Yes, you are come over abut a sad
affair! That Major Thostrup should have gone off so! But there was
nothing else to be expected from him he was old enough."
"Death demands his right!" replied Otto, and pressed the man's
hand. "Things go, doubtless, well with you, Morten Chraenseu?"
"The whole cart full of eels, and some smoked carp! It is also good
to meet with you, Mr. Otto. Upon the land a preacher is very good,
but not upon the sea, as they say at home. Yes, you are certainly
now a preacher, or will become one?"
"No, I am not studying to become a preacher!" answered Otto.
"No! will you then become a lawyer? It strikes me you are clever
enough--you have no need to study any more! You will just go and
say a few words to them at home? The grandmother sits and spins
yarn for eel-nets. She has now the cataract on the other eye, but
her mouth is as well as ever; she does not let herself grow dumb,
although she does sit in the dark. Mother provides the baits; she
has also enough to do with the hooks."
"But Maria, the lively little Maria?" said Otto.
"The girl? She has gone this year with the other fishergirls to
Ringkjoebing, to be hired for the hay and corn harvest; we thought
we could do without her at home. But now, God willing! I must
travel on." Cordially he shook Otto's hand, and pursued his slow
The brothers of the eelman were active fishermen, as their father
had been before them; and although they were all married they lived
together. The swarm of children was not insignificant; young and
old formed one family, in which the old grandmother had the first
Otto approached the dwelling; before it lay a little plot of land,
planted with potatoes and carrots, and also beds of onions and
thyme. Two large bull-dogs, with sharp teeth and wicked eyes,
rushed toward Otto. "Tyv! Grumsling!" shrieked a voice, and the
dogs let fall their tails and drew back, with a low growl, toward
the house. Here at the threshold sat an old woman in a red woolen
jacket, with a handkerchief of the same material and same color
about her neck, and upon her head a man's black felt hat. She spun.
Otto immediately recognized the old blind grandmother.
"God's peace be in the house!" said he.
"That voice I have not heard for a year and a day!" replied the old
woman, and raised her head, as if she would see him with her dead
eyes. "Are not you Major Thostrup's Otto? You resemble him in the
voice. I thought, truly, that if you came here you would pay us a
visit. Ide shall leave the baits and put on the kettle, that you
may have a cup of coffee. Formerly you did not use to despise our
entertainment. You have not grown proud with your journey, have
you? The coffee-vetch [Author's Note: Astragalus baeticus is used
as a substitute for coffee, and is principally grown upon the
sand-hills west of Holmsland. It is first freed from the husk, and then
dried and roasted a little.] is good; it is from Holmsland, and
tastes better than the merchant's beans." The dogs still growled at
Otto. "Cannot you stupid beasts, who have still eyes in your heads
to see with, recognize that this is the Major's Otto?" cried she
wrathfully, and gave them several good blows with her hand.
Otto's arrival created a great stir in the little household that he
was welcome, you might see by every countenance.
"Yes," said the grandmother, "now you are grown much wiser in the
town, could, very likely, were it needful, write an almanac! You
will very likely have found for yourself a little bride there, or
will you fetch one out of Lemvig? for no doubt she must be from a
town! Yes, I have known him ever since he was a little fellow;
yonder, on the wall, he made, out of herrings' heads, the living
devil, just as he lives and breathes. He thrust our sucking-pig
into the eel-cart, between the casks. We sought a whole day after
the sucking-pig without finding him, and he was forced to make the
journey with them to Holstebro. Yes, he was a wild fellow! Later,
when he was obliged to learn so much, he became sad. Yes, yes,
within the last years his books have overdone him!"
"Yes, many a time has he put out to sea with my husband!" pursued
one of the daughters-in-law. "One night he remained out with him.
How anxious the French Mamsell at the hall was about him!"
"He was never haughtty," said the grandmother. "He nibbled his
dried fish with the fresh fish, and drank a little cup of water,
although he was used to better things at home. But to-day we have
white bread, fresh and good; it came yesterday from Lemvig."
The brandy-glass, with its wooden, red-painted foot, was placed
before Otto. Under the bed there was an anker of brandy,--"a little
stock," as all stranded goods are here called.
Otto inquired after the married sons. They were with their men on
the shore, ready to embark on their fishing expedition, The
grandmother would accompany him thither; they were not yet
departed: she should first take them provisions.
The old woman took her stick, the dog sprang forward, and now
commenced their wandering among the sand-hills, where their huts or
booths, built with rafters and smeared with earth, stood. Around
lay the refuse of fish,--heads and entrails, thrown about. The men
were just then busied in carrying the trough and fishing-tackle
[Author's Note: A "Bakke" consists of three lines, each of 200
Danish ells, or about 135 yards, and of 200 fishing-hooks; the
stretched "Bakke" is thus about 200 yards, with 600 hooks; these
are attached to the line with strings half an ell long and as thick
as fine twine. To each "Bakke" belongs a square trough, on which it
is carried on board. To a larger fishing-boat are reckoned six lots
of hooks; each lot has eight to nine "Bakkes."] on board.
The open sea lay before them, almost as bright as a mirror, for the
wind was easterly. Near to them paused a horseman; he was partly
dressed like a peasant, with riding-breeches on, which were
buttoned down at the sides.
"Have you heard the news?" he cried to Otto. "I come from
Ringkjoebing. At Merchant Cohen's I have read the German paper;
there is a revolution in France! Charles X. is fled with the whole
royal family. Yes, in Paris, there is fine work!"
"The French are a wild people!" said the grandmother. "A king and a
queen they have beheaded in my time; now they will do the same with
these. Will our dear Lord suffer that such things be done to His
"There will be war again!" said one of the fishermen.
"Then more horses will go out of the country," said the stranger,
pressed Otto's hand, and vanished behind the sandhills.
"Was not that the horse-dealer from Varde?" inquired Otto.
"Yes, he understands languages," said the fisherman; "and thus he
is acquainted with foreign affairs sooner than we. Then they are
now fighting in France! Blood flows in the streets; it will not be
so in Denmark before the Turk binds his horse to the bush in the
Viborg Lake. And then, according to the prophecy of the sibyl, it
will be near the end of the world."
Meanwhile, everything was prepared for their embarkation. If Mr.
Otto would take the further oar, and was inclined to pass the night
on the sea, there was a place for him in the boat. But he had
promised Rosalie to be back before evening. The grandmother now
prayed, kneeling with the others, and immediately after quick
strokes of the oars the flat boat rowed away from the shore. The
fate of France was forgotten; their calling occupied the fishermen.
The old woman seemed to listen to the strokes of the oars; her dead
eyes rested immovably on the sea. A sea-mew passed close to her in
its flight. "That was a bird!" said she. "Is there no one here
"No; no one at all," answered Otto, carelessly.
"Is no one in the hut, no one behind the sand-hills?" again asked
the grandmother. "It was not on account of the dried meat that I
came here--it was not to wet my face on the shore; I speak with you
alone, which I could not do in the house. Give me your hand! Now
that the old man rests in the grave, you yourself will guide the
rudder; the estate will be sold, and you will not come again to the
west coast. Our Lord has made it dark before my eyes before He has
closed my ears and given me leave to go. I can no longer see you,
but I have you in my thought as you looked before you left our
land. That you are handsomer now I can easily imagine; but gayer
you are not! Talk you certainly can, and I have heard you laugh;
but that was little better than the two last years you were here.
Once it was different with you--no fairy could be wilder than you!"
"With years one becomes more quiet," said Otto, and gazed with
astonishment at the blind woman, who did not leave go his hand. "As
a boy I was far too merry--that could not continue; and that I
should now be grave, I have, as you will see, sufficient reason--I
have lost my last support."
"Yes, truly, truly!" repeated she slowly, and as if pondering; then
shook her head. "That is not the reason. Do you not believe in the
power of the devil? our Lord Christ forgive me! do not you believe
in the power of wicked men? There is no greater difference between
the human child and the changeling brat which the underground
spirits lay in his stead in the cradle, than there is between you
when you were a boy and you as you became during the last year of
your stay here. 'That comes from books, from so much learning,'
said I to other people. Could I only have said so to myself! But
you shall become gay; the trouble of your heart shall wither like a
poisonous weed. I know whence it sprung, and will, with God's help,
heal it. Will you solemnly promise, that no soul in the world shall
learn what we speak of in this hour?"
"What have you to say to me?" asked Otto, affected by the
extraordinary earnestness of the old woman.
"The German Heinrich, the player! You remember him well? He is to
blame for your grief! Yes, his name drives the blood more quickly
through your pulse. I feel it, even if I cannot see your face."
"The German Heinrich!" repeated Otto, and his hand really trembled.
Had Heinrich, then, when he was here three years ago, told her and
the fishermen that which no human being must know,--that which had
destroyed the gayety of his youth? "What have I to do with the
"Nothing more than a pious Christian has to do with the devil!"
replied she, and made the sign of the cross. "But Heinrich has
whispered an evil word in your ear; he has banished your joyous
humor, as one banishes a serpent."
"Has he told you this?" exclaimed Otto, and breathed more quickly.
"Tell me all that he has said!"
"You will not make me suffer for it!" said she. "I am innocent, and
yet I have cooperated in it: it was only a word but a very unseemly
word, and for it one must account at the day of judgment!"
"I do not understand you!" said Otto, and his eyes glanced around
to see whether any one heard. They were quite alone. In the far
distance the boat with the fishermen showed itself like a dark
"Do you remember how wild you were as a boy? How you fastened
bladders to the cat's legs and tail, and flung her out of the
loft-window that she might fly? I do not say this in anger, for I
thought a deal of you; but when you became too insolent one might
wall say, 'Can no one, then, curb this lad?' See, these words I
said!--that is my whole fault, but since then have lain heavy on my
heart. Three years ago came the German Heinrich, and stayed two
nights in our house; God forgive it us! Tricks he could play, and
he understood more than the Lord's Prayer--more than is useful to a
man. With one trick you were to assist him, but when he gave you
the goblet you played your own tricks, and he could make nothing
succeed. You would also be clever. Then he cast an evil eye upon
you, although he was still so friendly and submissive, because you
were a gentleman's child. Do you remember--no, you will certainly
have forgotten--how you once took the baits of the hooks off and
hung my wooden shoes on instead? Then I said in anger, and the
anger of man is never good, 'Can no one, then, tame this boy for
me? He was making downright fun of you to your own face,' said I to
the player. 'Do you not know some art by which you can tame this
wild-cat?' Then he laughed maliciously, but I thought no more of
the matter. The following day, however, he said, 'Now I have curbed
the lad! You should only see how tame he is become; and should he
ever again turn unruly, only ask him what word the German Heinrich
whispered in his ear, and you shall. Then see how quiet he will
become. He shall not mock this trick!' My heart was filled with
horror, but I thought afterward it really meant nothing. Ei! ei!
from the hour he was here you are no longer the same as formerly;
that springs from the magical word he whispered in your ear. You
cannot pronounce the word, he told me; but by it you have been
enchanted: this, and not book-learning, has worked the change. But
you shall be delivered! If you have faith, and that you must have,
you shall again become gay, and I, spite of the evil words which I
spoke, be able to sleep peacefully in my grave. If you will only
lay this upon your heart, now that the moon is in its wane, the
trouble will vanish out of your heart as the disk of the moon
decreases!" And saying this she drew out of her pocket a little
leather purse, opened it and took out a piece of folded paper. "In
this is a bit of the wood out of which our Saviour's cross was
made. This will draw forth the sorrow from your heart, and bear it,
as it bore Him who took upon Himself the sorrow of the whole
world!" She kissed it with pious devotion, and then handed it to
The whole became clear to him. He recollected how in his boyish
wantonness he had caused Heinrich's tricks to miscarry, which
occasioned much pleasure to the spectators, but in Heinrich
displeasure: they soon again became friends, and Otto recognized in
him the merry weaver of the manufactory, as he called his former
abode. They were alone, Otto asked whether he did not remember his
name: Heinrich shook his head. Then Otto uncovered his shoulder,
bade him read the branded letters, and heard the unhappy
interpretation which gave the death-blow to his gayety. Heinrich
must have seen what an impression his words made upon the boy: he
gained through them an opportunity of avenging himself, and at the
same time of bringing himself again into repute: as a sorcerer. He
had tamed him, whispered he to the old woman,--he had tamed the boy
with a single word. At any future wantonness of Otto's, gravity and
terror would immediately return should any one ask him, What word
did the German Heinrich whisper into thy ear? "Only ask him," had
In a perfectly natural manner there lay, truly, enchantment in
Heinrich's words, even although it were not that enchantment which
the superstition of the old woman would have signified. A
revelation of the connection of affairs would have removed her
doubts, but here an explanation was impossible to Otto. He pressed
her hand, besought her to be calm; no sorrow lay heavy on his
heart, except the loss of his dear grandfather.
"Every evening have I named your name it my prayers said the old