Part 6 out of 6
stand in the dew."
The servant did as she bade; she herself carried down one of the
pots, and left the room.
"I do not love you!" repeated Wilhelm to himself, and returned to
the company which he had left, and where he found all gayety and
The supper-table was spread in the garden; lights burned in the
open air with a steady flame; it was a summer-evening beautiful as
the October of the South; the reseda sent forth its fragrance; and
when Sophie's health was drunk cannon were fired among the lofty
fir-trees, the pines of the North.
The next morning those countenances were dejected which the evening
before had been so gay. The carriage drew up to the door. The dear
mother and sisters wept; they kissed Wilhelm, and extended their
hands to Otto.
"Farewell!" said Louise; "do not forget us!" and her tearful glance
rested upon Otto. Eva stood silent and pale.
"You will not forget me!" whispered Otto, as he seized Louise's
hand. "I will forget your sister!"
The carriage rolled away; Wilhelm threw himself back into a corner.
Otto looked back once more; they all stood at the door, and waved
their white handkerchiefs.
"In one short speaking silence all conveys--
And looks a sigh, and weeps without a tear."
"Forgive us our debts as we
The debts of others forgive;
And lead us not in tempting ways;
Apart from evil let us live."
A. VON CHAMISSO.
We will not accompany the friends, but will remain behind in Funen,
where we will make a bolder journey than they, namely, we will go
back one-and-twenty years. We will allow the circumstances of
Otto's birth again to come before us. It is a leap backward that we
take from 1830 to 1810. We are in Odense, that old city, which
takes its name from Odin.
The common people there have still a legend about the origin of the
name of the city. Upon Naesbyhoved's Hill [Author's Note: Not far
from the city, by the Odense Channel; it is described in Wedel
Simonsen's City Ruins.] there once stood a castle; here lived King
Odin and his wife: Odense city was not then in existence, but the
first building of it was then begun. [Author's Note: The place is
given as being that of the now so-called Cross Street.] The court
was undecided as to the name which should be given to the city.
After long indecision it was at last agreed that the first word
which either King or Queen should speak the next morning should be
the name given to it. In the early morning the Queen awoke and
looked out from her window over the wood. The first house in the
city was erected to the roof, and the builders had hung up a great
garland, glittering with tinsel, upon the rooftree. "Odin, see!"
exclaimed the Queen; and thenceforward the city was called Odensee,
which name, since then, has been changed by daily speech to Odense.
When people ask the children in Copenhagen whence they have come,
they reply, out of the Peblingsoe. The little children of Odense,
who know nothing about the Peblingsoe, say that they are fetched
out of Rosenbaek, a little brook which has only been ennobled
within the few last years, just as in Copenhagen is the case with
Krystal Street, which formerly had an unpleasant name. This brook
runs through Odense, and must, in former times, when united with
the Odense River, have formed an island where the city at that time
stood; hence some people derive the name of Odense from Odins Ei,
or Odins O, that is, Odin's Island. Be it then as it might, the
brook flows now, and in 1810, when the so-called Willow-dam, by the
West Gate, was not filled up, it stood, especially in spring, low
and watery. It often overflowed its banks, and in so doing
overflowed the little gardens which lay on either side. It thus ran
concealed through the city until near the North Gate, where it made
its appearance for a moment and then dived again in the same
street, and, like a little river, flowed through the cellars of the
old justice-room, which was built by the renowned Oluf Bagger.
[Author's Note: He was so rich that once, when Frederick the Second
visited him, he had the room heated with cinnamon chips. Much may
be found about this remarkable man in the second collection of
Thiele's Popular Danish Legends. His descendants still live in
Odense, namely, the family of the printer Ch. Iversen, who has
preserved many curiosities which belonged to him.]
It was an afternoon in the summer of 1810; the water was high in
the brook, yet two washerwomen were busily employed in it; reed-matting
was fast bound round their bodies, and they beat with wooden staves
the clothes upon their washing-stools. They were in deep conversation,
and yet their labor went on uninterruptedly.
"Yes," said one of them, "better a little with honor, than much
with dishonor. She is sentenced; to-morrow she is to go about in
the pillory. That is sure and certain! I know it from the
trumpeter's Karen, and from the beggar-king's [Author's Note:
Overseer of the poor.] wife: neither of them go about with lies."
"Ih, my Jesus!" exclaimed the other, and let her wooden beater
fall, "is Johanne Marie to go in the pillory, the handsome girl?
she that looked so clever and dressed herself so well?"
"Yes, it is a misfortune!" said the first; "a great misfortune it
must be! No, let every one keep his own! say I every day to my
children. After the sweet claw comes the bitter smart. One had much
better work till the blood starts from the finger-ends."
"Ih, see though!" said the other; "there goes the old fellow,
Johanne Marie's father. He is an honest man; he was so pleased with
his daughter, and to-morrow he must himself bind her to the
pillory! But can she really have stolen?"
"She has herself confessed," returned she; "and the Colonel is
severe. I fancy the Gevaldiger is going there."
"The Colonel should put the bridle on his own son. He is a bad
fellow! Not long ago, when I was washing yarn there, and was merry,
as I always am, he called me 'wench.' If he had said 'woman,' I
should not have troubled myself about it, for it has another
meaning; but 'wench,' that is rude! Ei, there sails the whole
affair!" screamed she suddenly, as the sheet which she had wound
round the washing-stool got loose and floated down the stream: she
ran after it, and the conversation was broken off.
The old man whom they had seen and compassionated, went into a
great house close by, where the Colonel lived. His eyes were cast
upon the ground; a deep, silent suffering lay in his wrinkled face;
he gently pulled at the bell, and bowed himself deeply before the
black-appareled lady who opened to him the door.
We know her--it was the old Rosalie, then twenty years younger than
when we saw her upon the western coast of Jutland.
"Good old man!" said she, and laid her hand kindly on his shoulder.
"Colonel Thostrup is severe, but he is not, however, inhuman; and
that he would be if he let you tomorrow do your office. The Colonel
has said that the Gevaldiger should stay at home."
"No!" said the old man, "our Lord will give me strength. God be
thanked that Johanne Marie's mother has closed her eyes: she will
not see the misery! We are not guilty of it!"
"Honest man!" said Rosalie. "Johanne was always so good and clever;
and now"--she shook her head--"I would have sworn for her, but she
has confessed it herself!"
"The law must have its course!" said the old man, and tears
streamed down his cheeks.
At that moment the door opened, and Colonel Thostrup, a tall, thin
man, with a keen eye, stood before them. Rosalie left the room.
"Gevaldiger," said the Colonel, "to-morrow you will not be required
to act in your office."
"Colonel," returned the old man, "it is my duty to be there, and,
if I may say a few words, people would speak ill of me if I kept
On the following forenoon, from the early morning, the square where
lay the council-house and head-watch, was filled with people; they
were come to see the handsome girl led forth in the pillory. The
time began to appear long to them, and yet no sign was seen of that
which they expected. The sentinel, who went with measured step
backward and forward before the sentry-box, could give no
intelligence. The door of the council-house was closed, and
everything gave occasion to the report which suddenly was put into
circulation, that the handsome Johanne Marie had been for a whole
hour in the pillory within the council-house, and thus they should
have nothing at all to see. Although it is entirely opposed to
sound reason that punishment should be inflicted publicly, it met
with much support, and great dissatisfaction was excited.
"That is shabby!" said a simple woman, in whom we may recognize one
of the washerwomen; "it is shabby thus to treat the folks as if
they were fools! Yesterday I slaved like a horse, and here one has
stood two whole hours by the clock, till I am stiff in the legs,
without seeing anything at all!"
"That is what I expected," said another woman; "a fair face has
many friends! She has known how to win the great people to her
"Do not you believe," inquired a third, "that she has been good
friends with the Colonels son?"
"Yes; formerly I would have said No, because she always looked so
steady, and against her parents there is not a word to be said; but
as she has stolen, as we know she has, she may also have been
unsteady. The Colonel's son is a wild bird; riots and drinks does
he in secret! We others know more than his father does: he had held
too tight a hand over him. Too great severity causes bad blood!"
"God help me, now it begins!" interrupted another woman, as a
detachment of soldiers marched out of the guard-house, and at some
little distance one from the other inclosed an open space. The door
of the council-house now opened, and two officers of police,
together with some of the guard, conducted out the condemned, who
was placed in the pillory. This was a sort of wooden yoke laid
across the shoulders of the delinquent; a piece of wood came
forward from this into which her hands were secured: above all
stood two iron bars, to the first of which was fastened a little
bell; to the other a long fox's tail, which hung down the lack of
The girl seemed hardly more than nineteen, and was of an unusually
beautiful figure; her countenance was nobly and delicately formed,
but pale as death: yet there was no expression either of suffering
or shame,--she seemed like the image of a penitent, who meekly
accomplishes the imposed penance.
Her aged father, the Gevaldiger, followed her slowly; his eye was
determined; no feature expressed that which went forward in his
soul: he silently took his place beside one of the pillars before
the guard house.
A loud murmur arose among the crowd when they saw the beautiful
girl and the poor old father, who must himself see his daughter's
A spotted dog sprang into the open space; the girl's monotonous
tread, as she advanced into the middle of the square, the ringing
of the little bell, and the fox-tail which moved in the wind,
excited the dog, which began to bark, and wanted to bite the fox's
tail. The guards drove the dog away, but it soon came back again,
although it did not venture again into the circle, but thrust
itself forward, and never ceased barking.
Many of those who already had been moved to compassion by the
beauty of the girl and the sight of the old father, were thrown
again by this incident into a merry humor; they laughed and found
the whole thing very amusing.
The hour was past, and the girl was now to be released. The
Gevaldiger approached her, but whilst he raised his hand to the
yoke the old man tottered, and sank, in the same moment, back upon
the hard stone pavement.
A shriek arose from those who stood around; the young girl alone
stood silent and immovable; her thoughts seemed to be far away. Yet
some people fancied they saw how she closed her eyes, but that was
only for a moment. A policeman released her from the pillory, her
old father was carried into the guard-house, and two policemen led
her into the council-house.
"See, now it is over!" said an old glover, who was among the
spectators; "the next time she'll get into the House of Correction."
"O, it is not so bad there," answered another; "they sing and are
merry there the whole day long, and have no need to trouble
themselves about victuals."
"Yes, but that is prison fare."
"It is not so bad--many a poor body would thank God for it; and
Johanne Marie would get the best of it. Her aunt is the head-cook,
and the cook and the inspector they hang together. It's my opinion,
however, that this affair will take the life out of the old man. He
got a right good bump as he fell on the stone-pavement; one could
hear how it rung again."
The crowd separated.
The last malicious voice had prophesied truth.
Three weeks afterward six soldiers bore a woven, yellow straw
coffin from a poor house in East Street. The old Gevaldiger lay,
with closed eyes and folded hands, in the coffin. Within the
chamber, upon the bedstead, sat Johanne Marie, with a countenance
pale as that of the dead which had been carried away. A
compassionate neighbor took her hand, and mentioned her name
several times before she heard her.
"Johanne, come in with me; eat a mouthful of pease and keep life in
you; if not for your own sake, at least for that of the child which
lies under your heart."
The girl heaved a wonderfully deep sigh. "No, no!" said she, and
closed her eyes.
Full of pity, the good neighbor took her home with her.
A few days passed on, and then one morning two policemen entered
the poor room in which the Gevaldiger had died. Johanne Marie was
again summoned before the judge.
A fresh robbery had taken place at the Colonel's. Rosalie said that
it was a long time since she had first missed that which was gone,
but that she thought it best to try to forget it. The Colonel's
violent temper and his exasperation against Johanne Marie, who, as
he asserted, by her bad conduct, had brought her old, excellent
father to the grave, insisted on summoning her before the tribunal,
that the affair might be more narrowly inquired into.
Rosalie, who had been captivated by the beauty of the girl and by
her modest demeanor, and who was very fond of her, was this time
quite calm, feeling quite sure that she would deny everything,
because, in fact, the theft had only occurred within the last few
days. The public became aware of this before long, and the opinion
was that Johanne Marie could not possibly have been an actor in it;
but, to the astonishment of the greater number, she confessed that
she was the guilty person, and that with such calmness as amazed
every one. Her noble, beautifully formed countenance seemed
bloodless; her dark-blue eyes beamed with a brilliancy which seemed
like that of delirium; her beauty, her calmness, and yet this
obduracy in crime, produced an extraordinary impression upon the
She was sentenced to the House of Correction in Odense. Despised
and repulsed by the better class of her fellow-beings, she went to
her punishment. No one had dreamed that under so fair a form so corrupt
a soul could have been found. She was set to the spinning-wheel;
silent and introverted, she accomplished the tasks that were
assigned her. In the coarse merriment of the other prisoners she
took no part.
"Don't let your heart sink within you, Johanne Marie," said German
Heinrich, who sat at the loom; "sing with us till the iron bars
"Johanne, you brought your old father to the grave," said her
relation, the head-cook; "how could you have taken such bad
Johanne Marie was silent; the large, dark eyes looked straight
before her, whilst she kept turning the wheel.
Five months went on, and then she became ill--ill to death, and
gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl--two beautiful and well-formed
children, excepting that the girl was as small and delicate as if its
life hung on a thread.
The dying mother kissed the little ones and wept; it was the first
time that the people within the prison had seen her weep. Her
relation the cook sat alone with her upon the bed.
"Withdraw not your hand from the innocent children," said Johanne
Marie; "if they live to grow up, tell them some time that their
mother was innocent. My eternal Saviour knows that I have never
stolen! Innocent am I, and innocent was I when I went out a
spectacle of public derision, and now when I sit here!"
"Ih, Jesus though! What do you say?" exclaimed the woman.
"The truth!" answered the dying one. "God be gracious to me!--my
She sank back upon the couch, and was dead.
"Ah! wonderfully beautiful is God's earth, and worthy it is to live
We now return to the hall in Funen, to the family which we left
there; but autumn and winter are gone whilst we have been lingering
on the past. Otto and Wilhelm have been two months away. It is the
autumn of 1832.
The marriage of the Kammerjunker and Sophie was deferred, according
to her wish, until the second of April, because this day is
immortal in the annals of Denmark. In the house, where there now
were only the mother, Louise, and Eva, all was quiet. Through the
whole winter Eva had become weaker; yet she did not resemble the
flowers which wither; there was no expression of illness about her--
it was much more as if the spiritual nature overpowered the
bodily; she resembled an astral lamp which, filled with light,
seems almost resembled be an ethereal existence. The dark-blue eyes
had an expression of soul and feeling which attracted even the
simple domestics at the hall. The physician assured them that her
chest was sound, and that her malady was to him a riddle. A
beautiful summer, he thought, would work beneficially upon her.
Wilhelm and Otto wrote alternately. It was a festival-day whenever
a letter came; then were maps and plans of the great cities fetched
out, and Louise and Eva made the journey with them.
"To-day they are here, to-morrow they will be there," cried they.
"How I envy them both, to see all these glorious things!" said
"The charming Switzerland!" sighed Eva. "How refreshing the air
must be to breathe! How well one must feel one's self there!"
"If you could only go there, Eva," said Louise, "then you would
certainly get better."
"Here all are so kind to me; here I am so happy!" answered she. "I
am right thankful to God for it. How could I have hoped for such a
home as this? God reward you and your good mother for your kindness
to me. Once I was so unhappy; but now I have had a double repayment
for all my sorrow, and all the neglect I have suffered. I am so
happy, and therefore I would so willingly live!"
"Yes, and you shall live!" said Louise. "How came you now to think
about dying? In the summer you will perfectly recover, the
physician says. Can you hide from me any sorrow? Eva, I know that
my brother loves you!"
"He will forget that abroad!" said Eva. "He must forget it! Could I
be ungrateful? But we are not suited for each other!" She spoke of
her childhood, of long-passed, sorrowful days. Louise laid her arm
upon her shoulder: they talked till late in the evening, and tears
stood in Louise's eyes.
"Only to you could I tell it!" said Eva. "It is to me like a sin,
and yet I am innocent. My mother was so too--my poor mother! Her
sin was love. She sacrificed all; more than a woman should
sacrifice. The old Colonel was stern and violent. His wrath often
became a sort of frenzy, in which he knew not what he did. The son
was young and dissipated; my mother a poor girl, but very handsome,
I have heard. He seduced her. She had become an unfortunate being,
and that she herself felt. The Colonel's son robbed his father and
an old woman who lived in the family: that which had been taken was
missed. The father would have murdered the son, had he discovered
the truth; the son, therefore, sought in his need help from my poor
mother. He persuaded her to save him by taking the guilt on
herself. The whole affair as regarded her was, he intended, only to
come from the domestics. She thought that with her honor all was
lost. She, indeed, had already given him the best of which she was
possessed. In anguish of heart, and overpowered by his prayers, she
said, 'Yes; my father has been angry and undone already '"
Eva burst into tears.
"Thou dear, good girl!" said Louise, and kissed her forehead.
"My poor mother," continued Eva, "was condemned to an undeserved
punishment. I cannot mention it. For that reason I have never had a
desire to go to Odense. The old lady in the Colonel's family
concealed, out of kindness, her loss; but by accident it was
discovered. The Colonel was greatly embittered. My mother was
overwhelmed by shame and misfortune: the first error had plunged
her into all this. She was taken to the House of Correction in
Odense. The Colonel's son shortly afterward went away in a vessel.
My unhappy mother was dispirited: nobody knew that she had endured,
out of despair and love, a disgrace which she had not deserved. It
was not until she lay upon her death-bed, when I and my brother
were born, that she told a relation that she was innocent. Like a
criminal, in the early morning she was carried to the grave in a
coffin of plaited straw. A great and a noble heart was carried
unacknowledged to the dead!"
"You had a brother?" inquired Louise, and her heart beat violently.
"Did he die? and where did you, poor children, remain?"
"The cook in the house kept us with her. I was small and weak; my
brother, on the contrary, was strong, and full of life. He lived
mostly among the prisoners. I sat in a little room with my doll.
When we were in our seventh year, we were sent for to the old
Colonel. His son died abroad; but before his death he had written
to the old man, confessing to him his crime, my mother's innocence,
and that we were his children! I resembled my father greatly. The
old gentleman, as soon as he saw me, was very angry, and said, 'I
will not have her!' I remained with my foster-mother. I never saw
my brother after that time. The Colonel left the city, and took him
"O God!" cried Louise; "you have still some papers on this subject?
Do you not know your brother? It is impossible that it should be
otherwise! You are Otto's sister!"
"O Heavens!" exclaimed Eva; her hands trembled, and she became as
pale as a corpse.
"You are fainting!" cried Louise, throwing her arm around her
waist and kissing her eyes and her cheeks. "Eva! he is your
brother! the dear, good Otto! O, he will be so happy with you!
Yes, your eyes are like his! Eva, you beloved girl!"
Louise related to her all that Otto had confided to her. She told
her about German Heinrich, and how Otto had assisted Sidsel away,
and how they had met.
Eva burst into tears. "My brother! O Father in heaven, that I may
but live! live and see him! Life is so beautiful! I must not die!"
"Happiness will make you strong! There is no doubt but that he is
your brother! We must tell it to mamma. O Heavens! how delighted
she will be! and Otto will no longer suffer and be unhappy! He may
be proud of you, and happy in you! O, come, come!"
She led Eva out with her to her mother, who was already in bed; but
how could Louise wait till next morning?
"May the Lord bless thee, my good child!" said the lady, and
pressed a kiss upon her forehead.
Eva related now how the Colonel had, given a considerable sum to
her foster-mother; but that was all she was to receive, he had
said. Afterward, when the foster-mother died, Eva had still two
hundred rix-dollars; and on consideration of this the sister of the
deceased had taken Eva to live with her. With her she came to
Copenhagen and to Nyboder, and at that time she was ten years old.
There she had to nurse a little child--her brother she called it--
and that was the little Jonas. As she grew older, people told her
that she was handsome. It was now four years since she was followed
one evening by two young men, one of whom we know--our moral Hans
Peter. One morning her foster-mother came to her with a proposal
which drove her to despair. The merchant had seen her, and wished
to purchase the beautiful flower. Upon this Eva left her home, and
came to the excellent people at Roeskelde; and from that day God
had been very good to her.
She sank down upon her knees before the elderly lady's bed. She was
not among strangers: a mother and a sister wept with the happy one.
"O that I might live!" besought Eva, in the depths of her heart. As
a glorified one she stood before them. Her joy beamed through
The next morning she felt herself singularly unwell. Her feet
trembled; her cheeks were like marble. She seated herself in the
warm sunshine which came in through the window. Outside stood the
trees with large, half-bursting buds. A few mild nights would make
the wood green. But summer was already in Eva's heart; there was
life's joy and gladness. Her large, thoughtful eyes raised
themselves thankfully to heaven.
"Let me not die yet, good God!" prayed she; and her lips moved to a
low melody, soft as if breezes passed over the outstretched chords:--
"The sunshine warm, the odorous flowers,
Of these do not bereave me!
I breathe with joy the morning hours,
Let not the grave receive me!
There can no pleasant sunbeams fall,
No human voice come near me;
There should I miss the flow'rets small,
There have no friends to cheer me.
Now, how to value life I know--
I hold it as a treasure;
There is no love i' th' grave below,
No music, warmth, or pleasure.
On it the heavy earth is flung,
The coffin-lid shuts tightly!
My blood is warm, my soul is young!
Life smiles--life shines so brightly!"
She folded her hands: all became like flowers and gold before her
eyes. Afar off was the sound of music: she reeled and sank down
upon the sofa which was near her. Life flowed forth from her heart,
but the sensation was one of bliss; a repose, as when the weary
bow down their heads for sleep.
"Here is a letter!" cried Louise, full of joy, and found her white
and cold. Terrified, she called for help, and bent over her.
Eva was dead.
"Knowest thou the mountain and its cloudy paths? where the mule is
seeking its misty way."--GOETHE.
The letter was from Wilhelm; every line breathed life's joy and
"MIA CARA SORELLA!
"Does it not sound beautifully? It is Italian! Now then, I am in
that so-often-sung-of Paradise, but of the so much-talked-about
blue air, I have as yet seen nothing of consequence. Here it is
gray, gray as in Denmark. To be sure Otto says that it is
beautiful, that we have the heaven of home above us, but I am not
so poetical. The eating is good, and the filth of the people
strikes one horribly after being in Switzerland, the enchanting
Switzerland! Yes, there is nature! We have made a crusade through
it, you may think. But now you shall hear about the journey, and
the entrance into 'la bella Italia,' which is yet below all my
expectations. I cannot at all bear these feeble people; I cannot
endure this monk-odor and untruthfulness. We are come direct from
the scenery of Switzerland, from clouds and glaciers, from
greatness and power. We travelled somewhat hastily through the
valley of the Rhone; the weather was gray, but the whole obtained
therefrom a peculiar character. The woods in the lofty ridges
looked like heather; the valley itself seemed like a garden filled
with vegetables, vineyards, and green meadows. The clouds over and
under one another, but the snow-covered mountains peeped forth
gloriously from among them, It was a riven cloud-world which drove
past,--the wild chase with which the daylight had disguised itself.
It kissed in its flight Pissevache, a waterfall by no means to be
despised. In Brieg we rested some time, but at two o'clock in the
morning began again our journey over the Simplon. This is the
journey which I will describe to you. Otto and I sat in the
coupee. Fancy us in white blouses, shawl-caps, and with green
morocco slippers, for the devil may travel in slippers--they are
painful to the feet.
"We both of us have mustaches! I have seduced Otto. They become us
uncommonly well, and give us a very imposing air; and that is very
good now that we are come into the land of banditti, where we must
endeavor to awe the robbers. Thus travelled we. It was a dark
night, and still as death, as in the moment when the overture
begins to an opera. Soon, indeed, was the great Simplon curtain to
be rolled up, and we to behold the land of music. Immediately on
leaving the city, the road began to ascend; we could not see a
hand before us; around us tumbled and roared the water-courses,--it
was as if we heard the pulse of Nature beat. Close above the
carriage passed the white clouds; they seemed like transparent
marble slabs which were slid over us. We had the gray dawn with us,
whilst deep in the valley lay yet the darkness of night; in an
hour's time it began to show itself there among the little wooden houses.
"It is a road hewn out of the rocks. The giant Napoleon carried it
through the backbone of the earth. The eagle, Napoleon's bird, flew
like a living armorial crest over the gigantic work of the master.
There it was cold and gray; the clouds above us, the clouds below
us, and in the middle space steep rocky walls.
"At regular distances houses (relais) are erected for the
travellers; in one of these we drank our coffee. The passengers sat
on benches and tables around the great fire-place, where the pine
logs crackled. More than a thousand names were written on the
walls. I amused myself by writing mamma's, yours, Sophie's, and
Eva's; now they stand there, and people will fancy that you have
been on the Simplon. In the lobby I scratched in that of Mamsell,
and added 'Without her workbox.' Otto was thinking about you. We
talked in our, what the rest would call 'outlandish speech,' when I
all at once exclaimed, 'It is really Eva's birthday!' I remembered
it first. In Simplon town we determined to drink her health.
"We set off again. Wherever the glaciers might fall and destroy the
road the rocks have been sprung, and formed into great galleries,
through which one drives without any danger. One waterfall succeeds
another. There is no balustrade along the road, only the dark,
deep abyss where the pine-trees raise themselves to an immense
height, and yet only look like rafters on the mighty wall of rock.
Before we had advanced much further, we came to where trees no
longer grew. The great hospice lay in snow and cloud. We came into
a valley. What solitude! what desolation! only naked crags! They
seemed metallic, and all had a green hue. The utmost variety of
mosses grew there; before us towered up an immense glacier, which
looked like green bottle-glass ornamented with snow. It was
bitterly cold here, and in Simplon the stoves were lighted; the
champagne foamed, Eva's health was drunk, and, only think! at that
very moment an avalanche was so gallant as to fall. That was a
cannonade; a pealing among the mountains! It must have rung in
Eva's ears. Ask her about it. I can see how she smiles.
"We now advanced toward Italy, but cold was it, and cold it
remained. The landscape became savage; we drove between steep
crags. Only fancy, on both sides a block of granite several miles
long, and almost as high, and the road not wider than for two
carriages to pass, and there you have a picture of it. If one
wanted to see the sky, one was obliged to put one's head out of the
carriage and look up, and then it was as if one looked up from the
bottom of the deepest well, dark and narrow. Every moment I kept
thinking, 'Nay, if these two walls should come together!' We with
carriage and horses were only like ants on a pebble. We drove
through the ribs of the earth! The water roared; the clouds hung
like fleeces on the gray, craggy walls. In a valley we saw boys and
girls dressed in sheep-skins, who looked as wild as if they had
been brought up among beasts.
"Suddenly the air became wondrously mild. We saw the first fig-tree
by the road-side. Chestnuts hung over our heads; we were in Isella,
the boundary town of Italy. Otto sang, and was wild with delight; I
studied the first public-house sign, 'Tabacca e vino.'
"How luxuriant became the landscape! Fields of maize and vineyards!
The vine was not trained on frames as in Germany!--no, it hung in
luxuriant garlands, in great huts of leaves! Beautiful children
bounded along the road, but the heavens were gray, and that I had
not expected in Italy. From Domo d'Ossola, I looked back to my
beloved Switzerland! Yes, she turns truly the most beautiful side
toward Italy. But there was not any time for me to gaze; on we
must. In the carriage there sat an old Signorina; she recited
poetry, and made: with her eyes 'che bella cosa!'
"About ten o'clock at night we were in Baveno, drank tea, and
slept, whilst Lago Maggiore splashed under our window. The lake and
the Borromaen island we were to see by daylight.
"'Lord God!' thought I, 'is this all?' A scene as quiet and riant
as this we--have at home! Funen after this should be called Isola
bella, and the East Sea is quite large enough to be called Lago
Maggiore. We went by the steamboat past the holy Borromeus
[Author's Note: A colossal statue on the shore of Lago Maggiore.]
to Sesto de Calende; we had a priest on board, who was very much
astonished at our having come from so far. I showed him a large
travelling map which we had with us, where the Lago Maggiore was
the most southern, and Hamburg the most northern point. 'Yet still
further off,' said I; 'more to the north!' and he struck his hands
together when he perceived that we were from beyond the great map.
He inquired whether we were Calvinists.
"We sped through glorious scenes. The Alps looked like glass
mountains in a fairy tale. They lay behind us. The air was warm as
summer, but light as on the high mountains. The women wafted kisses
to us; but they were not handsome, the good ladies!
"Tell the Kammerjunker that the Italian pigs have no bristles, but
have a coal-black shining skin like a Moor.
"Toward night we arrived at Milan, where we located ourselves with
Reichmann, made a good supper, and had excellent beds; but I
foresee that this bliss will not last very long. On the other side
of the Apennines we shall be up to the ears in dirt, and must eat
olives preserved in oil; but let it pass. Otto adapts himself
charmingly to all things; he begins to be merry--that is, at times!
I, too, have had a sort of vertigo--I am taken with Italian music;
but then there is a difference in hearing it on the spot. It has
more than melody; it has character. The luxuriance in nature and in
the female form; the light, fluttering movement of the people,
where even pain is melody, has won my heart and my understanding.
Travelling changes people!
"Kiss mamma for me! Tell Eva about the health-drinking on the
Simplon, and about the falling avalanche: do not forget that; that
is precisely the point in my letter! Tell me too how Eva blushed,
and smiled, and said, 'He thought of me!' Yes, in fact it is very
noble of me. My sweet Sophie and her Kammerjunker, Jakoba and
Mamsell, must have a bouquet of greetings, which you must arrange
properly. If you could but see Otto and me with our mustaches! We
make an impression, and that is very pleasant. If the days only did
not go on so quickly--if life did not pass so rapidly!
"'Questa vita mortale
Che par si bella, a quasi piuma al vento
Che la porta a la perde in un momento,' [Note: Guarini]
as we Italians say. Cannot you understand that?
"Thy affectionate brother,
Otto wrote in the margin of the letter, "Italy is a paradise! Here
the heavens are three times as lofty as at home. I love the proud
pine-trees and the dark-blue mountains. Would hat everybody could
see the glorious objects!"
Wilhelm added to this, "What he writes about the Italian heavens is
stupid stuff. Ours at home is just as good. He is an odd person, as
you very well know!
"'Addic! A rivederci!'"
"Thou art master in thy world.
Hast thou thyself, then thou hast all!"
In the summer of 1834 the friends had been absent for two years. In
the last year, violet-colored gillyflowers had adorned a grave in
the little country church-yard.
"A heart which overflowed with love,
Was gone from earth to love and God,"
were the words which might be read upon the grave-stone.
A withered bouquet of stocks had been found by Louise, with the
certificate of Eva's birth and her hymn-book. These were the
flowers which Wilhelm had given her that evening at Roeskelde.
Among the dry leaves there lay a piece of paper, on which she had
written,--"Even like these flowers let the feelings die away in my
soul which these flowers inspire it with!"
And now above her grave the flowers which she had loved sent forth
It was Sunday; the sun shone warm; the church-goers, old and young,
assembled under the great lime-tree near Eva's grave. They expected
their young preacher, who to-day was to preach for the third time.
The gentlefolks would also certainly be there, they thought,
because the young Baron was come back out of foreign parts, and
with him the other gentleman, who certainly was to have Miss
"Our new preacher is worth hearing," said one of the peasant women;
"such a young man, who actually preaches the old faith! as gentle
and as meek in conversation as if he were one of ourselves! And in
the pulpit, God help us! it went quite down into my legs the last
time about the Day of Judgment!"
"There is Father!" [Note: The general term applied to the preacher
by the Danish peasants.] exclaimed the crowd, and the heads of old
and young were uncovered. The women courtesied deeply as a young
man in priest-robes went into the church-door. His eyes and lips
moved to a pious smile, the hair was smooth upon his pale forehead.
"Good day, children!" said he.
It was Hans Peter. He had, indeed, had "the best characters," and
thus had received a good living, and now preached effectively about
the devil and all his works.
The singing of the community sounded above the grave where the sun
shone, where the stocks sent forth their fragrance, and where Eva
slept: she whose last wish was to live.
"There is no love i' th' grave below,
No music, warmth, or pleasure."
The earth lay firm and heavy upon her coffin-lid.
During the singing of the second hymn a handsome carriage drove up
before the church-yard. The two friends, who were only just
returned to their home in Denmark, entered the church, together
with the mother and Louise.
Travelling and two years had made Wilhelm appear somewhat older;
there was a shadow of sadness in his otherwise open and life-rejoicing
countenance. Otto looked handsomer than formerly; the gloomy
expression in his face was softened, he looked around cheerfully,
yet thoughtfully, and a smile was on his lips when he spoke with
There was in the sermon some allusion made to those who had
returned home; for the rest, it was a flowery discourse interlarded
with many texts from the Bible. The community shed tears; the good,
wise people, they understood it to mean that their young lord was
returned home uninjured from all the perils which abound in foreign
The preacher was invited to dinner at the hall. The Kammerjunker
and Sophie came also, but it lasted "seven long and seven wide," as
Miss Jakoba expressed herself, before they could get through all
the unwrapping and were ready to enter the parlor, for they had
with them the little son Fergus, as he was called, after the
handsome Scotchman in Sir Walter Scott's "Waverley." That was
Sophie's wish. The Kammerjunker turned the name of Fergus to
Gusseman, and Jacoba asserted that it was a dog's name.
"Now you shall see my little bumpkin!" said he, and brought in a
square-built child, who with fat, red cheeks, and round arms,
stared around him. "That is a strong fellow! Here is something to
take hold of! Tralla-ralla-ralla!" And he danced him round the
Sophie laughed and offered her hand to Otto.
Wilhelm turned to Mamsell. "I have brought something for you," said
he, "something which I hope may find a place in the work-box--a man
made of very small mussel-shells; it is from Venice."
"Heavens! from all that way off!" said she and courtesied.
After dinner they walked in the garden.
Wilhelm spoke already of going the following year again to Paris.
"Satan!" said the Kammerjunker. "Nay, I can do better with Mr.
Thostrup. He is patriotic. He lays out his money in an estate. It
is a good bargain which you have made, and in a while will be
beautiful; there is hill and dale."
"There my old Rosalie shall live with me," said Otto; "there she
will find her Switzerland. The cows shall have bells on their
"Lord God! shall they also be made fools of?" exclaimed Jakoba:
"that is just exactly as if it were Sophie."
They went through the avenue where Otto two years before had wept,
and had related all his troubles to Louise. He recollected it, and
a gentle sigh passed his lips whilst his eyes rested on Louise.
"Now, do you feel yourself happy at home?" asked she; "a lovelier
summer's day than this you certainly have not abroad."
"Every country has its own beauties," replied Otto. "Our Denmark is
not a step child of Nature. The people here are dearest to me, for
I am best acquainted with them. They, and not Nature, it is that
makes a land charming. Denmark is a good land; and here also will I
look for my happiness." He seized Louise's hand; she blushed, and
was silent. Happy hours succeeded.
This circle assembled every Sunday; on the third, their delight was
greater, was more festal than on any former occasion.
Nature herself had the same expression. The evening was most
beautiful; the full moon shone, magnificent dark-blue clouds raised
themselves like mountains on the other side the Belt. Afar off
sailed the ships, with every sail set to catch the breeze.
Below the moon floated a coal-black cloud, which foretold a squall.
A little yacht went calmly over the water. At the helm sat a boy--
half a child he seemed: it was Jonas, the little singing-bird, as
Wilhelm had once called him. Last Whitsuntide he had been
confirmed, and with his Confirmation all his singer-dreams were at
an end: but that did not trouble him; on the contrary, it had lain
very heavy upon his heart that he was not to be a fifer. His
highest wish had been to see himself as a regimental fifer, and
then he should have gone to his Confirmation in his red uniform,
with a sabre at his side, and a feather in his hat half as tall
as himself. Thus adorned, he might have gone with the girls into
the King's Garden and upon the Round Tower, the usual walk for poor
children in Copenhagen. On Confirmation-day they ascend the high
tower, just as if it were to gain from it a free view over the
world. Little Jonas, however, was confirmed as a sailor, and he now
sat at the helm on this quiet night.
Upon the deck lay two persons and slept; a third went tranquilly up
and down. Suddenly he shook one of the sleepers, and caught hold on
the sail. A squall had arisen with such rapidity and strength, that
the vessel in a moment was thrown on her side. Mast and sail were
below the water. Little Jonas uttered a shriek. Not a vessel was
within sight. The two sleepers had woke in time to cling to the
mast. With great force they seized the ropes, but in vain; the
sail hung like lead in the water. The ship did not right herself.
"Joseph, Maria!" exclaimed one of them, a man with gray hairs and
unpleasing features. "We sink! the water is in the hold!"
All three clambered now toward the hinder part of the vessel, where
a little boat floated after. One of them sprang into it.
"My daughter!" cried the elder, and bent himself toward the narrow
entrance into the cabin. "Sidsel, save thy life!" and so saying, he
sprang into the boat.
"We must have my daughter out," cried he. One of the ship's cabin
windows was under water; he burst in the other window.
"We are sinking!" cried he, and a horrible scream was heard within.
The old man was German Heinrich, who was about to come with this
vessel from Copenhagen to Jutland: Sidsel was his daughter, and
therefore he wished now to save her life a second time.
The water rushed more and more into the ship. Heinrich thrust his
arm through the cabin-window, he grasped about in the water within;
suddenly he caught hold on a garment, he drew it toward him; but it
was only the captain's coat, and not his daughter, as he had hoped.
"The ship sinks!" shrieked the other, and grasped wildly on the
rope which held the boat fast: in vain he attempted to divide it
with his pocket-knife. The ship whirled round with the boat and
all. Air and water boiled within it, and, as if in a whirlpool, the
whole sunk into the deep. The sea agitated itself into strong
surges over the place, and then was again still. The moon shone
tranquilly over the surface of the water as before. No wreck
remained to tell any one of the struggle which there had been with
The bell tolled a quarter past twelve; and at that moment the last
light at the hall was extinguished.
"I will go to Paris," said Wilhelm, "to my glorious Switzerland;
here at home one is heavy-hearted; the gillyflowers on the grave
have an odor full of melancholy recollections. I must breathe the
mountain air; I must mingle in the tumult of men, and it is quite
the best in the world."
Otto closed his eyes; he folded his hands.
"Louise loves me," said he. "I am so happy that I fear some great
misfortune may soon meet me; thus it used always to be. Whilst
German Heinrich lives I cannot assure myself of good! If he were
away, I should be perfectly tranquil, perfectly happy!"