O. T., A Danish Romance
by Hans Christian Andersen
A Danish Romance
by Hans Christian Andersen
Author of the “Improvisatore” and the “Two Baronesses”
“Quod felix faustumque sit!”
There is a happiness which no poet has yet properly sung, which no
lady-reader, let her be ever so amiable, has experienced or ever will
experience in this world. This is a condition of happiness which alone
belongs to the male sex, and even then alone to the elect. It is a
moment of life which seizes upon our feelings, our minds, our whole
being. Tears have been shed by the innocent, sleepless nights been
passed, during which the pious mother, the loving sister, have put up
prayers to God for this critical moment in the life of the son or the
Happy moment, which no woman, let her be ever so good, so beautiful,
or intellectual, can experience—that of becoming a student, or, to
describe it by a more usual term, the passing of the first examination!
The cadet who becomes an officer, the scholar who becomes an
academical burgher, the apprentice who becomes a journeyman, all know,
in a greater or less degree, this loosening of the wings, this bounding
over the limits of maturity into the lists of philosophy. We all strive
after a wider field, and rush thither like the stream which at length
loses itself in the ocean.
Then for the first time does the youthful soul rightly feel her
freedom, and, therefore, feels it doubly; the soul struggles for
activity, she comprehends her individuality; it has been proved and not
found too light; she is still in possession of the dreams of childhood,
which have not yet proved delusive. Not even the joy of love, not the
enthusiasm for art and science, so thrills through all the nerves as
the words, “Now am I a student!”
This spring-day of life, on which the ice-covering of the school is
broken, when the tree of Hope puts forth its buds and the sun of
Freedom shines, falls with us, as is well known, in the month of
October, just when Nature loses her foliage, when the evenings begin to
grow darker, and when heavy winter-clouds draw together, as though they
would say to youth,—“Your spring, the birth of the examination, is
only a dream! even now does your life become earnest!” But our happy
youths think not of these things, neither will we be joyous with the
gay, and pay a visit to their circle. In such a one our story takes its
“At last we separate:
To Jutland one, to Funen others go;
And still the quick thought comes,
—A day so bright, so full of fun,
Never again on us shall rise.”—CARL BAGGER.
It was in October of the year 1829. Examen artium had been passed
through. Several young students were assembled in the evening at the
abode of one of their comrades, a young Copenhagener of eighteen, whose
parents were giving him and his new friends a banquet in honor of the
examination. The mother and sister had arranged everything in the
nicest manner, the father had given excellent wine out of the cellar,
and the student himself, here the rex convivii, had provided tobacco,
genuine Oronoko-canaster. With regard to Latin, the invitation—which
was, of course, composed in Latin—informed the guests that each should
bring his own.
The company, consisting of one and twenty persons—and these were
only the most intimate friends—was already assembled. About one third
of the friends were from the provinces, the remainder out of
“Old Father Homer shall stand in the middle of the table!” said one
of the liveliest guests, whilst he took down from the stove a plaster
bust and placed it upon the covered table.
“Yes, certainly, he will have drunk as much as the other poets!”
said an older one. “Give me one of thy exercise-books, Ludwig! I will
cut him out a wreath of vine-leaves, since we have no roses and since I
cannot cut out any.”
“I have no libation!” cried a third,—“Favete linguis.” And he
sprinkled a small quantity of salt, from the point of a knife, upon the
bust, at the same time raising his glass to moisten it with a few drops
“Do not use my Homer as you would an ox!” cried the host. “Homer
shall have the place of honor, between the bowl and the garland-cake!
He is especially my poet! It was he who in Greek assisted me to
laudabilis et quidem egregie. Now we will mutually drink healths!
Jorgen shall be magister bibendi, and then we will sing 'Gaudeamus
igitur,' and 'Integer vitae.'“
“The Sexton with the cardinal's hat shall be the precentor!” cried
one of the youths from the provinces, pointing toward a rosy-cheeked
“O, now I am no longer sexton!” returned the other laughing. “If
thou bringest old histories up again, thou wilt receive thy old
school-name, 'the Smoke-squirter.'“
“But that is a very nice little history!” said the other. “We called
him 'Sexton,” from the office his father held; but that, after all, is
not particularly witty. It was better with the hat, for it did, indeed,
resemble a cardinal's hat. I, in the mean time, got my name in a more
“He lived near the school,” pursued the other; “he could always slip
home when we had out free quarters of an hour: and then one day he had
filled his mouth with tobacco smoke, intending to blow it into our
faces; but when he entered the passage with his filled cheeks the
quarter of an hour was over, and we were again in class: the rector was
still standing in the doorway; he could not, therefore, blow the smoke
out of his mouth, and so wished to slip in as he was. 'What have you
there in your mouth?' asked the rector; but Philip could answer
nothing, without at the same time losing the smoke. 'Now, cannot you
speak?' cried the rector, and gave him a box on the ear, so that the
smoke burst through nose and mouth. This looked quite exquisite; the
affair caused the rector such pleasure, that he presented the poor
sinner with the nota bene.”
“Integer vitae!” broke in the Precentor, and harmoniously followed
the other voices. After this, a young Copenhagener exhibited his
dramatic talent by mimicking most illusively the professors of the
Academy, and giving their peculiarities, yet in such a good-natured
manner that it must have amused even the offended parties themselves.
Now followed the healths—“Vivant omnes hi et hae!”
“A health to the prettiest girl!” boldly cried one of the merriest
brothers. “The prettiest girl!” repeated a pair of the younger ones,
and pushed their glasses toward each other, whilst the blood rushed to
their cheeks at this their boldness, for they had never thought of a
beloved being, which, nevertheless, belonged to their new life. The
roundelay now commenced, in which each one must give the Christian name
of his lady-love, and assuredly every second youth caught a name out of
the air; some, however, repeated a name with a certain palpitation of
the heart. The discourse became more animated; the approaching military
exercises, the handsome uniform, the reception in the students' club,
and its pleasures, were all matters of the highest interest. But there
was the future philologicum and philosophicum—yes, that also was
discussed; there they must exhibit their knowledge of Latin.
“What do you think,” said one of the party, “if once a week we
alternately met at each other's rooms, and held disputations? No Danish
word must be spoken. This might be an excellent scheme.”
“I agree to that!” cried several.
“Regular laws must be drawn up.”
“Yes, and we must have our best Latin scholar, the Jutlander, Otto
Thostrup, with us! He wrote his themes in hexameters.”
“He is not invited here this evening,” remarked the neighbor, the
young Baron Wilhelm of Funen, the only nobleman in the company.
“Otto Thostrup!” answered the host. “Yes, truly he's a clever
fellow, but he seems to me so haughty. There is something about him
that does not please me at all. We are still no dunces, although he did
receive nine prae caeteris!”
“Yet it was very provoking,” cried another, “that he received the
only Non in mathematics. Otherwise he would have been called in. Now he
will only have to vex himself about his many brilliant characters.”
“Yes, and he is well versed in mathematics!” added Wilhelm “There
was something incorrect in the writing; the inspector was to blame for
that, but how I know not. Thostrup is terribly vehement, and can set
all respect at defiance; he became angry, and went out. There was only
a piece of unwritten paper presented from him, and this brought him a
cipher, which the verbal examination could not bring higher than non.
Thostrup is certainly a glorious fellow. We have made a tour together
in the steamboat from Helsingoer to Copenhagen, and in the written
examination we sat beside each other until the day when we had
mathematics, and then I sat below him. I like him very much, his pride
excepted; and of that we must break him.”
“Herr Baron,” said his neighbor, “I am of your opinion. Shall not we
drink the Thou-brotherhood?”
“To-night we will all of us drink the Thou!” said the host; “it is
nothing if comrades and good friends call each other you.”
“Evoe Bacchus!” they joyously shouted. The glasses were filled, one
arm was thrown round that of the neighbor, and the glasses were
emptied, whilst several commenced singing “dulce cum sodalibus!”
“Tell me what thou art called?” demanded one of the younger guests
of his new Thou-brother.
“What am I called?” replied he. “With the exception of one letter,
the same as the Baron.”
“The Baron!” cried a third; “yes, where is he?”
“There he stands talking at the door; take your glasses! now have
all of us drank the Thou-brotherhood?”
The glasses were again raised; the young Baron laughed, clinked his
glass, and shouted in the circle, “Thou, Thou!” But in his whole
bearing there lay something constrained, which, however, none of the
young men remarked, far less allowed themselves to imagine that his
sudden retreat, during the first drinking, perhaps occurred from the
sole object of avoiding it. But soon was he again one of the most
extravagant; promised each youth who would study theology a living on
his estate when he should once get it into his own hands; and proposed
that the Latin disputations should commence with him, and on the
following Friday. Otto Thostrup, however, should he of the party—if he
chose, of course being understood; for he was a capital student, and
his friend they had made a journey together and had been neighbors at
the green table.
Among those who were the earliest to make their valete amici was the
Baron. Several were not yet inclined to quit this joyous circle. The
deepest silence reigned in the streets; it was the most beautiful
moonlight. In most houses all had retired to rest—only here and there
was a light still seen, most persons slept, even those whose sense of
duty should leave banished the god of sleep: thus sat a poor
hackney-coachman, aloft upon his coach-box, before the house where he
awaited his party, and enjoyed, the reins wound about his hand, the
much-desired rest. Wilhelm (henceforth we will only call the young
Baron by his Christian name) walked alone through the street. The wine
had heated his northern blood—besides which it never flowed slowly;
his youthful spirits, his jovial mood, and the gayety occasioned by the
merry company he had just quitted did not permit him quietly to pass by
this sleeping Endymion. Suddenly it occurred to him to open the
coach-door and leap in; which having done, he let the glass fall and
called out with a loud voice, “Drive on!” The coachman started up out
of his blessed sleep and asked, quite confused, “Where to?” Without
reflecting about the matter, Wilhelm cried, “To the Ship in West
Street.” The coachman drove on; about half-way, Wilhelm again opened
the coach-door, a bold spring helped him out, and the coach rolled on.
It stopped at the public-house of the Ship. The coachman got down and
opened the door; there was no one within; he thrust his head in
thoroughly to convince himself; but no, the carriage was empty!
“Extraordinary!” said the fellow; “can I have dreamed it? But still I
heard, quite distinctly, how I was told to drive to the Ship! Lord
preserve us! now they are waiting for me!” He leaped upon the box and
drove rapidly back again.
In the mean time Wilhelm had reached his abode in Vineyard Street;
he opened a window to enjoy the beautiful night, and gazed out upon the
desolate church-yard which is shut in by shops. He had no inclination
for sleep, although everything in the street, even the watchmen not
excepted, appeared to rejoice the gift of God. Wilhelm thought upon the
merry evening party, upon his adventure with the poor hackney-coachman,
then took down his violin from the wall and began to play certain
The last remaining guests from the honorable carousal, merrier than
when Wilhelm left them, now came wandering up the street. One of them
jodeled sweetly, and no watchman showed himself as a disturbing
principle. They heard Wilhelm violin and recognized the musician.
“Play us a Francaise, thou up there!” cried they.
“But the watchman?” whispered one of the less courageous.
“Zounds, there he sits!” cried a third, and pointed toward a
sleeping object which leaned its head upon a large wooden chest before
a closed booth.
“He is happy!” said the first speaker. “If we had only the strong
Icelander here, he would soon hang him up by his bandelier upon one of
the iron hooks. He has done that before now; he has the strength of a
bear. He seized such a lazy fellow as this right daintily by his girdle
on one of the hooks at the weighing-booth. There hung the watchman and
whistled to the others; the first who hastened to the spot was
immediately hung up beside him, and away ran the Icelander whilst the
two blew a duet.”
“Here, take hold!” cried one of the merry brothers, quickly opening
the chest, the lid of which was fastened by a peg. “Let us put the
watchman into the chest; he sleeps indeed like a horse!” In a moment,
the four had seized the sleeper, who certainly awoke during the
operation, but he already lay in the chest. The lid flew down, and two
or three of the friends sprang upon it whilst the peg was stuck in
again. The watchman immediately seized his whistle and drew the most
heart-rending tones from it. Quickly the tormenting spirits withdrew
themselves; yet not so far but that they could still hear the whistle
and observe what would take place.
The watchmen now came up.
“The deuce! where art thou?” cried they, and then discovered the
“Ah, God help me!” cried the prisoner. “Let me out, let me out! I
“Thou hast drunk more than thy thirst required, comrade!” said the
others. “If thou hast fallen into the chest, remain lying there, thou
swine!” And laughing they left him.
“O, the rascals!” sighed he, and worked in vain at opening the lid.
Through all his powerful exertions the box fell over. The young men now
stepped forth, and, as though they were highly astonished at the whole
history which he related to them, they let themselves be prevailed upon
to open the box, but only upon condition that he should keep street
free from the interference of the other watchmen whilst they danced a
Francaise to Wilhelm's violin.
The poor man was delivered from his captivity, and must obligingly
play the sentinel whilst they arranged them for the dance. Wilhelm was
called upon to play, and the dance commenced; a partner, however, was
wanting. Just then a quiet citizen passed by. The gentleman who had no
partner approached the citizen with comic respect, and besought him to
take part in the amusement.
“I never dance!” said the man, laughing, and wished to pursue his
“Yes,” replied the cavalier, “yet you must still do me this
pleasure, or else I shall have no dance.” Saying this he took hold of
him by the waist and the dance commenced, whether the good man would or
“The watchman should receive a present from every one!” said they,
when the Francaise was at an end. “He is an excellent man who thus
keeps order in the street, so that one can enjoy a little dance.”
“These are honest people's children!” said the watchman to himself,
whilst he with much pleasure thrust the money into his leathern purse.
All was again quiet in the street; the violin was also silent.
“Who looks into the shadowy realm of my heart?”
A. V. CHAMISSO.
In the former chapter we heard mention made of a young student, Otto
Thostrup, a clever fellow, with nine prae caeteris, as his comrades
said, but also of a proud spirit, of which he must be broken. Not at
the disputations, which have been already mentioned, will we make his
acquaintance, although there we must be filled with respect for the
good Latin scholar; not in large companies, where his handsome exterior
and his speaking, melancholy glance must make him interesting; as
little in the pit of the Opera although his few yet striking
observations there would show him to be a very intellectual young man;
but we will seek him out for the first time at the house of his friend,
the young Baron Wilhelm. It is the beginning of November: we find them
both with their pipes in their mouths; upon the table lie Tibullus and
Anacreon, which they are reading together for the approaching
In the room stands a piano-forte, with a number of music-books; upon
the walls hang the portraits of Weyse and Beethoven, for our young
Baron is musical, nay a composer himself.
“See, here we have again this lovely, clinging mist!” said Wilhelm.
“Out of doors one can fairly taste it; at home it would be a real
plague to me, here it only Londonizes the city.”
“I like it!” said Otto. “To me it is like an old acquaintance from
Vestervovov. It is as though the mist brought me greetings from the sea
“I should like to see the North Sea, but the devil might live there!
What town lies nearest to your grandfather's estate?”
“Lernvig,” answered Otto. “If any one wish to see the North Sea
properly, they ought to go up as far as Thisted and Hjorring. I have
travelled there, have visited the family in Borglum-Kloster; and,
besides this, have made other small journeys. Never shall I forget one
evening; yes, it was a storm of which people in the interior of the
country can form no conception. I rode—I was then a mere boy, and a
very wild lad—with one of our men. When the storm commenced we found
ourselves among the sand-hills. Ah! that you should have seen! The sand
forms along the strand high banks, which serve as dikes against the
sea; these are overgrown with sea-grass, but, if the storm bursts a
single hole, the whole is carried away. This spectacle we chanced to
witness. It is a true Arabian sand-storm, and the North Sea bellowed so
that it might be heard at the distance of many miles. The salt foam
flew together with the sand into our faces.”
“That must have been splendid!” exclaimed Wilhelm, and his eyes
sparkled. “Jutland is certainly the most romantic part of Denmark.
Since I read Steen-Blicher's novels I have felt a real interest for
that country. It seems to me that it must greatly resemble the Lowlands
of Scotland. And gypsies are also found there, are they not?”
“Vagabonds, we call them,” said Otto, with an involuntary motion of
the mouth. “They correspond to the name!”
“The fishermen, also, on the coast are not much better! Do they
still from the pulpit pray for wrecks? Do they still slay shipwrecked
“I have heard our preacher, who is an old man, relate how, in the
first years after he had obtained his office and dignity, he was
obliged to pray in the church that, if ships stranded, they might
strand in his district; but this I have never heard myself. But with
regard to what is related of murdering, why, the fishermen— sea-geese,
as they are called—are by no means a tender-hearted people; but it is
not as bad as that in our days. A peasant died in the neighborhood, of
whom it was certainly related that in bad weather he had bound a
lantern under his horse's belly and let it wander up and down the
beach, so that the strange mariner who was sailing in those seas might
imagine it some cruising ship, and thus fancy himself still a
considerable way from land. By this means many a ship is said to have
been destroyed. But observe, these are stories out of the district of
Thisted, and of an elder age, before my power of observation had
developed itself; this was that golden age when in tumble-down fishers'
huts, after one of these good shipwrecks, valuable shawls, but little
damaged by the sea, might be found employed as bed-hangings. Boots and
shoes were smeared with the finest pomatum. If such things now reach
their hands, they know better how to turn them into money. The
Strand-commissioners are now on the watch; now it is said to be a real
age of copper.”
“Have you seen a vessel stranded?” inquired Wilhelm, with increasing
“Our estate lies only half a mile from the sea. Every year about
this time, when the mist spreads itself out as it does to-day and the
storms begin to rage, then was it most animated. In my wild spirits,
when I was a boy, and especially in the midst of our monotonous life, I
truly yearned after it. Once, upon a journey to Borglum-Kloster, I
experienced a storm. In the early morning; it was quite calm, but gray,
and we witnessed a kind of Fata Morgana. A ship, which had not yet
risen above the horizon, showed itself in the distance, but the rigging
was turned upside down; the masts were below, the hull above. This is
called the ship of death, and when it is seen people are sure of bad
weather and shipwreck. Later, about midday, it began to blow, and in an
hour's time we had a regular tempest. The sea growled quite charmingly;
we travelled on between sand-hills—they resemble hills and dales in
winter time, but here it is not snow which melts away; here never grows
a single green blade; a black stake stands up here and there, and these
are rudders from wrecks, the histories of which are unknown. In the
afternoon arose a storm such as I had experienced when riding with the
man between the sand-hills. We could not proceed farther, and were
obliged on this account to seek shelter in one of the huts which the
fishermen hail erected among the white sand-hills. There we remained,
and I saw the stranding of a vessel: I shall never forget it! An
American ship lay not a musket-shot from land. They cut the mast; six
or seven men clung fast to it in the waters. O, how they rocked
backward and forward in the dashing spray! The mast took a direction
toward the shore; at length only three men were left clinging to the
mast; it was dashed upon land, but the returning waves again bore it
away; it had crushed the arms and legs of the clinging wretches—ground
them like worms! I dreamed of this for many nights. The waves flung the
hull of the vessel up high on the shore, and drove it into the sand,
where it was afterward found. Later, as we retraced our steps, were the
stem and sternpost gone: you saw two strong wooden walls, between which
the road took its course. You even still travel through the wreck!”
“Up in your country every poetical mind must become a Byron,” said
Wilhelm. “On my parents' estate we have only idyls; the whole of Funen
is a garden. We mutually visit each other upon our different estates,
where we lead most merry lives, dance with the peasant-girls at the
brewing-feast, hunt in the woods, and fish in the lakes. The only
melancholy object which presents itself with us is a funeral, and the
only romantic characters we possess are a little hump-backed musician,
a wise woman, and an honest schoolmaster, who still firmly believes, as
Jeronimus did, that the earth is flat, and that, were it to turn round,
we should fall, the devil knows where!”
“I love nature in Jutland!” exclaimed Otto. “The open sea, the brown
heath, and the bushy moorland. You should see the wild moor in
Vendsyssel—that is an extent! Almost always wet mists float over its
unapproachable interior, which is known to no one. It is not yet fifty
years since it served as an abode for wolves. Often it bursts into
flames, for it is impregnated with sulphuric gas,— one can see the
fire for miles.”
“My sister Sophie ought to hear all this!” said Wilhelm. “You would
make your fortune with her! The dear girl! she has the best head at
home, but she loves effect. Hoffman and Victor Hugo are her favorites.
Byron rests every night under her pillow. If you related such things of
the west coast of Jutland, and of heaths and moors, you might persuade
her to make a journey thither. One really would not believe that we
possessed in our own country such romantic situations!”
“Is she your only sister?” inquired Otto.
“No,” returned Wilhelm, “I have two—the other is named Louise; she
is of quite an opposite character: I do not know of which one ought to
think most. Have you no brothers or sisters?” he asked of Otto.
“No!” returned the latter, with his former involuntary,
half-melancholy expression. “I am an only child. In my house it is
solitary and silent. My grandfather alone is left alive. He is an
active, strong man, but very grave. He instructed me in mathematics,
which he thoroughly understands. The preacher taught me Latin, Greek,
and history: two persons, however, occupied themselves with my
religious education— the preacher and my old Rosalie. She is a good
soul. How often have I teased her, been petulant, and almost angry with
her! She thought so much of me, she was both mother and sister to me,
and instructed me in religion as well as the preacher, although she is
a Catholic. Since my father's childhood she has been a sort of
governante in the house. You should have seen her melancholy smile when
she heard my geography lesson, and we read of her dear Switzerland,
where she was born, and of the south of France, where she had travelled
as a child. The west coast of Jutland may also appear very barren in
comparison with these countries!”
“She might have made you a Catholic! But surely nothing of this
still clings to you?”
“Rosalie was a prudent old creature; Luther himself need not have
been ashamed of her doctrine. Whatever is holy to the heart of man,
remains also holy in every religion!”
“But then, to erect altars to the Madonna!” exclaimed Wilhelm; “to
pray to a being; whom the Bible does not make a saint!—that is rather
too much. And their tricks with burning of incense and ringing of
bells! Yes, indeed, it would give me no little pleasure to cut off the
heads of the Pope and of the whole clerical body! To purchase
indulgence!—Those must, indeed, be curious people who can place
thorough faith in such things! I will never once take off my hat before
“But that will I do, and in my heart bow myself before her!”
answered Otto, gravely.
“Did I not think so? she has made you a Catholic!”
“No such thing! I am as good a Protestant as you yourself: but
wherefore should we not respect the mother of Christ? With regard to
the ceremonials of Catholicism, indulgence, and all these additions of
the priesthood, I agree with you in wishing to strike off the heads of
all who, in such a manner, degrade God and the human understanding. But
in many respects we are unjust: we so easily forget the first and
greatest commandment, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself!' We are not
tolerant. Among our festivals we have still one for the Three Kings—it
is yet celebrated by the common people; but what have these three kings
done? They knelt before the manger in which Christ lay, and on this
account we honor them. On the contrary, the mother of God has no
festival-day; nay, the multitude even smile at her name! If you will
only quietly listen to my simple argument, we shall soon agree. You
will take off your hat and bow before the Madonna. Only two things are
to be considered—either Christ was entirely human, or He was, as the
Bible teaches us, a divine being. I will now admit the latter. He is
God Himself, who in some inexplicable manner, is born to us of the
Virgin Mary. She must therefore be the purest, the most perfect
feminine being, since God found her worthy to bring into the world the
Son, the only one; through this she becomes as holy as any human being
can, and low we must bow ourselves before the pure, the exalted one.
Take it for granted that Christ was human, like ourselves, otherwise He
cannot, according to my belief, call upon us to imitate Him; neither
would it be great, as God, to meet a corporeal death, from which He
could remove each pain. Were He only a man, born of Mary, we must
doubly admire Him; we must bow in the dust before His mighty spirit,
His enlightening and consoling doctrine. But can we then forget how
much the mother has must have influenced the child, how sublime and
profound the soul must have been which spoke to His heart? We must
reverence and honor her! Everywhere in the Scriptures where she appears
we see an example of care and love; with her whole soul she adheres to
her Son. Think how uneasy she became, and sought for Him in the
temple—think of her gentle reproaches! The words of the Son always
sounded harsh in my ears. 'Those are the powerful expressions of the
East!' said my old preacher. The Saviour was severe, severe as He must
be! Already there seemed to me severity in His words! She was
completely the mother; she was it then, even as when she wept at
Golgotha. Honor and reverence she deserves from us!”
“These she also receives!” returned Wilhelm; and striking him upon
the shoulder he added, with a smile, “you are, according to the Roman
Catholic manner, near exalting the mother above the Son! Old Rosalie
has made a proselyte; after all, you are half a Catholic!”
“That am I not!” answered Otto, “and that will I not be!”
“See! the thunder-cloud advances!”
resounded below in the court: the sweet Neapolitan song reached the
ears of the friends. They stepped into the adjoining room and opened
the window. Three poor boys stood below in the wind and rain, and
commenced the song. The tallest was, perhaps, fourteen or fifteen years
old, his deep, rough voice seemed to have attained its strength and
depth more through rain and bad weather than through age. The dirty wet
clothes hung in rags about his body; the shoes upon the wet feet, and
the hat held together with white threads, were articles of luxury. The
other two boys had neither hat nor shoes, but their clothes were whole
and clean. The youngest appeared six or seven years old; his silvery
white hair formed a contrast with his brown face, his dark eyes and
long brown eyelashes. His voice sounded like the voice of a little
girl, as fine and soft, beside the voices of the others, as the breeze
of an autumnal evening beside that of rude November weather.
“That is a handsome boy!” exclaimed the two friends at the same
“And a lovely melody!” added Otto.
“Yes, but they sing falsely!” answered Wilhelm: “one sings half a
tone too low, the other half a tone too high!”
“Now, thank God that I cannot hear that!” said Otto. “It sounds
sweetly, and the little one might become a singer. Poor child!” added
he gravely: “bare feet, wet to the very skin; and then the elder one
will certainly lead him to brandy drinking! Within a month, perhaps,
the voice will be gone! Then is the nightingale dead!” He quickly threw
down some skillings, wrapped in paper.
“Come up!” cried Wilhelm, and beckoned. The eldest of the boys flew
up like an arrow; Wilhelm, however, said it was the youngest who was
meant. The others remained standing before the door; the youngest
“Whose son art thou?” asked Wilhelm. The boy was silent, and cast
down his eyes in an embarrassed manner. “Now, don't be bashful! Thou
art of a good family—that one can see from thy appearance! Art not
thou thy mother's son? I will give thee stockings and—the deuce! here
is a pair of boots which are too small for me; if thou dost not get
drowned in them they shall be thy property: but now thou must sing.”
And he seated himself at the piano-forte and struck the keys. “Now,
where art thou?” he cried, rather displeased. The little one gazed upon
“How! dost thou weep; or is it the rain which hangs in thy black
eyelashes?” said Otto, and raised his head: “we only wish to do thee a
kindness. There—thou hast another skilling from me.”
The little one still remained somewhat laconic. All that they
learned was that he was named Jonas, and that his grandmother thought
so much of him.
“Here thou hast the stockings!” said Wilhelm; “and see here! a coat
with a velvet collar, a much-to-be-prized keepsake! The boots! Thou
canst certainly stick both legs into one boot! See! that is as good as
having two pairs to change about with! Let us see!”
The boy's eyes sparkled with joy; the boots he drew on, the
stockings went into his pocket, and the bundle he took under his arm.
“But thou must sing us a little song!” said Wilhelm, and the little
one commenced the old song out of the “Woman-hater,” “Cupid never can
The lively expression in the dark eyes, the boy himself in his wet,
wretched clothes and big boots, with the bundle under his arm; nay, the
whole had something so characteristic in it, that had it been painted,
and had the painter called the picture “Cupid on his Wanderings,” every
one would have found the little god strikingly excellent, although he
were not blind.
“Something might be made of the boy and of his voice!” said Wilhelm,
when little Jonas, in a joyous mood, had left the house with the other
“The poor child!” sighed Otto. “I have fairly lost my good spirits
through all this. It seizes upon me so strangely when I see misery and
genius mated. Once there came to our estate in Jutland a man who played
the Pandean-pipes, and at the same time beat the drum and cymbals: near
him stood a little girl, and struck the triangle. I was forced to weep
over this spectacle; without understanding how it was, I felt the
misery of the poor child. I was myself yet a mere boy.”
“He looked so comic in the big boots that I became quite merry, and
not grave,” said Wilhelm. “Nevertheless what a pity it is that such
gentle blood, which at the first glance one perceives he is, that such
a pretty child should become a rude fellow, and his beautiful voice
change into a howl, like that with which the other tall Laban saluted
us. Who knows whether little Jonas might not become the first singer on
the Danish stage? Yes, if he received education of mind and voice, who
knows? I could really have, pleasure in attempting it, and help every
one on in the world, before I myself am rightly in the way!”
“If he is born to a beggar's estate,” said Otto, “let him as beggar
live and die, and learn nothing higher. That is better, that is more to
Wilhelm seated himself at the piano-forte, and played some of his
own compositions. “That is difficult,” said he; “every one cannot play
“The simpler the sweeter!” replied Otto.
“You must not speak about music!” returned the friend “upon that you
know not how to pass judgment. Light Italian operas are not difficult
In the evening the friends separated. Whilst Otto took his hat,
there was a low knock at the door. Wilhelm opened it. Without stood a
poor old woman, with pale sharp features; by the hand she led a little
boy—it was Jonas: thus then it was a visit from him and his
The other boys had sold the boots and shoes which had been given
him. They ought to have a share, they maintained. This atrocious
injustice had induced the old grandmother to go immediately with little
Jonas to the two good gentlemen, and relate how little the poor lad had
received of flint which they had assigned to him alone.
Wilhelm spoke of the boy's sweet voice, and thought that by might
make his fortune at the theatre; but then he ought not now to be left
running about with bare feet in the wind and rain.
“But by this means he brings a skilling home,” said the old woman.
“That's what his father and mother look to, and the skilling they can
always employ. Nevertheless she had herself already thought of bringing
him out at the theatre,—but that was to have been in dancing, for they
got shoes and stockings to dance in, and with these they might also run
home; and that would be an advantage.”
“I will teach the boy music!” said Wilhelm; “he can come to me
“And then he will, perhaps, get a little cast-off clothing, good
sir,” said the grandmother; “a shirt, or a waistcoat, just as it
“Become a tailor, or shoemaker,” said Otto, gravely, and laid his
hand upon the boy's head.
“He shall be a genius!” said Wilhelm.
When in the wood the snow shines bright.”
We again let several weeks pass by; it was Christmas Eve, which
brings us the beautiful Christmas festival. We find the two friends
taking a walk.
Describe to an inhabitant of the south a country where the earth
appears covered with the purest Carrara marble, where the tree twigs
resemble white branches of coral sprinkled with diamonds, and above a
sky as blue as that belonging to the south, and he will say that is a
fairy land. Couldst thou suddenly remove him from his dark cypresses
and olive-trees to the north, where the fresh snow lies upon the earth,
where the white hoar-frost has powdered the trees over, and the sun
shines down from the blue heaven, then would he recognize the
description and call the north a fairy land.
This was the splendor which the friends admired. The large trees
upon the fortification-walls appeared crystallized when seen against
the blue sky. The Sound was not yet frozen over; vessels, illuminated
by the red evening sun, glided past with spread sails. The Swedish
coast seemed to have approached nearer; one might see individual houses
in Landskrona. It was lovely, and on this account there were many
promenaders upon the walls and the Langelinie.
“Sweden seems so near that one might swim over to it!” said Wilhelm.
“The distance would be too far,” answered Otto; “but I should love
to plunge among the deep blue waters yonder.”
“How refreshing it is,” said Wilhelm, “when the water plays about
one's cheeks! Whilst I was at home, I always swam in the Great Belt.
Yes, you are certainly half a fish when you come into the water.”
“I!” repeated Otto, and was silent; but immediately added, with a
kind of embarrassment which was at other times quite foreign to him,
and from which one might infer how unpleasant confessing any
imperfection was to him, “I do not swim.”
“That must be learned in summer!” said Wilhelm.
“There is so much to learn,” answered Otto; “swimming will certainly
be the last thing.” He now suddenly turned toward the fortress, and
stood still. “Only see how melancholy and quiet!” said he, and led the
conversation again to the surrounding scenery. “The sentinel before the
prison paces so quietly up and down, the sun shines upon his bayonet!
How this reminds me of a sweet little poem of Heine's; it is just as
though he described this fortress and this soldier, but in the warmth
of summer: one sees the picture livingly before one, as here; the
weapon glances in the sun, and the part ends so touchingly,—'Ich
wollt', er schosse mich todt!' It is here so romantically beautiful! on
the right the animated promenade, and the view over the Sund; on the
left, the desolate square, where the military criminals are shot, and
close upon it the prison with its beam-fence. The sun scarcely shines
through those windows. Yet, without doubt, the prisoner can see us
walking here upon the wall.”
“And envy our golden freedom!” said Wilhelm.
“Perhaps he derides it,” answered Otto. “He is confined to his
chamber and the small courts behind the beam-lattice; we are confined
to the coast; we cannot fly forth with the ships into the mighty,
glorious world. We are also fastened with a chain, only ours is
somewhat longer than that of the prisoner. But we will not think of
this; let us go down to where the beautiful ladies are walking.”
“To see and to be seen,” cried Wilhelm. “'Spectatum veniunt; veniunt
spectentur ut ipsae,' as Ovid says.”
The friends quitted the wall.
“There comes my scholar, little Jonas!” cried Wilhelm. “The boy was
better dressed than at his last appearance; quickly he pulled his
little cap off and stood still: a young girl in a wretched garb held
him by the hand.
“Good day, my clever lad!” said Wilhelm, and his glance rested on
the girl: she was of a singularly elegant form; had she only carried
herself better she would have been a perfect beauty. It was Psyche
herself who stood beside Cupid. She smiled in a friendly manner; the
little lad had certainly told her who the gentlemen were; but she
became crimson, and cast down her eyes when Wilhelm looked back after
her: he beckoned to Jonas, who immediately came to him. The girl was
his sister, he said, and was called Eva. Wilhelm nodded to her, and the
friends went on.
“That was a beautiful girl!” said Wilhelm, and looked back once
more. “A rosebud that one could kiss until it became a full blown
“During the experiment the rosebud might easily be broken!” answered
Otto; “at least such is the case with the real flower. But do not look
back again, that is a sin!”
“Sin?” repeated Wilhelm; “no, then it is a very innocent sin!
Believe me, it flatters the little creature that we should admire her
beauty. I can well imagine how enchanting a loving look from a rich
young gentleman may be for a weak, feminine mind. The sweet words which
one can say are as poison which enters the blood. I have still a clear
conscience. Not ONE innocent soul have I poisoned!”
“And yet you are rich and young enough to do so,” returned Otto, not
without bitterness. “Our friends precede us with a good example: here
come some of our own age; they are acquainted with the roses!”
“Good evening, thou good fellow!” was the greeting Wilhelm received
from three or four of the young men.
“Are you on Thou-terms with all these?” inquired Otto.
“Yes,” answered Wilhelm; “we became so at a carouse. There all drank
the Thou-brotherhood. I could not draw myself back. At other times I do
not willingly give my 'thou' to any but my nearest friends. Thou
has something to my mind affectionate and holy. Many people fling it to
the first person with whom they drink a glass. At the carouse I could
not say no.”
“And wherefore not?” returned Otto; “that would never have troubled
The friends now wandered on, arm-in-arm. Later in the evening we
again meet with them together, and that at the house of a noble family,
whose name and rank are to be found in the “Danish Court Calendar;” on
which account it would be wanting in delicacy to mention the same, even
in a story the events of which lie so near our hearts.
Large companies are most wearisome. In these there are two kinds of
rank. Either you are riveted to a card-table, or placed against the
wall where you must stand with your hat in your hand, or, later in the
evening, with it at your feet, nay, even must stand during supper. But
this house was one of the most intellectual. Thou who dost recognize
the house wilt also recognize that it is not to be reckoned with
“Where each day's gossiping stale fish
Is served up daily for thy dish.”
This evening we do not become acquainted with the family, but only
with their beautiful Christmas festival.
The company was assembled in a large apartment; the shaded lamp
burned dimly, but this was with the intention of increasing the effect
when the drawing-room doors should open and the children joyfully press
Wilhelm now stepped to the piano-forte; a few chords produced
stillness and attention. To the sounds of low music there stepped forth
from the side-doors three maidens arrayed in white; each wore a long
veil depending from the back of her head,—one blue, the other red, and
the third white. Each carried in her arms an urn, and thus they
represented fortune-tellers from the East. They brought good or ill
luck, which each related in a little verse. People were to draw a
number, and according to this would he receive his gift from the
Christmas-tree. One of the maidens brought blanks—but which of them?
now it was proved whether you were a child of fortune. All, even the
children, drew their uncertain numbers: exception was only made with
the family physician and a few elderly ladies of the family; these had
a particular number stuck into their hands—their presents had been
“Who brings me good luck?” inquired Otto, as the three pretty young
girls approached him. The one with a white veil was Wilhelm's eldest
sister, Miss Sophie, who was this winter paying a visit to the family.
She resembled her brother. The white drapery about her head increased
the expression of her countenance. She rested her gaze firmly upon
Otto, and, perhaps, because he was the friend of her brother, she
raised her finger. Did she wish to warn or to challenge him? Otto
regarded it as a challenge, thrust his hand into the urn, and drew out
number 33. All were now provided. The girls disappeared, and the
folding-doors of the drawing-room were opened.
A dazzling light streamed toward the guests. A splendid fir-tree,
covered with burning tapers, and hung over with tinsel-gold, gilt eggs
and apples, almonds and grapes, dazzled the eye. On either side of the
tree were grottoes of fir-trees and moss, hung with red and blue paper
lamps. In each grotto was an altar; upon one stood John of Bologna's
floating Mercury; upon the other, a reduced cast in plaster of
Thorwaldsen's Shepherd-boy. The steps were covered with presents, to
which were attached the different numbers.
“Superbe! lovely!” resounded from all sides; and the happy children
shouted for joy. People arranged themselves in a half-circle, one row
behind the other. One of the cousins of the family now stepped forth, a
young poet, who, if we mistake not, has since then appeared among the
Anonymouses in “The New Year's Gift of Danish Poets.” He was appareled
this evening as one of the Magi, and recited a little poem which
declared that, as each one had himself drawn out of the urn of Fate, no
one could be angry, let him have procured for himself honor or
derision—Fate, and not Merit, being here the ruler. Two little boys,
with huge butterfly wings and in flowing garments, bore the presents to
the guests. A number, which had been purposely given to one of the
elder ladies, was now called out, and the boys brought forward a large,
heavy, brown earthen jug. To the same hung a direction the length of
two sheets of paper, upon which was written, “A remedy against frost.”
The jug was opened, and a very nice boa taken out and presented to the
“What number have you?” inquired Otto of Wilhelm's sister, who,
freed from her long veil, now entered the room and took her place near
“Number 34,” she answered. “I was to keep the number which remained
over when the others had drawn.”
“We are, then, neighbors in the chain of Fate,” returned Otto; “I
have number 33.”
“Then one of us will receive something very bad!” said Sophie. “For,
as much as I know, only every other number is good.” At this moment
their numbers were called out. The accompanying poem declared that only
a poetical, noble mind deserved this gift. It consisted of an
illuminated French print, the subject a simple but touching idea. You
saw a frozen lake, nothing but one expanse of ice as far as the
horizon. The ice was broken, and near to the opening lay a hat with a
red lining, and beside it sat a dog with grave eyes, still and
expectant. Around the broken opening in the ice were seen traces of the
dog having scratched into the hard crust of ice. “Il attend toujours"
was the simple motto.
“That is glorious!” exclaimed Otto. “An affecting thought! His
master has sunk in the depth, and the faithful log yet awaits him. Had
that picture only fallen to my lot!”
“It is lovely!” said Sophie, and a melancholy glance made the young
girl still more beautiful.
Soon after Wilhelm's turn came.
“Open the packet, thou shalt see
The very fairest gaze on thee!”
ran the verse. He opened the packet, and found within a small
mirror. “Yes, that was intended for a lady,” said he; “in that case it
would have spoken the truth! in my hands it makes a fool of me.
“For me nothing certainly remains but my number!” said Otto to his
neighbor, as all the gifts appeared to be distributed.
“The last is number 33,” said the cousin, and drew forth a roll of
paper, which had been hidden among the moss. It was unrolled. It was an
old pedigree of an extinct race. Quite at the bottom lay the knight
with shield and armor, and out of his breast grew the many-branched
tree with its shields and names. Probably it had been bought, with
other rubbish, at some auction, and now at Christmas, when every hole
and corner was rummaged for whatever could be converted into fun or
earnest, it had been brought out for the Christmas tree. The cousin
read the following verse:—
“Art thou not noble?—then it in far better;
This tree unto thy father is not debtor;
Thyself alone is thy ancestral crown.
From thee shall spring forth branches of renown,
And if thou come where blood gives honor's place,
This tree shall prove thee first of all thy race!
From this hour forth thy soul high rank hath won her,
Not will forget thy knighthood and thy honor.”
“I congratulate you,” said Wilhelm, laughing. “Now you will have to
pay the nobility-tax!”
Several of the ladies who stood near him, smiling, also offered a
kind of congratulation. Sophie alone remained silent, and examined the
present of another lady—a pretty pincushion in the form of a gay
The first row now rose to examine more nearly how beautifully the
Christmas tree was adorned. Sophie drew one of the ladies away with
“Let us look at the beautiful statues,” said she; “the Shepherd-boy
and the Mercury.”
“That is not proper,” whispered the lady; “but look there at the
splendid large raisins on the tree!”
Sophie stepped before Thorwaldsen's Shepherd-boy. The lady whispered
to a friend, “It looks so odd that she should examine the figures!”
“Ah!” replied the other, “she is a lover of the fine arts, as you
well know. Only think! at the last exhibition she went with her brother
into the great hall where all the plaster-casts stand, and looked at
them!—the Hercules, as well as the other indecent figures! they were
excellent, she said. That is being so natural; otherwise she is a nice
“It is a pity she is a little awry.”
Sophie approached them; both ladies made room for her, and invited
her most lovingly to sit clown beside them. “Thou sweet girl!” they
“Hark to trumpets and beaten gongs,
Squeaking fiddles, shouts and songs.
The Doctor is here;
And here the hills where fun belongs.”
J. L. HEIBERG.
We will not follow the principal characters of our story step for
step, but merely present the prominent moments of their lives to our
readers, be these great or small; we seize on them, if they in any way
contribute to make the whole picture more worthy of contemplation.
The winter was over, the birds of passage had long since returned;
the woods and fields shone in the freshest green, and, what to the
friends was equally interesting, they had happily passed through their
examen philologicum. Wilhelm, who, immediately after its termination,
had accompanied his sister home, was again returned, sang with little
Jonas, reflected upon the philosophicum, and also how he would
thoroughly enjoy the summer,—the summer which in the north is so
beautiful, but so short. It was St. John's Day. Families had removed
from Copenhagen to their pretty country-seats on the coast, where
people on horseback and in carriages rushed past, and where the highway
was crowded with foot-passengers. The whole road presented a picture of
life upon the Paris Boulevard. The sun was burning, the dust flew up
high into the air; on which account many persons preferred the
pleasanter excursion with the steamboat along the coast, from whence
could be seen the traffic on the high-road without enduring the
annoyance of dust and heat. Boats skimmed past; brisk sailors, by the
help of vigorous strokes of the oar, strove to compete with the
steam-packet, the dark smoke from which, like some demon, partly rested
upon the vessel, partly floated away in the air.
Various young students, among whom were also Wilhelm and Otto,
landed at Charlottenlund, the most frequented place of resort near
Copenhagen. Otto was here for the first time; for the first time he
should see the park.
A summer's afternoon in Linken's Bad, near Dresden, bears a certain
resemblance to Charlottenlund, only that the Danish wood is larger;
that instead of the Elbe we have the Sound, which is here three miles
broad, and where often more than a hundred vessels, bearing flags of
all the European nations, glide past. A band of musicians played airs
out of “Preciosa;” the white tents glanced like snow or swans through
the green beech-trees. Here and there was a fire-place raised of turf,
over which people boiled and cooked, so that the smoke rose up among
the trees. Outside the wood, waiting in long rows, were the peasants'
vehicles, called “coffee-mills,” completely answering ho the couricolo
of the Neapolitan and the coucou of the Parisian, equally cheap, and
overladen in the same manner with passengers, therefore forming highly
picturesque groups. This scene has been humorously treated in a picture
by Marstrand. Between fields and meadows, the road leads pleasantly
toward the park; the friends pursued the foot-path.
“Shall I brush the gentlemen?” cried five or six boys, at the same
time pressing upon the friends as they approached the entrance to the
park. Without waiting for an answer, the boys commenced at once
brushing the dust from their clothes and boots.
“These are Kirsten Piil's pages,” said Wilhelm, laughing; “they take
care that people show themselves tolerably smart. But now we are
brushed enough!” A six-skilling-piece rejoiced these little Savoyards.
The Champs Elysees of the Parisians on a great festival day, when
the theatres are opened, the swings are flying, trumpets and drums
overpowering the softer music, and when the whole mass of people, like
one body, moves itself between the booths and tents, present a
companion piece to the spectacle which the so-called Park-hill affords.
It is Naples' “Largo dei Castello,” with its dancing apes, shrieking
Bajazzoes, the whole deafening jubilee which has been transported to a
northern wood. Here also, in the wooden booths, large, tawdry pictures
show what delicious plays you may enjoy within. The beautiful female
horse-rider stands upon the wooden balcony and cracks with her whip,
whilst Harlequin blows the trumpet. Fastened to a perch, large, gay
parrots nod over the heads of the multitude. Here stands a miner in his
black costume, and exhibits the interior of a mine. He turns his box,
and during the music dolls ascend and descend. Another shows the
splendid fortress of Frederiksteen: “The whole cavalry and infantry who
have endured an unspeakable deal; here a man without a weapon, there a
weapon without a man; here a fellow without a bayonet, here a bayonet
without a fellow; and yet they are merry and contented, for they have
conquered the victory.” [Note: Literal translation of the real words of
a showman.] Dutch wafer-cake booths, where the handsome Dutch women, in
their national costume, wait on the customers, entice old and young.
Here a telescope, there a rare Danish ox, and so forth. High up,
between the fresh tree boughs, the swings fly. Are those two lovers
floating up there? A current of air seizes the girl's dress and shawl,
the young man flings his arm round her waist; it is for safety: there
is then less danger. At the foot of the hill there is cooking and
roasting going on; it seems a complete gypsy-camp. Under the tree sits
the old Jew—this is precisely his fiftieth jubilee; through a whole
half-century has he sung here his comical Doctor's song. Now that we
are reading this he is dead; that characteristic countenance is dust,
those speaking eyes are closed, his song forgotten tones.
Oehlenschlager, in his “St. John's Eve,” has preserved his portrait for
us, and it will continue to live, as Master Jakel (Punch), our Danish
Thespis, will continue to live. The play and the puppets were
transferred from father to son, and every quarter of an hour in the day
the piece is repeated. Free nature is the place for the spectators, and
after every representation the director himself goes round with the
This was the first spectacle which exhibited itself to the friends.
Not far off stood a juggler in peasant's clothes, somewhat advanced in
years, with a common ugly countenance. His short sleeves were rolled
up, and exhibited a pair of hairy, muscular arms. The crowd,
withdrawing from Master Jakel when the plate commenced its wanderings,
pushed Otto and Wilhelm forward toward the low fence before the
“Step nearer, my gracious gentlemen, my noble masters!” said the
juggler, with an accentuation which betrayed his German birth. He
opened the fence; both friends were fairly pushed in and took their
places upon the bench, where they, at all events, found themselves out
of the crowd.
“Will the noble gentleman hold this goblet?” said the juggler, and
handed Otto one from his apparatus. Otto glanced at the man: he was
occupied with his art; but Otto's cheek and forehead were colored with
a sudden crimson, which was immediately afterward supplanted by a
deathly paleness: his hand trembled, but this lasted only a moment; he
gathered all his strength of mind together and appeared the same as
“That was a very good trick!” said Wilhelm.
“Yes, certainly!” answered Otto; but he had seen nothing whatsoever.
His soul was strangely affected. The man exhibited several other
tricks, and then approached with the plate. Otto laid down a mark, and
then rose to depart. The juggler remarked the piece of money: a smile
played about his mouth; he glanced at Otto, and a strange malicious
expression lay in the spiteful look which accompanied his loudly spoken
thanks: “Mr. Otto Thostrup is always so gracious and good!”
“Does he know you?” asked Wilhelm.
“He has the honor!” grinned the juggler, and proceeded.
“He has exhibited his tricks in the Jutland villages, and upon my
father's estate,” whispered Otto.
“Therefore an acquaintance of your childhood?” said Wilhelm.
“Of my childhood,” repeated Otto, and they made themselves a way
through the tumult.
They met with several young noblemen, relatives of Wilhelm, with the
cousin who had written the verses for the Christmas tree; also several
friends from the carouse, and the company increased. They intended,
like many others, to pass the night in the wood, and at midnight drink
out of Kirsten Piil's well. “Only with the increasing darkness will it
become thoroughly merry here,” thought they: but Otto had appointed to
be in the city again toward evening. “Nothing will come out of that!”
said the poet; “if you wish to escape, we shall bind you fast to one of
“Then I carry him away with me on my back,” replied Otto; “and still
run toward the city. What shall I do here at night in the wood?”
“Be merry!” answered Wilhelm. “Come, give us no follies, or I shall
Hand-organs, drums, and trumpets, roared against each other; Bajazzo
growled; a couple of hoarse girls sang and twanged upon the guitar: it
was comic or affecting, just as one was disposed. The evening
approached, and now the crowd became greater, the joy more noisy.
“But where is Otto?” inquired Wilhelm. Otto had vanished in the
crowd. Search after him would help nothing, chance must bring them
together again. Had he designedly withdrawn himself? no one knew
wherefore, no one could dream what had passed within his soul. It
became evening. The highway and the foot-path before the park resembled
two moving gay ribbons.
In the park itself the crowd perceptibly diminished. It was now the
high-road which was become the Park-hill. The carriages dashed by each
other as at a race; the people shouted and sung, if not as melodiously
as the barcarole of the fisher men below Lido, still with the thorough
carnival joy of the south. The steamboat moved along the coasts. From
the gardens surrounding the pretty country-houses arose rockets into
the blue sky, the Moccoli of the north above the Carnival of the Park.
Wilhelm remained with his young friends in the wood, and there they
intended, with the stroke of twelve, to drink out of Kirsten's well.
Men and women, girls and boys of the lower class, and jovial young men,
meet, after this manner, to enjoy St. John's Eve. Still sounded the
music, the swings were in motion, lamps hung out, whilst the new moon
shone through the thick tree boughs. Toward midnight the noise died
away; only a blind peasant still scratched upon the three strings which
were left on his violin; some servant-girls wandered, arm-in-arm, with
their sweethearts, and sang. At twelve o'clock all assembled about the
well, and drank the clear, ice-cold water. From no great distance
resounded, through the still night, a chorus of four manly voices. It
was as if the wood gods sang in praise of the nymph of the well.
Upon the hill all was now deserted and quiet. Bajazzo and il Padrone
slept behind the thin linen partition, under a coverlid. The moon set,
but the night was clear; no clear, frosty winter night has a snore
beautiful starry heaven to exhibit. Wilhelm's party was merry, quickly
flew the hours away; singing in chorus, the party wandered through the
wood, and down toward the strand. The day already dawned; a red streak
along the horizon announced its approach.
Nature sang to them the mythos of the creation of the world, even as
she had sung it to Moses, who wrote down this voice from God,
interpreted by Nature. Light banished the darkness, heaven and earth
were parted; at first birds showed themselves in the clear air; later
rose the beasts of the field; and, last of all, appeared man.
“The morning is fairly sultry,” said Wilhelm; “the sea resembles a
mirror: shall we not bathe?”
The proposal was accepted.
“There we have the Naiades already!” said one of the party, as a
swarm of fishermen's wives and daughters, with naked feet, their green
petticoats tucked up, and baskets upon their backs, in which they
carried fish to Copenhagen, came along the road. The gay young fellows
cast toward the prettiest glances as warm and glowing as that cast by
the sun himself, who, at this moment, came forth and shone over the
Sound, where a splendid three-masted vessel had spread all her sails to
catch each breeze. The company reached the strand.
“There is some one already swimming out yonder,” said Wilhelm. “He
stands it bravely. That is an excellent swimmer!”
“Here lie his clothes,” remarked another.
“How!” exclaimed Wilhelm: “this is Otto Thostrup's coat! But Otto
cannot swim; I have never been able to persuade him to bathe. Now, we
will out and make a nearer acquaintance.”
“Yes, certainly it is he,” said another; “he is now showing his
“Then he must have been all night in the wood,” exclaimed Wilhelm.
“Yes, indeed, he's a fine bird. Does he fly us? He shall pay for this.
Good morning, Otto Thostrup,” criedhe; “have you lain all night in the
water, or in any other improper place? To quit friends without saying a
word does not appertain to the customs of civilized people. Since you,
therefore, show yourself such a man of nature, we will carry away your
garments; it cannot annoy you in puris naturalibus to seek us out in
Otto raised his head, but was silent.
“Now, will you not come forth?” cried Wilhelm. “Only kneeling before
each of us can you receive the separate articles of your dress, so that
you may again appear as a civilized European.” And saying this he
divided the clothes among the others; each one held an article in his
“Leave such jokes!” cried Otto with singular earnestness. “Lay down
the clothes, and retire!”
“Aye, that we will, presently,” returned Wilhelm. “You are a fine
fellow! You cannot swim, you say. Now, if you should not kneel”—
“Retire!” cried Otto, “or I will swim out into the stream, and not
“That might be original enough,” answered Wilhelm. “Swim forth, or
come and kneel here!”
“Wilhelm!” cried Otto, with an affecting sigh, and in a moment swam
forth with quick strokes.
“There he shoots away,” said one of the party. “How he cuts the
waves! He is a splendid swimmer!”
Smiling they gazed over the expanse; Otto swam even farther out.
“But where will he swim to?” exclaimed, somewhat gravely, one of the
spectators. “He will certainly lose his strength before he returns the
They unmoored the boat. Otto swam far out at sea; with quick strokes
of the oars they rowed after him.
“Where is he now?” cried Wilhelm shortly afterwards; “I see him no
“Yes, there he comes up again,” said another; “but his strength is
“On! on!” cried Wilhelm; “he will be drowned if we do not come to
his help. Only see—he sinks!”
Otto had lost all power; his head disappeared beneath the water. The
friends had nearly reached him; Wilhelm and several of the best
swimmers flung from themselves boots and coats, sprang into the sea,
and dived under the water. A short and noiseless moment passed. One of
the swimmers appeared above water. “He is dead!” were the first words
heard. Wilhelm and the three others now appeared with Otto; the boat
was near oversetting as they brought him into it. Deathly pale lay he
there, a beautifully formed marble statue, the picture of a young
gladiator fallen in the arena.
The friends busied themselves about him, rubbing his breast and
hands, whilst two others rowel toward the land.
“He breathes!” said Wilhelm.
Otto opened his eyes; his lips moved; his gaze became firmer; a deep
crimson spread itself over his breast and countenance; he raised
himself and Wilhelm supported him. Suddenly a deep sigh burst from his
breast; he thrust Wilhelm from him, and, like a madman, seized an
article of dress to cover himself with; then, with a convulsive
trembling of the lips, he said to Wilhelm, who held his hand, “I HATE
—“Art thou Prometheus, pierced with wounds?
The Vulture thou that tugs at his heart?”
J. CHR. V. ZEDLITZ'S Todtenkranze.
Not half an hour after this adventure a carriage rolled toward the
city—a large carriage, containing three seats, but, beside the
coachman, there was only one person within. This was Otto; his lips
were pale; death, it is true, had touched them. Alone he dashed
forward; his last words to Wilhelm had been his only ones.
“He has lost his wits,” said one of the friends.
“It is a fit of madness,” answered another, “such as he was seized
with at the examination, when he only sent in a scrap of white paper
for the mathematical examination, because he felt himself offended by
“I could quite vex myself about my stupid joke,” said Wilhelm. “I
ought to have known him better; he is of a strange, unhappy character.
Give me your hands! We will mention to no one what has occurred; it
would only give occasion to a deal of gossip, and wound him deeply, and
he is an excellent, glorious fellow.”
They gave their hands upon it, and drove toward the city.
The same day, toward evening, we again seek Otto. We find him in his
chamber. Silent, with crossed arms, he stands before a print, a copy of
Horace Vernet's representation of Mazeppa, who, naked and bound upon a
wild horse, rushes through the forest. Wolves thrust forth their heads
and exhibit their sharp teeth.
“My own life!” sighed Otto. “I also am bound to this careering wild
horse. And no friend, not a single one! Wilhelm, I could kill thee! I
could see you all lying in your blood! O, Almighty God!” He pressed his
hands before his face and threw himself into a seat; his eyes, however,
again directed themselves toward the picture; it exhibited a moment
similar to the condition of his own mind.
The door now opened, and Wilhelm stood before him.
“How do you find yourself, Thostrup?” he inquired. “We are still
friends as before?” and he wished to give his hand. Otto drew back his.
“I have done nothing which could so much offend you,” said Wilhelm;
“the whole was merely a joke! Give me your hand, and we will speak no
more of the affair!”
“To the man whom I hate, I never reach my hand,” replied Otto and
his lips were white like his cheeks.
“A second time to-day you speak these words to me,” said Wilhelm,
and the blood rushed to his face. “We were friends, wherefore cannot we
be so still? Have people slandered me to you? Have they told lies about
me? Only tell me faithfully, and I shall be able to defend myself.”
“You must fight with me!” said Otto; and his glance became more
gloomy. Wilhelm was silent; there reigned a momentary stillness. Otto
suppressed a deep sigh. At length Wilhelm broke silence, and said, with
a grave and agitated voice,—“I am so thoughtless, I joke so often, and
regard everything from the ridiculous side. But for all that I have
both heart and feeling. You must have known how much dearer you were to
me than most other people. You are so still, although you offend me. At
this moment your blood is in a fever; not now, but after a few days,
you yourself will best see which of us is the offended party. You
demand that I fight with you; I will if your honor requires this
satisfaction: but you must lay before me an acceptable reason. I will
know wherefore we risk our lives. Let some days pass by; weigh all with
your understanding and your heart! It will still depend upon yourself
whether we remain friends as before. Farewell!” And Wilhelm went.
Each of his words had penetrated to Otto's heart. A moment he stood
silent and undecided, then his limbs trembled involuntarily, tears
streamed from his eyes—it was a convulsive fit of weeping; he pressed
his head back. “God, how unfortunate I am!” were his only words.
So passed some minutes; he had ceased to weep, and was calm;
suddenly he sprang up, shot the bolt in the door, drew down the blinds,
lighted his candle, and once more looked searchingly around: the
key-hole was also stopped up. He then flung his coat away from him and
uncovered the upper part of his body.
“The towers pass by, even before we perceive them.”
OEHLENSCHLAER'S Journey to Funen.
Early the following morning, whilst Wilhelm still slept and dreamed
of his beloved sisters, well-known footsteps sounded on the stairs, the
door opened, and Otto stepped into the sleeping-room. Wilhelm opened
his eyes. Otto was pale; a sleepless night and sorrow of heart had
breathed upon his brow and eyes.
“Thostrup!” cried Wilhelm, with joyous surprise, and stretched forth
his hand toward him, but it again sank; Otto seized it, and pressed it
firmly in his own, adding at the same time, with gravity,—“You have
humbled me! Is that sufficient satisfaction for you?”
“We are then friends!” said Wilhelm. “Friends must be very indulgent
toward each other. Yesterday you were a little strange, to-morrow I may
be so; that is the way in which one retaliates.”
Otto pressed his hand. “We will never speak again of the occurrence
“Never!” repeated Wilhelm, affected by the strange gravity of his
“You are a noble, a good creature!” said Otto, and bent over him;
his lips touched Wilhelm's forehead.
Wilhelm seized his hand, and gazed frankly into his eye. “You are
not happy!” exclaimed he. “If I cannot assist you, I can, at least,
dear Otto, honestly share the grief of a friend!”
“Even on that very point we may never speak!” replied Otto.
“Farewell! I have determined on travelling home; we have only vacation
for a few weeks, and I have not been in Jutland since I became a
student. Even a month's sojourn there cannot throw me back; I am well
prepared for the philosophicum.”
“And when will you set out?” asked Wilhelm.
“To-morrow, with the steamboat. It is hot and sultry here in the
city: my blood becomes heated: it will, also, soon be a year since I
saw my family.”
“Thostrup!” exclaimed Wilhelm, through whom a thought suddenly
flashed, “I should also like to see my family; they have written to me
to come. Listen: make your journey through Funen, and only remain three
or four days with us. My mother's carriage shall convey you then to
Middelfart. Say 'Yes,' and we will set out this evening.”
“That cannot be done!” replied Otto; but half an hour later, as both
sat together over the tea-table, and Wilhelm repeated his wish, Otto
consented, but certainly more through a feeling of obligation than
through any pleasure of his own. Toward evening, therefore, they set
out in the beautiful summer night to travel through Zealand.
Smartly dressed families wandered pleasantly through the city gate
toward the summer theatre and Fredericksberg. The evening sun shone
upon the column of Liberty; the beautiful obelisk, around which stand
Wiedewelt's statues, one of which still weeps,
“In white marble clothing,
Hand upon the breast,
Looking down upon the gloomy sea,”
where were closed the eyes of the artist. Was it the remembrance
which here clouded Otto's glance, as his eye rested upon the statues as
they drove past, or did his own soul, perhaps, mirror itself in his
“Here it is gay and animated!” said Wilhelm, wishing to commence a
conversation. “Vesterbro is certainly your most brilliant suburb. It
forms a city by itself,—a little state! There upon the hill lies the
King's Castle, and there on the left, between the willows, the poet's
dwelling, where old Rahbek lived with his Kamma!”
“Castle and poet's dwelling!” repeated Otto; “the time will be when
they will inspire equal interest!”
“That old place will soon be pulled down!” said Wilhelm; “in such a
beautiful situation, so near the city, a splendid villa will be raised,
and nothing more remind one of Philemon and Baucis!”
“The old trees in the park will be spared!” said Otto; “in the
garden the flowers will scent the air, and remind one of Kamma's
flowers. Rahbek was no great poet, but he possessed a true poet's soul,
labored faithfully in the great vineyard, and loved flowers as Kamma
The friends hail left Fredericksberg behind them. The white walls of
the castle glanced through the green boughs; behind Sondermark, the
large, wealthy village stretched itself out. The sun had set before
they reached the Dam-house, where the wild swans, coming from the
ocean, build in the fresh water fake. This is the last point of beauty;
nothing but lonely fields, with here and there a cairn, extend to the
The clear summer's night attracted their gaze upward; the postilion
blew his horn, and the carriage rolled toward the town of Roeskilde,
the St. Denis of Denmark, where kings turn to dust; where Hroar's
spring still flows, and its waters mingle with those of Issefjords.
They drove to a public-house to change horses. A young girl
conducted the friends into the public room; she lighted the way for
them. Her slender figure and her floating gait drew Wilhelm's attention
toward her; his hand touched her shoulder, she sprang aside and fixed
her beautiful grave eyes upon him; but their expression became milder,
she smiled and colored at the same time.
“You are the sister of little Jonas!” cried Wilhelm, recognizing the
young girl he had seen with him at Christmas.
“I must also thank you,” said she, “for your kindness toward the
poor boy!” She quickly placed the lights on the table, and left the
room with a gentle glance.
“She is beautiful, very beautiful!” exclaimed Wilhelm. “That was
really quite a pleasant meeting.”
“Is it then you, Herr Baron, who honor me thus?” cried the host,
stepping in—an elderly man with a jovial countenance. “Yes, the Baron
will doubtless visit his dear relations in hunch? It is now some little
time since you were there.”
“This is our host!” said Wilhelm to Otto. “He and his wife were born
upon my parent's estate.”
“Yes,” said the host, “in my youth I have shot many a snipe and wild
duck with the Herr Baron's father. But Eva should spread the table; the
gentlemen will certainly take supper, and a glass of good punch the
Herr Baron will certainly not despise, if he is like his blessed
The young girl spread the cloth in an adjoining room.
“She is pretty!” Wilhelm whispered to the old man.
“And just as pious and innocent as she is pretty!” returned he; “and
that is saying much, as she is a poor girl, and from Copenhagen. She is
of good service to us, and my wife says Eva shall not leave us until
she is well married.”
Wilhelm invited the host to join them at a glass. The old man became
more animated, and now confided to him, half mysteriously, what made
Eva so honorable in the eyes of his wife, and what was, indeed, really
very nice of her. “My old woman,” said he, “was in Copenhagen, in
search of a waiting-girl. Yes, there are enough to be had, and they are
fine girls; but mother has her own thoughts and opinions: she has good
eyes—that she has! Now, there came many, and among others Eva; but,
good Lord! she was very poorly clad, and she looked feeble and weak,
and what service could one get out of her! But she had a good
countenance, and the poor girl wept and besought mother to take her,
for she was not comfortable at home, and would not remain at
Copenhagen. Now, mother knows how to make use of her words: it is
unfortunate that she is not at home to-night; how pleased she would
have been to see the Herr Baron! Yes, what I would say is, she so
twisted her words about, that Eva confessed to her why she wished to
leave home. You see the girl is petty; and the young gallant gentlemen
of Copenhagen had remarked her smooth face,—and not alone the young,
but the old ones also! So an old gentleman—I could easily name him,
but that has nothing to do with the affair—a very distinguished man in
the city, who has, besides, a wife and children, had said all sorts of
things to her parents; and, as eight hundred dollars is a deal of money
to poor people, one can excuse them: but Eva wept, and said she would
rather spring into the castle-ditch. They represented all sorts of
things to the poor girl; she heard of the service out here with us. She
wept, kissed my old woman's hand, and thus came to us; and since then
we have had a deal of service from Eva, and joy also!”
Some minutes after Eva stepped in, Otto's eye rested with a
melancholy expression upon the beautiful form: never had he before so
gazed upon a woman. Her countenance was extraordinarily fine, her nose
and forehead nobly formed, the eyebrows dark, and in the dark-blue eyes
lay something pensive, yet happy: one might employ the Homeric
expression, “smiling through tears,” to describe this look. She
announced that the carriage was ready.
A keen observer would soon have remarked what a change the host's
relation had worked in the two friends. Wilhelm was no longer so free
toward poor Eva. Otto, on the contrary, approached her more,— and at
their leave-taking they offered her a greater present than they would
otherwise have given.
She stood with Otto at the door, and assisted him on with his
“Preserve your heart pure!” said he, gravely; “that is more than
The young girl blushed, and gazed at him with astonishment; in such
a manner had no one of his age ever before spoken to her.
“The poor girl!” said Otto; “but I think she is come to good
“She has a strange glance!” said Wilhelm. “Do you know that there is
really a certain affinity between you and her? It was to me quite
“That is a compliment which I cannot accept,” returned Otto,
smiling. “Yet, perhaps, I might resemble her.”
It was not yet three o'clock when the friends reached Ringsted.
“I have never before been so far in Zealand,” said Otto.
“Shall I be your guide?” returned Wilhelm. “Ringsted has a street
and an inn, and one is very badly served there, as you will soon both
see and experience yourself. Meanwhile, one can think of Hagbarth and
Signe; not far from here, at Sigersted, he hung his mantle on the oak,
and Signelil's abode stood in flames. Now only remain fields and
meadows, a cairn, and the old popular song. Then we rush past the
friendly Soroe, that mirrors itself with the wood in the lake, which
forms itself into so many bays; but we do not see much of it. We have
here another romantic spot, an old castle converted into a church, high
up on the hill near the lake, and close to it the dismal place of
execution. We then reach Slagelse, an animated little town; with the
Antvorskov convent, the poet Frankenau's grave, and a Latin school,
celebrated on account of its poets. It was there Baggesen and Ingemann
learned their Latin. When I once questioned the hostess regarding the
lions of the town, she would only acknowledge two,—Bastholm's library,
and the English fire-engine. The curtain in the theatre represents an
alley with a fountain, the jets of which are painted as if spouting out
of the prompter's box; or is this, perhaps, the English fire-engine? I
know not. The scene-decoration for towns represents the market-place of
Slagelse itself, so that the pieces thus acquire a home-feeling. This
is the modern history of the little town; and, with regard to its older
and romantic history, learn that the holy Anders was preacher here!
Yes, indeed, that was a man! He has been also sung of by our first
poets. We end with Korsoer, where Baggesen was born and Birckner lies
buried. In the more modern history of this town, King Solomon and
Jorgen the hatter play a considerable role. Besides this, I know that
the town is said once to have possessed a private theatre; but this
soon was done for, and the decorations were sold; a miller bought them,
and patched his windmill sails with them. Upon one sail was a piece of
a wood, upon another a shred of a room, or a street; and so they rushed
round one after the other. Perhaps this is mere slander, for I have my
information from Slagelse; and neighboring towns never speak well of
In this manner Wilhelm gossiped on, and the friends travelled over
the way he had described. Slagelse, and the peasant village of
Landsgrav, they had already behind them, when Wilhelm ordered the
coachman to diverge from the high-road toward the right.
“Where will you take us to?” asked Otto.
“I will give you a pleasure!” returned Wilhelm. “We shall reach the
weariful Korsoer early enough: the steamboat leaves at ten, and it is
not yet seven. You shall be surprised—I know well that you are half a
Catholic; I will conduct you where you may believe yourself carried
back several centuries, and may imagine yourself in a Catholic country.
That is right pleasant, is it not?”
Otto smiled. The friends alighted from the coach and walked over a
corn-field. They found themselves upon a hill, the whole landscape
spread itself out before them—they saw the Belt, with Sprogoe and
Funen. The surrounding country was certainly flat, but the variety of
greens, the near meadow, the dark stretch of wood in the neighborhood
of Korsoer, the bay itself, and all this seen in a warm morning light,
produced effect. The friends diverged to the right; and before them,
upon a hill, stood a large wooden cross, with the figure of the
Crucified One. Above the cross was built a small roof to carry off the
rain,—such as one may yet find in Bavaria. The figure of the Redeemer
was of wood, painted with strong, tawdry colors; a withered garland of
corn-flowers still hung around his bowed head.
“It is extraordinary,” said Otto, “to find in our time, in the year
1830, such a Catholic symbol in Lutheran Denmark! And yet—yes, you
will laugh at me, but I find it lovely: it affects me, moves me to
“That tawdry, tasteless figure!” cried Wilhelm. “Only see how
coarse! the hair is covered with tar to keep off the rain! The peasants
here have their peculiar superstition. If they allow the cross to fall
they have no luck with their lands. It was upon this hill that the holy
Anders, the celebrated preacher of Slagelse, awoke. He visited the
sepulchre of Christ, but through praying there too long the ship sailed
without him, and he was forced to stay behind. Then came a man and took
him upon his horse, and they would ride to Joppa: the holy Anders fell
asleep; but when he awoke he lay here, and heard the bells ringing in
Slagelse. Upon a foal, only one night old, he rode round the extensive
city lands, whilst King Waldemar lay in his bath. He could hang his
glove upon the beams of the sun. This hill, where he awoke, was called
Rest-hill; and the cross, with the figure of the Redeemer erected upon
it, which still stands here, reminds us of the legend of the holy
A little peasant girl at this moment mounted the hill, but paused
when she perceived the strangers.
“Don't be afraid, my child!” said Wilhelm. “What hast thou there? a
garland! shall it hang here upon the cross? Only come, we will help
“It should hang over our Lord,” said the little one, holding, in an
embarrassed manner, the garland of pretty blue cornflowers in her hand.
Otto took the garland, and hung it up in place of the faded one.
“That was our morning adventure!” said Wilhelm, and soon they were
rolling in the deep sand toward Korsoer, toward the hill where the poet
watched the sun and moon sink into the sea, and wished that he had
wings that he might catch them.
Melancholy and silent lies the town on the flat coast, the old
castle turned into a farm-house—high grass grows upon the walls. In a
storm, when the wind blows against the city, the surf beats against the
outermost houses. High upon the church stands a telegraph; the black
wooden plates resemble mourning-flags hung above the sinking town. Here
is nothing for the stranger to see, nothing except a grave—that of the
thinker Birckner. The friends drove to the public-house on the strand.
No human being met them in the street except a boy, who rung a
“That calls to church,” said Wilhelm. “Because there are no bells in
the tower, they have here such a wandering bell-ringer as this. Holla!
there lies the inn!”
“Baron Wilhelm!” cried a strong voice, and a man in a green jacket
with pockets in the breast, the mighty riding-boots splashed above the
tops, and with whip in hand, approached them, pulled his horse-hair
cap, and extended his hand to Wilhelm.
“The Kammerjunker from Funen!” said Wilhelm; “my mother's neighbor,
one of the most industrious and rich noblemen in all Funen.”
“You will come one of the first days to me!” said the Kammerjunker;
“you shall try my Russian steam-bath: I have erected one upon my
estate. All who visit me, ladies and gentlemen without any exception,
must try it!”
“And do the cherry-trees bear well this year?” asked Wilhelm.
“No, no,” answered the Kammerjunker, “they are good for nothing; but
the apples are good! All the old trees in the hill-garden stand in full
splendor: I've brought them into condition! Two years ago there was
not, on all the trees together, a bushel of fruit. But I had all the
horses which had to be bled led under the trees, and had the warm blood
sprinkled upon the roots; this happened several times, and it has been
a real inoculation for life.”
“The wind is certainly favorable,” said Otto, whom this conversation
began to weary.
“No, just the contrary!” said the Kammerjunker. “The vane upon the
little house yonder lies; it points always to Nyborg, always shows a
good wind for us when we want to leave. In Nyborg is also a vane, which
stands even as firmly as this, and prates to the folk there of good
wind. I regard both vanes as a kind of guide-post, which merely says,
There goes the way! No, if we had had a wind I should have gone with
the boat, and not with the little splashing thing, as the seamen call
the steamboat. The carriage is doubtless awaiting the young gentleman
in Nyborg?” pursued he. “I will join company with you—my brown horse
waits for me at Schalburg. You should see him! He has sinews like steel
springs, and legs like a dancing-master! He is my own brown.”
“No one knows that we are coming,” answered Wilhelm. “We shall,
therefore, take a carriage from Nyborg.”
“We will join company,” said the Kammerjunker, “and then you will
pay me a visit with the young gentleman. You shall sleep in the black
chamber! Yes, you will give me the pleasure?” said he to Otto. “If you
are a lover of the antique, my estate will afford you pleasure; you
find there moats, towers, guard-rooms, ghosts, and hobgoblins, such as
belong to an old estate. The black chamber! after all, it is not quite
secure there; is it, Herr Baron?”
“No, the deuce remain a night with you!” said Wilhelm; “one gets to
bed late, and even then it is not permitted one to close one's eyes.
You, your sister, and the Mamsell,—yes, you are a pretty clover-leaf!
Yes, Thostrup, you cannot believe what pranks are hatched upon the
Kammerjunker's estate! One must be prepared for it! It is said to be
haunted, but if the dead will not take that trouble the living do. The
Kammerjunker is in the plot with his women-folk. They sewed me lately
live cockchafers into my pillow, and they crawled and scrambled about
till I did not know what the deuce it could be! A live cock they had
also placed under my bed, and just in the morning, when I would go to
sleep, the creature began to crow!”
“The women-folk had done that,” said the Kammerjunker. “Did they not
the very same night fasten a door-bell to the head of my bed? I never
thought of it; fat Laender slept in the same room, and had fastened
along the wall a string to the bell. I awoke with the ringing. 'What
the devil is that bell?' said I, and glanced about the room, for I
could not conceive what it was. 'Bell?' asked Laender—'there is no
bell here!' The ringing also ceased. I thought I must have dreamed, or
that our merry evening must have left some buzzing in my ears. Again it
began to ring. Laender looked so innocent all the time, I could not
comprehend myself; I thought it must be my imagination. I became quite
fainthearted, I denied my own hearing, and said, 'No, I have only
dreamed!' and commenced reckoning and counting to employ my mind; but
that did no good, and it nearly drove me mad! I sprang out of bed, and
then I found out the trick: but how Laender grinned! he was swollen and
red in the face with his mirth.”
“Do you play such jokes on your estate?” inquired Otto, addressing
himself to Wilhelm.
“No, not such refined ones!” returned the Kammerjunker; “perhaps a
piece of wood, or a silly mask, is laid in your bed. Miss Sophie gives
us other clever things for amusement—tableaux and the magic-lantern. I
was once of the party. Yes, what was it I represented? Ah, I played,
Heaven help me! King Cyrus: had a paper crown on my head, and Miss
Sophie's cloak about me, the wrong side turned outward, for it is lined
with sable. I looked like Satan!”
The steamboat passengers were summoned on board, the company went
down to the vessel, and soon it was cutting through the waves of the
“See now, Funen signifieth fine,
And much in that word lies;
For Funen is the garden fine,
Where Denmark glads its eyes.”
The nakedness which the last aspect of Zealand presents occasions
one to be doubly struck by the affluent abundance and luxuriance with
which Funen steps forth. Green woods, rich corn-fields, and, wherever
the eye rests, noblemen's seats and churches. Nyborg itself appears a
lively capital in comparison with the still melancholy Korsoer. One now
perceives people upon the great bridge of boats, on the ramparts, and
in the broad streets with their high houses; one sees soldiers, hears
music, and, what is especially animating upon a journey, one comes to
an excellent inn. The drive out through the arched gateway is an
astonishment; it is the same length and breadth as one of the gates of
Copenhagen. Villages and peasants' houses here assume a more well-to-do
aspect than in Zealand, where one often on the way-side imagines one
sees a manure-heap heaped upon four poles, which upon nearer
examination one finds is the abode of a family. On the highroads in
Funen one perceives only clean houses; the window-frames are painted;
before the doors are little flower-gardens, and wherever flowers are
grown, as Bulwer strikingly remarks, the peasant is in a higher state
of civilization; he thinks of the beautiful. In the ditches along the
highway one sees lilac with their white and lilac flowers. Nature
herself has here adorned the country with a multitude of wild poppies,
which for splendor of color might vie with the most admired and
beautiful in a botanic garden. Especially in the neighborhood of Nyborg
do they grow in exceeding abundance.
“What a dazzling color!” exclaimed Otto, as the friends rolled past
these beautiful red flowers.
“That is a proud color!” said the Kammerjunker, who rode near them
upon his brown steed, “a proud color! but they are manured with the
blood of Andalusian horses. It was just here where the battle between
these beasts took place. You know that sit the year 1808 the Spaniards
lay in Funen; the English ships were cruising about in the Belt, and
Romana fled with his whole army on board, but they could net take their
horses with them. These were the most splendid Andalusian creatures
that eyes ever saw. The Spaniards took off their bridles, and left them
here to scamper about the fields like wild horses. The horses of Nyborg
chanced also to graze here, and as soon as the Andalusian steeds became
aware of ours they arranged themselves in a row, and fell upon the
Danish horses: that was a combat! At length they fell upon each other,
and fought until they fell bleeding to earth. Whilst still a boy I saw
little skull of one of these beasts. This is the last adventure left us
from the visit of the Spaniards to Denmark. In the village through
which we shall now pass are some outer remembrances. Remark the young
lads and lasses,—they are of a darker complexion than the inhabitants
of other Funen valleys; that is Spanish blood, it is said. It was in
this village that the story took its rise of the preacher's
servant-girl, who wept and was so inconsolable at the departure of the
Spaniards. But not on account of her bridegroom did she weep,— not
over her own condition. The preacher consoled her, and then she said
she only wept to think that if the innocent child resembled its father
it certainly would speak Spanish, and then not a soul would understand
it! Yes, such histories as this have we in Funen!” said he laughingly
With similar relations, and some agricultural observations,
according as they were called forth by surrounding objects, did our
excellent landed proprietor amuse our young gentlemen. They were
already distant several miles from Nyborg, when he suddenly broke off
in the midst of a very interesting discourse upon a characteristic of a
true inhabitant of Funen, which is, that whenever he passes a field of
buckwheat he moves his mouth as if chewing, and made Wilhelm observe a
Viennese carriage, which approached them by a neighboring road. To
judge from the coachman and the horses, it must be the family from the
This was the case—they returned from paying a visit. Where the
roads crossed they met each other. Otto immediately recognized Miss
Sophie, and near to her sat an elderly lady, with a gentle,
good-humored countenance; this was the mother. Now there was surprise
and joy. Sophie blushed—this blush could not have reference to the
brother; was it then the Kammerjunker? No: that appeared impossible!
therefore, it must concern Otto. The mother extended her hand to him
with a welcome, whilst at the same time she invited the Kammerjunker to
spend the afternoon with them. There lay, in the manner with which she
proposed this, so much attention and consideration, that Otto felt the
man was here held in greater esteem, and was otherwise regarded than
he, during their short acquaintance, had imagined possible.
Sophie added, smiling, “You must stay!” To which the Kammerjunker
replied with an apology for his travelling-dress.
“We are not strangers!” said the mother; “it is only a family meal!
You see the usual circle. You, Mr. Thostrup,” added she, with a most
obliging manner, “I know so well from Wilhelm's letters, that we are no
strangers. The gentlemen are acquainted with each other!”
“I accept the invitation,” said the Kammerjunker, “and I will now
show you into what a gallop I can put my steed! It is Carl Rise,
[Translator's Note: Name of one of the heroes in Waldemar the
Conqueror, a romance by Ingemann.] as you see, young lady—you called
him so yourself!”
“Yes, ride forward,” said Sophie, smiling. “By that means you will
oblige my sister. She might otherwise be quite frightened, did she see
such a mighty caravan approach the house, did she had not properly
prepared the dinner-table.”
“As my gracious young lady commands!” said the rider, and sprang
The country became more woody; the road passed various small lakes,
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
“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 white
“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 attempt,
“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 and pea-shells!”
“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 her heart.
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 planets.
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
“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
“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 mowing-feast.
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 whirled
“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
“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 Louise.
“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 a poet.”
“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 here?”
“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
“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
“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 ribbon.”
“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 confidence.”
“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
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 of antlers.
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
“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 well!”
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
“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 academical
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
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 and
“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 gambols!”
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 service.
“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 all.”
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 either
“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
“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
“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 depend!”
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
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
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 fellow.
“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 it.”
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 morning.
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
“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 fruitfulness.
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
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
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 came.
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
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 consanguinity.
“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 living dreams.
“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 fourth
“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 not judge!”
“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 on!”
“But thou didst become good and full of love, as thou art now!” said
“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 forgotten.”
“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 was not.
Some days passed by. One afternoon Rosalie sat upon a small wooden
bench under the cherry-trees, and was making mourning for the winter.
“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 fall.”
“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
“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
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 neighboring possessions.
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
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 Otto.
“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 journey.
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 voice.
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
“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
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
“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 beside
“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
“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 German
“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 speck.
“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 Otto.
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 Heinrich said.
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
“Every evening have I named your name it my prayers said the old
grandmother.” Each time when the harbingers of bad weather showed
themselves, and my sons were on the sea, so that we hung out flags or
lighted beacons as signals, did I think of the words which had escaped
my lips, and which the wicked Heinrich had caught up; I feared lest our
Lord might cause my children to suffer for my injustice.”
“Be calm, my dear old woman!” said Otto. “Keep for yourself the holy
cross, on the virtue of which you rely; may it remove each sorrow from
your own heart!”
“No, I am guilty of my own sorrow! yours has a stranger laid upon
your heart! Only the sorrow of the guiltless will the cross bear.”
The beautiful sentiment which, unconsciously to her, lay in these
words, affected Otto. He accepted the present, preserved it, sought to
calm the old woman, and once more at parting glanced toward the
splendid sea expanse which formed its own boundary.
It was almost evening before he reached the house where Rosalie
awaited him. His last scene with the blind fisher-woman had again
thrown him into his gloomy mood. “After all, she really knows nothing!”
said he to himself. “This Heinrich is my evil angel! might he only die
soon!” It was in Otto's soul as if he could shoot a ball through
Heinrich's heart. “Did he only lie buried under the heather, and with
him my secret! I will have blood! yes, there is something devilish in
man! Were Heinrich only dead! But others live who know my birth,—my
sister! my poor, neglected sister, she who had the same right to
intellectual development as myself! How I fear this meeting! it will be
bitter! I must away. I will hence— here will my life-germ be stifled!
I have indeed fortune—I will travel! This animated France will drive
away these whims, and—I am away, far removed from my home. In the
coming spring I shall be a stranger among strangers!” And his thoughts
melted into a quiet melancholy. In this manner he reached the hall.
“L'Angleterre jalouse et la Grece homerique,
Toute l'Europe admire, et la jeune Amerique
Se leve et bat des mains du bord des oceans.
Trois jours vous ont suffi pour briser vos entraves.
Vous etes les aines d'une race de braves,
Vous etes les fits des geans!”
V. HUGO, Chants du Crepuscule.
“Politiken, mine Herrer!”
MORTONS' Lystspil: den Hjemkomne Nabob
“In France there is revolution!” was the first piece of information
which Otto related. “Charles X. has flown with his family. This, they
say, is in the German papers.”
“Revolution?” repeated Rosalie, and folded her hands. “Unhappy
France! Blood has flowed there, and it again flows. There I lost my
father and my brother. I became a refugee—must seek for myself a new
father-land.” She wiped away a tear from her cheek, and sunk into deep
meditation. She knew the horrors of a revolution, and only saw in this
new one a repetition of those scenes of terror which she had
experienced, and which had driven her out into the world, up into the
north, where she struggled on, until at length she found a home with
Otto's grandfather—a resting abode.
Everything great and beautiful powerfully affected Otto's soul; only
in one direction had he shown no interest—in the political direction,
and it was precisely politics which had most occupied the grandfather
in his seclusion. But Otto's soul was too vivacious, too easily moved,
too easily carried away by what lay nearest him. “One must first
thoroughly enter into life, before the affairs of the world can seize
upon us!” said he. “With the greater number of those who in their early
youth occupy themselves with politics, it is merely affectation. It is
with them like the boy who forces himself to smoke tobacco so as to
appear older than he really is.” Beyond his own country, France was the
only land which really interested Otto. Here Napoleon had ruled, and
Napoleon's name had reached his heart—he had grown up whilst this name
passed from mouth to mouth; the name and the deeds of the hero sounded
to him, yet a boy, like a great world adventure. How often had he heard
his grandfather, shaking his head, say, “Yes, now newspaper writers
have little to tell since Napoleon is quiet.” And then he had related
to him of the hero at Arcole and among the Pyramids, of the great
campaign against Europe, of the conflagration at Moscow, and the return
Who has not written a play in his childhood? Otto's sole subject was
Napoleon; the whole history of the hero, from the snow-batteries at
Brienne to the rocky island in the ocean. True, this poem was a wild
shoot; but it had sprung from an enthusiastic heart. At that time he
preserved it as a treasure. A little incident which is connected with
it, and is characteristic of Otto's wild outbreaks of temper when a
boy, we will here introduce.
A child of one of the domestics, a little merry boy with whom Otto
associated a good deal, was playing with him in his garret. Otto was
then writing his play. The boy bantered him, pulling the paper at the
same time. Otto forbade him with the threat,—“If thou dost that again
I will throw thee out of the window!” The boy again immediately pulled
at the paper. In a moment Otto seized him by the waist, swung him
toward the open window, and would certainly have thrown him out, had
not Rosalie fortunately entered the room, and, with an exclamation of
horror, seized Otto's arm, who now stood pale as death and trembling in
In this manner had Napoleon awoke Otto's interest for France.
Rosalie also spoke, next to her Switzerland, with most pleasure of this
country. The Revolution had livingly affected her, and therefore her
discourse regarding it was living. It even seemed to the old preacher
as though the Revolution were an event which he had witnessed. The
Revolution and Napoleon had often fed his thoughts and his discourse
toward this land. Otto had thus, without troubling himself the least
about politics, grown up with a kind of interest about France. The mere
intelligence of this struggle of the July days was therefore not
indifferent to him. He still only knew what the horse-dealer had
related; nothing of the congregation, or of Polignac's ministry: but
France was to him the mighty world-crater, which glowed with its
splendid eruptions, and which he admired from a distance.
The old preacher shook his head when Otto imparted this political
intelligence to him. A king, so long as he lived, was in his eyes holy,
let him be whatever sort of a man he might. The actions of a king,
according to his opinion, resembled the words of the Bible, which man
ought not to weigh; they should be taken as they were. “All authority
is from God!” said he. “The anointed one is holy; God gives to him
wisdom; he is a light to whom we must all look up!”
“He is a man like ourselves!” answered Otto. “He is the first
magistrate of the land, and as such we owe him the highest reverence
and obedience. Birth, and not worth, gives him the high post which he
fills. He ought only to will that which is good; to exercise justice.
His duties are equally great with those of his subjects.”
“But more difficult, my son!” said the old man. “It is nothing, as a
flower, to adorn the garland; more difficult is it to be the hand which
weaves the garland. The ribbon must be tight as well as gently tied; it
must not cut into the stems, and yet it must not be too loose. Yes, you
young men talk according to your wisdom! Yes, you are wise! quite as
wise as the woman who kept a roasted chicken for supper. She placed it
upon a pewter plate upon the glowing coals, and went out to attend to
her affairs. When she returned the plate was melted, and the chicken
lay among the ashes. 'What a wise cat I have!' said she; 'she has eaten
I the plate and left the chicken!' See, you talk just so, and regard
things from the same foolish point of view. Do not speak like the rest
of them in the city! 'Fear God, and honor the king!' We have nothing to
argue with these two; they transact their business between them! The
French resemble young students; when these have made their examen
artium they imagine they are equal to the whole world: they grow
restive, and give student-feasts! The French must have a Napoleon, who
can give their something to do! If they be left to themselves they will
play mad pranks!”
“Let us first see what the papers really say,” replied Otto.
The following day a large letter arrived; it was from Wilhelm:—
“My excellent Otto,—We have all drunk to Otto Thostrup's health. I
raised the glass, and drank the health. The friendship's dissonance YOU
has dissolved itself into a harmonious THOU, and thou thyself hast
given the accord. All at home speak of thee; even the Kammerjunker's
Mamsell chose lately thee, and not her work-box, as a subject of
conversation. The evening as thou drovest over the Jutland heaths I
seated myself at the piano, and played thy whole journey to my sisters.
The journey over the heath I gave them in a monotonous piece, composed
of three tones, quite dissimilar to that composed by Rousseau. My
sisters were near despair; but I told them it was not more
uninteresting than the heath. Sometimes I made a little flight, a
quaver; that was the heath-larks which flew up into the air. The
introduction to the gypsy-chorus in 'Preciosa' signified the German
gypsy-flock. Then came the thema out of 'Jeannot and Collin'—'O,
joyous days of childhood!'—and then thou wast at home. I thundered
powerfully down in the bass; that was the North Sea, the chorus in thy
present grand' opera. Thou canst well imagine that it was quite
“For the rest, everything at home remains in its old state. I have
been in Svendborg, and have set to music that sweet poem, 'The Wishes,'
by Carl Bagger. His verses seem to me a little rough; but something
will certainly come out of the fellow! Thy own wishes are they which he
has expressed. Besides this, the astonishing tidings out of France have
given us, and all good people here, an electrical shock. Yes, thou in
thy solitude hast certainly heard nothing of the brilliant July days.
The Parisians have deposed Charles X. If the former Revolution was a
blood-fruit, this one is a true passionflower, suddenly sprung up,
exciting astonishment through its beauty, and as soon as the work is
ended rolling together its leaves. My cousin Joachim, who as thou
knowest is just now at Paris, has lived through these extraordinary
days. The day before yesterday we received a long, interesting letter
from him, which gave us—of the particulars as well as of the whole—a
more complete idea than the papers can give us. People assemble in
groups round the post-houses to receive the papers as they arrive. I
have extracted from my cousin's letter what has struck me most, and
send thee these extracts in a supplement. Thou canst thus in thy
retirement still live in the world. A thousand greetings from all here.
Thou hast a place in mamma's heart, but not less so in mine.
“Thy friend and brother,
“P. S.—It is true! My sister Sophie begs thee to bring her a stone
from the North Sea. Perhaps thou wilt bring for me a bucket of water;
but it must not incommode thee!”
This hearty letter transported Otto into the midst of the friendly
circle in Funen. The corner of the paper where Wilhelm's name stood he
pressed to his lips. His heart was full of noble friendship.
The extract which Wilhelm had made from his cousin's letter was
short and descriptive. It might be compared with a beautiful poem
translated into good prose.
In the theatre we interest ourselves for struggling innocence; but
we are still more affected when the destiny of a whole nation is to be
decided. It is on this account that “Wilhelm Tell” possesses so much
interest. Not of the single individual is here the question, but of
all. Here is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone. Greater than the
play created by the poet was the effect which this description of the
July days produced upon Otto. This was the reality itself in which he
lived. His heart was filled with admiration for France, who fought for
Liberty the holy fight, and who, with the language of the sword, had
pronounced the anathema of the age on the enemies of enlightenment and
The old preacher folded his hands as he heard it; his eyes sparkled:
but soon he shook his head. “May men so judge the anointed ones of God?
'He who taketh the sword shall perish by the sword!'“
“The king is for the people,” said Otto; “not the people for the
“Louis XVIth's unhappy daughter!” sighed Rosalie; “for the third
time is she driven from her father-land. Her parents and brothers
killed! her husband dishonored! She herself has a mind and heart. 'She
is the only man among the Bourbons,'“ said Napoleon.
The preacher, with his old-fashioned honesty, and a royalist from
his whole heart, regarded the affair with wavering opinion, and with
fear for the future. Rosalie thought most of those who were made
unhappy of the royal ladies and the poor children. Each followed the
impulse of their own nature, and the instinctive feeling of their age;
thus did Otto also, and therefore was his soul filled with enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm belongs to youth. His thoughts were busied with dreams of
Paris; thither flew his wishes. “Yes, I will travel!” exclaimed he;
“that will give my whole character a more decided bias: I will and
must,” added he in thought. “My sorrow will be extinguished, the
recollections of my childhood be forgotten. Abroad, no terrific
figures, as here, will present themselves to me. My father is dead,
foreign earth lies upon his coffin!”
“But the office—examination!” said the old preacher, “pass that
first. It is always good to have this in reserve, even if thou dost
make no use of it. Only make this year thy philosophicum.”
“And in the spring I shall travel,” said Otto.
“That depends upon thy guardian, my son!” said the preacher.
Several days passed, and Otto began to feel it solitary in his
home—all moved here in such a confined circle. His mind was accustomed
to a wider sphere of action. He began to grow weary, and then the hours
travel with the snail's pace.
”...minutterna ligesom racka og strarka sig.
Man kanner behof at gore sa med.” [Note: Sketches of Every-day
He thought of his departure.
“Thou must take the road through Lemvig,” said Rosalie. “I will then
visit the family there for a few days; it will make them quite happy to
see thee, and I shall then be so much longer with thee. That thou wilt
do, wilt thou not?”
The day was fixed when they should travel.
The evening previous, Otto paid his last visit to the preacher. They
spoke together a long time about the deceased grandfather. The preacher
gave up several papers to Otto; among them also his father's last
In honor of Otto, a bottle of wine was placed upon the table.
“To thy health, my son!” said the preacher, raising his glass. “We
shall hardly spend another evening together. Thou wilt have much to
learn before thou comest as far as I. The world has more thorn-bushes
than gold-mountains. The times look unsettled. France commences a new
description of campaign in Europe, and certainly will draw along with
it all young men: formerly it was the conquerer Napoleon who led to the
field; now it is the idea of liberty! May the Lord preserve our good
king, and then it will remain well with us! Thou, Otto, wilt fly out
into the wide world—hadst thou only first passed thy examination for
office! But when and where-ever thou mayest fly, remember on all
occasions the words of Scripture.
“We all desire to rule. Phaeton wished to drive the chariot of the
sun, but not understanding how to guide the reins, he set fire to the
countries, precipitated himself from the chariot, and broke his neck. I
have no one in the city of Copenhagen whom I can ask thee to greet for
me. All the friends of my youth are scattered to the east and to the
west. If any of them still be in the city, they will certainly have
forgotten me. But shouldst thou ever go to the Regent's Court, and
smoke with the others a pipe under the tree, think of me. I have also
sat there when I was young like thee; when the French Revolution drove
also the blood quicker through my veins, and thoughts of freedom caused
me to carry my head more high. The dear old tree! [Author's Note: At
the end of the last century it was felled, and two younger ones, which
are now in full growth, planted in its stead.] Yes, but one does not
perceive in it, as in me, how many years have passed since then!”
He pressed a kiss on Otto's forehead, gave him his blessing, and
Otto was in a melancholy mood; he felt that he had certainly seen
the old man for the last time. When he arrived at home he found Rosalie
busy hacking. The following morning, by earliest dawn, they were to
travel toward Lemvig. Otto had not been there within these two last
years. In old times the journey thither had always been to him a
festival, now it was almost indifferent to him.
He entered his little chamber; for the last time in his life he
should now sleep there. From the next morning commenced, so it seemed
to him, a new chapter in his life. Byron's “Farewell” sounded in his
ears like an old melody:—
“Fare thee well, and if forever,
Still for ever fare thee well.”
At break of day the carriage rolled away with him and old Rosalie.
Both were silent; the carriage moved slowly along the deep ruts. Otto
looked back once more. A lark rose, singing above him.
“It will be a beautiful day!” said the coachman; his words and the
song of the lark Rosalie regarded as a good omen for Otto's whole
“Geske.—Have you put syrup in the coffee?
Henrich.—Yes, I have.
Geske.—Be so good, dear madams, be so kind as to be contented.”
HOLBERG'S Political Pewterer.
Lemvig lies, as is well known, on an arm of the Limfjord. The legend
relates, that in the Swedish war a troop of the enemy's cavalry
compelled a peasant here to mount his horse and serve as a guide.
Darkness came on; they found themselves already upon the high
sand-banks. The peasant guided his horse toward a steep precipice; in a
farm-house on the other side of the fjord they perceived a light. “That
is Lemvig,” said the peasant; “let us hasten!” He set spurs to his
horse, the Swedes followed his example, and they were precipitated into
the depth: the following morning their corpses were found. The monument
of this bold Lemvig peasant consists of this legend and in the songs of
the poets; and these are the monuments which endure the longest.
Through this legend the bare precipice receives an intellectual beauty,
which may truly compare itself with the naturally beautiful view over
the city and the bay.
Rosalie and Otto drove into the town. It was two years since he had
been here; everything seemed to him, during this time, to have shrunk
together: wherever he looked everything was narrow and small. In his
recollection, Lemvig was very much larger.
They now drew up before the merchant's house. The entrance was
through the shop, which was decorated with wooden shoes, woolen gloves,
and iron ware. Close within the door stood two large casks of tea. Over
the counter hung an extraordinary stuffed fish, and a whole bunch of
felt hats, for the use of both sexes. It was a business en gros and en
detail, which the son of the house managed. The father himself was
number one in Lemvig; he had ships at sea, and kept open house, as they
call it, in the neighborhood.
The sitting-room door opened, and the wife herself, a stout, square
woman, with an honest, contented countenance, stepped out and received
the guests with kisses and embraces. Alas! her good Jutland
pronunciation cannot be given in writing.
“O, how glorious that the Mamsell comes and brings Mr. Thostrup with
her! How handsome he is become! and how grown! Yes, we have his mark
still on the door.” She drew Otto along with her. “He has shot up more
than a quarter of a yard!”
He looked at the objects which surrounded him.
“Yes,” said she, “that instrument we have had since you were last
here; it is a present to Maren from her brother. She will now sing; you
something. It is astonishing what a voice she has! Last Whitsuntide she
sang in the church with the musical people; she sang louder than the
Otto approached the sofa, over which a large piece of needlework
hung, in a splendid gold frame. “That is Maren's name-sampler,” said
the mistress of the house. “It is very pretty. See! there stand all our
names! Can Mr. Thostrup guess who this is? Here are all the figures
worked in open stitch. That ship, there, is the Mariane, which was
called after me. There you see the Lemvig Arms— a tower which stands
on the waves; and here in the corner, in regular and irregular
stitches, is her name, 'Maren, October the 24th, 1828.' Yes, that is
now two years since. She has now worked a cushion for the sofa, with a
Turk upon it. It went the round of the city—every one wished to see
it; it is astonishing how Maren can use her hands!”
Rosalie inquired after the excellent girl.
“She is preparing the table,” said the lady. “Some good friends are
coming to us this evening. The secretary will also come; he will then
play with Maren. You will doubtless, in Copenhagen, have heard much
more beautiful music; ours is quite simple, but they sing from notes:
and I think, most likely the secretary will bring his musical-box with
him. That is splendid! Only lately he sang a little song to the box,
that was much better than to the larger instrument; for I must say he
has not the strong chest which Maren has.”
The whole family assembled themselves for the first time at the
dinner-table. The two persons who took the lowest places at table
appeared the most original; these were the shopman and the aunt. Both
of them had only at dinner the honor of being with the family; they
were quite shut out from the evening parties.
The shopman, who in the shop was the first person, and who could
there speak a few words, sat here like a quiet, constrained creature;
his hair combed toward one side, and exhibiting two red, swollen hands:
no sound escaped his lips; kissing the hand of the lady of the house,
at coming and going, was all he did beside eat.
The aunt, who was not alone called so by the family, but by the
whole of Lemvig, was equally sparing of her words, but her face was
constantly laughing. A flowered, red cotton cap fitted close to the
thin face, giving something characteristic to the high cheek-bones and
hanging lip. “She assisted in the household, but could take no part in
genteel company,” as the lady expressed herself. She could never forget
how, at the Reformation Festival, when only the singers sang in the
church, aunt began singing with them out of her book, so that the
churchwarden was forced to beg her to be silent; but this she took very
ill, and declared she had as notch right as the others to praise God,
and then sang in defiance. Had she not been “aunt,” and not belonged to
the family to which she did, she would certainly have been turned out.
She was now the last person who entered and took her place at table.
Half an hour had she been sought after before she was found. She had
stood at the end of the garden, before the wooden trellis. Grass had
been mown in the field behind the garden, and made into a rick; to see
this she had gone to the trellis, the odor had agreeably affected her;
she had pressed her face against the trellis-work, and from
contemplation of it had fallen into thought, or rather out of thought.
There she was found, and the dreamer was shaken into motion. She was
again right lively, and laughed each time that Otto looked at her. He
had his seat between Maren and the lady of the house, at the upper end
of the table. Maren was a very pretty girl—little, somewhat round,
white and red, and well-dressed. A vast number of bows, and a great
variety of colors, were her weak side. She was reading at this time
“Cabal and Love.”
“Thou art reading it in German!” said the mother.
“Yes, it must be a beautiful piece. I speak German very well, but
when I wish to read it I get on too slowly with it: I like to get to
the end of a book!”
The husband had his place at the head of the table. A little black
cap sat smoothly on his gray hair, and a pair of clever eyes sparkled
in his countenance. With folded hands he prayed a silent prayer, and
then bowed his head, before he allowed the dinner to be served. Rosalie
sat beside him. Her neighbor on the right seemed very talkative. He was
an old soldier, who in his fortieth year had gone as lieutenant with
the land's troops, and had permission to wear the uniform, and
therefore sat there in a kind of military coat, and with a stiff
cravat. He was already deep in Polignac's ministry and the triumph of
the July days; but he had the misfortune to confound Lafitte and
Lafayette together. The son of the house only spoke of bull-calves. The
lady at the table was a little mamsell from Holstebro, who sat beside
him, dressed like a girl for Confirmation, in a black silk dress and
long red shawl. She was in grand array, for she was on a visit. This
young lady understood dress-making, and could play upon the flute;
which, however, she never did without a certain bashfulness: besides
this, she spoke well, especially upon melancholy events. The bottle of
wine only circulated at the upper end of the table; the shopman and
aunt only drank ale, but it foamed gloriously: it had been made upon
“He is an excellent man, the merchant, whom you have received as
guardian, Mr. Thostrup,” said the master of the house. “I am in
connection with him.”
“But it is strange,” interrupted the lady, “that only one out of his
five daughters is engaged. If the young ladies in Copenhagen do not go
off better than that, what shall we say here?”
“Now Mr. Thostrup can take one of them,” said the husband. “There is
money, and you have fortune also; if you get an office, you can live in
Maren colored, although there was no occasion for coloring; she even
cast down her eyes.
“What should Mr. Thostrup do with one of them?” pursued the wife.
“He shall have a Jutland maiden! There are pretty young ladies enough
here in the country-seats,” added she, and laid the best piece of meat
upon his plate.
“Do the royal company give pretty operas?” asked Maren, and gave
another direction to the conversation.
Otto named several, among others Der Freischutz.
“That must be horrible!” said the lieutenant. “They say the
wolf-glen is so natural, with a waterfall, and an owl which flutters
its wings. Burgomaster Mimi has had a letter from a young lady in
Aarhuus, who has been in Copenhagen, and has seen this piece. It was so
horrible that she held her hand before her face, and almost fainted.
They have a splendid theatre!”
“Yes, but our little theatre was very pretty!” said the lady of the
house. “It was quite stupid that the dramatic company should have been
unlucky. The last piece we gave is still clear in my recollection; it
was the 'Sandseslose.' I was then ill; but because I wished so much to
see it, the whole company was so obliging as to act it once more, and
that, too, in our sitting-room, where I lay on the sofa and could look
on. That was an extraordinary mark of attention from them! Only
think—the burgomaster himself acted with them!”
In honor of the strangers, coffee was taken after dinner in the
garden, where, under the plum-trees, a swing was fixed. Somewhat later
a sailing party was arranged. A small yacht belonging to the merchant
lay, just unladen, near the bridge of boats.
Otto found Maren and the young lady from Holstebro sitting in the
arbor. Somewhat startled, they concealed something at his entrance.
“The ladies have secrets! May one not be initiated?”
“No, not at all!” replied Maren.
“You have manuscript poems in the little book!” said Otto, and
boldly approached. “Perhaps of your own composition?”
“O, it is only a memorandum-book,” said Maren, blushing. “When I
read anything pretty I copy it, for we cannot keep the books.”
“Then I may see it!” said Otto. His eye fell upon the written
“So fliessen nun zwei Wasser
Wohl zwischen mir und Dir
Das eine sind die Thranen,
Das andre ist der See!”
[Note: Des Knaben Wunderhorn.]
he read. “That is very pretty! 'Der verlorne Schwimmer,' the poem is
called, is it not?”
“Yes, I have copied it out of the secretary's memorandum-book; he
has so many pretty pieces.”
“The secretary has many splendid things!” said Otto, smiling.
“Memorandum-book, musical snuff-box”—
“And a collection of seals!” added the young lady from Holstebro.
“I must read more!” said Otto; but the ladies fled with glowing
“Are you already at your tricks, Mr. Thostrup?” said the mother, who
now entered the garden. “Yes, you do not know how Maren has thought of
you—how much she has spoken of you. You never wrote to us; we never
heard anything of you, except when Miss Rosalie related us something
out of your letters. That was not nice of you! You and Maren were
always called bride and bridegroom. You were a pair of pretty children,
and your growth has not been disadvantageous to either of you.”
At four o'clock the evening party assembled—a whole swarm of young
ladies, a few old ones, and the secretary, who distinguished himself by
a collection of seals hanging to a long watch-chain, and everlastingly
knocking against his body; a white shirt-frill, stiff collar, and a
cock's comb, in which each hair seemed to take an affected position.
They all walked down to the bay. Otto had some business and came
somewhat later. Whilst he was crossing, alone, the court-yard, he
heard, proceeding from the back of the house, a fearful, wild cry,
which ended in violent sobbing. Terrified, he went nearer, and
perceived the aunt sitting in the middle of a large heap of turf. The
priestess at Delphi could not have looked more agitated! Her close cap
she had torn from her head; her long, gray hair floated over her
shoulders; and with her feet she stamped upon the turf, like a willful
child, until the pieces flew in various directions. When she perceived
Otto she became calm in a moment, but soon she pressed her thin hands
before her face and sobbed aloud. To learn from her what was the matter
was not to be thought of.
“O, she is only quarrelsome!” said the girl, to whom Otto had turned
for an explanation. “Aunt is angry because she was not invited to sail
with the company. She always does so,—she can be quite wicked! Just
lately, when she should have helped me to wring out the sheets, she
always twisted them the same way that I did, so that we could never get
done, and my hands hurt me very much!”
Otto walked down to the bay. The sail was unfurled, the secretary
brought out his musical-box, and, accompanied by its tones, they glided
in the burning sunshine over the water.
On the other side tea was to be drunk, and then Maren was to sing.
Her mother asked her to sing the song with the strong tones, so that
Otto might hear what a voice she had.
She sang “Dannevang.” Her voice had uncommon power, but no style, no
“Such a voice, I fancy, you have not heard in the theatre at
Copenhagen?” said the secretary, with dogmatical gravity.
“You might wish yourself such a chest!” said the lieutenant.
The secretary should now sing; but he had a little cold, which he
“You must sing to the musical-box!” said the lady, and her wish was
fulfilled. If Maren had only commenced, one might have believed it a
trial of skill between Boreas and Zephyr.
They now walked about, drank tea, and after this they were to return
to the house, there to partake of fish and roast meat, a piece of boxed
ham, and other good things.
Otto could by no means be permitted to think of leaving them the
following morning; he must remain a few days, and gather strength, so
that in Copenhagen he might apply himself well to work. But only one
day would he enjoy all the good things which they heaped upon him. He
yearned for other people, for a more intellectual circle. Two years
before he had agreed splendidly with them all, had found them
interesting and intellectual; now he felt that Lemvig was a little
town, and that the people were good, excellent people.
The following play again brought capital cookery, good foul, and
good wine—that was to honor Mr. Thostrup. His health was drunk, Maren
was more confidential, the aunt had forgotten her trouble, and again
sat with a laughing face beside the constrained shopman. They must, it
is true, make a little haste over their dinner, for the fire-engine was
to be tried; and this splendor, they maintained, Otto must see, since
he so fortunately chanced to lie there.
“How can my mother think that this will give Mr. Thostrup pleasure?”
said Maren. “There is nothing to see in it.”
“That has given him pleasure formerly!” answered the mother. “It is,
also, laughable when the boys run underneath the engine-rain, and the
stream comes just in their necks.”
She spoke of the former Otto and of the present one—he was become
so Copenhagenish, so refined and nice, as well in the cut of his
clothes as in his manners; yet she still found an opportunity of giving
him a little hint to further refinement. Only think! he took the sugar
for his coffee with his fingers!
“But where are the sugar-tongs, the massive silver sugar-tongs?”
asked she. “Maren, dost thou allow him to take the sugar with his
“That is more convenient!” answered Otto. “I do that always.”
“Yes, but if strangers had been here,” said the hostess, in a
friendly but teaching tone, “we must, like that grand lady you know of,
have thrown the sugar out of the window.”
“In the higher circles, where people have clean fingers, they make
use of them!” said Otto. “There would be no end of it if one were to
take it with the sugar-tongs.”
“They are of massive silver!” said the lady, and weighed them in her
Toward evening Rosalie went into the garden under the plum trees.
“These, also, remind me of my mountains,” said she; “this is the
only fruit which will properly flourish there. Lemvig lies, like La
Locle, in a valley,” and she pointed, smiling, to the surrounding
sand-hills. “How entirely different it is here from what it is at home
on thy grandfather's estate! There I have been so accustomed to
solitude, that it is almost too lively for me here. One diversion
It was precisely this which Otto did not like. These amusements of
the small towns wearied him, and he could not delight himself with
them, no longer mingle in this life.
He wished to set out early the following morning. It would be too
exhausting to drive along the dry road in the sun's heat, they all
declared; he must wait until the afternoon, then it would be cooler; it
was, also, far pleasanter to travel in the night. Rosalie's prayers
decided him. Thus, after dinner and coffee, the horses should be put
into the carriage.
It was the last day. Maren was somewhat in a grave mood. Otto must
write in her album. “He would never come to Lemvig again,” said she. As
children they had played with each other. Since he went to Copenhagen
she had, many an evening, seated herself in the swing near the
summer-house and thought of him. Who knows whether she must not have
done so when she copied out of the secretary's memorandum-book, the
“So fliessen nun zwei Wasser
Wohl zwischen mir and Dir?”
The sea certainly flows between Aarhuus and Copenhagen.
“Maren will perhaps go over for the winter,” said the mother; “but
we dare not speak too much about it, for it is not yet quite settled.
It will really make her gayer! lately she has been very much inclined
to melancholy, although God knows that we have denied her no pleasure!”
There now arrived a quantity of letters from different acquaintance,
and from their acquaintance: if Mr. Thostrup would have the goodness to
take care of this to Viborg, these to Aarhuus, and the others as far as
Copenhagen. It was a complete freight, such as one gets in little
towns, just as though no post went through the country.
The carriage stopped before the door.
Rosalie melted into tears. “Write to me!” said she. “Thee I shall
never see again! Greet my Switzerland when thou comest there!”
The others were merry. The lady sang,—
“O could I, like a cloud, but fly!”
The young lady from Holstebro bowed herself before him with an
Album-leaf its her hand, upon which she must beg Mr. Thostrup to write
her something. Maren gave him her hand, blushed and drew back: but as
the carriage rolled away she waved her while handkerchief through the
open window: “Farewell! Farewell!”
“Stop! cried Patroclus, with mighty, thundering voice.”—WILSTER'S
The parting with Rosalie, the hospitality of the family, and their
sincere sympathy, touched Otto; he thought upon the last days, upon his
whole sojourn in his home. The death of his grandfather made this an
important era in his life. The quiet evening and the solitary road
inclined him still more to meditation.
How cheering and interesting had been a visit to Lemvig in former
times! Then it furnished matter for conversation with Rosalie for many
weeks; it now lay before him a subject of indifference. The people were
certainly the same, therefore the change must have taken place in
himself. He thought of Copenhagen, which stood so high, and of the
“After all, the difference is not so great!” said he. “In Copenhagen
the social foci are more numerous, the interests more varied; each day
brings a fresh topic of conversation, and one can choose one's society.
The multitude, on the contrary, has something citizenish; it obtrudes
itself even from beneath the ball-dress which shows itself at court; it
is seen in the rich saloon of the wholesale merchant, as well as in the
house of the brandy distiller, whose possessions give to him and his
two brewers the right of election. It is the same food which is
presented to us; in the small towns one has it on earthenware, in
Copenhagen on china. If one had only the courage, in the so-called
higher classes, to break through the gloss which life in a greater
circle, which participation in the customs of the world, has called
forth, one should soon find in many a lady of rank, in many a nobleman
who sits not alone in the theatre, on the first bench, merely that
empty common earthenware; and that, as with the merchant's wife in
Lemvig, a dejeuner or a soiree, like some public event, will occupy the
mind before and after its occurrence. A court-ball, at which either the
son or daughter has figured, resembles the most brilliant success in an
examination for office. We laugh at the authorities of Lemvig, and yet
with us the crowd runs after nothing but authorities and newspapers.
This is a certain state of innocence. How many a poor officer or
student must play the subordinate part of the shopman at the table of
the rich, and gratefully kiss the hand of the lady of the house because
she has the right of demanding gratitude? And in the theatre, with the
multitude, what does not 'an astonishing chest' do? A strength of voice
which can penetrate right through the leather of the mind gains stormy
applause, whilst taste and execution can only be appreciated by the
few. The actor can be certain of applause if he only thunder forth his
parting reply. The comedian is sure of a shout of bravo if he puts
forth an insipidity, and rubs his legs together as if replying with
spirit and humor. The massive plate in the house gives many a lady the
boldness to teach that in which she herself might perhaps have been
instructed. Many a lady, like the Mamsell from Holstebro, dresses
always in silk and a long shawl, and if one asks after her profession
one finds it consists at most in dress-making; perhaps she does not
even possess the little accompanying talent of playing the flute. How
many people do not copy, like Maren, out of other people's
memorandum-books, and do not excel musical-boxes! still one hears a
deal of musical snuff-box music, and is waited upon by voices which are
equally as insignificant as the secretary's.”
These were pretty much Otto's reflections, and certainly it was a
good feeling which lay at the bottom of them. Let us remember in our
judgment that he was so young, and that he had only known Copenhagen
one year; otherwise he would most certainly have thought quite
Night spread itself over the heath, the heavens were clear. Slowly
the carriage wound along through the deep sand. The monotonous sound,
the unchanging motion, all rendered Otto sleepy. A falling star shot
like a fire column across the sky—this woke him for a moment; he soon
again bowed his head and slept, fast and deep. It was an hour past
midnight, when he was awoke by a loud cry. He started up—the fire
burnt before them; and between it and the horse stood two figures, who
had taken hold of the leather reins. Close beside them was a cart,
under which was placed a sort of bed, on which slept a woman and some
“Will you drive into the soup-kettle?” asked a rough voice, whilst
another scolded in a gibberish which was unintelligible to Otto.
It had happened to the coachman as to him, only that the coachman
had fallen asleep somewhat later; the horses had lost their track, and
uncertain, as they had long been, they were now traversing the
impassable heath. A troop of the so-called Scavengers, who wander
through these districts a nomadic race, had here taken up their
quarters for the night, had made a fire and hung the kettle over it, to
cook some pieces of a lamb they had stolen on their journey.
“They were about half a mile from the highway,” said an elderly
woman who was laying some bushes of heath under the kettle.
“Half a mile?” replied a voice from the other side of the cart, and
Otto remarked a man who, wrapped in a large gray riding-cloak, had
stretched himself out among the heather. “It is not a quarter of a mile
to the highway if people know how to direct their course properly!”
The pronunciation of the man was somewhat foreign, but pure, and
free from the gibberish which the others employed in their speech. The
voice seemed familiar to Otto, his ear weighed each syllable, and his
blood ran quicker through his veins: “It is the German Heinrich, the
evil angel of my life!” he felt, and wrapt himself closer in his
mantle, so that his countenance was concealed.
A half-grown lad came forward and offered himself as a guide.
“But the lad must have two marks!” said the woman.
Otto nodded assent, and glanced once more toward the man in whom he
believed he recognized the German Heinrich; the man had again
carelessly stretched himself among the heath, and did not seem inclined
to enter into farther discourse.
The woman desired the payment in advance, and received it. The boy
led the horses toward one side; at the moment the fire flare up between
the turf-sods, a great dog, with a loose cord about his neck, sprang
forward and ran barking after the carriage, which now travelled on over
the heath in the gloomy night.
“Poetry does not always express sorrow; the rainbow can also arch
across a cloudless blue firmament.”—JEAN PAUL.
We again find ourselves in Copenhagen, where we meet with Otto, and
may every day expect Wilhelm, Miss Sophie, and the excellent mamma;
they would only stay a few weeks. To learn tidings of their arrival,
Otto determined to pay a visit where they were expected; we know the
house, we were present at the Christmas festival: it was here that Otto
received his noble pedigree.
We will now become somewhat better acquainted with the family. The
husband had a good head, as people sat, had an excellent wine-cellar,
and was, as one of the friends maintained, a good l'hombre player. But
the soul of the house, the animating genius, which drew into this
circle all that possessed life and youth, was the wife. Beautiful one
could by no means call her, but, enchanted by her natural loveliness,
her mind, and her unaffectedness, you forgot this in a few moments. A
rare facility in appreciating the comic of every-day life, and a
good-humored originality in its representation, always afforded her
rich material for conversation. It was as if Nature, in a moment of
thoughtlessness, had formed an insipid countenance, but immediately
afterward strove to make good her fault by breathing into it a soul,
which, even through pale blue eyes, pale cheeks, and ordinary features,
could make her beauty felt.
When Otto entered the room he heard music. He listened: it must be
either Weyse or Gerson.
“It is the Professor Weyse,” said the servant, and Otto opened the
door softly, without knocking.
The astral-lamp burnt upon the table; upon the sofa sat two young
ladies. The mistress of the house nodded Otto a friendly welcome, but
then smiling laid her finger on her lips, as a sign of silence, and
pointed to a chair, on which he seated himself, and listened to the
soft tones, which, like spirits, floated from the piano at which the
musician sat. It was as if the slumbering thoughts and feelings of the
soul, which in every breast find a response, even among the most
opposite nations, had found a voice and language. The fantasies died
away in a soft, spiritual piano. Thus lightly has Raphael breathed the
Madonna di Foligno upon the clouds; she rests there as a soap-bubble
rests upon velvet. That dying away of the tomes resembled the thoughts
of the lover when his eye closes, and the living dream of his heart
imperceptibly merges and vanishes in sleep. Reality is over.
Here also the tones ceased.
“Der Bettelvogt von Ninive
Zog hinab zum Genfersee,
[Author's Note: An old popular German song.]
commenced the musician once more, with an originality and spirit
which influenced the whole company. Far too soon did he again break
off, after he had enchanted all ears by his own treasures, as well as
by the curiosities of the people's life in the world of sound. Only
when he was gone did admiration find words; the fantasies still echoed
in every heart.
“His name deserves to be known throughout Europe!” said the gracious
lady; “how few people in the world know Weyse and Kuhlau!”
“That is the misfortune of a musician being born in a small
country,” said Otto. “His works become only manuscript for friends; his
auditory extends only from Skagen to Kiel: there the door is closed.”
“One must console one's self that everything great and good becomes
at length known,” said the cousin of the family, who is known to us by
his verses for the Christmas-tree. “The nations will become acquainted
with everything splendid in the kingdom of mind, let it bloom in a
small or in a large country. Certainly during this time the artist may
have died, but then he must receive compensation in another world.”
“I truly believe,” returned the gracious lady, “that he would wish a
little in advance here below, where it is so ordered that the immortal
must bow himself before the mortal.”
“Certainly,” replied Otto; “the great men of the age are like
mountains; they it is which cause the land to be seen from afar, and
give it importance, but in themselves they are bare and cold; their
heights are never properly known.”
“Very beautiful,” said the lady; “you speak like a Jean Paul.”
At this moment the door opened, and all were surprised by the
entrance of Miss Sophie, Wilhelm, and the dear mamma. They were not
expected before the following evening. They had travelled the whole day
“We should have been here to dinner,” said Sophie, “but my brother
could not get his business finished in Roeskelde; then he had forgotten
to order horses, and other little misadventures occurred: six whole
hours we remained there. Mamma contracted quite a passion there—she
fell fairly in love with a young girl, the pretty Eva.”
“Yes, she is a nice creature!” said the old lady. “Had I not reason,
Mr. Thostrup? You and my Wilhelm had already made her interesting to
me. She has something so noble, so refined, which one so rarely meets
with in the lower class; she deserves to come among educated people.”
“Otto, what shall our hearts say,” exclaimed Wilhelm, “when my good
mother is thus affected?”
They assembled round the tea-table. Wilhelm addressed Otto with the
confidential “thou” which Otto himself had requested.
“We will drink together in tea and renew our brotherhood.”
Otto smiled, but with such a strangely melancholy air, and spoke not
“He's thinking about the old grandfather,” thought Wilhelm, and laid
his hand upon his friend's shoulder. “The Kammerjunker and his ladies
greet thee!” said he. “I believe the Mamsell would willingly lay thee
in her own work-box, were that to be done.”
Otto remained quiet, but in his soul there was a strange commotion.
It would be a difficult thing to explain this motive, which belonged to
his peculiarity of mind; it entered among the mysteries of the soul.
The multitude call it in individuals singularity, the psychologist
finds a deeper meaning in it, which the understanding is unable to
fathom. We have examples of men, whose strength of mind and body were
well known, feeling faint at the scent of a rose; others have been
thrown into a convulsive state by touching gray paper. This cannot be
explained; it is one of the riddles of Nature. A similar relaxing
sensation Otto experienced when he, for the first time, heard himself
addressed as “thou” by Wilhelm. It seemed to him as though the
spiritual band which encircled them loosened itself, and Wilhelm became
a stranger. It was impossible for Otto to return the “thou,” yet, at
the same time, he felt the injustice of his behavior and the
singularity, and wished to struggle against it; he mastered himself,
attained a kind of eloquence, but no “thou” would pass his lips.
“To thy health, Otto,” said Wilhelm, and pushed his cup against
“Health!” said Otto, with a smile.
“It is true,” began the cousin, “I promised you the other day to
bring my advertisements with me; the first volume is closed.” And he
drew from his pocket a book in which a collection of the most original
Address-Gazette advertisements, such as one sees daily, was pasted.
“I have one for you,” said the lady; “I found it a little time
since. 'A woman wishes for a little child to bottle.' Is not that
“Here is also a good one,” said Wilhelm, who had turned over the
leaves of the book: “'A boy of the Mosaic belief may be apprenticed to
a cabinet-maker, but he need not apply unless he will eat everything
that happens to be in the house.' That is truly a hard condition for
the poor lad.”
“Almost every day,” said the cousin, “one may read, 'For the play of
to-day or to-morrow is a good place to be had in the third story in the
Christenbernikov Street.' The place is a considerable distance from the
“Theatre!” exclaimed the master of the house, who now entered to
take his place at the tea-table, “one can soon hear who has that word
in his mouth; now is he again at the theatre! The man can speak of
nothing else. There ought, ready, to be a fine imposed, which he should
pay each time he pronounces the word theatre. I would only make it a
fine of two skillings, and yet I dare promise that before a month was
over he would be found to pay in fines his whole pocket-money, and his
coat and boots besides. It is a real mania with the man! I know no one
among my young friends,” added he, with an ironical smile at
Wilhelm,—“no, not one, who has such a hobby-horse as our good cousin.”
“Here thou art unjust to him!” interrupted his wife; “do not place a
fine upon him, else I will place thee in a vaudeville! Thy life is in
politics; our cousin's in theatrical life; Wilhelm's in thorough-bass;
and Mr. Thostrup's in learned subjects. Each of you is thus a little
nail in the different world-wheels; whoever despises others shows that
he considers his wheel the first, or imagines that the world is a
wheelbarrow, which goes upon one wheel! No, it is a more complicated
Later in the evening, when the company broke up, Otto and Wilhelm
“I do not think,” said Wilhelm, “that thou hast yet said thou to me.
Is it not agreeable to thee?”
“It was my own wish, my own request,” replied Otto. “I have not
remarked what expressions I have employed.” He remained silent. Wilhelm
himself seemed occupied with unusual thoughts, when he suddenly
exclaimed: “Life is, after all, a gift of blessings! One should never
make one's self sorrows which do not really exist! 'Carpe diem,' said
“That will we!” replied Otto; “but now we must first think of our
They pressed each other's hands and parted.
“But I have heard no thou!” said Wilhelm to himself “He is an
oddity, and yet I love him! In this consists, perhaps, my own
He entered his room, where the hostess had been cleaning, and had
arranged the books and papers in the nicest order. Wilhelm truly called
it disorder; the papers in confusion and the books in a row. The lamp
even had a new place; and this was called order!
Smiling, he seated himself at the piano; it was so long since they
had said “Good day” to each other! He ran over the keys several times,
then lost himself in fantasies. “That is lovely!” he exclaimed. “But it
is not my property! What does it belong to? It melts into my own
feelings!” He played it again. It was a thema out of “Tancredi,”
therefore from Rossini, even the very composer whom our musical friends
most looked down upon; how could he then guess who had created those
tones which now spoke to his heart? His whole being he felt penetrated
by a happiness, a love of life, the cause of which he knew not. He
thought of Otto with a warmth which the latter's strange behavior did
not deserve. All beloved beings floated so sweetly before his mind.
This was one of those moments which all good people know; one feels
one's self a member of the great chain of love which binds creation
So long as the rose-bud remains folded together it seems to be
without fragrance; yet only one morning is required, and the fine
breath streams from the crimson mouth. It is only one moment; it is the
commencement of a new existence, which already has lain long concealed
in the bud: but one does not see the magic wand which works the change.
This spiritual contrast, perhaps, took place in the past hour; perhaps
the last evening rays which fell upon the leaves concealed this power!
The roses of the garden must open; those of the heart follow the same
laws. Was this love? Love is, as poets say, a pain; it resembles the
disease of the mussel, through which pearls are formed. But Wilhelm was
not sick; he felt himself particularly full of strength and enjoyment
of life. The poet's simile of the mussel and the pearl sounds well, but
it is false. Most poets are not very learned in natural history; and,
therefore, they are guilty of many errors with regard to it. The pearl
is formed on the mussel not through disease; when an enemy attacks her
she sends forth drops in her defense, and these change into pearls. It
is thus strength, and not weakness, which creates the beautiful. It
would be unjust to call love a pain, a sickness; it is an energy of
life which God has planted in the human breast; it fills our whole
being like the fragrance which fills each leaf of the rose, and then
reveals itself among the struggles of life as a pearl of worth.
These were Wilhelm's thoughts; and yet it was not perfectly clear to
him that he loved with his whole soul, as one can only love once.
The following forenoon he paid a visit to Professor Weyse.
“You are going to Roeskelde, are you not?” asked Wilhelm. “I have
heard you so often play the organ here in Our Lady's church, I should
very much like to hear you there, in the cathedral. If I were to make
the journey, would you then play a voluntary for me?”
“You will not come!” said the musician.
“I shall come!” answered Wilhelm, and kept his word. Two days after
this conversation he rolled through the streets of Roeskelde.
“I am come for a wager! I shall hear Weyse play the organ!” said he
to the host, although there was no need for an apology.
Bulwer in his romance, “The Pilgrims of the Rhine,” has with endless
grace and tenderness called forth a fairy world. The little spirits
float there as the breath of air floats around the material reality;
one is forced to believe in their existence. With a genius powerful as
that which inspired Bulwer, glorious as that which infused into
Shakespeare the fragrance we find breathed over the “Midsummer-night's
Dream,” did Weyse's tones fill Wilhelm; the deep melodies of the organ
in the old cathedral had indeed attracted him to the quiet little town!
The powerful tones of the heart summoned him! Through them even every
day things assumed a coloring, an expression of beauty, such as Byron
shows us in words, Thorwaldsen in the hard stone, Correggio in colors.
We have by Goethe a glorious poem, “Love a Landscape-painter.” The
poet sits upon a peak and gazes before him into the mist, which, like
canvas spread upon the easel, conceals all heights and expanses; then
comes the God of Love and teaches him how to paint a picture on the
mist. The little one now sketches with his rosy fingers a picture such
as only Nature and Goethe give us. Were the poet here, we could offer
him no rock on which he might seat himself, but something, through
legends and songs, equally beautiful. He would then sing,—I seated
myself upon the mossy stone above the cairn; the mist resembled
outstretched canvas. The God of Love commenced on this his sketch. High
up he painted a glorious still, whose rays were dazzling! The edges of
the clouds he made as of gold, and let the rays penetrate through them;
then painted he the fine light boughs of fresh, fragrant trees; brought
forth one hill after the other. Behind these, half-concealed, lay a
little town, above which rose a mighty church; two tall towers with
high spires rose into the air; and below the church, far out, where
woods formed the horizon, drew he a bay so naturally! it seemed to play
with the sunbeams as if the waves splashed up against the coast. Now
appeared flowers; to the fields and meadows he gave the coloring of
velvet and precious stones; and on the other side of the bay the dark
woods melted away into a bluish mist. “I can paint!” said the little
one; “but the most difficult still remains to do.” And he drew with his
delicate finger, just where the rays of the sun fell most glowingly, a
maiden so gentle, so sweet, with dark blue eyes and cheeks as blooming
as the rosy fingers which formed the picture. And see! a breeze arose;
the leaves of the trees quivered; the expanse of water ruffled itself;
the dress of the maiden was gently stirred; the maiden herself
approached: the picture itself was a reality! And thus did the old
royal city present itself before Wilhelm's eyes, the towers of the
cathedral, she tay, the far woods, and—Eva!
The first love of a pure heart is holy! This holiness may be
indicated, but not described! We return to Otto.
“A man only gains importance by a poet's fancy, when his genius
vividly represents to our imagination a clearer, but not an ennobled
image of men and objects which have an existence; then alone he
understands how to idealize.”—H. HERTZ.
We pass on several weeks. It was toward the end of September, the
examen philosophicum was near. Preparations for this had been Otto's
excuse for not yet having visited the family circle of his guardian,
the merchant Berger. This was, however, brought about by Otto's finding
one day, when he went to speak with his guardian, the mistress of the
house in the same room. We know that there are five daughters in the
house, and that only one is engaged, yet they are all well-educated
girls—domestic girls, as their mother assured her friend upon more
than one occasion.
“So, then, I have at length the honor of making your acquaintance,”
said Mrs. Berger. “this visit, truly, is not intended either for me or
the children, but still you must now drink a cup of coffee with us.
Within it certainly looks rather disorderly; the girls are making
cloaks for the winter. We will not put ourselves out of the way for
you: you shall be regarded as a member of the family: but then you must
come to us in a friendly way. Every Thursday our son-in-law dines with
us, will you then be contented with our dinner? Now you shall become
acquainted with my daughters.”
“And I must to my office,” said the husband; “therefore let us
consider Thursday as an appointment. We dine at three o'clock, and
after coffee Laide gives us music.”
The lady now conducted Otto into the sitting-room, where he found
the four daughters in full activity with a workwoman. The fifth
daughter, Julle, was, as they had told him, gone to the shops for
patterns: yesterday she had run all over the town, but the patterns she
received were not good.
The lady told him the name of each daughter; their characteristics
he naturally learnt later.
All the five sisters had the idea that they were so extremely
different, and yet they resembled each other to a hair. Adelaide, or
Laide, as she was also called, was certainly the prettiest; that she
well knew also, therefore she would have a fur cape, and no cloak; her
figure should be seen. Christiane was what one might call a practical
girl; she knew how to make use of everything. Alvilde had always a
little attack of the tooth-ache; Julle went shopping, and Miss Grethe
was the bride. She was also musical, and was considered witty. Thus she
said one evening when the house-door was closed, and groaned dreadfully
on its hinges, “See now, we have port wine after dinner.” [Translator's
Note: A pun which it is impossible to translate. The Danish word
Portviin according to sound, may mean either port wine or the creaking
of a door.] The brother, the only son of the house, with whom we shall
become better acquainted, had written down this conceit; “but that was
only to be rude toward her,” said Miss Grethe. “Such good ideas as this
I have every hour of the day!”
We ought really to accuse these excellent girls of nothing foolish;
they were very good and wise. The lover, Mr. Svane, was also a zealous
wit; he was so lively, they said. Every one with whom he became a
little familiar he called immediately Mr. Petersen, and that was so
“Now the father has invited Mr. Thostrup to come on Thursday!” said
the lady. “I also think, if we were to squeeze ourselves a little
together, he might find a place with us in the box; the room is, truly,
Otto besought them not to incommode themselves.
“O, it is a large box!” said the lady, but she did not say how many
of them were already in it. Only eleven ladies went from the family
itself. They were obliged to go to the theatre in three parties, so
that people might not think; if they all went together, there was a
mob. One evening, when the box had been occupied by eighteen persons,
beside several twelve-year old children, who had sat in people's laps,
or stood before them, and the whole party had returned home in one
procession, and were standing before the house door to go in, people
streamed together, imagining there was some alarm, or that some one had
fallen into convulsions. “What is the matter?” they asked, and Miss
Grethe immediately replied, “It is a select company!” [Translator's
Note: A select or shut-out company. We regret that this pun, like the
foregoing one, is untransferable into English.] Since that evening they
returned home in separate divisions.
“It is really a good box!” said Alvilde; “if we had only other
neighbors! The doors are opening and shutting eternally, and make a
draught which is not bearable for the teeth. And then they speak so
loud! the other night I did not hear a single word of the pretty song
“But did you lose much through that?” asked Otto, smiling, and soon
they found themselves very much at variance, just as if they had been
old acquaintances. “I do not think much of these patriotic scraps,
where the poet, in his weakness, supports himself by this beautiful
sentiment of patriotism in the people. You will certainly grant that
here the multitude always applauds when it only hears the word
'Father-land,' or the name of 'Christian IV.' The poet must give
something more; this is a left-handed kind of patriotism. One would
really believe that Denmark were the only country in the world!”
“Fie, Mr. Thostrup!” said the lady: “do you not then love your
“I believe I love it properly!” returned he: “and because it really
possesses so much that is excellent do I desire that only what is
genuine should be esteemed, only what is genuine be prized.”
“I agree in the main with Mr. Thostrup,” said Miss Grethe, who was
busied in unpicking and turning her cloak, in order, as she herself
said, to spoil it on the other side. “I think he is right! If a poem is
well spoken on the stage, it has always a kind of effect. It is just
the same as with stuffs—they may be of a middling quality and may have
an unfavorable pattern, but if they are worn by a pretty figure they
look well after all!”
“I am often vexed with the public!” said Otto. “It applauds at
improper places, and sometimes exhibits an extraordinary innocence.”
“Those are 'the lords of the kingdom of mind,'“ said Miss Grethe,
[Note: “We are the lords of the kingdom of mind!
We are the stem which can never decay!”
—Students' Song, by CHRISTIAN WINTHER.]
“No, the neighbors!” replied Otto quickly.
At this moment Miss Julle entered. She had been wandering from shop
to shop, she said, until she could bear it no longer! She had had the
stuffs down from all the shelves, and at length had succeeded so far as
to become possessed of eight small pieces—beautiful patterns, she
maintained. And now she knew very well where the different stuffs were
to be had, how wide they were, and how much the yard. “And whom did I
meet?” said she; “only think! down the middle of East Street came the
actor—you know well! Our little passion! He is really charming off the
“Did you meet him?” said Laide. “That girl is always lucky!”
“Mr. Thostrup,” said the mother, presenting him, for the young lady
seemed to forget him entirely, so much was she occupied with this
encounter and her patterns.
Julle bowed, and said she had seen him before: he had heard Mynster,
and had stood near the chair where she sat; he was dressed in an
“Then you are acquainted with each other!” said the lady. “She is
the most pious of all the children. When the others rave about Spindler
and Johanne Schoppenhauer, she raves about the clergyman who confirmed
her. You know my son? He became a student a year before you. He sees
you in the club sometimes.”
“There you will have seen him more amiable than you will find him at
home,” said Adelaide. “Heaven knows he is not gallant toward his
“Sweet Laide, how can you say so!” cried the mother. “You are always
so unjust toward Hans Peter! When you become better acquainted with
him, Mr. Thostrup, you will like him; he is a really serious young man,
of uncorrupted manners. Do you remember, Laide, how he hissed that
evening in the theatre when they gave that immoral piece? And how angry
he is with that 'Red Riding Hood?' O, the good youth! Besides, in our
family, you will soon meet with an old acquaintance—in a fortnight a
lady out of Jutland will come here. She remains the winter here. Do you
not guess who it is? A little lady from Lemvig!”
“Maren!” exclaimed Otto.
“Yes, truly!” said the lady. “She is said to have such a beautiful
“Yes, in Lemvig,” remarked Adelaide. “And what a horrible name she
has! We must christen her again, when she comes. She must be called
Mara, or Massa.”
“We could call her Massa Carara!” said Grethe.
“No; she shall be called Maja, as in the 'Every-day Tales,'“ said
“I am of Jane's opinion!” said the mother. “We will christen her
again, and call her Maja.”
Men are not always what they seem.—LESSING.
Our tale is no creation of fancy; it is the reality in which we
live; bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Our own time and the
men of our own age we shall see. But not alone will we occupy ourselves
with every-day life, with the moss on the surface; the whole tree, from
the roots to the fragrant leaves, will we observe. The heavy earth
shall press the roots, the moss and bark of every-day life adhere to
the stern, the strong boughs with flowers and leaves spread themselves
out, whilst the sun of poetry shall shine among them, and show the
colors, odor, and singing-birds. But the tree of reality cannot shoot
up so soon as that of fancy, like the enchantment in Tieck's “Elves.”
We must seek our type in nature. Often may there be an appearance of
cessation; but that is not the case. It is even so with our story;
whilst our characters, by mutual discourse, make themselves worthy of
contemplation, there arises, as with the individual branches of the
tree, an unseen connection. The branch which shoots high up in the air,
as though it would separate itself from the mother-stem, only presses
forward to form the crown, to lend uniformity to the whole tree. The
lines which diverge from the general centre are precisely those which
produce the harmony.
We shall, therefore, soon see, though these scenes out of every-day
life are no digression from the principal events, nothing episodical
which one may pass over. In order still sooner to arrive at a clear
perception of this assertion, we will yet tarry a few moments in the
house of Mr. Berger, the merchant; but in the mean time we have
advanced three weeks. Wilhelm and Otto had happily passed their examen
philosophicum. The latter had paid several visits, and was already
regarded as an old friend of the family. The lover already addressed
him with his droll “Good day, Mr. Petersen;” and Grethe was witty about
his melancholy glance, which he was not always able to conquer. She
called it “making faces,” and besought him to appear so on the day of
The object of the five sisters' first Platonic love had been their
brother. They had overwhelmed him with caresses and tenderness, had
admired and worshipped him. “The dear little man!” they called him;
they had no other. But Hans Peter was so impolite and teasing toward
the dear sisters, that they were found to resign him so soon as one of
them had a lover. Upon this lover they all clung. Each one seemed to
have a piece of him. He was Grethe's bridegroom, would be their
brother-in-law. They might address him with the confidential thou, and
even give him a little kiss.
Otto's appearance in the family caused these rays to change their
direction. Otto was handsome, and possessed of fortune; either of which
often suffices to bow a female heart. Beauty bribes the thoughtless;
riches, the prudent.
Maren, or as she was here called, Maja, had arrived. The young
ladies had already pulled off some of her bows, arranged her hair
differently, and made one of her silk handkerchiefs into an apron; but,
spite of all this finesse, she still remained the lady from Lemvig.
They could remove no bows from her pronunciation. She had been the
first at home; here she could not take that rank. This evening she was
to see in the theatre, for the first time, the ballet of the
“It is French!” said Hans Peter; “and frivolous, like everything
that we have from them.”
“Yes, the scene in the second act, where she steps out of the
window,” said the merchant; “that is very instructive for youth!”
“But the last act is sweet!” cried the lady. “The second act is
certainly, as Hans Peter very justly observed, somewhat French. Good
heavens! he gets quite red, the sweet lad!” She extended her hand to
him, and nodded, smiling, whereupon Hans Peter spoke very prettily
about the immorality on the stage. The father also made some striking
“Yes,” said the lady, “were all husbands like thee, and all young
men like Hans Peter, they would speak in another tone on the stage, and
dress in another manner. In dancing it is abominable; the dresses are
so short and indecent, just as though they had nothing on! Yet, after
all, we must say that the 'Somnambule' is beautiful. And, really, it is
They now entered still deeper into the moral: the conversation
lasted till coffee came.
Maren's heart beat even quicker, partly in expectation of the play,
through hearing of the corruptions of this Copenhagen Sodom. She heard
Otto defend this French piece; heard him speak of affectation. Was he
then corrupted? How gladly would she have heard him discourse upon
propriety, as Hans Peter had done. “Poor Otto!” thought she; “this is
having no relations, but being forced to struggle on in the world
The merchant now rose. He could not go to the theatre. First, he had
business to attend to; and then he must go to his club, where he had
yesterday changed his hat.
“Nay, then, it has happened to thee as to Hans Peter!” said the
lady. “Yesterday, in the lecture-room, he also got a strange hat. But,
there, thou hast his hat!” she suddenly exclaimed, as her eye fell upon
the hat which her husband held in his hand. “That is Hans Peter's hat!
Now, we shall certainly find that he has thine! You have exchanged them
here at home. You do not know each other's hats, and therefore you
fancy this occurred from home.”
One of the sisters now brought the hat which Hans Peter had got in
mistake. Yes, it was certainly the father's. Thus an exchange in the
house, a little intermezzo, which naturally, from its insignificance,
was momentarily forgotten by all except the parties concerned, for to
them it was an important moment in their lives; and to us also, as we
shall see, an event of importance, which has occasioned us to linger
thus long in this circle. In an adjoining room will we, unseen spirits,
watch the father and son. They are alone; the family is already in the
theatre. We may, indeed, watch them—they are true moralists. It is
only a moral drawn from a hat.
But the father's eyes rolled, his cheeks glowed, his words were
sword-strokes, and must make an impression on any disposition as gentle
as his son's; but the son stood quiet, with a firm look and with a
smile on his lips, such as the moral bestows. “You were in the
adjoining room!” said he. “Where it is proper for you to be there may I
“Boy!” cried the father, and named the place, but we know it not;
neither know we its inhabitants. Victor Hugo includes them in his
“Children's Prayer,” in his beautiful poem, “La Priere pour Tous.” The
child prays for all, even “for those who sell the sweet name of love.”
[Note: “Prie! ... Pour les femmes echevelees Qui vendent le doux nom
“Let us be silent with each other!” said the son. “I am acquainted
with many histories. I know another of the pretty Eva!”—
“Eva!” repeated the father.
We will hear no more! It is not proper to listen. We see the father
and son extend their hands. It appeared a scene of reconciliation. They
parted: the father goes to his business, and Hans Peter to the theatre,
to anger himself over the immorality in the second act of the
“L'amour est pour les coeurs,
Ce que l'aurore est pour les fleurs,
Et le printemps pour la nature.”—VIGUE.
“Love is a childish disease and like the small-pox. Some die, some
become deformed, others are more or less scarred, while upon others the
disease does not leave any visible trace.”—The Alchemist, by C. HAUCH.
“Be candid, Otto!” said Wilhelm, as he one day visited his friend.
“You cannot make up your mind to say thou to me; therefore let it be.
We are, after all, good friends. It is only a form; although you must
grant that in this respect you are really a great fool.”
Otto now explained what an extraordinary aversion he had felt, what
a painful feeling had seized upon him, and made it impossible to him.
“There you were playing the martyr!” said Wilhelm, laughing. “Could
you not immediately tell me how you were constituted? So are most men.
When they have no trouble, they generally hatch one themselves; they
will rather stand in the cold shadow than in the warm sunshine, and yet
the choice stands open to us. Dear friend, reflect; now we are both of
us on the stream: we shall soon be put into the great business-bottles,
where we shall, like little devils, stretch and strain ourselves
without ever getting out, until life withdraws from us!” He laid his
arm confidentially upon Otto's shoulder. “Often have I wished to speak
with you upon one point! Yes, I do not desire that you should confess
every word, every thought to me. I already know that I shall be able to
prove to you that the thing lies in a region where it cannot have the
power which you ascribe to it. In the cold zones a venomous bite does
not operate as dangerously as in warmer ones; a sorrow in childhood
cannot overpower us as it does in riper age. Whatever misfortune may
have happened to you when a child, if in your wildness—you yourself
say that you were wild—whatsoever you may have then done, it cannot,
it ought not to influence your whole life: your understanding could
tell you this better than I. At our age we find ourselves in the land
of joy, or we never enter it!”
“You are a happy man!” exclaimed Otto, and gazed sorrowfully before
him. “Your childhood afforded you only joy and hope! Only think of the
solitude in which mine was passed. Among the sand-hills of the west
coast my days glided away: my grandfather was gloomy and passionate;
our old preacher lived only in a past time which I knew not, and
Rosalie regarded the world through the spectacles of sorrow. Such an
environment might well cast a shadow upon my life-joy. Even in dress,
one is strangely remarkable when one comes from afar province to the
capital; first this receives another cut, and one gradually becomes
like those around one. The same thing happens in a spiritual relation,
but one's being and ideas one does not change so quickly as one's
clothes. I have only been a short time among strangers, and who knows?”
added he, with a melancholy smile, “perhaps I shall come into
equilibrium when some really great misfortune happens to me and very
much overpowers me, and then I may show the same carelessness, the same
phlegm as the multitude.”
“A really great misfortune!” repeated Wilhelm. “You do, indeed, say
something. That would be a very original means of cure, but you are an
original being. Perhaps lay this means you might really be healed.
'Make no cable out of cobweb!' said a celebrated poet whose name does
not occur to me at this moment. But the thought is good, you should
have it embroidered upon your waistcoat, so that you might have it
before your eyes when you droop your head. Do not look so grave; we are
friends, are we not? Among all my young acquaintance you are the
dearest to me, although there are moments when I know not how it stands
with us. I could confide every secret to you, but I am not sure that
you would be equally open with me. Do not be angry, my dear friend!
There are secrets of so delicate a nature, that one may not confide
them even to the dearest friend. So long as we preserve our
secret it is our prisoner; it is quite the contrary, however, so soon
as we have let it escape us. And yet, Otto, you are so dear to me, that
I believe in you as in my own heart. This, even now, bears a secret
which penetrates me with joy and love of life! I must speak cut. But
you must enter into my joy, partake in it, or say nothing about it; you
have then heard nothing—nothing! Otto, I love! therefore am I happy,
therefore is there sunshine in my heart, life joy in my veins! I love
Eva, the beautiful lovely Eva!”
Otto pressed his hand, but preserved silence.
“No, not so!” cried Wilhelm. “Only speak a word! Do you I'm in a
conception of the world which has opened before me?”
“Eva is beautiful! very beautiful!” said Otto, slowly. “She is
innocent and good. What can one wish for more? I can imagine how she
fills your whole heart! But will she do so always? She will not always
remain young, always lovely! Has she, then, mind sufficient to be
everything to you? Will this momentary happiness which you prepare for
her and yourself be great enough to outweigh—I will not say the
sorrow, but the discontent which this union will bring forth in your
family? For God's sake, think of everything!”
“My dear fellow!” said Wilhelm, “your old preacher now really speaks
out of you! But enough: I can bear the confession. I answer, 'Yes,
yes!' with all my heart, 'yes!' Wherefore will you now bring me out of
my sunshine into shade? Wherefore, in my joy over the beauty of the
rose should I be reminded that the perfume and color will vanish, that
the leaves will fall? It is the course of life! but must one,
therefore, think of the grave, of the finale, when the act begins?”
“Love is a kind of monomania,” said Otto; “it may be combated: it
depends merely upon our own will.”
“Ah, you know this not at all!” said Wilhelm. “But it will come in
due time, and then you will be far more violent than others! Who knows?
perhaps this is the sorrow of which you spoke, the misfortune which
should bring your whole being into equipoise! That was also a kind of
search after the sorrowful. I will sincerely wish that your heart may
be filled with love as mine is; then will the influence of the
sand-hills vanish, and you will speak with me as you ought to do, and
as my confidence deserves!”
“That will I!” replied Otto. “You make the poor girl miserable! Now
you love Eva, but then you will no longer be able. The distance between
you and her is too great, and I cannot conceive how the beauty of her
countenance can thus fill your whole being. A waiting-girl! yes, I
repeat the name which offends your ear: a waiting-girl! Everywhere will
it be repeated. And you? No one can respect nobility less than I
do—that nobility which is only conferred by birth; it is nothing, and
a time will come when this will not be prized at all, when the nobility
of the soul will be the only nobility. I openly say this to you, who
are a nobleman yourself. The more development of mind, the more
ancestors! But Eva has nothing, can have nothing, except a pretty face,
and this is what has enchained you; you are become the servant of a
servant, and that is degrading yourself and your nobility of mind!”
“Mr. Thostrup!” exclaimed Wilhelm, “you wound me! This is truly not
the first time, but now I am weary of it. I have shown too much good
nature, and that is the most unfortunate failing a man can be cursed
He seated himself at the piano, and hammered away.
Otto was silent a moment, his checks glowed, but he was soon again
calm, and in a joking tone said: “Do not expend your anger upon that
poor instrument because we disagree in our views. You are playing only
dissonances, which offend my ear more than your anger!”
“Dissonances!” repeated Wilhelm. “Cannot you hear that they are
harmonies? There are many things for which you have a bad ear!”
Otto knew how to lead his anger to different points regarding which
they had formerly been at variance, but he spoke with such mildness
that Wilhelm's anger rather abated than increased.
They were again friends, but regarding Eva not one word more was
“I should not be an honest and true friend to him, were I to let him
be swallowed up by this whirlpool!” said Otto to himself, when he was
alone. “At present he is innocent and good but at his age, with his gay
disposition!—I must warn Eva! soon! soon! The snow which has once been
trodden is no longer pure! Wilhelm will scarcely forgive me! But I
On the morrow it was impossible for him to travel to Roeskelde, but
the following day he really would and must hasten thither.
Still, in the early morning hour, Eva occupied his thoughts; she
busied Wilhelm's also, but in a different way: but they agreed in the
purity of their intentions. There was still a third, whose blood was
put in motion at the mention of her name, who said: “The pretty Eva is
a servant there! One must speak with her. The family can make an
“You sweet children!” said the merchant's wife, “the autumn is
charming, far pleasanter than the whole summer! The father, should the
weather remain good, will make an excursion with us to Lethraborg the
day after to-morrow. We will then walk in the beautiful valley of the
Hertha, and pass the night at Roeskelde. Those will be two delightful
days! What an excellent father you have! But shall we not invite Mr.
Thostrup to go with us? We are so many ladies, and it looks well to
have a few young gentlemen with us. Grethe, thou must write an
invitation; thou canst write thy father's name underneath.”
“These poetical letters are so similar to those of Baggesen, that we
could be almost tempted to consider the news of his death as false,
although so well affirmed that we must acknowledge it.” —Monthly
Journal of Literature.
“She is as slender as the poplar-willow, as fleet as the hastening
waters. A Mayflower odorous and sweet.”—H. P. HOLST.
“Ah, where is the rose?”—Lulu, by GUNTELBURG.
The evening before Otto was to travel with the merchant's family to
Roeskelde he called upon the family where Miss Sophie was staying. Her
dear mamma had left three days before. Wilhelm had wished to accompany
him to Roeskelde, but the mother did not desire it.
“We have had a pleasure to-day,” said Sophie, “a pleasure from which
we shall long have enjoyment. Have you seen the new book, the 'Letters
of a Wandering Ghost?' It is Baggesen himself in his most perfect
beauty, a music which I never believed could have been given in words.
This is a poet! He has made July days in the poetry of Denmark. Natural
thoughts are so strikingly, and yet so simply expressed; one has the
idea that one could write such verses one's self, they fall so
“They are like prose,” said the lady, “and yet the most beautifully
perfect verse I know. You must read the book, Mr. Thostrup!”
“Perhaps you will read to us this evening?” said Sophie. “I should
very much like to hear it again.”
“In a second reading one shall enter better into the individual
beauties,” said the lady of the house.
“I will remain and listen,” said the host.
“This must be a masterpiece!” exclaimed Otto,”—a true masterpiece,
since all are so delighted with it.”
“It is Baggesen himself; and truly as he must sing in that world
where everything mortal is ennobled.”
“'Meadows all fragrance, the strongholds of pleasure,
Heaven blue streamlets,
That speed through the green woods in musical measure,'“ began Otto,
and the spiritual battle-piece with beauty and tone developed itself
more and more; they found themselves in the midst of the winter camp of
the Muses, where the poet with
...”lyre on his shoulder and sword at his side,
Hastened to fight with the foes of the Muses.”
Otto's gloomy look won during the perusal a more animated
expression. “Excellent!” exclaimed he; “this is what I myself have
thought and felt, but, alas! have been unable to express.”
“I am a strange girl,” said Sophie; “whenever I read a new poet of
distinguished talent, I consider that he is the greatest. It was so
with Byron and Victor Hugo. 'Cain' overwhelmed me, 'Notre Dame' carried
me away with it. Once I could imagine no greater poet than Walter
Scott, and yet I forget him over Oehlenschlager; yes, I remember a time
when Heiberg's vaudevilles took almost the first place among my chosen
favorites. Thus I know myself and my changeable disposition, and yet I
firmly believe that I shall make an exception with this work. Other
poets showed me the objects of the outer world, this one shows me my
own mind: my own thoughts, my own being he presents before me, and
therefore I shall always take the same interest in the Ghost's
“They are true food for the mind,” said Otto; “they are as words in
season; there must be movement in the lake, otherwise it will become a
“The author is severe toward those whom he has introduced,” said the
lady; “but he carries, so to say, a sweet knife. A wound from a sharp
sword-blade is not so painful as that from a rusty, notched knife.”
“But who may the author be?” said Sophie.
“May we never learn!” replied Otto. “Uncertainty gives the book
something piquant. In such a small country as ours it is good for the
author to be unknown. Here we almost tread upon each other, and look
into each other's garments. Here the personal conditions of the author
have much to do with success; and then there are the newspapers, where
either friend or enemy has an assistant, whereas the being anonymous
gives it the patent of nobility. It is well never to know an author.
What does his person matter to us, if his book is only good?
“'Crush and confound the rabble dissolute That desecrate thy poet's
grave?'“ read Otto, and the musical poem was at an end. All were
enchanted with it. Otto alone made some small objections: “The Muses
ought not to come with 'trumpets and drums,' and so many expressions
similar to 'give a blow on the chaps,' etc., ought not to appear.”
“But if the poet will attack what is coarse,” said Sophie, “he must
call things by their proper names. He presents us with a specimen of
the prosaic filth, but in a soap-bubble. We may see it, but not seize
upon it. I consider that you are wrong!”
“The conception of idea and form,” said Otto, “does not seem to be
sufficiently presented to one; both dissolve into one. Even prose is a
“But the form itself is the most important,” said the lady of the
house; “with poetry as with sculpture, it is the form which gives the
“No, pardon me!” said Otto; “poetry is like the tree which God
allows to grow. The inward power expresses itself in the form; both are
equally important, but I consider the internal as the most holy. This
is here the poet's thought. The opinion which he expresses affects us
as much as the beautiful dress in which he has presented it.”
Now commenced a contest upon form and material, such as was
afterward maintained throughout the whole of Copenhagen.
“I shall always admire the 'Letters of a Wandering Ghost,'“ said
Sophie,—“always rave about these poems. To-night I shall dream of
nothing but this work of art.”
How little men can do that which they desire, did this very moment
When we regard the fixed star through a telescope and lose ourselves
in contemplation, a little hair can conceal the mighty body, a grain of
dust lead us from these sublime thoughts. A letter came for Miss
Sophie; a traveller brought it from her mother: she was already in
Funen, and announced her safe arrival.
“And the news?” said the hostess.
“Mamma has hired a new maid, or, rather, she has taken to be with
her an amiable young girl—the pretty Eva in Roeskelde. Mr. Thostrup
and Wilhelm related to us this summer several things about her which
make her interesting. We saw her on our journey hither, when mamma was
prepossessed by her well-bred appearance. Upon her return, the young
girl has quite won her heart. It really were a pity if such a pretty,
respectable girl remained in a public-house. She is very pretty; is she
not, Mr. Thostrup?”
“Very pretty!” answered Otto, becoming crimson, for Sophie said this
with an emphasis which was not without meaning.
The following day, at an early hour, Otto found himself at the
Spite of the changeable weather of our climate, all the ladies were
in their best dresses. Three persons must sit upon each seat. Hans
Peter and the lover had their place beside the coachman. It was a long
time before the cold meat, the provision for several days, was packed
up, and the whole company were seated. At length, when they had got out
of the city, Christiane recollected that they had forgotten the
umbrellas, and that, after all, it would be good to have them. The
coachman must go back for them, and meantime the carriage drew up
before the Column of Liberty. The poor sentinel must now become an
object of Miss Grethe's interest. Several times the soldier glanced
down upon his regimentals. He was a Krahwinkler, who had an eye to his
own advantage. A man who rode past upon a load of straw occupied a high
position. That was very interesting.
Otto endeavored to give the conversation another direction. “Have
not you seen the new poem which has just appeared, the 'Letters of a
Wandering Ghost?'“ asked he, and sketched out their beauty and
“Doubtless, very heavy blows are dealt!” said Mr. Berger, “the man
must be witty—Baggesen to the very letter.”
“The 'Copenhagen Post' is called the pump!” said Hans Peter.
“That is superb!” cried Grethe. “Who does it attack besides?”
“Folks in Soroe, and this 'Holy Andersen,' as they call him.”
“Does he get something?” said Laide. “That I will grant him for his
milk and water. He was so impolite toward the ladies!”
“I like them to quarrel in this way!” said the merchant's lady.
“Heiberg will doubtless get his share also, and then he will reply in
“Yes,” said Mr. Berger, “he always knows how to twist things in such
a manner that one must laugh, and then it is all one to us whether he
is right or not.”
“This book is entirely for Heiberg,” said Otto. “The author is
anonymous, and a clever man.”
“Good Heavens! you are not the author, Mr. Thostrup?” cried Julle,
and looked at him with a penetrating gaze. “You can manage such things
so secretly! You think so highly of Heiberg: I remember well all the
beautiful things you said of his 'Walter the Potter' and his 'Psyche.'“
Otto assured her that he could not confess to this honor.
They reached Roeskelde in the forenoon, but Eva did not receive
them. The excursion to Lethraborg was arranged; toward evening they
should again return to the inn, and then Eva would certainly appear.
The company walked in the garden at Lethraborg: the prospect from
the terrace was beautiful; they looked through the windows of the
castle, and at length came to the conclusion that it would be best to
“There are such beautiful paintings, people say!” remarked the
“We must see them,” cried all the ladies.
“Do you often visit the picture-gallery of the Christiansborg?”
“I cannot say that we do!” returned Mrs. Berger. “You well know that
what is near one seldom sees, unless one makes a downright earnest
attempt, and that we have not yet done. Besides, not many people go up:
that wandering about the great halls is so wearying.”
“There are splendid pieces by Ruysdal!” said Otto.
“Salvator Rosa's glorious 'Jonas” is well worth looking at!”
“Yes, we really must go at once, whilst our little Maja is here. It
does not cost more than the Exhibition, and we were there three times
last year. The view from the castle windows toward the canal, as well
as toward the ramparts, is so beautiful, they say.”
The company now viewed the interior of Lethraborg, and then wandered
through the garden and in the wood. The trees had their autumnal
coloring, but the whole presented a variety of tints far richer than
one finds in summer. The dark fir-trees, the yellow beeches and oaks,
whose outermost branches had sent forth light green shoots, presented a
most picturesque effect, and formed a splendid foreground to the view
over old Leire, the royal city, now a small village, and across the bay
to the splendid cathedral.
“That resembles a scene in a theatre!” cried Mrs. Berger, and
immediately the company were deep in dramatic affairs.
“Such a decoration they should have in the royal theatre!” said Hans
“Yes, they should have many such!” said Grethe. “They should have
some other pieces than those they have. I know not how it is with our
poets; they have no inventive power. Relate the droll idea which thou
hadst the other day for a new piece!” said she to her lover, and
stroked his cheeks.
“O,” said he, and affected a kind of indifference, “that was only an
idea such as one has very often. But it might become a very nice piece.
When the curtain is drawn up, one should see close upon the lamps the
gable-ends of two houses. The steep roofs must go down to the stage, so
that it is only half a yard wide, and this is to represent a
watercourse between the two houses. In each garret a poor but
interesting family should dwell, and these should step forth into the
watercourse, and there the whole piece should be played.”
“But what should then happen?” asked Otto.
“Yes,” said the lover, “I have not thought about that; but see,
there is the idea! I am no poet, and have too much to do at the
counting-house, otherwise one might write a little piece.”
“Heavens! Heiberg ought to have the idea!” said Grethe.
“No, then it would be a vaudeville,” said the lover, “and I cannot
“O, it might be made charming!” cried Grethe. “I see the whole
piece! how they clamber about the roofs! The idea is original, thou
By evening the family were again in Roeskelde.
The merchant sought for Eva. Otto inquired after her, so did Hans
Peter also, and all three received the same answer.
“She is no longer here.”
“I wish I was air, that I could beat my wings, could chase the
clouds, and try to fly over the mountain summits: that would be
The first evening after Otto's return to Copenhagen he spent with
Sophie, and the conversation turned upon his little journey. “The
pretty Eva has vanished!” said he.
“You had rejoiced in the prospect of this meeting, had you not?”
“No, not in the least!” answered Otto.
“And you wish to make me believe that? She is really pretty, and has
something so unspeakably refined, that a young gentleman might well be
attracted by her. With my brother it is not all quite right in this
respect; but, candidly speaking, I am in great fear on your account,
Mr. Thostrup. Still waters—you know the proverb? I might have spared
you the trouble. The letter which I received a few evenings ago
informed me of her departure. Mamma has taken her with her. It seemed
to her a sin to leave that sweet, innocent girl in a public-house. The
host and hostess were born upon our estate, and look very much up to my
mother; and as Eva will certainly gain by the change, the whole affair
was soon settled. It is well that she is come under mamma's oversight.”
“The girl is almost indifferent to me!” said Otto.
“Almost!” repeated Sophie. “But this almost, how many degrees of
warmth does it contain? 'O Verite! Ou sont les autels et tes pretres?'“
added she, and smiling raised her finger.
“Time will show how much you are in error!” answered Otto with much
The lady of the house now entered, she had made various calls;
everywhere the Ghost's Letters were the subject of conversation, and
now the conversation took the same direction.
It was often renewed. Otto was a very frequent guest at the house.
The ladies sat at their embroidery frames and embroidered splendid
pieces of work, and Otto must again read the “Letters of the Wandering
Ghost;” after this they began “Calderon,” in whom Sophie found
something resembling the anonymous author. The world of poetry afforded
subjects for discourse, and every-day life intermingled its light, gay
scenes; if Wilhelm joined them, he must give them music, and all
remarked that his fantasies were become far richer, far softer. He had
gained his touch from Weyse, said they. No one thought how much one may
learn from one's own heart. With this exception he was the same joyous
youth as ever. No one thought of him and Eva together. Since that
evening when the friends had almost quarreled, he had never mentioned
her name; but Otto had remarked how when any female figure met them,
Wilhelm's eyes flashed, and how, in society, he singled out the most
beautiful. Otto said jokingly to him, that he was getting oriental
thoughts. Oehlenschlager's “Helge,” and Goethe's Italian sonnets were
now Wilhelm's favorite reading. The voluptuous spirit of these poems
agreed with the dreams which his warm feelings engendered. It was Eva's
beauty—her beauty alone which had awoke this feeling in him; the
modesty and poverty of the poor girl had captivated him still more, and
caused him to forget rank and condition. At the moment when he would
approach her, she was gone. The poison was now in his blood. If is gay
and happy spirit did not meanwhile let him sink into melancholy and
meditation; his feeling for beauty was excited, as he himself expressed
it. In thought he pressed beauty to his heart, but only in thought—but
even this is sin, says the Gospel.
Otto, on the contrary, moved in the lists of philosophy and poetry.
Here his soul conceived beauty—inspired, he expressed it; and Sophie's
eyes flashed, and rested with pleasure on him. This flattered him and
increased his inspirations. For many years no winter had been to him so
pleasant, had passed away so rich in change as this; he caught at the
fluttering joy and yet there were moments when the though pressed upon
him—“Life is hastening away, and I do not enjoy it.” In the midst of
his greatest happiness he experienced a strange yearning after the
changing life of travel. Paris glanced before his eyes like a star of
“Out into the bustling world!” said he so often to Wilhelm, that the
same thought was excited in him. “In the spring we will travel!” Now
were plans formed; circumstances were favorable. Thus in the coming
spring, in April, the still happier days should begin.
“We will fly to Paris!” said Wilhelm; “to joy and pleasure!”
Joy and pleasure were to be found at home, and were found: we will
introduce the evening which brought them; perhaps we shall also find
something more than joy and pleasure.
“A midsummer day's entertainment—but how? In February? Yea, some
here and behold it!”—DR. BALFUNGO.
With us the students form no Burschenschafts, have no colors. The
professors do not alone in the chair come into connection with them;
the only difference is that which exists between young and old
scholars. Thus they come in contact with each other, thus they
participate in their mutual pleasures. We will spend an evening of this
kind in the Students' Club, and then see for ourselves whether Miss
Sophie were right when she wished she were a man, merely that she might
be a student and member of this club. We choose one evening in
particular, not only that we may seek a brilliant moment, but because
this evening can afford us more than a description.
An excursion to the park had often been discussed in the club. They
wished to hire the Caledonia steam-packet. But during the summer months
the number of members is less; the majority are gone to the provinces
to visit their relations. Winter, on the contrary, assembles them all.
This time, also, is the best for great undertakings. The long talked of
excursion to the park was therefore fixed for Carnival Monday, the 14th
of February, 1831. Thus ran the invitations to the professors and older
members. “It will be too cold for me,” replied one. “Must one take a
carriage for one's self?” asked mother. No, the park was removed to
Copenhagen. In the Students' Club itself, in the Boldhuus Street, No.
225, was the park-hill with its green trees, its swings, and
amusements. See, only the scholars of the Black School could have such
The evening of the 114th of February drew near. The guests assembled
in the rooms on the first floor. Meanwhile all was arranged in the
second story. Those who represented jugglers were in their places. A
thundering cracker was the steamboat signal, and now people hastened to
the park, rushing up-stairs, where two large rooms had, with great
taste and humor, been converted into the park-hill. Large fir-trees
concealed the walls—you found yourself in a complete wood. The doors
which connected the two rooms were decorated with sheets, so that it
looked as if you were going through a tent. Hand-organs played, drums
and trumpets roared, and from tents and stages the hawkers shouted one
against the other. It was a noise such as is heard in the real park
when the hubbub has reached its height. The most brilliant requisites
of the real park were found here, and they were not imitated; they were
the things themselves. Master Jakel's own puppets had been hired; a
student, distinguished by his complete imitation of the first actors,
represented them by the puppets. The fortress of Frederiksteen was the
same which we have already seen in the park. “The whole cavalry and
infantry,—here a fellow without a bayonet, there a bayonet without a
fellow!” The old Jew sat under his tree where he announced his fiftieth
park jubilee: here a student ate flax, there another exhibited a bear;
Polignac stood as a wax figure outside a cabinet. The Magdalene convent
exhibited its little boxes, the drum-major beat most lustily, and from
a near booth came the real odor of warm wafer-cakes. The spring even,
which presented itself in the outer room, was full of significance.
Certainly it was only represented by a tea-urn concealed between moss
and stones, but the water was real water, brought from the well in
Christiansborg. Astounding and full of effect was the multitude of
sweet young girls who showed themselves. Many of the youngest students
who had feminine features were dressed as ladies; some of them might
even be called pretty. Who that then saw the fair one with the
tambourine can have forgotten her? The company crowded round the
ladies. The professors paid court to them with all propriety, and, what
was best of all, some ladies who were less successful became jealous of
the others. Otto was much excited; the noise, the bustle, the variety
of people, were almost strikingly given. Then came the master of the
fire-engines, with his wife and little granddaughter; then three pretty
peasant girls; then the whole Botanical Society, with their real
professor at their head. Otto seated himself in a swing; an itinerant
flute-player and a drummer deafened him with dissonances. A young lady,
one of the beauties, in a white dress, and with a thin handkerchief
over her shoulders, approached and threw herself into his arms. It was
Wilhelm! but Otto found his likeness to Sophie stronger than he had
ever before noticed it to be; and therefore the blood rushed to his
cheeks when the fair one threw her arms around him, and laid her cheek
upon his: he perceived more of Sophie than of Wilhelm in this form.
Certainly Wilhelm's features were coarser—his whole figure larger than
Sophie's; but still Otto fancied he saw Sophie, and therefore these
marked gestures, this reeling about with the other students, offended
his eyes. When Wilhelm seated himself on his knee, and pressed his
cheek to his, Otto felt his heart beat as in fever; it sent a stream of
fire through his blood: he thrust him away, but the fair one continued
to overwhelm him with caresses.
There now commenced, in a so-called Krahwinkel theatre, the comedy,
in which were given the then popular witticisms of Kellerman.
The lady clung fast to Otto, and flew dancing with him through the
crowd. The heat, the noise, and, above all, the exaggerated lacing,
affected Wilhelm; he felt unwell. Otto led him to a bench and would
have unfastened his dress, but all the young ladies, true to their
part, sprang forward, pushed Otto aside, surrounded their sick
companion and concealed her, whilst they tore up the dress behind so
that she might have air: but, God forbid! no gentleman might see it.
Toward evening a song was commenced, a shot was heard, and the last
“The gun has been fired, the vessel must fly
To the town from the green wood shady.
Come, friends, now we to the table will hie,
A gentleman and a fair lady.”
And now all rushed with the speed of a steamboat downstairs, and
soon sat in gay rows around the covered tables.
Wilhelm was Otto's lady—the Baron was called the Baroness; the
glasses resounded, and the song commenced:—
“These will drink our good king's health,
Will drink it here, his loyal students.”
And that patriotic song:—
“I know a land up in the North
Where it is good to be.”
It concluded with—
For the king and the rescript!”
In joy one must embrace everything joyful, and that they did. Here
was the joy of youth in youthful hearts.
“No condition's like the student's;
He has chosen the better way!”
so ran the concluding verse of the following song, which ended with
“For her of whom the heart dreams ever,
But whom the lips must never name!”
It was then that Wilhelm seemed to glow with inward fire; he struck
his glass so violently against Otto's that it broke, and the wine was
“A health to the ladies!” cried one of the signors.
“A health to the ladies!” resounded from the different rooms, which
were all converted into the banquet-hall.
The ladies rose, stood upon their chairs, some even upon the table,
bowed, and returned thanks for the toast.
“No, no,” whispered Otto to Wilhelm, at the same time pulling him
down. “In this dress you resemble your sister so much, that it is quite
horrible to me to see you act a part so opposed to her character!”
“And your eyes,” Said Wilhelm, smiling, “resemble two eyes which
have touched my heart. A health to first love!” cried he, and struck
his glass against Otto's so that the half of his wine was again lost.
The champagne foamed, and amidst noise and laughter, as during the
carnival joy, a new song refreshed the image of the nark which they had
“Here if green trees were not growing
Fresh as on yon little hill,
Heard we not the fountains flowing,
We in sooth should see them still!
Tents were filled below, above,
Filled with everything but love!
Here went gratis brushing-boys—
Graduated have they all!
Here stood, who would think it, sir?
A student as a trumpeter!”
“A health to the one whose eyes mine resemble!” whispered Otto,
carried along with the merriment.
“That health we have already drunk!” answered Wilhelm, “but we
cannot do a good thing too often.”
“Then you still think of Eva?”
“She was beautiful! sweet! who knows what might have happened had
she remained here? Her fate has fallen into mamma's hands, and she and
the other exalted Nemesis must now conduct the affair: I wash my hands
“Are you recovered?” asked Otto. “But when you see Eva again in the
“I hope that I shall not fall sick,” replied Wilhelm; “I have a
strong constitution. But we must now hasten up to the dance.”
All rushed from the tables, and up-stairs, where the park was
arranged. There was now only the green wood to be seen. Theatres and
booths had been removed. Gay paper-lamps hung among the branches, a
large orchestra played, and a half-bacchanalian wood-ball commenced.
Wilhelm was Otto's partner, but after the first dance the lady sought
out for herself a more lively cavalier.
Otto drew back toward the wall where the windows were concealed by
the boughs of Fir-tree. His eye followed Wilhelm, whose great
resemblance to Sophie made him melancholy; his hand accidentally glided
through the branches and touched the window-seat; there lay a little
bird—it was dead!
To increase the illusion they had bought a number of birds, which
should fly about during the park-scene, but the poor little creatures
had died from fright at the wild uproar. In the windows and corners
they lay dead. It was one of these birds that Otto found.
“It is dead!” said he to Wilhelm, who approached him.
“Now, that is capital!” returned the friend; “here you have
something over which you may be sentimental!”
Otto would not reply.
“Shall we dance a Scotch waltz?” asked Wilhelm laughing, and the
wine and his youthful blood glowed in his cheeks.
“I wish you would put on your own dress!” said Otto. “You resemble,
as I said before, your sister”—
“And I am my sister,” interrupted Wilhelm, in his wantonness. “And
as a reward for your charming readings aloud, for your excellent
conversation, and the whole of your piquant amiability, you shall now
be paid with a little kiss!” He pressed his lips to Otto's forehead;
Otto thrust him back and left the company.
Several hours passed before he could sleep; at length he was forced
to laugh over his anger: what mattered it if Wilhelm resembled his
The following morning Otto paid her a visit. All listened with
lively interest to his description of the merry St. John's day in
February. He also related how much Wilhelm had resembled his sister,
and how unpleasant this had been to him; and they laughed. During the
relation, however, Otto could not forbear drawing a comparison. How
great a difference did he now find! Sophie's beauty was of quite
another kind! Never before had he regarded her in this light. Of the
kisses which Wilhelm had given him, of course, they did not speak; but
Otto thought of them, thought of them quite differently to what he had
done before, and—the ways of Cupid are strange! We will now see how
affairs stand after advancing fourteen days.
“Huzza for Copenhagen and for Paris! may they both flourish!”
The Danes in Paris by HEIBERG.
Wilhelm's cousin, Joachim, had arrived from Paris. We remember the
young officer, out of whose letters Wilhelm had sent Otto a description
of the struggle of the July days. As an inspired hero of liberty had he
returned; struggling Poland had excited his lively interest, and he
would willingly have combated in Warsaw's ranks. His mind and his
eloquence made him doubly interesting. The combat of the July days, of
which he had been an eye-witness, he described to them. Joachim was
handsome; he had an elegant countenance with sharp features, and was
certainly rather pale—one might perhaps have called him worn with
dissipation, had it not been for the brightness of his eyes, which
increased in conversation. The fine dark eyebrow, and even the little
mustache, gave the countenance all expression which reminded one of
fine English steel-engravings. His figure was small, almost slender,
but the proportions were beautiful. The animation of the Frenchman
expressed itself in every motion, but at the same time there was in him
a certain determination which seemed to say: “I am aware of my own
He interested every one: Otto also listened with pleasure when
Cousin Joachim related his experiences, but when all eyes were turned
toward the narrator, Otto fixed his suddenly upon Sophie, and found
that she could moderate his attentions. Joachim addressed his discourse
to all, but at the points of interest his glance rested alone on the
pretty cousin! “She interests him!” said Otto to himself. “And Cousin
Joachim?” Yes, he relates well; but had we only traveled we should not
be inferior to him!”
“Charles X. was a Jesuit!” said Joachim; “he strove after an
unrestrained despotism, and laid violent hands on the Charter. The
expedition against Algiers was only a glittering fire-work arranged to
flatter the national pride—all glitter and falseness! Like Peirronnet,
through an embrace he would annihilate the Charter.”
The conversation now turned from the Jesuits to the Charter and
Polignac. The minute particulars, which only an eyewitness can relate,
brought the struggle livingly before their eyes. They saw the last
night, the extraordinary activity in the squares where the balls were
showered, and in the streets where the barricades were erected.
Overturned wagons and carts, barrels and stones, were heaped upon each
other—even the hundred year-old trees of the Boulevards were cut down
to form barricades: the struggle began, Frenchman fought against
Frenchman—for liberty and country they sacrificed their life. [Note:
“Ceux qui pieusement sont morts pour la patrie Ont droit qu'a leur
cerceuil la foule vienne et prie: Entre le plus beaux noms, leur nom
est le plus beau. Toute gloire, pres d'eux, passe et tombe ephemere Et,
comme ferait une mere, La voix d'un peuple entier les berce en leur
tombeau!” —VICTOR HUGO.] And he described the victory and Louis
Philippe, whom he admired and loved.
“That was a world event,” said the man of business. “It electrified
both king and people. They still feel the movement. Last year was an
“For the Copenhageners also,” said Otto, “there were three colors.
These things occupied the multitude with equal interest: the July
Revolution, the 'Letters of a Wandering Ghost,' and Kellermann's
“Now you are bitter, Mr. Thostrup,” said the lady of the house. “The
really educated did not occupy themselves with these Berlin
'Eckensteher' which the multitude have rendered national!”
“But they hit the right mark!” said Otto; “they met with a reception
from the citizens and people in office.”
“That I can easily believe,” remarked Joachim; “that is like the
“That is like the people abroad!” said the hostess. “In Paris they
pass over still more easily from a revolution, in which they themselves
have taken part, to a review by Jules Janin, or to a new step of
Taglioni's, and from that to 'une histoire scandaleuse!'“
“No, my gracious lady, of the last no one takes any notice—it
belongs to the order of the day!”
“That I can easily believe!” said Miss Sophie.
The man of business now inquired after the Chamber. The cousin's
answer was quite satisfactory. The lady of the house wished to hear of
the flower-markets, and of the sweet little inclosed gardens in the
Places. Sophie wished to hear of Victor Hugo. She received a
description of him, of his abode in the Place Royale, and of the whole
Europe litteraire beside. Cousin Joachim was extremely interesting.
Otto did not pay another visit for two days.
“Where have you been for so long?” asked Sophie, when he came again.
“With my books!” replied he: there lay a gloomy expression in his
“O, you should have come half an hour earlier—our cousin was here!
He was describing to me the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. O, quite
“He is an interesting young man!” said Otto.
“The glorious garden!” pursued Sophie, without remarking the
emphasis with which Otto had replied. “Do you not remember, Mr.
Thostrup, how Barthelemi has spoken of it? 'Ou tout homme, qui reve a
son pays absent, Retrouve ses parfums et son air caressant.' In it
there is a whole avenue with cages, in which are wild beasts,—lions
and tigers! In small court-yards, elephants and buffaloes wander about
at liberty! Giraffes nibble the branches of high trees! In the middle
of the garden are the courts for bears, only there is a sort of well in
which the bears walk about; it is surrounded by no palisades, and you
stand upon the precipitous edge! There our cousin stood!”
“But he did not precipitate himself down!” said Otto, with
“What is the matter?” asked Sophie. “Are you in your elegiac mood?
You look as I imagine Victor Hugo when he has not made up his mind
about the management of his tragic catastrophe!”
“That is my innate singularity!” replied Otto. “I should have
pleasure in springing down among the bears of which you relate!”
“And in dying?” asked Sophie. “No, you must live. 'C'est le bonheur
de vivre Qui fait la gloire de mourir.'“
“You speak a deal of French to-day,” said Otto, with a friendliness
of manner intended to soften the bitterness of the tone. “Perhaps your
conversation with the lieutenant was in that language?”
“French interests me the most!” replied she. “I will ask our cousin
to speak it often with me. His accent is excellent, and he is himself a
very interesting man!”
“No doubt of it!” answered Otto.
“You will remain and dine with us?” said the lady of the house, who
Otto did not feel well.
“These are only whims,” said Sophie.
The ladies made merry, and Otto remained. Cousin Joachim came and
was interesting—very interesting, said all. He related of Paris, spoke
also of Copenhagen, and drew comparisons. The quietness of home had
made an especial impression on him.
“People here,” said he, “go about as if they bore some heavy grief,
or some joy, which they might not express. If one goes into a
coffee-house, it is just as if one entered a house of mourning. Each
one seats himself, a newspaper in his hand, in a corner. That strikes
one when one comes from Paris! One naturally has the thought,—Can
these few degrees further north bring so much cold into the blood?
There is the same quiet in our theatre. Now I love this active life.
The only boldness the public permits itself is hissing a poor author;
but a wretched singer, who has neither tone nor manner, a miserable
actress, will be endured, nay, applauded by good friends—an act of
compassion. She is so fearful! she is so good! In Paris people hiss.
The decoration master, the manager, every one there receives his share
of applause or blame. Even the directors are there hissed, if they
“You are preaching a complete revolution in our theatrical kingdom!”
said the lady of the house. “The Copenhageners cannot ever become
Parisians, and neither should they.”
“The theatre is here, as well as there, the most powerful organ of
the people's life. It has the greatest influence, and ours stands high,
very high, when one reflects in what different directions it must
extend its influence. Our only theatre must accommodate itself, and
represent, at the same time, the Theatre Francais, the grand Opera, the
Vaudeville, and Saint-Martin; it must comprehend all kinds of
theatrical entertainments. The same actors who to-day appear in
tragedy, must to-morrow show themselves in a comedy or vaudeville. We
have actors who might compare themselves with the best in Paris—only
one is above all ours, but, also, above all whom I have seen in
Europe, and this one is Mademoiselle Mars. You will, doubtless,
consider the reason extraordinary which gives this one, in my opinion,
the first place. This is her age, which she so completely compels you
to forget. She is still pretty; round, without being called fat. It is
not through rouge, false hair, or false teeth, that she procures
herself youth; it lies in her soul, and from thence it flows into every
limb—every motion becomes charming! She fills you with astonishment!
her eyes are full of expression, and her voice is the most sonorous
which I know! It is indeed music! How can one think of age when one is
affected by an immortal soul? I rave about Leontine Fay, but the old
Mars has my heart. There is also a third who stands high with the
Parisians— Jenny Vertpre, at the Gymnase Dramatique, but she would be
soon eclipsed were the Parisians to see our Demoiselle Patges. She
possesses talent which will shine in every scene. Vertpre has her
loveliness, her whims, but not her Proteus-genius, her nobility. I saw
Vertpre in 'La Reine de Seize Ans,'—a piece which we have not yet; but
she was only a saucy soubrette in royal splendor—a Pernille of
Holberg's, as represented by a Parisian. We have Madame Wexschall, and
we have Frydendal! Were Denmark only a larger country, these names
would sound throughout Europe!”
He now described the decorations in the “Sylphide,” in “Natalia,”
and in various other ballets, the whole splendor, the whole
“But our orchestra is excellent!” said Miss Sophie.
“It certainly contains several distinguished men,” answered Joachim;
“but must one speak of the whole? Yes, you know I am not musical, and
cannot therefore express myself in an artistical manner about music,
but certain it is that something lay in my ear, in my feeling, which,
in Paris, whispered to me, 'That is excellent!' Here, on the contrary,
it cries, 'With moderation! with moderation!' The voice is the first;
she is the lady; the instruments, on the contrary, are the cavaliers
who shall conduct the former before the public. Gently they should take
her by the hand; she must stand quite foremost; but here the
instruments thrust her aside, and it is to me as if each instrument
would have the first place, and constantly shouted, 'Here am I! here am
“That sounds very well!” said Sophie; “but one may not believe you!
You have fallen in love with foreign countries, and, therefore, at home
everything must be slighted.”
“By no means! The Danish ladies, for instance, appear the prettiest,
the most modest whom I have known.”
“Appear?” repeated Otto.
“Joachim possesses eloquence,” said the lady of the house.
“That has developed itself abroad!” answered he: “here at home there
are only two ways in which it can publicly develop itself—in the
pulpit, and at a meeting in the shooting-house. Yet it is true that now
we are going to have a Diet and a more political life. I feel already,
in anticipation, the effect; we shall only live for this life, the
newspapers will become merely political, the poets sing politics the
painters choose scenes from political life. 'C'est un Uebergang!' as
Madame La Fleche says. [Author's Note: Holberg's Jean de France.]
Copenhagen is too small to be a great, and too great to be a small
city. See, there lies the fault!”
Otto felt an irresistible desire to contradict him in most things
which he said about home. But the cousin parried every bold blow with a
“Copenhagen must be the Paris of the North,” said he, “and that it
certainly would become in fifty, or twice that number of years. The
situation was far more beautiful than that of the city of the Seine.
The marble church must be elevated, and become a Pantheon, adorned with
the works of Thorwaldsen and other artists; Christiansborg, a Louvre,
whose gallery you visit; Oster Street and Pedermadsen's passage,
arcades such as are in Paris, covered with glass roofs and flagged,
shops on both sides, and in the evening, when thousands of gas-lamps
burnt, here should be the promenade; the esplanades would be the Champs
Elysees, with swings and slides, music, and mats de cocagne. [Author's
Note: High smooth poles, to the top of which victuals, clothes, or
money are attached. People of the lower classes then try to climb up
and seize the prizes. The best things are placed at the very top of the
pole.] On the Peblinger Lake, as on the Seine, there should be festive
water excursions made. Voila!” exclaimed he, “that would be splendid!”
“That might be divine!” said Sophie.
Animation and thought lay in the cousin's countenance; his fine
features became striking from their expression. Thus did his image
stamp itself in Otto's soul, thus did it place itself beside Sophie's
image as she stood there, with her large brown eyes, round which played
thought and smiles, whilst they rested on the cousin. The beautifully
formed white hand, with its taper fingers, played with the curls which
fell over her cheeks. Otto would not think of it.
“And if I have wept alone, it is my own sorrow.”—GOETHE
Latterly Otto had been but seldom at Mr. Berger's. He had no
interest about the merchant's home. The family showed him every
politeness and mark of confidence; but his visits became every week
more rare. Business matters, however, led him one day there.
Chance or fate, as we call it, if the shadow of a consequence shows
itself, caused Maren to pass through the anteroom when Otto was about
taking his departure. She was the only one of the ladies at home. In
three weeks she would return to Lemvig. She said that she could not
boast of having enjoyed Mr. Thostrup's society too often.
“Your old friends interest you no longer!” added she, somewhat
gravely. With this exception she had amused herself very well in the
city, had seen everything but the stuffed birds, and these she should
see to-morrow. She had been seven times in the theatre, and had seen
the “Somnambule” twice. However, she had not seen “Der Frieschutz,” and
she had an especial desire to see this on account of the wolf-glen. At
Aarhuus there was a place in the wood, said she, called the wolf-glen;
this she knew, and now wished to see whether it resembled the one on
“May I then greet Rosalie from you?” she asked at length.
“You will still remain three weeks here,” said Otto: “it is too soon
to speak of leave-taking.”
“But you scarcely ever come here,” returned she. “You have better
places to go to! The Baron's sister certainly sees you oftener; she is
said to be a pretty and very clever girl: perhaps one may soon offer
Otto became crimson.
“In spring you will travel abroad,” pursued she; “we shall not then
see you in Jutland: yes, perhaps yon will never go there again! That
will make old Rosalie sad: she thinks so incredibly much of you. In all
the letters which I have received here there were greetings to Mr.
Thostrup. Yes, I have quite a multitude of them for you; but you do not
come to receive them, and I dare not pay a visit to such a young
gentleman. For the sake of old friendship let me, at least, be the
first who can relate at home of the betrothal!”
“How can you have got such a thought?” replied Otto. “I go to so
many houses where there are young ladies; if my heart had anything to
do with it, I should have a bad prospect. I have great esteem for Miss
Sophie; I speak with her as with you, that is all. I perceive that the
air of Copenhagen has affected you; here in the city they are always
betrothing people. This comes from the ladies in the house here. How
could you believe such stories?”
Maren also joked about it, but after they had parted she seated
herself in a corner, drew her little apron over her head and wept;
perhaps because she should soon leave the lively city, where she had
been seven times to the theatre, and yet had not seen the wolf-glen.
“Betrothed!” repeated Otto to himself, and thought of Sophie, of the
cousin, and of his own childhood, which hung like a storm-cloud in his
heaven. Many thoughts passed through his mind: he recollected the
Christmas Eve on which he had seen Sophie for the first time, when she,
as one of the Fates, gave him the number. He had 33, she 34; they were
united by the numbers following each other. He received the pedigree,
and was raised to her nobility. The whole joke had for him a
signification. He read the verse again which had accompanied it. The
conclusion sounded again and again in his ears:— “From this hour forth
thy soul high rank hath won her, Nor will forget thy knighthood and thy
“O Sophie!” he exclaimed aloud, and the fire which had long
smouldered in his blood now burst forth in flames. “Sophie! thee must I
press to my heart!” He lost himself in dreams. Dark shapes disturbed
them. “Can she then be happy? Can I? The picture which she received
where the covering of ice was broken and the faithful dog watched in
vain, is also significant. That is the fulfillment of hopes. I sink,
and shall never return!”
The image of the cousin mingled in his dreams. That refined
countenance with the little mustache looked forth saucily and
loquaciously; and Sophie's eyes he saw rest upon the cousin, whilst her
white hand played with the brown curls which fell over her cheek.
“O Sophie!” sighed Otto, and fell asleep.
... “We live through others, We think we are others; we
Others to be ... And so think others of us.”
When the buds burst forth we will burst forth also! had Otto and
Wilhelm often said. Their plan was, in the spring to travel immediately
to Paris, but on their way to visit the Rhine, and to sail from Cologne
“Yes, one must see the Rhine first!” said Cousin Joachim; “when one
has seen Switzerland and Italy, it does not strike one nearly as much.
That must be your first sight; but you should not see it in spring, but
toward autumn. When the vines have their full variety of tint, and the
heavy grapes hang from the stems, see, it is then the old ruins stand
forth. These are the gardens of the Rhine! Another advantage which you
have in going there in autumn is that you then enter Paris in winter,
and that one must do; then one does not come post festum; then is the
heyday of gayety—the theatre, the soirees, and everything which can
interest the beau monde.”
Although Otto did not generally consider the cousin's words of much
weight, he this time entered wonderfully into his views. “It would
certainly be the most prudent to commence their journey toward autumn,”
he thought: “there could be no harm in preparing themselves a little
more for it!”
“That is always good!” said Joachim; “but, what is far more
advantageous abroad than all the preparations you can make at home, is
said in a few words—give up all intercourse with your own
country-people! Nowadays every one travels! Paris is not now further
from us than Hamburg was some thirty years ago. When I was in Paris I
found there sixteen or seventeen of my countrymen. O, how they kept
together! Eleven of them dwelt in the same hotel: they drank coffee
together, walked out together, went to the restaurateur's together, and
took together half a bench in the theatre. That is the most foolish
thing a person can do! I consider travelling useful for every one, from
the prince to the travelling journeyman. But we allow too many people
to travel! We are not rich, therefore restrictions should be made. The
creative artist, the poet, the engineer, and the physician must travel;
but God knows why theologians should go forth. They can become mad
enough at home! They come into Catholic countries, and then there is an
end of them! Wherefore should book-worms go forth? They shut themselves
up in the diligence and in their chambers, rummage a little in the
libraries, but not so much as a pinch of snuff do they do us any good
when they return! Those who cost the most generally are of the least
use, and bring the country the least honor! I, thank God! paid for my
journey myself, and am therefore free to speak my opinion!”
We will now hear what Miss Sophie said, and therefore advance a few
“We keep you then with us till August!” said she, once when she was
alone with Otto. “That is wise! You can spend some time with us in
Funen, and gather strength for your journey. Yes, the journey will do
“I hope so!” answered Otto. “I am perhaps able to become as
interesting as your cousin, as amiable!”
“That would be requiring too much from you!” said Sophie, bantering
him. “You will never have his humor, his facility in catching up
character. You will only preach against the depravity of the Parisians;
you will only be able to appreciate the melancholy grandeur of
Switzerland and the solitude of the Hungarian forests.”
“You would make a misanthrope of me, which I by no means am.”
“But you have an innate talent for this character!” answered Sophie.
“Something will certainly be polished away by this journey, and it is
on account of this change that I rejoice.”
“Must one, then, have a light, fickle mood to please you?” asked
“Yes, certainly!” answered Sophie, ironically.
“Then it is true what your cousin told me!” said Otto. “If one will
be fortunate with the ladies, one must at least be somewhat frivolous,
fond of pleasure, and fickle,—that makes one interesting. Yes, he has
made himself acquainted with the world, he has experience in
“Yes, perfectly!” said Sophie, and laughed aloud.
Otto was silent, with contracted brow.
“I wish you sunshine!” said Sophie, and smiling raised her finger.
Otto remained unchanged—he wrinkled his brow.
“You must change very much!” said she, half gravely; and danced out
of the room.
Three weeks passed by, rich in great events in the kingdom of the
heart; it was still a diplomatic secret: the eyes betrayed it by their
pantomimic language, the mouth alone was silent, and it is after all
the deciding power.
Otto visited the merchant's family. Maren had departed just the day
before. In vain had she awaited his visit throughout the three weeks.
“You quite forget your true friends!” said the ladies. “Believe us,
Maja was a little angry with you, and yet we have messages. Now she is
sailing over the salt sea.”
This was not precisely the case; she was already on land, and just
at this moment was driving over the brown heath, thinking of Copenhagen
and the pleasures there, and of the sorrow also—it is so sad to be
forgotten by a friend of childhood! Otto was so handsome, so
clever—she did not dream at all how handsome and clever she herself
would appear at home. Beauty and cleverness they had discovered in her
before she left; now she had been in the capital, and that gives
The little birds fluttered round the carriage; perhaps they sang to
her what should happen in two years: “Thou wilt be a bride, the
secretary's lovely little bride; thou shalt have both him and the
musical-box! Thou wilt be the grandest lady in the town, and yet the
most excellent mother. Thy first daughter shall be called Maja —that
is a pretty name, and reminds thee of past days!”
“The monastery is still called 'Andersskov' (the wood of Anders) in
memory of its being the habitation of the pious Anders.
“The hill on which he awoke, comforted by sleep, is still called
'Hvile hoi' (the hill of rest). A cross having a Latin inscription,
half-effaced, marks the spot.”—J. L. HEIBERG.
It was spring, fresh, life-bearing spring! Only one day and one
night, and the birds of passage were back again; the woods made
themselves once more young with green, odorous leaves; the Sound had
its swimming Venice of richly laden vessels; only one day and one
night, and Sophie was removed from Otto—they were divided by the salt
sea; but it was spring in his heart; from it flew his thoughts, like
birds of passage, to the island of Funen, and there sang of summer.
Hope gave him more “gold and green woods” than the ships bear through
the Sound, more than Zealand's bays can show. Sophie at parting pressed
his hand. In her eyes lay what his heart might hope and dream.
He forgot that hope and dreams were the opposites of reality.
Cousin Joachim had gone to Stockholm, and would not return either in
the spring or summer to Funen. On the contrary, Otto intended to spend
a few weeks at the country-seat; not before August would he and Wilhelm
travel. There would at least be one happy moment, and many perhaps
almost as happy. In his room stood a rose-bush, the first buds formed
themselves, and opened their red lips—as pure and tender as these
leaves was Sophie's cheek: he bent over the flower, smiled and read
there sweet thoughts which were related to his love. A rose-bud is a
“The myriad leaves enmaze
Small labyrinthine ways
Where spicy odor flows,
Thou lovelv bud o' the rose!”
The day came on which Otto, after he had comfortably terminated his
visits of leave-taking, at midday, in the company of three young
students travelled away through Zealand. They had taken a carriage
together as far as Slagelse, where, like Abraham's and Lot's shepherds,
they should separate to the right and left. Otto remained alone, in
order to travel post that night to Nyborg. It was only four o'clock in
the afternoon, Otto had no acquaintance here, therefore it was but to
take a walk.
“There still exist remains of the old Antvorskov convent, [Author's
Note: The convent was founded by Waldemar I., 1177.] do there not?”
“Yes, but very little!” answered the host. “The convent became a
castle, the castle a private house, and now within the last few years,
on account of the stones, it has been still more pulled down. You will
find nothing old remaining, except here and there in the garden a piece
of a red wall standing out. But the situation is beautiful! If you will
only take the road toward the large village called Landsgrav, you are
on the way to Korsoer, and close to the cross of the holy Anders. It is
a right pleasant excursion!”
“Convent ruins and the holy cross!” said Otto; “that sounds quite
romantic!” And he commenced his wanderings.
A few scholars from the Latin school, with their books held together
by a strait, and then a square built lancer, who greeted in military
style an elderly-young lady, who was seated behind a barricade of
geraniums and wall flowers, were the only individuals he met with on
his way. Yet Otto remarked that the windows were opened as he passed;
people wanted to see who the stranger might be who was going up the
A long avenue led from the town to the castle. On either side the
way lay detached houses, with little gardens. Otto soon reached the
remains of old Antvorskov. The way was red from the stones which were
flung about, and were now ground to dust. Huge pieces of wall, where
the mortar and stone were united in one piece, lay almost concealed
among the high nettles. Rather more distant stood a solitary house of
two stories. It was narrow, and whitewashed. A thick pilaster, such as
one sees in churches, supported the strong wall. This was half of the
last wing of the castle,—a mingling of the ancient and incident, of
ruin and dwelling-house.
Otto went into the garden, which was laid out upon the hill itself,
and its terraces. Here were only young trees; but the walks were
everywhere overgrown. The view stretched itself far over the plain,
toward the Belt and Funen. He descended from the terrace down to the
lowest wall. In this there yet remained a piece of an old tombstone, of
the age of the convent, on which you perceived the trace of a female
form; and near to this the figure of a skeleton, round which was twined
a snake. Otto stood sunk in contemplation, when an old man, with two
water-buckets suspended from a yoke on his shoulders, approached a near
The old man was very ready to commence a conversation. He told of
excavations, and of an underground passage which had not been
discovered, but which, according to his opinion, was certainly in
existence. So far they had only found a few walled-round spaces, which
had most probably been prisons. In one of these was an iron chain
fastened into the wall. But with regard to the underground passage,
they had only not yet discovered the right place, for it must exist. It
led from here, deep under the lake and forest, toward Soroe. There were
large iron gates below. At Christmas one could hear how they were swung
to and fro. “Whoever should have that which is concealed there,” said
the old man, “would be a made man, and need not neither slip nor
Otto looked at the solitary wing which rose up over the terrace. How
splendid it had been here in former times!
Close to the large wood, several miles in extent, which stretches
itself on the other side of Soroe, down to the shore of the King's
Brook, lay the rich convent where Hans Tausen spoke what the Spirit
inspired him with. Times changed; the convent vanished;
“Halls of state
Tower upon that spot elate;
Where the narrow cell once stood;"
[Author's Note: Anders-skov, by Oehlenschlager.]
where the monks sang psalms, knights and ladies danced to the sound
of beating drums: but these tone's ceased; the blooming cheeks became
dust. It was again quiet. Many a pleasant time did Holberg ride over
from Soroe, through the green wood, to visit the steward of Antvorskov.
Otto recollected what one of his daughters, when an old woman, had
related to a friend of his. She was a child, and lay in the cradle,
when old Holberg came riding there, with a little wheaten loaf and a
small pot of preserve in his pocket—his usual provision on such little
excursions. The steward's young wife sat at her spinning-wheel. Holberg
paced up and down the room with the husband; they were discussing
politics. This interested the wife, and she joined in the conversation.
Holberg turned round to her,— “I fancy the distaff speaks!” said he.
This the wife could never forget. [Translator's Note: Rokkehoved,
distaff, means also dunce in Danish.]
Otto smiled at this recollection of the witty but ungallant poet,
quitted the garden, and went through a winding hollow way, where the
luxuriant briers hung in rich masses over the stone fence. Slagelse,
with its high hills in the background, looked picturesque. He soon
reached Landsgrav. The sun went down as he walked over the field where
the wooden cross stands, with its figure of the Redeemer, in memory of
the holy Anders. Near it he perceived a man, who appeared to kneel. One
hand held fast by the cross; in the other was a sharp knife, with which
he was probably cutting out his name. He did not observe Otto. Near the
man lay a box covered with green oil-cloth; and in the grass lay a
knapsack, a pair of boots, and a knotty stick. It must be a wandering
journeyman, or else a pedlar.
Otto was about to return, when the stranger rose and perceived him.
Otto stood as if nailed to the earth. It was the German Heinrich whom
he saw before him.
“Is not that Mr. Thostrup?” said the man and that horrible grinning
smile played around his mouth. “No, that I did not expect!”
“Does it go well with you, Heinrich?” asked Otto.
“There's room for things to mend!” replied Heinrich “It goes better
with you! Good Lord, that you should become such a grand gentleman! Who
would have thought it, when you rode on my knee, and I pricked you in
the arm? Things go on strangely in this world! Have you heard of your
sister? She was not so much spoiled as you! But she was a beautiful
“I have neither seen her nor my parents!” replied he, with a
trembling which he strove to conquer. “Do you know where she is?”
“I am always travelling!” said Heinrich; “but thus much I know, that
she is still in Funen. Yes, she must take one of us, an unpretending
husband! You can choose a genteel young lady for yourself. That's the
way when people are lucky. You will become a landed proprietor. Old
Heinrich will then no doubt obtain permission to exhibit his tricks on
your estate? But none of its will speak of former times!—of the red
house on the Odense water!” This last he whispered quite low. “I shall
receive a few shillings from you?” he asked.
“You shall have more!” said Otto, and gave to him. “But I wish us to
remain strangers to each other, as we are!”
“Yes, certainly, certainly!” said Heinrich, and nodded affirmatively
with his head, whilst his eyes rested on the gift Otto had presented
him with. “Then you are no longer angry with my joke in Jutland?” asked
he with a simpering smile, and kissed Otto's hand. “I should not have
known you then. Had you not shown me your shoulder, on which I saw the
letters O and T which I myself had etched, it would never have occurred
to me that we knew each other! But a light suddenly flashed across me.
I should have said Otto Thostrup; but I said 'Odense Tugt-huus.' [Note:
Odense house of correction.] That was not handsome of me, seeing you
are such a good gentleman!”
“Yes, now adieu!” said Otto, and extended to him unwillingly his
“There, our Saviour looks down upon us!” said the German Heinrich,
and fixed his eyes upon the figure on the cross. “As certainly as He
lives may you rely upon the silence of my mouth. He is my Redeemer, who
hangs there on the cross, just as he is etched upon my skin, and as he
stands along the high-roads in my father-land. Here is the only place
in the whole country where the sign of the cross stands under the free
heaven; here I worship: for you must know, Mr. Thostrup, I am not of
your faith, but of the faith of the Virgin Mary. Here I have cut into
the wood the holy sign, such as is placed over every door in my
father-land,—an I, an H, and this S. In this is contained my own name;
for H stands for Heinrich; I, for I myself; and S means Sinner; that
is, I, Heinrich, Sinner. Now I have completed my worship, and you have
given me a handsome skilling, I shall now go to my bed at the
public-house; and if the girl is pretty, and lets one flatter her, I am
still young enough, and shall fancy that I am Mr. Thostrup, and have
won that most glorious, elegant young lady! Hurrah! it is a player's
life which we lead!”
Otto left him, but heard how Heinrich sang:
“Tri, ri, ro,
The summer comes once mo!
To beer, boys! to beer
The winter lies in bands, O!
And he who won't come here,
We'll trounce him with our wands, O!
Yo, yo, yo,
The summer comes once mo!”
As, suddenly on a clear sunny day, a cloud can appear, extinguish
the warm sunshine, conceal the green coast, and change everything into
gray mist forms, so was it now with Otto, who had but just before felt
himself so happy and full of youthful joy.
“You can sleep quietly!” said the host, when Otto returned to
Slagelse; “you shall be wakened early enough to leave with the mail.”
But his rest was like a delirium.
The post-horn sounded in the empty street; they rolled away—it was
“Is that a gallows?” inquired one of the travellers, and pointed
toward the hill, where at this distance the cross looked like a stake.
“That is the cross of the holy Anders!” replied Otto; and livingly
stood before him the recollections of the evening before.
“Does that really exist?” said the stranger. “I have read of it in
the 'Letters of a Wandering Ghost.'“
This was a beautiful morning, the sun shone warmly, the sea was
smooth as a mirror, and so much the faster did the steamboat glide
away. The vessel with the mail, which had set sail two hours earlier,
still lay not far from land. The sails hung down loosely; not a breeze
The steamboat glided close past her; the passengers in the
mail-vessel, the greater portion coachmen, travelling journeymen, and
peasants, stood on the deck to see it. They waved greetings. One of the
foremost leaned on his knotty stick, pulled off his hat, and shouted,
“Good morning, my noble gentlefolk!” It was the German Heinrich; he
then was going to Funen. Otto's heart beat faster, he gazed down among
the rushing waves which foamed round the paddle, where the sunbeams
painted a glorious rainbow.
“That is lovely!” said one of the strangers, close to him.
“Very lovely!” returned Otto, and stilled the sigh which would burst
forth from his breast.
Scarcely two hours were fled—the cables were flung upon the Nyborg
bridge of boats, and the steamboat made fast to the island of Funen.
“It is so sweet when friendly hands bid you a hearty welcome, so
dear to behold well-known features, wherever you turn your eyes.
Everything seems so home-like and quiet about you and in your own
breast.” HENRIETTE HAUCK.
Otto immediately hired a carriage, and reached the hall just about
dinner-time. In the interior court-yard stood two calashes and an
Holstein carriage; two strange coachmen, with lace round their hats,
stood in animated discourse when Otto drove in through the gate. The
postilion blew his horn.
“Be quiet there!” cried Otto.
“There are strangers at the hall!” said the postilion; “I will only
let them know that another is coming.”
Otto gazed at the garden, glanced up toward the windows, where mine
of the ladies showed themselves only out of a side building a female
head was stretched out, whose hair was put back underneath a cap. Otto
recognized the grown-together eyebrows. “Is she the first person I am
to see here?” sighed he; and the carriage rolled into the inner court.
The dogs barked, the turkey-cocks gobbled, but not Wilhelm showed
himself. The Kammerjunker came—the excellent neighbor! and immediately
afterward Sophie; both exclaimed with smiles, “Welcome!”
“See, here we have our man!” said the Kammerjunker; “we can make use
of him in the play!”
“It is glorious you are come!” cried Sophie. “We shall immediately
put you under arrest.” She extended her hand to him—he pressed it to
his lips. “We will have tableaux vivants this evening!” said she: “the
pastor has never seen any. We have no service from Wilhelm; he is in
Svendborg, and will not return for two days. You must be the officer;
the Kammerjunker will represent the Somnambulist, who comes with her
light through the window. Will you?”
“Everything you desire!” said Otto.
“Do not speak of it!” returned Sophie, and laid her finger on her
lips. The mother descended the steps.
“Dear Thostrup!” said she, and pressed, with warm cordiality, both
his hands. “I have really quite yearned after you. Now Wilhelm is away,
you must for two whole days put up with us alone.”
Otto went through the long passage where hung the old portraits; it
was as if these also wished welcome. It only seemed a night full of
many dreams which had passed since he was here; a year in the lapse of
time is also not so long as a winter's night in the life of man.
Here it was so agreeable, so home-like; no one could have seen by
the trees that since then they had stood stripped of leaves and covered
with snow; luxuriantly green they waved themselves in the sun's warmth,
just as when Otto last gazed out of this window.
He had the red room as before. The dinner-bell rang.
Louise met him in the passage.
“Thostrup!” exclaimed she, with delight, and seized his hand. “Now,
it is almost a year and a day since I saw you!”
“Yes much has happened in this year!” said the Kammerjunker. “Come
soon to me, and you shall see what I have had made for pastime—a
bowling-green! Miss Sophie has tried her skill upon it.”
The Kammerjunker took the mother to dinner. Otto approached Sophie.
“Will you not take the Kammerjunker's sister?” whispered she.
Mechanically, Otto made his bow before Miss Jakoba.
“Take one of the young ladies!” said she; “you would rather do
Otto bowed, cast a glance toward Sophie; she had the old pastor.
Otto smiled, and conducted Jakoba to table.
The Mamsell, renowned through her work-box, sat on his left hand. He
observed the company who, beside those we have already mentioned,
consisted of several ladies and gentlemen whom he did not know. One
chair was empty, but it was soon occupied; a young girl, quiet in her
attire, and dressed like Louise, entered.
“Why do you come so late?” asked Sophie, smiling.
“That is only known to Eva and me!” said Louise, and smiled at the
Eva seated herself. It was, perhaps, the complete resemblance of
their dress which induced Otto to observe both her and Louise so
closely, and even against his own will to draw comparisons. Both wore a
simple dark brown dress, a small sea-green handkerchief round the neck.
Louise seemed to him enchanting—pretty one could not call her: Eva, on
the contrary, was ideal; there lay something in her appearance which
made him think of the pale pink hyacinth. Every human being has his
invisible angel, says the mythos; both are different and yet resemble
each other. Eva was the angel; Louise, on the contrary, the human being
in all its purity. Otto's eyes encountered those of Sophie—they were
both directed to the same point. “What power! what beauty!” thought he.
Her mind is far above that of Louise, and in beauty she is a gorgeous
flower, and not, like Eva, a fine, delicate hyacinth. He drew eloquence
from these eyes, and became interesting like the cousin, although he
had not been in Paris.
The Kammerjunker spoke of sucking-pigs, but that also was
interesting; perhaps be drew his inspiration out of the same source as
Otto. He spoke of the power of green buckwheat, and how the swine which
eat it become mad. From this doubtless originated the legend of the
devil entering into the swine. It is only coal-black pigs which can
digest green buckwheat; if they have a single white speck upon them,
they become ill at eating. “This is extraordinary,” exclaimed he.
In his enthusiasm his discourse became almost a cry, which caused
Miss Jakoba to say that one might almost think that he himself had
eaten green buckwheat.
Otto meantime cut out of the green melon-peel a man, and made him
ride on the edge of his glass; that withdrew Sophie's attention from
the Kammerjunker. The whole company found that this little cut-out
figure was very pretty; and the Mamsell begged that she might have
it—it should lie in her work-box.
Toward evening all were in preparation for the approaching tableaux.
Eva must represent Hero. With a torch in her hand she must kneel on
a table, which was to be draped so as to represent a balcony. The poor
girl felt quite unhappy at having to appear in this manner. Sophie
laughed at her fear, and assured her that she would be admired, and
that therefore she must and should.
“Give way to my sister,” said Louise, in a beseeching voice; and Eva
was ready, let down her long brown hair, and allowed Sophie to arrange
Otto must put on an officer's uniform. He presented himself to the
“That gold is not sewn fast on the collar,” said Sophie, and
undertook to rectify it. He could easily keep the uniform on whilst she
did this, said she. Her soft hand touched Otto's cheek, it was like an
electric shock to him; his blood burned; how much he longed to press
the hand to his lips!
They all burst out laughing when the Kammerjunker appeared in a
white petticoat which only reached a little below the knee, and in a
large white lady's dressing-jacket. Miss Sophie must arrange his hair.
She did it charmingly; her hand stroked the hair away from his brow,
and glided over his cheeks: he kissed it; she struck him in the face,
and begged him not to forget himself! “We are ladies,” said he, and
rose in his full splendor. They all laughed except Otto; he could
not—he felt a desire to beat him. The spectators arranged themselves
in a dark room, the folding doors were opened.
Eva as Hero, in a white linen robe, her hair hanging down on her
shoulders, and a torch in her hand, gazed out over the sea. No painter
could have imagined anything more beautiful; the large dark-blue eyes
expressed tenderness and melancholy; it was Eva's natural glance, but
here you saw her quiet. The fine black eyebrows increased the
expression, the whole figure was as if breathed into the picture.
Now followed a new picture—Faust and Margaret in the arbor; behind
stood Mephistophiles, with his devilish smile. The Kammerjunker's
Mamsell was Margaret. When the doors were opened she sent forth aloud
cry, and ran away; she would not stay, she was so afraid. The group was
disarranged, people laughed and found it amusing, but the Kammerjunker
scolded aloud, and swore that she should come in again; at that the
laughter of the spectators increased, and was not lessened when the
Kammerjunker, forgetting his costume as the Somnambule, half stepped
into the frame in which the pictures were represented, and seated the
Mamsell on the bench. This group was only seen for one moment: the
dorors were again closed; the spectators applauded, but a whistle was
heard. Laughter, and the hum of conversation, resounded through the
room; and it was impossible to obtain perfect quiet, although a new
picture already shone in the frame. It was Sophie as Correggio's
“Magdalene”: her rich hair fell in waves over her shoulders and round
arms; before her lay the skull and the holy book.
Otto's blood flowed faster; never had he seen Sophie more beautiful.
The audience, however, could not entirely forget the comic scene which
they had just witnessed; there was heard a faint suppressed laughter.
This at length was able to take its free course when the following
picture presented itself, where the Kammerjunker, as the Somnambule,
his hand half-concealing the extinguished light, showed himself at the
A most stormy burst of applause was awarded to the actors.
“Miss Sophie has arranged the whole!” cried the Kammerjunker, and
now her name sounded from the lips of all the audience.
Not before two days did Wilhelm return. He and Otto slept in the
same apartment. Otto told of the tableaux, and said how lovely Eva had
been as Hero.
“That I can well believe,” replied Wilhelm, but did not enter
further into the subject; he laughed about the Kammerjunker and the
Otto again named Eva, but Wilhelm lightly passed over this subject
in his replies. Otto could not fathom their connection.
“Shall we not go to sleep?” said Wilhelm; they wished each other
good-night, and it was quiet.
The old man Sleep, as Tieck has described him, with the box out of
which he brings his dream-puppets, now commenced his nightly dramatic
adventures, which lasted until the sun shone in through the window.
“He draws nearer and nearer to her.
'O, give my hope an answer by this pink-flower.'
She sighs: 'O, I will—no—I will not.'“
The Dancer, by PALUDAN-MULLER
“I shall get to know!” thought Otto. “This violent love cannot be
evaporated.” He paid attention to every little occurrence. Eva was the
same quiet, modest creature as formerly—a house-fairy who exercised a
friendly influence over all. Wilhelm spoke with her, but not with
passion, neither with affected indifference. However, we cannot
entirely rely upon Otto's power of observation: his glance was directed
too often toward a dearer object—his attention was really directed to
They walked in the garden.
“Once as you certainly know,” said Otto, “your brother had a fancy
for the pretty Eva. Is it not, therefore, somewhat dangerous her living
here? Has your mother been prudent?”
“For Wilhelm I am quite unconcerned!” answered Sophie. “Only take
care of yourself! Eva is very amiable, and has very much changed for
the better since she came here. My sister Louise quite raves about her,
and my mother regards her almost as an adopted daughter. You have
certainly remarked that she is not kept in the background. Yet she is
weak; she resembles the tender mountain-flowers which grow in ice and
snow, but which bow their heads in the soft mountain air, when it is
warmed by the sun. It really seems to me that she is become weaker
since she has enjoyed our care and happy days. When I saw her at
Roeskelde she was far more blooming.”
“Perhaps she thinks of your brother—thinks of him with quiet
“That I do not think is the case,” replied Sophie; “otherwise Louise
would have heard something of it. She possesses Eva's entire
confidence. You may make yourself easy, if you are jealous!”
“What make you conjecture this? My thoughts are directed above, and
not beneath me!” said he, with a kind of pride, “I feel that I could
never fall in love with Eva. Feel love toward her? no! Even when I
think of it, I feel almost as though I had some prejudice against her.
But you joke; you will rally me, as you have so often done. We shall
soon part! Only two months longer shall I remain in Denmark! Two long
years abroad! How much may occur in that time! Will you think of
me—really think of me, Miss Sophie?” He bent, and kissed her hand.
Sophie became crimson. Both were silent.
“Are you here!” said the mother, who came out of a side walk.
Otto stooped lower, and broke one of the beautiful stocks which hung
over the border.
“Are you taking Louise's favorite flowers?” said she, smiling. “This
bed is declared to be inviolable.”
“I was so unfortunate as to break it!” said Otto, confused.
“He wished to gather the dark-red pink for my table-garland!” said
Sophie. “If he took it, my conscience would be clear!”
And they all three walked along speaking of cherries, gooseberries,
of the linen on the bleaching-ground, and of the warm summer's day.
In the evening Eva and the two sisters sat at their work, Otto and
Wilhelm had taken their seats beside them. They spoke of Copenhagen.
Sophie knew how to introduce a number of little anecdotes, which she
had gathered among the young ladies there. Otto entered into her ideas,
and knew cleverly how to support what she said. What in reality
interested young ladies was discussed.
“When a girl is confirmed, all manner of fancies awake!” said Otto.
“She experiences a kind of inclination for the heart of man; but this
may not be acknowledged, except for two friends to the clergyman and
the physician. For these she has quite a passion, especially for the
former; she stands in a kind of spiritual rapport with him. His
physical amiability melts into the spiritual. Thus her first love one
may designate clergyman-love.”
“That is well said!” exclaimed Sophie.
“He preaches himself so deeply into her heart!” pursued Otto. “She
melts into tears, kisses his hand, and goes to church; but not for the
sake of God, but on account of the sweet clergyman!”
“O, I know that so well!” said Sophie, and laughed.
“Fie! you do not mean so!” said Louise; “and I do not know how you
can say such a thing Mr. Thostrup! That is frightful! You do not in the
least know a young girl's soul! do not know the pure feeling with which
she inclines herself to the man who has laid open before her the holy
things of religion! Do not make sport of the innocent, the pure, which
is so far removed from every earthly impression!”
“I assure you,” said Otto, smiling, “were I a poet, I would make the
clergyman-love ridiculous in a hundred witty epigrams; and were I a
teacher, I would protest against it from the chair.”
“That would be scattering poison into a well!” said Louise. “You, as
a man, do not know the pure, the holy sentiment which exists in a young
girl's bosom. Eva, thou art certainly of my opinion?”
“Neither is this Mr. Thostrup's opinion?” answered she, and looked
at him with a mild gravity.
Wilhelm laughed aloud.
“Alas, I am no sturdy oak!
Alas, I'm but the flower
That wakes the kiss of May! And when has fled its little hour,
Will voice of Death obey.”—RUCKERT.
The following afternoon came visitors—two young ladies from Nyborg,
friends of Sophie and Louise. Before dinner they would take a walk
through the wood to an inclosure where the flax was in bloom. Otto was
to accompany them.
“I am also of the party!” said the Kammerjunker, who just galloped
into the court-yard as the ladies, with Otto, were about setting out on
their excursion. Thus the whole company consisted of five ladies and
“The cows are not in the field over which we must go, are they?”
“No, my good girl!” returned Sophie; “you may be quite easy!
Besides, we have two gentlemen with us.”
“Yes; but they would not be able to protect us from the unruly
bullocks!” said Louise. “But we have nothing to fear. Where we are
going the cows do not go until after they are milked. I am no heroine!
Besides, it is not long since one bullock nearly gored the cowherd to
death. He also gored Sidsel a great hole in her arm just lately: you
remember the girl with her eyebrows grown together?”
“There is also in the wood a wild sow, with eleven sucking pigs!”
said Sophie, in ironical gravity; “it would not be agree able to meet
“She is almost as dangerous as the bullocks!” said the Kammerjunker,
and laughed at Eva.
The conversation took another turn.
“Shall we not visit Peter Cripple?” asked Sophie. “The gentlemen can
then see the smith's pretty daughter; she is really too beautiful to be
“Is Peter Cripple married?” inquired Otto.
“No, the wedding will be held on Sunday!” replied the Kammerjunker;
“but the bride is already in the house. The bans were published last
Sunday, and they immediately commenced housekeeping together. This
often takes place even earlier, when a man cannot do without a wife.
She has taken him on account of his full money-bags!”
“Yes, with the peasant it is seldom love which brings about the
affair!” said Louise. “Last year there was quite a young girl who
married a man who might have been her grandfather. She took him only,
she said, because he had such a good set of earthenware.”
“These were very brittle things to marry upon!” remarked Otto.
Meantime they were nearly come to the edge of the wood. Here stood a
little house; hops hung luxuriantly over the hedge, the cat stood with
bent back upon the crumbling edge of the well.
Sophie, at the head of the whole company, stepped into the room,
where Peter Cripple sat on the table sewing; but, light and active as
an elf, he sprang down from the table to kiss her hand. The smith's
pretty daughter was stirring something in an iron pot in the hearth.
St. John's wort, stuck between the beams and the ceiling, shot forth in
luxuriant growth, prophesying long life to the inhabitants of the
house. On the sooty ceiling glittered herrings' souls, as a certain
portion of the herring's entrails is called, and which Peter Cripple,
following the popular belief, had flung up to the ceiling, convinced
that so long as they hung there he should be freed from the ague.
Otto took no part in the conversation, but turned over a quantity of
songs which he found; they were stitched together in a piece of blue
tobacco-paper. The principal contents were, “New, Melancholy Songs,”
“Of the Horrible Murder,” “The Audacious Criminal,” “The Devil in
Salmon Lane,” “Boat's Fall,” and such things; which have now
supplanted, among the peasants, the better old popular songs.
With Louise, Eva, and one of the ladies from Nyborg, Otto slowly
preceded the others, who had still some pleasantries to say before
leaving Peter Cripple and his bride.
“Shall we not go over the inclosure to the cairn?” said Louise. “It
is clear to-day; we shall see Zealand. The others will follow us; here,
from the foot-path, they will immediately discover us.”
Otto opened the gate and they went through the inclosure. They had
already advanced a considerable way, when the Kammerjunker and his
ladies reached the foot-path from which they could see the others.
“They are going to the cairn,” said he.
“Then they will have a little fright!” said Sophie. “Down in the
corner of the inclosure lie the young cattle. They may easily mistake
them for cows, and the wild bullocks!”
“Had we not better call them back?” asked the other lady.
“But we must frighten them a little,” said Sophie. “Shout to them
that there are the cows!”
“Yes, that I can do with a clear conscience!” said the Kammerjunker;
and he shouted as loud as he could, “There are the cows! Turn back!
Eva heard it the first. “O God!” said she, “hear what they are
calling to us!”
Otto glanced around, but saw no cows.
“They are standing still!” said Sophie; “call once again!”
The Kammerjunker shouted as before, and Sophie imitated the lowing
of the cows. At this noise the young cattle arose.
Louise now became aware of them. “O heavens!” exclaimed she; “there,
down in the corner of the inclosure, are all the cows!”
“Let us run!” cried Eva, and took to flight.
“For God's sake, do not run!” cried Otto; “walk slowly and quietly,
otherwise they may come!”
“Come away, away!” resounded from the wood.
“O Lord!” shrieked Eva, when she saw the creatures raise their tails
in the air as soon as they perceived the fugitives.
“Now they are coming!” cried the lady who accompanied them, and sent
forth a loud scream.
Eva fled first, as if borne by the wind; the lady followed her, and
Louise ran on after them.
Otto now really saw all the cattle, which, upon the ladies flight,
had instinctively followed, chasing over the field after them in the
Nothing now remained for him but, like the others, to reach the
gate. This he opened, and had just closed again, when the cattle were
close upon them, but no one had eyes to see whether the cattle were
little or big.
“Now there is no more danger!” cried Otto, as soon as he had well
closed the gate; but the ladies still fled on, passing among the trees
until they reached the spot where the Kammerjunker and his two ladies
awaited them with ringing laughter.
Sophie was obliged to support herself against a tree through all the
amusement. It had been a most remarkable spectacle, this flight; Eva at
the head, and Mr. Thostrup rushing past them to open the gate. Louise
was pale as death, and her whole body trembled; the friend supported
her arm and forehead on a tree, and drew a long breath.
“Bah!” again cried Sophie, and laughed.
“But where is Eva?” asked Otto, and shouted her name.
“She ran here before me!” said Louise; “she is doubtless leaning
against a tree, and recovering her strength.”
“Eva!” cried Sophie. “Where is my hero: 'I want a hero!'“ [Author's
Note: Byron's Don Juan.]
Otto returned to seek her. At this moment Wilhelm arrived.
The Kammerjunker regretted that he had not seen the race with them,
and related the whole history to him.
“O come! come!” they heard Otto shout. They found him kneeling in
the high grass. Eva lay stretched out on the ground; she was as pale as
death; her head rested in Otto's lap.
“God in heaven!” cried Wilhelm, and flung himself down before her.
“Eva! Eva! O, she is dead! and thou art to blame for it, Sophie! Thou
hast killed her!” Reproachfully he fixed his eyes on his sister. She
burst into tears, and concealed her face in her hands.
Otto ran to the peasant's cottage and brought water. Peter Cripple
himself hopped like a mountain-elf behind him through the high nettles
and burdocks, which closed above and behind him again.
The Kammerjunker took Eva in his strong arms and carried her to the
cottage. Wilhelm did not leave hold of her hand. The others followed in
“Try and get her home,” said Wilhelm; “I myself will fetch the
physician!” He rushed forth, and hastened through the wood to the ball,
where he ordered the men to bring out a sedan-chair for the invalid;
then had horses put into one of the lightest carriages, seated himself
in it as coachman, and drove away to Nyborg, the nearest town, which,
however, was distant almost twenty miles.
Sophie was inconsolable. “It is my fault!” she said, and wept.
Otto found her sitting before the house, under an elder-tree. She
could not endure to see Eva's paleness.
“You are innocent,” said Otto. “Believe me, to-morrow Eva will be
completely restored! She herself,” added he, in an assuaging tone,
“behaved in an imprudent manner. I warned her not to run. Her own
terror is to blame for all.”
“No, no,” returned Sophie; “my folly, my extravagance, has caused
the whole misfortune!”
“Now it is much better,” said the Kammerjunker, coming out of the
house. “She must be devilish tender to fly before a few calves! I
really must laugh when I think of it, although it did come to such an
The men now arrived whom Wilhelm had sent with the sedan-chair.
Eva thought she could walk, if she might lean upon some one; but it
would be better, her friends thought, if she were carried.
“Dost thou feel any pain?” asked Louise, and gave her a sisterly
kiss on the brow.
“No, none at all,” replied Eva. “Do not scold me for having
frightened you so. I am so fearful, and the bullock were close behind
“They were, God help me, only calves!” answered the Kammerjunker;
“they wished to play, and only ran because you ran!”
“It was a foolish joke of mine!” said Sophie, and seized Eva's hand.
“I am very unhappy about it!”
“O no!” said Eva, and smiled so pensively, yet happily. “To-morrow I
shall be quite well again!” Her eye seemed to seek some one.
Otto understood the glance. “The physician is sent for. Wilhelm has
himself driven over for him.”
Toward the middle of the wood the mother herself approached them;
she was almost as pale as Eva.
All sought to calm her; Eva bowed her head to kiss the good lady's
hand. The Kammerjunker told the story to her, and she shook her head.
“What an imprudent, foolish joke!” said she; “here you see the
Not before late in the afternoon did Wilhelm return with the
physician; he found his patient out of all danger, but prescribed what
should still be done. Quiet and the warm summer air would do the most
“See,” said Otto, when, toward evening he met Sophie in the garden,
“to-day Wilhelm did not conceal his feelings!”
“I fear that you are right!” returned Sophie. “He loves Eva, and
that is very unfortunate. Tell me what you know about it.”
“I know almost nothing!” said Otto, and told about little Jonas and
the first meeting with Eva.
“Yes, that he has told us already himself! But do you know nothing
more?” Her voice became soft, and her eyes gazed full of confidence
He related to her the short conversation which he had had last
autumn with Wilhelm, how angry he had been with his candid warning, and
how since then they had never spoken about Eva.
“I must confide my fear to our mother!” said Sophie. “I almost now
am glad that he will travel in two months, although we shall then lose
And Otto's heart beat; the secret of his heart pressed to his lips;
every moment he would speak it. But Sophie had always still another
question about her brother; they were already out of the garden,
already in the court-yard, and yet Otto had said nothing.
Therefore was he so quiet when, late in the evening, he and Wilhelm
entered their chamber. Wilhelm also spoke no word, but his eye
repeatedly rested expectantly on Otto, as if waiting for him to break
the silence. Wilhelm stepped to the open window and drank in the fresh
air, suddenly he turned round, flung his arms round Otto, and
exclaimed, “I can no longer endure it! I must say it to some one! I
love her, and will never give her up, let every one be opposed! I have
now silently concealed my feelings for some months; I can do so no
longer, or I shall become ill, and for that I am not made!”
“Does she know this?” asked Otto.
“No, and yes! I do not know what I should answer! Here at home I
have never spoken alone with her. The last time when Weyse played on
the organ at Roeskelde I had bought a pretty silk handkerchief, and
this I took with me for her; I know not, but I wished to give her
pleasure. There came a woman past with lovely stocks; I stood at the
open window; she offered me a bouquet, and I bought it. 'Those are
lovely flowers!' said Eva, when she entered. 'They will fade with me!'
said I; 'put them in water and keep there for yourself!' She wished
only to have a few, but I obliged her to take them all: she blushed,
and her eyes gazed strangely down into my soul. I know not what sort of
a creature I became, but it was impossible for me to give her the
handkerchief; it seemed to me that this would almost be an offense. Eva
went away with the flowers, but the next morning it seemed to me that
she was uneasy; I fancied I saw her color come and go when I bade her
adieu! She must have read the thoughts in my soul!”
“And the handkerchief?” interrupted Otto.
“I gave it to my sister Sophie,” said Wilhelm.
What would my heart?
My heart's with thee,
With thee would have a part.”
GOETHE'S West-ostlicher Divan.
“There stands the man again—
The man with gloomy mien.”
Memories of Travel, by B. C. INGEMANN.
Several days passed; the fine crimson again returned to Eva's
cheeks. The first occasion of her going out with the others was to see
the rape-stalks burned. These were piled together in two immense
stacks. In the morning, at the appointed hour, which had been announced
through the neighborhood that no one might mistake it for a
conflagration, the stalks were set fire to. This took place in the
nearest field, close beside the hall, where the rape-seed was threshed
upon an out-spread sail.
The landscape-painter, Dahl, has given us a picture of the burning
Vesuvius, where the red lava pours down the side of the mountain; in
the background one sees across the bay as far as Naples and Ischia: it
is a piece full of great effect. Such a splendid landscape is not to be
found in flat Denmark, where there are no great natural scenes, and yet
this morning presented even there a picture with the same brilliant
coloring. We will study it. In the foreground there is a hedge of
hazels, the nuts hang in great clusters, and contrast strongly with
their bright green against the dark leaves; the blue chicory-flower and
the blood-red poppy grew on the side of the ditch, upon which are some
tall rails, over which the ladies have to climb: the delicate
sylph-like figure is Eva. In the field, where nothing remains but the
yellow stubble, stand Otto and Wilhelm; two magnificent hounds wag
their tails beside them. To the left is a little lake, thickly
overgrown with reeds and water-lilies, with the yellow trollius for its
border. In the front, where the wood retreats, lie, like a great stack,
the piled-together rape-stalks: the man has struck fire, has kindled
the outer side of them, and with a rapidity like that of the descending
lava the red fire flashes up the gigantic pile. It crackles and roars
within it. In a moment it is all a burning mound; the red flames flash
aloft into the blue air, high above the wood which is now no longer
visible. A thick black smoke ascends up into the clear air, where it
rests like a cloud. Out of the flames, and even out of the smoke, the
wind carries away large masses of fire, which, crackling and cracking,
are borne on to the wood, and which fill the spectator with
apprehension of their falling upon the nearest trees and burning up
leaf and branch.
“Let us go further off,” said Sophie; “the heat is too great here.”
They withdrew to the ditch.
“O, how many nuts!” exclaimed Wilhelm; “and I do not get one of
them! I shall go after them if they be ripe.”
“But you have grapes and other beautiful fruit!” said Eva smiling.
“We have our beautiful things at home!”
“Yes, it is beautiful, very beautiful at home!” exclaimed Wilhelm;
“glorious flowers, wild nuts; and there we have Vesuvius before us!” He
pointed to the burning pile.
“No,” said Sophie; “it seems to me much more like the pile upon
which the Hindoo widow lays herself alive to be burned! That must be
“One should certainly be very quickly dead!” said Eva.
“Would you actually allow yourself to be burned to death, if you
were a Hindoo widow—after, for instance, Mr. Thostrup, or after
Wilhelm,” said she, with a slight embarrassment, “if he lay dead in the
“If it were the custom of the country, and I really had lost the
only support which I had in the world—yes, so I would!”
“O, no, no!” said Louise.
“In fact it is brilliant!” exclaimed Sophie.
“Burning is not, perhaps, the most painful of deaths!” said Otto,
and plucked in an absent manner the nuts from the hedge. “I know a
story about a true conflagration.”
“What is it like?” asked Wilhelm.
“Yet it is not a story to tell in a large company; it can only be
heard when two and two are together. When I have an opportunity, I
shall tell it!”
“O, I know it!” said Wilhelm. “You can relate it to one of my
sisters there, whichever you like best! Then I shall—yes, I must
relate it to Eva!”
“It is too early in the day to hear stories told!” said Louise; “let
us rather sing a song!”
“No, then we shall have to weep in the evening,” replied Wilhelm.
And they had neither the song nor the story.
Mamma came wandering with Vasserine, the old, faithful hound: they
two also wished to see how beautiful the burning looked. It succeeded
excellently with the rape-stalks; but the other burning, of which the
story was to be told, it did not yet arrive at an outbreak! It might be
expected, however, any hour in the day.
In the evening Otto walked alone through the great chestnut avenue.
The moon shone brightly between the tree-branches. When he entered the
interior court Wilhelm and Sophie skipped toward him, but softly, very
softly. They lifted their hands as if to impress silence.
“Come and see!” said Sophie; “it is a scene which might be painted!
it goes on merrily in the servants' hall; one can see charmingly
through the window!”
“Yes, come!” said Wilhelm.
Otto stole softly forward. The lights shone forth.
Within there was laughter and loud talking; one struck upon the
table, another sung,—
“And I will away to Prussia land,
And when I am come to Prussia land,
Hurrah!” [Note: People's song.]
Otto looked in through the window.
Several men and maids sat within at the long wooden table at the end
of this stood Sidsel in a bent attitude, her countenance was of a deep
crimson; she spoke a loud oath and laughed—no one imagined that they
were observed. All eyes were riveted upon a great fellow who, with his
shirt-sleeves rolled up, and a pewter tankard in his hand, was standing
there. It was the German Heinrich, who was exhibiting to them his
conjuring tricks. Otto turned pale; had the dead arisen from the bier
before him it could not have shocked him more.
“Hocus-pocus Larifari!” cried Heinrich within, and gave the tankard
to a half-grown fellow, of the age between boy and man.
“If thou hast already a sweetheart,” said he; “then the corn which
is within it will be turned to flour; but if thou art still only a
young cuckoo, then it will remain only groats.”
“Nay, Anders Peersen!” said all the girls laughing, “now we shall
see whether thou art a regular fellow!”
Sophie stole away.
The echoing laughter and clapping of hands announced the result.
“Is it not the same person who was playing conjuring tricks in the
park?” inquired Wilhelm.
“Yes, certainly,” replied Otto; “he is to me quite repulsive!” And
so saying, he followed Sophie.
Late in the evening, when all had betaken themselves to rest,
Wilhelm proposed to Otto that they should make a little tour, as he
“I fancy Meg Merrilies, as my sister calls Sidsel,” said he, “has
made a conquest of the conjuror, although he might be her father. They
have been walking together down the avenue; they have been whispering a
deal together; probably he will to-night sleep in one of the barns. I
must go and look after him; he will be lying there and smoking his
pipe, and may set our whole place on fire. Shall we go down together?
We can take Vasserine and Fingel with us.”
“Let him sleep!” said Otto; “he will not be so mad as to smoke
tobacco in the straw! To speak candidly, I do not wish to be seen by
him. He was several times at my grandfather's house. I have spoken with
him, and now that I dislike him I do not wish to see him!”
“Then I will go alone!” said Wilhelm.
Otto's heart beat violently; he stood at the open window and looked
out over the dark wood, which was lit up by the moon. Below in the
court he heard Wilhelm enticing the dogs out. He heard yet another
voice, it was that of the steward, and then all was again silent. Otto
thought upon the German Heinrich and upon Sophie, his life's good and
bad angels; and he pictured to himself how it would be if she extended
to him her hand—was his bride! and Heinrich called forth before her
the recollections which made his blood curdle.
It seemed to him as if something evil impended over him this night.
“I feel a forewarning of it!” said he aloud.
Wilhelm came not yet back.
Almost an hour passed thus. Wilhelm entered, both dogs were with
him; they were miry to their very sides.
“Did you meet any one?” inquired Otto.
“Yes, there was some one,” said Wilhelm, “but not in the barn. The
stupid dogs seemed to lose their nature; it was as if there was a
somebody stealing along the wall, and through the reeds in the moat.
The hounds followed in there; you can see how they look!—but they came
the next moment back again, whined, and hung down their ears and tails.
I could not make them go in again. Then the steward was superstitious!
But, however, it could only be either the juggler, or one of the
servant-men who had stilts. How otherwise any one could go in among the
reeds without getting up to their necks, I cannot conceive!”
All was again perfectly still without. The two friends went to the
open window, threw their arms over each other's shoulders, and looked
out into the silent night.
“Bring' hausliche Hulfe
Tritt herhor und mache den Schluss.”
“Es giebt so bange Zeiten,
Es giebt so truben Muth!”—NOVALIS.
The next morning Wilhelm related his evening adventure at the
breakfast-table; the sisters laughed at it. The mother, on the
contrary, was silent, left the room, and after some time returned.
“There have been thieves here!” said she, “and one might almost
imagine that they were persons in the household itself. They have been
at the press where the table-linen is kept, and have not been sparing
in their levies. The beautiful old silver tankard, which I inherited
from my grandmother, is also missing. I would much sooner have given
the value of the silver than have lost that piece!”
“Will not the lady let it be tried by the sieve?” asked the old
servant: “that is a pretty sure way!”
“That is nothing but superstition,” answered she; “in that way the
innocent may so easily be suspected.”
“As the lady pleases!” said the servant, and shook his head.
In the mean time a search through the house was instituted. The
boxes of the domestics were examined, but nothing was discovered.
“If you would only let the sieve be tried!” said the old servant.
In the afternoon Otto went into the garden; he fell into discourse
with the gardener, and they spoke of the theft which had occurred.
“It vexes every one of us,” said he, “because we think much of the
lady, and of the whole family. And some one must, nevertheless, be
suspected. We believe that it was Sidsel, for she was a
good-for-nothing person! We folks tried among ourselves with the sieve,
but however, at the mention of her name, if it did not move out of its
place. We had set it upon the point of a knife, and mentioned the name
of every person about the place, but it stood as if it were nailed
quite fast. But there was really something to see, which not one of us
would have believed. I'll say no more about it, although we had every
one of us our own thoughts. I would have taken my oath of it.”
Otto pressed him to mention the person who was suspected.
“Yes, to you perhaps, I may mention it,” replied he; “but you will
not say anything about it? As we were standing today, at noon, around
the sieve, and it did not move at Sidsel's name, she became angry,
because a word bad been let fall which could not be agreeable to her if
she were innocent. She drew herself up as if in a passion, and said to
us, 'But there are also in the hall a many people besides us, who may
slip and slide! There are strangers here, and the fine Mamsell, and the
farmers. Yes, I suspect no one, but every one ought to be named!'
“And so we did it. Yes, we mentioned even your name, Mr. Thostrup,
although we knew very well that you were guiltless of the charge; but
we would not excuse any one. The sieve stood quite entirely still until
we mentioned Eva's name, and then it moved. Not one of us actually
could believe it, and the servant Peter said also that it was because
of the draught from the chimney. We mentioned yet once more all the
names, and the sieve stood still until we came to Eva's, and then we
perceived very plainly a movement. The servant Peter at the same moment
gave a great blow to the sieve, so that it fell to the ground, and be
swore that it was a lie, and that he would answer for Eva. I would have
done so too; but yet it was very extraordinary with the sieve! Most of
the folks, however, have their own thoughts, but no one venture to
express them to the gentry who think so much of her. I cannot, however,
rightly reconcile it to myself!”
“She is innocent!” said Otto; and it amazed him that any one should
cast the slightest suspicion on Eva. He thought of German Heinrich and
Sidsel, who alone appeared to him suspicious. There then occurred to
him an experiment of which he had heard from Rosalie. It now seemed to
him available, and, physiologically considered, much more certain than
that with the sieve.
“Probably it may lead to a discovery,” said he, after he had
communicated his whole plan to Sophie and the steward.
“Yes, we mast try it!” said she; “it is excellent! I also will be
put to the proof, although I am initiated into the mystery.”
“Yes, you, your sister, Wilhelm, Eva, we all of us must,” said Otto.
“Only I will not do the speaking: that the steward must do.”
“That is proper, very proper!” replied she: “it shall be tried this
evening when it is dark.”
The time came; the steward assembled the people.
“Now I know,” said he, “how we shall find the thief!”
All were to remain in the first room: within a side-room, which was
quite dark, there stood in a corner on the right hand a copper kettle;
to this every person as they came in, one by one, were to go and lay
their hand down on the flat bottom of the kettle. The hand of every one
who was innocent would be brought out again white and pure, but the
hand of the criminal would be severely burned, and would become black
as a coal.
“He who now,” said the steward, addressing them, “has a good
conscience, may go with this and our Lord into the innermost room, lay
his hand upon the bottom of the kettle, and show it to me. Now I go to
receive you all!”
The daughters went, the friends, Eva, and all the household. The
steward questioned them as they came in: “Answer me, upon thy
conscience, did thy hand touch the flat bottom of the kettle?”
All replied, “Yes!”
“Then show me your hand!” said he; and they showed them, and all
were black: Sidsel's alone was white.
“Thou art the thief!” said the steward. “Thy evil conscience has
condemned thee. Thou hast not touched the kettle; hast not laid thy
hand upon it, or it would have become as black as that of the others.
The kettle was blackened inside with turpentine smoke; they who came
with a good conscience, knowing that their hands would remain pure like
their consciences, touched the kettle fearlessly and their hands became
black! Thou hast condemned thyself! Confess, or it will go worse with
Sidsel, uttered a horrible cry and fell down upon her knees.
“O God, help me!” said she, and confessed that she was the thief.
A chamber high up in the roof was prepared as a prison; here the
delinquent was secured until the affair, on the following day, should
be announced to the magistrate.
“Thou shalt be sent to Odense, and work upon the treadmill!” said
Wilhelm: “to that thou belongest!”
The family assembled at the tea-table. Sophie joked about the day's
“Poor Sidsel!” said Eva.
“In England she would be hanged,” said Wilhelm; “that would be a
fine thing to see!”
“Horrible!” replied Louise; “they must die of terror in going to the
“Nay, it is very merry,” said Wilhelm. “Now you shall hear what
glorious music has been set to it by Rossini!” And he played the march
from “Gazza Ladra,” where a young girl is led to the gallows.
“Is it not merry?” asked he. “Yes, he is a composer!”
“To me it seems precisely characteristic,” answered Otto. “They are
not the feelings of the girl which the composer wished to express; it
is the joy of the rude rabble in witnessing an execution—to them a
charming spectacle, which is expressed in these joyous tones: it is a
tragic opera, and therefore he chose exactly this character of
“It is difficult to say anything against that,” replied Wilhelm;
“yet what you assert I have not heard from any other person.”
“When a soldier is executed they play some lively air,” said Otto;
“the contrast in this case brings forth the strongest effect!”
The servant now entered, and said with a smile that Peter Cripple,
the “new-married man,” as he called him, was without and wished to
speak to the Baron Wilhelm.
“It is about a waltz,” said he, “which the Baron had promised to
“It is late for him to come into the court!” said Sophie “the
peasants generally go to bed with the sun.”
In the lobby stood the announced Peter in his stocking-feet, with
his hat in one hand and a great stick in the other. He knew, he said,
that it was still daytime with the gentlefolks; he was just coming past
the hall and thought that he could, perhaps, have that Copenhagen Waltz
which the Baron had promised him: he should want it to-morrow night to
play at a wedding, and, therefore, he wished to have it now that he
might practice it first of all.
Sophie inquired after his young wife, and said something merry.
Louise gave him a cup of tea, which he drank in the lobby. Otto looked
at him through the open door; he made comical grimaces, and looked
almost as if he wished to speak with him. Otto approached him, and
Peter thrust a piece of paper into his hand, making at the same time a
significant gesture indicative of silence.
Otto stepped aside and examined the dirty piece of paper, which was
folded together like a powder and sealed with a lump of wax. On the
outside stood, in scarcely legible characters,
Mr. Odto Tustraab.”
He endeavored, in the first place, to read it in the moonlight; but
that was scarcely possible.
After considerable labor he made out the meaning of this letter,
written, as it was in a half-German, half-Danish gibberish, of the
orthography of which we have given a specimen in the direction. The
letter was from the German Heinrich. He besought Otto to meet him this
evening in the wood near Peter Cripple's house, and he would give to
him an explanation which should be worth the trouble of the walk. It
would occasion, he said, much trouble and much misery to Mr Thostrup if
he did not go.
A strange anxiety penetrated Otto. How could he steal away without
being missed? and yet go he both must and should. An extraordinary
anxiety drove him forth.
“Yes, the sooner the better!” said he, hastening down the steps and
leaping in haste over the low garden-fence lest the gate should,
perhaps, make a noise. He was very soon in the wood: he heard the
beating of his own heart.
“Eternal Father!” said he, “strengthen my soul! Release me from this
anxiety which overpowers me! Let all be for the best!”
He had now reached Peter Cripple's house. A figure leaned against
the wall; Otto paused, measured it with his eye to ascertain who it
was, and recognized German Heinrich.
“What do you want with me?” inquired Otto.
Heinrich raised his hand in token of silence, beckoned him forward,
and opened a little gate which led to the back of the house. Otto
mechanically followed him.
“It goes on badly at the hall,” said Heinrich. “Sidsel is really put
in prison, and will be taken to-morrow to Odense, to the red house by
“It is what she has deserved!” said Otto. “I did not bring it
“O no!” answered Heinrich; “in a certain way we bring nothing about;
but you can put in a good word for her. You must see that this
punishment does not befall her.”
“But the punishment is merited!” replied Otto; “and how can I mix
myself up in the affair? What is it that you have to say to me?”
“Yet, the good gentleman must not get angry!” began Heinrich again;
“but I am grieved about the girl. I can very well believe that he does
not know her, and therefore it gives him no trouble; but if I were now
to whisper a little word in his ear? She is your own sister, Mr.
All grew dark before Otto's eyes; a chill as of death went through
his blood; his hands held firmly by the cold wall, or he must have sunk
to the earth; not a sound escaped his lips.
German Heinrich laid his hand in a confidential manner upon his
shoulder, and continued in a jeering, agitated tone, “Yes, it is hard
for you to hear! I also struggled a long time with myself before I
could make up my mind to tell you. But a little trouble is preferable
to a great one. I had some talk with her yesterday, but I did not
mention you, although it seemed queer to me at my heart that the
brother should sit at the first table with the young ladies, and the
sister be farm swine-maiden. Now they have put her in prison! I am very
sorry for her and you too, Mr. Thostrup, for it is disagreeable! If the
magistrate come to-morrow morning, and she fall into the claws of the
red angel, it will not be so easy to set her at liberty again! But yet
you could, perhaps, help her; as, for instance, to-night! I could make
an opportunity—I would be in the great avenue beyond the hall. If she
could get thus far she would be safe; I would then conduct her out of
this part of the country. I may as well tell you that we were yesterday
half-betrothed! She goes with me; and you can persuade the gracious
lady at the hall to let the bird fly!”
“But how can I? how can I?” exclaimed Otto.
“She is, however, always your sister!” said Heinrich, and they both
remained silent for a moment. “Then I will,” said Heinrich, “if all be
still at the hall, wait in the avenue as the bell goes twelve.”
“I must!” exclaimed Otto; “I must! God help me!”
“Jesu, Maria, help!” said Heinrich, and Otto left him.
“She is my sister! she, the most horrible of all!” sighed he; his
knees trembled, and he leaned against a tree for support: his
countenance was like that of the dead; cold sweat-drops stood upon his
brow. All around him lay the dark night-like wood; only to the left
glimmered, between the bushes, the moonlight reflected from the lake.
“Within its depths,” sighed he, “all would be forgotten—my grief
would be over! Yet, what is my sin? Had I an existence before I was
born upon this globe? Must I here be punished for sins which I then
His dark eye stared lifelessly out of his pale countenance. Thus sit
the dead upon their graves in the silent night; thus gazes the
somnambulist upon the living world around him.
“I have felt this moment before—this moment which now is here; it
was the well-spring whence poison was poured over my youthful days! She
is my sister! She? unhappy one that I am!”
Tears streamed from his eyes, it was a convulsive weeping; he cried
aloud, it was impossible to him to suppress his voice; he sank half
down by the tree and wept, for it was night in his soul: silent, bitter
tears flowed, as the blood flows when the heart is transpierced. Who
could breathe to him consolation? There lay no balsam in the gentle
airs of the clear summer night, in the fragrance of the wood, in the
holy, silent spirit of nature. Poor Otto!
“Weep, only weep! it gives repose,
A world is every tear that flows,—
A world of anguish and unrest,
That rolleth from the troubled breast.
“And hast thou wept whilst tears can flow,
A tranquil peace thy heart will know;
For sorrow, trivial or severe,
Hath had its seat in every tear.
“Think'st thou that He, whose love beholds
The worm the smallest leaf enfolds,—
That He, whose power sustains the whole
Forgets a world—thy human soul?”
“Mourir! c'est un instant de supplice: mais vivre?”—FREDERIC
The physician from Nyborg, who had been on a visit to a sick person
in the neighborhood, took this opportunity of calling on the family and
inquiring after Eva's health. They had prayed him to stay over the
night there, and rather to drive hone in the early morning than so late
in the evening. He allowed himself to be persuaded. Otto, on his
return, found him and the family in deep conversation. They were
talking of the “Letters of a Wandering Ghost.”
“Where have you been?” asked Sophie, as Otto entered.
“You look so pale!” said Louise; “are you ill?”
“I do not feel well!” replied Otto; “I went therefore down into the
garden a little. Now I am perfectly recovered.” And he took part in the
The overwhelming sorrow had dissolved itself in tears. His mind had
raised itself up again from its stupefaction, and sought for a point of
light on which to attach itself. They were talking of the immense caves
of Maastricht, how they stretch themselves out into deep passages and
vast squares, in which sound is lost, and where the light, which cannot
reach the nearest object, only glimmers like a point of fire. In order
to comprehend this vacuity and this darkness, the travellers let the
guide extinguish his torch, and all is night; they are penetrated, as
it were, with darkness; the hand feels after a wall, in order to have
some restraint, some thought on which to repose itself: the eye sees
nothing; the ear hears nothing. Horror seizes on the strongest mind:
the same darkness, the same desolate emotion, had Heinrich's words
breathed into Otto's soul; therefore he sank like the traveller to the
earth: but as the traveller's whole soul rivets itself by the eye upon
the first spark which glimmers, to kindle again the torch which is to
lead him forth from this grave, so did Otto attach himself to the first
awakening thought of help. “Wilhelm? his soul is noble and good, him
will I initiate into my painful secret, which chance had once almost
revealed to him.”
But this was again extinguished, as the first spark is extinguished
which the steel gives birth to. He could not confide himself to
Wilhelm; the understanding which this very confidence would give birth
to between them, must separate them from each other. It was
humiliating, it was annihilating. But for Sophie? No, how could he,
after that, declare the love of his heart? how far below her should he
be placed, as the child of poverty and shame! But the mother of the
family? Yes, she was gentle and kind; with a maternal sentiment she
extended to him her hand, and looked upon him as on a near relation.
His thoughts raised themselves on high, his hands folded themselves to
prayer; “The will of the Lord alone be done!” trembled involuntarily
from his lips. Courage returned refreshingly to his heart. The help of
man was like the spark which was soon extinguished; God was an eternal
torch, which illumined the darkness and could guide him through it.
“Almighty God! thou alone canst and willest!” said he; “to thou who
knowest the heart, do thou alone help and lead me!”
This determination was firmly taken; to no human being would he
confide himself; alone would he release the prisoner, and give her up
to Heinrich. He thought upon the future, and yet darker and heavier
than hitherto it stood before him. But he who confides in God can never
despair the only thing that was now to be done was to obtain the key of
the chamber where Sidsel was confined, and then when all in the house
were asleep he would dare that which must be done.
Courage and tranquillity return into every powerful soul when it
once sees the possibility of accomplishing its work. With a constrained
vivacity Otto mingled in the conversation, no one imagining what a
struggle his soul had passed through.
The disputation continued. Wilhelm was in one of his eloquent moods.
The doctor regarded the “Letters of the Wandering Ghost” as one of the
most perfect books in the Danish literature. Once Sophie had been of
the same opinion, now she preferred Cooper's novels to this and all
“People so easily forget the good for the new,” said Wilhelm; “if
the new is only somewhat astonishing, the many regard the author as the
first of writers. The nation is, aesthetically considered, now in its
period of development. Every really cultivated person, who stands among
the best spirits of his age, obtains, whilst he observes his own
advance in the intellectual kingdom, clearness with regard to the
development of his nation. This has, like himself, its distinct
periods; in him some important event in life, in it some agitating
world convulsion, may advance them suddenly a great leap forward. The
public favor is unsteady; to-day it strews palm-branches, to-morrow it
cries, 'Crucify him!' But I regard that as a moment of development. You
will permit me to make use of an image to elucidate my idea. The
botanist goes wandering through field and wood, he collects flowers and
plants; every one of these had, while he gathered it, his entire
interest, his whole thought— but the impression which it made faded
before that of its successor: nor is it till after a longer time that
he is able to enjoy the whole of his treasures, and arrange them
according to their worth and their rareness. The public seizes alike
upon flowers and herbs; we hear its assiduous occupation with the
object of the moment, but it is not yet come into possession of the
whole. At one time, that which was sentimental was the foremost in
favor, and that poet was called the greatest who best knew how to touch
this string; then it passed over to the peppered style of writing, and
nothing pleased but histories of knights and robbers. Now people find
pleasure in prosaic life, and Schroder and Iffland are the acknowledged
idols. For us the strength of the North opened heroes and gods, a new
and significant scene. Then tragedy stood uppermost with us. Latterly
we have begun to feel that this is not the flesh and blood of the
present times. Then the fluttering little bird, the vaudeville, came
out to us from the dark wood, and enticed us into our own chambers,
where all is warm and comfortable, where one has leave to laugh, and to
laugh is now a necessity for the Danes. One must not, like the crowd,
inconsiderately place that as foremost which swims upon the waters, but
treasure the good of every time, and arrange them side by side, as the
botanist arranges his plants. Every people must, under the poetical
sunshine, have their sentimental period, their berserker rage, their
enjoyment of domestic life, and their giddy flights beyond it; it must
merge itself in individuality before it can embrace the beauty of the
whole. It is unfortunate for the poet who believes himself to be the
wheel of his age; and yet he, with his whole crowd of admirers, is, as
Menzel says, only a single wheel in the great machine—a little link in
the infinite chain of beauty.”
“You speak like a Plato!” said Sophie.
“If we could accord as well in music as we do in poetry,” said Otto,
“then we should be entirely united in our estimation of the arts. I
love that music best which goes through the ear to the heart, and
carries me away with it; on the contrary, if it is to be admired by the
understanding, it is foreign to me.”
“Yes, that is your false estimation of the subject, dear friend!”
said Wilhelm: “in aesthetics you come at once to the pure and true; but
in music you are far away in the outer court, where the crowd is
dancing, with cymbals and trumpets, around the musical golden calf!”
And now the aesthetic unity brought them into a musical disunity. On
such occasions, Otto was not one to be driven back from his position;
he very well knew how to bear down his assailant by striking and
original observations: but Otto, this evening, although he was animated
enough—excited, one might almost say—did not exhibit the calmness,
the decision in his thoughts and words, which otherwise would have
given him the victory.
It was a long hour, and one yet longer and more full of anxiety,
which commenced with supper. The conversation turned to the events of
the day. Otto mingled in it, and endeavored therefrom to derive
advantage; it was a martyrdom of the soul. Sophie praised highly his
“If Mr. Thostrup had not been here,” said she, “then we should
hardly have discovered the thief. We must thank Mr. Thostrup for it,
and really for a merry, amusing spectacle.”
They joked about it alai laughed, and Otto was obliged to laugh
“And now she sits up there, like a captive, in the roof!” said he;
“it must be an uncomfortable night to her!”
“Oh, she sleeps, perhaps, better than some of us others!” said
Wilhelm: “that will not annoy her!”
“She is confined in the gable chamber, out in the court, is she
not?” inquired Otto: “there she has not any moonlight.”
“Yes, surely she has!” answered Sophie; “it is in the gable to the
right, hooking toward the wood, that she is confined. We have placed
her as near to the moon as we could. The gable on the uppermost floor
is our keep.”
“But is it securely locked?” inquired Otto.
“There is a padlock and a great bar outside the door; those she
cannot force, and no one about the place will do such a piece of
service for her. They dislike her, every one of them.”
They rose up from the table; the bell was just on the stroke of
“But the Baron must play us a little piece!” said the physician.
“Then Mr. Thostrup will sing us the pretty Jutlandish song by
Steen-Blicher!” exclaimed Louise.
“O yes!” said the mother, and clapped Otto on the shoulder.
“Do sing!” said Wilhelm; all besought him to do so, and Otto sang
the Jutlandish song for them.
“See, you sang that with the proper humor,” said Sophie, and clapped
her hands in applause. With that all arose, offered to him their hands,
and Wilhelm whispered to him, yet so that the sisters heard it, “This
evening you have been right amiable!”
Otto and Wilhelm went to their sleeping-room.
“But, my good friend,” said Wilhelm, “what did you really go into
the garden for? Be so good as to confess to me: you were not unwell!
You did not go only into the garden! you went into the wood, and you
remained a long time there! I saw it! You made a little visit to the
handsome woman while the fiddler was here, did you not? I do not trust
you so entirely!”
“You are joking!” answered Otto.
“Yes, yes,” continued Wilhelm, “she is a pretty little woman. Do you
not remember how, last year at the mowing-feast, I threw roses at her?
Now she is Peter Cripple's wife. When she comes with her husband then
we have, bodily, 'Beauty and the Beast.'“
That which Otto desired was, that Wilhelm should now soon go to
sleep, and, therefore, he would not contradict him; he confessed even
that the young wife was handsome, but added that she, as Peter
Cripple's wife, was to him like a beautiful flower upon which a toad
had set itself,—it would be disgusting to him to press the flower to
The friends were soon in bed. They bade each other good night, and
seemed both of them to sleep; and with Wilhelm this was the case.
Otto lay awake; his pulse throbbed violently.
Now the great hall clock struck twelve. All was still, quite still;
but Otto did not yet dare to raise himself. It struck a quarter past
the hour. He raised himself slowly, and glanced toward the bed where
Wilhelm lay. Otto arose and dressed himself, suppressing the while his
very breathing. A hunting-knife which hung upon the wall, and which
belonged to Wilhelm, he put in his pocket; and lifted up, to take with
him, the fire-tongs, with which he intended to break the iron staple
that held the padlock. Yet once more he looked toward Wilhelm, who
slept soundly. He opened the door, and went out without his shoes.
He looked out from the passage-windows to see if lights were visible
from any part of the building. All was still; all was in repose. That
which he now feared most was, that one of the dogs might be lying in
the lobby, and should begin to bark. But there was not one. He mounted
up the steps, and went into the upper story.
Only once before had he been there; now all was in darkness. He felt
with his hands before him as he went.
At length he found a narrow flight of stairs which led into a yet
higher story. The opening at the top was closed, and he was obliged to
use his whole strength to open it. At length it gave way with a loud
noise. This was not the proper entrance; that lay on the opposite side
of the story, and had he gone there he would have found it open,
whereas this one had not been opened for a long time.
The violent efforts which he had made caused him great pain, both in
his neck and shoulders; but he was now at the very top of the building,
close before the door he sought, and the moonlight shone in through the
opening in the roof.
By the help of the hunting-knife and the fire-tongs he succeeded in
forcing the door, and that without any very considerable noise. He
looked into a small, low room, upon the floor of which some dirty
coverlets were thrown.
Sidsel slept deeply and soundly with open mouth. A thick mass of
hair escaped from beneath her cap, upon her brow; the moonlight fell,
through the window-pane in the roof, upon her face. Otto bowed himself
over her and examined the coarse, unpleasing features. The thick, black
eyebrows appeared only like one irregular streak.
“She is my sister!” was the thought which penetrated him. “She lay
upon the same bosom that I did! The blood in these limbs has kinship
with that in mine! She was the repelled one, the rejected one!”
He trembled with pain and anguish; but it was only for a short time.
“Stand up!” cried he, and touched the sleeper.
“Ih, jane dou! [Author's Note: An exclamation among the common
people of Funen, expressive of terror.] what is it?” cried she, half
terrified, and fixed her unpleasant eyes wildly upon him.
“Come with me!” said Otto, and his voice trembled as he spoke.
“German Heinrich waits in the avenue! I will help you out! Hence;
to-morrow it will be too late!”
“What do you say?” asked she, and still looked at him with a
Otto repeated his words.
“Do you think that I can get away?” asked she, and seized him by the
arm, as she hastily sprang up.
“Only silently and circumspectly!” said Otto.
“I should not have expected theft from you!” said she. “But tell me
why you do it?”
Otto trembled; it was impossible for him to tell her his reasons, or
to express the word,—“Thou art my sister!”
His lips were silent.
“To many a fellow,” said she, “have I been kinder than I ought to
have been, but see whether any of them think about Sidsel! And you do
it! You who are so fine and so genteel!”
Otto pressed together his eyelids; he heard her speak; an animal
coarseness mingled itself with a sort of confidential manner which was
annihilating to him.
“She is my sister!” resounded in his soul.
“Come now! come now!” and, descending the steps, she followed after
“I know a better way!” said she, as they came to the lowest story.
She seized his arm and they again descended a flight of steps.
Suddenly a door opened itself, and Louise, still dressed, stepped
forth with a light. She uttered a faint cry, and her eye riveted itself
upon the two forms before her.
But still more terribly and more powerfully did this encounter
operate upon Otto. His feet seemed to fail him, and, for a moment,
every object moved before his eyes in bright colors. It was the moment
of his severest suffering. He sprang forth toward Louise, seized her
hand, and, pale as death, with lifeless, staring eyes, half kneeling,
besought of her, with an agitated voice:—
“For God's sake, tell no one of that which you have seen! I am
compelled to serve her—she is my sister! If you betray my secret I am
lost to this world—I must die! It was not until this evening that I
knew this to be the case! I will tell you all, but do not betray me!
And do you prevent tomorrow any pursuit after her! O Louise! by the
happiness of your own soul feel for the misery of mine! I shall destroy
myself if you betray me!”
“O God!” stammered Louise. “I will do all—all! I will be silent!
Conduct her hence, quick, that you may meet with no one!”
She seized Otto's hand; he sank upon his knee before her, and looked
like a marble image which expressed manly beauty and sorrow.
Louise bent herself with sisterly affection over him; tears flowed
down her cheeks; her voice trembled, but it was tranquillizing, like
the consolation of a good angel. With a glance full of confidence in
her, Otto tore himself away. Sidsel followed him and said not a word.
He led her to the lowest story and opened for her, silently, a
window, through which she could descend to the garden, and thence
easily reach the avenue where German Heinrich waited for her. To have
accompanied her any further was unnecessary; it would have been
venturing too much without any adequate cause. She stood now upon the
window-sill—Otto put a little money into her hand.
“The Lord is above us!” said he, in a solemn voice. “Never forget
Him and endeavor to amend your life! All may yet be well!” He
involuntarily pressed her hand in his. “Have God always in your
thoughts!” said he.
“I shall get safely away, however,” said she, and descended into the
garden; she nodded, and vanished behind the hedge.
Otto stood for a while and listened whether any noise was heard, or
whether any dog barked. He feared for her safety. All was still.
Just as sometimes an old melody will suddenly awake in our
remembrance and sound in our ear, so awoke now a holy text to his
thoughts. “Lord, if I should take the wings of the morning, and should
fly to the uttermost parts of the sea, thither thou wouldst lead me,
and thy right hand would hold me fast! Thou art near to us! Thou canst
accomplish and thou willest our well-being! Thou alone canst help us!”
In silence he breathed his prayer.
He returned to his chamber more composed in mind. Wilhelm seemed to
sleep; but as Otto approached his bed he suddenly raised himself, and
looked, inquiringly, around him.
“Who is there?” exclaimed he; “you are dressed! where have you
been?” He was urgent in his inquiry.
Otto gave a joking reason.
“Let me have your hand!” said he. Otto gave it to him be felt his
“Yes, quite correct!” said he; “the blood is yet in commotion. One
sees plain enough that there is no concealing things! Here was I
sleeping in all innocence, and you were running after adventures. You
The thoughts worked rapidly in Otto's soul. If Louise would only be
silent, no one would dream of the possibility of his having part in
Sidsel's flight. He must allow Wilhelm quietly to have his joke.
“Was not I right?” asked Wilhelm.
“And if now you were so,” replied Otto, “will you tell it to any
“Do you think that I could do such a thing?” replied Wilhelm; “we
are all of us only mortal creatures!”
Otto gave him his hand. “Be silent!” he said.
“Yes, certainly,” said Wilhelm; and, according to his custom,
strengthened it with an oath. “Now I have sworn it,” said he; “but when
there is an opportunity you must tell me more about it!”
“Yes, certainly,” said Otto, with a deep sigh. Before his friend he
no longer stood pure and guiltless.
They slept. Otto's sleep was only a hateful dream.
Und suss es ist, in einer schonen Seele,
Verherrlicht uns zu fuhlen, es zu wissen,
Das uns're Fruede fremde Wangen rothet,
Und uns're Angst in fremdem Busen zittert,
Das uns're Leiden fremde Augen nassen.”
“How pale!” said Wilhelm the next morning to Otto. “Do you see, that
is what people get by night-wandering?”
“How so?” inquired Otto.
Wilhelm made a jest of it.
“You have been dreaming that!” said Otto.
“How do you mean?” replied Wilhelm; “will you make me fancy that I
have imagined it? I was really quite awake! we really talked about it;
I was initiated in it. Actually I have a good mind to give you a moral
lecture. If it had been me, how you would have preached!”
They were summoned to breakfast. Otto's heart was ready to burst.
What might he not have to hear? What must he say?
Sophie was much excited.
“Did you, gentlemen, hear anything last night?” she inquired. “Have
you both slept?”
“Yes, certainly,” replied Wilhelm, and looked involuntarily at Otto.
“The bird is flown, however!” said she; “it has made its escape out
of the dove-cote.”
“What bird?” asked Wilhelm.
“Sidsel!” replied she; “and, what is oddest in the whole affair is,
that Louise has loosed her wings. Louise is quite up to the romantic.
Think only! she went up in the night to the topmost story, unlocked the
prison-tower, gave a moral lecture to Sidsel, and after that let her
go! Then in the morning comes Louise to mamma, relates the whole
affair, and says a many affecting things!”
“Yes, I do not understand it,” said the mother, addressing Louise.
“How you could have had the courage to go up so late at night, and go
up to her! But it was very beautiful of you! Let her escape! it
is, as you say, best that she should. We should all of us have thought
of that last evening!”
“I was so sorry for her!” said Louise; “and by chance it happened
that I had a great many things to arrange after you were all in bed.
Everything was so still in the house, it seemed to me as if I could
hear Sidsel sigh; certainly it was only my own imagination, but I could
do no other than pity her! she was so unfortunate! Thus I let her
“Are you gone mad?” inquired Wilhelm; “what a history is this? Did
you go in the night up to the top of the house? That is an unseasonable
“It was beautiful!” said Otto, bending himself involuntarily, and
kissing Louise's hand.
“Yes, that is water to his mill!” exclaimed Wilhelm. “I think
nothing of such things!”
“We will not talk about it to anyone,” said the mother. “The steward
shall not proceed any further in it. We have recovered the old silver
tankard, and the losing that was my greatest trouble. We will thank God
that we are well rid of her! Poor thing! she will come to an
“Are you still unwell, Mr. Thostrup?” said Sophie, and looked at
“I am a little feverish,” replied he. “I will take a very long walk,
and then I shall be better.”
“You should take a few drops,” said the lady.
“O, he will come to himself yet!” said Wilhelm; “he must take
exercise! His is not a dangerous illness.”
Otto went into the wood. It was to him a temple of God; his heart
poured forth a hymn of thanksgiving. Louise had been his good angel. He
felt of a truth that she would never betray his secret. His thoughts
clung to her with confidence. “Are you still unwell?” Sophie had said.
The tones of her voice alone had been like the fragrance of healing
herbs; in her eye he had felt sympathy and— love. “O Sophie!” sighed
he. Both sisters were so dear to him.
He entered the garden and went along the great avenue; here he met
Louise. One might almost have imagined that she had sought for him:
there was no one but her to be seen in the whole avenue.
Otto pressed her hand to his lips. “You have saved my life!” said
“Dear Thostrup!” answered she, “do not betray yourself. Yon have
come happily out of the affair! Thank God! my little part in it has
concealed the whole. For the rest I have a suspicion. Yes, I cannot
avoid it. May not the whole be an error? It is possible that she is
that which you said! Tell me all that you can let me know. From this
seat we can see everybody who comes into the avenue. No one can hear
“Yes, to you alone I can confide it!” said Otto; “to you will I tell
He now related that which we know about the manufactory, which he
called the house, in which German Heinrich had first seen him, and had
tattooed his initials upon his shoulder; their later meeting in the
park, and afterwards by St. Ander's Cross.
Louise trembled; her glance rested sympathizingly upon Otto's pale
and handsome countenance. He showed her the letter which had been
brought to him the last evening, and related to her what Heinrich had
“It may be so,” said Louise; “but yet I have not been able to lose
the idea all the morning that you have been deceived. Not one of her
features resembles yours. Can brother and sister be so different as you
and she? Yet, be the truth as it may, promise me not to think too much
about it. There is a good Ruler above who can turn all things for the
“These horrible circumstances,” said Otto, “have robbed me of the
cheerfulness of my youth. They thrust themselves disturbingly into my
whole future. Not to Wilhelm—no, not to any one have I been able to
confide them. You know all! God knows that you were compelled to learn
them. I leave myself entirely in your hands!”
He pressed her hand silently, and with the earnest glance of
confidence and truth they looked at each other.
“I shall speedily leave my native country,” said Otto. “It may be
forever. I should return with sorrow to a home where no happiness
awaited me. I stand so entirely alone in the world!”
“But you have friends,” said Louise; “sincere friends. You must
think with pleasure of returning home to Denmark. My mother loves you
as if she were your own mother. Wilhelm and Sophie—yes, we will
consider you as a brother.”
“And Sophie?” exclaimed Otto.
“Yes, can you doubt it?” inquired Louise.
“She knows me not as you know me; and if she did?”—He pressed his
hands before his eyes and burst into tears. “You know all: you know
more than I could tell her,” sighed he. “I am more unfortunate than you
can believe. Never can I forget her—never!”
“For Heaven's sake compose yourself!” said Louise rising. “Some one
might come, and you would not be able to conceal your emotion. All may
yet be well! Confide only in God in heaven!”
“Do not tell your sister that which I have told you. Do not tell any
one. I have revealed to you every secret which my soul contains.”
“I will be to you a good sister,” said Louise, and pressed his hand.
They silently walked down the avenue.
The sisters slept in the same room.
At night, after Sophie had been an hour in bed, Louise entered the
“Thou art become a spirit of the night,” said Sophie. “Where hast
thou been? Thou art not going up into the loft again to-night, thou
strange girl? Had it been Wilhelm, Thostrup, or myself who had
undertaken such a thing, it would have been quite natural; but thou”—
“Am I, then, so very different to you all?” inquired Louise. “I
should resemble my sister less than even Mr. Thostrup resembles her.
You two are so very different!”
“In our views, in our impulses, we very much resemble each other!”
“He is certainly not happy,” exclaimed Louise. “We can read it in
“Yes, but it is precisely that which makes him interesting!” said
Sophie; “he is thus a handsome shadow-piece in everyday life.”
“Thou speakest about it so calmly,” said Louise, and bent over her
sister, “I would almost believe that it was love.”
“Love!” exclaimed Sophie, raising herself up in bed, for now
Louise's words had become interesting to her; “whom dost thou think
that he loves?”
“Thyself,” replied Louise, and seized her sister's hand.
“Perhaps?” returned Sophie. “I also made fun of him! It certainly
went on better when our cousin was here. Poor Thostrup!”
“And thou, Sophie,” inquired Louise, “dost thou return his love?”
“It is a regular confession that thou desirest,” replied she. “He is
in love—that all young men are. Our cousin, I can tell thee, said many
pretty things to me. Even the Kammerjunker flatters as well as he can,
the good soul! I have now resolved with myself to be a reasonable girl.
Believe me, however, Thostrup is in an ill humor!”
“If the Kammerjunker were to pay his addresses to you, would you
accept him?” asked Louise, and seated herself upon her sister's bed.
“What can make you think of such a thing?” inquired she. “Hast thou
heard anything?—Thou makest me anxious! O Louise! I joke, I talk a
deal; but for all that, believe me, I am not happy!”
They talked about the Kammerjunker, about Otto, and about the French
cousin. It was late in the night. Large tears stood in Sophie's eyes,
but she laughed for all that, and ended with a quotation from Jean
Half an hour afterward she slept and dreamed; her round white arm
lay upon the coverlet, and her lips moved with these words:
“With a smile as if an angel
Had just then kissed her mouth.” [Note: Christian
Louise pressed her countenance on the soft pillow, and wept.
“A swarm of colors, noise and screaming,
Music and sights, past any dreaming,
The rattle of wheels going late and early,—
All draw the looker-on into the hurly-burly.”
A few days passed on. Otto heard nothing of German Heinrich or of
his sister. Peter Cripple seemed not to be in their confidence. All
that he knew was, that the letter which he had conveyed to Otto was to
be unknown to any one beside. As regarded German Heinrich, he believed
that he was now in another part of tire country; but that at St. Knud's
fair, in Odense, he would certainly find him.
In Otto's soul there was an extraordinary combating. Louise's words,
that he had been deceived, gave birth to hopes, which, insignificant as
the grain of mustard-seed, shot forth green leaves.
“May not,” thought he, “German Heinrich, to further his own plans,
have made use of my fear? I must speak with him; he shall swear to me
He compared in thought the unpleasing, coarse features of Sidsel,
with the image which his memory faintly retained of his little sister.
She seemed to him as a delicate creature with large eyes. He had not
forgotten that the people about them had spoken of her as of “a kitten
that they could hardly keep alive.” How then could she now be this
square-built, singularly plain being, with the eyebrows growing
together? “I must speak with Heinrich,” resolved he; “she cannot be my
sister! so heavily as that God will not try me.”
By such thoughts as these his mind became much calmer. There were
moments when the star of love mirrored itself in his life's sea.
His love for Sophie was no longer a caged bird within his breast;
its wings were at liberty; Louise saw its release; it was about to fly
to its goal.
St. Knud's fair was at hand, and on that account the family was
about to set out for Odense. Eva was the only one who was to remain at
home. It was her wish to do so.
“Odense is not worth the trouble of thy going to see,” said Sophie;
“but in this way thou wilt never increase thy geographical knowledge.
In the mean time, however, I shall bring thee a fairing —a husband of
honey cake, ornamented with almonds.”
Wilhelm thought that she should enjoy the passing pleasure, and go
with them; but Eva prayed to stay, and she had her will.
“There is a deal of pleasure in the world,” said Wilhelm, “if people
will only enjoy it. If one day in Paris is a brilliant flower, a day at
Odense fair is also a flower. It is a merry, charming world that we
live in! I am almost ready to say with King Valdemar, that if I might
keep—yes, I will say, the earth, then our Lord might willingly for me
keep heaven: there it is much better than we deserve; and God knows
whether we may not, in the other world, have longings after the old
world down here!”
“After Odense fair?” asked Sophie ironically.
Otto stood wrapped in his own thoughts. This day, he felt, would be
one of the most remarkable in his life. German Heinrich must give him
an explanation. Sophie must do so likewise Could he indeed meet with
success from them both? Would not sorrow and pain be his fairings?
The carriage rolled away.
From the various cross-roads came driving up the carriages of the
gentry and the peasants; the one drove past the other; and as the
French and English Channel collects ships from the Atlantic Ocean, so
did the King's Road those who drove in carriages, those who rode on
horseback, and those who went on foot.
Behind most of the peasant-vehicles were tied a few horses, that
went trotting on with them. Mamsells from the farms sat with large
gloves on their red arms and hands. They held their umbrellas before
their faces on account of the dust and the sun.
“The Kammerjunker's people must have set off earlier than we,” said
Sophie, “otherwise they would have called for us.”
Otto looked inquiringly at her. She thought on the Kammerjunker!
“We shall draw up by Faugde church,” said Sophie. “Mr. Thostrup can
see Kingo's [Author's Note: The Bishop of Funen, who died in 1703.]
grave—can see where the sacred poet lies. Some true trumpeting angels,
in whom one can rightly see how heavy the marble is, fly with the
Bishop's staff and hat within the chapel.”
Otto smiled, and she thought also about giving him pleasure.
The church was seen, the grave visited, and they rapidly rolled
along the King's Road toward Odense, the lofty tower of whose cathedral
had hailed them at some miles' distance.
We do not require alone from the portrait-painter that he should
represent the person, but that he should represent him in his happiest
moment. To the plain as well as to the inexpressive countenance must
the painter give every beauty which it possesses. Every human being has
moments in which something intellectual or characteristic presents
itself. Nature, too, when we are presented only with the most barren
landscape, has the same moments; light and shadow produce these
effects. The poet must be like the painter; he must seize upon these
moments in human life as the other in nature.
If the reader were a child who lived in Odense, it would require
nothing more from him than that he should say the words, “St. Knud's
fair;” and this, illumined by the beams of the imagination of
childhood, would stand before him in the most brilliant colors. Our
description will be only a shadow; it will be that, perhaps, which the
many will find it to be.
Already in the suburbs the crowd of people, and the outspread
earthenware of the potters, which entirely covered the trottoir,
announced that the fair was in full operation.
The carriage drove down from the bridge across the Odense River.
“See, how beautiful it is here!” exclaimed Wilhelm.
Between the gardens of the city and a space occupied as a bleaching
ground lay the river. The magnificent church of St. Knud, with its
lofty tower, terminated the view.
“What red house was that?” inquired Otto, when they had lost sight
“That is the nunnery!” replied Louise, knowing what thought it was
which had arisen in his mind.
“There stood in the ancient times the old bishop's palace, where
Beldenak lived!” said Sophie. “Just opposite to the river is the
bell-well, where a bell flew out of St. Albani's tower. The well is
unfathomable. Whenever rich people in Odense die, it rings down below
“It is not a pleasant thought,” said Otto, “that it rings in the
well when they must die.”
“One must not take it in that way now!” said Sophie, laughing, and
turned the subject. “Odense has many lions,” continued she, “from a
king's garden with swans in it to a great theatre, which has this in
common with La Scala and many Italian ones, that it is built upon the
ruins of a convent. [Note: That of the Black Brothers.]
“In Odense, aristocracy and democracy held out the longest,” said
Wilhelm, smiling; “yet I remember, in my childhood, that when the
nobles and the citizens met on the king's birthday at the town-house
ball, that we danced by ourselves.”
“Were not, then, the citizens strong enough to throw the giddy
nobles out of the window?” inquired Otto.
“You forget, Mr. Thostrup, that you yourself are noble!” said
Sophie. “I was really the goddess of fate who gave to you your
“You still remember that evening?” said Otto, with a gentle voice,
and the thoughts floated as gayly in his mind as the crowd of people
floated up and down in the streets through which they drove.
Somewhere about the middle of the city five streets met; and this
point, which widens itself out into a little square, is called the
Cross Street: here lay the hotel to which the family drove.
“Two hours and a quarter too late!” said the Kammerjunker, who came
out to meet them on the steps. “Good weather for the fair, and good
horses! I have already been out at the West-gate, and have bought two
magnificent mares. One of them kicked out behind, and had nearly given
me a blow on the breast, so that I might have said I had had my
fairing! Jakoba is paying visits, drinking chocolate, and eating
biscuits. Mamsell is out taking a view of things. Now you know our
The ladies went to their chamber, the gentlemen remained in the
“Yes, here you shall see a city and a fair, Mr. Thostrup!” said the
Kammerjunker, and slapped Otto on the shoulder.
“Odense was at one time my principal chief-city,” said Wilhelm; “and
still St. Knud's Church is the most magnificent I know. God knows
whether St. Peter's in Rome would make upon me, now that I am older,
the impression which this made upon me as a child!”
“In St. Knud's Church lies the Mamsell with the cats,” said the
“The bishop's lady, you should say,” returned Wilhelm. “The legend
relates, that there was a lady of a Bishop Mus who loved her cats to
that degree that she left orders that they should be laid with her in
the grave. [Author's Note: The remains of the body, as well as the
skeletons of the cats, are still to be seen in a chapel on the western
aisle of the church.] We will afterward go and see them.”
“Yes, both the bishop's lady and the cats,” said the Kammerjunker,
“look like dried fish! Then you must also see the nunnery and the
“The Hospital and the House of Correction!” added Wilhelm.
The beating of a drum in the street drew them to the window. The
city crier, in striped linsey-woolsey jacket and breeches, and with a
yellow band across his shoulders, stood there, beat upon his drum, and
proclaimed aloud from a written paper many wonderful things which were
to be seen in the city.
“He beats a good drum,” said the Kammerjunker.
“It would certainly delight Rossini and Spontini to hear the
fellow!” said Wilhelm. “In fact Odense would be, at New Year's time, a
city for these two composers. You must know that at that season drums
and fifes are in their glory. They drum the New Year in. Seven or eight
little drummers and fifers go from door to door, attended by children
and old women; at that time they beat both the tattoo and the reveille.
For this they get a few pence. When the New Year is drummed-in in the
city they wander out into the country, and drum there for bacon and
groats. The New Year's drumming in lasts until about Easter.”
“And then we have new pastimes,” said the Kammerjunker.
“Then come the fishers from Stige, [Author's Note: A fishing village
in Odense Fjord.] with a complete band, and carrying a boat upon their
shoulders ornamented with a variety of flags. After that they lay a
board between two boats, and upon this two of the youngest and the
strongest have a wrestling-match, until one of them falls into the
water. The last years they both have allowed themselves to tumble in.
And this has been done in consequence of one young man who fell in
being so stung by the jeers which his fall had occasioned that he left,
that same day, the fishing village, after which no one saw him. But all
the fun is gone now! In my boyhood the merriment was quite another
thing. It was a fine sight when the corporation paraded with their
ensign and harlequin on the top! And at Easter, when the butchers led
about a bullock ornamented with ribbons and Easter-twigs, on the back
of which was seated a little winged boy in a shirt. They had Turkish
music, and carried flagons with them! See! all that have I outlived,
and yet I am not so old. Baron Wilhelm must have seen the ornamented
ox. Now all that is past and gone; people are got so refined! Neither
is St. Knud's fair that which it used to be.”
“For all that, I rejoice that it is not so!” said Wilhelm. “But we
will go into the market and visit the Jutlanders, who are sitting there
among the heath with their earthenware. You will stand a chance there,
Mr. Thostrup, of meeting with an old acquaintance; only you must not
have home-sickness when you smell the heather and hear the ringing of
the clattering pots!”
The ladies now entered. Before paying any visits they determined
upon making the round of the market. The Kammerjunker offered his arm
to the mother. Otto saw this with secret gladness, and approached
Sophie. She accepted him willingly as an attendant; they must indeed
get into the throng.
As in the Middle Ages the various professions had their distinct
streets and quarters, so had they also here. The street which led to
the: market place, and which in every-day life was called the
“Shoemaker Street,” answered perfectly to its name. The shoemakers had
ranged their tables side by side. These, and the rails which had been
erected for the purpose, were hung over with all kinds of articles for
the feet; the tables themselves were laden with heavy shoes and
thick-soled boots. Behind these stood the skillful workman in his long
Sunday coat, and with his well-brushed felt-hat upon his head.
Where the shoemakers' quarter ended that of the hatters' began, and
with this one was in the middle of the great market-place, where tents
and booths formed many parallel streets. The booth of galanterie wares,
the goldsmith's, and the confectioner's, most of them constructed of
canvas, some few of them of wood, were points of great attraction.
Round about fluttered ribbons and handkerchiefs; round about were noise
and bustle. Peasant-girls out of the same village went always in a row,
seven or eight inseparables, with their hands fast locked in each
other; it was impossible to break the chain; and if people tried to
press through them, the whole flock rolled together in a heap.
Behind the booths there lay a great space filled with wooden shoes,
coarse earthenware, turners' and saddlers' work. Upon tables were
spread out toys, generally rudely made and coarsely painted. All around
the children assayed their little trumpets, and turned about their
playthings. The peasant-girls twirled and twisted both the work-boxes
and themselves many a time before the bargain was completed. The air
was heavy with all kinds of odors, and was spiced with the fragrance of
Here acquaintances met each other-some peasant-maidens, perhaps, who
had been born in the same village, but since then had been separated.
“Good day!” exclaimed they, took each other by the hand, gave their
arms a swing, and laughed.
That was the whole conversation: such a one went on in many places.
“That is the heather!” exclaimed Otto, as he approached the quarter
where the Jutland potters had their station; “how refreshing is the
odor!” said he, and stooping down seized a twig fresh and green, as if
it had been plucked only yesterday.
“Aye, my Jesus though! is not that Mr. Otto!” exclaimed a female
voice just beside him, and a young Jutland peasantwoman skipped across
the pottery toward him. Otto knew her. It was the little Maria, the
eelman's daughter, who, as we may remember at Otto's visit to the
fisher's, had removed to Ringkjoebing, and had hired herself for the
hay and cornharvest—the brisk Maria, “the girl,” as her father called
her. She had been betrothed in Ringkjoebing, and married to the rich
earthenware dealer, and now had come across the salt-water to Odense
fair, where she should meet with Mr. Otto.
“Her parents lived on my grandfather's estate,” said Otto to Sophie,
who observed with a smile the young wife's delight in meeting with an
acquaintance of her childhood. The husband was busily employed in
selling his wares; he heard nothing of it.
“Nay, but how elegant and handsome you are become!” said the young
wife: “but see, I knew you again for all that! Grandmother, you may
believe me, thinks a deal about you! The old body, she is so brisk and
lively; it does not trouble her a bit that she cannot see! You are the
second acquaintance that I have met with in the fair. It's wonderful
how people come here from all parts of the world! The players are here
too! You still remember the German Heinrich? Over there in the gray
house, at the corner of the market, he is acting his comedy in the
“I am glad that I have seen you!” said Otto, and nodded kindly.
“Greet them at home, and the grandmother, for me!”
“Greet them also from me!” said Sophie smiling. “You, Mr. Thostrup,
must for old acquaintance sake buy something. You ought also to give me
a fairing: I wish for that great jug there!”
“Where are you staying!” cried Wilhelm, and came back, whilst the
rest went forward.
“We would buy some earthenware,” said Sophie. “Souvenir de Jutland.
The one there has a splendid picture on it!”
“You shall have it!” said Otto. “But if I requested a fairing from
you, I beseech of you, might I say”—
“That it possibly might obtain its worth from my hand,” said Sophie,
smiling. “I understand you very well—a sprig of heather? I shall
steal!” said she to the young wife, as she took a little sprig of heath
and stuck it into his buttonhole. “Greet the grandmother for me!”
Otto and Sophie went.
“That's a very laughing body!” said the woman half aloud, as she
looked after them; her glance followed Otto, she folded her hands— she
was thinking, perhaps, on the days of her childhood.
At St. Knud's church-yard Otto and Sophie overtook the others. They
were going into the church. On the fair days this and all the tombs
within it were open to the public.
From whichever side this church is contemplated from without, the
magnificent old building has, especially from its lofty tower and
spire, something imposing about it; the interior produces the same,
nay, perhaps a greater effect. But as the principal entrance is through
the armory, and the lesser one is from the side of the church, its full
impression is not felt on entering it; nor is it until you arrive at
the end of the great aisle that you are aware rightly of its grandeur.
All there is great, beautiful, and light. The whole interior is white
with gilding. Aloft on the high-vaulted roof there shine, and that from
the old time, many golden stars. On both sides, high up, higher than
the side-aisles of the church, are large Gothic windows, from which the
light streams down. The side-aisles are adorned with old paintings,
which represent whole families, women and children, all clad in
canonicals, in long robes and large ruffs. In an ordinary way, the
figures are all ranged according to age, the oldest first, and then
down to the very least child, and stand with folded hands, and look
piously with downcast eyes and faces all in one direction, until by
length of time the colors have all faded away.
Just opposite to the entrance of the church may be seen, built into
the wall, a stone, on which is a bas-relief, and before it a grave.
This attracted Otto's attention.
“It is the grave of King John and of Queen Christina, of Prince
Francesco and of Christian the Second,” said Wilhelm; “they lie
together in a small vault!” [Author's Note: On the removal of the
church of the Grey Brothers, the remains of these royal parents and two
of their children were collected in a coffin and placed here in St.
Knud's Church. The memorial stone, of which we have spoken, was erected
“Christian the Second!” exclaimed Otto. “Denmark's wisest and
“Christian the Bad!” said the Kammerjunker, amazed at the tone of
enthusiasm in which Otto had spoken.
“Christian the Bad!” repeated Otto; “yes, it is now the mode to
speak of him thus, but we should not do so. We ought to remember how
the Swedish and Danish nobles behaved themselves, what cruelties they
perpetrated, and that we have the history of Christian the Second from
one of the offended party. Writers flatter the reigning powers. A
prince must have committed crimes, or have lost his power, if his
errors are to be rightly presented to future generations. People forget
that which was good in Christian, and have painted the dark side of his
character, to the formation of which the age lent its part.”
The Kammerjunker could not forget the Swedish bloodbath, the
execution of Torben Oxe, and all that can be said against the
Otto drove him completely out of the field, in part from his
enthusiasm for Christian the Second, but still more because it was the
Kammerjunker with whom he was contending. Sophie took Otto's side, her
eye sparkled applause, and the victory could not be other than his.
“What is it that the poet said of the fate of a king?” said Sophie.
“Woe's me for him
Who to the world shows more of ill than good!
The good each man ascribes unto himself,
Whilst on him only rest the crimes o' th' age.”
“Had Christian been so fortunate as to have subdued the rebellious
nobles,” continued Otto, “could he have carried out his bold plans,
then they would have called him Christian the Great: it is not the
active mind, but the failure in any design, which the world condemns.”
Louise nevertheless took the side of the Kammerjunker, and therefore
these two went together up the aisle toward the tomb of the Glorup
family. Wilhelm and his mother were already gone out of the church.
“I envy you your eloquence!” said Sophie, and looked with an
expression of love into Otto's face; she bent herself over the railing
around the tomb, and looked thoughtfully upon the stone. Thoughts of
love were animated in Otto's soul.
“Intellect and heart!” exclaimed he, “must admire that which is
great: you possess both these!” He seized her hand.
A faint crimson passed over Sophie's cheeks. “The others are gone
out!” she said; “come, let us go up to the chancel.”
“Up to the altar!” said Otto; “that is a bold course for one's whole
Sophie looked jestingly at him. “Do you see the monument there
within the pillars?” asked she after a short pause; “the lady with the
crossed arms and the colored countenance? In one night she danced
twelve knights to death, the thirteenth, whom she had invited for her
partner, cut her girdle in two in the dance and she fell dead to the
earth!” [Author's Note: In Thiele's Danish Popular Tradition it is
related that she was one Margrethe Skofgaard of Sanderumgaard, and that
she died at a ball, where she had danced to death twelve knights. The
people relate it with a variation as above; it is probable that it is
mingled with a second tradition, for example, that of the blood-spots
at Koldinghuus, which relates that an old king was so angry with his
daughter that he resolved to kill her, and ordered that his knights
should dance with her one after another until the breath was out of
her. Nine had danced with her, and then came up the king himself as the
tenth, and when he became weary he cut her girdle in two, on which the
blood streamed from her mouth and she died.]
“She was a northern Turandot!” said Otto; “the stony heart itself
was forced to break and bleed. There is really a jest in having the
marble painted. She stands before future ages as if she lived—a stone
image, white and red, only a mask of beauty. She is a warning to young
“Yes, against dancing!” said Sophie, smiling at Otto's extraordinary
“And yet it must be a blessed thing,” exclaimed he, “a very blessed
thing, amid pealing music, arm-in-arm with one's beloved, to be able to
dance life away, and to sink bleeding before her feet!”
“And yet only to see that she would dance with a new one!” said
“No, no!” exclaimed Otto, “that you could not do! that you will not
do! O Sophie, if you knew!”—He approached her still nearer, bent his
head toward her, and his eye had twofold fire and expression in it.
“You must come with us and see the cats!” said the Kammerjunker, and
sprang in between them.
“Yes, it is charming!” said Sophie. “You will have an opportunity,
Mr. Thostrup, of moralizing over the perishableness of female beauty!”
“In the evening, when we drive home together,” thought Otto to
himself consolingly, “in the mild summer-evening no Kammerjunker will
disturb me. It must, it shall be decided! Misfortune might subject the
wildness of childhood, but it gave me confidence, it never destroyed my
independence; Love has made me timid,—has made me weak. May I thereby
win a bride?”
Gravely and with a dark glance he followed after Sophie and her
“In vain his beet endeavors were;
Dull was the evening, and duller grew.”—LUDOLF SCHLEF.
“Seest thou how its little life
The bird hides in the wood?
Wilt thou be my little wife—
Then do it soon. Good!
—A bridegroom am I.”—Arion.
Close beside St. Knud's Church, where once the convent stood, is now
the dwelling of a private man. [Author's Note: See Oehlenschlager's
Jorney to Funen.] The excellent hostess here, who once charmed the
public on the Danish stage as Ida Munster, awaited the family to
After dinner they wandered up and down the garden, which extended to
the Odense River.
In the dusk of evening Otto went to visit the German Heinrich; he
had mentioned it to Louise, and she promised to divert attention from
him whilst he was away.
The company took coffee in the garden-house; Otto walked in deep
thought in the avenue by the side of the river. The beautiful scene
before him riveted his eye. Close beside lay a water-mill, over the two
great wheels of which poured the river white as milk. Behind this was
thrown a bridge, over which people walked and drove. The
journeyman-miller stood upon the balcony, and whistled an air. It was
such a picture as Christian Winther and Uhland give in their
picturesque poems. On the other side of the mill arose tall poplars
half-buried in the green meadow, in which stood the nunnery; a nun had
once drowned herself where now the red daisies grow.
A strong sunlight lit up the whole scene. All was repose and summer
warmth. Suddenly Otto's ear caught the deep and powerful tones of an
organ; he turned himself round. The tones, which went to his heart,
came from St. Knud's Church, which lay close beside the garden. The
sunshine of the landscape, and the strength of the music, gave, as it
were, to him light and strength for the darkness toward which he was so
soon to go.
The sun set; and Otto went alone across the market-place toward the
old corner house, where German Heinrich practiced his arts. Upon this
place stood St. Albani's Church, where St. Knud, betrayed by his
servant Blake, [Author's Note: Whence has arisen the popular expression
of “being a false Blake.”] was killed by the tumultuous rebels. The
common people believe that from one of the deep cellars under this
house proceeds a subterranean passage to the so-called “Nun's Hill.” At
midnight the neighboring inhabitants still hear a roaring under the
marketplace, as if of the sudden falling of a cascade. The better
informed explain it as being a concealed natural water-course, which
has a connection with the neighboring river. In our time the old house
is become a manufactory; the broken windows, the gaps of which are
repaired either with slips of wood or with paper, the quantity of human
bones which are found in the garden, and which remain from the time
when this was a church-yard, give to the whole place a peculiar
interest to the common people of Odense.
Entering the house at the front, it is on the same level as the
market-place; the back of the house, on the contrary, descends
precipitously into the garden, where there are thick old walls and
foundations. The situation is thus quite romantic; just beside it is
the old nunnery, with its dentated gables, and not far off the ruins,
in whose depths the common people believe that there resides an evil
being, “the river-man,” who annually demands his human sacrifice, which
he announces the night before. Behind this lie meadows, villas, and
On the other side of the court, in a back gate-way, German Heinrich
had set up his theatre. The entrance cost eight skillings; people of
condition paid according to their own will.
Otto entered during the representation. A cloth constituted the
whole scenic arrangement. In the middle of the floor sat a horrible
goblin, with a coal-black Moorish countenance and crispy hair upon its
head. An old bed-cover concealed the figure, yet one saw that it was
that of a woman.
The audience consisted of peasants and street boys. Otto kept
himself in the background, and remained unobserved by Heinrich.
The representation was soon at an end, and the crowd dispersed. It
was then that Otto first came forward.
“We must speak a few words together!” said he. “Heinrich, you have
not acted honestly by me! The girl is not that which you represented
her to be; you have deceived me: I demand an explanation!”
German Heinrich stood silent, but every feature eloquently expressed
first amazement, and then slyness and cunning; his knavish, malicious
eye, measured Otto from top to toe.
“Nay; so then, Mr. Thostrup, you are convinced, are you, that I have
been cheating you?” said he. “If so, why do you come to me? In that
case there needs no explanation. Ask herself there!” And so saying he
pointed to the black-painted figure.
“Do not be too proud, Otto!” said she, smiling; “thou couldst yet
recognize thy sister, although she has a little black paint on her
Otto riveted a dark, indignant glance upon her, pressed his lips
together, and tried to collect himself. “It is my firm determination to
have the whole affair searched into,” said he, with constrained
“Yes, but it will bring you some disagreeables!” said Heinrich, and
“Do not laugh in that manner when I speak to you!” said Otto, with
Heinrich leaned himself calmly against the door which led into the
“I am acquainted with the head of the police,” said Otto, “and I
might leave the whole business in his hands. But I have chosen a milder
way; I am come myself. I shall very soon leave Denmark; I shall go many
hundred miles hence shall, probably, never return; and thus you see the
principal ground for my coming to you is a whim: I will know wherefore
you have deceived me; I will know what is the connection between you
“Nay; so, then, it is that that you want to know?” said
Heinrich, with a malicious glance. “Yes, see you, she is my best
beloved; she shall be my wife: but your sister she is for all that, and
that remains so!”
“Thou couldst easily give me a little before thou settest off on thy
journey!” said Sidsel, who seemed excited by Heinrich's words, and put
forth her painted face.
Otto glanced at her with contracted eyebrows.
“Yes,” said she, “I say 'thou' to thee: thou must accustom thyself
to that! A sister may have, however, that little bit of pleasure!”
“Yes, you should give her your hand!” said Heinrich, and laughed.
“Wretch!” exclaimed Otto, “she is not that which you say! I will
find out my real sister! I will have proof in hand of the truth! I will
show myself as a brother; I will care for her future! Bring to me her
baptismal register; bring to me one only attestation of its
reality—and that before eight days are past! Here is my address, it is
the envelope of a letter; inclose in it the testimonial which I
require, and send it to me without delay. But prove it, or you are a
greater villain than I took you for.”
“Let us say a few rational words!” said Heinrich, with a
constrained, fawning voice. “If you will give to me fifty rix-dollars,
then you shall never have any more annoyance with us! See, that would
be a great deal more convenient.”
“I abide by that which I have said!” answered Otto; “we will not
have any more conversation together!” And so saying, he turned him
round to go out.
Heinrich seized him by the coat.
“What do you want?” inquired Otto.
“I mean,” said Heinrich, “whether you are not going to think about
the fifty rix-dollars?”
“Villain!” cried Otto, and, with the veins swelling in his forehead,
he thrust Heinrich from him with such force, that he fell against the
worm eaten door which led into the garden; the panel of the door fell
out, and had not Heinrich seized fast hold on some firm object with
both his hands, he must have gone the same way. Otto stood for a moment
silent, with flashing eyes, and threw the envelope, on which his
address was, at Heinrich's feet, and went out.
When Otto returned to the hotel, he found the horses ready to be put
to the carriage.
“Have you had good intelligence?” whispered Louise.
“I have in reality obtained no more than I had before!” replied he;
“only my own feelings more strongly convince me than ever that I have
been deceived by him.”
He related to her the short conversation which had taken place.
The Kammerjunker's carriage was now also brought out; in this was
more than sufficient room for two, whereas in the other carriage they
had been crowded. The Kammerjunker, therefore, besought that they would
avail themselves of the more convenient seat which he could offer; and
Otto saw Sophie and her mother enter the Kammerjunker's carriage. This
arrangement would shortly before have confounded Otto, now it had much
less effect upon him. His mind was so much occupied by his visit to
German Heinrich, his soul was filled with a bitterness, which for the
moment repelled the impulse which he had felt to express his great love
“I have been made Heinrich's plaything—his tool!” thought he. “Now
he ridicules me, and I am compelled to bear it! That horrible being is
not my sister!—she cannot be so!”
The street was now quiet. They mounted into the carriage. In the
corner house just opposite there was a great company; light streamed
through the long curtains, a low tenor voice and a high ringing soprano
mingled together in Mozart's “Audiam, audiam, mio bene.”
“The bird may not flutter from my heart!” sighed Otto, and seated
himself by the side of Louise. The carriage rolled away.
The full moon shone; the wild spiraea sent forth its odor from the
road side; steam ascended from the moor-lands; and the white mist
floated over the meadows like the daughters of the elfin king.
Louise sat silent and embarrassed; trouble weighed down her heart.
Otto was also silent.
The Kammerjunker drove in first, cracked his whip, and struck up a
Wilhelm began to sing, “Charming the summer night,” and the
Kammerjunker joined in with him.
“Sing with us man,” cried Wilhelm to the silent Otto, and quickly
the two companies were one singing caravan.
It was late when they reached the hall.
“Destiny often pulls off leaves, as we treat the vine, that its
fruits may be earlier brought to maturity.”—JEAN PAUL.
It was not until toward morning that Otto fell into sleep. Wilhelm
and he were allowed to take their own time in rising, and thus it was
late in the day before these two gentlemen made their appearance at the
breakfast-table; the Kammerjunker was already come over to the hall,
and now was more adorned than common.
“Mr. Thostrup shall be one of the initiated!” said the mother. “It
will be time enough this evening for strangers to know of it. The
Kammerjunker and my Sophie are betrothed.”
“See, it was in the bright moonlight, Mr. Thostrup, that I became
such a happy man!” said the Kammerjunker, and kissed the tips of
Sophie's fingers. He offered his other hand to Otto.
Otto's countenance remained unchanged, a smile played upon his lips.
“I congratulate you!” said he; “it is indeed a joyful day! If I were a
poet, I would give you an ode!”
Louise looked at him with an extraordinary expression of pain in her
Wilhelm called the Kammerjunker brother-in-law, and smiling shook
both his hands.
Otto was unusually gay, jested, and laughed. The ladies went to
their toilet, Otto into the garden.
He had been so convinced in his own mind that Sophie returned his
passion. With what pleasure had she listened to him! with what an
expression had her eye rested upon him! Her little jests had been to
him such convincing proofs that the hope which he nourished was no
self-delusion. She was the light around which his thoughts had circled.
Love to her was to him a good angel, which sung to him consolation and
life's gladness in his dark moments.
Now, all was suddenly over. It was as if the angel had left him; the
flame of love which had so entirely filled his soul, was in a moment
extinguished to its last spark. Sophie was become a stranger to him;
her intellectual eye, which smiled in love on the Kammerjunker, seemed
to him the soulless eye of the automaton. A stupefying indifference
went through him, deadly as poison that is infused into the human
“The vain girl! she thought to make herself more important by
repelling from her a faithful heart! She should only see how changed
her image is in my soul. All the weaknesses which my love for her made
me pass over, now step forth with repulsive features! Not a word which
she spoke fell to the ground. The diamond has lost its lustre; I feel
only its sharp corners!”
Sophie had given the preference to a man who, in respect of
intellect, stood far below Otto! Sophie, who seemed to be enthusiastic
for art and beauty, for everything glorious in the kingdom of mind,
could thus have deceived him!
We will now see the sisters in their chamber.
Louise seemed pensive, she sat silently looking before her.
Sophie stood thoughtfully with a smile upon her lips.
“The Kammerjunker is very handsome, however!” exclaimed she: “he
looks so manly!”
“You ought to find him love-worthy!” said Louise.
“Yes,” replied her sister, “I have always admired these strong
countenances! He is an Axel—a northern blackbearded savage. Faces such
as Wilhelm's look like ladies'! And he is so good! He has said, that
immediately after our marriage we shall make a tour to Hamburg. What
dress do you think I should wear?”
“When you make the journey to Hamburg?” inquired Louise.
“O no, child! to-day I mean. Thostrup was indeed very polite! he
congratulated me! I felt, however, rather curious when it was told to
him. I had quite expected a scene! I was almost ready to beg of you to
tell him first of all. He ought to have been prepared. But he was,
however, very rational! I should not have expected it from him. I
really wish him all good, but he is an extraordinary character! so
melancholy! Do you think that he will take my betrothal to heart? I
noticed that when I was kissed he turned himself suddenly round to the
window and played with the flowers. I wish that he would soon go! The
journey into foreign countries will do him good—there he will soon
forget his heart's troubles. To-morrow I will write to Cousin Joachim;
he will also be surprised!”
Late in the afternoon came Jakoba, the Mamsell, the preacher, and
yet a few other guests.
In the evening the table was arranged festively. The betrothed sat
together, and Otto had the place of honor—he sat on the other side of
Sophie. The preacher had written a song to the tune of “Be thou our
social guardian-goddess;” this was sung. Otto's voice sounded
beautifully and strong; he rang his glass with the betrothed pair, and
the Kammerjunker said that now Mr. Thostrup must speedily seek out a
bride for himself.
“She is found,” answered Otto; “but now that is yet a secret.”
“Health to the bride!” said Sophie, and rung her glass; but soon
again her intellectual eye rested upon the Kammerjunker, who was
talking about asparagus and stall-feeding with clover, yet her glance
brought him back again to the happiness of his love.
It was a very lively evening. Late in the night the party broke up.
The friends went to their chamber.
“My dear, faithful Otto!” said Wilhelm, and laid his hand on his
shoulder; “you were very lively and good-humored this evening. Continue
“I hope to do so,” answered Otto: “may we only always have as happy
an evening as this!”
“Extraordinary man!” said Wilhelm, and shook his head. “Now we will
soon set out on our journey, and catch for ourselves the happiness of
the glorious gold bird!”
“And not let it escape again!” exclaimed Otto. “Formerly I used to
say, To-morrow! to-morrow! now I say, To-day, and all day long! Away
with fancies and complainings. I now comprehend that which you once
said to me, that is. Man can be happy if he only will be
Wilhelm took his hand, and looked into his face with a
“Are you sentimental?” inquired Otto.
“I only affect that which I am not!” answered Wilhelm; and with
that, suddenly throwing off the natural gravity of the moment, returned
to his customary gayety.
The following days were spent in visiting and in receiving visitors.
On every post-day Otto sought through the leathern bag of the postman,
but he found no letter from German Heinrich, and heard nothing from
him. “I have been deceived,” said he, “and I feel myself glad about it!
She, the horrible one, is not my sister!”
There was a necessity for him to go away, far from home, and yet he
felt no longing after the mountains of Switzerland or the luxuriant
beauty of the south.
“Nature will only weaken me! I will not seek after it. Man it is
that I require: these egotistical, false beings—these lords of
everything! How we flatter our weaknesses and admire our virtues!
Whatever serves to advance our own wishes we find to be excellent. To
those who love us, we give our love in return. At the bottom, whom do I
love except myself? Wilhelm? My friendship for him is built upon the
foundation,—I cannot do without thee! Friendship is to me a necessity.
Was I not once convinced that I adored Sophie, and that I never could
bear it if she were lost to me? and yet there needed the conviction
'She loves thee not,' and my strong feeling was dead. Sophie even seems
to me less beautiful; I see faults where I formerly could only discover
amiabilities! Now, she is to me almost wholly a stranger. As I am, so
are all. Who is there that feels right lovingly, right faithfully for
me, without his own interest leading him to do so? Rosalie? My old,
honest Rosalie? I grew up before her eyes like a plant which she loved.
I am dear to her as it! When her canary-bird one morning lay dead in
its cage, she wept bitterly and long; she should never more hear it
sing, she should never more look after its cage and its food. It was
the loss of it which made her weep. She missed that which had been
interesting to her. I also interested her. Interest is the name for
that which the world calls love. Louise?” He almost spoke the name
aloud, and his thoughts dwelt, from a strong combination of
circumstances, upon it. “She appears to me true, and capable of making
sacrifices! but is not she also very different from all the others? How
often have I not heard Sophie laugh at her for it—look down upon her!”
And Otto's better feeling sought in vain for a shadow of self-love in
Louise, a single selfish motive for her noble conduct.
“Away from Denmark! to new people! Happy he who can always be on the
wing, making new friendships, and speedily breaking them off! At the
first meeting people wear their intellectual Sunday apparel; every
point of light is brought forth; but soon and the festival-day is over,
and the bright points have vanished.”
“We will set off next week!” said Wilhelm, “and then it shall be—
'Over the rushing blue waters away!
We will speed along shores that are verdant and gay!'
Away over the moors, up the Rhine, through the land of champagne to
the city of cities, the life-animating Paris!”
“A maiden stood musing, gentle and mild. I grasped the hand of the
friendly child, but the lovely fawn shyly disappeared. ... From the
Rhine to the Danish Belt, beautiful and lovely maidens are found in
palaces and tents; yet nobody pleases me.”—SCHMIDT VON LUBECK.
The last day at home was Sophie's birthday. In the afternoon the
whole family was invited to the Kammerjunker's, where Jakoba and the
Mamsell were to be quite brilliant in their cookery.
A table filled with presents, all from the Kammerjunker, awaited
Miss Sophie; it was the first time that he had ever presented to her a
birthday gift, and he had now, either out of his own head or somebody's
else, fallen on the very good idea of making her a present for every
year which she had lived. Every present was suited to the age for which
it was intended, and thus he began with a paper of sugar-plums and
ended with silk and magnificent fur; but between beginning and end
there were things, of which more than the half could be called solid:
gold ear-rings, a boa, French gloves, and a riding-horse. This last, of
course, could not stand upon the table. It was a joy and a happiness;
people walked about, and separated themselves by degrees into groups.
The only one who was not there was Eva. She always preferred
remaining at home; and yet, perhaps, to-day she might have allowed
herself to have been overpersuaded, had she not found herself so
Silently and alone she now sat at home in the great empty parlor. It
was in the twilight; she had laid down her work, and her beautiful,
thoughtful eyes looked straight before her: thoughts which we may not
unveil were agitating her breast.
Suddenly the door opened, and Wilhelm stood before her. Whilst the
others were walking he had stolen away. He knew that Eva was alone at
home; nobody would know that he visited her, nobody would dream of
“You here!” exclaimed Eva, when she saw him.
“I was compelled to come,” answered he. “I have slipped away from
the others; no one knows that I am here. I must speak with you, Eva.
To-morrow I set off; but I cannot leave home calmly and happily without
knowing—what this moment must decide.”
Eva rose, her checks crimsoned, she cast down her eyes.
“Baron Wilhelm!” stammered she, “it is not proper that I should
remain here!” She was about to leave the room.
“Eva!” said Wilhelm, and seized her hand, “you know that I love you!
My feelings are honorable! Say Yes, and it shall be holy to me as an
oath. Then I shall begin my journey glad at heart, as one should do.
Your assent shall stand in my breast, shall sound in my ear, whenever
sin and temptation assail me! It will preserve me in an upright course,
it will bring me back good and unspoiled. My wife must you be! You have
soul, and with it nobility! Eva! in God's name, do not make a feeble,
life-weary, disheartened being of me!”
“O Heavens!” exclaimed she, and burst into tears, “I cannot, and—
will not! You forget that I am only a poor girl, who am indebted for
everything to your mother! My assent would displease her, and some time
or other you would repent of it! I cannot!—I do not love you!” added
she, in a tremulous voice.
Wilhelm stood speechless.
Eva suddenly rang the bell.
“What are you doing?” exclaimed he.
The servant entered.
“Bring in lights!” said she; “but first of all you must assist me
with these flowers down into the garden. It will do them good to 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
“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
“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
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
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
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 away.”
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 side!”
“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 condemned.
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
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 disgrace.
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
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
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
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
“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
“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 spectators.
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 courses?”
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
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
“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
“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
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 with 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 tears.
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
“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
“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
“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:
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!” —WAHLMANN.
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 Louise.
“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
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 Louise.
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 lands.
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 room.
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 necks.”
“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
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 death.
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
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!”