安徒生童话英文版:A STORY FROM THE SAND-HILLS
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Summary:1872 FAIRY TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN A STORY FROM THE SAND-HILLS by Han.

  • 1872

    FAIRY TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

    A STORY FROM THE SAND-HILLS

    by Hans Christian Andersen



    THIS story is from the sand-dunes or sand-hills of Jutland, but it

    does not begin there in the North, but far away in the South, in

    Spain. The wide sea is the highroad from nation to nation; journey

    in thought; then, to sunny Spain. It is warm and beautiful there;

    the fiery pomegranate flowers peep from among dark laurels; a cool

    refreshing breeze from the mountains blows over the orange gardens,

    over the Moorish halls with their golden cupolas and coloured walls.

    Children go through the streets in procession with candles and

    waving banners, and the sky, lofty and clear with its glittering

    stars, rises above them. Sounds of singing and castanets can be heard,

    and youths and maidens dance upon the flowering acacia trees, while

    even the beggar sits upon a block of marble, refreshing himself with a

    juicy melon, and dreamily enjoying life. It all seems like a beautiful

    dream.

    Here dwelt a newly married couple who completely gave themselves

    up to the charm of life; indeed they possessed every good thing they

    could desire- health and happiness, riches and honour.

    We are as happy as human beings can be," said the young couple

    from the depths of their hearts. They had indeed only one step

    higher to mount on the ladder of happiness- they hoped that God

    would give them a child, a son like them in form and spirit. The happy

    little one was to be welcomed with rejoicing, to be cared for with

    love and tenderness, and enjoy every advantage of wealth and luxury

    that a rich and influential family can give. So the days went by

    like a joyous festival.

    "Life is a gracious gift from God, almost too great a gift for

    us to appreciate!" said the young wife. "Yet they say that fulness

    of joy for ever and ever can only be found in the future life. I

    cannot realise it!"

    "The thought arises, perhaps, from the arrogance of men," said the

    husband. "It seems a great pride to believe that we shall live for

    ever, that we shall be as gods! Were not these the words of the

    serpent, the father of lies?"

    "Surely you do not doubt the existence of a future life?"

    exclaimed the young wife. It seemed as if one of the first shadows

    passed over her sunny thoughts.

    "Faith realises it, and the priests tell us so," replied her

    husband; "but amid all my happiness I feel that it is arrogant to

    demand a continuation of it- another life after this. Has not so

    much been given us in this world that we ought to be, we must be,

    contented with it?"

    "Yes, it has been given to us," said the young wife, "but this

    life is nothing more than one long scene of trial and hardship to many

    thousands. How many have been cast into this world only to endure

    poverty, shame, illness, and misfortune? If there were no future life,

    everything here would be too unequally divided, and God would not be

    the personification of justice."

    "The beggar there," said her husband, "has joys of his own which

    seem to him great, and cause him as much pleasure as a king would find

    in the magnificence of his palace. And then do you not think that

    the beast of burden, which suffers blows and hunger, and works

    itself to death, suffers just as much from its miserable fate? The

    dumb creature might demand a future life also, and declare the law

    unjust that excludes it from the advantages of the higher creation."

    "Christ said: 'In my father's house are many mansions,'" she

    answered. "Heaven is as boundless as the love of our Creator; the dumb

    animal is also His creature, and I firmly believe that no life will be

    lost, but each will receive as much happiness as he can enjoy, which

    will be sufficient for him."

    "This world is sufficient for me," said the husband, throwing

    his arm round his beautiful, sweet-tempered wife. He sat by her side

    on the open balcony, smoking a cigarette in the cool air, which was

    loaded with the sweet scent of carnations and orange blossoms.

    Sounds of music and the clatter of castanets came from the road

    beneath, the stars shone above then, and two eyes full of affection-

    those of his wife- looked upon him with the expression of undying

    love. "Such a moment," he said, "makes it worth while to be born, to

    die, and to be annihilated!" He smiled- the young wife raised her hand

    in gentle reproof, and the shadow passed away from her mind, and

    they were happy- quite happy.

    Everything seemed to work together for their good. They advanced

    in honour, in prosperity, and in happiness. A change came certainly,

    but it was only a change of place and not of circumstances.

    The young man was sent by his Sovereign as ambassador to the

    Russian Court. This was an office of high dignity, but his birth and

    his acquirements entitled him to the honour. He possessed a large

    fortune, and his wife had brought him wealth equal to his own, for she

    was the daughter of a rich and respected merchant. One of this

    merchant's largest and finest ships was to be sent that year to

    Stockholm, and it was arranged that the dear young couple, the

    daughter and the son-in-law, should travel in it to St. Petersburg.

    All the arrangements on board were princely and silk and luxury on

    every side.

    In an old war song, called "The King of England's Son," it says:



    "Farewell, he said, and sailed away.

    And many recollect that day.

    The ropes were of silk, the anchor of gold,

    And everywhere riches and wealth untold."



    These words would aptly describe the vessel from Spain, for here

    was the same luxury, and the same parting thought naturally arose:



    "God grant that we once more may meet

    In sweet unclouded peace and joy."



    There was a favourable wind blowing as they left the Spanish

    coast, and it would be but a short journey, for they hoped to reach

    their destination in a few weeks; but when they came out upon the wide

    ocean the wind dropped, the sea became smooth and shining, and the

    stars shone brightly. Many festive evenings were spent on board. At

    last the travellers began to wish for wind, for a favourable breeze;

    but their wish was useless- not a breath of air stirred, or if it

    did arise it was contrary. Weeks passed by in this way, two whole

    months, and then at length a fair wind blew from the south-west. The

    ship sailed on the high seas between Scotland and Jutland; then the

    wind increased, just as it did in the old song of "The King of

    England's Son."



    "'Mid storm and wind, and pelting hail,

    Their efforts were of no avail.

    The golden anchor forth they threw;

    Towards Denmark the west wind blew."



    This all happened a long time ago; King Christian VII, who sat

    on the Danish throne, was still a young man. Much has happened since

    then, much has altered or been changed. Sea and moorland have been

    turned into green meadows, stretches of heather have become arable

    land, and in the shelter of the peasant's cottages, apple-trees and

    rose-bushes grow, though they certainly require much care, as the

    sharp west wind blows upon them. In West Jutland one may go back in

    thought to old times, farther back than the days when Christian VII

    ruled. The purple heather still extends for miles, with its barrows

    and aerial spectacles, intersected with sandy uneven roads, just as it

    did then; towards the west, where broad streams run into the bays, are

    marshes and meadows encircled by lofty, sandy hills, which, like a

    chain of Alps, raise their pointed summits near the sea; they are only

    broken by high ridges of clay, from which the sea, year by year, bites

    out great mouthfuls, so that the overhanging banks fall down as if

    by the shock of an earthquake. Thus it is there today and thus it

    was long ago, when the happy pair were sailing in the beautiful ship.

    It was a Sunday, towards the end of September; the sun was

    shining, and the chiming of the church bells in the Bay of Nissum

    was carried along by the breeze like a chain of sounds. The churches

    there are almost entirely built of hewn blocks of stone, each like a

    piece of rock. The North Sea might foam over them and they would not

    be disturbed. Nearly all of them are without steeples, and the bells

    are hung outside between two beams. The service was over, and the

    congregation passed out into the churchyard, where not a tree or

    bush was to be seen; no flowers were planted there, and they had not

    placed a single wreath upon any of the graves. It is just the same

    now. Rough mounds show where the dead have been buried, and rank

    grass, tossed by the wind, grows thickly over the whole churchyard;

    here and there a grave has a sort of monument, a block of half-decayed

    wood, rudely cut in the shape of a coffin; the blocks are brought from

    the forest of West Jutland, but the forest is the sea itself, and

    the inhabitants find beams, and planks, and fragments which the

    waves have cast upon the beach. One of these blocks had been placed by

    loving hands on a child's grave, and one of the women who had come out

    of the church walked up to it; she stood there, her eyes resting on

    the weather-beaten memorial, and a few moments afterwards her

    husband joined her. They were both silent, but he took her hand, and

    they walked together across the purple heath, over moor and meadow

    towards the sandhills. For a long time they went on without speaking.

    "It was a good sermon to-day," the man said at last. "If we had

    not God to trust in, we should have nothing."

    "Yes," replied the woman, "He sends joy and sorrow, and He has a

    right to send them. To-morrow our little son would have been five

    years old if we had been permitted to keep him."

    "It is no use fretting, wife," said the man. "The boy is well

    provided for. He is where we hope and pray to go to."

    They said nothing more, but went out towards their houses among

    the sand-hills. All at once, in front of one of the houses where the

    sea grass did not keep the sand down with its twining roots, what

    seemed to be a column of smoke rose up. A gust of wind rushed

    between the hills, hurling the particles of sand high into the air;

    another gust, and the strings of fish hung up to dry flapped and

    beat violently against the walls of the cottage; then everything was

    quiet once more, and the sun shone with renewed heat.

    The man and his wife went into the cottage. They had soon taken

    off their Sunday clothes and come out again, hurrying over the dunes

    which stood there like great waves of sand suddenly arrested in

    their course, while the sandweeds and dune grass with its bluish

    stalks spread a changing colour over them. A few neighbours also

    came out, and helped each other to draw the boats higher up on the

    beach. The wind now blew more keenly, it was chilly and cold, and when

    they went back over the sand-hills, sand and little sharp stones

    blew into their faces. The waves rose high, crested with white foam,

    and the wind cut off their crests, scattering the foam far and wide.

    Evening came; there was a swelling roar in the air, a wailing or

    moaning like the voices of despairing spirits, that sounded above

    the thunder of the waves. The fisherman's little cottage was on the

    very margin, and the sand rattled against the window panes; every

    now and then a violent gust of wind shook the house to its foundation.

    It was dark, but about midnight the moon would rise. Later on the

    air became clearer, but the storm swept over the perturbed sea with

    undiminished fury; the fisher folks had long since gone to bed, but in

    such weather there was no chance of closing an eye. Presently there

    was a tapping at the window; the door was opened, and a voice said:

    "There's a large ship stranded on the farthest reef."

    In a moment the fisher people sprung from their beds and hastily

    dressed themselves. The moon had risen, and it was light enough to

    make the surrounding objects visible to those who could open their

    eyes in the blinding clouds of sand; the violence of the wind was

    terrible, and it was only possible to pass among the sand-hills if one

    crept forward between the gusts; the salt spray flew up from the sea

    like down, and the ocean foamed like a roaring cataract towards the

    beach. Only a practised eye could discern the vessel out in the

    offing; she was a fine brig, and the waves now lifted her over the

    reef, three or four cables' length out of the usual channel. She drove

    towards the shore, struck on the second reef, and remained fixed.

    It was impossible to render assistance; the sea rushed in upon the

    vessel, making a clean breach over her. Those on shore thought they

    heard cries for help from those on board, and could plainly

    distinguish the busy but useless efforts made by the stranded sailors.

    Now a wave came rolling onward. It fell with enormous force on the

    bowsprit, tearing it from the vessel, and the stern was lifted high

    above the water. Two people were seen to embrace and plunge together

    into the sea, and the next moment one of the largest waves that rolled

    towards the sand-hills threw a body on the beach. It was a woman;

    the sailors said that she was quite dead, but the women thought they

    saw signs of life in her, so the stranger was carried across the

    sand-hills to the fisherman's cottage. How beautiful and fair she was!

    She must be a great lady, they said.

    They laid her upon the humble bed; there was not a yard of linen

    on it, only a woollen coverlet to keep the occupant warm.

    Life returned to her, but she was delirious, and knew nothing of

    what had happened or where she was; and it was better so, for

    everything she loved and valued lay buried in the sea. The same

    thing happened to her ship as to the one spoken of in the song about

    "The King of England's Son."



    "Alas! how terrible to see

    The gallant bark sink rapidly."



    Fragments of the wreck and pieces of wood were washed ashore; they

    were all that remained of the vessel. The wind still blew violently on

    the coast.

    For a few moments the strange lady seemed to rest; but she awoke

    in pain, and uttered cries of anguish and fear. She opened her

    wonderfully beautiful eyes, and spoke a few words, but nobody

    understood her.- And lo! as a reward for the sorrow and suffering

    she had undergone, she held in her arms a new-born babe. The child

    that was to have rested upon a magnificent couch, draped with silken

    curtains, in a luxurious home; it was to have been welcomed with joy

    to a life rich in all the good things of this world; and now Heaven

    had ordained that it should be born in this humble retreat, that it

    should not even receive a kiss from its mother, for when the

    fisherman's wife laid the child upon the mother's bosom, it rested

    on a heart that beat no more- she was dead.

    The child that was to have been reared amid wealth and luxury

    was cast into the world, washed by the sea among the sand-hills to

    share the fate and hardships of the poor.

    Here we are reminded again of the song about "The King of

    England's Son," for in it mention is made of the custom prevalent at

    the time, when knights and squires plundered those who had been

    saved from shipwreck. The ship had stranded some distance south of

    Nissum Bay, and the cruel, inhuman days, when, as we have just said,

    the inhabitants of Jutland treated the shipwrecked people so crudely

    were past, long ago. Affectionate sympathy and self-sacrifice for

    the unfortunate existed then, just as it does in our own time in

    many a bright example. The dying mother and the unfortunate child

    would have found kindness and help wherever they had been cast by

    the winds, but nowhere would it have been more sincere than in the

    cottage of the poor fisherman's wife, who had stood, only the day

    before, beside her child's grave, who would have been five years old

    that day if God had spared it to her.

    No one knew who the dead stranger was, they could not even form

    a conjecture; the fragments of wreckage gave no clue to the matter.

    No tidings reached Spain of the fate of the daughter and

    son-in-law. They did not arrive at their destination, and violent

    storms had raged during the past weeks. At last the verdict was given:

    "Foundered at sea- all lost." But in the fisherman's cottage among the

    sand-hills near Hunsby, there lived a little scion of the rich Spanish

    family.

    Where Heaven sends food for two, a third can manage to find a

    meal, and in the depth of the sea there is many a dish of fish for the

    hungry.

    They called the boy Jurgen.

    "It must certainly be a Jewish child, its skin is so dark," the

    people said.

    "It might be an Italian or a Spaniard," remarked the clergyman.

    But to the fisherman's wife these nations seemed all the same, and

    she consoled herself with the thought that the child was baptized as a

    Christian.

    The boy throve; the noble blood in his veins was warm, and he

    became strong on his homely fare. He grew apace in the humble cottage,

    and the Danish dialect spoken by the West Jutes became his language.

    The pomegranate seed from Spain became a hardy plant on the coast of

    West Jutland. Thus may circumstances alter the course of a man's life!

    To this home he clung with deep-rooted affection; he was to experience

    cold and hunger, and the misfortunes and hardships that surround the

    poor; but he also tasted of their joys.

    Childhood has bright days for every one, and the memory of them

    shines through the whole after-life. The boy had many sources of

    pleasure and enjoyment; the coast for miles and miles was full of

    playthings, for it was a mosaic of pebbles, some red as coral or

    yellow as amber, and others again white and rounded like birds' eggs

    and smoothed and prepared by the sea. Even the bleached fishes'

    skeletons, the water plants dried by the wind, and seaweed, white

    and shining long linen-like bands waving between the stones- all these

    seemed made to give pleasure and occupation for the boy's thoughts,

    and he had an intelligent mind; many great talents lay dormant in him.

    How readily he remembered stories and songs that he heard, and how

    dexterous he was with his fingers! With stones and mussel-shells he

    could put together pictures and ships with which one could decorate

    the room; and he could make wonderful things from a stick, his

    foster-mother said, although he was still so young and little. He

    had a sweet voice, and every melody seemed to flow naturally from

    his lips. And in his heart were hidden chords, which might have

    sounded far out into the world if he had been placed anywhere else

    than in the fisherman's hut by the North Sea.

    One day another ship was wrecked on the coast, and among other

    things a chest filled with valuable flower bulbs was washed ashore.

    Some were put into saucepans and cooked, for they were thought to be

    fit to eat, and others lay and shrivelled in the sand- they did not

    accomplish their purpose, or unfold their magnificent colours. Would

    Jurgen fare better? The flower bulbs had soon played their part, but

    he had years of apprenticeship before him. Neither he nor his

    friends noticed in what a monotonous, uniform way one day followed

    another, for there was always plenty to do and see. The ocean itself

    was a great lesson-book, and it unfolded a new leaf each day of calm

    or storm- the crested wave or the smooth surface.

    The visits to the church were festive occasions, but among the

    fisherman's house one was especially looked forward to; this was, in

    fact, the visit of the brother of Jurgen's foster-mother, the

    eel-breeder from Fjaltring, near Bovbjerg. He came twice a year in a

    cart, painted red with blue and white tulips upon it, and full of

    eels; it was covered and locked like a box, two dun oxen drew it,

    and Jurgen was allowed to guide them.

    The eel-breeder was a witty fellow, a merry guest, and brought a

    measure of brandy with him. They all received a small glassful or a

    cupful if there were not enough glasses; even Jurgen had about a

    thimbleful, that he might digest the fat eel, as the eel-breeder said;

    he always told one story over and over again, and if his hearers

    laughed he would immediately repeat it to them. Jurgen while still a

    boy, and also when he was older, used phrases from the eel-breeder's

    story on various occasions, so it will be as well for us to listen

    to it. It runs thus:

    "The eels went into the bay, and the young ones begged leave to go

    a little farther out. 'Don't go too far,' said their mother; 'the ugly

    eel-spearer might come and snap you all up.' But they went too far,

    and of eight daughters only three came back to the mother, and these

    wept and said, 'We only went a little way out, and the ugly

    eel-spearer came immediately and stabbed five of our sisters to

    death.' 'They'll come back again,' said the mother eel. 'Oh, no,'

    exclaimed the daughters, 'for he skinned them, cut them in two, and

    fried them.' 'Oh, they'll come back again,' the mother eel

    persisted. 'No,' replied the daughters, 'for he ate them up.' 'They'll

    come back again,' repeated the mother eel. 'But he drank brandy

    after them,' said the daughters. 'Ah, then they'll never come back,'

    said the mother, and she burst out crying, 'it's the brandy that

    buries the eels.'"

    "And therefore," said the eel-breeder in conclusion, "it is always

    the proper thing to drink brandy after eating eels."

    This story was the tinsel thread, the most humorous recollection

    of Jurgen's life. He also wanted to go a little way farther out and up

    the bay- that is to say, out into the world in a ship- but his

    mother said, like the eel-breeder, "There are so many bad people-

    eel spearers!" He wished to go a little way past the sand-hills, out

    into the dunes, and at last he did: four happy days, the brightest

    of his childhood, fell to his lot, and the whole beauty and

    splendour of Jutland, all the happiness and sunshine of his home, were

    concentrated in these. He went to a festival, but it was a burial

    feast.

    A rich relation of the fisherman's family had died; the farm was

    situated far eastward in the country and a little towards the north.

    Jurgen's foster parents went there, and he also went with them from

    the dunes, over heath and moor, where the Skjaerumaa takes its

    course through green meadows and contains many eels; mother eels

    live there with their daughters, who are caught and eaten up by wicked

    people. But do not men sometimes act quite as cruelly towards their

    own fellow-men? Was not the knight Sir Bugge murdered by wicked

    people? And though he was well spoken of, did he not also wish to kill

    the architect who built the castle for him, with its thick walls and

    tower, at the point where the Skjaerumaa falls into the bay? Jurgen

    and his parents now stood there; the wall and the ramparts still

    remained, and red crumbling fragments lay scattered around. Here it

    was that Sir Bugge, after the architect had left him, said to one of

    his men, "Go after him and say, 'Master, the tower shakes.' If he

    turns round, kill him and take away the money I paid him, but if he

    does not turn round let him go in peace." The man did as he was

    told; the architect did not turn round, but called back "The tower

    does not shake in the least, but one day a man will come from the west

    in a blue cloak- he will cause it to shake!" And so indeed it happened

    a hundred years later, for the North Sea broke in and cast down the

    tower; but Predbjorn Gyldenstjerne, the man who then possessed the

    castle, built a new castle higher up at the end of the meadow, and

    that one is standing to this day, and is called Norre-Vosborg.

    Jurgen and his foster parents went past this castle. They had told

    him its story during the long winter evenings, and now he saw the

    stately edifice, with its double moat, and trees and bushes; the wall,

    covered with ferns, rose within the moat, but the lofty lime-trees

    were the most beautiful of all; they grew up to the highest windows,

    and the air was full of their sweet fragrance. In a north-west

    corner of the garden stood a great bush full of blossom, like winter

    snow amid the summer's green; it was a juniper bush, the first that

    Jurgen had ever seen in bloom. He never forgot it, nor the lime-trees;

    the child's soul treasured up these memories of beauty and fragrance

    to gladden the old man.

    From Norre-Vosborg, where the juniper blossomed, the journey

    became more pleasant, for they met some other people who were also

    going to the funeral and were riding in waggons. Our travellers had to

    sit all together on a little box at the back of the waggon, but even

    this, they thought, was better than walking. So they continued their

    journey across the rugged heath. The oxen which drew the waggon

    stopped every now and then, where a patch of fresh grass appeared amid

    the heather. The sun shone with considerable heat, and it was

    wonderful to behold how in the far distance something like smoke

    seemed to be rising; yet this smoke was clearer than the air; it was

    transparent, and looked like rays of light rolling and dancing afar

    over the heath.

    "That is Lokeman driving his sheep," said some one.

    And this was enough to excite Jurgen's imagination. He felt as

    if they were now about to enter fairyland, though everything was still

    real. How quiet it was! The heath stretched far and wide around them

    like a beautiful carpet. The heather was in blossom, and the

    juniper-bushes and fresh oak saplings rose like bouquets from the

    earth. An inviting place for a frolic, if it had not been for the

    number of poisonous adders of which the travellers spoke; they also

    mentioned that the place had formerly been infested with wolves, and

    that the district was still called Wolfsborg for this reason. The

    old man who was driving the oxen told them that in the lifetime of his

    father the horses had many a hard battle with the wild beasts that

    were now exterminated. One morning, when he himself had gone out to

    bring in the horses, he found one of them standing with its forefeet

    on a wolf it had killed, but the savage animal had torn and

    lacerated the brave horse's legs.

    The journey over the heath and the deep sand was only too

    quickly at an end. They stopped before the house of mourning, where

    they found plenty of guests within and without. Waggon after waggon

    stood side by side, while the horses and oxen had been turned out to

    graze on the scanty pasture. Great sand-hills like those at home by

    the North Sea rose behind the house and extended far and wide. How had

    they come here, so many miles inland? They were as large and high as

    those on the coast, and the wind had carried them there; there was

    also a legend attached to them.

    Psalms were sung, and a few of the old people shed tears; with

    this exception, the guests were cheerful enough, it seemed to

    Jurgen, and there was plenty to eat and drink. There were eels of

    the fattest, requiring brandy to bury them, as the eel-breeder said;

    and certainly they did not forget to carry out his maxim here.

    Jurgen went in and out the house; and on the third day he felt

    as much at home as he did in the fisherman's cottage among the

    sand-hills, where he had passed his early days. Here on the heath were

    riches unknown to him until now; for flowers, blackberries, and

    bilberries were to be found in profusion, so large and sweet that when

    they were crushed beneath the tread of passers-by the heather was

    stained with their red juice. Here was a barrow and yonder another.

    Then columns of smoke rose into the still air; it was a heath fire,

    they told him- how brightly it blazed in the dark evening!

    The fourth day came, and the funeral festivities were at an end;

    they were to go back from the land-dunes to the sand-dunes.

    "Ours are better," said the old fisherman, Jurgen's foster-father;

    "these have no strength."

    And they spoke of the way in which the sand-dunes had come inland,

    and it seemed very easy to understand. This is how they explained it:

    A dead body had been found on the coast, and the peasants buried

    it in the churchyard. From that time the sand began to fly about and

    the sea broke in with violence. A wise man in the district advised

    them to open the grave and see if the buried man was not lying sucking

    his thumb, for if so he must be a sailor, and the sea would not rest

    until it had got him back. The grave was opened, and he really was

    found with his thumb in his mouth. So they laid him upon a cart, and

    harnessed two oxen to it; and the oxen ran off with the sailor over

    heath and moor to the ocean, as if they had been stung by an adder.

    Then the sand ceased to fly inland, but the hills that had been

    piled up still remained.

    All this Jurgen listened to and treasured up in his memory of

    the happiest days of his childhood- the days of the burial feast.

    How delightful it was to see fresh places and to mix with

    strangers! And he was to go still farther, for he was not yet fourteen

    years old when he went out in a ship to see the world. He

    encountered bad weather, heavy seas, unkindness, and hard men- such

    were his experiences, for he became ship-boy. Cold nights, bad living,

    and blows had to be endured; then he felt his noble Spanish blood boil

    within him, and bitter, angry, words rose to his lips, but he gulped

    them down; it was better, although he felt as the eel must feel when

    it is skinned, cut up, and put into the frying-pan.

    "I shall get over it," said a voice within him.

    He saw the Spanish coast, the native land of his parents. He

    even saw the town where they had lived in joy and prosperity, but he

    knew nothing of his home or his relations, and his relations knew just

    as little about him.

    The poor ship boy was not permitted to land, but on the last day

    of their stay he managed to get ashore. There were several purchases

    to be made, and he was sent to carry them on board.

    Jurgen stood there in his shabby clothes which looked as if they

    had been washed in the ditch and dried in the chimney; he, who had

    always dwelt among the sand-hills, now saw a great city for the

    first time. How lofty the houses seemed, and what a number of people

    there were in the streets! some pushing this way, some that- a perfect

    maelstrom of citizens and peasants, monks and soldiers- the jingling

    of bells on the trappings of asses and mules, the chiming of church

    bells, calling, shouting, hammering and knocking- all going on at

    once. Every trade was located in the basement of the houses or in

    the side thoroughfares; and the sun shone with such heat, and the

    air was so close, that one seemed to be in an oven full of beetles,

    cockchafers, bees and flies, all humming and buzzing together.

    Jurgen scarcely knew where he was or which way he went. Then he saw

    just in front of him the great doorway of a cathedral; the lights were

    gleaming in the dark aisles, and the fragrance of incense was wafted

    towards him. Even the poorest beggar ventured up the steps into the

    sanctuary. Jurgen followed the sailor he was with into the church, and

    stood in the sacred edifice. Coloured pictures gleamed from their

    golden background, and on the altar stood the figure of the Virgin

    with the child Jesus, surrounded by lights and flowers; priests in

    festive robes were chanting, and choir boys in dazzling attire swung

    silver censers. What splendour and magnificence he saw there! It

    streamed in upon his soul and overpowered him: the church and the

    faith of his parents surrounded him, and touched a chord in his

    heart that caused his eyes to overflow with tears.

    They went from the church to the market-place. Here a quantity

    of provisions were given him to carry. The way to the harbour was

    long; and weary and overcome with various emotions, he rested for a

    few moments before a splendid house, with marble pillars, statues, and

    broad steps. Here he rested his burden against the wall. Then a porter

    in livery came out, lifted up a silver-headed cane, and drove him

    away- him, the grandson of that house. But no one knew that, and he

    just as little as any one. Then he went on board again, and once

    more encountered rough words and blows, much work and little sleep-

    such was his experience of life. They say it is good to suffer in

    one's young days, if age brings something to make up for it.

    His period of service on board the ship came to an end, and the

    vessel lay once more at Ringkjobing in Jutland. He came ashore, and

    went home to the sand-dunes near Hunsby; but his foster-mother had

    died during his absence.

    A hard winter followed this summer. Snow-storms swept over land

    and sea, and there was difficulty in getting from one place to

    another. How unequally things are distributed in this world! Here

    there was bitter cold and snow-storms, while in Spain there was

    burning sunshine and oppressive heat. Yet, when a clear frosty day

    came, and Jurgen saw the swans flying in numbers from the sea

    towards the land, across to Norre-Vosborg, it seemed to him that

    people could breathe more freely here; the summer also in this part of

    the world was splendid. In imagination he saw the heath blossom and

    become purple with rich juicy berries, and the elder-bushes and

    lime-trees at Norre Vosborg in flower. He made up his mind to go there

    again.

    Spring came, and the fishing began. Jurgen was now an active

    helper in this, for he had grown during the last year, and was quick

    at work. He was full of life, and knew how to swim, to tread water,

    and to turn over and tumble in the strong tide. They often warned

    him to beware of the sharks, which seize the best swimmer, draw him

    down, and devour him; but such was not to be Jurgen's fate.

    At a neighbour's house in the dunes there was a boy named

    Martin, with whom Jurgen was on very friendly terms, and they both

    took service in the same ship to Norway, and also went together to

    Holland. They never had a quarrel, but a person can be easily

    excited to quarrel when he is naturally hot tempered, for he often

    shows it in many ways; and this is just what Jurgen did one day when

    they fell out about the merest trifle. They were sitting behind the

    cabin door, eating from a delft plate, which they had placed between

    them. Jurgen held his pocket-knife in his hand and raised it towards

    Martin, and at the same time became ashy pale, and his eyes had an

    ugly look. Martin only said, "Ah! ah! you are one of that sort, are

    you? Fond of using the knife!"

    The words were scarcely spoken, when Jurgen's hand sank down. He

    did not answer a syllable, but went on eating, and afterwards returned

    to his work. When they were resting again he walked up to Martin and

    said:

    "Hit me in the face! I deserve it. But sometimes I feel as if I

    had a pot in me that boils over."

    "There, let the thing rest," replied Martin.

    And after that they were almost better friends than ever; when

    afterwards they returned to the dunes and began telling their

    adventures, this was told among the rest. Martin said that Jurgen

    was certainly passionate, but a good fellow after all.

    They were both young and healthy, well-grown and strong; but

    Jurgen was the cleverer of the two.

    In Norway the peasants go into the mountains and take the cattle

    there to find pasture. On the west coast of Jutland huts have been

    erected among the sand-hills; they are built of pieces of wreck, and

    thatched with turf and heather; there are sleeping places round the

    walls, and here the fishermen live and sleep during the early

    spring. Every fisherman has a female helper, or manager as she is

    called, who baits his hooks, prepares warm beer for him when he

    comes ashore, and gets the dinner cooked and ready for him by the time

    he comes back to the hut tired and hungry. Besides this the managers

    bring up the fish from the boats, cut them open, prepare them, and

    have generally a great deal to do.

    Jurgen, his father, and several other fishermen and their managers

    inhabited the same hut; Martin lived in the next one.

    One of the girls, whose name was Else, had known Jurgen from

    childhood; they were glad to see each other, and were of the same

    opinion on many points, but in appearance they were entirely opposite;

    for he was dark, and she was pale, and fair, and had flaxen hair,

    and eyes as blue as the sea in sunshine.

    As they were walking together one day, Jurgen held her hand very

    firmly in his, and she said to him:

    "Jurgen, I have something I want to say to you; let me be your

    manager, for you are like a brother to me; but Martin, whose

    housekeeper I am- he is my lover- but you need not tell this to the

    others."

    It seemed to Jurgen as if the loose sand was giving way under

    his feet. He did not speak a word, but nodded his head, and that meant

    "yes." It was all that was necessary; but he suddenly felt in his

    heart that he hated Martin, and the more he thought the more he felt

    convinced that Martin had stolen away from him the only being he

    ever loved, and that this was Else: he had never thought of Else in

    this way before, but now it all became plain to him.

    When the sea is rather rough, and the fishermen are coming home in

    their great boats, it is wonderful to see how they cross the reefs.

    One of them stands upright in the bow of the boat, and the others

    watch him sitting with the oars in their hands. Outside the reef it

    looks as if the boat was not approaching land but going back to sea;

    then the man who is standing up gives them the signal that the great

    wave is coming which is to float them across the reef. The boat is

    lifted high into the air, so that the keel is seen from the shore; the

    next moment nothing can be seen, mast, keel, and people are all

    hidden- it seems as though the sea had devoured them; but in a few

    moments they emerge like a great sea animal climbing up the waves, and

    the oars move as if the creature had legs. The second and third reef

    are passed in the same manner; then the fishermen jump into the

    water and push the boat towards the shore- every wave helps them-

    and at length they have it drawn up, beyond the reach of the breakers.

    A wrong order given in front of the reef- the slightest

    hesitation- and the boat would be lost,

    "Then it would be all over with me and Martin too!"

    This thought passed through Jurgen's mind one day while they

    were out at sea, where his foster-father had been taken suddenly

    ill. The fever had seized him. They were only a few oars' strokes from

    the reef, and Jurgen sprang from his seat and stood up in the bow.

    "Father-let me come!" he said, and he glanced at Martin and across

    the waves; every oar bent with the exertions of the rowers as the

    great wave came towards them, and he saw his father's pale face, and

    dared not obey the evil impulse that had shot through his brain. The

    boat came safely across the reef to land; but the evil thought

    remained in his heart, and roused up every little fibre of

    bitterness which he remembered between himself and Martin since they

    had known each other. But he could not weave the fibres together,

    nor did he endeavour to do so. He felt that Martin had robbed him, and

    this was enough to make him hate his former friend. Several of the

    fishermen saw this, but Martin did not- he remained as obliging and

    talkative as ever, in fact he talked rather too much.

    Jurgen's foster-father took to his bed, and it became his

    death-bed, for he died a week afterwards; and now Jurgen was heir to

    the little house behind the sand-hills. It was small, certainly, but

    still it was something, and Martin had nothing of the kind.

    "You will not go to sea again, Jurgen, I suppose," observed one of

    the old fishermen. "You will always stay with us now."

    But this was not Jurgen's intention; he wanted to see something of

    the world. The eel-breeder of Fjaltring had an uncle at Old Skjagen,

    who was a fisherman, but also a prosperous merchant with ships upon

    the sea; he was said to be a good old man, and it would not be a bad

    thing to enter his service. Old Skjagen lies in the extreme north of

    Jutland, as far away from the Hunsby dunes as one can travel in that

    country; and this is just what pleased Jurgen, for he did not want

    to remain till the wedding of Martin and Else, which would take

    place in a week or two.

    The old fisherman said it was foolish to go away, for now that

    Jurgen had a home Else would very likely be inclined to take him

    instead of Martin.

    Jurgen gave such a vague answer that it was not easy to make out

    what he meant- the old man brought Else to him, and she said:

    "You have a home now; you ought to think of that."

    And Jurgen thought of many things.

    The sea has heavy waves, but there are heavier waves in the

    human heart. Many thoughts, strong and weak, rushed through Jurgen's

    brain, and he said to Else:

    "If Martin had a house like mine, which of us would you rather

    have?"

    "But Martin has no house and cannot get one."

    "Suppose he had one?"

    "Well, then I would certainly take Martin, for that is what my

    heart tells me; but one cannot live upon love."

    Jurgen turned these things over in his mind all night. Something

    was working within him, he hardly knew what it was, but it was even

    stronger than his love for Else; and so he went to Martin's, and

    what he said and did there was well considered. He let the house to

    Martin on most liberal terms, saying that he wished to go to sea

    again, because he loved it. And Else kissed him when she heard of

    it, for she loved Martin best.

    Jurgen proposed to start early in the morning, and on the

    evening before his departure, when it was already getting rather late,

    he felt a wish to visit Martin once more. He started, and among the

    dunes met the old fisherman, who was angry at his leaving the place.

    The old man made jokes about Martin, and declared there must be some

    magic about that fellow, of whom the girls were so fond.

    Jurgen did not pay any attention to his remarks, but said good-bye

    to the old man and went on towards the house where Martin dwelt. He

    heard loud talking inside; Martin was not alone, and this made

    Jurgen waver in his determination, for he did not wish to see Else

    again. On second thoughts, he decided that it was better not to hear

    any more thanks from Martin, and so he turned back.

    On the following morning, before the sun rose, he fastened his

    knapsack on his back, took his wooden provision box in his hand, and

    went away among the sand-hills towards the coast path. This way was

    more pleasant than the heavy sand road, and besides it was shorter;

    and he intended to go first to Fjaltring, near Bovbjerg, where the

    eel-breeder lived, to whom he had promised a visit.

    The sea lay before him, clear and blue, and the mussel shells

    and pebbles, the playthings of his childhood, crunched over his

    feet. While he thus walked on his nose suddenly began to bleed; it was

    a trifling occurrence, but trifles sometimes are of great

    importance. A few large drops of blood fell upon one of his sleeves.

    He wiped them off and stopped the bleeding, and it seemed to him as if

    this had cleared and lightened his brain. The sea-cale bloomed here

    and there in the sand as he passed. He broke off a spray and stuck

    it in his hat; he determined to be merry and light-hearted, for he was

    going out into the wide world- "a little way out, beyond the bay,"

    as the young eels had said. "Beware of bad people who will catch

    you, and skin you, and put you in the frying-pan!" he repeated in

    his mind, and smiled, for he thought he should find his way through

    the world- good courage is a strong weapon!

    The sun was high in the heavens when he approached the narrow

    entrance to Nissum Bay. He looked back and saw a couple of horsemen

    galloping a long distance behind him, and there were other people with

    them. But this did not concern him.

    The ferry-boat was on the opposite side of the bay. Jurgen

    called to the ferry-man, and the latter came over with his boat.

    Jurgen stepped in; but before he had got half-way across, the men whom

    he had seen riding so hastily, came up, hailed the ferry-man, and

    commanded him to return in the name of the law. Jurgen did not

    understand the reason of this, but he thought it would be best to turn

    back, and therefore he himself took an oar and returned. As soon as

    the boat touched the shore, the men sprang on board, and before he was

    aware of it, they had bound his hands with a rope.

    "This wicked deed will cost you your life," they said. "It is a

    good thing we have caught you."

    He was accused of nothing less than murder. Martin had been

    found dead, with his throat cut. One of the fishermen, late on the

    previous evening, had met Jurgen going towards Martin's house; this

    was not the first time Jurgen had raised his knife against Martin,

    so they felt sure that he was the murderer. The prison was in a town

    at a great distance, and the wind was contrary for going there by sea;

    but it would not take half an hour to get across the bay, and

    another quarter of an hour would bring them to Norre-Vosborg, the

    great castle with ramparts and moat. One of Jurgen's captors was a

    fisherman, a brother of the keeper of the castle, and he said it might

    be managed that Jurgen should be placed for the present in the dungeon

    at Vosborg, where Long Martha the gipsy had been shut up till her

    execution. They paid no attention to Jurgen's defence; the few drops

    of blood on his shirt-sleeve bore heavy witness against him. But he

    was conscious of his innocence, and as there was no chance of clearing

    himself at present he submitted to his fate.

    The party landed just at the place where Sir Bugge's castle had

    stood, and where Jurgen had walked with his foster-parents after the

    burial feast, during. the four happiest days of his childhood. He

    was led by the well-known path, over the meadow to Vosborg; once

    more the elders were in bloom and the lofty lime-trees gave forth

    sweet fragrance, and it seemed as if it were but yesterday that he had

    last seen the spot. In each of the two wings of the castle there was a

    staircase which led to a place below the entrance, from whence there

    is access to a low, vaulted cellar. In this dungeon Long Martha had

    been imprisoned, and from here she was led away to the scaffold. She

    had eaten the hearts of five children, and had imagined that if she

    could obtain two more she would be able to fly and make herself

    invisible. In the middle of the roof of the cellar there was a

    little narrow air-hole, but no window. The flowering lime trees

    could not breathe refreshing fragrance into that abode, where

    everything was dark and mouldy. There was only a rough bench in the

    cell; but a good conscience is a soft pillow, and therefore Jurgen

    could sleep well.

    The thick oaken door was locked, and secured on the outside by

    an iron bar; but the goblin of superstition can creep through a

    keyhole into a baron's castle just as easily as it can into a

    fisherman's cottage, and why should he not creep in here, where Jurgen

    sat thinking of Long Martha and her wicked deeds? Her last thoughts on

    the night before her execution had filled this place, and the magic

    that tradition asserted to have been practised here, in Sir

    Svanwedel's time, came into Jurgen's mind, and made him shudder; but a

    sunbeam, a refreshing thought from without, penetrated his heart

    even here- it was the remembrance of the flowering elder and the sweet

    smelling lime-trees.

    He was not left there long. They took him away to the town of

    Ringkjobing, where he was imprisoned with equal severity.

    Those times were not like ours. The common people were treated

    harshly; and it was just after the days when farms were converted into

    knights' estates, when coachmen and servants were often made

    magistrates, and had power to sentence a poor man, for a small

    offence, to lose his property and to corporeal punishment. Judges of

    this kind were still to be found; and in Jutland, so far from the

    capital, and from the enlightened, well-meaning, head of the

    Government, the law was still very loosely administered sometimes- the

    smallest grievance Jurgen could expect was that his case should be

    delayed.

    His dwelling was cold and comfortless; and how long would he be

    obliged to bear all this? It seemed his fate to suffer misfortune

    and sorrow innocently. He now had plenty of time to reflect on the

    difference of fortune on earth, and to wonder why this fate had been

    allotted to him; yet he felt sure that all would be made clear in

    the next life, the existence that awaits us when this life is over.

    His faith had grown strong in the poor fisherman's cottage; the

    light which had never shone into his father's mind, in all the

    richness and sunshine of Spain, was sent to him to be his comfort in

    poverty and distress, a sign of that mercy of God which never fails.

    The spring storms began to blow. The rolling and moaning of the

    North Sea could be heard for miles inland when the wind was blowing,

    and then it sounded like the rushing of a thousand waggons over a hard

    road with a mine underneath. Jurgen heard these sounds in his

    prison, and it was a relief to him. No music could have touched his

    heart as did these sounds of the sea- the rolling sea, the boundless

    sea, on which a man can be borne across the world before the wind,

    carrying his own house with him wherever he goes, just as the snail

    carries its home even into a strange country.

    He listened eagerly to its deep murmur and then the thought arose-

    "Free! free! How happy to be free, even barefooted and in ragged

    clothes!" Sometimes, when such thoughts crossed his mind, the fiery

    nature rose within him, and he beat the wall with his clenched fists.

    Weeks, months, a whole year had gone by, when Niels the thief,

    called also a horse-dealer, was arrested; and now better times came,

    and it was seen that Jurgen had been wrongly accused.

    On the afternoon before Jurgen's departure from home, and before

    the murder, Niels the thief, had met Martin at a beer-house in the

    neighbourhood of Ringkjobing. A few glasses were drank, not enough

    to cloud the brain, but enough to loosen Martin's tongue. He began

    to boast and to say that he had obtained a house and intended to

    marry, and when Niels asked him where he was going to get the money,

    he slapped his pocket proudly and said:

    "The money is here, where it ought to be."

    This boast cost him his life; for when he went home Niels followed

    him, and cut his throat, intending to rob the murdered man of the

    gold, which did not exist.

    All this was circumstantially explained; but it is enough for us

    to know that Jurgen was set free. But what compensation did he get for

    having been imprisoned a whole year, and shut out from all

    communication with his fellow creatures? They told him he was

    fortunate in being proved innocent, and that he might go. The

    burgomaster gave him two dollars for travelling expenses, and many

    citizens offered him provisions and beer- there were still good

    people; they were not all hard and pitiless. But the best thing of all

    was that the merchant Bronne, of Skjagen, into whose service Jurgen

    had proposed entering the year before, was just at that time on

    business in the town of Ringkjobing. Bronne heard the whole story;

    he was kind-hearted, and understood what Jurgen must have felt and

    suffered. Therefore he made up his mind to make it up to the poor lad,

    and convince him that there were still kind folks in the world.

    So Jurgen went forth from prison as if to paradise, to find

    freedom, affection, and trust. He was to travel this path now, for

    no goblet of life is all bitterness; no good man would pour out such a

    draught for his fellow-man, and how should He do it, Who is love

    personified?

    "Let everything be buried and forgotten," said Bronne, the

    merchant. "Let us draw a thick line through last year: we will even

    burn the almanack. In two days we will start for dear, friendly,

    peaceful Skjagen. People call it an out-of-the-way corner; but it is a

    good warm chimney-corner, and its windows open toward every part of

    the world."

    What a journey that was: It was like taking fresh breath out of

    the cold dungeon air into the warm sunshine. The heather bloomed in

    pride and beauty, and the shepherd-boy sat on a barrow and blew his

    pipe, which he had carved for himself out of a sheep bone. Fata

    Morgana, the beautiful aerial phenomenon of the wilderness, appeared

    with hanging gardens and waving forests, and the wonderful cloud

    called "Lokeman driving his sheep" also was seen.

    Up towards Skjagen they went, through the land of the Wendels,

    whence the men with long beards (the Longobardi or Lombards) had

    emigrated in the reign of King Snio, when all the children and old

    people were to have been killed, till the noble Dame Gambaruk proposed

    that the young people should emigrate. Jurgen knew all this, he had

    some little knowledge; and although he did not know the land of the

    Lombards beyond the lofty Alps, he had an idea that it must be

    there, for in his boyhood he had been in the south, in Spain. He

    thought of the plenteousness of the southern fruit, of the red

    pomegranate flowers, of the humming, buzzing, and toiling in the great

    beehive of a city he had seen; but home is the best place after all,

    and Jurgen's home was Denmark.

    At last they arrived at "Vendilskaga," as Skjagen is called in old

    Norwegian and Icelandic writings. At that time Old Skjagen, with the

    eastern and western town, extended for miles, with sand hills and

    arable land as far as the lighthouse near "Grenen." Then, as now,

    the houses were strewn among the wind-raised sand-hills- a

    wilderness in which the wind sports with the sand, and where the voice

    of the sea-gull and wild swan strikes harshly on the ear.

    In the south-west, a mile from "Grenen," lies Old Skjagen;

    merchant Bronne dwelt here, and this was also to be Jurgen's home

    for the future. The dwelling-house was tarred, and all the small

    out-buildings had been put together from pieces of wreck. There was no

    fence, for indeed there was nothing to fence in except the long rows

    of fishes which were hung upon lines, one above the other, to dry in

    the wind. The entire coast was strewn with spoiled herrings, for there

    were so many of these fish that a net was scarcely thrown into the sea

    before it was filled. They were caught by carloads, and many of them

    were either thrown back into the sea or left to lie on the beach.

    The old man's wife and daughter and his servants also came to meet

    him with great rejoicing. There was a great squeezing of hands, and

    talking and questioning. And the daughter, what a sweet face and

    bright eyes she had!

    The inside of the house was comfortable and roomy. Fritters,

    that a king would have looked upon as a dainty dish, were placed on

    the table, and there was wine from the Skjagen vineyard- that is,

    the sea; for there the grapes come ashore ready pressed and prepared

    in barrels and in bottles.

    When the mother and daughter heard who Jurgen was, and how

    innocently he had suffered, they looked at him in a still more

    friendly way; and pretty Clara's eyes had a look of especial

    interest as she listened to his story. Jurgen found a happy home in

    Old Skjagen. It did his heart good, for it had been sorely tried. He

    had drunk the bitter goblet of love which softens or hardens the

    heart, according to circumstances. Jurgen's heart was still soft- it

    was young, and therefore it was a good thing that Miss Clara was going

    in three weeks' time to Christiansand in Norway, in her father's ship,

    to visit an aunt and to stay there the whole winter.

    On the Sunday before she went away they all went to church, to the

    Holy Communion. The church was large and handsome, and had been

    built centuries before by Scotchmen and Dutchmen; it stood some little

    way out of the town. It was rather ruinous certainly, and the road

    to it was heavy, through deep sand, but the people gladly surmounted

    these difficulties to get to the house of God, to sing psalms and to

    hear the sermon. The sand had heaped itself up round the walls of

    the church, but the graves were kept free from it.

    It was the largest church north of the Limfjorden. The Virgin

    Mary, with a golden crown on her head and the child Jesus in her arms,

    stood lifelike on the altar; the holy Apostles had been carved in

    the choir, and on the walls there were portraits of the old

    burgomasters and councillors of Skjagen; the pulpit was of carved

    work. The sun shone brightly into the church, and its radiance fell on

    the polished brass chandelier and on the little ship that hung from

    the vaulted roof.

    Jurgen felt overcome by a holy, childlike feeling, like that which

    possessed him, when, as a boy, he stood in the splendid Spanish

    cathedral. But here the feeling was different, for he felt conscious

    of being one of the congregation.

    After the sermon followed Holy Communion. He partook of the

    bread and wine, and it so happened that he knelt by the side of Miss

    Clara; but his thoughts were so fixed upon heaven and the Holy

    Sacrament that he did not notice his neighbour until he rose from

    his knees, and then he saw tears rolling down her cheeks.

    She left Skjagen and went to Norway two days later. He remained

    behind, and made himself useful on the farm and at the fishery. He

    went out fishing, and in those days fish were more plentiful and

    larger than they are now. The shoals of the mackerel glittered in

    the dark nights, and indicated where they were swimming; the

    gurnards snarled, and the crabs gave forth pitiful yells when they

    were chased, for fish are not so mute as people say.

    Every Sunday Jurgen went to church; and when his eyes rested on

    the picture of the Virgin Mary over the altar as he sat there, they

    often glided away to the spot where they had knelt side by side.

    Autumn came, and brought rain and snow with it; the water rose

    up right into the town of Skjagen, the sand could not suck it all

    in, one had to wade through it or go by boat. The storms threw

    vessel after vessel on the fatal reefs; there were snow-storm and

    sand-storms; the sand flew up to the houses, blocking the entrances,

    so that people had to creep up through the chimneys; that was

    nothing at all remarkable here. It was pleasant and cheerful

    indoors, where peat fuel and fragments of wood from the wrecks

    blazed and crackled upon the hearth. Merchant Bronne read aloud,

    from an old chronicle, about Prince Hamlet of Denmark, who had come

    over from England, landed near Bovbjerg, and fought a battle; close by

    Ramme was his grave, only a few miles from the place where the

    eel-breeder lived; hundreds of barrow rose there from the heath,

    forming as it were an enormous churchyard. Merchant Bronne had

    himself been at Hamlet's grave; they spoke about old times, and about

    their neighbours, the English and the Scotch, and Jurgen sang the air

    of "The King of England's Son," and of his splendid ship and its

    outfit.



    "In the hour of peril when most men fear,

    He clasped the bride that he held so dear,

    And proved himself the son of a King;

    Of his courage and valour let us sing."



    This verse Jurgen sang with so much feeling that his eyes

    beamed, and they were black and sparkling since his infancy.

    There was wealth, comfort, and happiness even among the domestic

    animals, for they were all well cared for, and well kept. The

    kitchen looked bright with its copper and tin utensils, and white

    plates, and from the rafters hung hams, beef, and winter stores in

    plenty. This can still be seen in many rich farms on the west coast of

    Jutland: plenty to eat and drink, clean, prettily decorated rooms,

    active minds, cheerful tempers, and hospitality can be found there, as

    in an Arab's tent.

    Jurgen had never spent such a happy time since the famous burial

    feast, and yet Miss Clara was absent, except in the thoughts and

    memory of all.

    In April a ship was to start for Norway, and Jurgen was to sail in

    it. He was full of life and spirits, and looked so sturdy and well

    that Dame Bronne said it did her good to see him.

    "And it does one good to look at you also, old wife," said the

    merchant. "Jurgen has brought fresh life into our winter evenings, and

    into you too, mother. You look younger than ever this year, and seem

    well and cheerful. But then you were once the prettiest girl in

    Viborg, and that is saying a great deal, for I have always found the

    Viborg girls the prettiest of any."

    Jurgen said nothing, but he thought of a certain maiden of

    Skjagen, whom he was soon to visit. The ship set sail for

    Christiansand in Norway, and as the wind was favourable it soon

    arrived there.

    One morning merchant Bronne went out to the lighthouse, which

    stands a little way out of Old Skjagen, not far from "Grenen." The

    light was out, and the sun was already high in the heavens, when he

    mounted the tower. The sand-banks extend a whole mile from the

    shore, beneath the water, outside these banks; many ships could be

    seen that day, and with the aid of his telescope the old man thought

    he descried his own ship, the Karen Bronne. Yes! certainly, there

    she was, sailing homewards with Clara and Jurgen on board.

    Clara sat on deck, and saw the sand-hills gradually appearing in

    the distance; the church and lighthouse looked like a heron and a swan

    rising from the blue waters. If the wind held good they might reach

    home in about an hour. So near they were to home and all its joys-

    so near to death and all its terrors! A plank in the ship gave way,

    and the water rushed in; the crew flew to the pumps, and did their

    best to stop the leak. A signal of distress was hoisted, but they were

    still fully a mile from the shore. Some fishing boats were in sight,

    but they were too far off to be of any use. The wind blew towards

    the land, the tide was in their favour, but it was all useless; the

    ship could not be saved.

    Jurgen threw his right arm round Clara, and pressed her to him.

    With what a look she gazed up into his face, as with a prayer to God

    for help he breasted the waves, which rushed over the sinking ship!

    She uttered a cry, but she felt safe and certain that he would not

    leave her to sink. And in this hour of terror and danger Jurgen felt

    as the king's son did, as told in the old song:



    "In the hour of peril when most men fear,

    He clasped the bride that he held so dear."



    How glad he felt that he was a good swimmer! He worked his way

    onward with his feet and one arm, while he held the young girl up

    firmly with the other. He rested on the waves, he trod the water- in

    fact, did everything he could think of, in order not to fatigue

    himself, and to reserve strength enough to reach land. He heard

    Clara sigh, and felt her shudder convulsively, and he pressed her more

    closely to him. Now and then a wave rolled over them, the current

    lifted them; the water, although deep, was so clear that for a

    moment he imagined he saw the shoals of mackerel glittering, or

    Leviathan himself ready to swallow them. Now the clouds cast a

    shadow over the water, then again came the playing sunbeams; flocks of

    loudly screaming birds passed over him, and the plump and lazy wild

    ducks which allow themselves to be drifted by the waves rose up

    terrified at the sight of the swimmer. He began to feel his strength

    decreasing, but he was only a few cable lengths' distance from the

    shore, and help was coming, for a boat was approaching him. At this

    moment he distinctly saw a white staring figure under the water- a

    wave lifted him up, and he came nearer to the figure- he felt a

    violent shock, and everything became dark around him.

    On the sand reef lay the wreck of a ship, which was covered with

    water at high tide; the white figure head rested against the anchor,

    the sharp iron edge of which rose just above the surface. Jurgen had

    come in contact with this; the tide had driven him against it with

    great force. He sank down stunned with the blow, but the next wave

    lifted him and the young girl up again. Some fishermen, coming with

    a boat, seized them and dragged them into it. The blood streamed

    down over Jurgen's face; he seemed dead, but still held the young girl

    so tightly that they were obliged to take her from him by force. She

    was pale and lifeless; they laid her in the boat, and rowed as quickly

    as possible to the shore. They tried every means to restore Clara to

    life, but it was all of no avail. Jurgen had been swimming for some

    distance with a corpse in his arms, and had exhausted his strength for

    one who was dead.

    Jurgen still breathed, so the fishermen carried him to the nearest

    house upon the sand-hills, where a smith and general dealer lived

    who knew something of surgery, and bound up Jurgen's wounds in a

    temporary way until a surgeon could be obtained from the nearest

    town the next day. The injured man's brain was affected, and in his

    delirium he uttered wild cries; but on the third day he lay quiet

    and weak upon his bed; his life seemed to hang by a thread, and the

    physician said it would be better for him if this thread broke. "Let

    us pray that God may take him," he said, "for he will never be the

    same man again."

    But life did not depart from him- the thread would not break,

    but the thread of memory was severed; the thread of his mind had

    been cut through, and what was still more grievous, a body remained- a

    living healthy body that wandered about like a troubled spirit.

    Jurgen remained in merchant Bronne's house. "He was hurt while

    endeavouring to save our child," said the old man, "and now he is

    our son." People called Jurgen insane, but that was not exactly the

    correct term. He was like an instrument in which the strings are loose

    and will give no sound; only occasionally they regained their power

    for a few minutes, and then they sounded as they used to do. He

    would sing snatches of songs or old melodies, pictures of the past

    would rise before him, and then disappear in the mist, as it were, but

    as a general rule he sat staring into vacancy, without a thought. We

    may conjecture that he did not suffer, but his dark eyes lost their

    brightness, and looked like clouded glass.

    "Poor mad Jurgen," said the people. And this was the end of a life

    whose infancy was to have been surrounded with wealth and splendour

    had his parents lived! All his great mental abilities had been lost,

    nothing but hardship, sorrow, and disappointment had been his fate. He

    was like a rare plant, torn from its native soil, and tossed upon

    the beach to wither there. And was this one of God's creatures,

    fashioned in His own likeness, to have no better fate? Was he to be

    only the plaything of fortune? No! the all-loving Creator would

    certainly repay him in the life to come for what he had suffered and

    lost here. "The Lord is good to all; and His mercy is over all His

    works." The pious old wife of the merchant repeated these words from

    the Psalms of David in patience and hope, and the prayer of her

    heart was that Jurgen might soon be called away to enter into

    eternal life.

    In the churchyard where the walls were surrounded with sand

    Clara lay buried. Jurgen did not seem to know this; it did not enter

    his mind, which could only retain fragments of the past. Every

    Sunday he went to church with the old people, and sat there

    silently, staring vacantly before him. One day, when the Psalms were

    being sung, he sighed deeply, and his eyes became bright; they were

    fixed upon a place near the altar where he had knelt with his friend

    who was dead. He murmured her name, and became deadly pale, and

    tears rolled down his cheeks. They led him out of church; he told

    those standing round him that he was well, and had never been ill; he,

    who had been so grievously afflicted, the outcast, thrown upon the

    world, could not remember his sufferings. The Lord our Creator is wise

    and full of loving kindness- who can doubt it?

    In Spain, where balmy breezes blow over the Moorish cupolas and

    gently stir the orange and myrtle groves, where singing and the

    sound of the castanets are always heard, the richest merchant in the

    place, a childless old man, sat in a luxurious house, while children

    marched in procession through the streets with waving flags and

    lighted tapers. If he had been able to press his children to his

    heart, his daughter, or her child, that had, perhaps never seen the

    light of day, far less the kingdom of heaven, how much of his wealth

    would he not have given! "Poor child!" Yes, poor child- a child still,

    yet more than thirty years old, for Jurgen had arrived at this age

    in Old Skjagen.

    The shifting sands had covered the graves in the courtyard,

    quite up to the church walls, but still, the dead must be buried among

    their relatives and the dear ones who had gone before them. Merchant

    Bronne and his wife now rested with their children under the white

    sand.

    It was in the spring- the season of storms. The sand from the

    dunes was whirled up in clouds; the sea was rough, and flocks of birds

    flew like clouds in the storm, screaming across the sand-hills.

    Shipwreck followed upon shipwreck on the reefs between Old Skagen

    and the Hunsby dunes.

    One evening Jurgen sat in his room alone: all at once his mind

    seemed to become clearer, and a restless feeling came over him, such

    as had often, in his younger days, driven him out to wander over the

    sand-hills or on the heath. "Home, home!" he cried. No one heard

    him. He went out and walked towards the dunes. Sand and stones blew

    into his face, and whirled round him; he went in the direction of

    the church. The sand was banked up the walls, half covering the

    windows, but it had been cleared away in front of the door, and the

    entrance was free and easy to open, so Jurgen went into the church.

    The storm raged over the town of Skjagen; there had not been

    such a terrible tempest within the memory of the inhabitants, nor such

    a rough sea. But Jurgen was in the temple of God, and while the

    darkness of night reigned outside, a light arose in his soul that

    was never to depart from it; the heavy weight that pressed on his

    brain burst asunder. He fancied he heard the organ, but it was only

    the storm and the moaning of the sea. He sat down on one of the seats,

    and lo! the candies were lighted one by one, and there was

    brightness and grandeur such as he had only seen in the Spanish

    cathedral. The portraits of the old citizens became alive, stepped

    down from the walls against which they had hung for centuries, and

    took seats near the church door. The gates flew open, and all the dead

    people from the churchyard came in, and filled the church, while

    beautiful music sounded. Then the melody of the psalm burst forth,

    like the sound of the waters, and Jurgen saw that his foster parents

    from the Hunsby dunes were there, also old merchant Bronne with his

    wife and their daughter Clara, who gave him her hand. They both went

    up to the altar where they had knelt before, and the priest joined

    their hands and united them for life. Then music was heard again; it

    was wonderfully sweet, like a child's voice, full of joy and

    expectation, swelling to the powerful tones of a full organ, sometimes

    soft and sweet, then like the sounds of a tempest, delightful and

    elevating to hear, yet strong enough to burst the stone tombs of the

    dead. Then the little ship that hung from the roof of the choir was

    let down and looked wonderfully large and beautiful with its silken

    sails and rigging:



    "The ropes were of silk, the anchor of gold,

    And everywhere riches and pomp untold,"



    as the old song says.

    The young couple went on board, accompanied by the whole

    congregation, for there was room and enjoyment for them all. Then

    the walls and arches of the church were covered with flowering

    junipers and lime trees breathing forth fragrance; the branches waved,

    creating a pleasant coolness; they bent and parted, and the ship

    sailed between them through the air and over the sea. Every candle

    in the church became a star, and the wind sang a hymn in which they

    all joined. "Through love to glory, no life is lost, the future is

    full of blessings and happiness. Hallelujah!" These were the last

    words Jurgen uttered in this world, for the thread that bound his

    immortal soul was severed, and nothing but the dead body lay in the

    dark church, while the storm raged outside, covering it with loose

    sand.

    The next day was Sunday, and the congregation and their pastor

    went to the church. The road had always been heavy, but now it was

    almost unfit for use, and when they at last arrived at the church, a

    great heap of sand lay piled up in front of them. The whole church was

    completely buried in sand. The clergyman offered a short prayer, and

    said that God had closed the door of His house here, and that the

    congregation must go and build a new one for Him somewhere else. So

    they sung a hymn in the open air, and went home again.

    Jurgen could not be found anywhere in the town of Skjagen, nor

    on the dunes, though they searched for him everywhere. They came to

    the conclusion that one of the great waves, which had rolled far up

    on the beach, had carried him away; but his body lay buried in a

    great sepulchre- the church itself. The Lord had thrown down a

    covering for his grave during the storm, and the heavy mound of sand

    lies upon it to this day. The drifting sand had covered the vaulted

    roof of the church, the arched cloisters, and the stone aisles. The

    white thorn and the dog rose now blossom above the place where the

    church lies buried, but the spire, like an enormous monument over a

    grave, can be seen for miles round. No king has a more splendid

    memorial. Nothing disturbs the peaceful sleep of the dead. I was the

    first to hear this story, for the storm sung it to me among the

    sand-hills.


    THE END
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