"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 with!"
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 said.
"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 must!"
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 excursion there!"
"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 lightly."
"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....
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 Oehlenschlaeger; 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 Letters."
"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 bog."
"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 form."
"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 meaning."
"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 teach.
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 merchant's.
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 Kraehwinkler, 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 tendency.
"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 something merry."
"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 go in.
"There are such beautiful paintings, people say!" remarked the lover.
"We must see them," cried all the ladies.
"Do you often visit the picture-gallery of the Christiansborg?" inquired Otto.
"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 Peter.
"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 bear them."
"O, it might be made charming!" cried Grethe. "I see the whole piece! how they clamber about the roofs! The idea is original, thou sweet friend!"
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 life."—F. RUeCKERT.
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?" asked Sophie.
"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 calmness.
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. Oehlenschlaeger'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 fortune.
"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 ideas!
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 Kraehwinkel 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 verse announced:—
"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—
"An hurrah 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 the toast,—
"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 spilt.
"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 just left:— "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 of it."
"Are you recovered?" asked Otto. "But when you see Eva again in the summer?"
"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 sister?
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 intellectual superiority!"
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 extraordinary year!"
"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 'Berlin Wit.'"
"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 people here!"
"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 eyes.
"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 excellently!"
"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 indifference.
"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 now entered.
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 manage badly."
"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 Paetges. 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 magnificence.
"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 I!"
"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 joke.
"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; Oester 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 Frieschuetz," 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 the stage.
"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 one's congratulations?"
Otto became crimson.
"In spring you will travel abroad," pursued she; "we shall not then see you in Jutland: yes, perhaps you 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 honor!"
"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 seem Others to be... And so think others of us." SCHEFER.
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 to Strasburg.
"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 days.
"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 you good!"
"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 Otto.
"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 everything!"
"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 relief.
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 hoei' (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 sweet mystery.
"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?" asked he.
"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 Korsoeer, 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 street.
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 well.
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 Soroee. 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 slide."
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 Soroee, 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 Oehlenschlaeger.]
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 Soroee, 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 child!"
"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 hand.
"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 at daybreak.
"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 stirred them.
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 that?"
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 young girl.
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 the drapery.
Otto must put on an officer's uniform. He presented himself to the sisters.
"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.