FROM THE DANISH OF CARIT ETLAR.
THE DREAMS OF YOUTH.
About three miles from Viborg lies the celebrated Hald. The palace upon
the high hill, the lake slumbering beneath the ruins of the old
baronial castle upon the island, the fresh luxuriant forest, make in
combination a charming and romantic picture, which, placed as it were
in a frame of dark-brown heath-clad hills, forms a strong contrast to
the monotonous, melancholy-looking plain, in the centre of which it
appears like a beautiful flower in the dreary desert, suddenly and
unexpectedly seen, and therefore the more highly appreciated.
One afternoon, in the spring of the year 1705, three persons were
riding through the wood not far from Viborg. One was a young lady, by
her side rode a gentleman who did not look much older than herself, and
at some distance behind them a servant in a rich livery, embroidered
according to the fashion of the time.
The young lady was very beautiful; the mild, calm, expression of her
countenance, the sweet, trusting glances from her large dark-blue eyes,
disclosed one of those soft, feminine natures for which life should be
all quiet and sunshine, because they bend and break beneath its storms.
The gentleman who rode by her side, as near as the horses could
approach each other, wore the uniform of an officer. His features were
expressive of courage and talent, and all that freedom from care which
is the happiest endowment of youth and inexperience.
The young lady was Jeanné Rysé, a daughter of the Baroness Rysensteen,
in the district of Rive. The gentleman was her cousin, Captain Krusé.
They were both returning from a visit to Major-General Gregers Daa, who
two years before had purchased Hald, and built the handsome house upon
There was evidently a deeper feeling between Jeanné and the captain
than merely cousinly regard; this was betrayed both by their very
confidential conversation, by Jeanné's smile, and by the endearing
glances that seemed to meet and answer each other. They loved each
other; and they were laying plans for the future, as that afternoon
they rode together through the wood. It was not of the present moment
they were thinking--no, none but children and old people, the two at
the extreme points of life--take pleasure in the present moment. Around
them everything reposed in a deep and serene tranquillity; the clear,
transparent air, the sun's rays gleaming through the foliage of the
trees, the perfume of the flowers, the blackbird's flute-like song, all
tended to increase the sense of happiness which pervaded both their
hearts, that fresh young love that causes all the blossoms of the soul
'This evening,' said Jeanné, 'I will tell all to my mother; it appears
to me that it would be wrong to conceal our wishes longer.'
'Oh, let us wait,' said he. 'The confession will not augment our
'But it will indeed!' replied Jeanné. 'My mother has hitherto always
been my confidante in everything; it will distress her when she finds
that I am concealing our attachment from her. Do not be afraid,
dearest. She is so good, she has never thought of anything but my
happiness, and she will undoubtedly give her consent to our engagement.
I know perfectly well that my mother will refuse me nothing,' she added
with a gay smile.
Krusé made no reply; they rode on for some time in silence side by
side, while the same subject engrossed the minds of both, but there was
a difference in the way they thought of it. He was thinking, as it is
natural for men to do, only of his own happiness; Jeanné, on the
contrary, of that which she hoped to be able to bestow upon him.
'What if your mother should disapprove of our marriage?' exclaimed
Krusé, at length, after they had left the wood, and were riding towards
Viborg, which was to be seen at a little distance.
'But she will not disapprove,' replied Jeanné, decisively. 'I know her
too well. Still, happen what may, my friend,' she said, as she
stretched out to him a small, well-shaped hand, 'we love each other,
and we will never cease to do so. Is not this knowledge enough to
induce you to overcome every obstacle?'
Krusé's answer was the same as has been given in similar cases from
the time of the Deluge. Both forgot at that moment how long it is
On the same evening, about two hours later, Jeanné sat alone with the
Baroness in her private apartment, and confided to her the whole story
of the attachment--indeed, the engagement between herself and Krusé.
The elder lady listened patiently and attentively to the tale; her face
wore its usual bland smile, her voice had its accustomed sweet and
'I have long suspected these feelings on your cousin's side, my dear
child,' she said quietly, 'but I did not suppose that you would admit
having returned them without first making some communication to me.'
'Oh, my own dearest mother!' cried Jeanné, in the most caressing
manner, and in a beseeching tone, 'you must forgive me!'
'There is nothing to forgive,' replied the Baroness. 'What has happened
has happened, and it appears to me there is nothing more to be said on
the subject. I have known Krusé since he was a child; he is of a very
amiable disposition and noble character, most gentlemanly and chivalric
in all his actions. I also truly believe that he loves you, my darling
Jeanné; who could do otherwise?'
And the mother leaned over the kneeling daughter, who had placed her
hands upon her lap, and kissed her fair brow.
'But Krusé, notwithstanding all these excellent qualities, can never be
Jeanné uttered a faint shriek.
'Oh, mother, mother! What do you say?' she cried, in the greatest
'Listen to what I have got to say,' continued the Baroness, 'and listen
calmly. Krusé is poor; he has nothing except his pay as an officer,
which is scarcely enough to meet the daily expenses of a gentleman.
You, my dear child, are not rich either, as after my death your
brother will inherit the property. It is only, therefore, by marriage
that your future comfort can be secured. You have, naturally, never
thought of all these circumstances. At your age the heart is swayed by
happier interests; it is not until later that the prosaic part of life
forces itself upon us, and awakens us from our dreams. But I--your
mother--have well considered all this. While you have engaged yourself
to your cousin, I have fixed upon another for you--another who, with
the same chivalric character, unites better prospects for your future
life. Yes, weep on, my darling girl! I understand your tears, for I
have felt as you do, for I have loved as you do. When I was about your
age I was much attached to a young nobleman, who was as poor as Krusé.
My parents chose another for me, and I acknowledge now how fortunate it
was that they were not influenced by my wishes. I judge by this--that
the woman whom he afterwards married has led a very unhappy life.'
Jeanné's face expressed the deepest grief while her mother was
speaking; she wept, she wrung her hands, and at length she exclaimed:
'Oh, my dear mother! If you have considered what is best for me, have
you not remembered that the fate for which you destine me will render
me utterly miserable? It will be my death!'
'No, it will not, Jeanné! That is merely an idea peculiar to your age;
people don't die so easily. Time is an excellent doctor for such
'Who, then, have you chosen for me?'
'Major-General Gregers Daa, of Hald. He was with me to-day when you
were out riding with your cousin; he asked for your hand, and obtained
my consent to your marrying him.'
Major-General Gregers Daa was a tall, thin man, with a pallid face and
very grave expression of countenance. His hair was beginning to turn
grey, the numerous wrinkles on his expansive brow-were perhaps as much
the consequence of deep thought as of advanced age, for both of these
despots impose their marks in the same mode.
Gregers had held an important post, and had won many laurels in the
last war. At the cessation of hostilities which followed the peace of
Travendal, he returned to Jutland, purchased Hald, and had the palace
rebuilt. When these two events were completed, he had nothing before
him but a quiet, monotonous life, without interest to himself, and
without affording happiness to any one. The landed proprietors who were
his neighbours found no pleasure in his society, for he was cold and
reserved in manners. The poor lauded his charity and his munificent
donations; but these, in accordance with the nature of the donor, were
dictated more by a sense of duty than by any positive satisfaction he
had in relieving distress. No one sought his friendship; indeed, it was
rather avoided. In the lonely situation in which he was placed, he was
poor--for even fortune becomes a burden in utter solitude. The present
time offered nothing, the future seemed to promise nothing, and the
past was the repository of no cherished recollections for him.
When Gregers returned from the war, and had ceased to fight foreign
foes, he found at home a still more obstinate foe to battle with, and
that was ennui. A sister, much younger than himself, who had resided
with him, and taken charge of his house, had died a few years before
the date of the commencement of this story. He regretted her loss very
much, and day by day he missed more and more the comforts a lady's
taste and society had spread around him. It was about this time that he
first met Jeanné Rysé, and the sight of her awakened emotions in his
mind which he had never before known. He wished to have her in his lost
sister's place; he wished to be her confidential friend, her
counsellor, her companion, and, yielding to these growing wishes, he
determined on asking from the Baroness the hand of her daughter. He
had, however, not the most remote idea of the wretchedness with which
his proposals were to blast Jeanné's hitherto tranquil and happy
He was wealthy; he was the last--the only survivor of his race. Both of
these considerations had also some weight in Gregers's resolution, and
had not less influence on that of the Baroness Rysé. But expediency and
good intentions sometimes merge into wrong, especially when they forget
to take into account the passions and the heart. This fault was
committed both by Gregers and the Baroness.
Eight days after her conversation with Jeanné, the Baroness Rysé's
carriage was seen going towards the Hald, with running footmen before
the horses, a coachman, and another servant, with powdered perukes; in
short, with all that show and affectation of state which might lead the
beholder to forget the Dutch plebeian Henrik Rysé, to whom the family
owed their patent of nobility. The Baroness herself was elegantly
dressed; she was one of those old beauties on whose exterior the hand
of taste must replace what time has stolen away.
Gregers Daa received the lady at the foot of the outside stairs in a
garb which plainly showed he had not expected her visit at that moment.
He led her with a bewildered air into his study, where, before her
arrival, he had been occupied. Everything in this room bore witness to
an old bachelor's uncomfortable home. An ancient-looking hound was
stretched on the sofa, and gazed in evident astonishment at the
intruder without vacating his place. The dust lay thick on the sills of
the window, on the chairs, tables, and bookcases; the air was redolent
of tobacco-smoke; books, plants, and weapons were lying in dire
confusion about the room.
The Baroness's ironical smile, and the somewhat sneering manner in
which she glanced round at the various articles in the study, seemed to
open Gregers's eyes to its untidy condition. He stammered an apology,
and opened a door leading to a large room close by, but the lady
declined entering it.
'Let us stay here,' she exclaimed. 'The one room is as good as the
other for what we have to talk about.'
She removed a bundle of papers from a high-backed easy-chair, placed
herself in it, and motioned to Gregers to sit down also.
The sun was shining brightly through the window, the soft breeze was
swaying the branches of a large elm-tree, with their fresh light-green
leaves, backwards and forwards outside, the sparrows were chirping
under the roof; farther off was heard the song of the larks as they
soared over old Buggé's Hald, the ruins of which were to be seen
from the window, and were glittering in the sun.
Presently the lady spoke.
'I come to you, general, on the same errand, relative to which you
lately called on me, and I bring you my entire acceptance of the
proposal you did me the honour to make respecting a marriage between
you and my daughter.
Gregers Daa's tall figure drew itself up in military style; he bowed,
'You have, then, communicated my wishes to your daughter, dear madam?'
'I did so on the very same day that you called on us.'
'And she has no objection to pass her future life with an old man such
as I am?'
'On the contrary,' replied the Baroness, quietly, and without the
slightest hesitation, 'she has many objections to it.'
Gregers looked thunderstruck; he fancied he had not heard aright.
'My dear general!' said the Baroness, with an insinuating smile,
'the principal duty you and I owe to each other is sincerity, and I
shall, therefore, venture to speak candidly to you. My daughter likes
another--stay, do not interrupt me--I mean that she feels a great
kindness for, and much interest in, a poor relation, who, so to speak,
has grown up with her, and who has been the only one, until now, who
could realize the visions every young girl's fancy is prone to create.
But, good Heavens! what does that signify? At her age one loves the
whole world, or rather, we really love only our own selves in every
object which pleases our inclination. I have impressed on my daughter
the necessity of giving up her foolish dreams, and of forsaking the
world in which she has hitherto lived, to enter into another by your
'And was she willing to obey you?' asked Gregers, anxiously.
The Baroness's cheerful smile partially chased away his fears:
'Willing!' she exclaimed. 'Do you really think, my dear general, that I
would wish to see you united to a lady who could not prove, by her
obedience to her parent, that she would be able to obey her husband?'
'But as she already loves another, a younger man than I am, who,
doubtless, is more able than I to comprehend and to share her
sympathies, how can I expect her to love me?'
'Love you!' exclaimed the Baroness, in evident surprise. 'No--at least
not at the present moment; she cannot be expected to do so, since she
has, as yet, hardly the honour of knowing you. In regard to the future,
it will altogether rest with yourself to call forth this love. Your
superior character, and the mildness of manners I have remarked in you,
will indubitably lead the dear child to the goal you desire. I say
lead, not mould, because I know that a husband may easily lead his
wife, but not easily gain his wishes by coercion. From my experience of
the feelings of my own sex, I can affirm that, in most cases, gentlemen
may obtain as much affection as they can desire; but they understand
less how to awaken this affection than to retain it when once bestowed.
It is an acknowledged fact, that though the man begins by showing the
woman the first attention, it generally ends in her showing him the
Thus commenced a conversation, during the course of which the Baroness
succeeded in removing all the general's scruples. They afterwards
proceeded to discuss the matter in question under another point of
view--a view which appeared to the lady of very much more consequence
than anything wherein feelings were concerned. The marriage settlements
were skilfully introduced by the Baroness, who evinced as much
practical sense in this second portion of the conversation as in the
first; while Gregers Daa, on his side, showed a degree of high-minded
liberality which quite surpassed her most exaggerated expectation.
And thus was this marriage determined on, this bargain concluded, in
which was bartered away a young girl's future happiness, to secure for
her some insignificant worldly advantages. The sacrifice was
accomplished with festive pomp, with flowers, smiles, and songs on one
side, with smothered sighs and suppressed tears on the other. The same
wedding-bells that rang to announce Gregers Daa's happiness rang
Jeanné's freedom of soul and happiness into the grave.
The first few weeks after the wedding were spent in society, visiting,
and all the round of amusements which it was more the fashion to offer
to newly-married people at that period than in our days. Gregers
objected to this dissipation in vain, the Baroness insisted on it, and
the complaisant son-in-law allowed her to take her own way. The
Baroness Rysé hoped, by these means, to procure her daughter some
diversion, which might lead her to forget: she had herself never felt
any other than these small sorrows that vanish amidst wax-lights and
noise in a ball-room; she could not, therefore, conceive that Jeanné
might, indeed, be stupified by all the entertainments provided for her,
but that solitude is the only comfort in deep sorrow, and the great
physician for suffering.
Betwixt the mother and daughter, these such opposite characters, the
principal difference was simply this--that the Baroness thought only of
marriage, and Jeanné of love.
As to the general, he found, to his great surprise, that all those
feelings, so new to him, which had begun to be so softening and so
pleasant, had suddenly changed their nature. That love, which had wiled
his heart out of its accustomed torpor, which had come like a sunbeam
on a late day in autumn, unexpectedly, and all of a sudden, had been as
hastily enjoyed as if its loss were feared. He tried in vain to acquire
the affection he coveted; but how could he think that an old man's
measured and bashful love could be able to chase away the clouds of
lassitude and grief which rested on Jeanné's beautiful but pale brow,
or dislodge the remembrance of what she had lost by what she had won?
When at last, after long and fruitless struggles, he perceived the
impossibility of attaining the desired object, which seemed always to
draw back from him like the obscure and misty images on a wide heath,
he shut himself up in his own study--but not with his former peace of
mind; and he bore the marks of his internal battles in his hollow
sunken cheeks and whitened hair. From this time forward Gregers endured
his sorrows in silence, as Jeanné did hers: the only difference between
them was--the cause of the unhappiness of each.
Thus passed some years: Gregers Daa felt that no blessing had attended
his marriage. He was childless. There lay a little embalmed corpse in
his family vault in the cathedral of Viborg, with an inscription full
of grief on the lid of the coffin--that was his only child; it had died
soon after its birth.
The only person who never appeared to remark the cold and comfortless
terms on which Gregers and Jeanné lived was the Baroness. She resided
for some months every summer in her son-in-law's house at Hald, drove
about in his carriage, received visits from all her acquaintances; in
short, she seemed to be the real mistress of the mansion, exactly as on
every alteration and improvement at Rysensteen she showed herself to
have unlimited command over the general's money.
War at length broke out again, after the short and enforced peace
Denmark had been obliged to put up with. King Frederick IV. had
secretly entered into an alliance with Poland and Saxony against
Sweden. Reventlow was fighting in Scania; shortly after was heard, for
the first time, that one of the most ancient and most honoured names
among the Danish nobility was coupled with a lost battle--a name from
which heroism and victory, until then, had appeared to be inseparable.
Jörgen Ranzau was defeated by Steenbock on the outside of the gates of
Helsingborg, and the scene of war after that was removed into Germany.
Gregers Daa was ordered to join the army. One evening in the month of
November this intelligence reached Hald.
Gregers Daa received the letter when he was sitting in the same room as
Jeanné. His pale cheeks flushed as he read it; Jeanné remarked his
emotion. She sat working near the fireplace, and at a little distance
from her was a third person, a guest that evening--this person was
After Jeanné's marriage he had often visited her at Hald, Gregers
himself encouraged him to come, when he perceived that she seemed
pleased to see him. He had not then the most remote idea of the
engagement which had formerly existed between them.
'That letter seems to interest you,' said Jeanné, turning towards the
'Yes--certainly!' replied Gregers. 'I am called away to-morrow.'
'Called away!' exclaimed at the same moment Jeanné and Krusé.
There was something in the tone of the captain's exclamation which
seemed to displease the general; he knitted his brow, while he
'I ought to have said that we are called away. I have just received
an order for our regiment to join the army in Holstein immediately.'
Jeanné uttered no exclamation. During the last two or three years she
had acquired complete command over her feelings; her countenance
remained calm, and did not betray the slightest sign of agitation.
Gregers relapsed into his former silence; he had returned to the place
where he had before been sitting, by a table in a corner of the room,
at a little distance from Jeanné, because, he said, the lights on her
table hurt his eyes; from that place his look seemed to be fastened
steadily upon the two others.
During the uncomfortable silence which now reigned in the drawing-room,
were distinctly heard the wailing of the stormy wind, and the screech
of the owls amidst the elm-trees on the outside of the windows.
Shortly after Gregers arose, took a candle, and left the room. Those
who remained behind heard his steps becoming fainter and fainter as he
traversed the long corridor which led to his study. When they were
alone Jeanné let her work fall, and bending over the table covered her
eyes with her hand. On raising her head again in a little time, she
uttered a low cry, for Krusé was lying at her feet! She made a motion
of her hand as if to bid him go, but the captain seized that soft white
hand and pressed it to his lips, while he cast an indescribably
beseeching look up at her.
'You have heard it,' he whispered; 'we must go--we shall part, for
ever, perhaps--I must say a few words to you first. Meet me down
yonder--only this once, this once--for the first and the last time!'
'No, no!' cried Jeanné, vehemently: 'I have already refused this. Oh,
go!--it would be wrong!'
'Oh, I pray you,' he continued, in a still more touching and trembling
voice, 'do not refuse my petition! Are you afraid of me, Jeanné, though
in all these long years I have shown you how safe you are near me? Or
are you afraid that your glance will fall on yonder wood, where, one
afternoon, you promised to love me, where the sun shone, and the birds
sang, while God received those vows which have since been so cruelly
Jeanné burst into tears. 'But go--only go, unhappy one! Do you not
hear? There is some one coming--it is my husband.'
'Let him come, he is not my worst enemy at this moment.'
Jeanné cast on him a sorrowful and reproachful look, but at the same
time held out her hand to him. Krusé sprang up.
'Then you have some pity for all that I have suffered,' he said; 'and
you will not let me go without one kind word at parting?'
She bowed her head almost imperceptibly, and yet it was sufficient for
him; his eyes shone, his lips trembled, in his deep emotion.
When Gregers returned to the room, they were both sitting quietly and
in perfect silence.
A few minutes afterwards, Krusé took leave, and rode away. Within an
hour from that time, a youthful figure stole softly out of one of the
side-doors which led from the apartments of the lady of the house down
to the garden. She was wrapped in a large shawl, and moved slowly, and,
as if unwillingly, onwards. Krusé hastened to meet her as she entered
the garden. Jeanné received him more coldly than she need have done
after having consented to the interview. But he knew her so well, he
had expected nothing else.
'You desired me yesterday,' he began, in a low and unsteady voice, 'not
to come up often to Hald, and were vexed at me this evening because I
venture to disobey your injunction. God is my witness, Jeanné, that it
was my intention to have been guided by your commands.'
'Why, then, did you come this evening?' she asked.
'Because I knew before the general did that we were to be ordered on
immediate service, and I could not resist seeing you once more ere our
'Would to God we had never met each other!' she whispered in a low sad
voice. 'It would have been better for us both.'
'Oh, I entreat you,' he said, with that irresistible tenderness which
had always found its way to Jeanné's heart, 'do not say that. I am
going far away now, and your wish will be fulfilled; but why should you
give me so sad a souvenir to take with me? It is probable, Jeanné, that
I shall never return--indeed, it is almost certain, for on what
account, or for whom need I seek to save my life?--but if I do
return, should I be fated to live, will you then be less merciful than
God, and deny me permission to visit you as hitherto? If you will only
grant me leave to see you again, I shall never misuse that kindness by
a word or a look of which you might disapprove; no sigh, no complaint
shall betray to you what I suffer.'
'Oh Heavens!' whispered Jeanné, 'do I not suffer too myself, and do
you not perceive that your presence here only prolongs a struggle under
which it is certain that we shall both sink? What can you wish to know
that you do not already know? What can you see here except that I am
Gregers Daa's wife?'
'Yes, it is true--too true!' he replied, scarcely above his breath.
'Farewell! It is best that we should never meet again.'
'Farewell!' replied Jeanné, in the same heartbroken tone. 'But you will
not thrust yourself needlessly in the way of danger. Do you hear?--you
will not do that? Oh, you must not--you dare not!'
'I am weary of battling with my fate!'
'And I, too!' exclaimed Jeanné, bursting into tears.
There was a confession as well as a depth of sorrow in these words; he
raised his head, grasped her hand, and carried it to his lips.
'Farewell!' he said--'farewell! God be with you, Jeanné!'
She left her hand in his, and whispered, 'Farewell, until we meet
'I may come, then!' he exclaimed joyfully.
'Since you threaten to throw your life away. But go now--leave me. Let
me beg this of you.'
Krusé knelt before her, whilst he kissed her hand and said:
'Put up a prayer for me, then I shall, perhaps, come back, and God may
have compassion upon us both.'
He sprang up and left her; a minute or two after, the clatter of his
horse's hoofs was heard upon the other side of the garden fence.
Jeanné stood and listened.
At that moment Jeanné felt her hand seized, and the following words
were uttered in a low, sad, scarcely audible tone:
'Put up also a prayer for me, Jeanné!'
She started back, and uttered a piercing shriek. A man stood before
her, in whom she recognized Gregers Daa, whose countenance in the
bluish moonlight looked even paler than usual, and whose smile was
sweet, placid, and resigned as it had ever been.
Jeanné thought herself lost; she fell at his feet, and stretched out
her clasped hands towards him, while she exclaimed:
'Oh, forgive me! Do not condemn me. I am not so guilty as you must
think--if you only understood me--if you only knew all--'
'Hush, my dear child!' whispered Gregers, in a voice that was full of
grief, but mild and consoling. 'Do not weep so bitterly; I know all,
and it is you who do not understand me. You have never understood me
aright. Let us go in now.'
He assisted the pale, trembling young woman up to her apartment, and
then retired to his own study.
The next morning, Gregers, attended by his servant, had started on his
journey before Jeanné was awake.
One dark December evening, about a month after the general's departure
from home, the Danish army had encamped in the vicinity of Gadebusk. In
spite of the darkness and the rough weather, there seemed to be an
unusual stir and activity in the camp that evening, which betokened
that something of importance was about to happen.
Shortly before it had become dark, a reconnoitring expedition which had
been sent out returned with the intelligence that General Steenbock,
the commander-in-chief of the Swedish army, had approached until within
three miles of the Danish camp, and that, according to all appearances,
he was preparing to attack the Danes at dawn of day. Messengers were
sent in various directions. A few of these were to summon the general
officers to a council of war, others to take orders to the different
portions of the infantry who lay in cantonments in the nearest
King Frederick IV. had arrived at the camp two days previously from
Oldeslobe. He had taken up his quarters at the little country town of
Wakenstadt, whither the officers who had been commanded to assist at
the council of war that evening repaired.
There was a striking contrast between the appearance of these
gentlemen, who, on account of the presence of the king, wore their
embroidered and dashing uniforms, and the low, dirty, peasants'
parlour, where the meeting was to be held.
A peat fire was smoking and blazing in the open chimney; its lurid
glare fell on the plastered clay walls, to which time and damp had
imparted a greenish hue. Two small windows, whose panes of glass the
storm raging without caused to shake in their leaden frames, had no
curtains. The floor was of clay, the furniture consisted of a long
bench and three straw chairs, which were arranged around a deal table
that stood in the middle of the room, covered with maps and drawings,
and the apartment was illuminated by two or three tallow candles. The
moment, however, was too critical for any of those present to waste a
thought upon the chattels around them.
The discussions in this council of war were long and stormy.
Immediately after the king had communicated the intelligence brought by
the scouts, there arose a difference of opinion between him and
Reventlow, the commander-in-chief. The count thought that it would be
unwise to accept battle at the place where the army then was, because
the infantry either could not be assembled before the following
morning, or, at any rate, they would be fatigued after their forced
march, which it would be necessary to undertake very early to arrive in
To this was to be added that the Saxon auxiliaries, thirty-two
squadrons of cavalry, happened that evening to be at eighteen miles'
distance from the rest of the army.
The king did not see the force of the argument; he entirely differed
from the count. Full of confidence in the continuance of the good luck
which had placed in his power the most important of the German
provinces of Sweden, he declared the position of the army to be
excellent, covered as it was by hills, woods, and morasses. He hoped
that the forthcoming battle would crown all his previous victories.
The shrewd courtier only adhered to his opinion until he saw that the
king was determined not to give up his own. Thereupon he pretended to
have been reasoned over to his majesty's views. He bowed smilingly, and
'I also agree that we should remain here. If we conquer, to your
majesty will belong the whole glory of the victory. The whole glory,
but above all the whole responsibility,' he added, in a whisper to his
neighbour, as he took his place again on the wooden bench at the table.
Reventlow's yielding to the king's wishes was a sign to all his party
to act in the same spirit. One alone still contended that it would be
wrong to accept battle under their circumstances--one alone, and he was
Major-General Gregers Daa. He stood in that circle somewhat paler and
more suffering than usual, cold, stiff, and stern as ever. He would not
swerve from his opinion, gave reason after reason, and did not seem to
remark that his coadjutors had by degrees changed their ground and had
become his adversaries.
'But, by the Lord, Major-General Daa!' exclaimed the king, angrily, and
evidently provoked at the general's cold, calm, but determined
opposition, 'you must undoubtedly have stronger reasons for contending
with us all than those you please to name? From the time that you
joined the army last you have been prevented by illness from taking any
part in the earlier actions, and now that you appear to be well again,
you are the only one who maintains that we ought to retreat. ARE YOU
AFRAID OF BEING KILLED?'
A general silence followed this insulting question. All present looked
by turns at the king and at the general. Gregers's face became deadly
pale, his eyes flashed, and his lips trembled as if from cold, while he
rose and replied:
'I shall answer your majesty's question to-morrow. I beg to say that I
now quite agree with all the rest.' With these words he bowed and left
The king saw the terrible effect his insult had produced, and he called
to Gregers to come back, but the latter seemed not to hear him. He
hastened out, closing the door after him.
When Gregers had gone a little way beyond the village, where the camp
commenced, he stopped for a few moments, as if in earnest thought; he
cast a glance of deep distress up towards the heavens, and pressed his
hand upon his breast. He then walked quickly back to the camp.
Here all was movement and noise. The sutlers had a rich harvest that
evening. Crowds of soldiers lay around the watch-fires, chattering
together, or playing at throwing dice on the top of the drums. They
sang, they drank, or prepared themselves for the coming dangers by
relating the wonderful heroic exploits that had been performed during
those that were past. The report of the enemy's approach had already
reached every one. Gregers continued his walk until he had reached one
of the farthest-off tents. Here he came to a stand, listened for a
moment, and then entered it.
Captain Krusé was sitting at a table, which stood near his camp-bed; he
was supporting his head with both his hands, and was so intently gazing
on an open letter, so absorbed in its contents, that he did not observe
the general's entrance until the latter was standing by the table. He
then quickly concealed the letter, and rose.
'Do I interrupt you?' asked Gregers.
'No,' replied Krusé, evidently much confused.
'You have received a letter?'
'It appeared to me, though, that you were reading one when I came in.'
'The letter I was reading is six years old,' said Krusé.
'Indeed! And at such a length of time after its date does it retain
sufficient interest to carry it with you to your tent and read it on
such an evening as this?'
'It is the memento of a loss--of a death; and you know, general, that
the heart does not value its memories by their age, but by the
estimation in which we hold those to whom they are traceable.'
'No,' said the general, 'I am not aware of any such feeling, for I
have no souvenirs, no cherished remembrances.'
Krusé looked up in amazement at the bitter and almost despairing
meaning which lay in these words. Gregers continued:
'I came to ask you to visit me this evening. There is a subject on
which I wish to have some conversation with you. Have you time to
'Very well, come then to me in my tent, near the forest of firs, within
an hour--not later, pray observe.'
'I shall be punctual,' said Krusé.
Gregers took leave, but, before doing so, he cast a glance towards the
table, where Krusé had concealed the letter.
The captain remained behind, musing: he could not fathom the cause of
this visit. Latterly, Gregers seemed to have avoided his society.
During the foregoing conversation, it struck him that there was
something harsh and unfriendly in the expression of his countenance,
which betokened a dark and hostile mood.
An hour later Krusé entered the general's tent. He found him sitting at
a table, on which lay two pistols and a sealed letter. Gregers beckoned
to him to come forward, and, pointing to a straw chair a little way
from the table, requested him to be seated.
'Have you heard the news?' he began abruptly. 'We are to fight
'Yes,' replied Krusé. 'So much the better!'
'I also would have thought the same at your age. I would, most likely,
have thought the same now, if I, like you, were single, and had not
bound another to my fate.'
'You allude to the amiable lady yonder, at Hald?'
'Yes; and perhaps you are surprised that I should be thinking of her
just this evening?' asked Gregers sharply.
'No--certainly!' replied Krusé, somewhat astounded at the question.
'What is there to surprise me in your doing so?'
'You are not speaking the truth, captain. Among all living creatures,
you are the only one who could dare to conceive a doubt on this
subject. You,' he continued, in a hollow and moaning tone of voice,
as if the words he were uttering could with difficulty pass his
lips--'you, who love her, and whom--she loves in return.'
Krusé was speechless for a moment, while Gregers was making visible and
violent efforts to regain his composure.
'Now I understand him,' he thought; 'he has found everything out, and
intends to murder me.'
This thought had scarcely entered his mind when it took the shape of a
conviction. In the deep silence now reigning in the tent, he heard the
general's suppressed groans as he drew his breath heavily, and saw the
arm by which he supported himself as he leaned it on the table,
'What answer have you to give me?' inquired the general.
Krusé raised his head:
'It is true what you say, general. I do love her.'
The admission did not make the slightest alteration in the expression
of the general's countenance, as Krusé had expected it would have done.
'How long ago did your love for her commence?' he asked.
'I have loved Jeanné Rysé since my childhood. She was the first, the
only one I ever loved--the only one I ever will love. And now, general!
After this confession, I wait to hear what further you have to say to
me. I see that you have prepared for what was to happen,' he added,
glancing towards the pistols which lay on the table. 'I have been long
expecting it, and, when you came into my tent, I anticipated that what
sooner or later must end thus was close at hand.'
Gregers remained silent for a few seconds, and then said:
'You are mistaken, captain! I was not thinking of killing you when I
asked you to come here this evening. If such had been my intention, it
would have been carried out long ago. For three years, Krusé, I have
known that you loved her, but I saw, at the same time, how little guilt
there was in this secret love.' He held out his hand to Krusé. 'Poor
fellow!' he continued, 'how could you help that you loved her? You, who
were young, and whom God had destined for her. The error was, that no
one gave me any idea of this until it was too late. I was a witness to
the grief you both evinced; I heard the last words, the last sighs with
which you parted from each other! I know it all. What you, on the
contrary, do not know is--that I also loved Jeanné.'
'You!' cried Krusé.
'Yes; you are surprised at that, are you not?' continued Gregers, with
a melancholy smile. 'An old man, who had no other right to that girl's
love than what chance and authority bestowed. But I loved her,
nevertheless, with an affection that in strength and devotion quite
equalled your own. She was the only one, the last who bound me to life;
my heart grew young again under the influence of this love, which, in
spite of a husband's claims, preserved a lover's first timidity.'
'You loved her!' cried Krusé, as if he must have the words repeated, in
order that he might take in the possibility of their truth. 'But Jeanné
never suspected this.'
'Nay, do not think that I could betray my feelings when I so soon
perceived that she was not able to return them! From the garden below
have I, like you, often and often gazed up at her windows, until her
shadow and her light disappeared; I have felt myself intoxicated at
inhaling the perfume she scattered around her; in short, I have been
more easily contented than you, for you told her that you loved her,
while I hardly dared to confess so much to myself. Nor will she ever
know it until I have ceased to live.'
Gregers stopped speaking for a few minutes, while he fixed his gaze on
the empty space before him within the tent Krusé could not find words
to answer him, he felt so much moved by what he had just heard. A
little after, Gregers continued:
'To-morrow we go to battle, or rather accept it, since the enemy offers
it to us. It is possible that I shall not outlive the day; it is,
indeed, almost certain.'
'Certain!' exclaimed Krusé.
'Yes, my friend!' replied Gregers quietly. 'As you said lately, one has
one's presentiments in this world, let us suppose that mine will be
fulfilled. In case this should happen, I have written a letter, which I
now give into your keeping; take care of it, for it contains my last
will. My first intention was that you should have remained for a time
ignorant of its contents, but I have thought better of it. When I am
dead, go back to Hald, its doors will open to you, not as heretofore,
to receive your sighs and complaints--no, you will enter Hald as its
master, Jacob Krusé! I give Jeanné to you, and when I have done that I
have given you all, for my property shall belong to you both, since I
am a childless man and the last of my race. Raise your head, my son!
Why do you bend over the table in this manner? She shall be yours, as a
reward for her fidelity and your sufferings! You must love each other.
I bequeath her to you, and it is my wish and my prayer that you will
make up for all the sorrow I have caused her.'
Gregers placed his hand on the young officer's drooping head. Krusé
sank to the ground, and knelt before him! As Gregers raised him, he
flung his arms round his neck and burst into tears. There was something
very strange in this scene between the husband and the lover!
'Oh my God!' cried Krusé, 'I see it all; you will let yourself be
'No, certainly not that, my friend!' replied the general. 'But I shall
be killed, that is all. I believe, as I told you, in presentiments, and
I owe you both this reparation--you and her. Go, now! Go and take the
letter with you. I wish to be alone a little time.'
So saying, the general opened the tent, and motioned to Krusé to leave
The next day, about mid-day, the battle near Gadebusk commenced. Twice
during the morning Krusé had gone to Gregers's tent, but the general
had declined receiving him either time, upon the plea of having much
business to attend to. The drums and the trumpets shortly after called
the soldiers to muster in their ranks, and the captain was obliged to
hurry to his duty.
When Gregers Daa rode past Reventlow, to the head of the division he
commanded, he stopped his horse, and turning to the commander-in-chief,
said in a low tone, so as not to be overheard by those near,
'General! I have a request to make to you.'
'To me!' cried Reventlow, much surprised.
'Yes!' continued Gregers; 'and I beseech of you, for the sake of that
friendship of which you have given me so many proofs, to grant it.'
'It is already granted, my dear general, if even only on this account,
that within another hour I may not be in a condition to accede to
'With the third national regiment, on the left wing of the army, there
is one Captain Krusé in command of a company. I particularly wish that
his life may be saved, if possible. Will you, therefore, kindly place
'Colonel Eifeler,' cried Reventlow, beckoning to one of the nearest
officers, 'be so good as to order a portion of the third national
regiment, under Captain Krusé, to serve as cover for the height, on
which his majesty has determined to take the command.'
The colonel touched his cap, put spurs to his horse, and galloped off.
Gregers Daa thanked Reventlow with a long and warm pressure of the
hand, and then went on to join his own men.
The Danish army was drawn up on a hill, behind a morass; its left wing
was protected by a river, its right by a large and thick forest of
firs. Two hours before the commencement of the action the Saxon cavalry
had arrived, and had united with the Danish.
The Swedes commenced the battle with a brisk cannonade, and stormed the
hill under their watchword, 'Mit Gott and Jesu Hülfe!' Shortly after
all was enveloped in smoke, which the wind drove over against the
enemy. The fire of musketry mingled with the louder booming of the
cannon; the signal trumpets sounded; the drums rolled, and men were
falling in the agonies of death.
An old chronicle says that the battle, 'with great effusion of blood,
lasted until five o'clock. As no one on either side would give any
quarter, there were fewer prisoners made; officers fought each other as
in a duel, and such were the individual combats, that the Danish and
Swedish officers were generally found dead, lying close to each other
on the field of slaughter.'
The same chronicle tells us that the Swedes stormed the hill three
times. The last time they were so fortunate as to be able to take up
their position at the foot of the hill, without the Danes having the
power to hinder them. Two attempts had been made in vain. The Danes
were beaten back, the Saxon cavalry gave way, and fled in disorder;
Steenbock followed up his good fortune, and sent troops to pursue them.
The Danes, too, were beginning to give way, for the enemy's cannon,
loaded with grape, and discharged from a short distance, was making
terrible havoc among them.
At that moment a squadron of Danish horse, led by a tall, thin officer,
came dashing down the hill, and for the third time made an attempt to
drive back the enemy. The spirited horsemen dropped on all sides, but
others, who had escaped unharmed, continued their onset, and fell upon
their foes, their brave leader charging at their head. The cannons were
silent, while musket and pistol shots flew hotly around. Shouts of
triumph--groans from the wounded horses--prayers--the moans of the
dying--and wild cries of encouragement, issued from that confused
multitude, immersed in dust and smoke, amidst which were to be seen
sabres flashing and sinking, and in the hottest of the fight the tall
officer, who seemed invulnerable himself though he dealt destruction
From a height at a little distance King Frederick had witnessed the
whole. He had seen the two unsuccessful attempts to drive the enemy
back, and the dragoons who had galloped down the hill to make the third
effort. Gregers Daa's name was in the mouth of everyone around. It was
he who was speeding on to fulfil his promise.
This furious attack took the Swedes by surprise, and they began at
length to draw back. It was in vain that Steenbock sent them
reinforcements; before these reached the battlefield he beheld his
troops, as if panic-struck, take wildly to flight, and heard the noise
made by the dragoons as they spiked the Swedish cannon.
In the midst of the field, among heaps of the wounded and dying on both
sides of him, lay their commander, the heroic Gregers, struck by a
pistol-ball, while he was trying to wrest the colours from a Swedish
This episode--the gallant conduct of the dragoons--had given the Danes
time to recover themselves, and the battle was resumed with fury at
another place. Some of the dragoons jumped from their horses, and bore
their wounded general away from the field. Gregers was carried to the
village, and into the very same room in which, the evening before, he
had been so humbled and insulted.
King Frederick soon after entered the chamber, went up to the bed, and
leaning over him, took his hand, while he exclaimed:
'How this disaster goes to my heart, my dear general! I have sent for
my own surgeon; he will be here presently, and he will do all that he
can to preserve to our fatherland a life so invaluable as yours.'
'You are mistaken, my liege,' replied Gregers. 'The surgeon will be of
no use, and I am only fulfilling my destiny. Had your majesty been
unequal, yesterday evening when you put upon me the humiliation of
doubting my courage, I would have killed you; that being impossible,
there was nothing for it but to let myself be killed. The ball is in my
breast. It will realize my wish.'
The king uttered in a low voice some words full of admiration of a
heroism that sought death on account of a hasty and inconsiderate
expression from his lips.
When Gregers had finished speaking to the king, he turned his head away
from him. His eyes met those of Krusé, who was kneeling on the other
side of the bed. A sweet and happy smile stole over the pale
countenance of the dying man, as he held out his hand to the captain.
'You see that my presentiments were correct,' he whispered, in a weak
and failing voice. 'Now she will be happy, and you also; now you may
love each other freely--for ever. And when you are happiest, sometimes
spare a thought to me--an old man, who was ignorant that it was he who
hindered your happiness--who went away when he discovered it. Farewell,
my son. Be kind to her, whom we both love!'
Gregers drew a deep sigh, clasped his feeble hands, and his spirit fled
to other worlds!'
A month later, two persons were sitting in one of the drawing-rooms at
Hald; the one was Jeanné, the other Captain Krusé, who the same day had
arrived with the general's body from Holstein. Gregers Daa had been
buried in his family vault in the cathedral at Viborg. Jeanné had read
the letter he had addressed to her in his tent the evening before the
battle. Krusé related to her, word for word, what had passed the same
evening between them. Jeanné wept bitterly while he spoke, and when he
had finished there was a long and unbroken silence in the room. A
little after, Jeanné held out her hand to him, and said,
'Leave me, now, my friend. I wish to be alone.'
There was something of decision and earnestness in the tone in which
she spoke that alarmed the captain.' He held her hand in his while he
'And when may I come back?'
'Never! Never come back!' replied Jeanné, with the utmost composure,
'for I no longer love you!'
Krusé stood petrified. Then he whispered in accents which betrayed the
'And your vows, and your assurance that if you did not belong to him,
no living creature should separate us?'
'I have not forgotten all that,' she replied; 'but I now belong to him
more than ever I did. Go, Jacob Krusé, I beseech of you. It is not the
living which separates us, but the dead!'
Having thus spoken she left the room.
What strange contradictions there are in a woman's heart! Jeanné kept
her word, and remained until her death a lonely and sorrowing widow.
The following year Krusé fell at the siege of Tönning.