COUSIN CARL.

FROM THE DANISH OF CARL BERNHARD.



PART I.

When I was a young man about twenty years of age, I was a sad hair-brained fellow. I lived entirely in the passing hour, the time gone by was quite forgotten, and about the future I never took the trouble to think a moment. Inclined to every possible species of foolish prank, I was always ready to rush headlong into any kind of frolic--anything that promised fun, even if that were a row; and never did I let slip the opportunity of amusing myself. I was a living proof that proverbs are not always infallible; for if 'bought wit is best,' that is to say, wisdom bought by experience, I must have become wise long ago; if 'a burned child or a scalded cat dreads the fire,' I was singed and scalded often enough to have felt some dread; and 'to pay the piper' had frequently fallen upon me. But I was none the wiser or more prudent. This preface was necessary in order to introduce the following episode of my mirth-loving youthful days.

My father thought that the best way of breaking off my intimacy with a somewhat riotous clique of young men, in whose jovial society I passed a good deal of my time, was to send me to Hamburg, where I was placed in the counting-house of a merchant, who was expected to keep a strict watch over me, on account of his well-known reputation for the most rigid morality; as if one could not find pleasant society in Hamburg if one were inclined to be gay! Before fourteen days had elapsed, I had at least three times outwitted the worthy man's vigilance, and twice out of these three times had not got home till close upon the dawn of day, without having been engaged in any fray; a pretty fair evidence that I sought good company, where the risk of getting a drubbing existed between the hours of one and three. But fate spread her protecting hand over me, and at the expiration of a year I returned safe and sound to Copenhagen, bringing back with me much experience in all manner of jolly diversions, and no small desire to carry my knowledge of them into continued practice.

I was of course destined to be bound hand and foot with the counting-house chains; but before putting them on I obtained leave to take a month's holiday in the country, and visit my uncles and my aunts in various parts of Zealand. One fine afternoon in the month of September, I sought out a common conveyance, such as is used by the peasantry, to take me the first few miles of my journey; and with my knapsack in my hand I was standing in the court-yard of the inn ready to step into the rustic carriage, when a servant entered the court and asked if there were any opportunity for Kjöge.

'That person standing there is going straight to Kjöge,' said the ostler of the inn.

The servant touched his hat. 'Here is a letter which it is of great consequence to my master should reach Kerporal's Inn at ----, where a private carriage will be waiting for him; he is not able to go where he is expected, as he has been taken ill. I would give the letter to the driver, but fear he might lose it.'

'Well, let me have it,' said I. 'I will be your master's messenger. What is his name?' He mentioned a name quite unknown to me. I pocketed the letter, and drove off.

My usual good luck did not attend me on this journey. In general I seldom drove a mile without meeting with some little adventure, if no better than taking up a passenger on the road, or mystifying some good-natured countryman, or playing the fool with some coquettish barmaid; but this time everything seemed bewitched, and I was tired to death. The Kjöge road is the stupidest of all possible roads--the wayfarers are too ragged and dirty for anyone to venture to take them up, the peasantry are deeper than coal-pits in cunning, and the barmaids are either as ugly as sin or engaged to the tapsters and cellarmen--in both cases disqualified for the situations they fill. I was dreadfully ennuyé, and, as if to add to my despair, one of the horses became lame, and they proceeded leisurely, step by step, at a snail's pace.

Whoever has felt as weary of his own company on a journey as I did, if he will put himself in my place, will not think it strange that I sometimes got out of the vehicle and walked, sometimes jumped in again, sometimes sang, sometimes whistled, sometimes thrust my hands into my pockets playing with everything there, then dragged them out and buttoned up my coat. But all this impatient rummaging in my pockets did no good to the stranger's letter, which became so crushed and crumpled that at last I discovered with some dismay that it looked more like a scrap of soiled paper than a respectable letter. It was in such a condition that it would be scarcely possible to deliver it--it was really almost in tatters. There was nothing to be done but to gain a knowledge of its contents, and deliver the same verbally to the coachman. Luckily the person who had sent it did not know who I was.

With the help of a little conjecture, I at length extracted from the maltreated epistle pretty much what follows:--


'Dear Uncle,--I have duly received your esteemed favour of the 7th instant, and see by it that my father had informed you of my arrival in Copenhagen by the steam-boat, and that you are so good as to say you would send your carriage to meet me on the 11th, about seven o'clock in the evening, at Kerporal's Inn, in order to convey me from thence to your house. A severe cold, which I caught on the voyage, obliges me to keep my room for the present, and to put off my visit to your dear unknown family for eight days or so. In making this communication I beg to assure you of my sincere regret at the delay, and to offer my best compliments to my beautiful cousins.' Then came one or two inflated and pedantic paragraphs, and the letter was subscribed

'Respectfully yours,

'Carl.'


The short and the long of the matter was that he would come in a week, being detained by a bad cold. 'Well, these interesting communications can be made in a few words to the coachman. It is surprising how much paper people think it necessary to waste when they want to trump up a reason for not doing anything!' With this sage remark I threw the letter down on the road, where it must speedily have become utterly illegible, for--one evil more--a shower came on, and it soon increased till the rain fell in torrents. Misfortunes, it is said, never come alone; on the contrary, pieces of good fortune seldom come in pairs.

At length we approached Kerporal's Inn. It was pouring of rain, it was eight o'clock, and it was already almost dark. A travelling-carriage was waiting under a shed, and its horses were stamping as if with impatience at a long detention. The gifts of fortune are surely very unequally distributed, methought, as I reflected on the solitary journey before me, and that it was impossible I could reach my uncle's parsonage until very late at night.

'To whom does that carriage belong?' I asked.

'It belongs to the Justitsraad, at ---- Court,' replied the coachman. This place was situated about a mile from my uncle's house.

'Oh! then it is you who are waiting for a gentleman from Copenhagen?' said I.

'Yes, sir. And since you are the gentleman, we had as well set off as fast as we can. The horses are baited, and we shall have no better weather this evening, sir,' said the coachman.

'Done!' thought I. 'This is not such a bad idea. I shall get so far dry and snugly; I can get out at the gate, or else carry the message myself. People are so hospitable in the country that they will surely offer me a night's lodging, and at an early hour to-morrow I shall proceed on foot to my uncle's house.' So the journey was not to be ended without an adventure.

It is pleasant to exchange a hard, wet conveyance, little better than a cart, which goes crawling along, for a comfortable carriage getting over the ground at a brisk pace; so I yielded to the temptation, and deposited myself in the latter, whilst I envied the pedant who could travel in such luxurious ease to beautiful unknown cousins--I who had neither equipages nor cousins--and he could stay at home to take care of his cold! I would not have done that in his place. The three miles were soon got over--in fact, they did not seem more than one mile to me; for during the two last I was fast asleep, the carriage having rocked me into slumbers as gently as if it had been a cradle.

Suddenly it stopped, and as suddenly I awoke in a state of utter unconsciousness as to where I was. In a moment the door was opened, lights and voices around bewildered me still more, and I was almost dragged out of the carriage.

'It is he--it is cousin Carl!' was shouted in my ears, and the circle pressed more closely around me.

I was at ---- Court. I was about to execute my commission in the best manner I could, and make some apology for having brought the message myself instead of having delivered it to the coachman, when I spied a charming-looking little cousin, who thrust her pretty head forward with evident curiosity. How pretty she was! I could not take my eyes off of her, and stood staring at her for a moment in silence; but during that moment's silence I had been kindly welcomed by the family as 'Cousin Carl'--I who was only his unworthy messenger. Was I not in luck?

The Justitsraad carried me straight to the dining-room, and they sat down immediately to table, as if their repast had been retarded on my important account. I know not how I carried off my embarrassment; every moment my situation was becoming more and more painful; my spirits sank, and my usual effrontery ... ah! it failed me at the very time that I needed it most.

We were quite a family party. There were but the uncle; his wife, who was a pleasant, good-looking, elderly lady, apparently about fifty; cousin Jettè, who was pale and silent, but seemed very interesting; cousin Hannè, the charming little Venus who had caused my awkward position; and cousin Thomas, a lanky, overgrown boy, about twelve years of age, with long arms in jacket-sleeves too short for them. From sheer flurry I ate as if I had not seen food for a fortnight, and with each glass I emptied down my throat I started in my own mind one plan after another to escape from the dilemma into which my thoughtlessness had plunged me.

'I am very glad to see that you do not make strangers of us, but really are eating heartily,' said the Justitsraad as he filled my plate for the fifth time. 'I can't bear to see young men, or anyone, under restraint in my house; here everyone must do exactly as if he were at home. I am very glad you are not sitting like a stick, or looking as if you were afraid of us and of the viands before you. And now let us drink to your happy return to your native land. I am pleased to see that you are able now to pledge one in a glass of wine. When you were a boy, you had every appearance of turning out a regular milksop. But, to be sure, eleven years make great changes in everybody.'

I drank to the health of my father and mother, then to the welfare of the whole family, and then a special toast to cousin Jettè's health, which was proposed by her father himself. When we were about to drink it, he nodded to me with an air of intelligence, as if we were d'accord with each other; but the pretty cousin scarcely touched the glass with her lips, and did not vouchsafe me a single glance; it seemed as if she were far from pleased at the compliment paid her. Cousin Hannè, who sat near me, filled my glass every time it was empty, and she had so industriously employed herself in this manner, that my head was beginning to be a good deal confused.

'And now it is time to go to bed, my children!' said the Justitsraad. 'It is late; to-morrow we will hear all that your cousin has to tell us.'

I was on the point of requesting a moment's private conversation with him; but the moment for doing so passed away unseized--in the next it was no longer possible. The family bade each other good night, a servant showed me to my room, and I was left to my reflections. The reflections of a harum-scarum fellow of one-and-twenty! You are right, dear reader, they certainly were not worth much. Hannè's pretty face and the Justitsraad's good wine had taken a somewhat potent effect upon my brain; I hastened to seek repose, and, like the Theban tyrant, deferred grave business till the morrow.

But I could not fall asleep, for conscience plagued me; it is its custom to wake up when everybody is sleeping, and without the least mercy it compelled me to listen to its lectures. It became so importunate that it drove me out of bed, and induced me to admit that it would be better to jump out of the window, and carry my baggage on my shoulders to my uncle's parsonage, than to be treated to-morrow as an impudent puppy--that I should not so much mind--but also as a scamp of an impostor who had palmed himself upon them for the sake of obtaining a drive and a good supper gratis--that I should mind a great deal, for it would touch my honour. It is thus one reasons at twenty-one.

It rained no longer, but it was as dark as pitch. Darkness would favour my intention; but how was I to find my way in a place utterly unknown to me? I determined to keep awake till the dawn of day, then take myself off, and leave the family to make inquiries about the cousin, until the real one thought fit to recover from his cold. But that little Hannè's charming face, was I never to behold it again? Well, it was very foolish to have come there, but after all, it would be still more foolish to remain.

I left a little piece of my window open, and sat down near it in order to watch for the first streaks of daylight. I had, however, a long time to wait, for it was just half-past twelve o'clock. As I sat there, fretting at myself for my folly, I heard something or some one, stirring beneath the window, and a moment afterwards among the branches of a tree close by. It was some person climbing the tree, but his visit was not intended for me, for he crept up much higher, and appeared to have mounted to a level with an upper window, as one was opened very gently and cautiously. Ah! an assignation! a secret appointment!

It is really an advantage to have a tender conscience; without that I should have been fast asleep, and should never have known what was going on so near me. But who could it be? Could cousin Thomas, though only twelve years of age, be making love to one of the housemaids? Let us listen.

'For God's sake make no noise!' said a whispering voice at the window above mine. 'He has arrived; he occupies the room just below, and he can hardly be asleep yet.'

'The light has been extinguished for at least half an hour,' replied the voice in the tree. 'Such an ape has nothing to wake or watch for.'

An ape, forsooth! as if I were not quite as wide awake as himself.

'Dear Gustav, think of my distress,' continued the voice at the window; 'my father drank my health at table, and nodded to him in such a significant manner! Oh, how I hate that man! Tomorrow, perhaps, he will begin to treat me as his betrothed; my father will give him every opportunity, and he will take upon himself to be intimate, and to make me presents. Oh! how unhappy I am!'

'You see, dearest Jettè, this is the consequence of our silence; if we had spoken to him before the accursed cousin came here, perhaps your father might have been persuaded to have given up this absurd childish betrothal.'

'No--no; he would never have done that,' replied Jettè; 'he is too much attached to his brother; and he will do everything in his power to have the agreement fulfilled, which eleven years ago they entered into with each other at their children's expense.'

'Why did not that man break his neck on the way! Such fellows can travel round the whole world without the slightest accident ever happening to them,' said Gustav. 'But he may, perhaps, repent coming here; I shall pick a quarrel with him, I will call him out, he shall fight with me, and either he or I shall be put out of the way.'

'May God protect you, my dearest Gustav!' exclaimed my cousin. 'But how can you have the heart to frighten me with such threats? Am I not wretched enough? Would you increase the burden that is weighing me down to the grave? I see nothing before me but misery and despair; no comfort--no escape.' Poor Jettè was weeping; I could hear how she sobbed in her woe. I now perceived why the poor girl had been so pale and distant--I was betrothed to her.

'Forgive me, dearest girl! I hardly know what I am saying; but take comfort, do not weep so bitterly. Heaven will not desert us, and we shall find some means of softening your father; besides, no rational man would wish to obtain a wife upon compulsion. If he has the least pride or spirit, he will himself draw back.'

'Ah, Gustav! if there were any chance of his drawing back, he would not have come here. His father wrote that he was coming expressly to claim his--his promised rights; and that--and that we should learn to know each other before the wedding. We had been betrothed for eleven years, he wrote, and it was time that ... No! I cannot think of it without despair.'

'What sort of looking person is he? Is he handsome? Whom does he resemble?'

'He is not in the least like what he was as a boy, he is very much changed; he has improved very much in looks, and, indeed, may be called handsome now.'

'That is a girl with a good taste,' thought I; 'I wish I could help her out of her troubles.'

'Handsome!--I congratulate you, Miss Jettè--handsome people generally make a favourable impression, and by degrees one becomes quite reconciled to them, and pleased with them--don't you think so?'

The lover grasped the branch nearest him so roughly in his anger, that he made the whole tree shake.

'Gustav! are you in earnest?' exclaimed Jettè, in a tone of voice that would have gone to the heart of a stone, if stones had hearts.

'Dearest, dearest Jettè! Sweet, patient angel!' He stretched himself so far out from the tree that I think he must have reached her hand and kissed it.

'Indeed, you have no reason to be jealous of him,' said Jettè, 'for one quite forgets his being handsome, when one observes how awkward he is. He does not seem to be at all accustomed to society; he eats like a shark, and you should have seen how he drank. Hannè amused herself in filling his glass, and I do believe that for his own share alone he emptied two bottles of wine. And he never uttered a single word. Oh! he is my horror--that man; but my father seems pleased with him, and praised him after he had left the room. Dear Gustav! how unfortunate we are!'

Should I allow these imputations to rest upon me? A blockhead--a glutton--and a drunkard! And cousin Hannè had been making a fool of me, forsooth!--the little jade, with her pretty face. I was certainly in a pleasant position.

'I will speak to your father to-morrow,' said Gustav, after a little consideration. 'He is very fond of you, he will not be deaf to our prayers, or expect impossibilities from you. What can he bring forward against me? I shall soon be in a position to maintain a wife, my family are quite on an equality with his own, my father is not poor, and my situation in life is now, and always will be, such, that I can satisfy any inquiry he can make into it. Deny then no longer your consent, dearest Jettè; let us no longer conceal our attachment from him, and depend on it all will go well.'

'Ah, Gustav! you do not know my father. He will positively insist that I shall fulfil this engagement. Vows are sacred in his eyes, and he himself has never broken his word. When I gave that promise I was but a child, and I wore the plain gold ring without ever reflecting that it was a link of that never-to-be-broken chain which was to bind me to a life of misery. Oh, God, have mercy upon me!'

'Doubt not His help, my beloved girl! He will spread His protecting hand over us, even if all else shall fail us.'

The sorrowing lovers whispered then so softly that I could not overhear what further they said, but I concluded they were comforting each other. The first streak of day cast a pale line of light across the tops of the trees and the roofs of the outhouses near. It was almost time for me to commence my flight, but everything must be quiet first. I gathered together my effects with as little noise as possible. The conversation on the outside recommenced, and I approached the window impatiently.

'How long is he going to stay here?' asked Gustav.

'I do not know; perhaps only a few days. Alas! my only hope is in him,' replied Jettè. To-morrow I shall have a private conversation with him, which, of course, will lead to an explanation. I will make an appointment with him in the garden,--if you will promise me not to be jealous,' added Jettè, with a degree of archness in her tone which enchanted me.

'It is hard that my rival is to be my sheet anchor,' said Gustav; 'but, since it must be so, speak to him, dearest. However, if that fails, then, my sweet girl, then ...'

'Then I promise you ... But what noise is that? I thought I heard some one stirring. For God's sake go! Let no one see you here!'

'To-morrow night, then, at one o'clock. Farewell, dear Jettè.'

Then came a kiss. Was it on the hand or the lips?

'Take care how you get down. To-morrow night. Adieu till then!'

The faithful knight-errant swung himself from branch to branch with an adroitness which proved that he was experienced in that mode of descent. As soon as he set foot on the ground the window above was closed.

It was now my turn to get into the trees. Gustav had taught me that trick. I wondered what sort of a looking fellow he was. Poor Jettè--to have chosen for herself, and yet to be condemned to be sacrificed to a man who could begin a letter about his intended bride with, 'I have duly received your esteemed favour of the 5th instant,' and who could absent himself from such a charming girl, merely because he had a slight cold! Well! it is a wretched world, this, in which we live. It was becoming more and more light. To-day she wished to have a private conversation with me--her only hope was in me; there was to be an explanation between us, an assignation in the garden. Who the deuce could run away from all this? But.... Well! nobody knew me--the real cousin was not coming for a week ... surely I might stay one day on the strength of personifying him? I am a fatalist; destiny has sent me, and it will aid me.... I will not forsake Jettè ... and I will revenge myself upon that little Mademoiselle Hannè, who wanted to drink me under the table, and I will show the whole accomplished family that I have studied good manners in Hamburg, and am neither a blockhead, a glutton, nor a drunkard. It is a matter that touches my honour; I will stay!... But ... suppose they take it into their heads to question me? Humph! If the worst comes to the worst, I can but stuff a little linen into my great-coat pocket, make a pretext to get outside the gate, and take to flight at once. In the meantime, I will make some inquiries about the neighbourhood and the roads, for at present I have not the most remote idea whether I ought to turn to the right hand or the left. And to-morrow night--good-by to this darling family, with many thanks for their kind welcome. Whilst they are all sleeping, or keeping nocturnal assignations, I shall vanish without leaving the slightest trace behind. It will give them something to talk of till Christmas.

Whilst this monologue was in progress of utterance, I was busily undressing myself. I jumped into bed, and soon slept as soundly as if I had a lawful right to be there, and were the dreaded cousin himself.

But when I was summoned to breakfast next morning I was in a very different frame of mind. I had slept off the effects of the wine, sober reason had resumed her sway, fear followed at my heels like a bad spirit; and I would assuredly have made my escape if the well-dressed valet-de-chambre had left me a moment to myself. I was compelled to resign myself to my fate, and allow myself to be marshalled to the breakfast-parlour; but as I approached the scene of my threatened exposure, despair restored my courage, I remembered that it was incumbent on me to wipe out the disgrace of the preceding evening, and I found my habitual impudence and lightness of heart upon the very threshold of the door.

I went up to them all, and shook hands with them, and as I now knew that I was engaged to Jettè, I kissed her hand with all possible amorous gallantry. The poor girl looked as if she could have sunk into the earth, and I coloured up to my temples, for I just recollected that I had on no betrothal ring. Jettè wore the plain gold ring I had heard her mention, but it was almost hidden by another ring, with a simple enamelled 'Forget-me-not.' Might not that have been a gift from the unknown Gustav?

'How are you this morning, my dear?' said the Justitsraad. 'Jettè has not been very well lately,' he added; 'she looks poorly, and has no appetite. It must be that abominable nervousness, of which young ladies now-a-days are always complaining.'

Jettè assured him that she felt quite well. I doubted if her mother or her sister were so much in her confidence as I was at that moment; but neither of them had been sitting at an open window between twelve o'clock at night and three o'clock in the morning.'

At first all went on smoothly, for the conversation was on the safe subjects of wind and weather; but a change for the worst was coming.

'Now, nephew, tell us something about the old people yonder. How is my brother looking?'

'Extremely well, uncle. He is looking quite fresh.'

'But the gout--the gout in his feet? that sticks to him yet--and it is not the most pleasant of companions.'

'Oh, yes--the gout! But he is accustomed to that.'

'And your mother?'

'She is also well, only she is getting older every day.'

'Ah! that is what we are all doing. And aunt Abelonè? How goes it with her?'

'She is very well too.'

'What! very well--with her broken leg! Why, you must be joking?'

'Oh dear, no! I ... I only meant to say as well ... as well as anyone can be with a broken leg,' I stammered out. In truth, I knew nothing about, and cared as little for, Abelonè's mishap.

'Listen to that madcap. He speaks of a broken leg as if it were absolutely a trifling matter.'

The danger was over for a moment, but another attack soon followed. I had scarcely swallowed a cup of tea, before my soi-disant uncle demanded from me a particular account of the new system of agriculture my father had introduced on his property--I, who did not even know where that property lay! But this time his wife came to the rescue, for she declared that we could discuss systems of husbandry when we were strolling in the fields together, or out hunting, and that she and her daughters did not take much interest in agricultural questions.

'Well, we will talk of this another time,' said the Justitsraad. 'But tell us at present something of your travels. Women-folk are always pleased to hear adventures of travellers. You have visited Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and many other places. A man who has travelled so much might talk for a whole month without being at a loss for a subject.'

Very well did I know that I had never beheld a single building either in Paris or Berlin, except in engravings. What was I to say? I busied myself in getting up a good tale.

'Upon my word, nephew, I should not suspect you of being very bashful; but if you don't like to speak of your travels, let them alone, my boy,--everybody shall do as he likes in my house. Many years ago, I remember, I went to Hamburg, and when I came home I almost tired them all out by describing what I had seen. But I suppose it is old-fashioned now to make any comments on what one has witnessed abroad.'

Here was a piece of good luck. I knew Hamburg as well as my own pockets, and now I was like my uncle after his return. There was no end to my descriptions and anecdotes. The old man seemed to take real delight in hearing about all the alterations which had been made in the old town since the days of his youth, inquiring often for places which no longer exist. I endeavoured to make my discourse as amusing as possible. Cousin Thomas rested his elbows on the table, listened with open mouth, and laughed outright several times; my aunt often let her knitting-needle fall, to look at the pencil sketches with which I was illustrating my descriptions; cousin Jettè looked less sourly at me than before; and Hannè--the pretty, coquettish, little Hannè--for whose sake I was sitting apparently so much at my ease among them, was unwearied in her queries about the Hamburg ladies, fashions, and theatres. Happily these had been the objects of my most intense study.

'I perceive now, that when once his tongue is set a-going, he has plenty to say,' remarked my worthy uncle. 'How long were you in Berlin?'

'Nay; stop, uncle! we are at Hamburg just now. I have still a great deal to tell about that city. Everything should be arranged in due order. Today I will confine myself to Hamburg; to-morrow we shall travel to Berlin.' 'Catch me here tomorrow,' thought I to myself; 'if I only can get through to-day, I will take French leave before we come to Berlin.'

'Come! since you give such a good reason, we will let you off Berlin just now. I am a lover of order myself, and here everything goes by clockwork. During the first part of the morning every one must look out for himself; at twelve we meet for luncheon--at three o'clock we dine. Amuse yourself in the mean time as well as you can; you will find plenty of books in the library--yonder hang fire-arms--and in the stables there are horses at your service; do exactly as if you were at home, and take care of yourself.'

'I will take a turn in the garden,' said I, with a glance at Jettè--one of those looks d'intelligence from which I expected great things; but she took no notice of it, and I was under the necessity of remarking, that being a stranger I did not know the way. But even this opening for a tête-à-tête she allowed to pass, and I could not imagine how she intended to bring about our secret conference.

'A stranger!' cried my uncle. 'But true, in eleven years one forgets a great deal. Let me see--how old were you then? you are three-and-twenty now ... twelve years of age you were; who could have guessed then that you would have become such a free-and-easy, off-hand sort of a fellow? Well, let him be shown the grounds, children. Thomas must go to his studies; my wife has her household matters to attend to; Jettè, you must ...'

'I really am not able, my dear father--I have a dreadful headache,' said the poor timid girl. And she looked as if she spoke nothing but the truth,--she was so pale, and her eyes were so red.

'A woman's malady,' said her father, looking vexed; 'it is, of course, incumbent on you to ... Well; all that will vanish when you are better acquainted. We know what these qualms mean,' he added, turning towards me. I nodded, as if I would have said--Sat sapienti. 'Have you also got a headache, Hannè? Are you also suffering from nervousness? or can you stand the fresh morning air, my girl?' he asked. I looked eagerly at the little gipsy.

'Oh! I can endure the fresh morning air very well,' she replied.

'Then take charge of your cousin Carl, and show him round the garden and the shrubberies; and don't forget the pretty view from the rising ground where the swing is.'

The Justitsraad held out his hand to me, and I pressed it with all the warmth of sincere gratitude.

'Come, cousin,' said Hannè. 'Shall we call each other by our first names, or not? But we can settle that as we go along.'

'For Heaven's sake, let us call each other by our baptismal names, else we should not seem like cousins. Don't you think so, uncle?'

'You are of my own people, my boy. Always be merry and frank--that is my motto. I am right glad that you have not adopted the stiff German manners. Your father was always very grave; but you have rubbed off all that solemnity abroad, I am happy to see.'

In my delight at the promised stroll with Hannè, I forgot that it was my duty to kiss Jettè's hand on leaving her. Just as I had reached the door I suddenly remembered it; and rushing back, I went through the salutation in the speediest manner possible, expressing at the same time my hope to find her better on my return. They all laughed, and even Jettè could not help smiling,--there was something so comical in my hurried return, and equally hurried performance of the ceremony etiquette demanded.

Was I not right in calling myself a madcap? Here was I actually walking with the charming little Hannè all over the grounds! I--her pretended cousin; I--who ought to have been sent to the House of Correction, for having, under another man's name, presumed to thrust myself into the midst of a respectable family; I--who had committed, a positive depredation, and broken the sacred privacy of a seal;--here was I wandering about arm-in-arm with the Justitraad's daughter at ---- Court, the captivating, innocent, beautiful little Hannè; I--who deserved to be driven away with all the dogs on the estate at my heels! Well! goodness and justice do not always carry the day in this world!



PART II.

When I looked at my companion I was almost appalled at my audacity. Think of the face you love the best in this world--the face that you never can behold without a beating heart--which you dwell on with rapture, which is the object of your waking and your sleeping dreams! Ah! quite as charming as such looked Hannè in her pink gingham morning-dress, with a little blue handkerchief tied carelessly round her throat, and a becoming white bonnet. She was irresistible!

We strayed here and there like two children; plucked flowers to teach each other their botanical names; gathered a whole handful to commence a herbarium, and threw them away again to chase some gaudy butterfly. Then we sauntered on slowly, and Hannè communicated many little things to me of which she thought her cousin ought to be informed; and at length I began to fancy that I actually was the real cousin Carl. Of all the young girls that ever I beheld, Hannè was the most delightful; such grace, such vivacity, such naïveté, were not to be met with either in Copenhagen or in Hamburg.

'It is a pity Jettè could not accompany you,' said she; 'but to-morrow, probably, her headache will be gone.'

I assured her that I did not regret Jettè's absence, since I had her company.

'That is a pretty declaration from a bridegroom who has allowed himself to be waited for eleven years,' said Hannè.

'Jettè did not look as if she were glad at my arrival.'

'You must not think anything of that; she has looked out of spirits for a month past, at least: she is apt to be melancholy at times, but it passes off. Her character is sedate. She is much better, therefore, than I am, or than anyone I know. You can hardly fancy how good she is.'

'But I want a lively wife, for I am myself of a very gay disposition,' said I.

'That is not what we thought you were,' replied my fair companion. 'We always looked upon you as a quiet, grave, somewhat heavy young man, and you have been described to us as a most tedious, wearisome person. I used often to pity Jettè in my own mind; for a stupid, humdrum man is the greatest bore on earth. But I do not pity her anymore, now.'

I could have kissed her, I was so pleased.

'So you thought of me with fear and disgust, you two poor girls? Pray, who painted my portrait so nicely?'

'Why, your own father did; and the letter which you wrote Jettè when she was confirmed, and when you sent her the betrothal-ring, did not at all improve our opinion of you. I'll tell you what, Carl; that was a miserable epistle. It was with the utmost difficulty that my father prevailed on Jettè to answer it, when she was obliged to send you a ring in return. However, you were little more than a boy then--it is long ago, and it was all forgotten when we never heard again from you. I can venture to affirm that Jettè has not thought six times about you in the six years that have elapsed since that time--and perhaps this is lucky for you. It was not until your father wrote us that you had come home, and until he began to bombard Jettè with presents and messages from you, that you were mentioned again among us; but my father never could bear our laughing at your renowned epistle.'

I listened with the utmost avidity to every little circumstance that could elucidate the part I had taken upon myself to play. In this conversation I learned more than I could have gathered the whole morning.

'It is very absurd to betroth children to each other. What should they know of love?' said Hannè.

'It is more than absurd, Hannè; it is positive barbarity. It is trampling the most sacred feelings and rights under foot.'

'Nevertheless you may thank God for that barbarity,' said she; 'without it you would never have got Jettè. She has plenty of admirers.'

'Indeed! And who are they, if I may take the liberty of asking? You make me quite jealous.'

'Oh, I have observed that both the young clergyman at ---- Town and Gustav Holm are much attached to her. And Jettè has no dislike to Gustav.'

'Who is Gustav Holm? He appears to be the most dangerous.'

'He is learning farming, or rather, I ought to say, agricultural affairs, with a country gentleman not far from this. He has been coming to our house now about three years; I think, and I could wager a large sum, that it is for Jettè's sake.'

'Or for your own, little Hannè?'

'Pshaw! nonsense! If anyone were dangling here after me, I should make no secret of it. Jettè is a greater favourite than I am, and she deserves to be so.'

'But perhaps Jettè cares more for Gustav Holm than for me, whom she really does not know?'

One often asks a question in this hypocritical world about what one knows best oneself.

'No, oh no! That would be a sad affair. Has she not been engaged to you for eleven years, and is she not going to be married to you?'

'But if you had been in Jettè's place, how would you have felt?'

'I would perhaps have preferred ... No, I don't think I would though. But I am not so mild and amiable as Jettè; and the day that I was confirmed no one should have imposed a betrothal-ring upon me, I can assure you, sir; and, least of all, accompanied by such an elegant billet as yours.'

Hannè picked up a blade of grass, formed it into a string, and twisting it round her finger in an artistic manner, made it into a knot.

'Can you make such?' said she.

I tried it, but could not succeed, and she took hold of my hand to do it for me.

'But how is this, Carl?' she exclaimed. 'Where is your betrothal-ring?'

'It is ... I have ... I wear it attached to a ribbon round my neck; ... it annoyed me to have to answer the many questions it was the cause of my being asked. Therefore I determined to wear it near my heart.'

'It annoyed you! Did ever anyone hear such an assertion? Jettè has faithfully worn hers, and placed a "Forget-me-not"; into the bargain by its side, to remind herself, I suppose, not to forget you. But you found it a bore, even to be asked if you were engaged! Such gallants as you do not deserve to be remembered. But come now, I will show you a beautiful view.'

We passed together through a charming shady wood, where several paths, diverging among the trees, crossed each other. Hannè walked before, light and graceful as Diana in her fluttering drapery; I followed her, like the enamoured Actæon. Alas! the resemblance would soon become stronger, I thought--how soon might I not be discovered, driven forth as a miserable intruder, and delivered over to regret and remorse, which would prey upon me, and tear me to atoms, as the hounds tore Actæon!

Upon a rising ground stood a swing, the posts of which towered above the tops of the trees, and the erection looked at a distance like a gallows. From this spot the view was very extensive--a number of country churches could be seen from it, and among others that of my uncle.

'But why have you placed that gallows upon this lovely spot?' I asked.

'Gallows! No one ever presumed to give such an appellation to my swing before,' said Hannè, angrily. 'If it were not very uncivil, I would say that it evinces an extremely debased and disordered state of the imagination to make a gallows out of my innocent swing.'

The girl spoke the absolute truth. It will hereafter come to be called gallows, thought I--and tomorrow my fair fame will hang dangling there, as a terror and a warning to all counterfeit cousins.

'But never mind, cousin, I did not mean to be so sharp with you. Don't, however, let my father hear you say anything disparaging of this place; he would, not so easily forgive you. Come, you shall atone for your sin by swinging me,' added Hannè, as she settled herself in the swing.

'Ah, Hannè! would that I could as easily atone for all my sins towards you!'

I could have swung her for a lifetime, I do believe, without becoming weary of gazing at her; but she compassionately stopped, fancying I must be tired.

'You will be quite fatigued, poor fellow--it would be a shame to make you work longer,' said she. 'Get in, and you shall find that the swing stands in a good situation; that is to say, if you are not afraid of the gallows,' she added, as she made room for me.

'For your sake, I would not shun even the gallows,' said I, as I sprang up.

The swing went at full speed; it was pleasant to be carried thus over the tops of the trees, and behold the earth as if stretched out beneath one's feet. I felt as if in heaven. I was flying in the air with an angel.

'How delightful this is!' I cried, throwing my arm round Hannè's waist.

'What, to be on a gallows? But pray hold on by the rope, cousin, and not by me. Now let us get down--we have had enough of this pastime.'

'I have an earnest prayer to make to you, dear Hannè,' I said, seizing her hand. 'Listen to me before we leave this place. I foresee that the swing, at least in your recollection, will retain the name I accidentally gave it. Promise me that you will come here when you hear evil of me, and doubt my honour, and that you will then remember that it was here I entreated you to judge leniently of the absent. Fate plays strange tricks with us, dear Hannè; it throws us sometimes into temptations which we are too weak to withstand. Promise me that you will not condemn me irrevocably, although appearances may be against me.'

The lovely girl looked at me for a moment with surprise and earnestness, and then suddenly burst into an immoderate fit of laughter; another moment, and my confession would have been made.

'I promise you,' said she, 'that I shall come here and think of you as well as you deserve--that is to say, if I have nothing else to do, and nothing else to think of. But at present I have no time to spare for gallows'-reflections, the bell is ringing for luncheon, and my father likes us to appear punctually at table.'

Jettè did not come down to luncheon, her headache confined her to her room, poor girl! I felt very sorry for her, and when I reflected that my principal, whose unworthy messenger I was, would torment her still more, my heart really grieved for her. The family were very cheerful, and it was long since I had been among so pleasant and sociable a little party. Alas! half the day was now gone, and when the other half were passed it would be all over with my enjoyments.

After luncheon, cousin Thomas came to me and begged that I would go out with him for a few hours' shooting, the afternoon being his time for exercise and amusement. I wished to be on good terms with all the family, and therefore accepted his invitation; besides, I thought he might be in a talkative humour, and that I might be able to extract from him some particulars of their domestic history. We took a couple of guns and sallied forth. I had already become so hardened that I did not feel the slightest twinge of conscience at thus abusing the open-hearted confidence of twelve years of age. 'Give the Devil an inch, and he will take an ell,' says the proverb.

But cousin Thomas was too keen a sportsman to have ears for anything except sporting anecdotes, and I soon began to grudge the time I had wasted upon him. There was no help for me, however. I was in for it, and I had to follow him from one moor to another, removing myself every moment farther from his father's abode.

'Who is that person yonder?' I asked by mere chance, only not to seem quite silent.

'Where? Oh! that is Gustav Holm,' said Thomas. 'He is coming, I dare say, from Green Moor--the very best moor in the whole neighbourhood.'

'We must speak to him.--Mr. Holm! Mr. Holm! Good morning, Mr. Holm.'

The person thus hailed stopped for a moment, and then came up to us. I forthwith introduced myself as a newly-arrived relative of the family at ---- Court, and he cast on me the pleasant glance with which one generally eyes a rival.

'What sort of sport have they to-day at Green Moor?' I asked; and I attacked him with questions and stuck to him like a burr, though I saw that he would fain have got rid of me. But that was impossible. Mr. Holm was exceedingly chary of his words; therefore if either was a blockhead, as I had been described the night before, it was he rather than I.

'I will do poor Jettè a service while I can,' thought I; and I invited Mr. Holm to return with us to ---- Court. 'You visit at my uncle's, I think,' I added; 'it strikes me that I have heard my cousin speak of you.'

He grew as red as fire, poor fellow.

'I don't think little Hannè will pick a quarrel with me because I beg you to accompany us home,' said I, slily; and the luckless lover became still more embarrassed. He tried to excuse himself, but I would take no denial; he was obliged to give way, and in triumph I brought my prisoner back with me. 'Thomas will bear witness to the ladies how much trouble I had in prevailing on you to come, and they will therefore the more highly appreciate your self-sacrifice,' said I.

When we reached the gate, he tried again to negotiate for his freedom, but Thomas found his reluctance so amusing, that he would not allow him to make his escape. Giving way at length, he exclaimed,

'You are going to afflict your party with a tiresome addition, for I have a dreadful headache to-day.'

'You will feel better when you have dined,' I replied; 'and if you would like to have some sal volatile, you can get some from my fiancée; she has a headache also to-day. There must be something in the air to cause it, since you are similarly affected.'

Mr. Holm evidently writhed under my mode of treatment; and at the term fiancée he looked as if I had trodden heavily upon his corns. It was certainly very trying, but I had comfort in the background for him.

Neither the Justitsraad nor his wife seemed to be much pleased at the arrival of their unexpected guest; nevertheless, they received him politely, and assigned to him a place at table between them. He could not have demanded a more honourable seat. Thomas was inexhaustible in his descriptions of Mr. Holm's unwillingness to give himself up as a captive, and how clever he had been in securing him. Poor Jettè dared hardly look up from her plate.

'Mr. Holm ought to know that he is always welcome,' said the Justitsraad; but it was evident that the remark was the result of good breeding, rather than of any cordial pleasure he had in seeing him.

'Very true, uncle; that is just what I said. Hannè spoke of him to me so highly this morning, that I really became quite eager to make his acquaintance. The friends of the family must also be my friends. I knew right well that Hannè would not be angry at me if I brought him home with me.'

'I! What did I say?' exclaimed Hannè, colouring deeply. 'How can you make such an assertion? I believe ...'

'That I am a sad gossip, and never can keep to myself what I hear--I confess the truth of the impeachment.'

Her parents looked at her with surprise; Jettè cast an inquiring glance towards her, and Gustav forced a smile. Hannè was very angry, but her wrath did not last long; time was precious to me, and I speedily effected a reconciliation with her.

'I do verily believe that you are not quite sober to-day, Carl,' said Hannè in a whisper to me, when we rose from table.

'Truth to tell, Hannè, I am not, but that is your fault. Why did you try to make me drink myself under the table last night? It is only a judgment from Heaven on you; those who dig a pit for other people often fall into it themselves.'

'Hark ye, cousin! I am very near wishing that you had been in reality as stupid a nonentity as we were given to understand you were.'

'What if you should be taken at your word? You may get your wish more easily than you imagine; by this day week the transformation may have been brought about; see if you don't wish me back again then.'

Her father took my arm, and proposed adjourning to the garden with our cigars. I had nearly fled the field at this invitation, so much did I dread a tête-à-tête with him; nothing on earth could have detained me but the expected secret meeting with Jettè, whose good genius I was to be. I felt that I could almost rather have faced his Satanic Majesty himself at that moment, had the choice between the two companions been mine; but what was I to do? There was nothing for it but to accompany my host quietly.

'Listen, my son,' said the old gentleman, when we had exhausted our first cigars; 'I cannot say I am much pleased at your having brought that Mr. Holm back with you. He is a very respectable young man, but ... Why should we encumber ourselves with him?... To speak out, you should have been the last person to have brought him to this house.'

'I! How so? I really had planned to make him one of my most intimate friends. Hannè said so much in his favour.'

'Hannè does not care a straw for him--she is only a child.'

'A child! and on the 12th of November she will be seventeen years old! No, no, uncle, girls give up thinking themselves children when they arrive at ten years of age.'

'But I tell you, Hannè does not care in the least for him; nor does he for her.'

'Very well, uncle, so much the better, for there is no sort of danger then in his coming here.'

'Danger! Oh! I don't look upon him as at all dangerous; but I can't bear to see him looking so woe-begone.'

'I shall soon enliven him. Only leave him to me, and you will see that he shall become quite gay. I will take him in hand if he can come here every day.'

'Confound the fellow! I must just tell you plainly out then--he is a great admirer of Jettè. Do you understand me now?'

'May I ask how you know that, sir?'

'How I know that?... Well ... No matter how. Suffice it to say, I know it. Jettè cannot endure him, that I know also; but his sighs might make some impression on her, so it were better that he kept entirely away. Besides, if he gets no encouragement, his fancy will wear out. Don't you agree with me that he had better not come here?'

'I can't call it a sin to be in love with Jettè, for I am so myself; she is a girl that it would be impossible not to admire. If we were to drive away every one who was guilty of admiring her, we should be compelled at last to live as hermits.'

'What the devil, nephew! Do you say all this--you, who are to be her future husband?'

'One must be somewhat liberal, uncle--one must seem not to observe everything. Suspicion does a great deal of harm, and jealousy would only encourage the evil. Jettè shall find me as gentle as a lamb. Besides, you have assured me that she cannot endure him.'

'Well!... Perhaps she does not exactly hate him ... she has no particular fault to find with him ... but he embarrasses her ... he embarrasses her ... and when a person embarrasses one ...' The good man had got into a dilemma, and he was not able to get out of it; so he stopped short.

'Oh! that will pass off when she accustoms herself to see him. It is a great misfortune to let oneself be embarrassed by the presence of others; really, after a time this would lead one to become a misanthrope--a hater of one's species.'

The Justitsraad looked at me with astonishment, while he replied:

'I wish you had not gone on your travels; I fear your morality has suffered not a little in consequence. I hardly knew you again, you are so much changed. You are not like the same being who, eleven years ago, was such a quiet, bashful boy. And your father, who constantly wrote that you were not the least altered, he must scarcely recognize you himself.'

'That is very probable, uncle, for I hardly know myself again. But travelling abroad is sure always to make some little change in people.'

'It must have been Berlin that has done the mischief, and made such a transformation in you; for the letters your father sent me, which you had written from Vienna, did not in the slightest degree lead me to imagine that you had become such a hair-brained, thoughtless fellow.'

'True enough it is that I am thoughtless and hair-brained, but, believe me, I have never been guilty of any deliberate wrong. I know I am too often carried away by the impulse of the moment, and too often forget what may be the consequences.'

'One must make some allowance for youth,' replied the old gentleman. 'So it was at Berlin you studied folly in all its branches--Berlin, which I had always believed to be a most correct and exemplary city, whither one might send a young man without the least risk! Well, well! let us consign to oblivion all the pranks you must have played to have been metamorphosed from a milksop to a madcap. We must all sow our wild oats some time or other, and I hope you have sown yours, and are done with them.'

'No, indeed, I fear not; on the contrary, I feel that I am in the midst of that period; but I promise you that it shall soon be over, and that then nothing shall tempt me to such follies. As to youthful imprudence, if it be not carried too far, I shall rely upon your indulgence. Will you not wink a little at it, and let your kind, generous heart plead for me when your reason might condemn me?'

'You are a queer fellow, nephew, and a wild one, I fear; but it is not possible to be angry with you.'

'Would to Heaven that you may always be inclined to entertain such friendly feelings towards me!' I replied, as I pressed his hand. There was good reason for my bespeaking his indulgence; it would be amply required the very next day.

I skilfully managed to bring the subject back to Gustav Holm, and soon perceived that he had really nothing to say against him. Holm's position was good in all respects, and the old gentleman would have considered him a very good match for one of his daughters, if he had not had another project in his head. But he had set his heart so entirely on the family alliance, that he could not admit the idea of any other. In eleven years there had been time for it to become deeply rooted in his mind.

When we sought the rest of the party, we found them all standing round the swing. Hannè was busy attaching a piece of paper to one of the poles.

'What are you doing there, child?' asked her father.

'It is Carl's name which I am putting on the gallows, as a well-deserved punishment for all the follies of which he has been guilty in word and deed to-day,' she replied, continuing her employment. 'Only think, he disgraced my swing by pretending to mistake it for a gallows. So there stands his name; and there it shall stand, to his eternal shame and reproach, and in ridicule of him when he is gone. We must have something to recall him to our recollection.'

'Nemesis,' thought I, 'already!' I was as much moved inwardly, as the worthy emperor, Charles V., must have been when he witnessed his own funeral. Humph! no one likes jesting about such serious matters. Who knows in what it might end?

We amused ourselves with swinging--we chattered nonsense, or discoursed gravely--we sauntered about, all together or in groups by turns. Hannè was the life of the party, and by degrees everyone seemed to partake of her gaiety. Even Jettè talked more. I had seized on the unhappy lover, and held him fast by the arm, in the charitable intention of bringing him near his lady-love, without anyone's remarking his proximity to her; but the overcautious girl avoided us, and Gustav himself had not courage to begin a conversation on different subjects. I was quite distressed about them, poor things! 'We must try what can be done in the wood,' thought I; 'there are paths enough in it, the party will become more scattered, and I shall then be able to manage, perhaps, to get them into some secluded spot.' But our progress was arrested by a servant, who came to announce that some visitors had arrived.

Visitors! At that word my ears tingled as if all the blood in my body had rushed up into them. Visitors! I felt sure they would be betrayers--they would be persons who either knew me, or the real cousin, and then good-by to my incognito--good-by to the secret interview! What would become of it when I had to take to flight?

'Visitors! How very tiresome,' exclaimed Hannè. The servant mentioned a name unknown to me; that, as it appeared, of a family in the neighbourhood. I was not acquainted with them--but the cousin, my other self ...

'Visitors!' I exclaimed, in dismay. 'Do I know them? Will anybody have the great kindness to tell me if they are acquainted with me?'

They all laughed, and assured me that I was not acquainted with them. It was a family who had only lately settled in the neighbourhood, having exchanged a property in Jutland for one in Zealand, and with whom they were themselves but slightly acquainted. I recovered my spirits, and we turned our steps back towards the house. Gustav seized the opportunity to make his escape, the Justitsraad made no effort to detain him, and I was too much occupied with my own affairs to trouble myself at that moment about those of other people. The poor dear Jutland family had made a most unseasonable visit.

I thanked Heaven that I had never seen them before; and I cannot say that I should feel any regret at never beholding them more. They were a set of tiresome bores, who deprived me of the brightest afternoon of my life, and took the evening also; so that I had reason not to forget them in a hurry. My cousins had to amuse the silly daughters, the elder individuals on both sides discoursed together, and it fell to my share to entertain the son and his tutor. I looked a hundred times at my watch; I foretold that we were going to have thunder and lightning and rain in torrents--in short, I left no stone unturned to get rid of them early--but to no avail; I only reaped jeers and bantering from Hannè for my pains; and when at length they seemed themselves to think it expedient to go, she pressed them to stay longer, only to annoy me, and was mischievous enough to say, 'You surely will not refuse my cousin his first request to you,' thereby, as it were, making me pronounce my own doom. It was enough to put one into a rage.

We went to supper with all due formality, and for the first time I remembered that it was my duty to offer my arm to Jettè. She accompanied me like a lamb led to the sacrificial altar, and took the earliest opportunity of informing me that her headache had not yet left her. Headache is an absolute necessity for ladies; I do not know what they would do if no such thing as headache existed.

It was not possible to utter a word which could not be overheard by the tutor, who sat on the other side of her; at length it occurred to me to engage him in a conversation with Hannè, and with some difficulty I managed to do this. But fate had no compassion on me that evening. Presently I heard my real name pronounced by the father of the family who were visiting us; I felt as much shocked and alarmed as if he had shouted 'Seize that thief!' I had nearly dropped my fork.

'He is a most respectable man, I can assure you; I recommend you to send all your corn to him; he is very fair in his dealings. I have known him for a long time.'

It was of my father he was speaking.

'I shall consider about it,' said the Justitsraad; 'I do not know the house myself. And he has a son, you say. Is the son a partner?'

'It was intended that he should be,' said my personal enemy; 'but he is such a sad scamp that I think the father will hardly venture to take him into partnership. He played such foolish, wild pranks at home, that he was sent to Hamburg; but he did not go on a bit better there, as I have heard.'

'I am sorry for the poor father,' said the Justitsraad.

'A good character is valuable,' thought I. 'Here is the second time to-day that my name has been stigmatized. Now, both my person and my name are contraband at ---- Court. Cruel fate!' I became quite silent--willingly would I also have taken refuge in a headache; there was enough to give me one, at any rate; and I took leave in the coldest and most distant manner of the party who had prolonged their visit on my account.

'Pray come and see us soon with your betrothed,' said the old wretch who had made so free with my town character.

It was with difficulty that I kept my temper, and poor Jettè seemed also to be on thorns.

'What nice people they are!' exclaimed Hannè; 'the daughters have promised me to come here at least twice a week. But you were quite silent and stupid this evening, cousin.'

'It was what you wished me to be in the morning,' I replied; 'I only conducted myself according to your desire.'

'Let me always find you so obedient. Goodnight! To-morrow I shall command you to be gay again. That becomes you best, after all.' She held out her pretty little hand as a token of reconciliation.

'And I beg of you to come into the grove to-morrow morning, after breakfast; I wish very much to have a little private conversation with you,' whispered Jettè, almost in tears, as I kissed her hand. She could hardly bring herself to pronounce the words; I saw what a pang it cost her. A warm pressure of her hand was my only reply; she little knew how friendly my feelings were towards her.

'So my adventures are not finished even with this day,' said I to myself as I opened a little of the window in my room; 'shall I make up my mind to this delay, or shall I take myself off at once! What! leave poor Jettè in the lurch? Yet how can I help her? What is the use of my remaining longer here?--I shall but entangle myself still more deeply in a net of untruth, which will bring me into disgrace. Have I not had warnings enough--the gallows scene, my Hamburg reputation, and the many uneasy moments I have passed to-day? I am vexed and annoyed this evening; it will cost me less, therefore, perhaps, to recover my freedom tonight than to-morrow night; another day with Hannè will only make me feel the separation still more acutely. Then, in case of a discovery, how shall I excuse this prolonged mystification? By confessing my love for Hannè?--a pretty apology, to be sure! But am I really in love with her? I in love! and if I were, what would be the result? Is it at all likely that the Justitsraad would give his daughter to an impertinent puppy, who had made her acquaintance first by such an unwarrantable trick--to a "sad scamp" who had only made himself remarkable by his wild pranks? Or--shall I climb up yon tree, perch myself like a singing-bird before Jettè's window, make my confession to her, and then start on my pedestrian journey? Or--shall I go to bed, and let to-morrow take care of itself? I will consult my buttons--I will try my fate by them. Let me see: I will ... I will not ... I will ... I will go to bed. ... Aha! I am to go to bed--chance has so decided it for me. But to go to bed in love! that such a catastrophe should happen to me! I had thought it was quite foreign to my nature; however, here I am, up to my ears in love. Ah! why was that little fairy, Hannè, so bewitching? why were the whole family so frank and pleasant? It was all their own fault; they forced the cousinship upon me. Heaven knows I came to them quite innocent of nefarious designs--fast asleep and snoring--perfectly honourable.... Apropos of honour, let me close the window; what Gustav and Jettè have to talk about is nothing to me--it would be very indelicate to play the listener--wounding to my better feelings. My better feelings! I can't help laughing at the idea of my being inconvenienced by any symptoms of honourable, or delicate, or better feelings. It is my cursed levity and folly that lead me astray; after all, there are honesty and uprightness in me, au fond, and my heart is in its right place. I will no longer be the slave of caprice and impulse. I will be something better than a mere madcap; and here, even here, they shall learn to speak of me with respect.... Ah! it will be a confounded long time, however, before I can teach them that ... and ... in the meantime, I positively am in love.'

Having arrived at this conclusion, I betook myself to my couch, and closed my eyes, at the same time burying my ears in my pillows, not to overhear any portion of the discourse which was to be carried on about one o'clock in the morning, on the outside of my window, and also the sooner to dream of Hannè. I succeeded in both, for I heard or saw nothing whatsoever of the two unfortunate lovers, and I dreamed of Hannè the livelong night. The morning was far advanced, when Thomas thrust his head into my room, and rated me for being as heavy a slumberer as one of the seven sleepers;--the little wretch! I was at that moment swinging with Hannè, and would have given the wealth of the East India Company to have been permitted to end my dream undisturbed.

When I entered the breakfast-room they were all at table. Jettè looked very pale, but she allowed that her headache was better, though she said she still felt far from well. Hannè and her father teased me unmercifully about the visitors of the day before, who had put me so much out of humour, and about my predictions of a thunderstorm wherewith I endeavoured to drive them away. 'But you are quite an ignoramus in regard to the weather, cousin; that I perceived,' said Hannè, 'I shall present you with a barometer on your birthday, so that you may not make such mistakes again as that of yesterday evening. Which is the important day?'

'It is quite old-fashioned to keep birthdays, Hannè; that custom has been long since exploded,' said I, 'and therefore I am not going to tell you.'

'But we are very old-fashioned here, and you will be expected to do as we do in respect to keeping birthdays. First, let me refresh your memory. When is my birthday?'

'On the 12th of November you will be seventeen years of age.'

'Right. And Jettè's? How old will she be her next birthday?'

It was a trying examination, but it was well deserved; why had I not taken myself off the night before, when I could so well have made my escape?

'Come, begin; tell us Jettè's birthday, and my father's, and my mother's? Let us have them all at once. Now we shall see whether you are skilled in your almanac.'

'Are you seriously bent on this examination? Do you fancy I have forgotten one of them?' I asked, in an offended tone. 'I will not answer such questions.'

This was one way of escaping. When do people most easily take offence? Answer: When they are in the wrong.

'I see how it is,' said Hannè; 'as it annoys you to be asked if you are betrothed, it probably annoys you to be expected to remember the birthday of her to whom you are engaged. Only think,' she added, addressing the rest of the party, 'he does not wear his betrothal-ring, because he does not like answering any question to which his having it on his finger might give rise. As if it were a question of conscience.'

'So it may be, sometimes,' I replied. 'But since questioning is the order of the day, I beg to ask why you wear that little ring on your finger?'

'I never gratify impertinent curiosity,' said the little devil, colouring up to the very roots of her hair. She seemed very much vexed, and turned angrily away.

'Now--now--children! can you never agree?' said the Justitsraad. 'You two will be getting into quarrels every moment, that I foresee; you resemble each other too much; it is from the absolute similarity between you that you cannot be in peace.'

'You flatter me very much, uncle,' said I; 'would that it were really so.'

'I say nothing of the kind,' cried Hannè; 'I beg to decline the compliment. Gentlemen full of whims are my aversion. But, happily for both of us, you are not engaged to me. Jettè is much too good--she will put up with your bad habits.'

Jettè smiled kindly to her, and that seemed immediately to appease her wrath. She ran to her sister, kissed her, and said, 'For your sake I will bear with him; but believe me, you will not make an endurable husband of him if you do not begin in time to drive his caprices out of him. He should be accustomed to do as he is bid, and answer the questions that are put to him.'

Both Jettè and myself turned our faces away to conceal our confusion. Hannè held out her hand to me. 'Do you repent of your sins?'

'With my whole heart.'

'Will you beg pardon, and promise henceforth to be better?'

'Yes. I confess that I am a great sinner, but I humbly beg pardon, and will try to do better for the future.' So saying, I pressed a long, long kiss on her hand; I could hardly get my lips away from it.

'So--that is enough. Now go and beg Jettè's pardon, because you have been naughty in her presence; and,' she added, 'kiss her hand prettily.'

I did so.

'Very well. But I don't think you have ever kissed her as your betrothed yet. Let me see you go through that ceremony, properly too.'

Poor Jettè became crimson at this challenge, which did not in the least embarrass me.

I felt that it was going a little too far, but what could I do? Dear reader! I was compelled to kiss the young lady--do not judge of me too severely because I did it. But I obeyed the command in as formal a manner as possible; it was scarcely a kiss, yet it burned on my lips like fire; as to how it burned my conscience--well, I will say nothing of that.

'He is really quite timid,' exclaimed Hannè, who stood by with her hands folded, watching the performance of her command; 'I did not expect such an assured young gentleman to be so ceremonious; one would think it were his first essay!'

'And peace being now restored and sealed,' said the Justitsraad, 'I hope it will be a Christian, a universal, and an eternal peace, both for the present and the future; that is to say, at least till you fall out again. And in order that such may not be the case for a few hours, we will leave the ladies, nephew, and pay a visit to the new horse I bought the other day. We shall see if you are as good a judge of horses as you are of the Hamburg theatricals.'

'You really should give poor Carl some peace,' said my considerate aunt; 'you will make him quite tired of us all. One insists upon catechizing him as to dates, another as to his veterinary knowledge--there is only wanting that I should attack him about culinary lore. You shall not be so plagued by them, Carl: as to the horse it was my husband's own choosing; and if you should not instantly discover, by looking at its teeth, that it is young and handsome, and has every possible good quality, you will be called an ignoramus.'

'Any how he may be called that,' said Hannè; 'but I forgot, peace has been proclaimed, so let my words be considered as unspoken.'



PART III.

About an hour before luncheon I stole away into the wood to wait for Jettè, and it was with a beating heart I listened for any approaching footsteps; had I not kissed her, I should have felt easier in my own mind. Ought I now to confess to her the impositions of which I had been guilty? Perhaps it would be better to do so ... But the kiss ... would she forgive that?

I discerned her white dress a good way off, and I almost felt inclined to hide myself, and let her take the trouble of finding me; but again I bethought me that it was not the part of the cavalier to be shamefaced in a secret assignation. I therefore went forward to meet her. As soon as she caught a glimpse of me, she stopped, and suddenly changed colour. The poor girl--how sorry I was for her! She could not utter one word. I led her to a rural seat near.

'Cousin,' at length she said, 'it must doubtless surprise you, and naturally so too, that I should in such a secret manner have requested an interview with you. If you could conceive how painful this moment is to me, I am sure you would compassionate me.'

'My dear young lady, I owe you an explanation, and I thank you for having given me an opportunity ...'

'Dear cousin, be not offended with me--do not speak to me in that distant and ceremonious manner--it makes the step more painful which I am about to take, and which cannot be longer delayed. It is I who owe you an explanation--alas! an explanation that will deprive me of your esteem and your friendship. I am very unhappy.'

'Do not weep so, dear cousin; you cannot imagine how it grieves me to see you so miserable. Believe me, I have your happiness sincerely at heart. You little know what delight it would give me if I were able to say to myself that I had contributed to it.'

The double signification which my words might bear drew forth more tears. Jettè cried, without making any reply.

'There is comfort for every affliction,' I continued. 'God has mercifully placed the antidote alongside of the poisonous plant. Tell me, at least, what distresses you--let me at least endeavour to console you, even if I cannot assist you, and do not doubt my good will, though my power may be but limited.'

'For Heaven's sake, Carl, do not speak so kindly to me,' cried Jettè, with some impetuosity. 'Do not speak thus--I have not deserved it. If you would be compassionate, say that you hate me--that you abhor me.'

'And if I said so, I should only deceive you. No, Jettè, my complaisance cannot go so far.'

'You would hate me--you would despise me!' she exclaimed, sobbing, 'if you only knew ... oh! I shall never be able to tell ... if you only knew ... how unfortunate I am ... how I ...'

'Dear Jettè,' said I, in some agitation, 'you have come to enter into an explanation with me; allow me to assist your confession, and help to lighten the burden which weighs so heavily on your heart. You have come, I know, to break off with me.'

'You know!' she exclaimed, in consternation. And she seemed as if she were going to faint. 'Take pity on me, Carl; leave me for a few minutes; I dare not look you in the face.'

She buried her own face in her pocket-handkerchief, and wept bitterly. I kissed her hand, and left her.

Very much out of spirits myself, I wandered to and fro under the trees.

'How is all this to end?' said I to myself; 'the poor girl will fret herself to death if she cannot have her Gustav, and get rid of her cousin. Gustav is a fine fellow, and a very good match; even the father allows that. The cousin must be an idiot to let himself be betrothed by his father's orders to a girl he knows nothing about--and a tiresome one too, according to what is reported of him. Jettè is a girl with a great deal of feeling--but he must be a clod with none; he can't care in the least for her, or he would have been here long ere this. He shall not have her. What, if I were to advise them to run away an hour or two before I take myself off? or, suppose we were all three to elope together? Nonsense! How can I think of such folly? Poor girl! it would melt a heart of stone to see her crying there. What if I were to stay and play the cousin a little longer--formally renounce her hand--give her up to Gustav? I should like to act such a magnanimous part ... and when it was all well over, and the real cousin arrived, to let him find that he had come on a fool's errand, and go back to nurse his cold ... or, it might be better to drop him a line by the post to save a scene? I'll do it. By Jove! I'll do it! The god of love himself must have sent me here; no man in the wide world could do the thing better than myself. But what right have I to decide thus the fate of another man--a man whom I have never even beheld? Right! It is time to talk about right, forsooth, after I have been doing nothing but wrong for thirty-six hours. No, no, let conscience stand to one side, for the present at least; it has no business in this affair. I have acted most unwarrantably, I know, but I will make up for my misdeeds by one good deed--one blessing will I take with me; and when I am gone, two happy persons at least will remember me kindly, and Hannè will be less harsh in her judgment of my conduct, since it will have brought about her sister's happiness. Let me set my shoulders to the wheel--there is no time to lose. No, they shall not all execrate me.'

Jettè was still sitting on the bench where I had left her. I placed myself beside her, and tried to reassure her.

'I said I owed you some explanation; allow me in a few words to tell you all you wish to communicate. You do not care for me--you love Gustav Holm--you will be wretched if you cannot find some good pretext for breaking off the match with me--you have many reasons to love him, none to love me--you want to let me know how the matter stands, and to give me a basket, but to do it in so amicable a manner, that you hope I will accept it quietly like a good Christian, and not make too much fuss about it. All this is what you would have told me sooner or later. Am I not right, Jettè? or is there more you would have entrusted to me?'

She hid her face with her hands.

'My window was partly open the other night,' I added. 'I overheard your conversation with Gustav Holm, and I knew immediately, of course, what I had to expect. You will believe, I hope, that I have sufficient feeling not to wish to force myself upon one who cannot care for me. Forgive me that I have caused you any uneasiness; it was against my own will. I would much rather have convinced you sooner that you have no enemy in me, but, on the contrary, a sincere friend.'

'Dearest, best Carl! Noblest of men! You restore me to freedom--you restore me to life! The Almighty has heard my prayers! You do not know how earnestly I have prayed that you might find me detestable.'

'Therein your prayers have not been heard, Jettè,' said I. 'If you could have loved me, I could not have wished a better fate. I love you and Hannè much more than you think.' I felt that every word I had just spoken was positive truth. Jettè wrung my hand.

'You have removed a mountain from my heart,' she replied. 'Would that I could thank you as you deserve!'

I was quite ashamed of all the thanks she poured out, and all the gratitude she expressed. It is an unspeakable pleasure to promote the happiness of one's fellow-creatures; it is an agreeable feeling which I would not exchange for any other.

When the first burst of joy was over, Jettè consulted with me how it would be best to break the matter to her father. I told her of his good opinion of Gustav, and built upon it the brightest hopes.

Jettè shook her head. 'He will insist that I shall keep my promise,' said she, mournfully. 'He will not relinquish a plan which he has cherished for so many years. How dreadful it is for me to disappoint him!'

'Very well, take me.'

'Oh! do not jest with me, dear Carl. My only dependence is on you.'

'I shall take my departure immediately, and leave a letter renouncing my engagement to you. That will go far to help you.'

'For Heaven's sake, stay! You are the only one who can speak to him,' said she. 'You have already acquired much influence over him.'

'Then let us proceed at once to the éclaircissement. I shall tell him that I have discovered that your heart belongs to Gustav Holm, not to me; and that I cannot accept any woman's hand unless her heart accompanies it.'

'Oh! what a terrible moment it will be when that is said! I tremble at the very idea of it. You do not know what he can be when his anger is thoroughly roused.'

'Then would you prefer to elope with Gustav? Like a loyal cousin, I will assist you in your escape.'

'That would enrage him still more; he has always been so kind and gentle to me.'

'I wish we had Gustav here, that something might be determined on. These anticipated terrible moments are never so dreadful in reality as in expectation; you have had a proof of this in the one you have just gone through.'

'Gustav will be here soon; he knows that I had requested this private conversation with you ... he will meet me here in the wood ... he will come when--when....' She stopped, and blushed deeply.

'He will come when I am gone,' I said, laughing. 'That was very sensibly arranged, but the arrangement must be annulled nevertheless, and he must make the effort of showing himself while I am here. I dare say he is not many miles off--perhaps within hail. Mr. Holm! Mr. Holm!' I roared at the top of my voice. 'He knows my manner of inviting him, and you will see that he will speedily present himself. Good morning, Mr. Holm!' I added.

'For God's sake do not shout so loudly, you will be overheard,' said Jettè. 'Oh! how will all this end?'

'Uncommonly well,' thought I. 'Here comes the lover.'

Gustav came, almost rushing up; his countenance and manner expressed what was passing in his mind, namely, uncertainty whether he was to look on me as a friend or a foe.

'Gustav--Carl!...' exclaimed Jettè, sinking back on the bench. She found it impossible to command her voice; but her eyes, which dwelt with affection on us both, filled up the pause, and expressed what words would not.

I took his hand and led him up to Jettè. He knelt at her feet, she threw her arms round his neck, while I bent over them, and beheld my work with sincere satisfaction. There was a rustling in the bushes, and Hannè and her father stood suddenly before us! The lovers did not observe them, although I did my utmost by signs to rouse their attention.

'What the devil is all this?' exclaimed the Justitsraad, in a voice of thunder. 'What does this mean? Carl, what are you doing?'

'I am bestowing my cousinly benediction and full absolution and remission of sins, as you ought to do, my worthy uncle,' I replied, as cheerfully as I possibly could. It was necessary to appear to keep up one's courage. Gustav rose hastily, and Jettè threw herself into her sister's arms.

'My dear sir!' said Gustav, imploringly.

'Mr. Holm!' cried the Justitsraad, drawing himself up.

'Dear uncle!' I exclaimed, interrupting them both, 'allow me to speak. Gustav adores Jettè, and she returns his love. There can be no more question about me; I am her cousin, and nothing either more or less. I am not such an idiot as to wish to force a woman to be my wife whose heart is given to another. I have dissolved the engagement between Jettè and myself, deliberately, and after due reflection. I could not make her happy, and I will not make her unhappy. There stands the bridegroom, who only awaits your blessing. Give it, dear uncle, and let this day become the happiest of my life, for it is the first time I ever had an opportunity of doing good.'

'Heavens and earth! a pretty piece of work, indeed!' The Justitsraad was as blustering as a German, and would on no account allow himself to hear reason. A great deal of his anger was naturally directed against me. I tried to smooth matters down. Jettè wept and sobbed. It was a hundred to one against us. 'I shall write to your father this very day,' he said, at length; 'he only can absolve me from my vow; but that he will not do--that he certainly will not do on any account. This marriage has been his greatest wish, for I do not know how many years, as well as mine.'

'But he will be obliged to do it,' said I; 'this very afternoon I shall take my departure, and you shall never hear of me more. My father's power over me by no means extends so far as you seem to fancy. I will not make Jettè miserable, merely to indulge his whims. Dear uncle, let me persuade you to believe that your contract is null and void: give your blessing to Gustav and Jettè, and leave me to settle the matter with my father. Feelings cannot be forced. Jettè does not care for me, and you ought not, in this affair, to be less liberal than I am.'

'Liberal--liberal indeed! He is always prating about such folly,' exclaimed the Justitsraad, in a rage. 'It is that abominable Berlin liberality that has entirely ruined him.'

Berlin liberality! It was the first time I had ever heard that bewailed. But what absurd things do people not stumble upon when they are angry, and speak without reflection.

'Well, it was Berlin that ruined me, according to my uncle, and so utterly ruined me ... that I am betrothed in Berlin, and cannot be betrothed again. It is against the law both here and in Prussia to have two wives.'

This was an inspiration prompted by the exigency of the occasion; what did one untruth more or less signify? I was a Jesuit at that moment, and excused myself with Loyola's doctrine--that the motive sanctifies the means.

'Betrothed!' exclaimed the Justitsraad--'betrothed in Berlin! Make a fool of me! Hark ye, Carl ...'

'Betrothed!' interrupted Hannè. 'Upon my word, you are a fine fellow, cousin. That is the reason he does not wear Jettè's betrothal-ring. And I to be standing here admiring his magnanimity!'

Jettè silently held out her hand to me from one side, Gustav from the other; these were well-meant congratulations.

'Yes, betrothed,' I continued. 'Abuse me at your will, hate me, curse me, say and do what you please, but betrothed I am, and betrothed I must remain.'

This was a settler. The wrath of the Justitsraad cooled by degrees; that really kind-hearted man could not withstand so many anxious looks and earnest prayers; and fear of all the gossip and ridicule to which his holding out longer under the circumstances might give rise, also had effect upon him.

'You are a sad scapegrace, Carl,' he said, 'and Jettè may be thankful she is not to have you for her husband; but she shall not be left in the lurch on account of your foolish freaks.' He took her hand and placed it in Gustav's, saying, 'You must make up to me for the failure of those hopes which I have cherished through so many years. But,' he added, with a sigh, 'what will my brother say when he hears this history?'

Jettè cast herself upon his neck; she almost fainted in his arms; the rest of us surrounded him. There was no end to embraces and thanks.

'And now let us hasten to my mother,' said Hannè; 'the revolution shall end there. I would not be in your place, cousin, for any money; you will be soundly rated.'

'You shall be my advocate, Hannè, and shall defend my case; it is only under your protection that I dare appear before my aunt. Take me under your wing--I positively will not leave you.'

I slipped my arm round her waist, and I think, if I remember aright, I was going to kiss her.

'Hands off, Mr. Cousin! Now that you are not to be my brother-in-law you must not make so free. Remember your intended in Berlin.'

Alas! to help others I had injured myself. Hannè, her father, and I walked on first, the lovers followed us a little way behind. As we came along we met some of the peasantry on the estate going to their work.

'Hollo! good people!' cried I to them, 'this evening we must be all merry, and drink your master's good health, and dance on Miss Jettè's betrothal-day. Hurrah for Miss Jettè and Mr. Holm!'

'Hurrah!' cried the people. And the declaration was made.

'Be quiet, you good-for-nothing!' cried the Justitsraad, 'and don't turn everything topsy-turvy in a place that does not belong to you. A feast, forsooth--drink my health, indeed! It is easy for you to be generous at another's man's expense. I declare the fellow is determined to take the whip-hand of us all.'

My aunt heard the noise, and came out on the steps to ask what was the matter. I crept behind Hannè and hid myself.

'A complete revolution, my dear, which that precious fellow Carl has brought about. When the luncheon-bell had rung for some time in vain, without their making their appearance, Hannè and I went to look for Jettè and Carl in the wood; I expected to have found him at Jettè's feet; but instead of him there lay another, and he was actually busying himself in making up a match between them. Truly, it is an edifying story. Come in, and I will tell you all about it, and you will see to what purpose he has travelled. He has betrothed himself in Berlin, fancy--and very probably in Hamburg, in Paris, in Vienna, wherever he may have been. He is a fine fellow! A pretty viper we were nourishing in our hearts!'

My aunt was easily reconciled to the course of events, and she gave the young couple her maternal blessing. But it was me whom they all wanted for a son-in-law and a brother-in-law. It was very flattering to be such a favourite; however, as I was not to be had, they received Gustav (for whom they had a great regard) with open arms. We all became as sprightly as a parcel of children, and I would have been very happy had not the many affectionate good wishes for the future welfare of myself and my unknown fiancée in Berlin fallen like burning drops of molten lead on my soul, and had I not had constantly before me the remembrance that I must soon leave this pleasant circle, and for ever! My proposition to spend that day entirely by ourselves was agreed to, and orders were given to admit no visitors.

'Let me but live this day undisturbed to the end,' thought I, 'and I shall demand nothing more from Fortune, which has hitherto been so kind to me.' It was a day, the like of which I have never spent. You will, perhaps, think it strange, dear reader, that my conscience should be so much at ease; but I must frankly confess that the good action I had accomplished, and the happiness I had bestowed, had entirely had the effect of quieting that internal monitor. Jettè was right when she said that I had already obtained some influence over her father; for I can positively assert that my sudden and public announcement of the state of affairs had been taken in good part. I was all activity and excitement; and my exuberant mirth, which was almost without bounds, did not permit a serious word, scarcely a serious thought. I obliged them all to exert themselves, and fly about in order to make preparations for a little dance in a round summer-house at one end of the garden: the Justitsraad had to send to the village for two fiddlers; his wife had to give out sheets and curtains to make hangings for the walls; the young ladies wove garlands; Gustav and I manufactured chandeliers out of barrel-hoops and vegetables. Everybody was set to work, and before the evening the prettiest little ball-room that could be was arranged; and the people on the estate declared they had never seen anything so splendid before; 'but, to be sure, there had never been a betrothal feast in the family before.'

'You are a clever fellow, Carl,' said the Justitsraad; 'you have got this up so prettily and so well, that one might almost give a real ball. Were it not that I should have my wife and children up in arms against me, I really fancy I should like a dance. But there would be too many difficulties in the way.'

Hannè flew up to her father, and hugged him in her joy; he was taken at his word, and nothing else was talked of but the ball, which in the course of eight days was to be given to celebrate Jettè's betrothal.

'We will set about writing the invitations at once,' said Hannè; 'there is an hour or more yet before the people are to begin to dance, and we have nothing to do. Let us fetch pen, ink, and paper; I will dictate, and Carl shall write; it will be done directly, almost, and early to-morrow morning we shall send off the invitations. So, all the difficulties are overcome. Now, cousin, mend your pen; you write a good hand,' said Hannè.

'Write! No, that I won't,' thought I. 'I shall take good care not to betray myself by that.'

'Gustav can write what you want; I have hurt my hand,' said I, looking round; but Gustav and Jettè had both disappeared.

'How? Let me see,' said Hannè. 'It is not true. Gustav and Jettè have gone into the garden; we must let them alone; so you shall come, and you may as well do it at once.'

'But I have really hurt my finger, Hannè; it is extremely painful. I shall not be able to make the most wretched pothooks--my finger is quite swollen.'

'Or rather you are extremely lazy, and won't take the trouble,' said Hannè. 'But at least you shall help me to write a list of the people to be invited, before I forget half of them; I have got them all in my head just now, and your pothooks are good enough for that. Begin now! Put down first our neighbours who were here yesterday. Kammerraad Tvede, with his wife, his two daughters, his son, and the tutor. Have you got them down?' Hannè looked over my shoulder at the paper. 'But what in the world stands there?' she asked.

'Kammerraad Tvede, with his wife, his two daughters, his son, and the tutor,' I replied. 'These are Greek characters, Hannè; I can write nothing but Greek with this finger.'

'But I can't read Greek, you refractory monster!' cried Hannè, dolefully.

'You must learn it, then, Hannè. Task for task; if you force me to write the list, I will force you to read Greek.'

'That's right, my boy!' exclaimed the Justitsraad, laughing heartily. 'If one gives the girls an inch, they are sure to take an ell; they would take the command of us altogether, if they could.'

After a great deal of joking and foolery, we accomplished making out the list, and the last name given was that of my good uncle, the worthy pastor, whom it was my purpose to visit, and whose guest I would be before the sun rose on the following day.

'Do you know him, too?' I asked, with a feeling of mingled surprise and annoyance.

'He confirmed both Jettè and me,' said Hannè; 'he is an excellent man, therefore I kept him to the last. You can hardly imagine how much we are all attached to him. If ever I marry, he shall perform the ceremony, I think you must remember him; at least, you saw him in this house more than once when you were here as a child.'

'Very true. I think I recollect him; he is a tall, old man, with a hooked nose. Yes, I remember him distinctly.'

This time, at least, I had no need to help myself out with lies! In a situation such as mine, one seizes with avidity every opportunity to speak truth; it is so very refreshing when one is up to the ears in untruth.

Our chandeliers answered their purpose exceedingly well: the fiddlers scraped loudly and merrily, and the floor shook under the powerful springs and somewhat weighty footing of the country swains and damsels who were dancing in honour of Miss Jettè's betrothal. I had taken a turn in the waltz with each of the village belles, and danced that furious Fangedands with Hannè--a dance that one must have seen the peasantry execute, in order to form an idea how violent it is. Glee and good-humour reigned around, and even the Justitsraad entered heartily into the joyous spirit which seemed to prevail. And, although from time to time, he whispered to me, 'I ought to be very angry at you--you have played me a pretty trick,' yet he was not in the slightest degree angry; on the contrary, he submitted with an extremely good grace to what he could not help. But I--I who had been the originator and cause of all this gaiety and gladness--I felt only profound melancholy, and stole away to indulge in it amidst the most lonely walks of the garden, or in the wood beyond. The hour of my departure was drawing rapidly near.

Perhaps you may imagine, dear reader, that it would be impossible for me to be sad or serious. Could you have beheld me wandering about the grounds alone, that September evening, when every one else was dancing, you would have found that you were mistaken in your opinion of me. I ascended the sloping hill, on which stands Hannè's favourite swing. By day the view from thence is beautiful; and even at night it is a place not to be despised. The garden, stretching out darkly immediately beneath, looked like an impenetrable wood. The moon was in its first quarter, and therefore shed but a faint uncertain light over objects at a little distance, while its trembling rays fell more brightly on the far-off waves of the Baltic Sea, making them appear nearer than they really were. On the right, the walls and chimneys of the dwelling-house gleamed through the openings of the trees; on the left, light blazed from the illuminated summer-house, whence came the sound of a hundred feet, tramping in time to the overpowered music. All else was as still around me as it generally is in the evening in the country, where the occasional bark of some distant dog, with its echo resounding from the wood, is the only sign of life. Behind me lay the pretty grove; and above my head stood the swing, on one of whose tall supporters my name was fastened in derision.

Had you seen how carefully I detached the piece of paper from the wood, and placing myself in the swing where I had sat with Hannè, allowed myself to rock gently backwards and forwards, while I gazed on the strange name that had become dearer to me than my own, because she had pronounced it and written it, you would have perceived that I also could have my sad and serious moments. But people of my temperament seek to avoid observation when a fit of blue-devils seizes them, and only go forth among their fellow-beings when the fit has subsided.

Jettè and Gustav took me by surprise. They had passed in silence through the garden, and arm-in-arm they had as silently ascended the little eminence.

'What, you here! in solitude, and so serious, dear cousin?' said Jettè; 'you look quite out of spirits. Everyone connected with me should be happy on this my betrothal day, and I must reckon you among the nearest of those--you, whom I have to thank for my happiness. Come and take a share in the joy you have created; if I did not know better, I might be inclined to fancy that you are grieving over the irreparable loss you have had in me: you really do assume such a miserable countenance.'

'Do not ridicule me, Jettè; I have perhaps just lost more than I can ever be compensated for.'

'It is well that a certain person in Berlin cannot overhear what politeness induces you to say in Zealand,' replied Jettè. 'But a truce to compliments at present, they only cast a shade of doubt over your truthfulness: keep them for those who know less of your affairs than I do, and let us speak honestly to each other. In reality, you are glad not to become more nearly connected with us than you are already: you cannot deny that.'

'Do you think so? And if that were far from the fact?--if, on the contrary, that were the cause of my melancholy--the knowledge of the impossibility of my being so--what would you say?'

'I should be under the necessity of pitying you very much, poor fellow!' said Jettè, laughing. 'But who would have thought that this morning?'

'You may indeed pity me, Jettè, for when I leave this place my heart and my thoughts will remain behind, with you--with all your dear family; and I must leave you soon.'

'Soon! Are you going abroad again?' asked Gustav.

'Two days after your arrival among us!' exclaimed Jettè; 'no, no, we cannot agree to that.'

'And yet it must be,' I said. 'I shall be gone, perhaps, sooner than you think. I have my own peculiar manner of coming and going, and ...'

'But what whim is this, Carl?' asked Jettè, interrupting me. 'Did you not come to spend some time with us? You may depend on it my father will not hear of your going, though our wishes and requests may have no influence over you.'

'I am compelled to go, dear Jettè; I must leave you for some time. Perhaps we shall meet again ... but should that be impossible, I shall write you, if you will permit me. And when I am gone, will you take my part, if I should be made the subject of animadversion? Let me hope, dear Jettè, that you and Gustav will think kindly of me, and that on the anniversary of this day you will not forget me when you stroll together through that wood which was this morning the scene of my dismissal.'

They both shook hands with me.

'But Carl, I hardly understand you,' said Jettè; 'you are so grave, so strange; you speak as if we were about to part for ever. Have you any idea of settling in Berlin?'

'I beseech you, Jettè, speak not of Berlin--that was a subterfuge, a story, which came suddenly into my mind; I could not pitch upon any better excuse wherewith to upset your father's plan in a hurry, or I would not have lied against myself. I assure you I have never put my foot in Berlin, nor am I betrothed to anyone.'

Jettè stepped back a few paces, and fixed on me a look of surprise and earnest inquiry.

'What!' she exclaimed, 'you have never been at Berlin? You have told what is not true about yourself to help me? You are not engaged?'

'No; as certainly as that I stand at this moment in your presence, I am not engaged, and have never attempted to become so. I have only put myself in the way of receiving one refusal in my life,' I added, smiling, as Jettè began to look suspiciously at me, 'and that was this morning in yonder wood. Were it not superfluous, I could with ease give you the most minute particulars.'

There was a short silence; then Jettè exclaimed,

'You are a noble creature, Carl; may God reward you, for I cannot. But day and night I will pray for your welfare.' She was much affected, her voice faltered. Gustav shook my hand cordially.

'My dear friends,' said I, 'do not accord to me more praise than I deserve, for the higher one is praised the greater is the fall when opinions change. Hear me before you promise to pray for me, and let me tell you how ... but no, no, let me keep silence--let me say nothing. Pardon my seeming caprice. Promise me that you will be my sincere and unshaken friends, and let us go and dance again. May I have the honour of engaging the bride for the next waltz?'

I had been on the point of confessing all my foolish pranks, and how I was imposing on them; but false shame prevented me. Was it better or not? I scarcely knew myself. I begged them to accompany me back to the summer-house. In the alley of pine-trees which led to it we met Hannè, who, according to her own account, was looking about for us; she almost ran against us before she perceived us.

'But, good Heavens I have you all become deaf? I have been calling you over and over, without receiving the slightest answer, and now I find you gliding about in deep silence, like ghosts, scaring people's lives out of them. I suppose Carl has been amusing himself, as usual, with mischief, and has been haunting you two poor lovers, and disturbing you. Do you not know, Carl, that you have no sort of business to be--in short, are quite an incumbrance where Jettè and Holm are? Now answer me--do you know this, or do you not, Carl?'

'No,' I replied, shortly.

'"No!" Is that a fitting answer to a lady? Be so good as to reply politely. I must take upon myself to teach you good manners before you go abroad again, else we shall have reason to be ashamed of you.'

And then she began to hum the song of 'Die Wiener in Berlin:'

'In Berlin, sagt er,
Musz du fein, sagt er,
Und gescheut, sagt er,
Immer sein, sagt er....'

'I wish Berlin were at the devil, Hannè!' I exclaimed, interrupting her; 'that is my most earnest desire, believe me.'

'A very Christian wish, and expressed in choicely elegant phraseology, everyone must admit.'

'Only think, Hannè, he has never been at Berlin, and is not betrothed there. Carl only made these assertions because he could think of no other way of making my father agree to our wishes,' said Jettè, almost crying.

'What! he is not engaged? He has never been in Berlin? Well! he is the greatest story-teller I ever met. Did he not stand up, and make positive declarations of these events, with the most cool audacity? It is too bad. Lying is the worst of all faults--it is the root of all evil.'

'No, my little Hannè, idleness is the root of all evil.'

'I dare say you abound in that root too. But I don't think you can ever have studied the early lesson-books, from which all children should be instructed. I shall myself hear you your catechism to-morrow, and rehearse to you the first principles of right and wrong; so that when you leave us, you may be a little better acquainted with the doctrines of Christianity than you are at present.'

'But he leaves us to-morrow, Hannè; he has assured us of that.'

'We positively will not allow him to make his escape,' said Hannè. 'At night we shall lock him in his room, and during the day Thomas shall watch him. That boy sticks as fast as a burr,--he won't easily shake him off.'

'But suppose I were to get out by the window? You cannot well fasten that on the outside.'

'And break your neck, forsooth. No, no; that way of making your exit won't answer.'

'Oh, people can climb up much higher than my window, and descend again without breaking their necks,' said I.

Jettè and Gustav coloured violently.

'Well, we can discuss that point to-morrow. This evening, at least, you will remain with us, on account of its being Jettè's betrothal day. Come, give me your arm, and let us take a walk; it is charming, yonder in the garden--within the summer-house one is like to faint from the heat.'

We strolled on, two and two, in the sweet moonlight; sometimes each pair sauntering at a little distance from the other--Hannè and I chatting busily, while Gustav and Jettè often walked in the silence of a happiness too new and too deep for the language of every-day life.

'Is it really true that you are going to leave us?' asked Hannè.

'It is, indeed, too true; I must quit this place.'

'Why? if I may venture to ask. But do not tell me any untruth.'

'Because I have been here too long already--because a longer residence among you all ... near you, dear Hannè, would but destroy my peace.'

'I expressly desired you not to tell me any lies. Good Heavens! is it impossible for you to speak truth two minutes together?'

'And is it impossible for you to speak seriously for two minutes together? What I have just said is the honest truth.'

'Humph! However, tell me, is it true or not true that you are engaged in Berlin? Who have you hoaxed--Jettè and me, or my father and mother? I beseech you speak truth this once.'

'If any one is hoaxed, it is your father, Hannè; but at the moment I could think of nothing else to shake his determination, or I certainly should not have composed such a story, for telling which I blamed myself severely.'

'Oh, of course I believe you! To make a fool of one's own excellent uncle! It is a sin that ought to lie very heavy on your conscience, Carl. It is almost as great a sin as to make fools of one's cousins.'

'That is a sin from which I hope you will absolve me. Ah, Hannè! what has most distressed me was, that my character must have appeared dubious in your eyes. From the first moment I was wretched, because I could not tell you that it was only a pretended engagement.'

'I do not see what I have to do with your being betrothed in Berlin or not. As far as I am concerned, you might be betrothed in China, if you liked.'

'Your gaiety of temper makes you take everything lightly, and yet it is you who have taught me that life has serious moments. You have transformed me, Hannè; if you could only know what an influence the first sight of you, the night I arrived here, has exercised upon my fate ...'

'Indeed! Do tell me all about it; what was the wondrous and fearful effect of the sight of me?' said Hannè, laughing.

'Dear Hannè, without intending it, you have pitched upon the right words, in calling it "wondrous and fearful." Yes, it will follow me like a heavy sentence from a judgment-seat, ever reproaching me with my thoughtlessness. Awake, and in dreams, will I implore forgiveness; I will kneel and pray for it. Look at me once more with that captivating glance which, yon evening, made me forget myself, and tell me that you will not hate me--loathe me--despise me: see, upon my knee I entreat one kind look--one kind word!'

I had actually fallen on one knee before Hannè, and had seized her hand--

'Let my hand go, you are squeezing it, so that you quite hurt me. That is not at all necessary to the part you are acting. Get up, cousin; you will have green marks on your knees, and I can't endure to see men in such an absurd, old-fashioned plight. You should be thankful that it is no longer the mode, when one is making love in earnest, to fall down on one's knees. These pastoral attitudes are very ridiculous; they savour of a shepherd's crook, and a frisky lamb with red ribbon round its neck.'

I arose quite crestfallen.

'At any rate I must allow that you promise to be a capital actor,' added Hannè. 'Next Christmas, when you come back, we shall get up some private theatricals: that will be charming! Last year we could not manage them, because we had no lover; Holm positively refused to act the part, unless I would undertake to be his sweetheart; and a play without love is like a ball without music.'

'Hannè, let us speak seriously for once. I really am going away, and shall be gone, perhaps, before you expect it; for I hate farewell scenes. It is not without emotion that I can think of leaving my amiable cousins, and God only knows if we shall ever meet again. Laugh at me if you will, I cannot forbid your doing that; but believe me when I tell you that your image will be present with me wherever I may go, and ...'

'You will travel in very good company, then,' said Hannè, interrupting me.

'Let me take the happy hope with me that I shall live in your friendly remembrance. Sink the cousin if you choose, dear Hannè; cousinship is not worth much, and let the term friend supersede it. That is a voluntary tie, for which I should have to thank but your own feelings. It is as a friend that I shall think of you when I go from this dear place, and as a friend that your image will follow me throughout the world.'

'Oh, it won't be very troublesome to you,' said Hannè. 'As to me, I don't happen to be in want of cousins, still less of friends. Let me see, in what office shall I instal you? Make a confidant of you? We do not employ any in our family; I am my own confidante: assuredly I could have none safer. I shall follow in this the example of my silent sister, who never gave me the slightest hint of her love for Gustav. A counsellor? Truly, such an accomplished fibber would make a trustworthy counsellor? No, I am afraid, if you throw up the post you hold, you will find it difficult to replace it by any other.'

'Very well, let me retain it then, but not as the gift of chance. You must yourself, of your own free will, bestow on me the title of your cousin, your chosen cousin: that is a distinction of which I shall be proud.'

'And will you, then, promise to come back at Christmas, and act plays with us?'

'I promise you into the bargain a summer representation, before autumn is over,' said I. 'The Fates only know if I shall preserve the dramatic talent I now have until winter.'

I had caught a portion of Hannè 's gaiety, and my sentimental feelings, so much jeered at, shrank into the background.

'Then I will dub you my cousin of cousins; and besides, on account of your many great services and merits, I will confer on you the distinguished title of my court story-teller.'

'And on the occasion of receiving this new title, I must, as in duty bound, kiss your hand; wherefore I remove this little brown glove, which henceforth shall be placed in my helmet, in token of my vassalage to a fair lady.'

'No, stop! give up my glove, cousin--I cannot waste it upon you. It is a good new glove, without a single hole in it. Give it up, I tell you; the other will be of no use without it.'

She tried to snatch it from me, but I held it high above her head, and speedily managed to seize its fellow-glove.

'You must redeem them, Hannè; a kiss for each of the pair is what I demand; and they are well worth it, for they are really nice new gloves. I will not part with them for less.'

'I think you must be a fool, Carl, to fancy for one moment that I would kiss you to recover my own gloves. No, I will die first,' she exclaimed, in a tone of comic indignation.

In answer to her mock heroics, I apostrophized the gloves in glowing terms, finishing with--'On your smooth perfumed surface I press my burning lips. Tell your fair mistress what I dare not say to her, what I at this moment confide to you.' I kissed the gloves.

'Well, well, give me back my gloves and I will let you kiss me,' said Hannè. 'But it shall be the slightest atom of a kiss, such as they give in the Christmas games, the most economical possible; it must not be worth more than four marks, for that was the price of the gloves. Now, are you not ashamed to take a kiss valued so low?'

'No, I will take it. But the value I put upon it is very different, for the slightest kiss from your lips, Hannè, is worth at least a million. You will make me a millionnaire, Hannè.'

I gave her the gloves, and was just on the point of kissing her, when the voice of the Justitsraad broke on the silence around, calling, 'Jettè, Hannè, Carl, hollo! where are you all?'

'Here,' cried Hannè, bursting away from me. 'We are coming.'

'But dearest, dearest Hannè! my kiss--my million?'

'We will see about it to-morrow; you must give me credit this evening.'

'My dearest Hannè, to-morrow will be too late; for Heaven's sake, have compassion on me! I am going away to-night; there is no to-morrow for me here. Give me but half the million now--but the quarter--but the four marks' worth which you owe me! Dear Hannè, pay me but the smallest mite of my promised treasure.'

'Nonsense! we must make the best of our way home, or we shall be well scolded.'

Gustav and Jettè joined us at that moment. The gloves and the kiss were for ever lost!

'Why, children, what has become of you, all this time?' exclaimed the Justitsraad. 'Come in now, and have a country-dance with the good folks before we leave them and go to have some mulled claret. Stop, stop, Carl, you can't dance with Hannè; she is engaged to one of the young farmers. You must take another partner. There is poor Annie, the lame milkmaid, she has scarcely danced at all; it is a sin that she is to sit all the evening, because one leg is a little shorter than the other. Go, dance with her.'

'Don't turn the poor girl's head with your enormous fibs,' cried Hannè to me, as I was entering the summer-house. 'Have pity on her unsophisticated heart, and do not speculate upon a million there; the herdsman would probably not allow it.'

'A million? The herdsman? What is all that stuff you are talking?' asked her father.

'Ill-nature--downright ill-nature, uncle.'

'Fie! cousin; that is not a chivalrous mode of speaking. But do go and foot it merrily with lame Annie, and I promise you the dance shall last at least an hour.'

The dance was over--the mulled wine was finished--the happy Gustav had gone to his home--the family had bid each other good night, and I was alone in my chamber.

'This was the last evening,' thought I to myself; 'the short dream was now over, and I had to leave that pleasant house, never more to return to it.' A deep sigh responded to these reflections. 'My deception will soon be discovered; they will revile and despise me. I shall most probably be the cause of their being exposed to the ridicule of the whole neighbourhood; that will annoy them terribly, and they will be very angry that anyone should have presumed to impose so impudently on their frank hospitality. And my kiss ... my million ... the realization of that delightful promise!... What if I were to remain yet another day--half a day--another morning even? Remain!--in order to add another link to the chain which binds me here, and which I am already almost too weak to sever? No--I will go hence. In about an hour the moon will set, and when its tell-tale light is gone I will go too. One short hour! Alas! how many melancholy hours shall I not have to endure when that one has passed. It is incomprehensible to me how I became involved in all this. Chance is sometimes a miraculous guide, when we allow ourselves to be blindly led by it. But a truce to these tiresome reflections; I have no time to think of anything but Hannè, now that I am about to leave her for ever ... For ever! These are two detestable words. Everything is now quite still in the house. I hear no sound but poor Pasop, rustling his chains in his kennel; he will not bark when he sees it is only I passing. They are all friendly to me here, even the very dogs; yet how false I have been to them!'

I threw my clothes and other little travelling appurtenances into my valise, and opened the window.

'But ought I to run away without leaving one word behind? The worthy family might be alarming themselves about me. What shall I write? I suppose I must play the cousin to the end; at any rate I must try to put them on a wrong scent. I shall address my note to Hannè, that she may see that my last thoughts were with her.'

I seized a pencil and wrote:--

'Hannè's cruelty has caused my bankruptcy and my flight. She could have made me a millionnaire, but she has left me a beggar. Poor and sad I quit this hospitable house, leaving behind my blessings on its much-respected and amiable inmates, including the hard-hearted fair one who has compelled me to seek a refuge at Fredericia, which, from the time of Axel, has afforded jus asyli to unfortunate subjects.'

I stuck the paper in the dressing-glass, where it would speedily be observed.

I had played out my comedy, and the sober realities of life were now before me. I fell into a deep reverie, which lasted until the first dawn of day, when I started up to prepare for my departure. First, I threw my carpet-bag out of the window, and then, getting out myself upon the tree, and cautiously descending from branch to branch, I reached the ground safely and quietly. Taking a circuitous route, I at length passed the woody village near my uncle's abode; and the sun stood high in the heavens when, weary and dispirited, and out of humour with the whole world, I entered the parsonage-house.



PART IV.

Eight days after my arrival, I was sitting in the dusk with the old people, while my thoughts were at ---- Court. The good clergyman, according to habit, was shoving the skull-cap he wore on his head to and fro, and talking half-aloud to himself. At length he exclaimed,

'In good sooth, nephew, I am quite surprised at you. Is it natural for a young man to sit so much within doors? You have never gone a step beyond the garden and our little shrubbery, and really there is some very pretty scenery in our neighbourhood, quite worth your seeing.'

'It is a sin that he should be shut up here with us two old people,' said his wife; 'if our son had been at home, it would have been more pleasant for him. It is very unlucky that he should be at Kiel just now. How can we amuse such a young man, my dear? I am quite sorry for him.'

I assured them that I had everything I wished at their house, and was extremely comfortable. But the fact was, that I felt extremely uncomfortable. I was miserable at knowing that I was so near ---- Court, and yet could have no communication with its inhabitants; I was certain that I must have thrown everything there into the greatest commotion, yet, since my flight, I had heard nothing of or from the place round which my heart's dearest thoughts hovered continually.

'Why, instead of a wild, mischievous, merry madcap, as you were represented to be, we find a staid, quiet, grave young man. It is not a good sign when a gay temper takes such a sudden turn. You seem to be quite changed, nephew. Indeed, it strikes me your very appearance has altered; your hair looks darker to me, within these eight days, and your skin is as yellow as if you had the jaundice.'

'Oh, Heaven forbid! The Lord preserve him from that!' cried my worthy aunt, much alarmed.

I relieved her mind by assuring her that my health was excellent.

'And you are allowing the hair on your upper lip to grow to a pair of moustaches,' continued my uncle. 'You will soon look like an officer of hussars. If you were not such a sensible, quiet youth, I should think it was a piece of conceit and affectation, to look smart in the eyes of the girls.'

Without having formed any settled plan connected with the change of my appearance, but not without considerable trouble, had I by degrees blackened my hair, and darkened my complexion with walnut juice, so that I could not be recognized if any of the people from ---- Court should meet me. I had also cultivated moustaches for the same purpose, but they were as yet very diminutive.

'Just tell me, nephew, what do you want with moustaches?'

'I want them because ... I wish ... I must ... I belong to the corps of riflemen, uncle, and the new regulation is, that every rifleman is to have moustaches ... so I must mount a pair.'

'What a foolish regulation! Don't you think so, wife? But I suppose it is a case in which one must do as others do.'

This settled, I was left, as to my disguise, in peace. But my venerable uncle commenced another attack. 'I must positively have you to go out and look about you, Adolph. I am going to-morrow to see my friends Justitsraad ----, whose country seat is not far from this. You shall drive over there with me; the road is very pretty.'

I was in agony. 'I would, much rather remain at home, uncle; I don't know these people.'

'I will introduce you to them. They are a very amiable, charming family, and you will soon become acquainted with them. You absolutely must go.'

What excuse was I to manufacture? I had recourse to fibs again.

'The Justitsraad and my father are personal enemies--they quarrelled about some matter of business. They are deadly foes--I should be very unwelcome--my name is proscribed at ---- Court.'

'How very strange that I never heard of this before!' exclaimed the unsuspecting old man. 'People should not hate each other for the sake of sinful mammon. We must bring about a reconciliation between them. I shall certainly preach upon the subject of forgiveness next Sunday--a powerful discourse will I give.'

'It is also my wish that they should be reconciled, dear uncle, and therefore, I think it would be most prudent not to mention my name yet. If I make the acquaintance of the Justitsraad without his knowing who I am, I shall feel more at my ease with him. I assure you this will be best.'

'Well--so be it,' said my uncle; 'I will not then mention your being here. But I shall throw out a few hints about forgiveness and Christian feelings--these can do no harm.'

'No--that they cannot,' said my aunt. 'But I quite agree with Adolph. I think his plan a good one.'

As soon as the old people had retired to rest, I stole softly through the garden, and reaching the high road, took the way to ---- Court. As I approached it, I saw with pleasure the white summer-house on the outskirts of the garden. Soon after I reached the hill, where stood the well-known swing. The moon was shining brightly, and it was a lovely night. All was so still around, that I could hear the wind whistling through the adjacent alleys of trees--and the rustling of the wind amidst the branches of the pine and the fir has a peculiar sound. Far away in the wood was to be heard the melancholy tinkling of the bells worn by the sheep round their necks. There is a sadness in this monotonous, yet plaintive sound, which has a great effect upon the heart that is filled with longing--and where is the human being who has nothing to long for? But such sadness is not hopeless, and as the bells give tones sometimes higher, sometimes deeper, from different parts of the woods or fields, so tranquillizing voices whisper to our souls, 'There is comfort for every sorrow--we shall not always long in vain.'

The moon shed its soft light over the quiet garden, the clock struck eleven--that was generally the time at which the family retired to rest--therefore I ventured to leave my place of concealment, without the fear of encountering anyone. Presently after I stood again behind the bushes of fragrant jasmine, immediately beneath the windows, and beheld one light extinguished after the other. In the room I lately occupied, all was dark. At length the light also disappeared in Hannè's chamber.

Sleep, sweetly sleep! Dream blessed dreams!

I whispered with Baggesen, and my heart added, in the words of the same poet,

I love--I love--I love but only thee!

In Jettè's room there was still a candle burning; doubtless she was thinking of her Gustav, perhaps writing a few kind words to him. I could hardly refrain myself from climbing up the tree, and speaking to her; I had a claim upon her indulgence, for had I not laid the fountain of her happiness? Laid the foundation! How did I know that the real cousin had not arrived? But even in that case it would be scarcely possible to undo what had been done. I clung to the pleasing idea that I had effected some good.

At length Jettè's candle was extinguished also. The last--last light--I had gazed on it, till I was almost blinded. With an involuntary sigh I turned my steps slowly back towards the garden; something was moving close behind me; it was my quondam friend, a greyhound belonging to the Justitsraad, but he followed growling at my heels, as if he wished to hunt me off the grounds I polluted by my presence.

'Watchel! my boy! is that you? So--so--be still, be still, Watchel!' I turned to pat his head, but he showed his white teeth, and barked at me; and presently all the other dogs near began to bark also. 'Forgotten!' I exclaimed bitterly to myself, 'forgotten, and disliked!' Watchel followed me, snarling, to the extremity of the garden, and barked long at my shadow as I crossed the field.

The next day my uncle drove over to ---- Court. The moment he was gone I hurried up to his study, which looked towards the east, and arranged his large telescope to bear upon that place which had so much interest for me. I could overlook the whole plain; at its extremity was some rising ground studded with trees--this was the garden; to the left lay the grove, and close to it was the hillock on which stood the swing! Suddenly the swing, until then empty, seemed to be occupied with something white, which put it in motion. 'It is Hannè who is swinging!' I exclaimed aloud in my joy; and I spent the whole afternoon in gazing through the telescope, with a beating heart, and with my eyes fixed upon the swing to catch another glimpse of her who had vanished, alas! too soon. One glance at the folds of her white dress had thrown my blood into a tumult of excitement, but how wildly did not all my pulses beat when, towards evening, my uncle's carriage rolled up the avenue of the rectory.

After he had greeted my aunt with all due affection, and delivered the complimentary messages with which he was charged, inquired how things had gone on during the hours of his absence, settled himself comfortably in his old easy-chair, and lighted his pipe, he began with--

'I heard some very strange news over yonder; I really can think of nothing else.'

'What is it, dear? A great rise in the price of anything?' asked his wife.

'Oh no, my dear, not at all. It is a very ridiculous story. It is not to be mentioned; but I know you will keep it to yourself when I particularly request you to do so. Well--I will tell you all about it; it is really quite a mysterious affair.'

And the good man proceeded to relate how, one evening when they were expecting a cousin who was betrothed to Jettè, a person arrived who answered every question about the family, seemed to know all their affairs, gave himself out to be Carl, whom they had not seen for eleven years, and, as might be supposed, insinuated himself into the good graces of the whole of them. 'He found out that Jettè was attached to that young man Holm, who is studying agricultural affairs in this neighbourhood; so he insisted on annulling his engagement to her, declaring that he was not in love with her, but was betrothed abroad. The Justitsraad was at first very angry, but he gave way at last, and there were gay doings at ---- Court that evening. Next morning the cousin was nowhere to be found; but he left behind him a paper of which nobody can make anything. They expected him during two whole days, but he did not make his appearance again. On the third day, another person arrived, who also declared himself to be a cousin, said he was called Carl, and that he was the expected guest. He brought letters from his father, about whose handwriting there could be no doubt, and the whole family recognized him at once from many things. The first, of course, was an impostor. But Jettè is now betrothed to Holm as well as to the cousin, who had come to arrange about the wedding. There was an awful scene--he insisted on Holm's giving up Jettè to him, and her father had at last to interfere to prevent the rivals carrying their wrath to some fearful extremity. The cousin's obstinacy gave great offence, and he took his departure the day after he had arrived. But he was so angry, that it was with great difficulty he was induced to promise that he would hold his tongue, and not blab about this absurd affair.'

'May the Lord graciously preserve us all! It must have been some wicked sharper!' exclaimed my aunt, clasping her hands in great agitation, when her husband had finished his recital.

'Of course he was an impostor. But it is a very curious story. For what could he have come--will anyone tell me that?'

'Why, to steal, to be sure. Did he break into none of the keeping-places? Is there nothing missing--none of the plate? no forks or spoons?'

'Not the slightest article, and he was there for two days, and went about like one of themselves.'

'It is very surprising; but the fact is, he must have come to reconnoitre the premises, and, when the nights are longer and darker, they will hear of him again.'

'It is a most incomprehensible affair,' said I, in a voice that might have betrayed, me to more acute observers. 'And can they not guess at all who he is--have they no clue to him?'

'Not the slightest, nephew. They all describe him as a handsome, gentlemanly young man, who knew how to conduct himself in good society; and he acquitted himself so well in his assumed character, that none of them had the least notion what a trick he was playing them.'

'Believe me, my dear sirs, this person was no other than the celebrated Morten Frederichsen, who was arrested and imprisoned at Roeskilde, but made his escape. He must be a very clever fellow, that,' said my aunt; 'I have been told that he pretended to be a Russian officer once in Copenhagen, made his way into the higher circles, and spoke Russian as if it had been his mother tongue. No doubt he has contrived to get free again; and he is a dangerous man. Heaven preserve us from him! Where he is, there is always mischief going on. I will take care to see that the house-doors are well bolted and secured, and I shall tell the servants to let Sultan loose at night. One cannot be too careful when there are such characters lurking in the neighbourhood.'

The old lady went out to superintend the safe fastening of the house, without dreaming that he who caused her such alarm was dwelling under her own peaceful roof.

The next day nothing else was spoken of, and it was easy for me to draw from my uncle all that I wished to hear. I ascertained that the real cousin had not made a favourable impression; and that, in fact, they were all glad that the engagement between him and Jettè was at an end. My extraordinary and mysterious disappearance had set them all guessing, but they despaired of ever solving the riddle, since all the investigations and inquiries which could be quietly instituted had failed to yield the slightest trace of me. Gustav, following up the hint I had given in the note I had left, had written to a friend in Fredericia, but, of course, this had led to no result. Thomas daily scoured the country round, searching the woods and the moors to find me; but every succeeding day lessened his hopes of being able to bring me a prisoner to his home.

My imprudence, then, had been productive of no bad effects; fortune had befriended the rash fool, as it so often does. I cannot describe with what joy I gathered this happy intelligence; and when I had reflected on it for some days, I came to the conclusion that I might venture again to show myself at ---- Court, and entreat forgiveness of my sad delinquencies. I formed a thousand plans and relinquished them again. At length I wrote to Copenhagen for new clothes, and sent a letter, to be forwarded from thence by the post to the Justitsraad, wherein I made a confession, and candidly avowed all that my inclination for a frolic and a succession of accidental circumstances had led me into. I threw myself upon Miss Jettè's kindness to intercede for me, trusting that she would not refuse me this favour; I dwelt on my contrition and deep regret, and implored forgiveness for my misdemeanours. Nothing did I conceal, except my name and my love for Hannè. I hope, dear reader, that you will not find it necessary to ask why I concealed these.

The blue coat arrived at length from Copenhagen, with information that the letter had been forwarded. It was not difficult for me to put it into my uncle's head to drive over to ---- Court, and ascertain if there had been any elucidation of the mysterious story that had almost entirely chased sleep from my good aunt's couch. I had intended to have accompanied him, but when the time came my courage failed, and, pleading a headache, I left him to go alone.

'You are not well, my dear nephew, that I can easily perceive,' said he, as I saw him into his carriage; 'we must positively send for the doctor. You will turn quite black in the long run, for in a fortnight only you have become as dark as a Tartar, and that is not a healthy colour. Perhaps you have got worms.'

The worthy man little knew that I was purposely obliterating my good complexion more and more, and had the greatest trouble in giving myself this Tartar tint. 'He shall drink some of my decoction of wormwood,' said my aunt; 'it is better than any apothecary's mixtures, and will do him a great deal of good.' Whereupon she invited me to go with her to her sanctum, and there I was compelled to swallow a horrid bitter potion, which was enough to bring the most hardened sinner to a sense of his guilt.

'Well, tell me, have they found Morten Frederichsen?' asked my aunt, when my uncle returned. 'Has he broken in over yonder?'

'No, no, my dear. There was no housebreaker in question at all. Truly, it is a laughable story. The man has written the Justitsraad from Copenhagen.'

'Written? A threatening letter? A defiance? It is making nothing at all of the police--a positive insult to them. But, God be thanked, he is no longer in our neighbourhood.'

'Now, my good wife, you are quite mistaken,' replied my uncle, who then proceeded to relate the contents of my letter, which, it appeared, had still further excited the baffled curiosity of the worthy family.

My aunt could not recover from the state of amazement into which she had been thrown.

'But what says the Justitsraad?' I asked.

'Why, what can he say? He is glad that the intruder was a gentleman, for the letter is evidently written by one in that rank of life, but of course he is angry at having been so hoaxed. But it was Jettè who pacified him, for she did not stop entreating him until he promised her not to vex himself any longer about the matter. I thought of you, nephew, and took the opportunity to say a few words about forgiveness and placability, grounding my lesson of Christian duty on the excellent admonitions of the Scriptures. They talked a great deal about the mysterious personage; and the Justitsraad said at length that he would not wreak his vengeance upon him if he could see him, but would rather feel a pleasure in meeting him again. The girls wanted their father to put an advertisement in the papers addressed in a roundabout way to him, but Mr. Holm dissuaded them from this.'

'That was very right of Mr. Holm,' said my aunt. 'He is a sensible young man; for if the person really was a thief--of which there can be no doubt--for he who tells a lie will also steal ...'

'That does not by any means follow, dear aunt,' said I.

'Well, be that as it may, we are invited to ---- Court to-morrow, and I promised that we would go, and you, too, Adolph. I told them I had a nephew on a visit to me at present.'

'I ... but ... you know, uncle, my father and the Justitsraad ...'

'Oh, we must manage to set all that to-rights; to entertain feelings of enmity is quite unworthy of two such men. Leave the matter to me. I have not yet mentioned your name, therefore you need be under no embarrassment in presenting yourself to the Justitsraad. He is a very pleasant man.'

'Sooner or later--it makes but little difference,' thought I; 'and if I can but look him full in the face, without dreading to be discovered, I shall be willing to acknowledge all his good qualities.'

'Had we not better take the bottle of wormwood with us in the carriage?' said my aunt, next day. 'Adolph looks so black under the eyes this morning, that I am sure he is worse than he was yesterday.'

'I confess I do not like his looks,' said my uncle; 'but perhaps that dark shade is cast by his moustaches. One might really fancy, nephew, that you had darkened your face with burnt cork. You don't look at all like yourself. Truly, the rifle corps has a great deal to answer for.'

My endeavours had been successful. Instead of the gay, fresh-looking, light-hearted cousin, in a dark-green frock-coat, that had left ---- Court, came, along with the clergyman and his lady, a grave, silent, dark-haired nephew, in a blue coat; with an olive complexion, very sallow, and with black moustaches; my transformation was complete. I scarcely recognized myself when I saw myself in the glass. The worst that could happen would be to be taken for myself--the agreeably characterized 'sad scamp' from Hamburg. But for what would I not be taken to see Hannè again!

None of them knew me; the Justitsraad addressed me as 'Mr. Adolph,' and received me very courteously. The guests were Kammerraad Tvede, the Jutlander, and his family, Gustav, a friend of his, and ourselves. I do not doubt that my heightened colour might have been visible even through the swarthy shade of my cheek when Hannè entered the room. She had become ten times prettier than ever in these fourteen days; she looked really quite captivating. Gustav and Jettè cast many speaking glances at each other, and her mother looked kindly at them. I stood silent and grave in a corner window; the various feelings that rushed upon me assisted me in playing the part of a somewhat embarrassed stranger. Watchel rose from his mat, and walked round the room as if to greet his master's well-known guests; he wagged his tail in token of welcome to my uncle and aunt, but he growled at me, whereupon Hannè called him away, and made him lie down in his usual place.

'But tell me, my dear friend, how does this happen? When I was here last your daughter was engaged to another gentleman. What has become of him?' said the inquisitive neighbour, Tvede.

'Oh, that was only a jest from their childhood,' said the Justitsraad. 'He was my brother's son, and was on a visit to us. Jettè was betrothed at that time to Mr. Holm, though her engagement was not generally known.'

'Oh, indeed; but where is your nephew now?'

'He left us some time ago.'

'A very nice young man your nephew is; perhaps what was only jest between him and the elder sister may become earnest between him and the younger one. What say you to that, Miss Hannè?'

Hannè blushed scarlet, but made no answer. The Justitsraad looked a little confused, and smiled to my uncle; I sat as if on thorns.

'So your father resides in Copenhagen, Mr. Adolph?' said the indefatigable questioner, turning towards me.

I rose in a fright, and bowed.

'He is a merchant, is he not? and has a good deal to do with the West Indies?'

'Yes, he has a good deal to do with the West Indies,' I replied, in a feigned voice, as different from my own as I possibly could make it.

'My brother-in-law does a great deal of business with the provinces also--commission-business--as a corn-merchant,' said my uncle; 'that is safer than West India business.'

'Ah, so he is your brother-in-law--married to your sister, no doubt? Well, your nephew seems a fine young man. He is in the army, I suppose?'

'No, my dear sir, he is a clerk in his father's office; but as he has joined a rifle corps, according to a new regulation he is obliged to have moustaches,' replied my uncle, honestly believing the truth of my assertion.

The observation of all present was drawn upon me. I turned crimson. Gustav and his friend cast a meaning glance at each other, and both smiled, I interpreted the smile into this, 'He is a vain, conceited puppy; the regulation is the coinage of his own brain.' What an unmerciful interpreter is conscience! We were to take our coffee in the garden; thither, therefore, we all proceeded. I approached Jettè, and began to talk to her about the pretty country round.

'Have you been long at your uncle's?' she asked.

'I have been there some little time, and I should have left it before now, had not a strange commission been imposed on me--one which I find it very difficult to fulfil. It is a commission which relates to the family here,' I added, when I found she was not inclined to ask any questions.

'To us?' said Jettè; 'and the commission is so difficult?'

'It is no other than to obtain for a man the restoration of that peace of mind of which his inconsiderate folly has deprived him, and to procure for him your father's forgiveness--his pardon of an injury that otherwise will weigh him down with regret and remorse for the remainder of his life.'

Jettè looked at me in astonishment.

'What--Mr. Adolph? I do not understand.'

'A friend of mine has written to me from Copenhagen, and charged me to try and make his peace with the Justitsraad; but the papers which he has forwarded to me containing his case, really present it in such a perplexing and unfortunate light, that I cannot attempt to carry out his wishes, unless you, to whom he particularly desired me first to apply, will grant me your valuable assistance. He certainly did most shamefully abuse your confidence.'

'You know ... it is ... you are acquainted with that strange story?' exclaimed Jettè, much embarrassed.

'I know it thoroughly; and though this is the first time I have had the honour of seeing you, I think I may say you yourself are not better acquainted with the particulars of that affair than I am. It is on your kindness that I principally rely; yet I may not mention my friend's name until he has obtained entire forgiveness. He has given me very positive directions.'

'I cannot but be much surprised that a person who insulted my father and us all so much, should ...'

'Insulted you, my dear young lady? I am shocked to hear it; I am sorry that he should have written me what was not true; his letter led me to believe that, on the contrary, he had rather been of service to you.'

Jettè blushed deeply, and I thought I perceived tears in her eyes. 'He shall certainly not find me ungrateful,' she said; 'I have not forgotten what I owe him. What do you require of me?'

'My friend entreats you, through me, to grant him your forgiveness for a mystification to which purely accidental circumstances led at first, but which was continued solely from an interest in your fate, and an anxious desire to serve you. He entreats that you will use your influence to mollify your father towards him, and procure for me a private interview with him, which I trust will end in the pardon of my friend, who has no dearer wish than to be received again into a circle he so highly esteems and respects, and to be permitted to prove to them how deeply he regrets his thoughtless folly.'

Some others of the same party now approached, and I was obliged to drop the conversation. Gustave and Hannè were disputing.

'Jeer at me as you will,' said Hannè, 'I hold to my opinion, that nothing is so tiresome as family connections. If one only could choose one's kindred those sort of ties would be much stronger. It is a pity not to go a step further, and let it be a fixed rule, that relations to a certain extent remote, should marry whether they suit each other or not. This would certainly extirpate love, but it would be vastly convenient, and in a recent case it would have hindered many doubts and hopes, and all that followed.'

'Pray recollect your last election; there was not much to boast of in him. The ties of consanguinity could hardly have furnished any family with a less desirable member.'

'Yes they could, for the member who came after him was much inferior, notwithstanding he bore on his brow the stamp of legitimacy. Even though my "election," as you call it, fell upon one who was treacherous, he was at any rate pleasant, lively, and amusing, whereas the legitimate one was cold, stupid, pedantic, tiresome; wearying one with every slow word he uttered. You do not mean one syllable of all the evil you speak of the stranger. The properly installed cousins and nephews whom I have latterly seen have been miserable creatures, who looked as if they could not count five, and as if they had not a thought to bestow on anything but their own pitiful persons, on which they placed the most exorbitant value, without the slightest grounds for so doing.'

As she finished this tirade, Hannè cast a side-glance at me, who, in truth, played capitally the part of the most tiresome, self-satisfied blockhead of a nephew anyone could imagine. She had no conception how part of her harangue had enchanted me.

'Legitimate right is a good thing; in that I quite agree with the young lady,' said the Jutlander, who had just approached us, and thought fit to join in the conversation. He had only caught a word or two of what Hannè had been saying, and mistook entirely her meaning.

While we continued to stroll about, Jettè took her sister aside, and whispered something to her. Hannè turned her eyes full on me, and looked keenly at me. As soon as it was possible, I went up to her, and began to talk about the weather, that invariable preface to even the most important and most interesting subjects. We soon fell into conversation, and it turned upon the communication Jettè had just made.

'My sister tells me that your friend is anxious to obtain our forgiveness,' said she. 'We have already given him that, for he has done us a greater service than he thinks. Our regard is another affair; that would be more difficult to bestow, and doubtless he does not entertain the slightest idea of ever winning it.'

'You would condemn him to a severe doom if you would forbid his striving at least to deserve it. Without your good opinion, your forgiveness would be a mere passing act of charity; without the former he would be a beggar all his life, with it he would become a millionnaire.'

Hannè coloured at the reminiscences these words awakened; but she only said,

'You put a high value on it.'

'Not higher than my friend does. Your regard, charming Miss Hannè, is what he seeks, and were he not attracted to this place by a perhaps too vivid souvenir of you, I should not be standing here as his spokesman. Your sister has kindly promised to obtain for me a few minutes' private conversation with your father; if your hatred of my unfortunate friend cannot be softened, tell me so, I pray you, at once, and I shall spare your father a communication which may perhaps remind him of disagreeable impressions, for without your entire pardon I cannot fulfil my errand, and I will not attempt to do it by halves.'

'You are a very zealous agent, there is no denying that. Well, you may speak to my father; I will not be the most hard-hearted of the family. Besides, I really feel that your friend has an advocate in my own inclination for a joke, though his jest was carried rather too far.'

'I expected this goodness from you, or my friend would not have painted you in true colours.'

'And pray in what colours did he paint me, if I may venture to ask? It would be difficult to give anyone's likeness on so short an acquaintance.'

'They were as radiant as if he had borrowed for his pencil tints from heaven to do justice to the original ... He adores you, to say the absolute truth.'

'Indeed! He really does me too much honour,' she said, stiffly, and in an offended tone of voice.

At the 'tints from heaven,' and 'justice to the original,' she had smiled; at the 'absolute truth,' she became angry.

We were at the foot of the hillock, on which stood the swing.

'There must be a fine view from the top of that rising ground,' said I.

Politeness obliged her to ascend the bank. Gustav and his friend followed us at a little distance in earnest conversation; the rest of the party had gone to the summer-house, where coffee was prepared.

'Really, this is a lovely view!' I remarked, mechanically.

'Yonder lies your uncle's church,' said Hannè; 'it makes the twelfth spire we can see from this hill.'

'I have remarked this place from my uncle's window; these white poles shine out against the dark-green background.'

'Were you afraid of them? Did you fancy they were ...'

'A gallows!' I exclaimed, interrupting her. 'No, Miss Hannè; I am rather more rational than my foolish friend.'

Hannè looked inquisitively at me.

'Have you remembered what he begged of you on this spot? That when you heard evil of him, and doubts of his honour, you would come up here, and judge leniently of the absent; that you would not condemn him totally, although appearances might be against him?'

'He must have favoured you with a remarkably minute report of his sayings and doings here,' said Hannè, laughing. 'You have got his speeches by heart--word for word.'

'Every word which he exchanged with you remains for ever engraved on his memory. You promised this to him. Dare he flatter himself that you have not forgotten that promise, and have not deserted him, while he relied on your compassion?'

'I have taken his part a great deal more than he deserves,' she replied. 'But now that is no longer necessary, and if he return here, he shall find me his worst enemy, for I do not allow myself to be made a fool of without taking my revenge.'

'Have some mercy, fair lady! See, I sue for grace--he cannot stand your ire. I have come to throw myself at your feet--acquitted by you, he will have courage to meet any storm ... Miss Hannè,' I added, with my own natural voice, 'you are the only one who knows that the unfortunate sinner is here; condemn me irrevocably, if you have the heart to do so--I will hear my sentence from your lips.'

Hannè looked at me with an arch smile.

'You will not betray me, or misuse my confidence,' I added, in a supplicatory tone. 'Bestow on me your forgiveness, and procure for me that of your parents. Without this I cannot live. You have discovered me, notwithstanding my disguise; it was only under its shelter that I ventured to come near you during the light of day. Ah! at night, I have often been here, standing outside of the house, looking up at your window, until the light was extinguished in your room, and I had no longer any evidence of your proximity to feast upon.'

She looked at me for a moment with unusual softness,--nay, with kindness; then clapping her hands together, she called out,

'Gustav! Linden! Come here--make haste! Here he is--here he is!'

'Who? What is it?' cried the two young men, as they came hurrying towards us.

'For Heaven's sake--Miss Hannè--you surely will not ... you abuse the confidence I placed in you--I did not expect this of you. Will you betray me? Will you disgrace me before that stranger?' I stammered out, amazed and vexed at her sudden change.

'There he is--the false cousin--standing yonder. Now he is caught,' added Hannè, skipping about with joy.

'The cousin--he!' exclaimed Gustav, in great astonishment; 'but tell me then ...'

'Mr. Holm,' said I, 'and you, sir, with whom I have not the pleasure of being acquainted ...'

'True!' cried Hannè, interrupting me, 'I owe you an explanation. You need not excuse yourself to Gustav, in his heart he acknowledges you to be his benefactor; and this gentleman, with whom you have not the pleasure of being acquainted, is quite as cognisant of your exploits as any of us. "You will not betray me, or misuse my confidence,"' said she, mimicking me, 'therefore let me present to you Mr. Linden, my bridegroom elect. You once asked me what this ring I wear betokened--do you remember that? I was then obliged to give you an evasive answer; now I will confide the secret to you, my much honoured cousin--and much admired truth-teller.'

Could I have guessed this, or have had the slightest suspicion of it, two hours earlier, I never again would have put my feet within the doors of ---- Court.

There was nothing for it now but to let myself patiently be dragged about by them, after I had muttered something, that might as well have been taken for a malediction as a felicitation.

My uncle was walking in the alley of pine-trees with the Justitsraad and Jettè; she had been preparing him for the audience I told her I wished of him, but she had not yet the least idea that I was the person for whom she had been pleading. I appeared before them as a poor culprit.

'Dear father,' said Hannè, 'I bring a deserter, who has given himself up to me. He relies on your forgiveness, for which I have become surety, and if you withhold it, my word will be broken.'

'Let me speak, child,' said my uncle, who fancied that a disagreement between my father and the Justitsraad was the affair in question.

'As the servant of the Lord, it is my duty to exhort everyone to peace, and forgiveness of injuries; you should all remember the divine mission of Him who is the fountain of love, and who came to bring goodwill on earth; remembering His example you should chase away hatred, and all evil passions and thoughts from your mind. See, this young person comes to you with confiding hope, and now do shake hands with him in sign of reconciliation, and let not two worthy men remain longer enemies. Speak kindly to him, my old friend, and do not oblige him longer to conceal his name, because it is one which you once disliked--let the past be now forgotten!'

'What, you also pleading for him, my worthy friend? Then, indeed, I must give in. Well, the foolish madcap has found intercessors enough, I think,' said the Justitsraad, as he held out his hand to me.

'He is petitioning for his friend,' said Jettè.

'For my benefactor,' said Gustav.

'For his old father,' said my uncle.

'For himself,' said Hannè. 'This is the pretended cousin himself, in disguise; this is the very man himself who threw our family into such confusion; but what his real name may be, Heaven only knows.'

'He is my sister's son--Adolph Kerner, a son of Mr. Kerner, the well-known Copenhagen merchant; he has no need to be ashamed of his name,' said my uncle.

Everyone was astonished; there was a general silence from amazement.

At length Jettè exclaimed, 'The pretended cousin himself?'

'The young Kerner who went to Hamburg?' asked the Justitsraad.

'What! the impostor my own nephew?' cried my uncle, upon whom the truth began to dawn. The formidable explanation was given, forgiveness followed, and we were reconciled. The Justitsraad shook hands with me cordially.

'And now let us seek my mother,' said Hannè, 'and fall at her feet. For the honour of our sex, I hope Mr. Kerner will have to undergo the pains of purgatory in her presence.'

We proceeded to the summer-house where the rest of the party were sitting at table, taking coffee. The Justitsraad led me up to his wife, and said, 'I beg to present to you your lost nephew, who returns, like the prodigal son, and begs for forgiveness. Tomorrow he will show himself without these moustaches, in his own fair hair, and he hopes to find the same kind aunt in you whom the false cousin Carl learned so speedily to love.'

The lady gave me her hand, after having held up her finger as if to threaten me.

'And here you see Morten Frederichsen, my dear, against whom Sultan was to have guarded our house. The good-for-nothing, he has certainly hoaxed all us old ones,' said my uncle, laughing. 'His liver-complaint was nothing but a trick.'

'What is that you say? Morten Frederichsen! How the idea of that dreadful creature frightened me! But I have retaliated upon him with my wormwood, I rather think.' The good woman was much puzzled, and could hardly comprehend how it all came about.

'And now I beg to introduce to Kammerraad Tvede, the younger Kerner, son of Mr. Kerner of Copenhagen, a youth who has lately returned from an educational trip to Hamburg,' said the mischief-loving Hannè, pulling me up to the Jutlander.

'A very fine young man,' stammered the Kammerraad. 'I have the pleasure of knowing your father, and am aware of the high standing of your house.'

I made my escape over to Jettè and Gustav, who kindly took compassion on me.

'Don't you all see now that it was not so stupid of me to propose examining him in the almanack?' said Hannè.

'At any rate, to you belongs the credit of having placed me in the most painful dilemma,' said I, with some bitterness. 'Be merciful now, and do not play with me as a cat does with a mouse; the conqueror can afford to be magnanimous to the vanquished.'

'Well, the sun is about to set, and I suppose I must let my just resentment go with it. I will forgive you for all your misdemeanours upon one condition, that, according to our late agreement, you will return by-and-by, and assist us in getting up some private theatricals, to which I have the pleasure of inviting all now present. I think you will shine in "The April Fools."'

'Shame on you all!' cried Jettè. 'How can you be so revengeful, and still persecute Mr. Kerner in this inhuman way?'

'I trust he will excuse the persecution,' said her father; 'and I hope that it will not frighten him from a house which will always be open to him, and where he will henceforth be as well received under his own name as he was under that of--Cousin Carl.'