FROM THE DANISH OF CARL BERNHARD.
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
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
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
'Oh! then it is you who are waiting for a gentleman from Copenhagen?'
'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
'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
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
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
'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
'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
'What sort of looking person is he? Is he handsome? Whom does he
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
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!
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
'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
'But I want a lively wife, for I am myself of a very gay disposition,'
'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
'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
'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
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
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
'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
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
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
'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
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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
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
'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.'
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
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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
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
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
'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,
'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
'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
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
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
'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
'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
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
'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,
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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,
'You will travel in very good company, then,' said Hannè, interrupting
'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
'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
'And will you, then, promise to come back at Christmas, and act plays
'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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Sleep, sweetly sleep! Dream blessed dreams!
I whispered with Baggesen, and my heart added, in the words of the same
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
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
'I heard some very strange news over yonder; I really can think of
'What is it, dear? A great rise in the price of anything?' asked his
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
Hannè coloured at the reminiscences these words awakened; but she only
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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
'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
'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
'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
I made my escape over to Jettè and Gustav, who kindly took compassion
'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.'