A TALE OF JUTLAND.
BY S. S. BLICHER.
I had often beheld the highest hill in Denmark, but had not hitherto
ascended it. Frequently as I had been in its neighbourhood, the
objects of my journeys had always required me to turn off in another
direction, and I was thus obliged to content myself with seeing at some
distance the Danish Schwarzwald; and as I passed on, to cast a hurried
glance down the valleys to the charming lake, dotted with green leafy
islets, and which winds, as it were, round jagged tongues of land. At
length I overcame all obstacles, and resolved to devote two days to a
pleasure-trip amidst this much-admired scenery. My cousin Ludwig, who
had just arrived from the capital, agreed to accompany me.
The morning was clear and warm, and gave the promise of a fine evening,
but shortly after mid-day there gradually arose in the south-west a
range of whitish clouds tinged at the sides with flame-colour. My
cousin did not notice them; but I, who am experienced in the signs of
the weather, recognized these indications of thunder, and announced to
him 'that the evening would not be as fine as the morning.' We were
riding exactly in such a direction that we had these clouds opposite to
us, and could, therefore, perceive how they kept rising higher and
higher, how they became darker at the base, and how they towered like
mountains of snow over the summit of the hill. Imagination pictured
them to us like the Alps of Switzerland, and we tried to fancy
ourselves in that mountainous country; we saw Schreckhorn, Wetterhorn,
and the Jungfrau; in the valleys between the clouds we pictured to
ourselves the glaciers; and when a solitary mass of cloud, breaking
suddenly, sank down, and seemed to mingle with the mountain chain, we
called it an avalanche which would overwhelm villages and scattered
chalets with everlasting snow. We continued, absolutely with childish
pleasure, to figure to ourselves in the skies the majestic scenery of
the Alps, and were quite wrapt up in our voluntary self-deception, when
the sudden roar of thunder awoke us from our fantastic dreams. Already
there stretched scarcely the thinnest line of light in the heavens
above us, and the wood which lay before us seemed as if in a moment
enveloped in a thick mist by the fast-falling rain. We had been too
long dilatory, and now we rode as hard as possible to reach the nearest
village; and we were soaked to the skin before we got to Alling, where
we sought shelter under an open gateway.
The owner of the place, an elderly farmer, who seemed a sort of
half-savage foreigner to us, received us with old Danish hospitality;
he had our horses taken to his stable, and invited ourselves into his
warm parlour. As soon as he observed our drenched condition, he offered
us garments belonging to his two sons to wear while our own wet ones
were dried by the blazing hearth. Joyfully did we avail ourselves of
his kind proposal; and in a room upstairs, called the best apartment,
we soon made the comfortable change of apparel, while laughing and
joking at our unexpected travestie. Equipped as peasant lads in their
Sunday's clothes, we shortly after rejoined the family. Our host was
much amused at the change in our outward men, and warmly extolled our
homely appearance, while his two daughters smiled, and stole sly
glances at us--
'Blushed the Valkyries, whilst they turned and laughed.'
The coffee-urn stood ready on the table, surrounded by china cups; the
refreshing beverage, amply provided with brown sugar and rich
unadulterated cream, poured out and handed by one of the pretty
daughters, speedily restored genial heat to our chilled blood; and then
the father of the family thought it time to inquire the names,
occupations, and places of abode of his unexpected guests.
Meanwhile the thunderstorm had passed away; the sun smiled again in the
cloudless west; far away to the east, indeed, could still be heard the
distant whistling and rattling of the winds, but where we were all was
mild and tranquil. The spirits of the storm had folded their dripping
wings, and the raindrops sparkled like diamonds upon every leaf and
flower. The evening promised once more to resemble the morning in
'And now for the ascent of the mountains!' we exclaimed to each other.
'But your clothes?' interrupted the farmer. We hastened into an outer
room, where the other fair daughter was busy drying them; but, alas!
they were still quite damp, and she said she feared she could not
promise that they would be in a fit state to be put on for at least an
hour; and then it would probably be too late to enjoy the view from the
top of the hill, as the ascent, proceeding from where we were at that
moment, would take, perhaps, another hour. What was to be done? The
good-natured countryman helped us out of our dilemma.
'If you are not ashamed of wearing the boys' clothes,' said he, 'why
should you not keep them on?'
'That is a capital idea,' we both replied, and thanking him for the
offer, as we shook hands with him cordially, we asked him where we
could find a guide.
'I will myself be your guide,' he said, as he took from a corner a
juniper-stick for each of us. We then lost no time in commencing our
journey, and still more gaily than before, for we were much amused at
our masquerade, especially my cousin, who seemed to feel no small
admiration for himself in the rustic blue frock-coat, ornamented
with silver buttons--the jack-boots--and the head surmounted by a
'I sincerely wish,' said he, 'that we could fall in with some other
travellers up yonder; that would be great fun.'
Our guide laughed, and hinted that he would not be able to talk like
'Yes, I can though,' said my cousin, who immediately began to speak in
the Jutland dialect, to the infinite diversion of the worthy Peder
Andersen who, however, found still another stumbling-block to the
perfections of the pretended peasant--namely, that his nice white hands
would betray him.
'I can put them in my pocket' ('A ka put em i e Lomm),' cried my gay
cousin, who was determined to admit of no drawback to his assumed
Presently we reached the river Gudenade, which is here tolerably wide,
and has rather a swift current. We crossed in a boat something like a
canoe, and then entered on quite another kind of a country; for here
commenced the moorlands, covered with heather whose dark tints formed
a strong contrast to the bright green on the east of the river. We
had yet a good way to walk, and as the heather, which almost reached up
to our knees, was still wet with rain, we had good reason to be
grateful to our long boots. We approached the wood--a wood of
magnificent beech-trees--which appeared to me here doubly beautiful,
standing out, as it did, against so dark a background. Amidst sloping
dales the path wound always upward; but the thickness of the foliage
for a time deprived us of any view. At last we emerged from the wood,
and found ourselves upon the open summit of the mountain.
When I hear delightful music, or witness an interesting theatrical
representation, I always like to enjoy it for a time in silence.
Nothing acts more unpleasantly, jars more on my feelings, than when any
one attempts to call my attention to either. The moment the remark is
made to me, 'How beautiful that is!' it becomes less beautiful to me
These audible outbursts of admiration are to me like cold shower-baths,
they quite chill me. After a time, when I have been left undisturbed,
and by degrees have cooled in my excitement, I am willing to exchange
thoughts and mingle feelings with those of a friend, or of many
friends; indeed, I find desire growing within me to unburden, if I may
so express it, my overladen mind. It is thus that a poet utters his
inspirations: at the sweet moment when he conceives his ideas, they
glow within him, but he is silent; afterwards he feels constrained to
give them utterance; the voice or the pen must afford the full heart
relief. Our guide's anxiety to please was a dreadful drawback to my
comfort, for, with the usual loquacity of a cicerone, he began to point
out and describe all the churches that could be described from the
place where we were standing, invariably commencing with, 'Yonder you
see.' I left my cousin to his elucidation of the country round, and,
wandering to some little distance, I sat down where I could see,
without being compelled to hear.
When Stolberg had finished translating Homer into German, he threw down
his pen, and exclaimed, despondingly, 'Reader, learn Greek, and burn my
translation!' What is a description of scenery but a translation? Yet
the most successful one must be as much inferior to the original as the
highest hill in Jutland is lower than the highest mountain in Thibet.
Therefore, kind reader, pardon my not describing to you all I saw.
What I saw I might, perhaps, be able to relate to you, but scarcely
how I saw it. My pen is no artist's pencil; go yourself and take a
view of it! But you, who perhaps have stood on the summit of the
Brochen, or of St. Bernard, smile not that I think so much of our
little mountain! It is the loftiest that I, or perhaps many of my
readers, have beheld; therefore, what is diminutive to you is grand to
I was startled in my meditations by a thump on my shoulder--it was from
my cousin, who was standing behind me. He informed me that our guide
had gone home at least half-an-hour, and that I had been sitting for a
long time perfectly motionless, without giving the slightest sign of
life. He told me, moreover, that he was tired of such solemn silence,
and I must really awaken from my fit of abstraction.
'And at what have you been looking that has engrossed your thoughts so
much?' he added.
'The same as you have been looking at,' I replied: 'Air, and earth, and
'Well, cast your eyes down now towards the lake,' said he, handing me
his spy-glass, 'and you will see that there are some strangers coming
over this way.'
I took the glass and perceived a boat a little way from the shore,
which seemed to be steering straight across the water; it was full of
people, and three straw bonnets indicated that there were women among
them. My cousin proposed that we should await their coming, although it
would be late before we should reach our quarters for the night at
Alling. As the evening was so charming, I willingly consented; we could
not have wished a finer one. The sun was about to set, but it seemed to
us to sink more slowly than usual, as if it lingered to behold longer
the beauty of earth when tinged with its own golden rays. The winds
were hushed, not a blade of grass, not a leaf was stirring. The lake
was as a mirror, wherein were reflected the fields, the groves, the
houses that lay on its surrounding sides, while here and there, in the
valleys towards the west, arose a thin column of smoke from dwellings
that were concealed by trees. But if in the air all was silence, sounds
enough proceeded from the earth. Feathered songsters carolled in the
woods behind us, and before us the heath-lark's love-strains swelled,
answering each other from the juniper-bushes. From the bulrushes which
grew on the margin of the lake was heard the quacking of the wild
ducks; and from a greater distance came the plashing of the fisherman's
oar, as he was returning to his home, and the soothing tones of his
The sun had now sunk below the horizon, and the bells that rang from
many a church for evening prayer, summoned the weary labourer to rest
and sleep. The heavy dews of night were already moistening the ground,
and its mist was veiling the woods, the lake, and the sloping banks.
Now broke upon the ear the cheering yet plaintive music of wind
instruments. It seemed to come nearer and nearer, and must undoubtedly
have proceeded from the boat we had observed putting off from the
opposite shore. When the music ceased, we could distinctly hear the
voices of the party in the boat, and presently after the slight noise
made by their landing. We stood still for a few minutes, expecting to
see them ascending the hill, but soon perceived that, on the contrary,
they were going in another direction, for the sound of the voices
became fainter and fainter, and was lost at last apparently among the
woods to the west. Had it not been that the airs they had played were
of the newest fashion, we might have fancied it a fairy adventure--a
procession of woodland elves, or the bridal of the elf king himself.
The shades of night were falling around. Here and there a star
glimmered faintly in the pale-blue skies. In the north-west was visible
a red segment over the horizon, where the king of day was wandering
beneath, on his way to lighten another hemisphere. Now, all was still;
only at a distance on the heath we heard the plover's melancholy note,
and beneath us, on the lake, the whizzing of the water-fowls' wings as
they skimmed its darkened surface. 'Let us go homewards now!' cried my
cousin. 'Yes, home!' I replied. But we had not gone far before we both
stopped at once with a 'Hush! hark!' From the margin of the wood,
through which we had just come, issued suddenly the sound of harmonious
voices, singing as a duet a Tyrolese air. There is something
indescribably charming and touching in this unison of voices,
especially in the open air, when the sweet tones seem to float upon the
gentle breeze; and now, at the calm evening hour, when the surrounding
hills were awakened from the deep repose into which they had just
subsided, the sweet tones had the effect of the nightingale's
delightful song. My cousin seized my hand and pressed it, as if to
entreat that I should not, by any exclamation, disturb his auricular
treat. When the vocalists ceased, he sighed deeply. I gazed in
astonishment on him; he was in general so gay, and yet at that moment
tears actually stood in his eyes! I attributed to the mighty
enchantment of music, the power of softening and agitating the hardest
and the lightest heart, and I remarked this to him.
'Ah, well!' he replied, 'the human breast is like a sounding-board,
which, although untouched, yet gives an echo when certain chords are
'You are right,' I said; 'as, for instance, the story of the tarantula
He sighed again, and said gravely,--
'But such chords must be connected with peculiar events--must awaken
certain recollections--yes'--he took my hand, and pointing to the trunk
of a tree which had fallen, we placed ourselves on it--'yes, my friend,
yon air recalls to me a souvenir which I have in vain tried to forget.
Will you listen to the story?'
'Tell it,' I said, 'though I can partly guess what it must be.'
It was on such an evening as this (he continued), about two years ago,
that, accompanied by a friend, I had gone on a little tour of pleasure
to Lake Esrom. We remained sitting a long time on a fallen tree before
we could prevail on ourselves to wend our way homewards, so charmed
were we with the beauty of the scenery and of the evening. We had
just arisen when a Tyrolese air--the very one you and I have recently
heard--sung delightfully as a duet, attracted our attention. It came
from the side of the lake, but the sounds appeared to be gradually
approaching nearer. We soon heard the plashing of oars, which kept time
to the music, and shortly after we saw a boat making for the part of
the shore where we were. When the song was ended, there was a great
deal of talking and laughing in the boat, and the noise seemed to
increase the nearer they came to the shore. We now saw distinctly the
little skiff and its merry freight. 'Lay aside your oars!' said one; 'I
will steer you straight in to the land.' They did so. 'I know a quicker
way of making the land,' cried another, as he sprang up, and striding
from gunwale to gunwale, set the boat rocking frightfully. 'Be quiet!
be quiet!' roared a third; 'are you mad? The fool will upset the boat!'
'You shall have a good ducking for that,' said the madcap, swaying the
boat still more violently. Then came shouts of laughter mingled with
oaths; in the midst of the uproar a loud voice called out, 'Be done. I
tell you! Fritz cannot swim.' But it was too late--the boat was full of
water--it upset. Happily it was only a short way from the shore. In one
moment they were all silent; we heard only the splashing and hard
breathing of those who were swimming. There were six of them. Presently
one of them cried, 'Fritz! Fritz! come here! take hold of me!' Then
cried another, 'Fritz, come to me!' And then several voices shouted,
'Fritz! Fritz! where are you?' Two of them had by this time reached the
shore, and they stood looking anxiously at those who were still
swimming in the lake. One of them began counting, 'Three, four!' Then
crying in a voice of extreme consternation, 'One is wanting!' he
sprang again into the water, and the other instantly followed his
My friend and I could no longer remain mere spectators of this scene;
we threw off our coats and were speedily in the water, searching with
the party for their lost friend. We thought he must be under the boat;
therefore we all gathered round the spot where it lay keel upwards,
and the best swimmer dived beneath it. In vain! he was not there. But
at a little distance, amidst the reeds, one of us observed something
dark--it was the missing Fritz! He was brought on shore; but he was
lifeless. Zealously, anxiously, did we try all means of restoring him;
they were of no avail. It was decided that he should be carried to the
nearest house. A plank, which had formed one of the seats of the boat,
and which had floated to the shore, was taken up; he was placed upon
it, and they carried him towards the road. We followed them
mechanically. What a contrast to their late boisterous mirth was their
present profound silence! We had not proceeded far, when one of the
foremost of the bearers turned round and exclaimed, 'Where is Sund?' We
all looked back, and beheld the unfortunate madcap who had caused the
accident half-hidden behind a tall bush, stuffing his pockets with
'He will drown himself,' said the person who had just spoken; 'we must
take him with us.'
They stopped, and my companion and I offered our assistance to carry
the body, whilst two of the party went to their repentant friend. The
way to the house to which the drowned man was to be carried lay through
a wood. It was so dark amidst the trees that we were close upon two
female figures, dressed in white, before we observed them,
'Good Heavens!' cried the foremost of the party; 'if it should be
Fritz's betrothed! She said she would probably come to meet us.'
It was indeed herself. You may imagine the painful scene: first, her
horror at meeting us carrying a drowned man, and then her agony when
she found out that the unfortunate victim was the one dearest to her on
earth; for she could not be deceived, as she knew them all. She
fainted, and her companion caught her in her arms as she was falling to
the ground. What was to be done? My friend and I hastened to the
assistance of the ladies, while the other gentlemen hurried on with the
inanimate body to the house, which was at no great distance. I ran to
the lake, and brought back some water in my hat; we threw a little on
her face, when she soon came to herself again, poor thing!
'Where is he?' she screamed; 'oh! where is he? He is not dead--let me
go to him--let me go!' She strove to rise and rush forward.
'Leave her, kind gentlemen,' said her companion, as she threw one arm
round her waist, and with the other pressed her hand to her heart.
'Thanks--thanks for your assistance, but do not trouble yourselves
further; I know the way well.'
We bowed and stood still, while she hastened on with her poor friend;
and as they went we could hear the sorrowful wailing of the one, and
the sweet soothing tones of the other. Having received no invitation we
had no right to follow them, and we sought our carriage, both deeply
impressed by the melancholy catastrophe which we had involuntarily
We were not acquainted with any member of the party, nor were we able
to hear anything of them. In vain we searched all the newspapers, and
conned over all the announcements of deaths in their columns; there
never appeared the slightest reference to the unfortunate event I have
just mentioned, nor did we ever hear it alluded to in society. We
should certainly, after the lapse of some time, have looked upon the
whole affair as a freak of the imagination--a phantom scene--had we not
played a part in it ourselves. It did not make so light an impression
on me, however; you will think it strange, perhaps absurd, but I
actually was partially in love! Love has generally but one pathway to
the heart--the eyes; it took a by-path with me--through the ears. It
was so dark that I had not seen the young lady's features; I had only
heard her voice. But, ah! what a voice it was! So soft--that does not
describe it; so melodious--neither does that convey an idea of what it
was. I can compare it to nothing but the echo of tones from celestial
regions, or to the angel-voices which we hear in dreams. Her figure was
as beautiful as her voice--graceful and sylph-like. If you have ever
been bewitched in a night vision, you will be able to comprehend my
feelings. I saw her, and I did not see her. Her slight form with its
white drapery looked quite spiritual in the dim light, and reminded me
of Dido in Elysium, floating past Æneas, who was still clothed in the
garb of mortality.
'Of whom are you speaking?' I asked. 'Of the friend?'
'Of course,' he replied; 'not of the widowed girl, as I may call the
'I do not see anything so very extraordinary in what you have been
telling me,' I said. 'When it is almost dark, fancy is more easily
awakened; everything wears a different aspect from what it does in the
glare of day--objects become idealized, and sweet sounds make more
impression on the mind, while imagination is thus excited. But is this
the end of your drama?'
'No; only the first act,' he replied. 'Now comes the second.'
The summer passed away; winter came, and it too had almost gone, when I
happened to attend a masquerade at one of the clubs. For about an hour
I had been jostled among the caricaturists, and was becoming very
tired,--and falling into sombre reflections upon the illusions of life,
and the masks worn in society to conceal people's real characters from
each other, when my attention was attracted by twelve shepherds and
shepherdesses in the pretty costume of Languedoc, who came dancing in,
hand in hand. The orchestra immediately struck up a French quadrille,
and the French group danced so gracefully that a large and admiring
circle was formed round them. When the quadrille was over, the circle
opened, and the shepherds and shepherdesses mingled with the rest of
the company. One of the shepherdesses, whose charming figure and
elegance of motion had riveted my attention, as if by a magic power
drew me after her. I followed wherever she went, until at last I got so
near to her that I was able to address her.
'Beautiful shepherdess!' I said in French, 'how is it that our northern
clime is so fortunate as to be favoured by a visit from you and your
She turned quickly towards me, and after remaining silent a few
moments, during which time a pair of dark eyes gazed searchingly at me,
'Monsieur,' she replied in French, 'we thought that fidelity had its
true home in this northern clime.'
'You have each brought your lover with you,' I said.
'Because we hoped that they would learn lessons of constancy here,' was
'Lovely blossom from the banks of the Garonne!' I exclaimed, 'who could
be inconstant to you?'
'There is no telling,' she continued, gaily. 'You are paying me
compliments without knowing me. You call me pretty, yet you have never
seen me. It must be my mask that you mean.'
'Your eyes assure me of your beauty,' said I; 'they must bear the blame
if I am mistaken.'
Just at that moment another dance commenced; I asked the fair
shepherdess to be my partner, and consenting, she held out her hand to
me. We took our places immediately. It was then that a recollection
came over me of having heard her sweet voice before. I thought that I
recognized it--yes! Surely it could be no other's than hers--my fairy
of Esrom Wood! But I was determined to be certain of the fact. I said
nothing, however, while we were dancing. The dance seemed to me very
short, and at the same time endless.
I interrupted him somewhat uncivilly with--'At any rate your story
seems endless.' He continued, however.
After the dance was over I conducted her to a seat, and placed myself
by her side.
'It strikes me,' I remarked in Danish, 'that T have once before heard
your voice, but not on the banks of the Garonne--'
'No,' she replied, interrupting me, 'not there, but perhaps on the
borders of Lake Esrom?'
A sweet feeling at that moment, as it were, both expanded and
contracted my breast. It was herself--the Unseen! She must also have
remarked my voice, and preserved its tones in her memory.
'A second time we meet,' I sighed, 'without beholding each other. This
is really like an adventure brought about by some magician's art; but,
oh! how I long for the moment when you will no longer hide that
She laughed slightly; and there was something so sprightly, musical,
and winning in her laugh, while her white teeth glistened like pearls
under her mask, that I forgot what more I was going to say. She,
however, began to speak.
'Why should I destroy your illusion? Leave our adventure, as you call
it, alone; when a mystery is solved it loses its interest. If I were to
remove my mask, you would only see the face of a very ordinary girl.
Your imagination gallantly pictures me beautiful as some Circassian, or
some Houri; let me remain such in your idea, at least till the watchman
cries the hour of midnight, and wakes you from your dreams.'
'All dreams are not delusive,' I said. 'They often speak the truth,' I
added; 'yet sometimes one is tempted to wish that truths were but
dreams; as, for instance, the very unfortunate event which was the
occasion of our first meeting.'
She looked surprised, while she repeated--
'Unfortunate? Ah! true. You probably never heard--' At that moment one
of the shepherds ran up, and carried her off hurriedly to a quadrille
which was just forming.
I was following the couple with my eyes, when my sister tapped me on
the arm and asked me to dance with her, as she was not engaged.
Mechanically I took my place in the quadrille, the same in which my
incognita was dancing, and mechanically I went through the figures
until she had to give me her hand in the chain. I pressed it warmly,
but there was no response. Ashamed and angry, I determined not to cast
another glance at her; and resolutely I turned my head away. The
quadrille was over, and once more I found myself constrained to look at
her. But she was gone--the shepherds and shepherdesses had all
disappeared. Whether they had left the ball, or--what was more
probable--had changed their attire, I saw them no more. In vain at the
supper-table my eyes wandered over all the ladies, to guess, if
possible, which was the right one. Many of them were pretty; many had
dark eyes and white teeth; but which of all these eyes and teeth were
hers? It was by the voice alone that I could recognize her; but I could
not go from the one to the other, and ask them to speak to me. And thus
ended the second part of my drama.
'Now, then, for the third act,' said I, with some curiosity.
'For that,' he replied, 'I have waited in vain, above a year and a
'But do you not know her name?' I asked.
'Or none of the party of shepherds and shepherdesses?'
'I found out shortly after that I knew two of the shepherds; but of
what use was that to me? I could not describe my shepherdess so that
they could distinguish her among the twelve; they mentioned a dozen
names, all equally unknown to me. That gave me no clue; to me she was
both nameless and invisible.'
I could not help smiling at my usually-gay cousin's doleful
'You are laughing at me,' said he. 'Well, I don't wonder at it. To fall
in love with a girl one has never seen is certainly great folly. But do
not fancy that I am going to die of despair. I only feel a sort of
longing come over me when I think of her.'
The singers had now come so near that we could hear their conversation.
After a few moments my cousin whispered to me that he knew one of them
by his voice, and that he was an officer from Copenhagen. In another
minute they made their appearance. There were three of them, all
dressed as civilians, but the moustaches of one showed that he was a
military man. My cousin squeezed my arm, and whispered again--
'It is he, sure enough; let us see if he knows me.'
We rose, and stood stiffly, with our caps in our hands. They nodded to
us, and the officer said--
'Put your hats on, lads. Will you earn a shilling for something to
drink, and help to erect our tent?'
We agreed to his proposal, and at his desire we joined two men in
fetching, from a cart near, the canvas and other things required to put
the tent up; also cloaks, cushions, baskets with provisions, and
bottles of wine, benches for seats, and a wider one for a table. When
our services were no longer needed, the officer held out some money to
me, which, of course, I would not receive. My cousin also refused
payment; whereupon he swore that we should at least take something to
drink, and, filling a tumbler from his flask, he handed it to my
cousin, who received it with a suppressed laugh.
'What are you grinning at, fellow?' said the officer; but, as my cousin
carried the tumbler to his lips, he exclaimed--
'Your health, Wilhelm!'
The individual thus addressed started back in astonishment, while his
two companions peered into our faces. My cousin burst into a fit of
laughter; and the officer, who now recognized him, cried, laughing
'Ludvig! What the deuce is all this? and why are you equipped in that
The matter was speedily explained; the three travellers expressed much
pleasure at meeting us, and pressed us so cordially to join their
party, and stay the night with them, that we at length acceded to their
One of the officer's companions was a young, handsome, and very
fashionable-looking man; he was extremely rich, we understood,
therefore they called him the merchant, and they would not tell us
his name, or if that were his real position in society. The other
introduced himself to us with these words:
'Gentlemen, of the respectable peasant class! my name here in Jutland
is Farniente. My agreeable occupation is to do nothing--at least
nothing but amuse myself.'
There was a great deal more joking among our hosts, and then we
presented each other in the same bantering way, after which we all
adjourned to the tent, where we wound up with a very jovial supper. At
midnight the merchant reminded us that we had to rise next morning with
the first rays of the sun, and that it was time to retire to rest. We
made up a sort of couch, with cushions and cloaks, and on it we five
faithful brothers stretched ourselves as best we might. The other four
soon fell asleep. I alone remained awake; and when I found that slumber
had fled my pillow, rose as quietly as possible, and left the tent.
All around was still as the grave. The skies were without a cloud, but
of their millions of eyes only a few were now open, and even these
shone dimly and feebly, as if they were almost overcome by sleep. The
monarch of light, who was soon to overpower their fading brightness,
was already clearing his path in the north-east. It is not the
darkness, still less the tempest, that renders night so extremely
melancholy; it is that deep repose, that corpse-like stillness in
nature; it is to see oneself the only waking being in a sleeping
world--one living amidst the vast vaults of the grave--a creature
trembling with the fearful, giddy thought of death and eternity. How
welcome then is any sound which breaks the oppressive silence of that
nocturnal solitude, and reminds us that human beings are about to
awaken to their daily round of occupation and pleasure--and, it must be
added, of anxiety and trouble! How cheerful seems the earliest crowing
of the cocks from the nearest huts, rising almost lazily on the dusky
air! The drowsy world was beginning to move; and after a time I
discerned faint, sweet tones proceeding from the direction of the
wood. I listened attentively, and soon became convinced that it was
music--the music of wind instruments--which I heard. To me music is as
welcome as the first rosy streaks of morn to the benighted wanderer, or
a glimpse of the brilliant sun amidst the gloom of a dark wintry sky.
The sweet sounds ceased, and I began to ponder whether it might not
have been unearthly strains which I had heard--whether they might not
have come from the fairies who perhaps dwell amidst the surrounding
glades, or among the wild flowers that enamelled the sloping sides of
the hills. The music, however, was certainly Weber's, and the question
was, whether the elfin people had learned the airs from him, or he from
them. I returned to the tent, where the still sleeping party produced a
very different and somewhat nasal kind of music.
'Gentlemen! gentlemen!' I shouted, 'there are visitors coming.'
My cousin was the first to awaken, then the officer, who sprang up, and
immediately endeavoured to arouse the other two.
'The ladies will be here presently,' he said; 'get up both of you.'
'They are too early,' groaned one; 'I have not had half my sleep.'
'Let them wait outside the tent till I am ready,' said Farniente. 'Good
The rest of us, however, went towards the wood to meet the three
ladies, who were making their way to our temporary domicile, preceded
by two musicians playing the horn, and two youths bearing torches, the
latter being the sons of a clergyman in the neighbourhood, at whose
house the ladies had slept. Observing the peasant costume of my friend
and myself, the ladies asked who we were, and were told by the military
man that we were two soldiers of his regiment, who, being in the
adjacent village, had assisted in putting up the tent.
'Lads,' said he, addressing us in a tone of command, 'can you fetch
some water for us from the nearest stream, and get some wood for us to
boil our coffee? I will go with you.'
'No, no, sir--that would be a shame,' said my cousin, in the Jutland
dialect; 'we will bring all that is wanted ourselves.'
When we returned to the tent it was broad daylight; Farniente had been
compelled to vacate his couch of cloaks, and in his lively way was
greeting the fair guests with 'Good morning, my three Graces.' The
officers told us, aside, that two of the ladies were his sisters, and
were about to tell us more, when a waltz on the turf was proposed by
Farniente, who seized one of the ladies, whom he called Sybilla, as his
partner. The merchant danced with another, to whom it appeared he was
engaged, and the officer took his youngest sister. Their hilarity was
infectious, and my cousin dragged me round for want of a better
partner, whereupon the fair Sybilla, who had observed our dancing,
remarked that we were 'really not at all awkward for peasant lads.'
While they were taking their coffee afterwards, during which time we
stood respectfully at a little distance, my cousin whispered to me how
much he admired the lieutenant's youngest sister, who was indeed
extremely pretty. He had not hitherto heard her voice, but he could not
help seeing that she looked attentively--even inquisitively at him. By
Farniente's request, the ladies handed us some coffee, after having
done which they made some remarks upon us to each other in German. At
that moment my cousin let his coffee-cup drop suddenly to the ground,
and standing as motionless as one of the trees in the wood, he fixed
his eyes upon the youngest girl with a very peculiar expression, which
called the deepest blushes to her cheek. We all looked on in surprise,
but I began to suspect the truth. Farniente was the first to speak.
'Min Herre!' said he, 'it is time that you should lay aside your
incognito, for it is evident that you and this lady have met before.'
My cousin had by this time recovered his speech and his
self-possession. He went up to the young lady, and said:--'For the
first time to-day have I had the happiness of seeing those lips from
which I have twice heard a voice whose accents delighted me. In that
voice I cannot be mistaken, so deep was the impression it made upon me.
Dare I flatter myself that my voice has not been quite forgotten by
Catherina--that was her name--replied with a smile,--
'I have neither forgotten your voice nor your face, though last time we
met you were a Spanish grandee.'
'What is all this?' exclaimed the officer; 'old acquaintances--another
'We are now truly all partaking of rural life,' said Farniente; 'so
come, you two peasants, and place yourselves with the fair shepherdess
We joined the circle, and after our names having been told, my cousin,
leading the conversation to Lake Esrom, and the events which took place
on its banks, asked Catherina how her poor friend had taken that sad
affair, and if she had ever recovered her spirits?'
'Oh yes, she has,' replied Catherina; and pointing to the young lady
who was engaged to the merchant, 'there she is!'
My cousin started, and said, in some embarrassment, 'It was a sad
'Not so very sad,' cried the merchant, interrupting him, 'for the
drowned man returned to life. He was no other than myself.'
'God be thanked!' exclaimed my cousin, sincerely rejoiced at the
pleasant intelligence. 'That is more than we then dared to hope. But
what became of the poor foolish madcap who first upset the boat and
then wished to drown himself?'
'Here he is,' said Farniente, pointing to himself; 'and as I once
thought I might be promoted to the dignity of court jester, I took a
wife, and there,' bowing to Sybilla, 'sits the fair one who has
undertaken to steer my boat over the dangerous ocean of life.'
The morning mists by degrees cleared away from the wooded valleys and
the hill-encircled waters; the larks had ended their early chorus, and
the later songsters of the grove had commenced their sweet harmonies;
all seemed joy around, and I looked with pleasure at the gay group
before me. Never had the cheering light of day shone upon a circle of
more contented human beings, and among them none were happier than
Ludwig and his recently-found shepherdess, whose countenance beamed in
the radiant glow of dawning love.
Six months have passed since then, and they are now united for this
world and for that which is to come.