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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 15
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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 15 Post by :twoelfling Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :May 2012 Read :1587

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 15

CHAPTER XV

"His coal was coarse, its fashion old;
He asked no dress of greater worth
Than that which kept from storm and cold
The Baptist when he preached on earth."
C. J. BORE.


Not alone of Otto's affairs, but also of "the city yonder," as the preacher called Copenhagen, would he speak. Only once a week came the "Viborg Collector" to hint, and the Copenhagen papers were a whole month going their round. "One would willingly advance with the time," said he. Yesterday, at the interment, he had not found it seemly to gratify his desire of hearing dear Otto talk about the city, but to-day he thought it might well be done, and therefore he would not await Otto's visit but come over to pay one himself.

"Thou hast certainly seen our good king?" was his first question. "Lord help the anointed one! he is then as vigorous and active as ever--my good King Frederik!" And now he must relate a trait which had touched his heart, and which, in his opinion, deserved a place in the annals of history. This event occurred the last time that the king was in Jutland; he had visited the interior of the country and the western coast also. When he was leaving a public-house the old hostess ran after him, and besought that the Father would, as a remembrance, write his name with chalk upon a beam. The grand gentlemen wished to deter her, but she pulled at the king's coat; and when he had learned her wish he nodded in a friendly manner, and said, "Very willingly!" and then turned back and wrote his name on the beam. Tears came into the old man's eyes; he wept, and prayed for his king. He now inquired whether the old tree was still standing in the Regent's Court, and then spoke of Nyerup and Abrahamson, whom he had known in his student days.

In fact, after all, he was himself the narrator; each of his questions related to this or that event in his own life, and he always returned to this source--his student-days. There was then another life, another activity, he maintained. His royal idea of beauty had been Queen Matilda. (Translator's Note: The unhappy wife of Christian VII. and daughter of our George III.) "I saw her often on horseback," said he. "It was not then the custom in our country for ladies to ride. In her country it was the fashion; here it gave rise to scandal. God gave her beauty, a king's crown, and a heart full of love; the world gave her--what it can give--a grave near to the bare heath!"

Whilst he so perpetually returned to his own recollections, his share of news was truly not new, but he was satisfied. Copenhagen appeared to him a whole world--a royal city; but Sodom and Gomorrah had more than one street there.

Otto smiled at the earnestness with which he said this.

"Yes, that I know better than thou, my young friend!" continued the old preacher. "True, the devil does not go about like a roaring lion, but there he has his greatest works! He is well-dressed, and conceals his claws and his tail! Do not rely upon thy strength! He goes about, like the cat in the fable, 'pede suspenso,' sneakingly and cautiously! It is, after all, with the devil as it is with a Jutland peasant. This fellow comes to the city, has nothing, runs about, and cleans shoes and boots for the young gentlemen, and by this means he wins a small sum of money. He knows how to spare. He can now hire the cellar of the house in which thou livest, and there commence some small trade. The trade is successful, very successful. It goes on so well that he can hire the lower story; then he gains more profit, and before thou canst look about thee he buys the whole house. See, that is the way with the Jutland peasant, and just the same with the devil. At first he gets the cellar, then the lower story, and at last the whole house!"

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