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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 20
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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 20 Post by :twoelfling Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :May 2012 Read :1925

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 20


"Stop! cried Patroclus, with mighty, thundering voice."--WILSTER'S Iliad.

The parting with Rosalie, the hospitality of the family, and their sincere sympathy, touched Otto; he thought upon the last days, upon his whole sojourn in his home. The death of his grandfather made this an important era in his life. The quiet evening and the solitary road inclined him still more to meditation.

How cheering and interesting had been a visit to Lemvig in former times! Then it furnished matter for conversation with Rosalie for many weeks; it now lay before him a subject of indifference. The people were certainly the same, therefore the change must have taken place in himself. He thought of Copenhagen, which stood so high, and of the people there.

"After all, the difference is not so great!" said he. "In Copenhagen the social foci are more numerous, the interests more varied; each day brings a fresh topic of conversation, and one can choose one's society. The multitude, on the contrary, has something citizenish; it obtrudes itself even from beneath the ball-dress which shows itself at court; it is seen in the rich saloon of the wholesale merchant, as well as in the house of the brandy distiller, whose possessions give to him and his two brewers the right of election. It is the same food which is presented to us; in the small towns one has it on earthenware, in Copenhagen on china. If one had only the courage, in the so-called higher classes, to break through the gloss which life in a greater circle, which participation in the customs of the world, has called forth, one should soon find in many a lady of rank, in many a nobleman who sits not alone in the theatre, on the first bench, merely that empty common earthenware; and that, as with the merchant's wife in Lemvig, a dejeuner or a soiree, like some public event, will occupy the mind before and after its occurrence. A court-ball, at which either the son or daughter has figured, resembles the most brilliant success in an examination for office. We laugh at the authorities of Lemvig, and yet with us the crowd runs after nothing but authorities and newspapers. This is a certain state of innocence. How many a poor officer or student must play the subordinate part of the shopman at the table of the rich, and gratefully kiss the hand of the lady of the house because she has the right of demanding gratitude? And in the theatre, with the multitude, what does not 'an astonishing chest' do? A strength of voice which can penetrate right through the leather of the mind gains stormy applause, whilst taste and execution can only be appreciated by the few. The actor can be certain of applause if he only thunder forth his parting reply. The comedian is sure of a shout of bravo if he puts forth an insipidity, and rubs his legs together as if replying with spirit and humor. The massive plate in the house gives many a lady the boldness to teach that in which she herself might perhaps have been instructed. Many a lady, like the Mamsell from Holstebro, dresses always in silk and a long shawl, and if one asks after her profession one finds it consists at most in dress-making; perhaps she does not even possess the little accompanying talent of playing the flute. How many people do not copy, like Maren, out of other people's memorandum-books, and do not excel musical-boxes! still one hears a deal of musical snuff-box music, and is waited upon by voices which are equally as insignificant as the secretary's."

These were pretty much Otto's reflections, and certainly it was a good feeling which lay at the bottom of them. Let us remember in our judgment that he was so young, and that he had only known Copenhagen _one year; otherwise he would most certainly have thought _quite differently_.

Night spread itself over the heath, the heavens were clear. Slowly the carriage wound along through the deep sand. The monotonous sound, the unchanging motion, all rendered Otto sleepy. A falling star shot like a fire column across the sky--this woke him for a moment; he soon again bowed his head and slept, fast and deep. It was an hour past midnight, when he was awoke by a loud cry. He started up--the fire burnt before them; and between it and the horse stood two figures, who had taken hold of the leather reins. Close beside them was a cart, under which was placed a sort of bed, on which slept a woman and some children.

"Will you drive into the soup-kettle?" asked a rough voice, whilst another scolded in a gibberish which was unintelligible to Otto.

It had happened to the coachman as to him, only that the coachman had fallen asleep somewhat later; the horses had lost their track, and uncertain, as they had long been, they were now traversing the impassable heath. A troop of the so-called Scavengers, who wander through these districts a nomadic race, had here taken up their quarters for the night, had made a fire and hung the kettle over it, to cook some pieces of a lamb they had stolen on their journey.

"They were about half a mile from the highway," said an elderly woman who was laying some bushes of heath under the kettle.

"Half a mile?" replied a voice from the other side of the cart, and Otto remarked a man who, wrapped in a large gray riding-cloak, had stretched himself out among the heather. "It is not a quarter of a mile to the highway if people know how to direct their course properly!"

The pronunciation of the man was somewhat foreign, but pure, and free from the gibberish which the others employed in their speech. The voice seemed familiar to Otto, his ear weighed each syllable, and his blood ran quicker through his veins: "It is the German Heinrich, the evil angel of my life!" he felt, and wrapt himself closer in his mantle, so that his countenance was concealed.

A half-grown lad came forward and offered himself as a guide.

"But the lad must have two marks!" said the woman.

Otto nodded assent, and glanced once more toward the man in whom he believed he recognized the German Heinrich; the man had again carelessly stretched himself among the heath, and did not seem inclined to enter into farther discourse.

The woman desired the payment in advance, and received it. The boy led the horses toward one side; at the moment the fire flare up between the turf-sods, a great dog, with a loose cord about his neck, sprang forward and ran barking after the carriage, which now travelled on over the heath in the gloomy night.

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 21 O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 21

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 21
CHAPTER XXI "Poetry does not always express sorrow; the rainbow can also arch across a cloudless blue firmament."--JEAN PAUL. We again find ourselves in Copenhagen we meet with Otto, and may every day expect Wilhelm, Miss Sophie, and the excellent mamma; they would only stay a few weeks. To learn tidings of their arrival, Otto determined to pay a visit where they were expected; we know the house, we were present at the Christmas festival: it was here that Otto received his noble pedigree. We will now become somewhat better acquainted with the family. The husband had a good head,

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 16 O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 16

O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 16
CHAPTER XVI"Sure 'tis fair in foreign land, But not so fair as home;Let me but see thy mountains grand Glaciers and snowy dome!Let me but hear the sound that tellsOf climbing cattle, dressed with bells." The Switzer's Homesickness.Not until after breakfast did the preacher pass over to Otto's affairs. His grandfather's will made him the sole heir to the large property; a man in Copenhagen, the merchant Berger, should be his guardian, since the preacher did not wish to undertake the office. Rosalie was not forgotten: her devotion and fidelity had won for her a