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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 41
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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 41 Post by :twoelfling Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :May 2012 Read :1290

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 41

CHAPTER XLI

"Destiny often pulls off leaves, as we treat the vine, that its fruits may be earlier brought to maturity."--JEAN PAUL.

It was not until toward morning that Otto fell into sleep. Wilhelm and he were allowed to take their own time in rising, and thus it was late in the day before these two gentlemen made their appearance at the breakfast-table; the Kammerjunker was already come over to the hall, and now was more adorned than common.

"Mr. Thostrup shall be one of the initiated!" said the mother. "It will be time enough this evening for strangers to know of it. The Kammerjunker and my Sophie are betrothed."

"See, it was in the bright moonlight, Mr. Thostrup, that I became such a happy man!" said the Kammerjunker, and kissed the tips of Sophie's fingers. He offered his other hand to Otto.

Otto's countenance remained unchanged, a smile played upon his lips. "I congratulate you!" said he; "it is indeed a joyful day! If I were a poet, I would give you an ode!"

Louise looked at him with an extraordinary expression of pain in her countenance.

Wilhelm called the Kammerjunker brother-in-law, and smiling shook both his hands.

Otto was unusually gay, jested, and laughed. The ladies went to their toilet, Otto into the garden.

He had been so convinced in his own mind that Sophie returned his passion. With what pleasure had she listened to him! with what an expression had her eye rested upon him! Her little jests had been to him such convincing proofs that the hope which he nourished was no self-delusion. She was the light around which his thoughts had circled. Love to her was to him a good angel, which sung to him consolation and life's gladness in his dark moments.

Now, all was suddenly over. It was as if the angel had left him; the flame of love which had so entirely filled his soul, was in a moment extinguished to its last spark. Sophie was become a stranger to him; her intellectual eye, which smiled in love on the Kammerjunker, seemed to him the soulless eye of the automaton. A stupefying indifference went through him, deadly as poison that is infused into the human blood.

"The vain girl! she thought to make herself more important by repelling from her a faithful heart! She should only see how changed her image is in my soul. All the weaknesses which my love for her made me pass over, now step forth with repulsive features! Not a word which she spoke fell to the ground. The diamond has lost its lustre; I feel only its sharp corners!"

Sophie had given the preference to a man who, in respect of intellect, stood far below Otto! Sophie, who seemed to be enthusiastic for art and beauty, for everything glorious in the kingdom of mind, could thus have deceived him!

We will now see the sisters in their chamber.

Louise seemed pensive, she sat silently looking before her.

Sophie stood thoughtfully with a smile upon her lips.

"The Kammerjunker is very handsome, however!" exclaimed she: "he looks so manly!"

"You ought to find him love-worthy!" said Louise.

"Yes," replied her sister, "I have always admired these strong countenances! He is an Axel--a northern blackbearded savage. Faces such as Wilhelm's look like ladies'! And he is so good! He has said, that immediately after our marriage we shall make a tour to Hamburg. What dress do you think I should wear?"

"When you make the journey to Hamburg?" inquired Louise.

"O no, child! to-day I mean. Thostrup was indeed very polite! he congratulated me! I felt, however, rather curious when it was told to him. I had quite expected a scene! I was almost ready to beg of you to tell him first of all. He ought to have been prepared. But he was, however, very rational! I should not have expected it from him. I really wish him all good, but he is an extraordinary character! so melancholy! Do you think that he will take my betrothal to heart? I noticed that when I was kissed he turned himself suddenly round to the window and played with the flowers. I wish that he would soon go! The journey into foreign countries will do him good--there he will soon forget his heart's troubles. To-morrow I will write to Cousin Joachim; he will also be surprised!"

Late in the afternoon came Jakoba, the Mamsell, the preacher, and yet a few other guests.

In the evening the table was arranged festively. The betrothed sat together, and Otto had the place of honor--he sat on the other side of Sophie. The preacher had written a song to the tune of "Be thou our social guardian-goddess;" this was sung. Otto's voice sounded beautifully and strong; he rang his glass with the betrothed pair, and the Kammerjunker said that now Mr. Thostrup must speedily seek out a bride for himself.

"She is found," answered Otto; "but now that is yet a secret."

"Health to the bride!" said Sophie, and rung her glass; but soon again her intellectual eye rested upon the Kammerjunker, who was talking about asparagus and stall-feeding with clover, yet her glance brought him back again to the happiness of his love.

It was a very lively evening. Late in the night the party broke up. The friends went to their chamber.

"My dear, faithful Otto!" said Wilhelm, and laid his hand on his shoulder; "you were very lively and good-humored this evening. Continue always thus!"

"I hope to do so," answered Otto: "may we only always have as happy an evening as this!"

"Extraordinary man!" said Wilhelm, and shook his head. "Now we will soon set out on our journey, and catch for ourselves the happiness of the glorious gold bird!"

"And not let it escape again!" exclaimed Otto. "Formerly I used to say, To-morrow! to-morrow! now I say, To-day, and all day long! Away with fancies and complainings. I now comprehend that which you once said to me, that is. Man _can be happy if he only _will be so."

Wilhelm took his hand, and looked into his face with a half-melancholy expression.

"Are you sentimental?" inquired Otto.

"I only affect that which I am not!" answered Wilhelm; and with that, suddenly throwing off the natural gravity of the moment, returned to his customary gayety.

The following days were spent in visiting and in receiving visitors. On every post-day Otto sought through the leathern bag of the postman, but he found no letter from German Heinrich, and heard nothing from him. "I have been deceived," said he, "and I feel myself glad about it! She, the horrible one, is not my sister!"

There was a necessity for him to go away, far from home, and yet he felt no longing after the mountains of Switzerland or the luxuriant beauty of the south.

"Nature will only weaken me! I will not seek after it. Man it is that I require: these egotistical, false beings--these lords of everything! How we flatter our weaknesses and admire our virtues! Whatever serves to advance our own wishes we find to be excellent. To those who love us, we give our love in return. At the bottom, whom do I love except myself? Wilhelm? My friendship for him is built upon the foundation,--I cannot do without thee! Friendship is to me a necessity. Was I not once convinced that I adored Sophie, and that I never could bear it if she were lost to me? and yet there needed the conviction 'She loves thee not,' and my strong feeling was dead. Sophie even seems to me less beautiful; I see faults where I formerly could only discover amiabilities! Now, she is to me almost wholly a stranger. As I am, so are all. Who is there that feels right lovingly, right faithfully for me, without his own interest leading him to do so? Rosalie? My old, honest Rosalie? I grew up before her eyes like a plant which she loved. I am dear to her as it! When her canary-bird one morning lay dead in its cage, she wept bitterly and long; she should never more hear it sing, she should never more look after its cage and its food. It was the loss of it which made her weep. She missed that which had been interesting to her. I also interested her. Interest is the name for that which the world calls love. Louise?" He almost spoke the name aloud, and his thoughts dwelt, from a strong combination of circumstances, upon it. "She appears to me true, and capable of making sacrifices! but is not she also very different from all the others? How often have I not heard Sophie laugh at her for it--look down upon her!" And Otto's better feeling sought in vain for a shadow of self-love in Louise, a single selfish motive for her noble conduct.

"Away from Denmark! to new people! Happy he who can always be on the wing, making new friendships, and speedily breaking them off! At the first meeting people wear their intellectual Sunday apparel; every point of light is brought forth; but soon and the festival-day is over, and the bright points have vanished."

"We will set off next week!" said Wilhelm, "and then it shall be--


'Over the rushing blue waters away!
We will speed along shores that are verdant and gay!'


Away over the moors, up the Rhine, through the land of champagne to the city of cities, the life-animating Paris!"

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