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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 44
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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 44 Post by :twoelfling Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :May 2012 Read :3723

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O. T., A Danish Romance - Chapter 44

CHAPTER XLIV

"Ah! wonderfully beautiful is God's earth, and worthy it is to live contented."--HOLTY.

We now return to the hall in Funen, to the family which we left there; but autumn and winter are gone whilst we have been lingering on the past. Otto and Wilhelm have been two months away. It is the autumn of 1832.

The marriage of the Kammerjunker and Sophie was deferred, according to her wish, until the second of April, because this day is immortal in the annals of Denmark. In the house, where there now were only the mother, Louise, and Eva, all was quiet. Through the whole winter Eva had become weaker; yet she did not resemble the flowers which wither; there was no expression of illness about her-- it was much more as if the spiritual nature overpowered the bodily; she resembled an astral lamp which, filled with light, seems almost resembled be an ethereal existence. The dark-blue eyes had an expression of soul and feeling which attracted even the simple domestics at the hall. The physician assured them that her chest was sound, and that her malady was to him a riddle. A beautiful summer, he thought, would work beneficially upon her.

Wilhelm and Otto wrote alternately. It was a festival-day whenever a letter came; then were maps and plans of the great cities fetched out, and Louise and Eva made the journey with them.

"To-day they are here, to-morrow they will be there," cried they.

"How I envy them both, to see all these glorious things!" said Louise.

"The charming Switzerland!" sighed Eva. "How refreshing the air must be to breathe! How well one must feel one's self there!"

"If you could only go there, Eva," said Louise, "then you would certainly get better."

"Here all are so kind to me; here I am so happy!" answered she. "I am right thankful to God for it. How could I have hoped for such a home as this? God reward you and your good mother for your kindness to me. Once I was so unhappy; but now I have had a double repayment for all my sorrow, and all the neglect I have suffered. I am so happy, and therefore I would so willingly live!"

"Yes, and you shall live!" said Louise. "How came you now to think about dying? In the summer you will perfectly recover, the physician says. Can you hide from me any sorrow? Eva, I know that my brother loves you!"

"He will forget that abroad!" said Eva. "He must forget it! Could I be ungrateful? But we are not suited for each other!" She spoke of her childhood, of long-passed, sorrowful days. Louise laid her arm upon her shoulder: they talked till late in the evening, and tears stood in Louise's eyes.

"Only to you could I tell it!" said Eva. "It is to me like a sin, and yet I am innocent. My mother was so too--my poor mother! Her sin was love. She sacrificed all; more than a woman should sacrifice. The old Colonel was stern and violent. His wrath often became a sort of frenzy, in which he knew not what he did. The son was young and dissipated; my mother a poor girl, but very handsome, I have heard. He seduced her. She had become an unfortunate being, and that she herself felt. The Colonel's son robbed his father and an old woman who lived in the family: that which had been taken was missed. The father would have murdered the son, had he discovered the truth; the son, therefore, sought in his need help from my poor mother. He persuaded her to save him by taking the guilt on herself. The whole affair as regarded her was, he intended, only to come from the domestics. She thought that with her honor all was lost. She, indeed, had already given him the best of which she was possessed. In anguish of heart, and overpowered by his prayers, she said, 'Yes; my father has been angry and undone already '"

Eva burst into tears.

"Thou dear, good girl!" said Louise, and kissed her forehead.

"My poor mother," continued Eva, "was condemned to an undeserved punishment. I cannot mention it. For that reason I have never had a desire to go to Odense. The old lady in the Colonel's family concealed, out of kindness, her loss; but by accident it was discovered. The Colonel was greatly embittered. My mother was overwhelmed by shame and misfortune: the first error had plunged her into all this. She was taken to the House of Correction in Odense. The Colonel's son shortly afterward went away in a vessel. My unhappy mother was dispirited: nobody knew that she had endured, out of despair and love, a disgrace which she had not deserved. It was not until she lay upon her death-bed, when I and my brother were born, that she told a relation that she was innocent. Like a criminal, in the early morning she was carried to the grave in a coffin of plaited straw. A great and a noble heart was carried unacknowledged to the dead!"

"You had a brother?" inquired Louise, and her heart beat violently. "Did he die? and where did you, poor children, remain?"

"The cook in the house kept us with her. I was small and weak; my brother, on the contrary, was strong, and full of life. He lived mostly among the prisoners. I sat in a little room with my doll. When we were in our seventh year, we were sent for to the old Colonel. His son died abroad; but before his death he had written to the old man, confessing to him his crime, my mother's innocence, and that we were his children! I resembled my father greatly. The old gentleman, as soon as he saw me, was very angry, and said, 'I will not have her!' I remained with my foster-mother. I never saw my brother after that time. The Colonel left the city, and took him with him."

"O God!" cried Louise; "you have still some papers on this subject? Do you not know your brother? It is impossible that it should be otherwise! You are Otto's sister!"

"O Heavens!" exclaimed Eva; her hands trembled, and she became as pale as a corpse.

"You are fainting!" cried Louise, throwing her arm around her waist and kissing her eyes and her cheeks. "Eva! he is your brother! the dear, good Otto! O, he will be so happy with you! Yes, your eyes are like his! Eva, you beloved girl!"

Louise related to her all that Otto had confided to her. She told her about German Heinrich, and how Otto had assisted Sidsel away, and how they had met.

Eva burst into tears. "My brother! O Father in heaven, that I may but live! live and see him! Life is so beautiful! I must not die!"

"Happiness will make you strong! There is no doubt but that he is your brother! We must tell it to mamma. O Heavens! how delighted she will be! and Otto will no longer suffer and be unhappy! He may be proud of you, and happy in you! O, come, come!"

She led Eva out with her to her mother, who was already in bed; but how could Louise wait till next morning?

"May the Lord bless thee, my good child!" said the lady, and pressed a kiss upon her forehead.

Eva related now how the Colonel had, given a considerable sum to her foster-mother; but that was all she was to receive, he had said. Afterward, when the foster-mother died, Eva had still two hundred rix-dollars; and on consideration of this the sister of the deceased had taken Eva to live with her. With her she came to Copenhagen and to Nyboder, and at that time she was ten years old. There she had to nurse a little child--her brother she called it-- and that was the little Jonas. As she grew older, people told her that she was handsome. It was now four years since she was followed one evening by two young men, one of whom we know--our moral Hans Peter. One morning her foster-mother came to her with a proposal which drove her to despair. The merchant had seen her, and wished to purchase the beautiful flower. Upon this Eva left her home, and came to the excellent people at Roeskelde; and from that day God had been very good to her.

She sank down upon her knees before the elderly lady's bed. She was not among strangers: a mother and a sister wept with the happy one.

"O that I might live!" besought Eva, in the depths of her heart. As a glorified one she stood before them. Her joy beamed through tears.

The next morning she felt herself singularly unwell. Her feet trembled; her cheeks were like marble. She seated herself in the warm sunshine which came in through the window. Outside stood the trees with large, half-bursting buds. A few mild nights would make the wood green. But summer was already in Eva's heart; there was life's joy and gladness. Her large, thoughtful eyes raised themselves thankfully to heaven.

"Let me not die yet, good God!" prayed she; and her lips moved to a low melody, soft as if breezes passed over the outstretched chords:--


"The sunshine warm, the odorous flowers,
Of these do not bereave me!
I breathe with joy the morning hours,
Let not the grave receive me!
There can no pleasant sunbeams fall,
No human voice come near me;
There should I miss the flow'rets small,
There have no friends to cheer me.

Now, how to value life I know--
I hold it as a treasure;
There is no love i' th' grave below,
No music, warmth, or pleasure.
On it the heavy earth is flung,
The coffin-lid shuts tightly!
My blood is warm, my soul is young!
Life smiles--life shines so brightly!"


She folded her hands: all became like flowers and gold before her eyes. Afar off was the sound of music: she reeled and sank down upon the sofa which was near her. Life flowed forth from her heart, but the sensation was one of bliss; a repose, as when the weary bow down their heads for sleep.

"Here is a letter!" cried Louise, full of joy, and found her white and cold. Terrified, she called for help, and bent over her.

Eva was dead.

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