O. T. a Danish Romance

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"These are honest people's children!" said the watchman to himself, whilst he with much pleasure thrust the money into his leathern purse.

All was again quiet in the street; the violin was also silent.

CHAPTER III

"Who looks into the shadowy realm of my heart?" A. V. CHAMISSO.

In the former chapter we heard mention made of a young student, Otto Thostrup, a clever fellow, with nine prae caeteris, as his comrades said, but also of a proud spirit, of which he must be broken. Not at the disputations, which have been already mentioned, will we make his acquaintance, although there we must be filled with respect for the good Latin scholar; not in large companies, where his handsome exterior and his speaking, melancholy glance must make him interesting; as little in the pit of the Opera although his few yet striking observations there would show him to be a very intellectual young man; but we will seek him out for the first time at the house of his friend, the young Baron Wilhelm. It is the beginning of November: we find them both with their pipes in their mouths; upon the table lie Tibullus and Anacreon, which they are reading together for the approaching philologicum.

In the room stands a piano-forte, with a number of music-books; upon the walls hang the portraits of Weyse and Beethoven, for our young Baron is musical, nay a composer himself.

"See, here we have again this lovely, clinging mist!" said Wilhelm. "Out of doors one can fairly taste it; at home it would be a real plague to me, here it only Londonizes the city."

"I like it!" said Otto. "To me it is like an old acquaintance from Vestervovov. It is as though the mist brought me greetings from the sea and sand-hills."

"I should like to see the North Sea, but the devil might live there! What town lies nearest to your grandfather's estate?"

"Lernvig," answered Otto. "If any one wish to see the North Sea properly, they ought to go up as far as Thisted and Hjorring. I have travelled there, have visited the family in Borglum-Kloster; and, besides this, have made other small journeys. Never shall I forget one evening; yes, it was a storm of which people in the interior of the country can form no conception. I rode--I was then a mere boy, and a very wild lad--with one of our men. When the storm commenced we found ourselves among the sand-hills. Ah! that you should have seen! The sand forms along the strand high banks, which serve as dikes against the sea; these are overgrown with sea-grass, but, if the storm bursts a single hole, the whole is carried away. This spectacle we chanced to witness. It is a true Arabian sand-storm, and the North Sea bellowed so that it might be heard at the distance of many miles. The salt foam flew together with the sand into our faces."

"That must have been splendid!" exclaimed Wilhelm, and his eyes sparkled. "Jutland is certainly the most romantic part of Denmark. Since I read Steen-Blicher's novels I have felt a real interest for that country. It seems to me that it must greatly resemble the Lowlands of Scotland. And gypsies are also found there, are they not?"

"Vagabonds, we call them," said Otto, with an involuntary motion of the mouth. "They correspond to the name!"

"The fishermen, also, on the coast are not much better! Do they still from the pulpit pray for wrecks? Do they still slay shipwrecked mariners?"

"I have heard our preacher, who is an old man, relate how, in the first years after he had obtained his office and dignity, he was obliged to pray in the church that, if ships stranded, they might strand in his district; but this I have never heard myself. But with regard to what is related of murdering, why, the fishermen-- sea-geese, as they are called--are by no means a tender-hearted people; but it is not as bad as that in our days. A peasant died in the neighborhood, of whom it was certainly related that in bad weather he had bound a lantern under his horse's belly and let it wander up and down the beach, so that the strange mariner who was sailing in those seas might imagine it some cruising ship, and thus fancy himself still a considerable way from land. By this means many a ship is said to have been destroyed. But observe, these are stories out of the district of Thisted, and of an elder age, before my power of observation had developed itself; this was that golden age when in tumble-down fishers' huts, after one of these good shipwrecks, valuable shawls, but little damaged by the sea, might be found employed as bed-hangings. Boots and shoes were smeared with the finest pomatum. If such things now reach their hands, they know better how to turn them into money. The Strand-commissioners are now on the watch; now it is said to be a real age of copper."

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