The Sand-Hills of Jutland

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Portions of the wreck were washed ashore. She was the only living creature out of all that had so lately breathed and moved on board the doomed ship. The wind was howling their requiem over the inhospitable coast. For a few minutes she slept peacefully, but soon she awoke and uttered groans of pain; she cast up her beautiful eyes towards heaven, and said a few words, but no one there could understand them.

Another helpless being soon made its appearance, and her new-born babe was placed in her arms. It ought to have reposed on a stately couch, with silken curtains, in a splendid house. It ought to have been welcomed with joy to a life rich in all this world's goods; but our Lord had ordained that it should be born in a peasant's hut, in a miserable nook. Not even one kiss did it receive from its mother.

The fisherman's wife laid the infant on its mother's breast, and it rested near her heart; but that heart had ceased to beat--she was dead! The child who should have been nurtured amidst happiness and wealth was cast a stranger into the world--thrown up by the sea among the sand-hills, to experience heavy days and the fate of the poor. And again we call to mind the old song:--

"The king's son's eyes with big tears fill: 'Alas! that I came to this robber-hill. Here nothing awaits me but evil and pain. Had I haply but come to Herr Bugge's domain, Neither knight nor squire would have treated me ill.'"

A little to the south of Nissumfiord, on that portion of the shore which Herr Bugge had formerly called his, the vessel had stranded. Those rough, inhuman times, when the inhabitants of the west coast dealt cruelly, it is said, with the shipwrecked, had long passed away; and now the utmost compassion was felt, and the kindest attention paid to those whom the engulfing sea had spared. The dying mother and the forlorn child would have met with every care wherever "the wild wind had blown;" but nowhere could they have been received with more cordial kindness than by the poor fishwife who, only the previous morning, had stood with a heavy heart by the grave wherein reposed her child, who on that very day would have attained his fifth year if the Almighty had permitted him to live.

No one knew who the foreign dead woman was, or whence she came. The broken planks and fragments of the ship told nothing.

In Spain, at that opulent house, there never arrived either letter or message from the daughter and son-in-law; they had not reached their destination; fearful storms had raged for some weeks. They waited with anxiety for months. At last they heard, "Totally lost--every one on board perished!"

But at Huusby-Klitter, in the fisherman's cottage, there dwelt now a little urchin.

Where God bestows food for two, there is always something for a third; and near the sea there is plenty of fish to be found. The little stranger was named Joergen.

"He is surely a Jewish child," said some people, "he has so dark a complexion."

"He may, however, be an Italian or a Spaniard," said the priest.

The whole tribe of fishermen and women comforted themselves that, whatever was his origin, the child had received Christian baptism. The boy throve, his noble blood mantled in his cheek, and he grew strong, notwithstanding poor living. The Danish language, as it is spoken in West Jutland, became his mother tongue. The pomegranate seed from the Spanish soil became the coarse grass on the west coast of Jutland. Such are the vicissitudes of life!

To that home he attached himself with his young life's roots. Hunger and cold, the poor man's toil and want, he was to experience, but also the poor man's joys.

Childhood has its bright periods, which shine in recollection through the whole of after life. How much had he not to amuse him, and to play with! The entire seashore, for miles in length, was covered with playthings for him--a mosaic of pebbles red as coral, yellow as amber, and pure white, round as birds' eggs, all smoothed and polished by the sea. Even the scales of the dried fish, the aquatic plants dried by the wind, the shining seaweed fluttering among the rocks--all were pleasant to his eye, and matter for his thoughts; and the boy was an excitable, clever child. Much genius and great abilities lay dormant in him. How well he remembered all the stories and old ballads he heard; and he was very quick with his fingers. With stones and shells he would plan out whole scenes he had heard as if in a picture: one might have ornamented a room with these handiworks of his. "He could cut out his thoughts with a stick," said his foster-mother; and yet he was but a little boy. His voice was very sweet--melody seemed to have been born with him. There were many finely-toned strings in that breast; they might have sounded forth in the world, had his lot been otherwise cast than in a fisherman's house on the shores of the German Ocean.

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