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THE OLDEN TIMES AND THE NEW.
FROM THE DANISH OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.
BY MRS. BUSHBY.
Now we are up in Jutland, much further up than the wild dreary bogs; we can hear the roar of the sea, and the dashing of the waves, not far off; but in front of us stands a high sand-hill, we have seen it for a long time, and we are now driving towards it, driving slowly through the deep sand. Situated up yonder, on the sand-hill, is a large old building, that is the monastery of Borglum; the largest part of the nave is now the church. We have arrived here late in the evening, but the atmosphere is clear, the nights are almost as light as day; one sees to a great distance around, over field and bog down to Aalborg Fiord, over heaths and meadows, away even to the dark blue sea.
Now we have gained the ascent-now we pass through the farm-yard and by the barns, and, wheeling about, enter the courtyard gate of the old castle, where the linden-trees stand in rows against the walls; there they are sheltered from the wind and the weather, therefore they grow so that their branches almost conceal the windows.
We enter, and ascend the winding stone staircase; we traverse the long corridors under the thick wooden beams of the roof; the wind whistles here so strangely, without or within, one hardly knows which; and it is said-ah! but so many things are said, and so many things are seen when people are timid, or wish to frighten others. The dead old canons, it is said, still glide by us into the church, where the mass is chanted; they can be heard in the si ghing of the wind. One becomes so impressed by all this, that one keeps thinking of the olden times—thinking untione seems to be living in them.
There was a ship stranded on the beach; the bishop's people were down there. They did not spare those whom the sea had spared, and the waves washed away the red blood which flowed from the gaping wounds. The stranded goods belonged to the bishop, and there was a large store of them. The sea cast up many an anker* and barrel, filled with costly wine for the cellars of the monastery, though these were already well filled with ale and mead, while the larders were crammed with game, with sausages,
* Anker, a Danish measure of thirty-eight Danish quarts.
and hams, and in the ponds swam the fat bream and the dainty
The Bishop of Borglum was a mighty personage, he possessed plenty of land, but he wished to get more. However, he was kept in check by Olaf Glob, his rich kinsman. At length the rich kinsman died at Thy. "Heaven save me from my friends, and I will save myself from my enemies," it is said, and the widow at They soon found out how true this was. Her wealthy husband had had authority over the whole country round, except over the Church property. Her son was in a distant land; he had been sent away when a boy to learn foreign customs and foreign languages, which his mind was bent on doing. For years nothing had been heard of him; perhaps he was in his grave, and would then never come back to take the direction of all that his mother now ruled over.
"What! shall a woman have so much at her command!" ex
claimed the bishop. He sent her a summons to appear at the Thinge; but that was of no use to him. She had never, in any way, acted against the laws of the land, and she had confidence in the justice of her cause.
But of what was Bishop Olaf of Borglum thinking now? What was he writing down on the white parchment? What was there under that seal and ribbon which he handed to a trusty messenger, who, attended by his serving-man, rode off with the missive out of the country-far away-to the city where dwelt the Pope?
It was the season of the fall of the leaf, the season for shipwrecks; chilly winter was approaching. Twice had this period come and gone, when, at length, the return of the mounted messenger and his man was welcomed by the anxious bishop. They brought a papal bull with them from Rome-a bull excommunicating the widow who had dared to offend the pious bishop. "Accursed shall she be, and all that belongs to her! She shall be thrust out of the Church and from the community! Let no one hold out to her a helping hand; let kinsmen and friends avoid her as a leper, or one stricken with the plague!"
"Those who will not bend shall break!" said the Bishop of Borglum.
Then every one forsook the widow, but she did not forsake her God, he was her stay and her defender.
Only one servant, an old maid, remained faithful to her; with her assistance the widow ploughed the land, and the corn grew in spite of the soil having been cursed by the Pope and the bishop. "Thou imp of hell! but I am determined to carry out my
will!" cried the Bishop of Borglum. "I will touch thee up with the Pope's hand, and bring thee to judgment and punishment!"
Then she put to her carriage the last two oxen she possessed, and placed herself and her maid in it; she drove away over the heath, away out of the Danish land; she went a stranger among strange people, where foreign tongues were spoken and foreign manners prevailed. Far away she travelled to where the green hills rise into mountains, and the green vines flourish. They met travelling merchants, who looked out anxiously from their carriages laden with wares, afraid of being attacked by robbers. The two poor women in their wretched conveyance, drawn by a pair of black oxen, drove safely through dangerous ravines and thick woods.
In France the travellers met a stately knight, who was followed by twelve retainers in martial attire. He stopped and gazed with astonishment at the odd-looking equipage; he then asked the two women whither they were going and from what country they had come. The younger one replied that they came from Thy, in Denmark, and mentioned that they were in sorrow and exile. But all this was soon to be at an end; our Lord had so ordained it The stately knight was the widow's son. He held out his hand to her, he embraced her, and the mother wept; for years she had not shed a tear, but in her distress had often bitten her lips until drops of warm blood had sprung from them.
It was the season of the fall of the leaf, the season for shipwrecks; the sea rolled wine-casks up on the land for the bishop's cellars; the kitchen fire blazed to cook the game and other dainties; there was warmth up there within doors, even through the biting cold of winter. A report was heard up there-Jeus Glob has cited the bishop to appear before the Ecclesiastical Court, and also before a court of law.
"That will help him vastly," sneered the bishop; "you had better drop your law-suits, Sir Jeus!"
It was the season of the fall of the leaf in the following year, the season for shipwrecks; chilly winter was approaching; the snow-flakes began to whirl in the air, and knock against the eyes, until they melted themselves.
The weather is sharp to-day, people said, when they had been out of doors. Jeus Glob stood so lost in thought near the stove, that he scorched his coat-nay, even burned a hole in it.
"Hah! Bishop of Borglum! I will conquer you though! The law cannot reach you, sheltered as you are by the pope's mantle, but Jeus Glob shall reach you!"
Thereupon he wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, Herr Oluf Hasé, at Salling, requesting him to come on Christmas-eve to vespers at Hvidberg church. The bishop was to perform the Feb.-VOL. CXLIV. NO. DLXXVIII.
service there that evening, therefore he was to travel from Borglum to Thyland, as Jeus Glob had ascertained.
The meadows and the morasses were covered with ice and snow; they were able to bear both horses and their riders, and an entire cortége; the bishop, with his clerks and servants, rode the shortest way, through the fragile reeds, among which the wind was sighing dolefully.
Loudly blew his brazen trumpet the wandering musician, clothed in foxes' skin! His music sounded well in the clear air, and the bishop and his retinue rode over the heaths and the frozen marshes, the Fata Morgana's own precincts in the warm summer days; they rode southwards; they were going to Hvidberg church.
Lustily as the musician blew, the wind blew still more loudly in its trumpet; it blew a perfect gale, increasing into a violent tempest. To the House of God, in this fearful weather hastened the bishop's party. The sacred edifice stood in safety, but the storm careered over field and bog, over fiord and sea. The Bishop of Borglum reached the church; it signified little to Herr Oluf Hasé how fast he rode. Herr Oluf came with his men to the other side of the fiord, in order to help Jeus Glob.
The church was the hall of justice, the altar the judge's table. The candles were all lighted in the heavy brass chandeliers; the wind seemed wailing without; it howled over the swamps and the heaths, and over the roaring waters. No ferry-boat could cross the fiord in such tempestuous weather.
Oluf Hase stopped at Ottesund; there he dismissed his men, gave them permission to return home, and charged them with a message to his wife. He would only risk his own life in the foaming water; but he told them they must bear witness for him that it was not his fault if Jeus Glob stood, without assistance, in Hvidberg church. But his faithful people would not leave him, they dashed after him into the deep water. Ten of them were swept away by the strong current; only Oluf Hasé himself, and two of his younger attendants, reached the opposite bank, and they had still four miles to ride.
It was past midnight-it was Christmas-eve. The wind was laid, the church was lighted up; and the light streamed from the windows over the meadows and the heaths. The vesper song had long since ceased; in the House of God all was so still, that the wax might have been heard dropping from the lights in the brass chandeliers down upon the stone flour; just then Oluf Hasé
In the armoury Jeus Glob bade him "Good evening!" and added, "I have settled matters with the bishop."
"You have done that!" cried Oluf; "then shall neither you nor the bishop leave this church alive!"
And Oluf Hasé drew his sword from its scabbard, and struck furiously before him; he struck until the wood was splintered in the church door; then Jeus Glob placed himself close by him and said,
"Stay your hand, dear brother-in-law; see first what the settlement has been. I have slain the bishop and all his men. They will never utter another word, nor will I either, about all the wrong that has been done my mother."
The wicks of the candles upon the altar looked red, but the floor looked redder still; there lay the bishop weltering in his blood, with a gaping wound upon his brow, and dead lay also all his retinue; all were speechless and still on that holy Christmas-eve.
But on the third evening after Christmas-day the death-bell was tolled at the monastery of Borglum; the murdered bishop and his slain attendants were exposed to view under a dark canopy, surrounded by candelabra, wrapped in black crape. In a shroud of silver tissue, with the crosier in his powerless hands, lay the deadthe once so mighty man. Incense perfumed the air, the monks chanted the hymns for the dead. These sounded like lamentations, they sounded like the denouncing of wrath and condemnation, which might be heard all over the country, borne by the wind, sang by the wind; sometimes the wind is lulled into rest, but it never dies, it always rouses itself again, and sings its songs; it sings them even in our time, and up yonder it sings about the Bishop of Borglum, and his harsh kinsman. It is heard in the dark night, it is heard by the terrified peasants, who, over the heavy sandy road, drive past Borglum Abbey; it is heard by the listening sleepless inmates of Borglum's thick-walled chambers, and it echoes through the lonely walks which lead to the church, whose walledup portals have long been closed, but not to the eyes of superstition. These see the door still there, and they open it; the lights from the church's brass chandeliers still shine, the incense scents the air, the church is decorated with its ancient splendour, and the monks sing the masses for the dead over the murdered bishop, who lies in the shroud of silver tissue, with the crosier in his powerless hands, and on his pale lofty brow shines the bloody wound; it glows like fire; it is this world's sins and evil desires which are being burned out!
Sink into the grave, sink into night and oblivion, ye unenviable mementos from the olden days!
Hark to the wind's furious blasts! They deaden the roar of the dashing sea! There is a storm out yonder, it will cost the lives of