Man and wife stepped into the house. They had soon taken off their
Sunday clothes, and emerging again, they hurried away over the dunes,
which stood there like huge waves of sand suddenly arrested in their
course, while the sandweeds and the dune grass with its bluish stalks
spread a changing colour over them.
A few neighbours came up and
helped one another to draw the boats higher up on the sand. The wind
now blew more sharply than before ; it was cutting and cold : and when
they went back over the sand-hills, sand and little pointed stones blew
into their faces. The waves reared themselves up with their white
crowns of foam, and the wind cut off their crests, flinging the foam far
The evening came on. In the air was a swelling roar, moaning and
complaining like a troop of despairing spirits, that sounded above the
hoarse rolling of the sea ; for the fisher's little hut was on the very
margin. The sand rattled against the window-panes, and every now and
then came a violent gust of wind, that shook the house to its founda-
tions. It was dark, but towards midnight the moon would rise.
The air became clearer, but the storm swept in all its gigantic force
over the perturbed sea. The fisher people had long gone to bed, but in
such weather there was no chance of closing an eye. Presently there waa
a knocking at the window, and the door was opened, and a voice said,
A Story from the Sand-Dunes.
" There 's a great ship fast stranded on the outermost reef."
In. a moment the fish people had sprung from their coucli and hastily
The moon had risen, and it was light enough to make the surround-
ing objects visible to those who could open their eyes for the blinding
clouds of sand. The violence of the wind was terrible, and only by
creeping forward between the gusts was it possible to pass among the
sand-hills ; and now the salt spray flew up from the sea like down,
while the ocean foamed like a roaring cataract towards the beach. It
required a practised eye to descry the vessel out in the offing. The
vessel was a noble brig. The billows now lifted it over the reef, three
SAVED FEOil THE WEECK.
or four cables' lengths out of the usual channel. It drove towards the
land, struck against the second reef, and remained fixed.
To render assistance was impossible ; the sea rolled fairly in upon the
vessel, making a clean breach over her. Those on shore fancied they
heard the cries of help from on board, and could plainly descry the busy
useless efforts made by the stranded crew. Now a wave came rolling
onward, falling like a rock upon the bowsprit and tearing it from the
brig. The stern was lifted high above the flood. Two people were seen
to embrace and plunge together into the sea; in a moment more, and
one of the largest waves that rolled towards the sand-hills threw a
body upon the shore. It was a woman, and appeared quite dead, said
the sailors ; but some women thought they discerned signs of life in
(316 Stories for the Household.
her, and the stranger was carried across the ^and-hills into the fisher-
man's hut. How beautiful and fair she ^'as ! certainly she must be a
They laid her upon the humble bed that boasted not a yard ot linen ;
but there was a woollen coverlet, and that would keep the occupant
Life returned to her, but she was delirious, and knew nothing of what
had happened or where she was ; and it was better so, for everything
she loved and valued lay buried in the sea. It was with her ship as
with the vessel in the song of " The King's Son of England."
" Alas ! it was a grief to see
How the gallant ship sank speedily."
Portions of wreck and fragments of wood drifted ashore, and they
were all that remained of what had been the ship. The wind still drove
howling over the coast. For a few moments the strange lady seemed
to rest ; but she awoke in pain, and cries of anguish and fear came from
her lips. She opened her wonderfully beautiful eyes, and spoke a few
words, but none understood her.
And behold, as a reward for the pain and sorrow she had undergone,
she held in her arms a new-born child, the child that was to have rested
upon a gorgeous couch, surrounded by silken curtains, in the sump-
tuous home. It was to have been welcomed with joy to a life rich in
all the goods of the earth ; and now Providence had caused it to be
born in this humble retreat, and not even a kiss did it receive from its
The fisher's wife laid the child upon the mother's bosom, and it rested
on a heart that beat no more, for she was dead. The child who was to
be nursed by wealth and fortune, was cast into the world, washed by
the sea among the sand-hills, to partake the fate and heavy days of the
poor. And here again comes into our mind the old song of the English
King's son, in which mention is made of the customs prevalent at that
time, when knights and squires plundered those who had been saved
The ship had been stranded some distance south of Nissum Bay.
The hard inhuman days, in which, as we have stated, the inhabitants of
the Jutland shores did evil to the shipwrecked, were long past. Affec-
tion and sympathy and self-sacrifice for the unfortunate were to be
found, as they are to be found in our own time, in many a brilliant
example. The dying mother and the unfortunate child would have
found succour and help wherever the wind blew them ; but nowhere
could they have found more earnest care than in the hut of the poor
fisherwife, who had stood but yesterday, with a heavy heart, beside the
grave which covered her child, which would have been five years old
that day if God had spared it to her.
Xo one knew who the dead stranger was, or could even form a con-
jecture. The pieces of wreck said nothing on the subject.
Into the rich house in Spain no tidings penetrated of the fate of the
A Story from the Sand-Dunes. 617
daughter and the son-iu-la\v. They had not arrived at their destined
post, and violent storms had raged during the past weeks. At last the
verdict was given, " Foundered at sea all lost."
But on the sand-hills near Hunsby, in the fisherman's hut, lived a
little scion of the rich Spanish family.
AVhere Heaven sends food for two, a third can manage to make a meal,
and in the depths of the sea is many a dish of fish for the hungry.
And they called the boy Jiirgen.
" It must certainly be a Jewish child," the people said, " it looks so
" It might be an Italian or a Spaniard," observed the clergyman.
But to the fisherwoman these three nations seemed the same, and she
consoled herself with the idea that the child was baptized as a Christian.
The boy throve. The noble blood in his veins was warm, and he became
strong on his homely fare. He grew apace in the humble house, and
the Danish dialact spoken by the West Jutes became his language.
The pomegranate seed from Spanish soil became a hardy plant on the
coast of West Jutland. Such may be a man's fate ! To this home he
clung with the roots of his whole being. He was to have experience of
cold and hunger, and the misfortunes and hardships that surrounded the
humble, but he tasted also of the poor man's joys.
Childhood has sunny heights for all, whose memory gleams through
the whole after life. The boy had many opportunities for pleasure and
play. The whole coast, for miles and miles, was full of playthings, for
it was a mosaic of pebbles, red as coral, yellow as amber, and others
again white and rounded like birds' eggs, and all smoothed and pre-
pared by the sea. Even the bleached fish skeletons, the water plants
dried by the wind, seaweed, white, gleaming, and long linen-like bauds,
waving among the stones, all these seemed made to give pleasure and
amusement to the eye and the thoughts ; and the boy had an intelligent
mind many and great faculties lay dormant in him. How readily he
retained in his mind the stories and songs he heard, and how neat-
handed he was ! With stones and mussel shells he could put together
pictures and ships with which one could decorate the room ; and he
could cut out his thoughts wonderfully on a stick, his foster-mother
said, though the boy was still so young and little ! His voice sounded
sweetly ; every melody flowed at once from his lips. Many chords were
attained in his heart which might have sounded out into the world, if
he had been placed elsewhere than in the fisherman's hut by the JNTorth
One day another ship was stranded there. Among other things, a
chest of rare flower bulbs floated ashore. Some were put into the
cooking pots, for they were thought to be eatable, and others lay and
shrivelled in the sand, but they did not accomplish their purpose or
unfold the richness of colour whose germ was within them. Would it
be better with Jiirgen ? The flower bulbs had soon played their part,
but he had still years of apprenticeship before him.
Neither he nor his friends remarked in what a solitary and uniform
618 Stories for the Household.
way one day succeeded another, for there was plenty to do and to see.
The sea itself was a great lesson-book, unfolding a new leaf every day,
such as calm and storm, breakers and waifs. The visits to the church
were festal visits. But among the festal visits in the fisherman's house,
one was particularly distinguished. It was repeated twice in the year,
and was, in fact, the visit of the brother of Jiirgen's foster-mother, the
eel breeder from Zjaltring, upon the neighbourhood of the " Bow Hill."
He used to come in a cart painted red and filled with eels. The cart
was covered and locked like a box, and painted all over with blue and
white tulips. It was drawn by two dun oxen, and Jiirgen was allowed
to guide them.
The eel breeder was a witty fellow, a merry guest, and brought a
measure of brandy with him. Every one received a small glass-full, or a
cup-full when there was a scarcity of glasses : even Jiirgen had as much
as a large thimble-full, that he might digest the fat eel, the eel breeder
said, who always told the same story over again, and when his hearers
laughed he immediately told it over again to the same audience. As,
during his childhood, and even later, Jiirgen used many expressions
from this story of the eel breeder's, and made use of it in various ways,
it is as well that we should listen to it too. Here it is :
" The eels went into the bay ; and the mother-eel said to her daugh-
ters, who begged leave to go a little way up the bay, ' Don't go too far :
the ugly eel spearer might come and snap you all up.' But they went
too far ; and of eight daughters only three came back to the eel-mother,
and these wept and said, ' We only \veut a little way before the door,
and the ugly eel spearer came directly, and stabbed five of our party to
death.' ' They '11 come again,' said the mother-eel. ' Oh, no,' exclaimed
the daughters, 'for he skinned them, and cut theiii in two, and fried
them.' 'Oh, they'll come again,' the mother-eel persisted. ' Xo,'
replied the daughters, ' for he ate them all up.' ' They '11 come again,'
repeated the mother-eel. ' But he drank brandy after them,' continued
the daughters. ' Ah, then they '11 never come back,' said the mother,
and she burst out crying, ' It 's the brandy that buries the eels.'
"And therefore," said the eel breeder, in conclusion, "it is always
right to take brandy after eating eels."
And this story was the tinsel thread, the most humorous recollection
of Jiirgen's life. He likewise wanted to go a little way outside the
door and up the bay that is to say, out into the world in a ship ; and
his mother said, like the eel breeder, " There are so many bad people
eel spearers ! " But he wished to go a little way past the sand-hills, a
little way into the dunes ; and he succeeded in doing so. Four merrv
days, the happiest of his childhood, unrolled themselves, and the whole
beauty and splendour of Jutland, all the joy and sunshine of his home,
were concentrated in these. He was to go to a festival though it was
certainly a burial feast.
A wealthy relative of the fisherman's family had died. The farm lay
deep in the country, eastward, and a point towards the north, as the
saying is. Jiirgen's foster-parents were to go, and he was to accompany
A Story from the iSand-Dunes
them from the dunes, across heath and moor. They came to the green
meadows where the river Skjarn rolls its course, the river of many eels,
where mother-eels dwell with their daughters, who are caught and eaten
up by wicked people. But men were said sometimes to have acted no
better towards their own fellow men ; for had not the knight, Sir Bugge,
been murdered by wicked people ? and though he was well spoken of,
had he not wanted to kill the architect, as the legend tells us, who had
built for him the castle with the thick walls and tower, where Jiirgen
and his parents now stood, and where the river falls into the bay ? The
uall on the ramparts still remained, and red crumbling fragments lay
strewn around. Here it was that Sir Bugge, after the architect had left
THE EEL BEEEDEE'S VISIT.
him, said to one of his men, " G-o thou after him, and say, ' Master, the
tower shakes.' If he turns round, you are to kill him, and take from
him the money I paid him ; but if he does not turn round let him depart
in peace." The man obeyed, and the architect never turned round, but
called back, " The tower does not shake in the least, but one day there
will come a man from the west, in a blue cloak, who will cause it to
shake ! " And indeed so it chanced, a hundred years later ; for the
North Sea broke in, and the tower was cast down, but the man who then
possessed the castle, Prebjorn G-yldenstjerne, built a new castle higher
up, at the end of the meadow, and that stands to this day, and is called
Past this castle went Jiirgen and his foster-parents. They had told
620 Stories for the Household.
him its story during the long winter evenings, and now he saw the
lordly castle, with its double moat, and trees, and bushes ; the wall,
covered with ferns, rose within the moat ; but most beautiful of all were
the lofty lime trees, which grew up to the highest windows and filled
the air with sweet fragrance. In a corner of the garden towards the
north-west stood a great bush full of blossom like winter snow amid the
summer's green : it was a juniper bush, the first that Jiirgen had seen
thus in bloom. He never forgot it, nor the lime tree : the child's soul
treasured up these remembrances of beauty and fragrance to gladden
the old man.
From Norre Vosborg, where the juniper blossomed, the way went
more easily, for they encountered other guests who were also bound
for the burial, and were riding in waggons. Our travellers had to sit
all together on a little box at the back of the waggon, but even this was
preferable to walking, they thought. So they pursued their journey in
the waggon across the rugged heath. The oxeu which drew the vehicle
slipped every now and then, where a patch of fresh grass appeared amid
the heather. The sun shone warm, and it was wonderful to behold how
in the far distance something like smoke seemed to be rising ; and yet
this smoke was clearer than the mist ; it was transparent, and looked
like rays of light rolling and dancing afar over the heath.
" That is Lokeman driving his sheep," said some one ; and this was
enough to excite the fancy of Jiirgen. It seemed to him as if they were
now going to enter fairyland, though everything was still real.
How quiet it was ! Far and wide the heath extended around them
like a beautiful carpet. The heather bloomed and the juniper bushes and
the vigorous oak saplings stood up like nosegays from the earth. An
inviting place for a frolic, if it were not for the number of poisonous
adders of which the travellers spoke, as they did also of the wolves which
formerly infested the place, from which circumstance the region was still
called the AVolfsborg region. The old man who guided the oxen related
how, in the lifetime of his father, the horses had to sustain many a hard
fight with the wild beasts that were now extinct : and how he himself,
when he went out one morning to bring in the horses, had found one of
them standing with its fore feet on a wolf it had killed, after the savage
beast had torn and lacerated the legs of the brave horse.
The journey over the heath and the deep sand was only too quickly
accomplished. They stopped before the house of mourning, where they
found plenty of guests within and without. Waggon after waggon stood
ranged in a row, and horses and oxen went out to crop the scanty pasture.
Great sand-hills, like those at home by the North Sea, rose behind the
house and extended far and wide. How had they come here, miles into
the interior of the land, and as large and high as those on the coast ?
The wind had lifted and carried them hither, and to them also a history
Psalms were sung, and a few of the old people shed tears ; beyond
this, the guests were cheerful enough, as it appeared to Jiirgen, and
there was plenty to eat and drink. Eels there were of the fattest, upon
A Story from the Sand-Dunes . 621
which brandy should be poured to bury them, as the eel breeder said ;
and certainly his maxim was here carried out.
Jiirgen went to and fro in the house. On the third day he felt quite
at home, like as in the fisherman's hut on the sand-hills where he had
passed his early days. Here on the heath there was certainly an un-
heard-of wealth, for the flowers and blackberries and bilberries were to
be found in plenty, so large and sweet, that when they were crushed
beneath the tread of the passers by, the heath was coloured with their
Here was a Hun's Grave, and yonder another. Columns of smoke
rose into the still air: it was a heath-fire, he was told, that shone so
splendidly in the dark evening.
Now came the fourth day, and the funeral festivities were to conclude,
and they were to go back from the land-dunes to the sand-dunes.
"Ours are the best," said the old fisherman, Jiirgen's foster-father;
" these have no strength."
And they spoke of the way in which the sand-dunes had come into the
country, and it seemed all very intelligible. This was the explanation
they gave :
A corpse had been found on the coast, and the peasants had buried it
in the churchyard ; and from that time the sand began to fly and the sea
broke in violently. A wise man in the parish advised them to open the
grave and to look if the buried man was not lying sucking his thumb ;
for if so, he was a man of the sea, and the sea would not rest until it had
got him back. So the grave was opened, and he really was found with
his thumb in his mouth. So they laid him upon a cart and harnessed
two oxen before it ; and as if stung by an adder, the oxen ran away with
the man of the sea over heath and moorland to the ocean ; and then the
sand ceased flying inland, but the hills that had been heaped up still
remained there. All this Jiirgen heard and treasured in his memory
from the happiest days of his childhood, the days of the burial feast.
How glorious it was to get out into strange regions and to see strange
people ! And he was to go farther still. He was not yet fourteen years
old. when he went out in a ship to see what the world could show him :
bad weather, heavy seas, malice, and hard men these were his experi-
ences, for he became a ship boy. There were cold nights, and bad living,
and blows to be endured ; then he felt as if his noble Spanish blood
boiled within him, and bitter wicked words seethed up to his lips ; but
it was better to gulp them down, though he felt as the eel must feel
when it is flayed and cut up and put into the frying-pan.
" I shall come again ! " said a voice within him. He saw the Spanish
coast, the native land of his parents. He even saw the town where
they had lived in happiness and prosperity; but he knew nothing of
his home or race, and his race knew just as little about him.
The poor ship boy was not allowed to land ; but on the last day of
their stay he managed to get ashore. There were several purchases to
be made, and he was to carry them on board.
There stood JvU'gen in his shabby clothes, which looked as if they had
Stories for the Household.
been washed in the ditch and dried in the chimney : for the first time
he, the inhabitant of the dunes, saw a great city. How lofty the houses
seemed, and how full of people were the streets ! some pushing this
way, some that a perfect maelstrom of citizens and peasants, monks
and soldiers a calling and shouting, and jingling of bell-harnessed asses
and mules, and the church bells chiming between song and sound,
hammering and knocking, all going on at once. Every handicraft had
its home in the basements of the houses or in the lanes ; and the sun
shone so hotly, and the air was so close, that one seemed to be in
an oven full of beetles, cockchafers, bees, and flies, all humming and
murmuring together. Jiirgeu hardly knew where he was or which way
he went. Then he saw just in front of him the mighty portal of thj
cathedral ; the lights were gleaming in the dark aisles, and a fragrance
JUEGEN RESTS AT HIS ANCESTORS* RESIDENCE.
of incense was wafted towards him. Even the poorest beggar ventured
up the steps into the temple. The sailor with whom Jiirgen went
took his way through the church, and Jiirgen stood in the sanctuary.
Coloured pictures gleamed from their golden ground. On the altar
stood the figure of the Virgin with the child Jesus, surrounded by
lights and flowers ; priests in festive garb were chanting, and choir
boys, beautifully attired, swung the silver censer. What splendour,
what magnificence did he see here i It streamed through his soul and
overpowered him ; the church and the faith of his parents surrounded
him, and touched a chord in his soul, so that the tears overflowed his
From the church they went to the market-place. Here a quantity of
provisions were given him to carry. The way to the harbour was long,
and, tired and overpowered by various emotions, he rested for a few
moments before a splendid house, with marble pillars, statues, and broad
staircases. Here he rested his burden against the wall. Then a liveried
A Story from the Sancl-Dunes. 623
porter came out, lifted up a silver-headed cane, and drove him away
him, the grandson of the house. But no one there knew that, and he
just as little as any one. And afterwards he went on board again, and
there were hard words and cuffs, little sleep and much work such were
his experiences. They say that it is well to suffer in youth, if age
brings something to make up for it.
His time for servitude on shipboard had expired, and the vessel lay
once more at Bingkjobing, in Jutland : he came ashore and went home
to the sand-dunes by Hunsby ; but his foster-mother had died while he
was away on his voyage.
A hard winter followed that summer. Snow storms swept over land
and sea, and there was a difficulty in getting about How variously
things appeared to be distributed in the world ! here biting cold and
snow-storms, while in the Spanish land there was burning sunshine and
oppressive heat. And yet, when here at home there came a clear frosty
day, and Jiirgeu saw the swans flying in numbers from the sea towards
the laud, and across to Vosborg, it appeared to him that people could
breathe most freely here ; and here too was a splendid summer ! In
imagination he saw the heath -bloom and grow purple with rich juicy
berries, and saw the elder trees and the lime trees at Vosborg in full
blossom. He determined to go there once more.
Spring came on, and the fishery began. Jiirgen was an active assist-
ant in this ; he had grown in the last year, and was quick at work.
He was full of life, he understood how to swim ; to tread water, to turn
over and tumble m the flood. They often warned him to beware of the
troops of dogfish, which could seize the best swimmer, and draw him
down and devour him , but such was not Jiirgeu's fate.
At the neighbour's on the dune was a boy named Martin, with whom
Jiirgen was very friendly, and the two took service in the same ship to
Norway, and also went together to Holland ; and they had never had
any quarrel , but a quarrel can easily come, for when a person is hot by
nature he often uses strong gestures, and that is what Jiirgeu did one
day on board when they had a quarrel about nothing at all. They were
sitting behind the cabin door, eating out of a delf plate which they had
placed between them. Jiirgen held his pocket-knife in his hand, and