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The Danes Sketched by Themselves Volume Iii Part 20

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'My unfortunate child had recovered her reason, but G.o.d only knows if it was better for her. She was generally cheerful, but never got into high spirits; she spoke little, except when she was spoken to: worked very diligently, and was neither positively ill nor positively well in health. The news of her restoration to her senses spread rapidly in the neighbourhood, and, about three months after, came Mads Egelund a second time as her suitor. But she would have nothing to say to him whatsoever. When he was at length convinced that she could not endure him, he became much enraged, and did sad mischief. I, and all our neighbours, and everyone who came here, agreed that we should never drop the slightest hint to Cecilia that she herself, during her insanity, had murdered the unfortunate Esben, and she imagined that he was either married, or had died in the south.

'One day that Mads was here, and was urging her vehemently to say "Yes"

to him, and that she declared she would rather die than marry him, he said plainly out, that he was, after all, too good for one who had cut the throat of her first lover; and thereupon he maliciously poured forth all that had happened. I was in the kitchen, and only caught part of what he was saying. I instantly left what I was about, rushed in, and cried to him, "Mads, Mads! for G.o.d's sake, what is that you are saying?" But it was too late; there she sat, as white as a plastered wall, and her eyes stood fixed in her head.

'"What am I saying?" retorted Mads; "I am saying nothing but the truth.

It is better for her to know _that_, than to treat her like a fool, and let her be waiting for a dead man the whole of her life."

'He left us; but her reason had fled again, never more to return in this mortal life. You see yourself in what state she is; at all hours, when she is not sleeping, she is singing that song, which she herself composed when Esben went to Holstein, and she fancies that she is spinning linen for her house when married. But she is quiet enough, Heaven be praised! and does not attempt to harm the meanest creature that lives; however, we dare not lose sight of her for a moment. May G.o.d take pity upon us, and soon call us both away!'

As she uttered these last words, the unfortunate girl entered with her keeper.

'No,' said she, 'to-day he is not to be seen--but we shall surely have him to-morrow. I must make haste, or I shall not have finished this linen.' She placed herself hurriedly upon her low straw chair, and with her hands and feet in rapid, yet mimic action, she recommenced her mournful ditty.

These words, so often repeated,

The greatest sorrow that this world can give, Is, far away from those one loves--to live,

always drew forth a heavy sigh; and as she sang them, her pale, but still lovely face, would sink on her breast, her hands and feet would become languidly still, but directly she would rouse herself up to her labour, commence another verse, and set the invisible wheel going again.

In deep thought, I wandered forth from the widow's house. My soul was as dark as the colour of the heath I trod on; my whole mind was occupied with Cecilia and her dreadful fate. In every airy phantom, far and near, that flitted before my eyes, I fancied I beheld the unfortunate maniac as she sat and seemed to spin, and rocked herself, and threw up and down her hands with untiring motion. In the wild bird's plaintive whistle--in the lonely heath lark's mournful song, I heard only that one sorrowful truth--the words, alas! deeply felt by thousands of saddened hearts--

The greatest sorrow that this world can give, Is, far away from those one loves--to live.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: From a collection of short tales in one volume, ent.i.tled 'Haablos,'--Hopeless.]

[Footnote 2: Niel's Bugge, in Danish history generally called Ridder Bugge, the wealthy owner of the ancient castle of Hald, was on had terms with King Waldemar Kristoffersen, to whom he would not yield allegiance. After it had been sought in vain to bring about a reconciliation at Slagelse, Ridder Bugge and two ether n.o.blemen, Otto Stigsen and Peter Andersen, were treacherously murdered when returning home from the meeting. Some burghers of Middlefort were blamed for this dark deed, but they were probably employed by persons in a higher station; at least, Waldemar found it necessary to clear himself from the suspicion of guilt by the oaths of twelve men.]

[Footnote 3: '_Schukelmeier_,' a play upon the name _Mr. Meier_, was a nickname signifying _Smuggler_, which the lower cla.s.ses in Hamburg bestowed on the Danes, whom they accused of having smuggled the French into Hamburg.]

THE END.

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