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"A very small matter, at least I countenance wearing its usual sly wanted to steal the first kiss from my quick expression; the tall sergeant bride that is to be, and she would not with less decision in his gait, and with a allow it."
mixture of vexation and mistrust upon " Your bride, fat-paunch!” cried his features. When Martin Thy took Svartberg in extreme wonderment; his leave and departed, he followed 16 what the devil is all this? This him with a sort of constrained courwill never do. Harkye, old curry- tesy as far as the courtyard, and did comb, no one has a right to take any not re-enter the house till the horse's thing here, not so much as a kiss, hoofs were heard trotting along the without my leave. D'ye hear that?" narrow road.
“Gently, gently," retorted Martin Meanwhile the father and son had Thy in a jesting tone; “I am cer- gone out to fodder the cattle. With tainly a mere David in comparison folded arms Svartberg walked for a with such a Goliath as you, but I am while up and down the room. On a more active than I look---can jump sudden he stopped short in front of higher than any one would think- Christina, who sat spinning, as usual, high enough, perhaps, to catch you and gazed at her long and tenderly. by the flaxen curls upon your fore- At last he broke silence. head, if you meddle with the best "Fye upon you, my pretty Chrishorse in my stable. But you can tina!” he said; " you surely do not take a joke, sergeant dear ? ” con- seriously mean to throw yourself cluded he, with a sly side-glance at away on yon black-bearded monster?" the Swede.
"You must not take for earnest all "No, no, jockey, not I indeed, - Martin Thy says," replied the maiden, you are a deal too cunning for me, blushing; " you know what a strange one never finds you where one leaves creature he is." you. When I sent for you the other " Oh certainly," replied the soldier day for my horse, they said you were in a sharper tone, “I know devilish sick, but it seems you were on the well what he is, and I also know what road. Where have you been ?" I am myself. Better I certainly might
“ Westward,” replied the horse- be; but you, Christina, your father dealer quietly, "on my own honest busi- and all belonging to you, know well ness. I came home this evening, and that I am none of the worst.” the first person I cared to see was my " That we do, Svartberg, - you little girl here-besides that, I have a have been a help and protection so word or two to say to the worshipful long as you have dwelt in our house; sergeant."
and, without you, Heaven knows how "To me? Come then, and be it might have fared with us." quick about it, and have a care that “Once for all, then, Christina, tell my sabre does not take a fancy to me how I stand with you ; for curse speak a word or two to your shoul- me if I can make out. You know I ders.” And with this uncivil warning, love you, I have never concealed it, Svartberg took the little man by the and I did think you looked kindly collar, and pushed him before him into upon me; but here comes this potthe adjoining room.
bellied horse-dealer, and says you are Thor Hansen and the young people to marry him! Tell me honestly, is it had listened in silence to this short true?" and sharp dialogue. Out of prudence Whilst the young girl, with natural they abstained from interrupting the bashfulness, hesitated to reply to this horse-dealer, although his bold asser- home-question, the sergeant seated tions were not very pleasing to them. himself by her side, and, in his softest Now they stood embarrassed and at- tones and sweetest words, told ber tentive, trying to catch something of how ardently he loved her. He strove what passed in the next apartment, to rouse her gratitude by reminding -but without success, for the Swede her of the beneficial influence of his and his companion spoke in low tones presence in the house, how he had deand in short broken sentences. In a fended and saved her and hers from short time the two men returned to the plunder and ill-treatment they the sitting-room, the horse-dealer's would otherwise inevitably have suffered. In glowing colours he depicted ventured even to tell him, he must the happy and prosperous life they have a very poor opinion of her if he would lead together, if she would fol. thought to lead her astray by honeyed low him to Sweden when his term of words and fine manners. All this she service expired. He had a farm in said to the young Swede in plain Dalecarlia, he said, and she should be language, and in tones earnest, alhis wife and its mistress. Then he though gentle ; and the whole expresdrew from his finger a broad gold ring, sion of her countenance and manner with his name upon it, and endea- gave evidence of so much strength of voured, but in vain, to prevail upon will that Svartberg, after having her to accept it. And many times he once or twice more passionately conasked, with mournful earnestness, if jured her to tell him the truth about what Master Thy had told him were Martin Thy-betraying, each time he true; betraying in his manner, each mentioned the name, the same kind time he mentioned the name of this of confused manner as before-grasped man, previously so indifferent to him, helm and sabre, and with an exclamaan unusual reserve and circumspec- tion of disappointment and vexation, tion. At last, as Christina, although hurried into his apartment. with eyes full of tears, still persisted It had rained and blown the entire in her silence, he rose from his seat. night, the sky was gray and dreary,
"I have opened my whole heart to the first glimpse of dawn scarce apyou, Christina," said he," and I have peared in the east. Christina had too good an opinion of you to suppose milked the cows, but still she lingered for an instant you would, without in the stable awaiting her lover. Her compulsion, prefer that little punchy heart was very heavy; the peace and hedgehog of a Jutlander to a gallant safety in which the family had hitherto Swede and smart soldier like myself. lived seemed suddenly to have fled, Perhaps you are afraid of your father? and that she should be the innocent or of your dwarf of a bridegroom? If cause of its departure forced many a so, I promise you efficient protection. sigh from her gentle bosom. She had I have at Raskenbjerg" - here the not waited long when there was a young girl looked up from her work cautious tap at the back-door leading with a terrified glance, — "a good into the field ; she opened it quickly, comrade, who has married a country- and Hans entered. Christina threw woman of yours. With your consent, her arms round his neck. I will conduct you thither, and there "At last, dear Hans !" said she you shall remain, in all safety, until tenderly : “how anxiously I have we leave the country ;-and that will waited for you !" not be long," added he, sinking his “I come from the horse-dealer's," voice, and with a cautious glance replied Hans, breathing short, like around him.
. one who had made speed. "He was The mere name of Raskenbjerg had in bed and fast asleep, and was almost upon Christina an effect of which angry with me for awaking him. He Svartberg never dreamed. She told me, however, that he had heard, thought with a shudder of the tales God knows from whom, that Danish she had often heard related, and to troops had attempted a night-landing which the horse-dealer had so re- near Nyeborg, but had been prevented cently referred. She remembered the by the storm, and had sailed northblunt cordiality with which Martin wards. He pretends also that Danish Thy had promised her protection, and and German reinforcements are off suspected Svartberg of evil designs, the west coast of the island. With which he proposed carrying out by respect to you, and the proposal he craft rather than by violence. Full of made last night, he maintains it is the this idea, she told the sergeant plainly only safe means of escaping Svartthat she really was betrothed to berg's designs. Whether the offer Martin Thy, entreated him to show was serious or sham, he would not himself as generous in this matter as distinctly say: it was no business of he had always previously been, and mine, he said; it might be joke, or it declared firmly and positively she might be earnest. And when I would adhere to her promise. She solemnly swore to him that I would
endure neither the one nor the other, the lad go," exclaimed a voice behind he laughed at me, and bid me go Svartberg. “Surely you are not going home and let him go to sleep. As I to turn restive! You kick out a little, stole throngh the village, the trumpet- but I am certain a mouthful of hay ers blew the alarm, and the troopers will pacify you. Come, a word with began to mount. So we are not safe you !" here; the sergeant may surprise us at The horse-dealer, for he it was, took any moment."
the angry Swede by the bandelier, and And having concluded his parting Svartberg followed him, although with narrative, Hans prepared to quit his manifest unwillingness, to the further mistress for the day. So engrossed side of the court. Here Martin Thy were the young people by a long fare deliberately unbuttoned his brown well kiss, that they were unaware of doublet and three or four waistcoats, the entrance of sergeant Svartberg, produced, from the inmost recesses of till he had gazed at them for some his attire, a small greasy leather book, seconds in a state of seeming petrifac- and thence extracted a scrap of parchtion.
ment. This he placed before the eyes Hell and the devil !” was the of the sergeant, following the lines profane exclamation of the gallant with his finger as Svartberg read, and sergeant, on recovering his powers of pausing now and then at particular speech. "Pretty work this, by my words, as if they were talismanic chahonour! So so, my coy beanty," con- racters, intended to allay the soldier's tinted he, his lips trembling, his cheeks irritation. This, whatever they were, pale, his eyes ominously flashing, and they appeared to do. More calmly, with bitter irony in his voice, is it but with a harsh and sullen expression the custom in this country to marry of countenance, and like a man yieldtwo busbands, one young and the ing with an ill grace to a power he other old ? Now I know the mean- dares not resist, Svartberg approached ing of your shyness, and what your Hans Thorsen, who stood in gloomy intentions are; oh ! I see through the silence between the two dragoons. whole conspiracy. But wait a bit, “Let the fellow go,” he cried, “and I'll pay you all off. Hallo ! Olof and to horse! You tell me we shall not Peter i cried he to two dragoons in come back, Thy. I neither know nor the stable-yard, " dismount, and tie care how you learned it, but rememthis younker upon the ammunition- ber I make you responsible for both waggon you have to take to Nyeborg." of them. If I do return, I will claim
Whilst the bearded horsemen got both her and him at your hands, and out of their saddles to obey their God help you if they are not forthsergeant's commands, the latterturned coming." once more to the trembling Christina. He spoke thus whilst tightening his
“So this was your game, my horse's girths, and when he turned his charmer!" said he scornfully. "Have head the horse-dealer had already you already forgotten what you told disappeared. With a muttered oath, me last evening, when you had me Svartberg sprang into the saddle, and, sighing like an old woman ? I never without bestowing another glance felt so soft in my life, not since my upon the young people, galloped out mother first laid me in the cradle, of the court, quite forgetting to bewith a pap-spoon in my mouth. Ha! queath Christina one of those graceful it shall be the last time I waste fair salutations with which it was his wont words when force will gain my end. to bid her adieu. No, no!" he shouted, as Christina, with Field-marshal Shack had landed his tearful eyes and speechless with grief, troops without accident at Kjerteextended her clasped hands in sup- minde, and Lieutenant-general Eberplication, you won't get him off, I stein, with equal good fortune, had can tell you, not if you were an angel got his little army on shore at Middelfrom heaven. Why don't you inter- fahrt. The young prince of Sulzbach cede for your other lover, the old at first advanced against the latter one ? No, no, neither mercy nor general ; but then, afraid of being cut pardon."
off and surrounded by the former, he “Ah! sergeant, be not so cruel ; let changed his plan, and drew back his whole forces to a stronger position at tion. “Do you come to renew your Nyeborg. The entire Swedish army recent cruelty, or to atone for it?" lay either in this town, or encamped “What I would ?” replied the serin its front; their previous quarters geant. “You know, Christina, that were vacant. Consequently, in the my heart is not a hard one, but quite village of Vinding all was still and the contrary, soft as can be, and you quiet as in the grave. It was evening. it is, my angel, who have made it so. Thor Hansen and his son had betaken Frankly and plainly, however, do I themselves to the tavern, where a great tell you, that without you it will number of peasants, retainers of the harden again, ay, as marble. Withlord of the soil, travellers, and others, out you I cannot live : you must away were assembled, discussing the latest with me on the instant !" news. These seemed important, judg- " Alas, Svartberg, have I not aling from the noise and excitement ready told you I am betrothed to that prevailed: all spoke at once, Martin Thy!” cried the alarmed none listened, and, as if all danger maiden anxiously. were now over, none troubled their " Pshaw !" cried Svartberg, 6 you heads about what passed out of doors. do not expect me to swallow that But in the little room at Thor Han- fable? All lie and deception, as sure sen's house, Christina sat at work, as there is a God in heaven, I have full of melancholy thoughts. She cer- long seen through the old fox, but now tainly understood little about the I know him, and he shall not stand march of events and prospects of the long in any body's way. As to any country, but love and sorrow had so far harm he may have told you of me, the quickened her perceptions of political knave lies in his throat." matters, that she foresaw much evil to “Svartberg !" exclaimed Christina, herself and Hans if the Swedes got the terrified at the increasing vehemence upper hand. Another of her subjects of the Swede's tone and manner, “ you of meditation was the strange influence have power—" the horse-dealer exercised over Svart- “Ha!” interrupted the soldier, berg. Upon what was it founded ? " that have I, and know how to use Would it last ? And, even if it did, it. Christina, I cannot exist without and she was thereby delivered from you— by the living God I cannot! and the sergeant's importunities, might though you were betrothed to Sweden's not Martin Thy press his own claims— king, to me you must belong-mine claims which her own and her father's you shall be ! I have here," he conconsent, admitted to Svartberg, and tinued, in a hurried and passionate whereon was based the protection they whisper, “two comrades, and a cart enjoyed, rendered in some sort valid ? to convey you to Nyeborg. I shall These, and similar reflections, always soon have served my time, and then ending in fears for Hans, drew bitter will I take you home to my old mother tears from her eyes, and so absorbed in Dalecarlia, and there you shall her mind that she was as unconscious live like a queen, or my name is not as the noisy party at the tavern of Jon Svartberg! Come ! every mowhat occurred without. Suddenly the ment is precious !" latch was lifted, the house-door gently The stalwart sergeant seized the opened, and Svartberg stood before fainting girl by the waist, raised her her.
in his arms, regardless of her feeble “You weep, dearest !" he said, as struggles, and hurried to the door. he slowly approached the table beside Just then a loud uproar arose outside which Christina sat, whilst an ex- the house. Svartberg started, laid pression of mingled irony and grief Christina in an arm-chair, and lispassed across his martial features ; tened. The noise increased ; shouts “ do those precious tears flow, per- and cries, and two pistol-shots, reached chance, for me? By the cross ! how his ear; and then Hans Thorsen and pale and moist are those pretty Martin Thy, followed by a legion of cheeks."
rustics armed with axes and hay-forks, “What would you, sergeant?” said poured into the room through both its the maiden, recovering from her first doors. Surprised, but no way dissurprise, and in accents of deep afflic. concerted, by their sudden appearance and menacing mien, the sergeant, in vain. It seemed as though the with a military eye for a good posi- earth had swallowed the missing man. tion, retreated into a corner, where He had disappeared and left no trace. the oak table served him as barri. When at last convinced of this, the cade, and laid hand upon a pistol in boors gazed at each other in astonishhis belt. Either on account of the ment and vexation, not unmingled great odds against him, or through with dismay. The devil-so some of fear of injuring Christina, or because them muttered-had helped his own. consciousness of evil-doing robbed him At last Hans Thorsen, convinced of of his usual decision, he did not use the inutility of further research, prethe weapon, however, but preferred vailed on a few of the most resolute flight to a contest whose issue could to keep guard round the wood, and hardly have been advantageous to returned home to look for his father him. Springing actively upon the and comfort his mistress. long bench below the window, and Although Sergeant Svartberg had still keeping his face to the enemy, he never implicitly believed Martin Thy's set his heavily-booted leg against the story of his intended marriage with casement, which gave way, and fell Christina, the horse-dealer had found with a clatter and jingling into the means to inspire him with a certain garden. Then, with his favourite ex- respect, which prevented his pursuing clamation, “Ha! in the devil's name!" his object with open violence. His he swung himself, light as a bird, passion for the maiden, inflamed by through the opening. A peasant, on unexpected resistance, had made him sentry below, essayed to seize him, resolve, especially when the scene in but was prostrated by a blow that the cow-house put him upon the might have felled an ox; and the fu- trail of the truth, to employ every gitive sped through the garden, his means to attain his end. Hans he accoutrements rattling as he ran, and despised as a peasant lout, and felt indicating the direction he took. All himself in no way obliged to respect this while the peasants were not idle: his claims, or consider his rights. some followed him through the win- Were Christina once his, he trusted dow, others through the door ; and as to win, by redoubled tenderness, a it was nearly full moon and the sky heart which he believed—perhaps tolerably clear, the foremost distinctly rightly-harboured no particular resaw him run across the meadow, and pugnance towards him. He was disappear amongst the oaks. With overjoyed, therefore, when he received all speed they surrounded the little orders to take two dragoons, and thicket; some lining the banks of the fetch a couple of ammunition waggons stream bounding it to the north, left behind in Vinding; and he prowhilst others made diligent search mised himself he would make good amongst the trees and brushwood. use of this favourable opportunity of Far and near their voices were heard, carrying out his designs upon Thor shouting to each other encouragement Hansen's pretty kinswoman. Out of and inquiries. “Have you got him ? precaution, he avoided riding through Is he there? He has not crossed the the village, and took a circuitous stream. Look out, lads! Cut him route to Hansen's house. Before ardown, wherever you find him!" And riving there, however, he was comcut down the Swede undoubtedly pelled to pass some stables where would have been, had he been found; Martin Thy was wont to keep horses, but to find him was the great diffi- of which he sometimes had a great culty. Not a bush large enough to number on hand. Cunning Martin, shelter a rabbit but was beaten by whom nothing escaped, was looking the peasants, furious at the disap- through a hole in the stable wall, and pointment of their revenge on one of recognised, notwithstanding the evethe detested tyrants who so long had ning gloom, Jon Svartberg's big-boned oppressed them. Even the branches mare. Suspecting mischief, he hurried of the trees, although stripped of their to the tavern, and proposed to surleaves by the chill autumn wind so prise the uninvited guests; the as scarcely to afford concealment, did peasants joyfully assented, and at not escape examination. But all was once sallied forth, heated with liquor