« AnteriorContinuar »
and with thirst of revenge. The scene shall not go afoot, at any rate," he just described was the result.
cried, “ so long as Martin Thy has a But that very night the bold boors horse belonging to him, on whose were doomed to experience the evil back you can sit. You shall have a consequences of their exploit. In ride on Black Captain for once in your timidated by the crowd of assailants, life at least. You see, my lamb," the two dragoons took to flight, leav- continued he, throwing the right stiring the sergeant to take care of him- rup over the horse's neck and tightenself. They hurried back to the camp, ing the girths-" you see what a softand made report to their captain of mouthed beast I am ; I may be ridden the evening's events. The captain, anywhere with a plain snaffle by 'unwilling to lose a daring and useful those who know me. Come, I will subordinate, instantly despatched an- help you up." He placed her in the other sergeant to Vinding, with a saddle, detached the other horses from stronger party, and with orders to Captain's tail, clambered with confetch the waggons, to rescue Svart- siderable difficulty upon the bare back berg, or, should violence have been of one of them, and set off at a trot. done him, to arrest the murderers. " Only see," said he, "if we do Fortunately, the approach of the not resemble Mary and old Joseph, in troopers was observed sufficiently soon the picture upon the lid of my box at for old Hansen and Christina to find home. To be sure, Black Captain is a hiding-place ; but, in facilitating no jackass ; and indeed," he added, their escape, Hans was so unlucky as with a sly smile, "there is another to fall into the hands of the Swedes, difference besides that." who hurried him off to Count Steen- It was a chilly morning; the wind bock's quarters at Nyeborg.
blew keen and cutting from the coast, Early the following morning, Chris- and the air was clear and transparent; tina donned her holiday attire, put on so that from afar the travellers disa clean cap, a pair of yellow leathern cerned the Swedish tents, shimmergloves, and her best apron, and, with- ing snow-white in the sunshine. Beout telling the old man a word of her fore they had proceeded much farther, intentions, took the road to Nyeborg. the murmur of the camp became She thought not of the dangers be- audible, like the hum from a stack of setting her path: she thought only bee-hives. On reaching the outposts of sharing her lover's fate, should she they were challenged; but the horsefind it impossible to rescue him ; and dealer stooped his head and whispered bitterly reproached herself for having a word in the ear of the vidette, who consented to separate from him. forthwith allowed him and his comMournfully, and with eyes red from panion free passage, and they proweeping, she hurried along the rain- ceeded through the southern portion soaked road, when she heard the of the Swedish camp, towards the tramp of hoofs behind her, and looked farm-house where Steenbock had his round in alarm. It was Martin Thy, quarters. Preoccupied by her grief, mounted upon Black Captain, to whose Christina did not observe how comtail two other horses were tied. When pletely at home Martin Thy seemed to near enough to recognise Christina, be. Every body knew him, and he he drew rein with an exclamation of found his way without assistance astonishment, and inquired whither through the canvass mazes of the she was going. She briefly told him camp. When close to the general's her destination, and the object of her quarters, the travellers' progress was journey. He at first tried to dissuade for a moment delayed by a crowd of her from prosecuting the latter, repre, people following two soldiers, who senting the many dangers to which escorted a prisoner into the house. she exposed herself, and without a From her lofty seat upon the back of chance of benefit, seeing that none "Black Captain, Christina saw over the would listen to her entreaties and heads of the throng, and in the captive representations. Finding his advice recognised her lover, with hands bound and remonstrances unattended to by behind his back. With a cry of grief, the faithful and loving girl, he sud- she sprang unaided from the saddle, denly sprang from his horse. “You and pressed through the crowd. Wonder at her boldness, and compassion nothing, and like to gain by my barfor her evident affliction, procured her gains. Do you still remember what a passage, and, after some effort, she you lately told Svartberg? Keep succeeded in penetrating to the hall your word to me, and I will see what where the court-martial was held. I can do." The case was probably prejudged by The peril was pressing, and Christhe Swedish officers, who made no tina beside herself with sorrow. Disscruple to sacrifice a peasant, whether tracted by fears for her lover, whom innocent or guilty, by way of example the soldiers were already leading and warning to the disaffected. But away to execution, she promised all the trial, and the threats for which it that was asked of her. The horsegave opportunity, might probably, dealer gave a satisfied nod, and adthey thought, throw light upon the vanced slowly and with a certain air fate of Sergeant Svartberg, and ac- of importance to the green table count for his mysterions disappear- around which some members of the ance-besides eliciting the names of court still sat, whilst others had risen the accomplices in the murder of and were about to depart. "Making which, there could be small doubt, he as low a bow as his fat, thickset figure had been a victim. The sergeant was was capable of, he respectfully begged respected and beloved by his com- a hearing. The officers looked at rades and superiors, and dissatisfac- him with surprise ; Hans, recognising tion was apprehended if his fate did the voice, turned his face towards not receive due investigation.
him, whilst his escort lingered a moThe court-martial was over. All ment, as if to indulge their prisoner that could be extracted from Hans with a last glance at a friendly face. Thorsen amounted to no more than “What is your business?" abruptly was already known. Svartberg had demanded the president of the courtattempted to carry off his mistress, martial. “ Have you aught new and he and others had interfered to to communicate touching this affrustrate his design. He gave a plain fair ? " narrative of the wonderful disappear- "A single word, with your excelance of the sergeant, and did not lency's permission," replied Martin conceal his regret that the ravisher Thy; and, approaching the Count, he had thus escaped his vengeance. To whispered something in his ear. the tears and entreaties of Christina Steenbock took a step backwards, the court naturally paid small atten- and looked keenly in the horsetion, and she was at last compelled dealer's face, examining him for a by threats to cease her importunity. few seconds attentively, and without Sentence was passed; the president speaking. Then beckoning him into of the court stood up, and gave orders a corner of the room, where they to the provost-marshal to carry out could not be overheard, he exchanged the prisoner's doom by hanging him a few sentences with him, and cast in front of the camp. In the extremity his eyes over some papers produced by of despair, Christina cast her eyes the horse-dealer. This done, the over the crowd which filled the room two men returned to the table. to the very doorway, seeking succour “I think, therefore, with due subwhere she expected none, when sud- mission to your excellency," said the denly she perceived Martin Thy, who horse-dealer in more deeided tones, stood in a corner, with folded arms "that the truth is most likely to be and immovable features, watching got at in the manner I suggest. If the proceedings. The sight of the the sergeant has been murdered, this horse-dealer was a gleam of hope to lad was certainly not his only assasthe unhappy girl.
sin. Upon the other hand, if, as I "Help us !” she cried, hurrying to think more probable, Svartberg is in him with elasped hands- for the some place of concealment, the publessed Saviour's sake, help us if nishment of the prisoner would but you can!”
increase his danger. And that the “Ay, but what shall I get by that, worshipful sergeant has sunk into the my lamb?" replied Martin in a sup- earth or ascended to heaven, vanishpressed voice. "I give nothing for ing so as to leave no trace-that, of
course, is a fable my horses would or neighbours had seen him ; no intellaugh at.”
ligence, save faint and improbable “Well, well, jockey,” said the rumours, had been obtained concernCount, loud enough for all in the room ing him. Hans, when the enemy had to hear, “ if you undertake to throw quitted the country, (as he and every light upon the business, I will make body else fondly believed for ever,) over the prisoner to you, it being held himself absolved from his oath, well understood you become respon- and returned to his father's house at sible for him : the girl, too, must ap- Vinding. There he undertook to perpear, should I require her presence. suade Christina that a promise forced And remember, you cannot deceive from her, by the most cruel necessity, me without risking your own neck. was not so binding that, under certain Enough! you are answerable for them circumstances, it might not be broken; both."
and, moreover, that it could not ab. " With my life!” replied the horse- solve her from her more ancient vows dealer, again bowing low, “so soon plighted to himself. But all the arguas I am out of the camp. Until then, ments of the impatient young lover, I crave an escort."
although supported by those of his The protection demanded was ac- father, who was desirous, before he corded, and its necessity was fully died, to behold the happiness of his proved by the savage glances cast at children, failed for some time to conHans by the Swedish soldiery, as he vince the maiden's sound sense and and his companions passed through grateful heart. At last their persuathe camp. Once beyond its boundary, sions and representations, powerfully Martin Thy conducted Christina to aided by her love for Hans, induced her home, and Hans to his own house; her to fix a certain period, at the and after exacting from both a solemn expiration of which, if Martin Thy oath not to endanger his life by flight, did not in the interval appear to saddled a fresh horse and rode maintain his claim, she would become away.
the wife of her younger suitor. AlThe next day, the memorable 14th though vexed at the delay, Hans was of November, witnessed the defeat of compelled to consent to it; and for the Swedes and the triumph of the the satisfaction of Christina's conDanish arms; and upon the day af- science, two months were allowed to terwards, the whole Swedish army, elapse. Then, the horse-dealer not shut up in Nyeborg, surrendered to appearing, the wedding was celebrated the victors. The Prince of Sulz- with the customary festivity and bach and Count Steenbock had run rejoicing. the gauntlet through the Dutch fleet, At the marriage-feast the converand escaped to Corsor, where they sation naturally turned upon the events met any thing but a flattering recep- of the previous year, and, amongst tion from King Charles Gustavus. De- other names and persons brought unlivered from their merciless foe, and der discussion, Martin Thy was menonce more under Danish government, tioned. Unobservant or regardless of the inhabitants of Funen again raised the confusion manifest on the faces of their heads, and resumed their former both bride and bridegroom, half a habits and occupations. Gradually score persons immediately exclaimed things fell into the old routine : vexa- "Ay, what has become of Thy, the tious losses were forgotten in the com- punchy horse-dealer ?" " Whither forts and security of peace; fugitives has the scamp betaken himself ? " returned home; friends and relatives, asked others. One of the company, long severed, again met ; news were an elderly man, whose words obtained received of many reported dead, deference and attention, replied to and the fate of others, whom the these questions to the following effect: demon of war had really devoured, Martin Thy, he said, was unquestionwas accurately ascertained. But of ably one of the many spies employed Martin Thy, the horse-dealer, not a by Charles Gustavus, and many of word was heard. Since the day that whom were intrusted by him with very he had rescued Hans Thorsen from considerable powers. For that king, the jaws of death, none of his relatives reckoning on other means than the mere force of arms for the subjuga- and uncombed about his ears, his tion of the country, employed numer- doublet was travel-stained and tatous agents, chosen from all ranks and tered. It was scarce possible to reclasses, to ascertain the state of feel. cognise the once jovial well-condiing amongst the people. Soldiers, tioned horse-dealer. Hans Thorsen pilots, pedlars, artisans, peasants, and lifted up his hands in astonishment. students, took his wages for these dis. "Martin Thy!” he exclaimed in a honourable services. The horse tone of mingled vexation and comdealer, however, so the speaker passion, “whence come you, in heaaffirmed,-- either conscience-stricken ven's name, and what means this after taking the money of the Swedish wretched plight?" government, or finding it agreeable "You hardly know me again, Hans," and convenient to eat from two plat- said the horse-dealer, with somewhat ters at one time, had also accepted of his former gaiety in his voice. “I from the Danish authorities a pass- am not surprised at it. I look just port and secret instructions. On the like an old horse who has been turned occasion of the murder of a Swedish out to pass his winter in the woods. sergeant in the vicinity of Nyeborg, My paunch quite gone-left behind in he had come in contact with officers yonder dry hole at Corsor," continued of high rank, some of whom having he with a smile, whilst with both reason, in spite of his cunning and hands he displayed his vest, which plausibility, to mistrust his honesty, hung about him like a sack. "You instituted investigations which re- want to know my business here? sulted in his being sent handcuffed, never vex thyself about that, lad! I do with two other gentlemen of the same not come to trespass on your manor. kidney, to Corsor, where, without There are plenty here would drive me further form of trial, they were all away, did I wish to stay. Tell your three hung. Other accounts said little wife (for I know this is your that Martin Thy had got off with the wedding-day) not to fret herself, for mere fright, having succeeded, by Martin Thy releases her. I know means of a small file, concealed in his she will be glad to hear that. Of bushy hair, in cutting his prison bars money I have plenty, ragged as I and making his escape. The guests, look; but I crave a service of you, for however, were unanimously of opinion old acquaintance sake-'tis the last, that this was a mere postponement of perhaps. Lend me a horse, for I have his doom, and that to-morrow morn- not a leg to stand on. I will leave it ing a tree in the Danish woods might in your uncle's care at Aastrup, near serve as a gallows for Martin Thy. Faaborg : I myself shall not return. The conversation still ran upon this It matters little whether my fodder subject, when a young lad who waited grows in Germany or Funen ; and at table whispered something in the there are stables every where." ear of the bridegroom. The latter rose The good-natured heart of Hans from table with an air of surprise and Thorsen melted within him, as he uneasiness, and slipped out of the contemplated the woful plight of the house. The messenger conducted him unlucky little man, and the constrained to the wood-store, where a stranger, indifference and joviality of manner desirous of speaking with him, with which he endeavoured to carry awaited his coming. Upon entering off his misfortunes. His mind at ease the ill-lighted shed, Hans Thorsen about Christina, he thought only of beheld a pale thin little man, clothed comforting the man to whom he owed in squalid rags, and reclining, as if his life. He brought him beer and overcome with fatigue and exhaustion, brandy, bread and beef, offered him a upon a pile of chopped wood. The complete change of clothes, and pressstranger arose, and with a limping ed him earnestly to accept a pair of step advanced to meet Hans. It was large silver buckles, which he took Martin Thy. But how changed from his own shoes. But Martin Thy within a few short weeks! His refused every thing, smiled in reply to comfortable corpulence had disap the condolences of Hans, saddled the peared, his cheeks were hollow and horse himself, cordially pressed the colourless, his long hair hung matted young man's hand, and galloped out
of the court. Hans gazed after him an admirer' as the student of the till a turn of the road hid horse and vestiges of old days; and having berider from his view, and then returned sides some knowledge of music, which into the honse, to dissipate by a whis-, his companion did not possess, he per the last shadow of doubt and would sing with great unction, in a anxiety that still clouded the happi- voice somewhat cracked but not disness, and weighed upon the gentle agreeable, strange wild ballads about heart, of Christina Thorsen
Sivard, and Varland, andi Vidrick, From that day no word was heard and of the good horse Skimming, and in Funen of Martin Thy the horse- of King Waldemar and his queen dealer.
Dagmar; whilst the young man stood
by, his hand in his breast, and his Nearly a century and a half had eyes upon the ground, listening and elapsed since the incidents above nar- musing. rated. It was the month of July in "The rain is quite over," said the one of the last years of the eighteenth old clergyman, turning to the student ; century. The day had been oppres- "let us go into the garden, for the sively hot, but in the afternoon a sultry air is not yet out of the house. storm and shower had cooled and See here, how dry it is beneath these lightened the air. The minister at chestnut trees, notwithstanding the Vinding had a stranger stopping with pelting shower we have had ; and him. This was a young gentleman mark how the drops patter from leaf from Copenhagen, whose pale thought to leaf above our heads! A severe ful countenance told of assiduous toil: storm this has been. At one time, in the paths of learning, and of late I thought our church was struck by vigils by the study-lamp. Notwith- lightning: I am sure the thunderbolt standing the elegance of his attire, and fell very near the steeple. But see yonthe courtly arrangement of his hair- der, what a splendid rainbow! It gathered togethen upon his nape into looks exactly as if it had one foot in a tail, according to the fashion of the my meadow. Let us sit here awhile, day—the thorough Danish cut of his my dear young friend : the bench is features, and a certain homely plainness quite dry. Ah! how fragrant smells of mien, seemed to indicate plebeian the tobacco in the fresh open air! descent, and to warrant a conjecture But you do not appreciate it. You that his father's hand had been more prefer a Danish ditty to all the arofamiliar with the plough-handle than matic vapours of the noble Nicotian with general's baton or magistrate's herb." wand. His speech also, notwith- And to gratify his young guest, the standing the advantages of an ex- minister struck up the beautiful Danish cellent education, was tinged with the air--- Jeg gik mig ud en Sommerdag accent of the province in which he at höre"_beating the time with his long then found himself. He had jour- pipe-stick of Hungarian cherry. The neyed from the capital to his native eyes of the sensitive student were place, for the purpose of examining already dim with tears, when the whatever relies of antiquity there ex- plaintive song was interrupted by the isted, and of discovering, if possible, clergyman's fair-haired daughter, who some hitherto unknown. Not à came bounding down the garden. Runic stone, or moss-grown font, or “Father, John has come, and wants battered chalice, cracked bell, or to speak to you." stained window, not a tombstone or "Which John ?" asked the minialtar-piece, could escape his searching ster. eye and investigating finger. Besides. " John Thorsen," replied the young these mute memorials of ancient days, lady. “Shall I send him to you?" he interested himself greatly in the "No, child, I will go to him. I old rhymes and legends still current know what he wants. It is about his in Funen. To aid him in the collec- son's christening. Excuse me for a tion of these, and in his other anti- moment, my friend.” quarian researches, he had applied to In less than five minutes the clergythe right man. The venerable mini- man returned. ster was in every way as enthusiastic “ Are you disposed for a short