ENGLISH

Everything in its proper place

DANSK

"Alt på sin rette plads!"


It was over a hundred years ago.

By the great lake behind the wood there stood an old mansion. Round about it circled a deep ditch, with bulrushes, reeds, and grasses growing in it. Close by the bridge, near the entrance gate, an old willow tree bent over the reeds.

From the narrow lane came the sound of horns and the trampling of horses, and therefore the little girl who tended the geese hastened to drive her charges away from the bridge before the hunting party came galloping up. They approached with such speed that she was obliged to climb up onto one of the high cornerstones of the bridge, to avoid being run down. She was still little more than a child, pretty and slender, with a gentle expression in her face and lovely bright eyes. But the baron took no note of this; as he galloped past her, he reversed the whip in his hand, and in rough play gave her such a blow in the chest with the butt end that she fell backward into the ditch.

"Everything in its proper place!" he cried. "Into the mud with you!" And he laughed loudly, for this was intended to be funny, and the rest of the company joined in his mirth. They shouted and clamored, while the hunting dogs barked even more loudly than before. It was indeed: "Rich birds come rushing."

But goodness knows how rich he was. The poor goose girl, in falling, managed to seize one of the drooping branches of the willow tree and hang from it over the muddy water. As soon as the company and the dogs had disappeared through the castle gate, she tried to climb up again, but the branch broke off at the top, and she would have fallen into the reeds if, at that moment, a strong hand had not caught her from above. It was a peddler who from a little distance away had seen what had happened and had hurried up to give aid.

"Everything in its proper place," he said, mocking the baron, and pulled her up to the dry ground. He put the tree branch back to the place from which it had broken, but "everything in its place" cannot always be managed, and so he thrust it into the soft ground. "Grow if you can, until you can furnish a good flute for them up yonder," he said. It would have given him great pleasure to see the baron and his companions well thrashed.

And then the peddler made his way to the mansion, but did not go into the main hall; he was much too humble for that! He went instead to the servants' quarters, and the men and maids looked over his stock of goods and bargained with him. From above, where the guests were at table, was heard a sound of roaring and screaming that was intended for song; that was the best they could do! There was loud laughter, mingled with the barking and yapping of dogs, for there was riotous feasting up there. Wine and strong old ale foamed in jugs and glasses, and the dogs ate with their masters, and some of them, after having their snouts wiped with their ears, were kissed by them.

The peddler was told to come upstairs with his wares, but it was only to make fun of him. The wine had mounted into their heads and the sense had flown out. They insisted that the peddler drink with them, but, so that he would have to drink quickly, they poured his beer into a stocking. This was considered a great joke and caused more gales of laughter. And then entire farms, complete with oxen and peasants, were staked on a single card, and lost and won.

"Everything in its proper place," said the peddler thankfully when he had finally escaped from what he called "the Sodom and Gomorrah up there." - "The open road is my proper place," he said. "I didn't feel at all happy up there."

And the little goose girl nodded kindly to him as he walked by the pasture gate.

Days passed and weeks passed; and the willow branch that the peddler had thrust into the ground beside the water ditch remained fresh and green and even put forth new shoots. The little goose girl saw that it must have taken root, and she was very happy about it; this was her tree, she thought.

Yes, the tree flourished, but everything else at the mansion went to seed, what with feasting and gambling. For these two are like wheels, upon which no man can stand securely.

Scarcely six years had passed before the baron left the mansion, a beggar, with bag and stick in hand; and the mansion itself was bought by a rich merchant. And the purchaser was the very peddler who had once been mocked at in the great hall and forced to drink beer from a stocking! Honesty and industry are good winds to speed a vessel, and now the peddler was the master of the mansion. But from that moment card-playing was not permitted there any more.

"That is bad reading," he said. "When the Devil saw a Bible for the first time, he wanted something to counteract it, and so he invented card playing."

The new owner took himself a wife, and who do you suppose she was but the pretty little goose girl, who had always been so faithful and good! In her new clothes she looked as beautiful and fine as if she had been of high birth. How did all this happen? Well, that is too long a story to tell you in these busy times, but it really did happen, and the most important part of the story is still to come.

It was pleasant and cheerful to live in the old mansion. The mother managed the household affairs, and the father superintended the estate, and blessings seemed to rain down on the home. For where there is rectitude prosperity is sure to follow. The old house was cleaned and repainted; ditches were cleared, and new fruit trees were planted. The floors were as polished as a draughtboard, and everything wore a bright cheerful look.

In the large hall the lady sat in the winter evenings, with all her maids spinning woolen and linen yarn, and every Sunday evening there was a reading from the Bible by the Councilor of Justice himself. In his old age the peddler had achieved this title. There were children, and as they grew up they received the best possible education, although all were not equally gifted - just as it is in all families.

But the willow branch outside had grown to be a big splendid tree, which stood free and undisturbed. "That is our family tree," the old people said. And they explained to all the children, even those who were not very bright, that the tree was to be honored and respected.

So a hundred years rolled by.

Now it was our own time. The lake had grown into a marsh, and the old mansion had almost disappeared. A long narrow pool of water near the remains of a stone wall was all that was left of the deep ditch; yet here still stood a magnificent old willow tree with drooping branches. It was the family tree, and it showed how beautiful a tree may be if left to itself. To be sure, the main trunk was split from root to crown, and storms had given it a little twist, but it still stood firmly. From every cleft and crack into which the winds had carried soil, grasses and flowers had sprung forth, especially near the top, where the great branches separated. There a sort of a small hanging garden had been formed of wild raspberries and chickweed, and even a little serviceberry tree had taken root and stood slender and graceful in the midst of the old tree, which reflected itself in the dark water when the wind had driven all the duckweed into a corner of the pool. A narrow path, which led across the fields, passed close by the old tree.

High on the hill near the forest, with a splendid view in every direction, stood the new mansion, large and magnificent, the glass of its windows so clear and transparent that there seemed to be no panes there at all. The stately flight of steps that led up to the entrance looked like a bower covered with roses and broad-leaved plants. The lawn was as freshly and vividly green as if each separate blade of grass were washed mornings and evenings. In the great hall hung valuable pictures; there were silken chairs and sofas so airy and graceful that they seemed almost ready to walk on their own legs; there were tables with polished marble tops, and books bound in rich morocco and gold. Yes, they were really wealthy people who lived here; they were people of position; here lived the baron and his family.

Everything here fitted with everything else. The motto of the house was still "Everything in its proper place." So all the pictures that at one time had hung with honor and glory in the former mansion were now relegated to the passage that led to the servants' hall, for they were considered nothing but old junk; especially two old portraits, one of a man in a pink coat and a wig, the other of a lady with powdered, high-dressed hair and a rose held in her hand, and each surrounded by a large wreath of willow branches. These two old pictures were marred by many holes, for the baron's children were fond of using the two old people as targets for their cross bows. They were the portraits of the Councilor of Justice and his lady, from whom the whole family descended.

"But they didn't really belong to our family," said one of the young barons. "He was a peddler, and she was a goose girl! They weren't like Papa and Mamma!"

The pictures were judged to be worthless junk, and as the motto was "Everything in its proper place," Great-grandmother and Great-grandfather were hung in the passage that led to the servants' hall.

Now, the son of the village pastor was the tutor at the mansion. One day he was out walking with his pupils, the young barons and their older sister, who had just been confirmed. They followed the path toward the old willow, and as they strolled along, the young girl gathered some field flowers and bound them together - "Everything in its proper place" - and the flowers became a beautiful bouquet. At the same time she heard every word that was spoken, for she liked to listen to the clergyman's son talk of the power of nature and the great men and women of history. She had a good, sweet temper, with true nobility of soul and mind, and a heart that appreciated all that God had created.

They stopped at the old willow tree, where the youngster boy insisted on having a flute made for him, as had been cut for him from other willow branches before; and the pastor's son therefore broke off a branch.

"Oh, don't," cried the young baroness, but it was already too late. "That is our famous old tree," she explained, "and I love it dearly. They laugh at me at home for it, but I don't care. There's an old tale attached to this tree."

Then she told them all the story about the tree, about the old mansion, and the peddler and the goose girl who had met for the first time on this very spot and had afterward founded the noble family to which these young people belonged.

"They didn't want to be knighted, the grand old people!" she said. "They kept their motto, 'Everything in its proper place,' and so they thought it would be out of place for them to buy a title. It was their son - my grandfather - who was made a baron. They say he was very learned, a great favorite with princes and princesses, and was present at all their festivals. The others at home love him the best, but I don't know - there seems to be something about that first pair that draws my heart to them. How comfortable and patriarchal it must have been in the old mansion then, with the mistress sitting at her spinning wheel among all her maids, and the old master reading aloud from the Bible!"

"They must have been wonderful people, sensible people," said the pastor's son.

Then the conversation turned naturally toward noblemen and commoners. The young man hardly seemed to belong to the lower classes, so well did he understand and speak of the purpose and meaning of nobility.

"It is good fortune," he said, "to belong to a family that has distinguished itself. In your own blood there is then, so to speak, a spur that urges you on to make progress in everything that is good. It's gratifying to bear the name of a family that is a card of admission to the highest circles. Nobility means something great and noble; it is a gold coin that has been stamped to show its worth. It is a modern belief, and many poets, of course, agree with it, that all of nobility must be bad and stupid, and that the lower you go among poor people, the more wisdom and virtue do you find. But that isn't my opinion, for I think it's entirely foolish, entirely false. There are many beautiful and kindly traits found in the upper classes. I could give you many examples; here's one my mother told me once.

"She was visiting a noble family in town, where I think my grandmother had nursed the lady of the house. The old nobleman and my mother were together in his apartments when he noticed an old woman come limping into the courtyard on crutches. She used to come there every Sunday, to receive a little gift.

" 'Ah! There is the poor old lady!' said the nobleman. 'Walking is so hard for her!' And before my mother understood what he meant, the seventy-year-old excellency was out of the room and down the stairs, carrying his gift to the old woman, to spare her the difficult walk.

"Now that was only a little thing, but like the widow's mite it has a sound that echoes to the depths of the human heart. Those are the things that poets ought to sing about, especially in these times, for it does good; it soothes and reconciles mankind. But when a person, just because he is of noble birth and has a pedigree, stands on his hind legs and neighs in the street like an Arabian horse, and, when a commoner has been in the rooms, sneers, 'Something out of the street has been in here!' - that is nobility in decay and just a mask - a mask such as Thespis created. People are glad to see one like that satirized."

That was the way the pastor's son spoke. It was a rather long speech, but while talking he had finished carving the flute.

That night there was a great party at the mansion, with many guests from about the neighborhood and from the capital. The main hall was full of people; some of the ladies were dressed tastefully, while others showed no taste at all. The clergymen of the neighborhood remained gathered respectfully in a corner, looking as if they were conducting a burial service there. But it was a party of pleasure; only the pleasure hadn't begun yet.

There was to be a great concert, so the little baron brought in his new willow flute. But neither he nor his father could get a note from it, so they decided it was worthless. There were chamber music and song, both of the sort that pleases the performers most - yet quite charming.

Suddenly a certain cavalier - his father's son and nothing else - spoke to the tutor. "Are you a musician?" he demanded. "You play the flute and make it, too! That's genius! That should command, and receive, the place of honor! Heaven knows, I try to follow the times. You have to do that, you know. Come, you will enchant us all with the little instrument, won't you?"

Then he handed the tutor the flute made from the old willow down by the pool and announced loudly that the tutor was about to favor them with a solo on that instrument.

Now, it was easy to tell that they only wanted to make fun of him, so the tutor refused, though he could really play well. But they crowded around him and insisted so strongly that at last he put the flute to his lips.

That was a strange flute! A tone was heard, as sustained as the whistle of a steam engine, yes, and much stronger; it echoed over the courtyard, garden, and wood, and miles away into the country. And with that note there came a rushing wind that seemed to roar, "Everything in its proper place!"

And then Papa flew, as if carried by the wind, straight out of the great hall and into the shepherd's cottage, while the shepherd was blown - not into the main hall, for there he could not come - no, up into the servants' room, among the haughty lackeys strutting in their silk stockings. The proud servants were almost paralyzed at the very thought that such a common person would dare to sit at table with them!

But in the great hall the young baroness flew to the upper end of the table, where she was worthy to sit; the pastor's son found himself next to her, and there they both sat as if they were a newly married couple. A gentle old count of one of the most ancient families in the country remained unmoved in his honorable place, for the flute was just, as everyone ought to be. But the witty cavalier who was nothing more than the son of his father, and who had caused the flute playing, flew head over heels into the poultry house - and he was not alone.

For a whole mile around the countryside the sound of the flute could be heard, and remarkable things happened. The family of a rich merchant, driving along in their coach and four, was blown completely out of the carriage and could not even find a place on the back of it. Two wealthy peasants who in our times had grown too high for their own cornfields were tumbled back into the ditch.

Yes, that was indeed a dangerous flute. But luckily it burst after that first note, and that was a fortunate thing for everybody, for then it was put back into the owner's pocket. "Everything in its proper place."

The next day no one spoke of what had happened; and that is where we get the expression, "To pocket the flute." Everything was back in its former state, except for the two old portraits of the merchant and the goose girl. They had been blown up onto the wall of the drawing room; and when one of the well-known experts said they had been painted by an old master, they were left there, and carefully restored. Nobody knew before that they were worth anything, and how could they have known? Now they hung in the place of honor. "Everything in its proper place."

And it will come to that. Eternity is long - even longer than this story.
Det er over hundrede år siden!

Der lå bag skoven ved den store indsø en gammel herregård, og rundt om den var der dybe grave, hvori voksede dunhammere, siv og rør. Tæt ved broen til indkørselsporten stod et gammelt piletræ, der hældede sig ud over rørene.

Omme fra hulvejen lød horn og hestetrampen, og derfor skyndte den lille gåsepige sig med at få gæssene til side fra broen, før jagtselskabet kom galoperende; det kom i sådan en fart, at hun gesvindt måtte springe op på en af de høje sten ved broen, for ikke at blive redet over ende. Halvt barn var hun endnu, fin og spinkel, men med et velsignet udtryk i sit ansigt og to rare klare øjne; men det så herremanden ikke på; i den flyvende fart han kom, vendte han pisken i sin hånd, og af rå lystighed stødte han hende med skaftet lige for brystet, så hun gik bag over.

"Alt på sin rette plads!" råbte han, "i skarnet med dig!" og så lo han, det skulle nu være så morsomt, og de andre lo med; hele selskabet gjorde skrig og skrål og jagthundene gøede, det var rigtignok:

"Rige Fugl kommer susende!"

- Gud ved hvor rig han var endda.

Den stakkels gåsepige greb for sig, idet hun faldt, og fik fat i en af de nedhængende pilegrene; ved den holdt hun sig oppe over dyndet, og så snart herskab og hunde var vel inde af porten, arbejdede hun på at komme op, men grenen knækkede af ved kronen, og gåsepigen faldt tungt tilbage i rørene, da i det samme en kraftig hånd ovenfra greb hende. Det var en vandrende hosekræmmer, som et stykke borte havde set til og skyndte sig nu med at komme hende til hjælp.

"Alt på sin rette plads!" sagde han i spøg efter herremanden og trak hende op på det tørre; den afbrækkede gren stillede han hen mod stedet, hvor den var knækket af, men "på sin rette plads," det går ikke altid! og så stak han grenen ned i den bløde jord, "gro om du kan og skær dem en god fløjte deroppe på gården!" han undte herremanden og hans en dygtig spidsrodsmarch; og så gik han ind på herregården, men ikke op i højsalen, dertil var han for ringe! ind til folkene i borgestuen kom han, og de så på hans varer og købslog; men oppe fra gildesbordet lød skrål og vræl, der skulle være sang, de kunne den ikke bedre. Der lød latter og hundehyl, der var stor fråsen og sviren; vin og gammelt øl skummede i glas og krus, og livhundene åd med; et og andet bæst af dem blev af junkerne kysset, efter at det først med den lange ørelap var tørret om snuden. Hosekræmmeren blev kaldt derop med sine varer, men kun for at de kunne have deres spas med ham. Vinen var gået ind og Forstanden ud. De hældte øl i en strømpe til ham, at han kunne drikke med, men gesvindt! det var nu så overordentligt snildt og til grin. Hele drift kvæg, bønder og bøndergårde blev satte på ét kort og tabt.

"Alt på sin rette plads!" sagde hosekræmmeren, da han igen var vel uden for Sodoma og Gomorra, som han kaldte det. "Den åbne landevej, det er min rette plads, der oppe var jeg slet ikke i mit es." Og den lille gåsepige nikkede til ham fra markleddet.

Og der gik dage og der gik uger, og det viste sig, at den afbrækkede pilegren, som hosekræmmeren havde stukket ned ved vandgraven, holdt sig stadig frisk og grøn, ja at den skød endogså nye skud; den lille gåsepige så, at den måtte have fæstet rod, og hun glædede sig så inderligt derover, det var hendes træ, syntes hun.

Ja, med det gik det fremad, men med alt andet på gården gik det svært tilbage ved svir og ved spil: Det er to triller, som ikke er gode at stå på.

Der var ikke gået seks år, så vandrede herremanden med pose og stav, som fattig mand, fra gården og den blev købt af en rig hosekræmmer, og det var just ham, som havde været til spot og grin og var budt øl i en strømpe; men ærlighed og driftighed, de giver god medbør, og nu var hosekræmmeren herre på gården; men fra den stund kom der aldrig kortenspil der; "det er en slem læsning," sagde han, "den kommer derfra, at da Fanden første gang så Bibelen, ville han vrænge en efter, der skulle være ligesådan, og så opfandt han kortenspillet!"

Den nye herremand tog sig en frue, og hvem var hun, det var den lille gåsepige, som altid havde været skikkelig, from og god; og i de nye klæder så hun ud så fin og køn, som var hun født en fornem jomfru. Hvorledes gik det til? Ja, det er for lang en historie i vor travle tid, men det gik til, og det vigtigste kommer bag efter.

Velsignet og godt var der på den gamle gård, moder stod selv for det indvendige og fader for det udvendige; det var ligesom velsignelsen vældede frem, og hvor velstand er, der kommer velstand til huse. Den gamle gård blev pudset og malet, gravene rensede og frugttræer plantede; venligt og godt så der ud og stuegulvet var blankt som et spækbræt. I den store sal sad om vinteraftnerne madammen med alle sine piger og spandt uldent og linned; og hver søndag aften læstes der højt af Bibelen, og det af justitsråden selv, for han blev justitsråd, hosekræmmeren, men det var først på hans meget gamle dage. Børnene voksede til, - der kom børn, - og alle blev de vel oplært, men de havde jo ikke lige gode hoveder, sådan som det er i enhver familie.

Men pilegrenen udenfor var blevet til et helt prægtigt træ, der stod frit og ubeskåret, "det er vort stamtræ!" sagde de gamle folk, og det træ skulle holdes i agt og ære! sagde de til børnene, også til dem som ikke havde gode hoveder.

Og nu var der gået hundrede år.

Det var i vor tid; søen var blevet til en mose, og den gamle herregård var ligesom visket ud, der stod en aflang pyt vand, med lidt stensætning til siden, det var resten af de dybe grave, og her stod endnu et prægtigt gammelt træ, der hældede sine grene, det var stamtræet; det stod og viste, hvor smukt et piletræ kan være, når det får lov til at skøtte sig selv. - Det var jo rigtignok revnet midt i stammen, lige nede fra roden og op til kronen, stormen havde drejet det lidt, men det stod, og fra alle revner og sprækker i det, hvor vind og vejr havde lagt muldjord, voksede græs og blomster; især øverst, hvor de store grene delte sig, var der ligesom en hel lille hængende have, med hindbær og fuglegræs, ja endogså et lille bitte rønnebærtræ havde der rodfæstet sig og stod så slankt og fint midt oppe i det gamle piletræ, der spejlede sig i det sorte vand, når vinden havde drevet andemaden hen i et hjørne af vandpytten. - En lille sti, hen over hovmarken, førte tæt her forbi.

Højt på banken ved skoven, med en dejlig udsigt, lå den nye gård, stor og prægtig, med glasruder så klare, at man skulle tro at der slet ingen var. Den store trappe ved døren så ud, som om den havde lysthus på af roser og storbladede planter. Græspletten var så ren grøn, som om hvert strå blev set efter morgen og aften. Inde i salen hang kostelige malerier, og der stod med silke og med fløjl stole og sofaer, der næsten kunne gå på deres egne ben, borde med blanke marmorplader, og bøger i safian og guldsnit . . . . jo, det var rigtignok rige folk, som boede her, det var fornemme folk, her boede baronens.

Det ene svarede der til det andet. "Alt på sin rette plads!" sagde de også, og derfor var alle de skilderier, som engang havde været til stads og hæder på den gamle gård, nu ophængt i gangen til karlekamret; rigtigt skrammel var det, især to gamle portrætter, det ene en mand i rosenrød kjole og med paryk, det andet en dame med pudret opsat hår og en rød rose i hånden, men begge omgivet ens med en stor krans af pilegrene. Der var så mange runde huller i de to billeder, og det kom af at de små baroner altid gik og skød deres flitsbuer af på de to gamle folk. Det var justitsråden og justitsrådinden, dem hele slægten stammede ned fra.

"Men de er ikke rigtig af vor familie!" sagde en af de små baroner. "Han var en hosekræmmer og hun en gåsetøs. De var ikke som papa og mama!"

Billederne var noget dårligt skrammel, og "alt på sin rette plads!" sagde man, og så kom oldefar og oldemor på gangen til karlekamret.

Præstesønnen var huslærer der på gården; han gik en dag med de små baroner og deres ældste søster, der lige nylig var konfirmeret, og de kom hen over stien, ned mod det gamle piletræ; og medens de gik, bandt hun en buket af markens grønt; "alt på sin rette plads," og det blev et skønhedshele. Imidlertid hørte hun dog meget godt efter alt hvad der blev sagt, og det glædede hende så meget at høre præstesønnen fortælle om naturens kræfter og historiens store mænd og kvinder; hun var en sund velsignet natur, adlet i sjæl og tanke, og med et hjerte til ret at omfatte alt skabt af Gud.

De standsede nede ved det gamle piletræ; den mindste af baronerne ville så gerne have sig en fløjte skåret, det havde han før fået af andre piletræer, og præstesønnen brød en gren af.

"Oh gør det ikke!" sagde den unge baronesse; men så var det gjort. "Det er jo vort gamle berømmelige træ! jeg holder så meget af det! ja derfor ler man mig også ud hjemme, men det er det samme! Der er et sagn om det træ -!"

Og nu fortalte hun alt hvad vi have hørt om træet, om den gamle gård, om gåsepigen og hosekræmmeren, som mødtes her og blev stamforældre til den fornemme slægt og til den unge baronesse.

"De ville ikke lade sig adle, de gamle skikkelige folk!" sagde hun. "De havde det mundheld: 'Alt på sin rette plads!' og det syntes de at de ikke kom, når de for penge lod sig ophøje. Det var deres søn, min bedstefader, som blev baron, han skal have haft stor lærdom, været højt anset og afholdt af prinser og prinsesser, været med ved alle deres fester. Ham holder de andre hjemme mest af, men, jeg ved ikke selv, der er mig noget ved det gamle par, som drager mit hjerte til dem! der må have været så hyggeligt, så patriarkalsk på den gamle gård, hvor husmoderen sad og spandt med alle sine piger og den gamle herre læste højt af Bibelen!"

"Det har været prægtige folk, fornuftige folk!" sagde præstesønnen; og så var de lige inde i tale om adel og borgerlig, og det var næsten, som om præstesønnen ikke hørte til borgerskabet, således talte han om det at være af adel.

"Det er lykkeligt at høre til en slægt, som har udmærket sig! således at have ligesom en blodets spore i sig til at gå frem i det dygtige. Dejligt er det at eje et slægtsnavn, der er adgangskort til de første familier. Adel betyder ædel, det er guldmønten, der har fået i stempel, hvad den selv er i værd. - Det er tidens tone, og mange poeter slår naturligvis ind i den, at alt hvad adeligt er skal være dårligt og dumt, men hos den fattige, jo lavere man stiger ned, des mere glinser det. Men det er ikke min mening, thi det er aldeles galt, aldeles falsk. I de højere stænder findes mange gribende skønne træk; min moder har fortalt mig et, og jeg kunne give flere. hun var i besøg i et fornemt hus i byen, min mormor, tror jeg, havde opammet den nådige frue. Min moder stod i stuen med den gamle højadelige herre; da så han, at der kom nede i gården en gammel kone på krykker; hver søndag kom denne og fik et par skilling. 'Der er den gamle stakkel,' sagde herren, 'hun har så svært ved at gå' - og før min moder forstod det, var han ude af døren og nede af trapperne, han den halvfjerdsindstyveårige gamle excellence, var selv gået ned til den fattige kone for at spare hende fra at gå den besværlige vej op efter den skillings hjælp, hun kom efter. Det er jo kun et ringe træk, men som 'enkens skærv' har den klang fra hjertebunden, klang fra menneskenaturen; og derhen skal digteren pege, i vor tid just skal han synge derom, det gør godt, mildner og forsoner! Men hvor et stykke menneske, fordi han er af blod og har stamtavle, som de arabiske heste, står på bagbenene og vrinsker i gaden, og i stuen siger: 'Her har været folk fra gaden!' når en borgerlig har været derinde, dér er adelen gået i forrådnelse, blevet til maske af den slags, som Thespis gjorde sig dem, og man morer sig over personen og giver den satiren i vold."

Det var præstesønnens tale, den var noget lang, men så var fløjten skåret.

Der var stort selskab på gården, mange gæster fra omegnen og hovedstaden. Damer klædte med smag og uden smag. Den store sal ganske opfyldt af mennesker. Omegnens præster stod ærbødigt i klump i et hjørne, det så ud, som om der var begravelse, men der var fornøjelse, men den var endnu ikke sat i gang.

Stor koncert skulle der være, og derfor havde den lille baron sin pilefløjte ind med, men han kunne ikke få vejr i den, det kunne ikke heller papa, og derfor duede den ikke.

Der var musik og sang, af den slags, der er mest morsom for dem, som udøver den; forresten nydeligt.

"De er også virtuos!" sagde en kavaler, der var sine forældres barn; "De blæser fløjte, De skærer den selv. Det er geniet, der behersker - sidder på højre side, - Gud bevar'os! jeg følger ganske med tiden, det må man. Ikke sandt, De vil henrykke os alle med det lille instrument!" og så rakte han ham den lille fløjte, der var skåret af piletræet nede ved vandpytten, og højt og lydeligt forkyndte han, at huslæreren ville skænke dem en solo på fløjte.

Der skulle gøres nar af ham, det var let at forstå, og huslæreren ville så ikke blæse, skønt han nok kunne, men de trængte på, de nødte ham, og så tog han fløjten og satte den for munden.

Det var en underlig fløjte! der lød en tone, så udholdende, som den klinger fra damplokomotivet, ja meget stærkere; den lød over hele gården, haven og skoven, milevidt ud i landet, og med lyden kom der en stormvind, som bruste: "Alt på sin rette plads!" - og så fløj papa ligesom båret af vinden, ud af gården, og lige lukt ind i røgterhuset, og røgteren fløj op - ikke i storstuen, der kunne han ikke komme, nej op i tjenerkamret, mellem det fine tjenerskab, der gik i silkestrømper, og de stolte karle blev som gigtslået ved, at sådan en ringe person turde sætte sig til bords mellem dem.

Men i højsalen fløj den unge baronesse op ved den øverste bordende, hvor hun var værdig at sidde, men præstesønnen fik sæde ved siden af, og der sad de begge to, som om de var et brudepar. En gammel greve af landets ældste slægt blev urokket på sin hædersplads; for fløjten var retfærdig, og det skal man være. Den vittige kavaler, der var skyld i fløjtespillet, han der var sine forældres barn, fløj på hovedet ind imellem hønsene, men ikke alene.

En hel mil ud i landet lød fløjten, og der hørtes store begivenheder. En rig grossererfamilie, der kørte med fire, blæste aldeles ud af vognen, og fik ikke engang plads bag på; to rige bønder, der i vor tid var vokset over deres egen kornmark, blæste ned i muddergrøften; det var en farlig fløjte; lykkeligvis sprak den ved den første lyd, og det var godt, så kom den i lommen igen: "Alt på sin rette plads!"

Dagen efter talte man ikke om den begivenhed, derfor har man den talemåde "at stikke piben ind!" Alt var også i sin gamle orden igen, kun at de to gamle billeder, hosekræmmeren og gåsepigen, hang oppe i højsalen, der var de blæst op på væggen; og da en af de rigtige kunstkendere sagde, at de var malet af en mesterhånd, så blev de hængende og istandsat, man vidste jo ikke før at de duede, og hvor skulle man vide det. Nu hang de på hædersplads. "Alt på sin rette plads!" og der kommer det! Evigheden er lang, længere end denne historie!




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