DANSK

Ved det yderste hav

ENGLISH

At the uttermost parts of the sea


Et par store fartøjer var sendt højt op mod Nordpolen for der at finde landenes grænser mod havet og prøve hvor vidt menneskene kunne der trænge igennem. Allerede år og dage havde de mellem tåge og is styret heroppe og prøvet stort besvær; nu var vinteren begyndt, solen nede; mange, mange uger ville blive her én lang nat; alt rundt om var ét eneste stykke is; fast til det var hvert skib fortøjet; sneen lå højt, og af sneen selv var bikubeformede huse rejst, nogle store, som vore kæmpehøje, andre ikke større, end at de kunne rumme to eller fire mænd; men mørkt var det ikke, nordlysene skinnede røde og blå, det var et evigt, storartet fyrværkeri og sneen lyste, natten her var én lang blussende dæmring; på den klareste tid kom skarer af de indfødte, underlige at se i deres hårede skindklæder, og på deres slæder, som var tømret af isstykker; de bragte skind i store bunker og snehusene fik derfra varme gulvtæpper; skind blev tæppe og dyne, som matroserne redte sig til seng under snekuplen, mens det udenfor gnistrende frøs, som vi ikke kender det ved vor strengeste vintertid. Hos os var det endnu efterårsdage, det tænkte de på deroppe; de huskede på solstrålerne i hjemmet og på det rødgule løv, som hang på træerne. Uret viste at det var aften og sovetid, og i et af snehusene strakte sig allerede to for at hvile; den yngste havde med sin bedste, rigeste skat hjemmefra, den, bedstemor før afrejsen gav ham med, det var biblen. Hver nat lå den under hans hovedgærde, han vidste fra barndomsårene af, hvad der stod i den; hver dag læste han et stykke, og på hans leje kom ham tit så trøstende i tanker de hellige ord: "Ville jeg tage morgenrødens vinger, ville jeg bo ved det yderste hav, du skulle dog føre mig og din højre hånd holde mig fast!" - og under sandhedens ord og tro lukkede han øjnene, søvnen kom og drømmen kom, åndens åbenbarelse i Gud; Sjælen var den levende under legemets hvile; han fornam det, det var som melodier af gamle kære, kendte sange; det åndede så mildt, så sommervarmt, og fra sit leje så han det skinne over sig, som om snekuplen blev gennemstrålet udefra; han løftede sit hoved, det strålende hvide var ikke vægge eller loft, det var de store vinger fra en engels skuldre, og han så op i hans milde, lysende ansigt. Ud fra biblens blade, som fra en liljes bæger, løftede englen sig, bredte sine arme vidt ud og snehyttens vægge sank rundt om, som et luftigt let tågeslør; hjemmets grønne marker og høje med de rødbrune skove lå rundt om i stille solskin en dejlig efterårsdag; storkens rede stod tom, men endnu hang æblerne på det vilde æbletræ, skønt bladene var faldet; de røde hyben skinnede og stæren fløjtede i det lille grønne bur over bondehusets vindue, hvor hjemmets hjem var; stæren fløjtede, som det var lært den og bedstemor hang fuglegræs om buret, som sønnesønnen altid havde gjort; og smedens datter, så ung og så smuk, stod ved brønden og drog vand op, nikkede til bedstemor, og bedstemor vinkede, viste et brev langvejs fra; denne morgen var det kommet fra de kolde lande, højt oppe fra nordpolen selv, hvor sønnesønnen var - i Guds hånd. - Og de lo og de græd, og han, under is og sne, der i åndens verden, under englens vinger så og hørte det alt, lo med dem og græd med dem. Og der blev læst højt af brevet selv de Biblens ord: - "Ved det yderste hav, hans højre hånd vil holde mig fast!" - Som dejlig salmesang klang det rundt om, og englen lod sine vinger, som et slør lægge sig om den sovende, - drømmen var endt - det var mørkt i snehuset, men biblen lå under hans hoved, troen og håbet lå i hans hjerte. Gud var med og hjemmet var med - "ved det yderste hav!"
A couple of large ships were sent up toward the North Pole, to discover the boundaries of land and sea and how far it would be possible for the human race to penetrate in that direction.

A year and a day had already passed, and with great difficulty they had traveled high up amid mist and ice. Now winter had set in again; the sun was gone, and one long night would last for many, many weeks. All around them was a vast, unbroken plain of ice, and ships were moored fast to the ice itself. The snow was piled high, and huts were made of it in shape of beehives, some as big as our barrows, others just large enough to give shelter for two or four men. However, it wasn't dark, for the northern lights flashed red and blue-it was like everlasting, splendid fireworks-and the snow glittered brightly; here the night was one long, blazing twilight.

At the time when it was brightest, troops of natives came, strange-looking figures, dressed in hairy skins and dragging sleighs made from ice blocks. They brought skins in large bundles, which served as warm rugs for the snow huts and were used as beds and bed blankets, upon which the sailors could rest, while outside the cold was more intense than we ever experience even in our severest winters.

And the sailors remembered that at home it was still autumn, and they thought of the warm sunbeams and the glorious crimson and gold of the leaves still clinging to the trees. The clock showed it was evening and time for going to bed, and in one of the snow huts two sailors had already lain down to rest.

The younger of these two had with him his most treasured possession from home, the Bible that his grandmother had given him at parting. From childhood he had known what was written in it; every night it was under his pillow, and every day he read a portion; and often as he lay on his couch he remembered those words of holy comfort, "If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

Under the influence of those sublime words of faith, he closed his eyes. Sleep came to him, and dreams came with sleep. He dreamed that, although the body may sleep, the soul must ever be awake. He felt this life, and he seemed to hear the old well-known songs so dear to him; a gentle summer breeze seemed to breathe upon him, and a light shone down upon his couch, as though the snowy dome above had become transparent. He lifted his head and lo! the dazzling white light did not come from the walls or the ceiling; it was the light of the great wings of an angel, into whose gentle, shining face he looked.

Rising up from out of the pages of the Bible, as from the mouth of a lily blossom, the angel extended its arms way out, and the walls of the snow hut sank back as if they were a light airy veil of fog. The green meadows and hills of his home lay about him, with the red-brown woods bathed in the gentle sunshine of a beautiful autumn day. The storks' nest was empty now, but the apples still clung to the wild apple trees; though leaves had fallen, the red hips glistened and the blackbird whistled in the little green cage over the window of the little farmhouse-his old home. The blackbird was whistling a tune that he himself had taught him, and the old grandmother twined chickweed about the bars of the cage, just as her grandson had always done.

The pretty young daughter of the blacksmith was standing at the well, drawing water, and as she waved to the grandmother, the latter beckoned to her and showed her a letter that had come that morning from the frigid lands of the North, far, far away, from the North Pole itself, where her grandson now was-safe beneath the protecting hand of God. They laughed and they cried; and all the while that young sailor whose body slept amid the ice and snow while his spirit roamed the world of dreams, under the angel's wings, saw and heard everything and laughed and cried with them.

Then from the letter they must read aloud these words from the Bible, "Even at the uttermost parts of the sea His right hand shall hold me fast"; and a beautiful psalm song sounded about him, and the angel folded its wings. Like a soft, protecting veil they fell close over the sleeper.

The dream was ended, and all was darkness in the snow hut; but the Bible lay beneath the sailor's head, while faith and hope dwelt in his heart. God was with him and his home was with him, "even at the uttermost parts of the sea."




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