Naar Vinden løber hen over Græsset, da kruser det sig som et Vand, løber den hen over Kornet, da bølger det som en Sø, det er Vindens Dands; men hør den fortælle: den synger det ud, og anderledes klinger det i Skovens Træer, end igjennem Murens Lydhuller, Sprækker og Revner. Seer Du, hvor Vinden deroppe jager Skyerne, som vare de en Faarehjord! hører Du, hvor Vinden hernede tuder gjennem den aabne Port, som var den Vægter og blæste i Horn! Underligt suser den ned i Skorstenen og ind i Kaminen; Ilden flammer og gnistrer derved, skinner langt ud i Stuen og her er saa luunt og hyggeligt at sidde og høre til. Lad kun Vinden fortælle! den veed Eventyr og Historier, flere end vi Alle tilsammen. Hør nu, hvor den fortæller:
"Hu- u- ud! fare hen!" - det er Omqvædet paa Visen.
Der ligger ved store Belt en gammel Gaard med tykke, røde Mure!" siger Vinden, "jeg kjender hver Steen, jeg saae den før, da den sad i Marsk Stigs Borg paa Næsset; den maatte ned! Stenen kom op igjen og blev en ny Muur, en ny Gaard, andet Steds, det var Borreby Gaard, som den staaer endnu!
Jeg har seet og kjendt de høiadelige Mænd og Fruer, de vexlende Slægter, som boede derinde, nu fortæller jeg om Valdemar Daae og hans Døttre!
Han løftede saa stolt sin Pande, han var af kongelig Æt! han kunde mere end jage en Hjort og tømme et Kruus; - det vilde nok klare sig, sagde han selv.
Hans Frue skred frem strunk i Gyldenstykkes Kjortel, hen over sit blanke, tavlede Gulv; Tapeterne vare prægtige, Meublerne dyrtkjøbte, de vare kunstigt snittede ud. Sølv- og Guldtøi havde hun bragt i Huset; tydsk Øl laae i Kjælderen, da der laae noget; sorte, vælige Heste vrinskede i Stalden; der var rigt derinde i Borreby Gaard, da Rigdommen var der.
Og Børn var der; tre fine Jomfruer, Ide, Johanne og Anna Dorthea; jeg husker Navnene endnu.
"Det var rige Folk, det var fornemme Folk, født i Herlighed og voxet op i den! hu- u- ud! fare hen," sang Vinden, og saa fortalte den igjen
"Her saae jeg ikke, som i andre gamle Gaarde, den høibaarne Frue sidde i Høisalen med sine Piger og dreie Spinderokken, hun spillede paa den klingende Luth og sang dertil, dog ikke altid de gamle danske Sange, men Viser i fremmed Tungemaal. Her var Liv og Gjestereren, her kom fornemme Gjester fra nær og fjern, Musiken klang, Bægerne klang, jeg kunde ikke døve dem over!" sagde Vinden. "Her var Hovmod med Bram og med Brask, Herskab, men ikke Vor Herre!"
"Saa var det just Maidags Aften," sagde Vinden, "jeg kom Vester fra, havde seet Skibe qvase i Vrag paa Vestjyllands Kyst, jaget over Heden og den skovgrønne Kyst, hen over Fyens Land og kom nu over store Belt, hæsende og blæsende.
Da lagde jeg mig til Ro ved Sjællands Kyst, nær ved Borreby Gaard, hvor endnu Skoven stod med herlige Ege.
De unge Karle fra Egnen kom herud og samlede Riis og Grene, de største og tørreste, de kunde finde. De gik med dem til Byen, lagde dem i Bunke, tændte Ild i den og Piger og Karle dandsede med Sang rundt derom.
Jeg laae stille," sagde Vinden, "men sagtelig rørte jeg ved een Green, den, der var lagt af den kjønneste Ungkarl; hans Ved blussede op, blussede høiest; han var den udvalgte, fik Hædersnavnet, blev Gadebasse, valgte først blandt Pigerne sit lille Gadelam; det var en Glæde, en Lystighed større end der inde i det rige Borreby Gaard."
"Og hen imod Gaarden kom med sex Heste agende i gylden Karreet den høie Frue og hendes tre Døttre, saa fine, saa unge, tre yndelige Blomster: Rose, Lilie og den blege Hyazint. Moderen selv var en prangende Tulipan, hun hilsede ikke Een af den hele Flok, der holdt op i Legen og knixede og krøb, man skulde troe, at Fruen var skjør i Stilken.
Rose, Lilie og den blege Hyazint, ja, jeg saae dem alle tre! hvis Gadelam skulde vel de engang blive, tænkte jeg; deres Gadebasse bliver en stoltelig Ridder, maaskee en Prinds! - Hu- u- ud! - fare hen! fare hen!
Ja, Agetøiet foer med dem og Bønderfolkene foer i Dandsen. Der blev redet Sommer i By til Borreby, til Tjæreby, til alle de Byer omkring.
"Men om Natten, da jeg reiste mig," sagde Vinden, "lagde den høifornemme Frue sig, for aldrig mere at staae op; det kom saadan over hende, som det kommer over alle Mennesker, det er ikke noget Nyt. Valdemar Daae stod alvorlig og tankefuld, en lille Stund; det stolteste Træe kan vries, men ikke knækkes, sagde det inde i ham; Døttrene græd og paa Gaarden tørrede de Allesammen deres Øine, men Fru Daae var faret hen, - og jeg foer hen! hu- u- ud!" sagde Vinden.
"Jeg kom igjen, jeg kom tidt igjen, over Fyens Land og Beltets Vand, satte mig ved Borreby Strand, ved den prægtige Egeskov; der byggede Fiskeørnen, Skovduerne, de blaae Ravne og selv den sorte Stork. Det var tidligt paa Aaret, Nogle havde Æg og Nogle havde Unger. Nei, hvor de fløi, hvor de skreg; der var Øxeslag at høre, Slag paa Slag; Skoven skulde fældes, Valdemar Daae vilde bygge et kosteligt Skib, et Orlogsskib paa tre Fordæk, som Kongen nok vilde kjøbe, og derfor faldt Skoven, Sømændenes Mærke, Fuglenes Bo. Tornskaden fløi forskrækket, dens Rede blev ødelagt; Fiskeørnen og alle Skovens Fugle mistede deres Hjem, de fløi vildsomme om og skrege i Angest og Vrede, jeg forstod dem nok. Krager og Alliker raabte høit i Spot: "fra Reden! fra Reden! frá! frá!"
Og midt i Skoven, ved Arbeidernes Flok, stod Valdemar Daae og hans tre Døttre, og de loe Allesammen af Fuglenes vilde Skrig, men hans mindste Datter, Anna Dorthea, følte Ynk derover i sit Hjerte, og da de ogsaa vilde fælde et halvudgaaet Træ, paa hvis nøgne Green den sorte Stork havde bygget, og de smaa Unger stak Hovederne frem, bad hun for den, bad med Vand i Øinene, og saa fik Træet Lov at staae med Reden for den sorte Stork. Det var en ringe Ting kun.
Der blev hugget, der blev savet, - der blev bygget et Skib paa tre Fordæk. Bygmesteren selv var af ringe Kuld, men af adelig Huld; Øine og Pande mælede om hvor klog han var og Valdemar Daae hørte ham gjerne fortælle, det hørte ogsaa liden Ide, den ældste, den femtenaars Datter; og mens han byggede Skib for Faderen, byggede han Drømmeslot for sig selv, hvori han og liden Ide sad som Mand og Kone, og det var ogsaa skeet, havde Slottet været af murede Steen med Volde og Grave, Skov og Have. Men med al sin Kløgt var Mester dog kun en fattig Fugl, og hvad skal Spurv i Tranedands? Hu- u- ud! - jeg fløi bort og han fløi bort, for han turde ikke blive, og liden Ide forvandt det, for hun maatte forvinde det!"
"I Stalden vrinskede de sorte Heste, værd at see paa og de bleve seet paa. - Admiralen var sendt fra Kongen selv for at see paa det nye Orlogsskib og tale om dets Kjøb, han talte høit i Beundring om de vælige Heste; jeg hørte det godt!" sagde Vinden; "jeg fulgte med Herrerne gjennem den aabne Dør og strøede Halmstraae som Guldstænger foran deres Fødder. Guld vilde Valdemar Daae have, Admiralen vilde have de sorte Heste, thi roste han dem saa, men det blev ikke forstaaet og saa blev Skibet heller ikke kjøbt, det stod og skinnede ved Stranden, dækket til med Planker, en Noæ Ark, der aldrig kom paa Vandet. Hu- u- ud! fare hen! fare hen! og det var ynkeligt!
I Vinterens Tid, naar Marken laae med Snee, Drivisen fyldte Beltet og jeg skruede den op paa Kysten," sagde Vinden, "kom Ravne og Krager, den ene sortere end den anden, store Flokke; de satte sig paa det øde, det døde, det eensomme Skib ved Stranden og skrege med hæse Skrig om Skoven, der var borte, de mange kostelige Fuglereder, der vare lagte øde, de huusvilde Gamle, de huusvilde Smaa og alt det for det store Skrammels Skyld, det stolte Fartøi, der aldrig skulde ud at seile.
Jeg hvirvlede Sneefoget; Sneen laae som store Søer høit omkring det, hen over det! jeg lod det høre min Røst, hvad en Storm har at sige; jeg veed, at jeg gjorde mit til, at det kunde faae Skibskundskab. Hu- u- ud! fare hen!
Og Vinteren foer hen, Vinter og Sommer de foer og de fare, som jeg farer, som Sneen fyger, Æbleblomsten fyger og Løvet falder! fare hen, fare hen, fare hen, Menneskene med!
Men endnu vare Døttrene unge, liden Ide en Rose deilig at see, som da Skibsbyggeren saa hende. Tidt tog jeg fat i hendes lange, brune Haar, naar hun ved Æbletræet i Haven stod tankefuld og ikke mærkede, at jeg dryssede hende Blomster paa Haaret, der løste sig, og hun saae paa den røde Sol og den gyldne Himmelgrund mellem Havens mørke Buske og Træer.
Hendes Søster var som en Lilie, skinnende og strunk, Johanne; hun havde Reisning og Kneisning, var som Moderen skjør af Stilk. Gjerne gik hun i den store Sal, hvor Slægtens Billeder hang; Fruerne vare malede af i Fløiel og Silke med perlebestukken lille bitte Hat paa de flettede Haar; det var skjønne Fruer! deres Hosbond saae man i Staal eller kostelig Kappe med Egernskindsfoer og den blaa Pibekrav; Sværdet var spændt om Laaret og ikke om Lænden. Hvor skulde vel Johannes Billed engang hænge paa Væggen og hvordan saae han ud den adelige Hosbond? ja, det tænkte hun paa, det smaasnakkede hun om, jeg hørte det, naar jeg foer gjennem den lange Gang ind i Salen og vendte mig igjen.
Anna Dorthea, den blege Hyazint, kun et fjortenaars Barn, var stille og eftertænksom; de store, vandblaae Øine saae tankefulde ud, men Barnesmilet sad om Munden, jeg kunde ikke blæse det bort, og det vilde jeg ikke heller.
Jeg traf hende i Haven, Huulveien og paa Hovmarken, hun samlede Urter og Blomster, dem hun vidste, at hendes Fader kunde bruge til de Drikke og Draaber, han vidste at destillere; Valdemar Daae var hovmodig og kry, men ogsaa kyndig og vidste saa meget; det mærkede man nok, det mumledes der om; Ilden brændte i hans Kamin selv ved Sommertid; Kammerdøren var lukket af; det tog til i Dage og Nætter, men han talte ikke meget om det; Naturens kræfter skal man stille raade, snart vilde han nok udfinde det Bedste - det røde Guld.
Derfor dampede det fra Kaminen, derfor knittrede og flammede det! ja, jeg var med!" fortalte Viden, "lad fare! lad fare! sang jeg gjennem Skorstenen. Det bliver Røg, Smøg, Emmer og Aske! Du brænder Dig selv op! hu- u- ud! fare hen! fare hen! men Valdemar Daae lod det ikke fare!
De prægtige Heste paa Stalden, - hvor blev de af? det gamle Sølv- og Guldtøi i Skab og i Buur, Køerne paa Marken, Gods og Gaard? - ja, de kunne smelte! smelte i Gulddigelen, og der kommer dog ikke Guld.
Der blev tomt i Lo og i Fadebuur, i Kjælder og paa Loft. Færre Folk, flere Muus. Een Rude sprak, een knak, jeg behøvede ikke at gaae ind ad Døren!" sagde Vinden. "Hvor Skorstenen ryger, braser Maaltidet, Skorstenen røg, den, der slugte alle Maaltider, for det røde Guld.
Jeg blæste gjennem Borgporten, som en Vægter der blæser i Horn, men der var ingen Vægter!" sagde Vinden; "jeg dreiede Spirets Veirhane, den skurrede, som om Vægteren snorkede paa Taarnet, men der var ingen Vægter; der var Rotter og Muus; Fattigdom dækkede Bordet, Fattigdom sad i Klædeskab og i Madskab, Døren gik af Hængselet, der kom Revner og Sprækker; jeg gik ud og jeg gik ind," sagde Vinden, "derfor veed jeg god Besked!
I Røg og Aske, i Sorg og søvnløs Nat blev Haaret graat i Skjæg og om Pande, Huden grumset og guul, Øinene saa gridske efter Guld, det forventede Guld.
Jeg pustede ham Røg og Aske ind i hans Ansigt og Skjæg; Gjeld kom for Guld. Jeg sang gjennem de knækkede Ruder og aabne Revner, blæste ind til Døttrenes Slagbænk, hvor Klæderne laae falmede, luslidte, for de maaatte altid holde ud. Den Vise var sjungen for de Børns Vugge! Herreliv blev kummerligt Liv! jeg alene var den, som sang høit paa Slottet;" sagde Vinden. "Jeg sneede dem inde, det luner, siger man; Brænde havde de ikke, Skoven var fældet, hvor de skulde hente det fra. Det var klingrende Frost; jeg svang mig gjennem Lydhuller og Gange, over Gavl og Muur for at holde mig flink; derinde laae de i Sengen, for Kuldens Skyld, de adelige Døttre; Faderen krøb under Skinddynen. Ikke at bide og ikke at brænde, det er Herreliv! hu- u- ud! lad fare! - Men det kunde ikke Hr. Daae!
"Paa Vinter kommer Foraar!" sagde han, "paa Trang komme gode Tider! - men de lade vente paa sig, vente! - Nu er Gaarden Gjeldsbrev! nu er det den yderste Tid - og saa kommer Guldet! til Paaske!"
Jeg hørte ham mumle ind i Edderkoppens Spind. - "Du flinke, lille Væver! Du lærer mig at holde ud! rives itu dit Spind, begynder Du forfra igjen og fuldender! atter itu - og ufortrøden tager Du igjen fat, forfra! - forfra! det er det man skal! og det lønnes!"
Det var Paaskemorgen, Klokkerne klang, Solen legede paa Himlen. I Feberhede havde han vaaget, kogt og kølet, blandet og destilleret. Jeg hørte ham sukke som en fortvivlet Sjæl, jeg hørte ham bede, jeg fornam at han holdt sin Aande tilbage. Lampen var gaaet ud, han mærkede det ikke; jeg pustede til Kulgløderne, de skinnede ham ind i hans kridhvide Ansigt, det fik et farvet Skjær, Øinene klemtes i de dybe Øienhuler - men nu blev de store, store - som vilde de springe.
See, det alchymistiske Glas! det blinker deri! det er glødende, puurt og tungt! han løftede det med zittrende Haand, han raabte med zittrende Tunge: "Guld! Guld!" han svimlede derved, jeg kunde have blæst ham om," sagde Vinden, "men jeg blæste kun paa de glødende Kul, fulgte ham gjennem Døren, ind, hvor Døttrene frøs. Hans Kjortel var belagt med Aske, den hang i hans Skjæg og i hans filtrede Haar. Han reiste sig saa høit, løftede sin rige Skat i det skjøre Glas: "fundet! vundet! - Guld!" raabte han, strakte i Veiret Glasset, der blinkede i Solstraalerne; - og Haanden zittrede og det alchymistiske Glas faldt paa Gulvet og sprang i tusinde Stykker, sprungen var hans Velfærds sidste Boble. Hu- u- ud! fare hen! - Og jeg foer fra Guldmagerens Gaard.
Seent paa Aaret, i de korte Dage heroppe, naar Taagen kommer med sin Viskeklud og vrider vaade Draaber paa de røde Bær og de bladløse Grene, kom jeg i frisk Humeur, luftede op, blæste Himlen reen og knækkede raadne Grene, og det er intet stort Arbeide, men det skal gjøres. Der blev ogsaa feiet reent paa anden Maade inde i Borreby Gaard hos Valdemar Daae. Hans Uven Ove Ramel fra Basnæs var der med tilkjøbt Gjeldsbrev over Gaard og Indbo. Jeg trommede paa de sprukne Ruder, slog med de forfaldne Døre, peb igjennem Revner og Sprækker: hu- i! - Hr. Ove skulde ikke faae Lysten efter at blive der. Ide og Anna Dorthea græd modige Taarer; stod strunk og bleg, bed sig i Tommelfingeren saa at den blødte derved, det skulde stort hjelpe! Ove Ramel forundte Hr. Daae at blive paa Gaarden sin Livstid, men han fik ikke Tak for Tilbud; jeg lyttede derefter; - jeg saae den gaardløse Herre løfte sit Hoved stoltere, slaae med Nakken, og jeg slog et Tag imod Gaarden og de gamle Lindetræer, saa at den tykkeste Green knak, og den var ikke raadden; den laae for Porten, som en Feiekost, dersom Nogen vilde feie ud, og der blev feiet ud; jeg tænkte det nok!
Det var en haard Dag, en stiv Stund at holde sig i, men Sindet var haardt, Nakken var stiv.
Intet havde de i Eie uden Klæderne paa Kroppen; jo det alchymistiske Glas, som nyligt var kjøbt og fyldt med det Spild, som var skrabet op fra Gulvet; Skatten, der lovede, men ikke holdt. Valdemr Daae gjemte det inde paa sit Bryst, tog saa sin Kjep i Haanden, og den eengang rige Herre gik med sine tre Døttre ud fra Borreby Gaard. Jeg blæste koldt paa hans hede Kinder, jeg klappede hans graa Skjæg og hans lange, hvide Haar, jeg sang, som jeg kunde det: hu- u- ud! fare hen! fare hen! - Det var Enden paa den rige Herlighed.
Ide og Anna Dorthea gik hver ved hans Side; Johanne vendte sig i Porten, hvad skule det til, Lykken vilde dog ikke vende sig. Hun saae paa Murens røde Steen fra Marsk Stigs Borg, tænkte hun paa hans Døttre:
"Den ældste tog den yngste ved Hand,
Og de fore vide om Verden!"
tænkte hun paa den Sang; - her vare de tre, - Faderen var med! - De gik hen af Veien, hvor de havde kjørt i Karreet, de gik Stoddergang med Faderen, til Smidstrup Mark, til det klinede Huus, der var leiet for ti Mark aarlig, det nye Herresæde med tomme Vægge og tomme Kar. Krager og Alliker fløi henover dem og skrege, som i Spot: "fra Reden! fra Reden! frá! frá!" som Fuglene skreg det i Borreby Skov, da Træerne bleve fældede.
Hr. Daae og hans Døttre fornam det vel! jeg blæste dem om Ørerne, det var ikke værd at høre derpaa.
Saa drog de ind i det klinede Huus paa Smidstrup Mark, - og jeg foer afsted over Mose og Mark, gjennem nøgne Hækker og afpillede Skove, til aabne Vande, andre Lande, - hu- u- ud! fare hen! fare hen! og det i alle Aaringer!"
Hvor gik det Valdemar Daae, hvor gik det hans Døttre? Vinden fortæller:
"Den Sidste af dem jeg saae, ja sidste Gang, det var Anna Dorthea, den blege Hyazint, - nu var hun gammel og bøiet, det var et halv hundrede Aar derefter. Hun levede længst, hun vidste om det Hele.
Derovre paa Heden, ved Viborg By, laae Domprovstens nye, stadselige Gaard, med røde Steen og med takket Gavl; Røgen kom feed op af Skorstenen. Den milde Frue og de favre Døttre sad i Karnappen og saae ud over Havens hængende Bukketjørn, ud til den brune Hede -! hvad saae de der efter? De saae efter Storkereden derude paa det faldefærdige Huus. Taget var med Mos og Huusløg, for saa vidt at der var Tag, det som meest dækkede var Storkens Rede, og den var den eneste, der blev hjulpen paa, Storken holdt den istand.
Det var et Huus at see paa, ikke at røre! jeg maatte fare varligt!" sagde Vinden. "For Storkeredens skyld fik Huset Lov at staae, det var jo ellers en Skræmsel paa Heden. Storken vilde Domprovstens ikke jage bort, saa havde Rønnen Lov at blive og Stakkelen derinde kunde have Lov at boe der; det kunde hun takke den ægyptiske Fugl for, - eller var det Tak, fordi hun engang bad for hans sorte vilde Broders Rede i Borreby Skov? Da var hun, Stakkelen, et ungt Barn, en fiin, bleg Hyazint i den adelige Urtegaard. Hun huskede det Allesammen: Anne Dorthea.
"O! o!" - ja, Menneskene kunne sukke, som Vinden kan det i Siv og Rør. "O! - der ringede ingen Klokker over din Grav, Valdemar Daae! de fattige Skoledrenge sang ikke, da Borrebys fordums Herre blev lagt i Jorden! - O! Alt faaer dog Ende, ogsaa Elende! - Søster Ide blev en Bondes Viv! det var vor Fader den haardeste Prøvelse! Datters Mand, en usselig Træl, der af Herremanden kunde sættes til at ride paa den haarde Fjæl! - Nu er han vel under Jorden? og Du med? Ide! - O ja! o ja! det er ikke forbi endda, jeg gamle Stakkel! jeg fattige Stakkel! løs op for mig, rige Christ!"
Det var Anna Dortheas Bøn i det ynkelige Huus, der havde Lov at staae for Storkens Skyld.
Den Raskeste af Søstrene tog jeg mig af!" sagde Vinden, "hun fik sig Klæder skaaret, som hun var i Sindet baaret! hun kom som fattig Karl og tog Hyre hos Skipperen; knap var hun paa Ord, tvær af Mine, men villig til sin Dont; dog klattre kunde hun ikke; - saa blæste jeg hende overbord, før Nogen vidste, at hun var et Qvindfolk, og det var nok vel gjort af mig!" sagde Vinden.
"Det var en Paaskemorgen, som da Valdemar Daae troede, at han fandt det røde Guld, da hørte jeg under Storkens Rede, mellem de skrøbelige Vægge, Psalmesang, Anne Dortheas sidste Sang.
Der var ingen Rude, der var kun et Hul i Væggen; - Solen kom, som en Guldklump, og satte sig deri; det var en Glands! hendes Øine brast, hendes Hjerte brast! det havde de gjort alligevel, om Solen ikke den Morgen havde skinnet paa hende.
Storken gav hende Tag over sig til hendes Død! jeg sang ved hendes Grav!" sagde Vinden, "jeg sang ved hendes Faders Grav, jeg veed, hvor den er og hvor hendes Grav er, det veed ellers Ingen!
Nye Tider, andre Tider! gammel Alfarvei gaaer op i lukket Mark, fredede Grave blive færdet Landevei, - og snart kommer Dampen med sin Vognrække og bruser hen over Gravene, glemte som Navnene, hu- u- ud! fare hen!
Det er Historie om Valdemar Daae og hans Døttre. Fortæl den bedre, I Andre! om I kunne det!" sagde Vinden og vendte sig.
Væk var den.
When the wind sweeps over the grass, the blades of grass ripple like the water of a lake; and when it sweeps over the cornfield, the ears of corn curl into waves like those on a lake; this is the dance of the Wind. But listen to him tell the story; he sings it out; and how different his song among the trees of the forest is from his shriek through the cracks, crannies, and crevices of old walls. Watch him chase the white, fleecy clouds across the sky like a flock of sheep; notice how he howls through the open gate, as if he were the watchman blowing his horn. Strangely he whistles through the chimney until the fire on the hearth beneath blazes up, and it is pleasant and comfortable to sit in the chamber warmed by its glow and listen to stories. Let only the Wind himself be the storyteller! He knows more wonderful tales than all the rest of us put together. Hear now how he tells the story: "Whew, whew, whew! On, on, on!" That is the theme of his song.
"Near the Great Belt there stands an old mansion with thick red walls," says the Wind. "I know every stone of those walls; I knew them in the olden days when they were part of Marsk Stig's castle on the promontory. They were torn down from there, but then they were built up again to form a new wall and a new mansion; this was Borreby Mansion, which stands to this day. I have seen and known all the noble men and women of many different families who have lived there. Now I shall tell you of Valdemar Daae and his daughters.
"He was a very proud man, for he was of royal blood. He knew more than how to hunt the stag or empty the jug. 'Everything will come out right,' he used to say.
"His highborn wife walked daintily in her golden-cloth garment over floors of polished mosaic. Magnificent tapestries and costly, beautifully carved furniture surrounded her; she had brought both silver and gold into the house; there was German beer in the cellar; proud black horses neighed in the stables; ah, Borreby Mansion was then the home of wealth. And there were children; three fair daughters - I can still remember their names - Ide, Johanne, and Anna Dorothea. These were rich folk, noble folk, born and reared in luxury. Whew, whew, whew! On, on, on!" sang the Wind, and then continued his tale.
"Here I never saw, as in other old houses, the noble mistress turning the spinning wheel among her maidens in the great hall. She played upon the lute and sang, though not always the old Danish songs but songs in foreign languages. There were life and gaiety here; guests of distinction came from far and near; the sounds of music and the clinking of glasses were so loud that even I could not drown them. There was pride here, with boasting and bragging, and talk of domination, but not the blessings of our Lord!
"Then there was one May-day even," said the Wind, "when I came upon it from the west. I had seen ships wrecked on the coast of West Jutland, had hunted over the heath and the green-wooded shore to Fünen, and now I came over the Great Belt, blowing and roaring. I lay down for a rest on the coast of Zeeland, quite near Borreby Mansion, where the beautiful forest of oaks still grew. The young lads of the neighborhood came out to the forest to collect the biggest and driest branches and twigs they could find; they carried them into the town, laid them in piles, set fire to them, then the young men and girls sang as they danced around them.
"I lay still," said the Wind, "but then gently I just touched one of the branches that had been brought by the handsomest lad of them all, and immediately his pile of wood blazed up the highest. That meant he became the leader among them, with the privilege of choosing first one of the young girls to be his own May lamb. There was a joy, a merriment, such as I had never found in the rich Borreby Mansion.
"Then there came driving toward the mansion, in a gilded carriage drawn by six horses, the noble lady herself with her three daughters - so young and so fair - three sweet blossoms, a rose, a lily, and a pale hyacinth. Their mother was like a proud, splendid tulip; no word of greeting did she have for the peasants, who stopped their game and bowed and scraped to her; stiff as a tulip she held herself. Yes, rose, lily, and pale hyacinth, I saw all three; whose May lambs would they become one day, I wondered. Surely their young men would be proud knights, perhaps even princes! Whew, whew, whew! On, on, on!
"So the carriage rattled past, and the peasants returned to their dance. Summer was being celebrated from one town to another, in Borreby, Tjaereby, and all the towns around.
"But when I rose up that same night, the highborn lady had laid herself down, never to rise again. That had come to her which comes to all men; that is nothing new. Grave and thoughtful stood Valdemar Daae; he seemed to be saying, 'The proudest tree may be bowed, but not broken.' The daughters wept, and all eyes in the mansion had to be dried. Lady Daae had passed on - and I then passed on! Whew, whew, whew!
"I came again, as I often came across Fünen and the waters of the Belt, and rested near Borreby in the shelter of the beautiful oak forest. Here ospreys, wood pigeons, blue ravens, and even the black storks build their nests; it was the spring of the year, and some had eggs while others had even young ones. How they flew! How they cried! The sound of the ax could be heard, stroke after stroke; the trees were to be felled. Valdemar Daae had decided to build a ship, a great warship with three decks, which the king would surely buy, and for this the trees must fall and the birds lose their homes. The hawk flew away in terror as his nest was destroyed, the osprey and all the other birds flew around in terrified anger, screaming of their wrath and agony; I could understand them well enough. The crows and jackdaws shrieked in scorn, 'Caw, caw! From the nests!'
"And in the middle of the forest, with the workmen, stood Valdemar Daae and his three daughters, and they all laughed at the wild protests of the birds - all but the youngest, Anna Dorothea. She was a tenderhearted child, and when an old half-dead tree, on whose bare branches a black stork had built his nest, was to be cut down, it saddened her so to see the helpless young ones thrusting their heads out in the terror that she begged with tears in her eyes that this one tree be spared. So the tree with the black stork's nest was left standing.
"There was much hammering and sawing as the three-deck ship was being built. The master shipbuilder was a fine-looking young fellow, though of lowly birth, his eyes sparkling with life and his brow thoughtful. Valdemar Daae liked to hear him talk, and so did little Ide, his eldest daughter, who was now fifteen years old. And while he built the ship for her father, he built many a castle in the air besides, and saw himself and little Ide sitting there as man and wife. That might actually have come to pass if the castle had been of walled stone, with ramparts and moat, forest and gardens. But with all his skill, the builder was only a common bird, and what business did a sparrow have among a flock of cranes? Whew, whew, whew! I flew away and he flew away, and little Ide forgot it, as forget she must.
"In the stable the beautiful black horses neighed. They were worth looking at, and they were looked at. The admiral was sent by the king himself to inspect the new warship and to discuss buying it. He was loud in admiration for the splendid horses. I heard him well," said the Wind. "I followed the gentlemen through the open stable door and scattered about their feet wisps of straw, yellow as gold. Gold! That was what Valdemar Daae wanted, and the admiral wanted the black horses he admired so greatly, but all their discussion came to nothing. The horses weren't bought, and neither was the ship! It was left on the shore with planks over it, a Noah's ark that was never to float on water. Whew, whew, whew! It was a pity!
"In the winter, when the fields were covered with snow and ice floes choked the Belt," said the Wind, "flocks of black ravens and crows came and perched on the lifeless, solitary ship as it stood on the shore. The frantic old birds and the homeless young ones screamed hoarse tales about the oak forest that had been ravished and the many wonderful nests that had been destroyed, all for the sake of this great piece of useless lumber, the proud vessel that was never to sail the seas. And I tossed and whirled the snow about until it lay thickly over the ship; I made it listen to my voice and taught it all that a storm has to say; I certainly did my part in teaching it all a ship should know of life. Whew, whew, whew! On, on, on!
"And winter passed away, winter and summer passed, as they always pass, as I pass, as the snow melts, as the leaf drifts downward, as the apple blossom fades, away, away, away! And as people pass away!
"But the daughters were still young. Little Ide was still as blooming a rose as when the shipbuilder had seen her. Often I caught hold of her long brown hair when she stood thoughtfully beside the apple tree in the garden, and she didn't notice that I shook petals down on her hair, loosening it, as she gazed at the crimson sunset and the streak of golden sky through the dark bushes and trees. Her sister Johanne was still like a lily, bright and slender, straight and tall, as stiff upon her stalk as her mother had been. She loved to linger in the great hall where the portraits of their ancestors hung; the ladies were painted wearing velvets and silk, with tiny, pearl-embroidered hats set on their braids; they were beautiful ladies, indeed; the men were shown in steel armor, or in stiff white ruffs and rich mantles lined with squirrel fur, their swords belted to their sides, not around their waists. Johanne often wondered how her own portrait would look on those same walls, and what her husband would look like. Yes, she thought about that, and talked about it to herself. I heard it as I whipped through the long gallery into the hall and whirled around again.
"Anna Dorothea, the pale hyacinth, was still a very quiet child of fourteen, with large, thoughtful blue eyes, and the smile of childhood still lingering on her lips. Even if I could have I would never have blown that smile away. I met her in the garden, in the narrow lane, or in the fields, gathering herbs and flowers for her father to use in the wondrous potions and mixtures he used to prepare.
"Valdemar Daae, though haughty and conceited, was also a man of skill and great knowledge. People knew that and spoke about it. Fire burned in summer as well as winter in the fireplace in his study; his chamber door was always locked; night and day he worked, yet he seldom spoke of his labors. He knew that the secrets of nature must be wooed secretly, and he was seeking the best secret of all - how to produce pure red gold!
"The smoke therefore rose out of the chimney continuously, and the fire crackled as it burned. I was there!" sang the Wind. "I whistled up the chimney. 'Stop it! Stop it!' I sang through the chimney. 'It will all end in smoke, dust, embers, and ashes! You will burn yourself up! Whew, whew! Stop it!' But Valdemar Daae did not stop.
"Those superb horses in the stable - what became of them? And the fine old gold and silver in cupboards and chests, the cattle in the meadows, the mansion and all its riches? Yes, they were all melted down in the gold-making crucible, and yet no gold came of it. Barn and granary, cellar and pantry, all were empty now; the house sheltered fewer folk and more mice. One windowpane was broken, another cracked," said the Wind, "and now I had no need to go around to the door to get in. The chimney still smoked, to be sure, not for cooking dinner, but for cooking the red gold.
"I blew through the courtyard gates, like the watchman blowing his horn, but there was no watchman here," said the Wind. "I whirled the weathercock round and round, and it creaked like the snoring of the watchman, but there was no watchman; only rats and mice were there; poverty loaded the table and stuffed wardrobe and larder; the doors sagged from their hinges; there were chinks and cracks in plenty, so that I could go in and out at will.
"In the smoke and ashes, beset by sorrow and sleepless nights, Valdemar's hair and beard turned gray, his skin grew coarse and yellowish; his eyes still looked greedily for gold - the long hoped-for gold!
"I blew ashes and smoke into his face and beard. I whistled through the broken panes and open cracks and blew into the daughters' chest of drawers, where they kept their clothes, which now were faded and threadbare from constant use, but which had to last them. The poor dears never had such a song as this sung at their cradles; but none, save I, sang any song at all in the great hall now. The life of abundance had turned into one of poverty," said the Wind. "I snowed them in, and it is said that snow puts one in a good humor. They had no firewood, for the forest was destroyed. There came a sharp frost, and while I sprang through holes and passages and over walls and roofs to keep myself warm, the highborn daughters huddled in bed against the cold, and their father crept beneath a covering of rude skins. Nothing to eat, nothing to burn!
"It was a hard lesson they had to learn!
"Whew, whew, whew! But Valdemar Daae couldn't learn. 'After winter comes the spring,' he said, 'and after troubles come the good times; we have only to wait, wait! Now the mansion is mortgaged! Now it is high time indeed - and so we shall have gold! By Easter!' And then I saw him watching a spider at work, and heard him mutter, 'Good, industrious little weaver, you teach me to persevere! Your web may be broken, but you only begin it again; again it may be torn asunder, but all undismayed you return again and again to your work, and you are rewarded at last!'
"Then Easter morning came, and the bells rang and the sun shone in the heavens. He had awakened in a feverish heat; he had boiled and seethed and distilled and compounded. I heard him sigh like a lost soul and I heard him pray; I felt that he was holding his breath. The lamp had gone out, but he did not notice it. I blew on the coals until a flame shone on his chalk-white face and lighted up those staring eyes. But then those eyes became larger and larger - until they seemed about to burst.
"Behold the alchemistic glass! I glittered, glowing, pure and heavy; he lifted it with faltering hand; he cried with stumbling tongue, 'Gold! Gold!' He staggered, dizzy, and I could have blown him down as he stood," said the Wind, "but I only blew on the live coals, then followed him through the door to where his daughters sat, shivering. Ashes sprinkled his beard, clung to his dress, and lay in his matted hair. He stood erect and lifted high his treasure in its fragile glass. 'I've found it! I've won!' he cried. 'Gold!' The glass flashed in the sunbeams as he held it high - and then, lo! his hand trembled so that the alchemistic glass fell to the floor and shivered into a thousand fragments! His last bubble had burst! Whew, whew, whew! On, on, on! And I went on, away from the alchemist's home.
"Toward the end of that year, during the short days when the mist flings wet drops on the red berries and leafless branches, I came back in happy spirits, swept the heavens clean, and broke off the dead branches; that is not very hard work, to be sure, but it has to be done. And at the same time there was a different sort of sweeping and cleaning out at Borreby Mansion. Valdemar Daae's old enemy, Ove Ramel, of Basnaes, was there with the mortgage on the mansion and all its contents. I drummed on the broken panes, beat against the ruined doors, and whistled through the cracks and chinks; Master Ove shouldn't find it pleasant to stay there. Ide and Anna Dorothea wept quietly; Johanne stood pale and stately and bit her thumb till it bled; but all that did no good.
"Ove Ramel generously offered to allow Mr. Daae to remain at the mansion during his lifetime, but he got no thanks for the gesture. I listened, and noticed how the homeless old nobleman held his head more proudly than ever. I rushed against the mansion and the old lime trees, so that the thickest branch broke off - and it wasn't a rotten one, either. There it lay at the gate, like a broom for sweeping out - and there was sweeping out there, you may be sure! But I had expected it.
"Oh, that was a day of bitterness - a sorrowful day! But with a stiff neck and a stout back the proud man bore his burden bravely.
"They had nothing left except the clothes they wore, and the new alchemistic glass, filled with the brittle treasure that had promised so much - the fool's gold scraped up from the floor; this Valdemar Daae hid in his breast. He took his cane in his hand, and with his three daughters the once rich nobleman walked out of Borreby Mansion. I blew cold upon his flaming cheeks and stroked his gray beard and long white hair to and fro as I sang, as loudly as I could, "Whew, whew, whew! This was the end of his glory!
"Ide and Anne Dorothea walked on each side of him, but as Johanne crossed the threshold she turned back. Perhaps, as he gazed so wistfully at the red stones that had once made up Marsk Stig's castle, she remembered the old ballad about Marsk Stig's daughters:
The elder took the younger by the hand,
And forth they went to a distant land.
"Was she thinking of this song? Here were three daughters, and their father was with them. They turned off from the highway, where they had used to drive in their carriage, and made their way to Smidstrup Field, to a little shack of mud they had rented for ten marks a year. These bare walls and empty chambers were their new 'mansion.' Crows and jackdaws circled above their heads, screaming, as if in mockery, 'Turned out of the nest! Caw, Caw!' just as they had screamed in Borreby Wood when the oaks were being cut down. Mr Daae and his daughters must have understood the cries; they were not pleasant to listen to, so I did my best to drown them out by blowing about their ears.
"Thus they passed into the shack of mud on Smidstrup Field, and I passed away over field and moor, through bare hedges and leafless woods, away over open waters, to other lands - whew, whew! On, on! Year after year!"
What happened to Valdemar Daae; what happened to his daughters? The Wind will tell us:
"The last time I went to see them I found only Anna Dorothea, the pale hyacinth. She was then old and bent; it was half a hundred years later. She had lived the longest; she knew the whole story.
"Across the heath, near the town of Viborg, there stood the dean's beautiful new house, with red stones and pointed gables and chimneys always smoking busily. The gentle lady and her beautiful daughters sat on the balcony and looked out over the hanging buckthorn in the garden, out to the brown heath; what did they look at there? They looked at the stork's nest on that dilapidated cottage out there. Houseleek and moss made up most of the roof, if one could call it a roof; the stork's nest covered the greater part of it, and that alone was in good condition, for the stork kept it that way.
"It was a house to look at but not to touch," said the Wind. "I had to pass by it very gently. The hut was left there only for the sake of the stork's nest, for it was a certainly no credit to the heath. The dean didn't want to drive the stork away, so the poor old woman who had lived in the hut had permission to stay there and shelter herself as well as he could. For that she owed thanks to the queer Egyptian bird; or was it because, so many years ago, she had pleaded for the nest of his wild black brother in Borreby Wood? Then she, the poor woman, was a happy child, a delicate, pale hyacinth in the garden of her ancestral home. She remembered it now; Anna Dorothea forgot nothing.
" 'Oh!' she sighed - yes, humans can sigh almost like the Wind himself does among the reeds and rushes. 'Oh! - there were no bells to ring at your funeral, Valdemar Daae! No groups of poor schoolboys sang psalms when Borreby's former master was laid to rest! Oh, but everything comes to an end - misery as well as happiness! It grieved my father worst of all that my sister Ide should become the wife of a peasant, a miserable peasant whom he could have punished by making him ride a hard plank. But he is at peace in the grave now, and you are with him, Ide! Oh, yes, ah, me - I am still here. I am old and poor. Deliver me, kind Christ!'"
Such was the prayer of Anna Dorothea in the miserable mud hut that was allowed to stand only for the sake of the stork.
"The boldest and most resolute of the three sisters I carried off myself," said the Wind. "She cut her clothes like a man's, disguised herself as a poor lad, and went into service as a sailor. She was sparing of speech, cross-looking, but quick at her work, although she couldn't climb the mast. So one night I blew her overboard, before anyone found out she was a woman; and I think that was the right thing to do.
"It was another Easter morning, bright as that morning when Valdemar Daae thought he had found the gold. Among those tumbledown walls beneath the stork's nest I could hear a faint voice chanting a psalm. It was Anna Dorothea's last hymn.
"There was no window with glass, only a hole in the wall; but the sun set itself there like a lump of gold, and as she gazed on its glory her heart broke and her eyes grew fixed. The stork had given her shelter to the day of her death. I sang at her funeral," said the Wind, "as I had sung at her father's; I know where his grave is, and her grave, but no one else knows.
"Now there are new times, changed times. The old highway is lost in the fields, old cemeteries have been made into new roads, and soon the steam engine, with its row of cars, will come to rush over the forgotten graves of unknown ancestors. Whew, whew, whew! On, on!
"And that's the story of Valdemar Daae and his daughters; tell it better, you people, if you think you can," said the Wind, then veered around.
He was gone.