Great-Grandfather was so lovable, wise and good. All of us looked up to Great-Grandfather. As far back as I can remember, he was really called "Father's Father," and "Mother's Father" as well, but when my Brother Frederick's little son came along he was promoted, and got the title of "Great-Grandfather." He could not expect to go any higher than that.

He was very fond of us all, but he did not appear to be fond of our times. "Old times were the good times," he used to say. "Quiet and genuine they were. In these days there's too much hurrying and turning everything upside down. The young folk lay down the law, and even speak about the Kings as if they are their equals. Any ne'er-do-well can sop a rag in dirty water and wring it out over the head of an honorable man."

Great-Grandfather would get angry and red in the face when he talked of such things, but soon he would smile his kindly, sympathetic smile, and say, "Oh, well! I may be a bit wrong. I belong to the old days, and I can't quite get a foothold in the new. May God guide us and show us the right way to go."

When Great-Grandfather got started on the old days, it seemed to me as if they came back. I would imagine myself riding along in a gilded coach, with footmen in fine livery. I saw the guilds move their signs and march in procession with their banners aloft, preceded by music. And I attended the merry Christmas festivities, where people in fancy dress played games of forfeit.

True enough, in the old days dreadfully cruel and horrible things used to be done. There was torture, rack and wheel, and bloodshed, but even these horrible things had an excitement about them that fascinated me. But I also thought of many pleasant things. I used to imagine how things were when the Danish nobility freed the peasants, and when the Danish Crown Prince abolished slave trading. It was marvelous to hear Great-Grandfather talk of all these things, and to hear him tell of the days of his youth. But I think the times even earlier than that were the very best times of all - so mighty and glorious.

"They were barbarous times," Brother Frederick said. "Thank heaven we are well rid of them." He used to say this right out to Great-Grandfather. This was most improper, I know, but just the same I always had great respect for Frederick. He was my oldest brother, and he used to say he was old enough to be my father - but then he was always saying the oddest things. He had graduated with the highest honors, and was so quick and clever in his work at Father's office that Father meant to make him a partner before long. Of us all, he was the one with whom Great-Grandfather talked most, but they always began to argue, for they did not get along well together. They did not understand each other, those two, and the family said they never would, but even as young as I was, I soon felt that they were indispensable to each other. Great-Grandfather would listen with the brightest look in his eyes while Frederick spoke of or read aloud about scientific progress, and new discoveries in the laws of nature, and about all the other marvels of our times.

"The human race gets cleverer, but it doesn't get better," Great-Grandfather would say. "People invent the most terrible and harmful weapons with which to kill and injure each other."

"Then the war will be over that much sooner," Frederick would tell him. "No need now for us to wait seven years for the blessings of peace. The world is full-blooded, and it needs to be bled now and then. That is a necessity."

One day Frederick told him of something that actually happened in a small country and in our own times. The mayor's clock - the large one on the town hall - kept time for the whole town and for everyone who lived there. The clock did not run very well, but that didn't matter nor did it keep anyone from looking to it for the time. But by and by railroads were built in that country, and in all countries railroads run by the clock. One must therefore be sure of the time, and know it exactly, or there will be collisions. At the railroad station they had a clock that was absolutely reliable, and exactly in accord with the sun. But as the mayor's was not, everyone went by the railroad clock.

I laughed, and thought the story a funny one, but Great-Grandfather did not laugh. He became very serious.

"There is a profound meaning in what you have told me," he declared, "and I understood the thought that prompted you to tell me the story. There's a moral in the clockwork. It reminds me of another clock - my parents' simple, old-fashioned Bornholm clock, with lead weights. It measured out the time of their lives and of my childhood. Perhaps it didn't run any too well, but it ran just the same. We would look at the hour hand and believe in it, with never a thought about the works inside. In those days the machinery of government was like that old clock. Everybody believed in it and only looked at the hour hand. Now government machinery is like a clock in a glass case, so that one can look directly into the works and see the wheels turning and whizzing around. Sometimes we become quite frightened over this spring or that wheel, and then I wonder how it is possible for all these complicated parts to tell the right time. I have lost my childish belief in the rightness of the old clock. That is the weakness of this age."

Great-Grandfather would talk on until he became quite angry. He and Frederick could not agree, yet they could not bear to be separated - "just like old times and new." Both of them felt this - and so did our whole family - when Frederick was to set out on his journey to far-away America. It was on business for the Company, so the journey had to be made. To Great-Grandfather, it was a sad parting, and it seemed a long, long journey - all the way across a great ocean, and to the other side of the globe.

"You shall get a letter from me every fortnight," Frederick promised. "And faster than any letter can go, you shall hear from me by telegraph. The days will be like hours, and the hours like minutes."

By telegraph we received Frederick's greeting to us from England, just as he boarded the steamship. Sooner than any letter could reach us, even though the swift sailing clouds had been our postman, came greetings from America, where Frederick had landed only a few hours before.

"What a glorious and divine inspiration has been granted our age," said Great-Grandfather. "It is a true blessing to the human race."

"And it was in our country," I said, "that the natural principle underlying the telegraph was first understood and stated. Frederick told me so."

"Yes," Great-Grandfather said, and he kissed me. "Yes, and I once looked into the kindly eyes that were the first to see and understand this marvelous law of nature - his were the eyes of a child, like yours - and I have shaken his hand." Then he kissed me again.

More than a month had gone by, when a letter came from Frederick with the news that he was engaged to a beautiful and lovable young lady. He was sure that everyone in our family would be delighted with her, and he sent us her photograph. We looked at it first with our bare eyes, and then with a magnifying glass, for the advantage of photographs is not only that they stand close inspection through the strongest glass, but that then you see the full likeness even better. No painter has ever been able to do that, even in the greatest of the ages past.

"If only this discovery had been made earlier, then we could have seen the world's greatest and most illustrious men, face to face. How gentle and good this young girl looks," Great-Grandfather said, and stared through the glass.

"Now I know her face, and I shall recognize her the moment she comes in the door."

But that very nearly failed to happen. Fortunately, at home we did not hear of the danger until it had passed.

After a safe and pleasant trip, the young couple reached England. From there, they were to come by steamship to Copenhagen. When they came in sight of the Danish coast- the white sand dunes along the western shore of Jutland - a heavy sea arose and dashed the ship against the shore. The enormous waves threatened to break the grounded ship in pieces.

No lifeboat could reach them. Night fell, but out of the darkness burst a brightly flashing rocket from the shore. It shot far out over the grounded ship, and brought a line to those on board. Once this connection between ship and shore was made fast, a rescue buoy was carefully drawn through the rough, tumultuous sea, to the shore. In it was a lovely young woman, safe and sound, and marvelously happy when she and her young husband again stood together on the shore. Every soul on board was saved before the break of day.

Here in Copenhagen we were sound asleep, dreaming neither of grief nor of danger. When we were gathered at the breakfast table, we heard a rumor that an English steamship had been wrecked on the west coast. We grew heartsick with anxiety, but within an hour we received a telegram from those who were dear to us. Frederick and his young bride were saved - they would soon be with us.

Everyone cried, and I cried too. Great-Grandfather cried and clasped his hands. I am sure he gave thanks for the age in which we live, for that very day he gave two hundred dollars toward raising a monument to Hans Christian Oersted. When Frederick came home with his bride, and heard of it, he said, "That was right, Great-Grandfather. Now let me read to you what Oersted wrote, a great many years ago, about the old times and the new."
Oldefar var så velsignet, klog og god, vi så alle op til oldefar; han kaldtes egentlig, så langt jeg kunne huske tilbage, farfar, også morfar, men da min broder Frederiks lille søn kom i familien, avancerede han til oldefar; højere op kunne han ikke opleve! Han holdt så meget af os alle sammen, men vor tid syntes han ikke at holde rigtig af: "Gammel tid var god tid!" sagde han; "sindig og solid var den! nu er der sådan en galop og venden op og ned på alt. Ungdommen fører ordet, taler om kongerne selv, som om de var dens ligemænd. Enhver fra gaden kan dyppe sin klud i råddent vand og vride den af på hovedet af en hædersmand!"

Ved sådan tale blev oldefar ganske rød i ansigtet; men lidt efter kom igen hans venlige smil og da de ord: "Nå, ja! måske tager jeg noget fejl! jeg står i gammel tid og kan ikke få ret fodfæste i den nye, Vorherre lede og føre den!"

Når oldefar talte om gammel tid, var det ligesom om den kom tilbage til mig. I tankerne kørte jeg da i guldkaret med hejdukker, så lavene flytte skilt i optog med musik og faner, var med i de morsomme julestuer med panteleg og udklædning. Der var jo rigtignok også i den tid meget fælt og grueligt, stejler, hjul og blodsudgydelse, men alt det gruelige havde noget lokkende og vækkende. Jeg fornam om de danske adelsmænd, der gav bonden fri, og Danmarks kronprins, der ophævede slavehandelen.

Det var yndigt at høre oldefar fortælle derom, høre fra hans ungdomsdage; dog tiden foran den var dog den allerdejligste, så kraftig og stor.

"Rå var den!" sagde broder Frederik, "Gud ske lov at vi er ud over den!" og det sagde han rent ud til oldefar. Det skikkede sig ikke, og dog havde jeg megen respekt for Frederik; han var min ældste broder, han kunne være min fader, sagde han; han sagde nu så meget løjerligt. Student var han med bedste karakter og så flink på faders kontor, at han kunne snart gå med ind i forretningerne. Han var den, oldefar mest indlod sig med, men de kom altid op at disputere. De to forstod ikke hinanden og ville aldrig komme til det, sagde hele familien, men i hvor lille jeg end var, mærkede jeg dog snart, at de to ikke kunne undvære hinanden.

Oldefar hørte til med lysende øjne når Frederik fortalte eller læste op om fremskridt i videnskaben, om opdagelser af naturens kræfter, om alt det mærkelige i vor tid.

"Menneskene bliver klogere, men ikke bedre!" sagde da oldefar. "De opfinder de forfærdeligste ødelæggelsesvåben mod hverandre!"

"Des hurtigere er krigen forbi!" sagde Frederik, "man venter ikke syv år på fredens velsignelse! Verden er fuldblodig, den må imellem have en åreladning, det er fornødent!"

En dag fortalte Frederik ham noget virkeligt oplevet i vor tid i en lille stat. Borgmesterens ur, det store ur på rådhuset, angav tiden for byen og dens befolkning; uret gik ikke ganske rigtigt, men hele byen rettede sig dog derefter. Nu kom også der i landet jernbaner, og de står i forbindelse med alle andre landes, man må derfor vide tiden nøjagtig, ellers løber man på. Jernbanen fik sit solrettede ur, det gik rigtigt, men ikke borgmesterens, og nu rettede alle byens folk sig efter jernbaneuret.

Jeg lo og fandt at det var en morsom historie, men oldefar lo ikke, han blev ganske alvorlig.

"Der ligger en hel del i hvad du der fortæller!" sagde han, "og jeg forstår også din tanke ved at du fortæller mig det. Der er lærdom i dit urværk. Jeg kommer fra det til at tænke på et andet, mine forældres gamle, simple, bornholmske ur med blylodder; det var deres og min barndoms tidsmåler; det gik vel ikke så ganske nøjagtigt, men det gik, og vi så til viseren, den troede vi på og tænkte ikke på hjulene indeni. Sådan var også dengang statsmaskinen, man så trygt på den, og troede på viseren. Nu er statsmaskinen blevet et ur af glas, hvor man kan se lige ind i maskineriet, se hjulene dreje og snurre, man bliver ganske angst for den tap, for det hjul! hvorledes skal det gå med klokkeslættet, tænker jeg, og har ikke længere min barnetro. Det er nutids skrøbelighed!"

Og så talte oldefar sig ganske vred. Han og Frederik kunne ikke komme ud af det sammen, men skilles kunne de heller ikke, "ligesom den gamle og den nye tid"! - det fornam de begge to og hele familien, da Frederik skulle på rejse, langt bort, til Amerika. Det var i husets anliggende rejsen måtte gøres. Det var en tung skilsmisse for oldefar, og rejsen var så lang, helt over verdenshavet, til en anden del af jordkloden.

"Hver fjortende dag vil du have brev fra mig!" sagde Frederik, "og hurtigere end alle breve, vil du gennem telegraftråden kunne høre fra mig; dagene blive timer, timerne minutter!"

Gennem telegraftråden kom hilsen da Frederik i England gik ombord. Tidligere end et brev, selv om de flyvende skyer havde været postbud, kom hilsen fra Amerika, hvor Frederik var steget i land; det var kun nogle timer siden.

"Det er dog en Guds tanke, der er forundt vor tid!" sagde oldefar; "en velsignelse for menneskeheden!"

"Og i vort land blev de naturkræfter først forstået og udtalt, har Frederik sagt mig."

"Ja," sagde oldefar og kyssede mig. "Ja, og jeg har set ind i de to milde øjne, som først så og forstod denne naturkraft; det var barneøjne som dine! og jeg har trykket hans hånd!" Og så kyssede han mig igen.

Mere end en måned var gået, da der i et brev fra Frederik kom efterretning om, at han var blevet forlovet med en ung, yndig pige, som bestemt hele familien ville være glad ved. Hendes fotografi sendtes og blev beset med bare øjne og med forstørrelsesglas, for det er det rare ved de billeder, at de kan tåle at ses efter i de allerskarpeste glas, ja at da kommer ligheden endnu mere frem. Det har ingen maler formået, selv de allerstørste i de gamle tider.

"Havde man dog dengang kendt den opfindelse!" sagde oldefar, "da havde vi kunnet se ansigt til ansigt verdens velgørere og stormænd! - Hvor dog pigebarnet her ser mild og god ud!" sagde han og stirrede gennem glasset. "Jeg kender hende nu, når hun træder ind ad døren!"

Men nær var det aldrig sket; lykkeligvis hørte vi hjemme ikke ret om faren, før den var forbi.

De unge nygifte nåede i glæde og velbefindende England, derfra ville de med dampskib gå til København. De så den danske kyst, Vestjyllands hvide sandklitter; da rejste sig en storm, skibet stødte mod en af revlerne og sad fast; søen gik højt og ville bryde fartøjet; ingen redningsbåd kunne virke; natten fulgte, men midt i mulmet fór fra kysten en lysende raket hen over det grundstødte skib; raketten kastede sit tov hen over det, forbindelsen var lagt mellem dem derude og dem på land, og snart droges, gennem tunge, rullende søer, i redningskurven en ung, smuk kvinde, lyslevende; og uendelig glad og lykkelig var hun, da den unge husbond snart stod hos hende på landjorden. Alle ombord blev frelst; det var endnu ikke lys morgen.

Vi lå i vor søde søvn i København, tænkte hverken på sorg eller fare. Da vi nu samledes om bordet til morgenkaffe, kom et rygte, bragt ved et telegram, om et engelsk dampskibs undergang på Vestkysten. Vi fik stor hjerteangst, men i samme time kom telegram fra de frelste, kære hjemkomne, Frederik og hans unge hustru, der snart ville være hos os.

De græd alle sammen; jeg græd med, og oldefar græd, foldede sine hænder, og - jeg er vis derpå - velsignede den nye tid.

Den dag gav oldefar to hundrede rigsdaler til monumentet for Hans Christian Ørsted.

Da Frederik kom hjem med sin unge kone og hørte det, sagde han: "Det var ret, oldefar! nu skal jeg også læse for dig hvad Ørsted allerede for mange år tilbage skrev om gammel tid og vor tid!"

"Han var vel af din mening?" sagde oldefar.

"Ja, det kan du nok vide!" sagde Frederik, "og du er med, du har givet til monumentet for ham!"

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