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Title: King Eric and the Outlaws, Vol. 2 - or, the Throne, the Church, and the People in the Thirteenth - Century. Vol. I.
Author: Ingemann, Bernhard Severin, 1789-1862
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "King Eric and the Outlaws, Vol. 2 - or, the Throne, the Church, and the People in the Thirteenth - Century. Vol. I." ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/kingericandoutl00chapgoog

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                               KING ERIC

                                  AND

                              THE OUTLAWS.

                                VOL. II.



                                London:
                       Printed by A. Spottiswoode,
                           New-Street-Square.



                               KING ERIC

                                  AND

                              THE OUTLAWS;


                THE THRONE, THE CHURCH, AND THE PEOPLE,

                       IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.



                                   BY
                                INGEMANN


                     TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY
                         JANE FRANCES CHAPMAN.



                              *  *   *   *
                           IN THREE VOLUMES.
                                VOL. II.
                             *   *   *   *



                                LONDON:
                   LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS,
                            PATERNOSTER-ROW.
                                 1843.



                               CHAPTER I.


When the king reached Kallundborg castle, and beheld the drawbridge
raised, and the well fortified castle in a complete state of defence, a
flush of anger crossed his cheek, his hand involuntarily clenched the
hilt of his sword, and for an instant he was near forgetting his
promise, and drawing it out of the scabbard. Count Henrik reined in his
war horse impatiently before the outermost fortification, awaiting an
answer to the message he had shouted, in the king's name, to the
nearest warder. "Matchless presumption!" exclaimed the king; "know they
I am here myself? and do they still tarry with an answer, when they
have but to be silent and to obey?"

"They take their time, my liege!" answered Count Henrik. "It is
unparalleled impudence.--If you command, the trumpet shall be instantly
sounded for storm; the sword burns in my hand."

"Not yet!" answered the king, and took his hand from the hilt of his
sword.

At this moment a trumpet sounded from the outer rampart, and a tall
warrior in armour, with closed visor, stepped forth on the battlement.

"The castle opens not to any armed man!" he shouted in a rough tone,
which however appeared assumed and tremulous; "it will be defended to
the last, against every attack; this is our noble junker's strict order
and behest."

"Madman!" exclaimed Eric; and Count Henrik seemed about to give an
impetuous reply.

"Not a word more!" continued the king, with a stern nod.--"We stoop not
to further parley with rebels and traitors.--You will beleaguer the
castle on all sides, and get all in readiness for a storm; until
twenty-four hours are over, no spear must be thrown--if the rebels dare
to enact their impudent threats against the town, we shall have to
think but of saving it and quenching the flames. If aught chances here,
I must know it instantly; you will not fail to find me at the
Franciscan monastery." So saying, the king turned his horse's head, and
rode with a great part of his train into the large monastery, close to
the castle. Here stood the guardian and all the fraternity with their
shaven heads uncovered, in two rows before the stone steps in the yard
of the monastery. The aged guardian, in common with the rest of his
fraternity, wore an ashen grey cloak with a cowl at the back, and a
thick cord round the waist. Despite the winter cold, they were all
without shoes and stockings, with wooden sandals under their bare feet.
They received the king with manifest signs of alarm and uneasiness.

"Be easy, ye pious men," said the king, in a mild voice, as he sprang
from his horse, and acknowledged their greeting and the guardian's
pious address in a friendly manner; "I come to you as your friend and
protector. If it please God and our Lady, no evil shall happen to your
monastery or our good and loyal town. It is not your fault that our
brother the junker hath appointed a madman to be his commandant; for we
trust in the Lord and the mighty Saint Christopher, that our dear
brother hath not himself lost his wits. I will await him here, until he
can receive the news of my coming, and give explanation in person of
this matter. If there is danger astir, I will share it with you; at
present I wish but to see whether your guest-house and refectory can
stand this unexpected visitation; meanwhile it shall be recompensed
beforehand to the monastery."

"Noble sovereign," answered the guardian, "destroy not by any worldly
compensation the pleasure which you now bestow on us, in our fear and
trembling: poverty is, as you know, the first rule of our holy order.
If you will vouchsafe to share the indigence of the penitent, gracious
king, doubt not then our willingness to give, and share without
recompence; and tempt us not to accept what the holy Franciscus himself
hath strictly forbid us to touch."

"Well, the rule is surely not so strictly kept here," said the king,
with a good-natured smile, as he entered into the large guest-house of
the monastery, and saw the door standing open to the refectory, where a
table, with fasting fare, was spread for the monks, but a larger, with
flasks of wine and dishes of substantial meat, was prepared for the
entertainment of the distinguished worldly guests. "Here, however, we
shall not come to suffer want," continued the king; "here we find not
frugal fare alone, but God's gifts, almost to superfluity."

"What we are able to offer your grace hath been sent hither by the
burghers.--Where the Lord's anointed enters he brings a blessing with
him,"--answered the guardian, making a genuflection with his hands
crossed over his breast.

"Blessing?" replied the king, a dark cloud suddenly passing over his
brow.--"Hum! even though he be given over to the Devil and the
destruction of the fleshy venerable father?" he asked with bitterness,
and in a low voice, as he drew the guardian aside and gazed at him,
with a sharp, searching look.

The aged monk turned pale at these words of the king, and involuntarily
crossed himself, as he heaved a deep sigh. "The holy church proclaims
to us absolution even for deadly sins, and justification through grace
and conversion," said he, folding his lean hands. "Its curse falls only
in reality on the head of the profligate and ungodly."

"But when the archbishop, the prince of the Danish church, out of
revenge and hate, hath proclaimed thy sovereign to be such an one?"

"Were you such _in truth_, my liege and sovereign, alas! I must then
echo the dreadful sentence within my heart, though it should break in
doing so, and were your wrath even to crush me," answered the old man,
with deep solemnity, again pressing his folded hands upon his breast;
"but the Lord preserve my soul from taking part in the counsels of the
revengeful and the judgments of the unrighteous! The church's might and
authority are certainly great, noble king," he continued, "but
vengeance and judgment are the Lord's, even as grace for the penitent
belongeth unto him; power is given us to build up, but not to pull
down; we can do nothing against the truth, but all for the truth. If
even a bishop himself should err in our true believing church, and
abuse the church's authority against God's word, no priest or Christian
hath leave to consent unto him, saith the holy Augustine."

"Right, pious father! that is also my creed and my comfort, and what
the learned Master Peter also hath told me. You have then no fear that
I bring with me a curse or evil spirits over this threshold?"

"No assuredly!" answered the guardian solemnly, with uplifted hand and
look,--"I know my noble liege is not profane and ungodly, a despiser of
penitence and pious works, or one whom in the power of the word it is
permitted to give over to the destruction of the flesh, for the soul's
eternal salvation. I know, therefore, that the Prince of Darkness can
have no power over your dear-bought soul; and that no sinful curse can
destroy the peace of God in your heart, or wipe off the holy ointment
from your crowned head."

A mild emotion was visible in the king's countenance at these words of
the guardian. "Give me your blessing, pious father!" he said, in a
subdued tone; "you have spoken words which penetrate my inmost soul."

"The reconciled and all-merciful God preserve your life and crown, and
above all the precious peace of your soul!" prayed the guardian, and
laid his shrivelled hand on the head of the king, who bent to receive
the blessing, "in so far as you are _yourself_ placable and merciful,"
he added with emphasis, and a piercing gaze.

"Hum, placable?" repeated the king, hastily, raising his head; "even
towards rebels and traitors?"

"They assuredly need mercy most," answered the guardian. "Be not wroth,
my liege," he continued, gently and impressively; "there is a holy
word, which at this moment strangely trembles on my lips: 'If thy
brother sin against thee,' it is written, 'then chastise him; but if he
repents, then forgive him!'"

"But when he does _not_ repent?" asked the king, gazing on the guardian
with an excited look.

"Then pray for him till he does, that thy mother's son may not be a
castaway; and for the sake of thine own peace!" whispered the
ecclesiastic.--"A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong
city, and quarrels are as bars before a palace."

"But strong cities may fall, and the palaces of rebels may be forced,"
exclaimed the king, suddenly assuming a stern tone, and the mild
emotion expressed in his countenance became clouded. "The wise king
Solomon hath also taught me to count more on a faithful friend than a
false brother. Did not a prophet once say to his people, in a
traitorous and corrupted time like ours--'Put not your trust in any
brother, for every brother will certainly deceive?' I could wish that
holy man were wrong. But enough of this," said Eric, hastily breaking
off the solemn converse. "Let us now think a little of worldly things,
and not despise the care of the body. We have ridden a long way today,
to be shut out of our own castle here." So saying, the king went with
hasty strides into the refectory; the guardian followed him with a
sorrowful aspect, and the rejoicing of the brethren, over the king's
piety and mildness, seemed somewhat diminished.

Kallundborg castle was now regularly beleaguered, and the warlike and
experienced Count Henrik of Mecklenborg neglected none of the necessary
preparations for a storm, as far as he was able with so small a force,
and without engines for storming. Meanwhile, ere the sun went down, he
saw his force augmented, as Drost Aagé with his hundred horsemen
galloped into the town, and joined him without the castle walls. As
soon as the Drost had provided for the wants of his troops, and had
consulted with Count Henrik, he repaired to the monastery of grey
friars, where he was instantly admitted to the king in the library.

Here sat Eric in a thoughtful mood, in the guardian's great arm-chair,
before an oaken table, on which lay a large annotated Bible as well as
the writings of St. Augustine and other fathers of the church, open
before him. He held a manuscript of Master Petrus de Dacia's in his
hand, in which he was diligently making marks and dashes with his pen,
and seemed employed in comparing it with the passages at which the
writings of the fathers were opened. By the side of these spiritual
writings, however, lay also three worldly books in handsome red velvet
binding, which the king had brought with him. It was the famous
chivalrous poem Ivain and Tristan, in Hartman von Awe's and Gottfried
von Strasborg's version, as well as the adventurous history of Florez
and Blanzeflor, which was the favourite poem of all enamoured knights
and ladies.

When Drost Aagé crossed the threshold, the king pushed aside the table
and hastily started up. "Aagé, my dear Aagé! do I see thee again, at
last!" he joyfully exclaimed, and went forward to meet him with open
arms, but stopped in dismay, as he looked more narrowly at the young
Drost. "Is it thyself?" he continued; "how thou art changed! Truly thou
hast been in murderous hands. Those accursed outlaws!" he said
passionately, as he stamped on the floor; "why have I not rooted them
out of the earth?"

"Think no more of that, my noble liege," said Aagé. "I am now well
again, and at your service."

"Come, rest thee; thou hast exerted thyself above thy strength. Master
Peter hath then brought thee a letter and a message?"

"All is done as you commanded, my liege, though I fear it is a
step----"

"Leave me to care for that, Aagé--met ye with opposition?"

"Holbeck castle is in your possession; it cost not a drop of blood, but
caused great joy at the castle."

"Good; and the junker?"

"I saw him not; it is said, though, he was there, but escaped."

"A bad sign, Aagé! A loyal vassal would have staid, and have called
thee strictly to give account of thy authority. He asked then, not even
once, the ground of my wrath? He ventured not an indignant remonstrance
touching injustice and violent measures?"

"He kept quite out of sight; he must have conceived suspicions."

"Hum! no prince flies thus from his castle, when he knows himself to be
innocent. How then can I doubt? The contumacy here, and his shameless
expressions to Bruncké----"

"What hath already chanced may however still be but an unhappy
misunderstanding, my liege," observed Aagé; "and the traitorous Bruncké
none can trust."

"Well, let Christopher speak for himself, if he is able. By all the
holy men, I would willingly give the half of my life could I say with
truth, 'I have a brother.' Yet, the Lord and our holy Lady be thanked,
I have still a faithful friend, and my beloved Ingeborg, and a loyal
and loving people. What have I to complain of?" So saying, the king
laid his arm confidingly on Aagé's shoulder, and a repressed tear
glistened in his ardent blue eye. "Since we met last, my dear Aagé," he
continued in a firm and calm tone, "I have become an excommunicated man
like thee; but it no longer terrifies me. I have long thought--now I am
convinced--that no one can condemn us save the Almighty and righteous
God: but _he_ will not condemn us; for, seest thou, he is merciful. He
who believes in salvation and mercy, Aagé, will be saved, despite all
the bishops and prelates in the world."

"Sin not, my noble liege!" exclaimed Aagé, with cautious sadness. "I
have also found peace for my soul, and a defence against the evil
spirits to whom I was given over; but it was not in defiance, it was in
love and hope, my liege."

"Such a hope I have also, my Aagé; and love!--thou knowest but little
what that is--thou that hast no Ingeborg! _My_ love truly is as great
as Sir Tristran's or the valiant Florez's. I shall not fear to
break a lance for my Ingeborg with the pope himself and the whole
priesthood--if it come to the worst."

"For Heaven's sake, my beloved liege, ponder----"

"I _have_ pondered much, Aagé; and first on what was most important,"
exclaimed the king seriously, interrupting his anxious friend. "The
matter of our salvation is too important to be decided by an
authoritative word from the bishop or pope. Shall they presume to say
to thee and me, 'Thou art accursed!--thou art given over to the Evil
One?' No, truly! Where is it written that any human being hath such
power? I always hoped--now I am assured--that the heavenly grace and
mercy I believe in, alone can save me and all of us--come, I will prove
it to thee; Master Petrus hath written it out for me; the church's holy
fathers witness to it, and what is more, God's own unchangeable word.
Yet it is too long to enter upon now; but, trust me, Aagé, no
archbishop, not even the pope in Rome, can condemn us--if the church
casts out believers, it is our church no longer, not the real and true
one. Could the devil shut against us every stone-built church in the
world, _one_ church would still stand open to us, which no devil can
shut; and lo! it is every where; where two believing souls are met
together in the Lord's name.--See how wise I am grown, Aagé: it would
be deemed heresy in Rome, and they would doom me to the stake did they
know it; but I am wise enough also to be silent about it. Thou only
shalt know it, and my Ingeborg, and whoever holds my immortal soul as
dear as thou dost."

Aagé was silent, and looked at him in surprise.

"I feel secure also about state and kingdom," continued the king. "With
God's help I shall defy both ban and interdict, both rebels and
outlaws, without any one injuring a hair of my head, or that of my
people's."

"But a letter, craving pardon of the holy father, will certainly be
necessary, my liege! In the matter of the archbishop, reconciliation
and clemency must in a great measure supersede justice."

"No, Aagé; I ask but justice; I ask no mercy of man, and in this matter
none need expect mercy from me--let the pope judge between me and
Grand! the mystery of unrighteousness shall be brought to light as
surely as there is justice under the sun. If I am myself wrong in any
thing, which well may chance, it is time enough to think of penitence
and penance when doom is pronounced."

"But the dispensation?" said Aagé.

"That _I_ will _dispense_ with in case of need; what hath been granted
to a hundred others cannot be denied the King of Denmark.--Should
it be denied, it is unjust; but an injustice to which _I will not_
submit. Yet, seat thyself, Aagé; not a word more of these vexatious
affairs,--my soul is weary of them. Come," he continued, gaily; "now
thou shalt hear a love poem: my dear Ingeborg hath herself written it
out for me. Duchess Euphemia hath sent it to her from Norway; it will
soon be read, both in Norwegian and Swedish. Here thou shalt see what a
chivalrous lover can go through, and how fortune and our Lord are ever
with all true and constant lovers." The king now sat down before the
table, and read, in an animated tone, out of the adventures of Florez
and Blanzeflor, which, however, were already known to Aagé.

"Tristan I prefer, it is true," said the king; "and our own old
love-songs seem far more beautiful to me; but this book I especially
like to have in my hand. Think! she has copied every word with her own
lovely fingers."

Meanwhile evening drew on. The vesper bell rang, and the king went with
Aagé to the church of the monastery, where he joined in the devotions
of the Franciscans and the people, which however were not as calm and
undisturbed as usual.

As the night drew on the anxiety increased in the town with every hour.
A general stillness prevailed; lights glimmered in all the houses; no
one seemed any where to slumber. Around the beleaguered castle no sound
was heard save the steps and clashing arms of the sentinels. Here and
there a watch-fire gleamed in the cold winter's night, around which
silent warriors, wrapped in ample mantles, were standing in groups;
without the monastery Drost Aagé's horsemen were on guard. The Drost
and Count Henrik rode up and down around the castle walls, where the
faint clashing of weapons and the moving of heavy machines of defence
were heard.

By Aagé's counsel sentinels were also posted on the public quay
south-east of the castle, and on the ancient sea-tower at the
north-western extremity of the town, where there was also a
landing-place, together with a now deserted and decayed fortification:
this spot he deemed especially important whenever it might be desirable
to cut off all possible communication with the castle. At midnight Aagé
himself stood in the clear still starlight beside the solitary tower,
at Count Henrik's side, and looked out on the bay, while they
considered from what quarter the castle wall might best be mounted.
While thus employed, Aagé observed a little fishing-boat, which lay
half hidden under the mouldering rampart of the sea-tower; and just as
he was going to draw Count Henrik's attention to it he saw a head, with
a shaggy cap and a large scar resembling a hare-lip between the nose
and mouth, peer forth from behind a half-fallen pillar close beside
him. The prying head, however, instantly withdrew behind the pillar,
and Aagé thought he recognised the notorious robber and incendiary, the
Lolland deserter, Olé Ark, who had often been pursued, and who it was
believed had been concerned in the archbishop's flight. Without any
long deliberation he nodded to Count Henrik, and drew his sword; but at
the same instant the fellow sprang out of his hiding-place, and fled
down towards the rampart to the boat.

"Stop him!" shouted Aagé to the farthest sentinel, who stood with his
lance in his hand, and his back leaning against the rampart, gazing out
on a distant vessel, without observing the fugitive.

Just as the Drost's voice reached the ear of the sentinel, and he was
about to turn round, he felt the stab of a dagger in his back, and fell
to the earth with a groan of anguish, while the deserter rushed past
him with the weapon glittering in his hand, and sprang into the boat.

The fugitive had already placed his oars, and was preparing to push off
from shore, but then first perceived that in his haste he had forgot to
loosen the rope which moored the boat to the rampart. While he now,
with desperate exertion, struck once or twice in vain with his dagger
on the rope, Aagé and Count Henrik stood directly opposite him with
their drawn swords. Count Henrik hastily grasped the half-severed rope,
and drew the boat towards him. The dagger of the despairing fugitive
was raised gleaming in the air, but fell with the hand of the robber
into the sea before a stroke of the Drost's sword, and, with a fearful
howl, the wounded deserter fell back in the boat.

At Count Henrik's call several men-at-arms hastened to the spot from
the guard at the sea-tower, and presently bore the captive thither,
after having, by the Drost's order, wrapped a cloth round his mutilated
arm, to prevent his bleeding to death. The wounded sentinel was also
carried to the tower; and while a message was sent to fetch a surgeon,
the captured robber's garments, and all that he had about him, were
narrowly searched. Besides a letter of absolution, a rosary, and a
number of costly church ornaments, which appeared to be stolen
property, a quantity of pitch and sulphur and other combustible matter
was found on his person; and a key and a private letter were discovered
carefully secreted in the lining of his cap. For the present no
confession could be expected from the criminal, who had fallen into a
swoon. The Drost took possession of the key and the letter, and
repaired, with Count Henrik, to the nearest watch-fire. Here he opened
the letter, and read it in a low tone.

"To no one!"--thus ran the letter.--"Obey and be silent, or thou diest!
Dare the utmost! Spare not the town! Hide or burn the papers, if
needful! Keep the trapdoor in readiness! Let his victory prove his
downfall! I answer for the consequences. The bearer may be employed for
the whole.... Burn this private letter instantly. From no one."

Drost Aagé had jointly with the king and Prince Christopher learnt what
was then the still rare art of writing, from a canon, under the
superintendence of Drost Hessel, and to his dismay he thought he
recognised the stiff hand of the prince through the disguised character
of the writing. He hastily folded up the letter, and turned deadly
pale.

"Now what runes[1] read ye there, Sir Drost?" asked Count Henrik.--"You
do not feel well, I think."

"This private letter was surely to have been brought the commandant,"
exclaimed Aagé, eagerly, and the blood again rushed into his cheek. "It
is from no one, and to no one; yet I think I understand it."

"Let us see, Sir Drost--It is not surely any private love letter?--the
fellow was a spy and traitor."

"If my noble liege's peace of mind be dear to you." answered Aagé
anxiously, and seized his hand, "let this unhallowed secret be mine
alone! yet this much will I confide to you: it seems to concern the
king's unhappy domestic relations; but I entreat you to be silent, even
about this conjecture of mine. There is no proof against any one, only
a suspicion--an unhappy one--but the aim of the writer shall be
defeated: the letter must be destroyed."--So saying, he thrust his hand
into his bosom, and threw the letter into the fire.

"You are cautious, Drost," said Count Henrick, knitting his brow. "I
ask not to be initiated into your dark state secrets--as Drost you must
know best what should here be concealed or made public. I ask only, as
a man-at-arms and beleaguer, if the letter, which you have here
somewhat hastily destroyed, was to have been brought into the castle,
must there not be a private entrance hereabouts? Could it be found, it
were of moment to us: without storming engines, it will be a hard
spring enough for us to get over the circular wall."

"You are right; there _must_ be a secret entrance here," exclaimed Aagé
suddenly, with sparkling eyes. "I have a conjecture,--a thought strikes
me, there is a tradition of a secret entrance from the sea-tower.
The captive must show it me. I will be myself the bearer of the
letter,--not such as when it caught the flames, and as it is now before
the eye of the Omniscient, but rewritten, as a reconciling spirit
dictates to my soul."

"Good! I follow you with a troop."

"No, count! that is impossible. The king's pride is aroused; he
despises stratagem; he will and must through the gate, or over the
stormed walls, and both of us cannot here be spared. If the secret
passage is found, it will assuredly be difficult enough for one, alone
and unarmed, to pass through it."

"Then let the adventure alone, Drost; for one it is too daring."

"I will dare it nevertheless," said Aagé determinedly, after a moment's
deliberation; "but no one shall follow me, and no one must know it--not
even the king. If I am not here again to-morrow at noon, then let the
king know that I am probably a prisoner at the castle, or am about
something by which I may serve him, and all of you, better even than
were I at the head of the stormers--I count on your leading the attack,
as agreed on. If it succeeds, then promise me but one thing, brave
Count! let not the king set his foot but where the ground hath been
tried and found safe; and should you see my shoulder scarf wave on any
spot, then conclude all is not right, and let not the king approach
such a place."

"Ha! ha!" said Count Henrik, in a loud voice, and clapping Aagé on the
shoulder, "that was the secret, then, you would keep to yourself? You
might just as well have let me read the letter, my mysterious Sir
Drost! We may expect pitfalls then, and such sort of foxes' tricks?
Well, when one has a hint of such things they are of no importance. Ha!
the high-born junker! he is a base traitor truly, to seek after the
life of his king and brother, and _such_ a king and brother!"

"In the name of the Lord above, who says so. Sir Count?" exclaimed
Aagé, in consternation and in a low tone: "you shout as loud as though
you meant to awake heaven and earth with what none may hear. Let not
those unhappy words ever pass your lips again. I tell you once more, it
is but a conjecture, a fearful suspicion: it would rend the king's
heart if it came to his ears--the mere report might call forth bloody
scenes, and bring down the greatest misery on the country and the royal
house."

"I approve your caution in this matter, noble Drost," said Count Henrik
gravely, and in a subdued tone, as he looked around, with a sharp
glance; "be easy, no one can here have heard us. There you have my
hand: where one word may cause such great misfortune, it shall
assuredly never pass my lips. But drive that rash adventure out of thy
head; it may cost you your life,--and to what end?"

"The saving of a more precious life," said Aagé. "I must have certainty
in this matter: if I am to guard the king's feet from secret snares, I
must discover them first myself. God be with you! Farewell! He who hath
been for two years excommunicated," he continued in a voice of emotion,
"hath learnt to defy robbers and devils."

The watch-fire lit up his pale enthusiastic countenance, and a mild
light seemed to beam from his dark blue eyes, as he raised them towards
the starry heaven. "Follow me not!" he added. "I trust in the
protection of Heaven, and the power of good spirits--then must earthly
curses be dumb, and evil spirits fall into the bottomless pit."--So
saying, he earnestly pressed Count Henrik's hand, and returned with
hasty steps to the tower. Count Henrik shook his head, and gazed after
him with a look of sympathy, but followed him not.



                               CHAP. II.


The ancient sea-tower was situated at some distance from the castle, in
the most deserted quarter of the town, next the sea shore. It was a
round watch-tower, built of freestone, with loopholes in the wall, and
a sentry-walk above, between the rampart-like battlements. Below were
two vaulted stone chambers, of which one was used as a guard-room in
war time, and the other as a depository for the bodies of the drowned,
until their burial. The tower was now chiefly used for hanging out
lights at night, in stormy and bad weather, to guide sailors into the
entrance of the bay.

In the guard-room Drost Aagé found the wounded sentinel at the point of
death.

A monk, who had been sent for from the monastery, was engaged in
administering to him the last sacrament. On a table lay a paper, on
which the pious Franciscan had just written the last testament of the
dying man. An oil lamp hung upon the dirty wall, and lit up the stone
vault and the solemn scene of death. With a sympathizing look at the
dying man-at-arms Aagé quitted the guard-room, almost unnoticed, and
opened the door to what was called "the corpse chamber," from which,
according to tradition, there had been, in Esbern Snare's time, a
descent to a subterranean passage, and where Aagé conjectured he should
discover the supposed secret entrance to the castle.

Into this murky chamber, which had the reputation of being haunted, the
captive murderer had been brought. Through the aid of the surgeon he
had been restored to consciousness, and had his wound dressed; but he
talked and raved wildly. He had been bound to the bench appropriated to
the bodies of the drowned, which served him as a couch, and all had
deserted him with horror and aversion.

When Drost Aagé entered this chamber, the light of a yellow horn
lantern, which hung from the roof, fell on the murderer's swollen blue
visage with the hare-lip scar and ugly projecting teeth: he laughed
horribly, and ground his teeth like a chained wild beast. "Comest
thou hither, thou excommunicated hound!" he muttered, thrusting
forth his tongue from his foaming jaws; "then thou art also dead and
damned--that's some small comfort, though among devils--Now are the
fishes gnawing at my fist, at the bottom of the sea, while I lie a
corpse here in hell's antechamber--that was thy doing, thou pale ghost,
with St. George's sword! I feared thou hadst come off free, for thy
stupid piety's sake, and thy hound-like faithfulness."

"Why so?" asked Aagé, strangely affected by having half entered into
the dark imaginings of the madman--"How couldst thou think an
excommunicated man could 'scape damnation?"

"Seest thou, comrade?" whispered the bound robber, gazing wildly around
him, "the same holy man who gave thee over to the Evil One, gave me a
passport to heaven's kingdom. It lies there in my jerkin; Satan's
barber cut it off from me just now; and the letter was a lie,--like all
virtue and piety in the world. If that holy man could give me a false
warrant for salvation, he might also have made a false reckoning with
thy soul. It pleaseth me, however, to see he is apt in some things," he
continued, with a horrible laugh. "I ever thought so: those black
fellows can curse far better than they can bless. But who did thy
business for thee? The hand that should have done it is gone to the
Devil--Ha! there bites a hungry fish at my fingers' ends."

"From whom was the private letter? and to whom shouldst thou have
brought it?" asked Aagé, suddenly in a stern voice, and in a tone of
overawing authority: "confess the truth, and it shall fare better with
thee, wretch, than thou hast deserved!"

"What! though I should break the most solemn oath I ever swore?"
muttered the robber. "No, stern sir! let the Devil take his own, and
Olé Ark's sinful soul too, if the worst come to the worst! I have sent
many an accursed heretic and excommunicated man to hell, and truly also
many an honest fellow to heaven; but if I am now myself about to go to
the Devil, it shall be as a right-believing Christian; and none shall
say of me I broke my sworn oath, even to the living Satan."

"Tell me the way thou shouldst have gone, is it here?" continued Aagé,
looking around the large murky stone chamber.

"The way to my master's den?" muttered the robber with a grin--"Wouldst
ferret _that_ out, comrade? Take care thou dost not burn thyself in
it!"

"It is here, then," said Aagé to himself, looking around him, with
still greater attention--"And here is the key; is it not so?" So
saying, he produced the old rusty key which had been found on the
robber's person together with the private letter.

"Right, comrade, the key to hell!" returned the raving murderer, with a
horrid laugh.

Aagé now examined the whole vault, but discovered no trace of any
cellar or descent. The floor was paved with large flags. He stamped on
several places, and at last perceived a hollow sound, and the clang of
metal under the stone floor. He took the lantern from the iron hook in
the arch of the roof, and placed it on the floor. On doing so he
discovered a large loose stone, which might be raised, and his
conjecture was confirmed. The loose stone concealed a fast-locked iron
trap-door, which, however, seemed too small to admit of the descent of
any person. He tried the key, and it fitted. He opened the trap-door;
the raw damp air of the vault rose up to him from a pitch-dark abyss,
into which a ladder led down to an uncertain depth.

While this examination was carrying on the insane murderer lay on the
corpse bench, and grinned with horrible contortions. Aagé stood
thoughtfully by the opening, pondering over his daring enterprise. It
now struck him, for the first time, that, if undisguised, he must
undoubtedly be recognised and his plan frustrated. His eye fell on the
blood-stained jerkin, which had been stript from off the robber's
person, in order to bind him, "Well," he said, "we exchange garments;
there, thou hast my mantle and hat; I take thy jerkin and cap."

"Good exchange enough," muttered Olé Ark; "if my luck goes with my
jerkin, he goeth down to fame and honour. Ha! loose my body, Satan, and
let me follow him into the pit."

It was not without repugnance that Aagé clad himself in the soiled,
stained dress of the vagabond, which, however, answered his purpose,
and rendered him almost incognisable. He then took the lamp in his
hand, and prepared to descend through the narrow aperture in the floor;
but the scorn and defiance of the bound robber now changed into a
piteous lament.

"Mercy! mercy!" he cried, "take not the last glimpse of light from me!
Now comes the Devil himself to rend me to pieces--Ha! let me not lie a
corpse here in the dark--Mercy! mercy!" he howled, and pulled and tore
at the cords which bound him.

"Pray to thy God and Judge for mercy," said Aagé; "I cannot help thee."
He then squeezed himself through the narrow opening, with the lantern
in his hand, and pulled the trap-door after him, that he might not hear
the howls of the madman; but was nearly falling down head foremost from
the ladder, on hearing, to his dismay, that the trap-door, which had a
spring-lock, fell and closed over his head. He felt now as though he
were entombed alive. He had forgotten to take the key with him; and the
faint howling of the robber soon seemed lost in triumphant laughter
above the grave which had closed over him.

Aagé grew dizzy, but recovered himself, and clung fast to the slippery
steps of the ladder, while he continued to descend. At last he stood at
the bottom: the descent was steep and deep, but it led to a narrow
vaulted passage, which was so low as hardly to admit of his walking
upright. The air was foul and suffocating, and he often trod on
sprawling toads and other reptiles. He held up the lantern before him,
but beheld nothing save the long narrow passage, to which he could
discern no end; its direction, however, convinced him that it must
undoubtedly lead to the castle. He went forward with hasty steps, and
looked anxiously at the light in the lamp, which gleamed fainter and
fainter. The air seemed not to contain sufficient nourishment for life
and flame. He had hardly proceeded more than a hundred paces ere what
he feared took place--the light went out in the lantern, and he stood
in the dark. He felt a degree of alarm and a want of power and courage,
which was quite foreign to his nature; at the same time he heard a
hollow clang far behind, as if the iron trap-door had been again opened
and clapped to. He involuntarily quickened his steps, but slipped every
moment on slimy reptiles, and was often forced to pause in order to
take breath, while the air he inhaled seemed to lame every limb and to
contract his lungs. He was nearly sinking down in a state of
insensibility; but he now thought he heard a sound as of stealthy steps
behind him, and his increased apprehension inspired him with renewed
strength. "Is any one there?" he shouted, and turned round; but no one
answered, and there was suddenly a deathlike stillness again.

It was so dark that he could not see his own hand before his eyes. In
order not to awaken suspicion by his bold enterprise he had taken off
his sword in the corpse-chamber, and was entirely defenceless. In his
childhood, Aagé had not been wholly free from the dread of supernatural
beings; and, according to the creed of the age, the idea of the
influence of a mighty world of spirits on human life was closely
connected with religious belief. Aagé nowise doubted the possibility of
the appearance of evil as well as of good spirits; but this idea never
disquieted him in open day, when he knew he was on a lawful errand, and
had his sword with its cross-hilt at his side. "Is it honourable and
chivalrous to steal along thus?" he said to himself. "Why took I not my
good sword with me? It was hard, though, to take the light from him
above there--he lies now in the pains of hell on yonder bench, and
curses me;--or hath he got loose, and is he lurking after me in the
dark?" He now thought he heard again distinctly, at every stride he
took, the same sound, as of stealthy footsteps behind him; but each
time he turned round all was still as before. This consciousness of the
presence of an unknown being in the dark passage put him into a state
of fearful apprehension, and recalled those images of horror to his
imagination, which he felt himself least able to combat. "Is he now
dead above there?--is it his maniac spirit which persecutes thee?" he
whispered to himself; and the form of the frantic murderer appeared to
his imagination far more terrific than when he beheld it actually
stretched on the corpse-bench; "or is it thou, old Pallé!" he
exclaimed, almost with an outcry of terror. The scene of the murder in
Finnerup barn, which had haunted him in his childhood, and the image of
the aged and insane regicide he had himself slain on the body of the
murdered king, were again vividly present to his imagination. His hair
stood on end; it seemed to him as if he was now actually about to fight
with demons and evil spirits in the dark pit of the grave,--a fancy
which had often disquieted him in dreams, and which lately had been the
dominant plague of his fevered imagination. At last his terror
increased to such a degree that he could no longer control it; he
turned suddenly round, and rushed with all his might with clenched
hands towards the place where he again thought he distinguished the
stealthy footsteps. He then distinctly heard a clanking sword strike
against the wall close beside his ear. "Ha! a human being after all!
Wretched murderer! is it thou?" he shouted, quite recovering his
courage at the discovery of a real and bodily pursuer, and sprang
forward towards the unseen deadly foe, while he struck aside the sword,
which seemed to be wielded by a left and powerless arm. The sword flew
clanging forward in the dark passage; but at the same moment Aagé felt
his neck clutched almost to suffocation by a pair of convulsively
strained arms, dripping wet.

"Ha! ha! have I pounced on thee at last, hell-hound?" suddenly roared a
wild rough voice in his ear, and Aagé recognised the tones of the
wounded robber. "I have long enough lain a corpse--now thou mayst take
my place, comrade!" This terrific voice presently rose into the howl of
a wild beast, and Aagé felt the madman's tusks in his forehead; he
struck desperately around him, and strove with all his might to free
himself from the suffocating grasp of the monster, but in vain; and he
was long compelled to combat and wrestle with him ere he succeeded in
throwing him to the ground, and was even then still forced to struggle
with the robber, whose howls were growing weaker and weaker, without,
however, being able to free his neck from his convulsive grasp. At last
the clutching arms loosened from round his neck, and his frantic
adversary lay silent and apparently dead, or in a swoon, under his
knee.

"The Lord have mercy on his sinful soul," sighed Aagé, rising half
breathless. His opponent now made a sudden movement as if to rise, but
fell back, with a rattling in his throat; and Aagé perceived, for the
first time, that he was in all probability wading in the blood of the
wounded murderer. He hastened on with rapid strides. Once or twice he
stopped out of breath, and fancied he again heard the murderer stealing
after him. At last he hit against something hard, and discovered by
feeling that it was a large door of metal. He shook it with all his
might, but it appeared to be locked on the other side, and immoveable.
He thundered at it with his iron-shod heels, and each stroke rung
hollow through the vault. After the lapse of some time a little shutter
opened in the door, and the light of a dark lantern, and a swarthy
warrior-like visage, appeared. "Who is there? and from whom?" asked the
man-at-arms.

"No one, from no one," answered Aagé, suddenly calling to mind the
mysterious expression in the private letter.

"Right! thou knowest the watchword," was the answer; "and one
only?--without arms?"

"As thou seest--but open quick!--there is no time to lose."

"Come, give time! The guard must first know of it." The shutter closed
again, and Aagé heard the sound of a horn, which was answered at some
distance: soon after the iron door opened, and a strong-built
steel-clad warrior stepped out and advanced towards him into the
passage, with a light in the one hand and a drawn sword in the other.
He eyed the disguised Drost from head to foot, by the light of the
lantern, and started back a couple of paces. "Faugh! how thou look'st,
thou bloodhound!" he said, with disgust. "'Tis hard for an honest
fellow to let such guests in, when the king himself must stand
without."

"I have had a hard joust on the road, brave countryman." said Aagé;
"but haste thee!"

"Come, come; give time, thou scoundrel! The bandage over thy eyes
first."

"What! bandage! and foul words to me!"

"Of course, loggerhead! Thou mightest be a spy and traitor, as thou art
a bloodhound and accursed robber; thou lookest fit for all such trades.
The bandage over the eyes instantly, thou hound! or I kick thee back
into thy fox-hole."

It was with difficulty that Aagé subdued his ire, and recollected that
he was not Drost here, nor able to justify himself; he bore this rough
usage in silence, allowed his eyes to be bandaged, and was thus led
through the iron gate. He heard it bolted and barred after him. Soon
afterwards he heard the sound of chains and pullies, as if a drawbridge
was being lowered, and he perceived he was led upon a swinging bridge.

"Go straight forward, scoundrel! or thou fallest into the moat,"
muttered his companion close behind him. A cold shudder came over him;
but he was silent, and went straight onward.

"Ay, truly thou hast had better luck than I wished thee," it was
muttered behind him; "but thou hast another bridge to cross; that is
ten times worse; here thou art quit of _me_."

Aagé heard his warlike companion re-cross the bridge, which was
immediately afterwards raised. He conjectured that he was within the
outermost rampart of the castle, towards the north-west, which lay
between the sea-tower and the circular wall, for he had paid close
attention to the direction in which he had proceeded. He had now two
new companions, who were as little sparing as the former in
contemptuous expressions respecting his cut-throat appearance and
supposed marauding trade. Aagé suffered himself to be led onward by
them without answering a word to their threats and scoffs, which
secretly rejoiced him, as a token of their dispositions and honourable
feelings. At last a horn was again sounded; it was answered as before
at some distance. A drawbridge was again lowered, and Aagé perceived he
was directly under the castle wall; for he heard a noise above his head
like the moving of balista and other warlike machines. He felt an
unfriendly poke in the back, and stood as before on a rocking-bridge.

"Straight on, fellow, or thou fallest into the moat!" said a warning
voice behind him. "Goest thou a hair's breadth aside thou art a dead
man!" He commended his soul to God, and went on. His guides allowed him
to proceed alone for some time, and appeared to rejoice over his deadly
peril. Meanwhile, as he perceived the rocking under his feet had
ceased, he knew they had passed over the inner castle moat, and were
within the circular wall. At last he was led up a staircase; but the
bandage was not yet removed from his eyes. It was not till he had been
led in many circuitous directions, as if through a labyrinth of
passages and stairs, that he was freed from the bandage over his eyes,
and found himself in an apartment of the castle which was not unknown
to him, and where he was ordered to await the commandant.

It was still night. One of the men-at-arms who had last followed him
remained standing at the door with a lantern and a drawn sword, and
apparently watching him with fear and abhorrence.

"Who dost thou take me for?" asked Aagé.

"For one of the junker's secret emissaries," was the answer. "Surely,
good tidings thou bringest not, since thou comest pale and bloody from
the secret passage. Hark! now they are taking the burning stones from
the furnace. Kallundborg town will presently be in flames."

"The Lord forbid!" cried Aagé: "call the commandant instantly! I have
strict prohibition from the junker."

"Thou lookest not as if thou hadst," said the man, starting.--"I will
run then. Thou wilt do no mischief meanwhile?" The man hastily
departed, and took the lantern with him. Aagé looked out at the window,
and saw with alarm that burning stones were carried on gridirons across
the yard to the balista on the walls.

"Stop, fellows!" said a rough voice in the castle yard. "There is a
protest from the junker: not a shot must be fired as yet."

"A noble fellow at heart, after all!" said Aagé to himself, believing
he had heard the commandant's voice. The door opened soon afterwards; a
tall warrior, with a stern grave countenance, and armed from head to
foot, entered the apartment with a light in his hand. When he beheld
Aagé's blood-stained face and figure he retreated a step, and placed
the light on the table, while he hastily laid his hand on his large
battle sword. "What fellow art thou?" he asked, in a stern and rough
voice. "Doth the junker send pale corpses to plague me? Answer, fellow?
Who art thou? Tell me thy watchwords, or I cut thee down on the spot!"

"No one, from no one," answered Aagé; and the commandant took his hand
from the hilt of his sword.

"Speak, thou messenger of ill! If thou bringest me a prohibition from
the junker, it is, of course, against mercy and delay? Is the town to
burn? Is the Franciscan monastery first to be fired? There sleeps the
king to-night."

"The town is to be spared," answered Aagé. "The castle is to be opened
to the king at sunrise--the papers are to be given up, and the door of
the pit nailed fast."

"Dost thou rave, fellow?" cried the commandant, in amazement. "Darest
_thou_ speak what _I_ hardly dare think? Would the junker recall by thy
mouth that which he commanded me with his own, on pain of death? Who
then is to be punished for all that hath here been done, and stand in
the gap between us and the king's anger?"

"You should fly the king's as well as the junker's wrath, and carry
your secret and your knowledge of a weighty transaction with you into
exile."

"And stand branded a perjurer and traitor before all the world? No,
fellow! were that even the junker's command, I obey it not. What I have
sworn I must keep; but the responsibility is the junker's. I have sold
him my life--but my honour, as a warrior, is my own. Show me black and
white for what thou sayest, or I will cause thee to be hanged as a spy
and traitor!"

"Now, in the Lord's name!" said Aagé, as he suddenly threw off the
robber's cap and dress, and stood in his well-known knightly attire
before the commandant, "I cannot, I will not deceive a man of honour
like you. I am Drost Aagé; I announce to you the will of my liege and
sovereign, not that of the junker; you may now deal with me as you can
answer to God and your own conscience: but if the royal house and your
fatherland be dearer to you than your own pride and an imaginary
fealty, you will follow my counsel, and make the great sacrifice I ask
of you."

"Sir Drost!" answered the commandant, bowing with haughty coldness;
"you have ventured on a daring game. You are now my prisoner; how I
shall act depends not on me. Oaths and vows are more binding than man's
pleasure and man's will. I am an old-fashioned warrior, do you
see--Your subtle state policy and artificial virtues I understand
not--the law I acknowledge says, obey that which is commanded thee by
thy lawful superior, and let him who commanded it answer for the
consequences."

"But when you see the most destructive, the most fearful consequences
before your eyes; when your superior hath broken his oath of fealty,
and abused his rights----"

"That concerns not me. I keep steady to him to whom I swore allegiance;
but _he_ must answer for what is done here, be it good or evil."

"But when you swore an ungodly oath, and fealty to a rebel?"

"Then must I keep the oath I swore to him, though, by way of thanks, he
should cause me to be hung for it, or go to hell. There is no choice
here: had I even entered the devil's service, Sir Drost, I must endure
to the end, however fearful that end may be!"

"Your pride blinds your eyes to truth and justice, noble sir!"
exclaimed Aagé gazing on the tall steel-clad chieftain with a species
of admiration; "but hear me, I conjure you by the living Lord!"

"You must excuse me. Sir Drost!" interrupted the chief, with cold
calmness. "My time is short, I have perhaps not many hours to live; I
expect thanks neither from the king nor the junker, and perhaps but
little honour on this side the prison and the grave; but all things
according to order. You are now going to the tower, and I to the
battlement--to-morrow you perhaps will sit at the king's right hand,
while I lie on the wheel: but so long as we are at our posts, each must
do his duty, and, as I said, all things according to order." So saying,
he stamped on the floor, and three men-at-arms entered.

"Take this knight instantly to the prison tower"--ordered the
commandant, nodding to the two nearest him.

"And thou, Bent!" he said, addressing himself to the third, "let the
stones be heated again: it was a false protest--off with thee!"

The two men instantly seized Aagé, and led him towards a secret door,
which they opened in the wall. Aagé turned round once more, and called
to the chief, in the highest state of anxiety and alarm. "Think upon
your immortal soul, in what you do! remember, you should obey God
rather than sinful men." More he could not say, for the private door
was closed behind him.

The third man-at-arms still lingered, as if he expected the stern
command he had received would be recalled; but the imperturbable chief
glanced menacingly at him. "The stones are to be heated, I tell thee.
Art thou deaf, fellow? Off with thee! Obedience or death, while I
command here!"

The man-at-arms turned quickly round, and departed gloomy and silent
through the door, beside which he stood.

The commandant strode hastily once or twice up and down the floor, with
his hand upon his broad forehead. At last he stopped at a prie-dieu,
and bent his knee, while his eye rested on the open prayer book. "Ye
servants," he muttered, and folded his hands, "obey your masters
according to the flesh, in _all_ things;" he then rose, signed a cross
over his broad steel-clad breast, and went in silence and with hasty
steps out of the door.



                               CHAP. III.


It was near daybreak. The alarm and anxiety had ceased, with which the
inhabitants of Kallundborg had seen the night draw on. The peace and
stillness which had prevailed the whole night seemed to have lulled the
burghers, as well as the men-at-arms, into security. The lights were
extinguished in most of the houses. The men-at-arms nodded over the
expiring watch fires, and reposed on their mantles, in quiet groups,
while some paced up and down on guard, beside the piled-up lances. Even
the gay and vigilant Count Henrik was weary of the strained attention
which he now deemed unnecessary: he had sat down to rest, under an
image of the Madonna, without the Franciscan monastery, where a light
was always burning. He had lately inspected the sentries, and found
every thing in good order. He felt wearied, but kept off sleep, and his
eyes open, while his gaze dwelt on the waning and half-hidden stars.
His soul dreamed of warlike honours and proud victories, by the side of
the Danish monarch, and of the admiration of the ladies of Mecklenborg
when he should return with merited laurels and tokens of royal favour
to his fatherland. While engaged in these reveries, which led him
through half a life in a few minutes, he was suddenly disturbed by the
working of the balista, and a fearful alarm of fire from the monastery.
He started up, and beheld, with dismay, that burning stones were flying
from the loopholes and walls of the castle, in different directions,
and a high flame shot up from the storehouse of the monastery. In an
instant he was actively exerting himself in the rescue of the town and
monastery. Engines for extinguishing the flames were every where at
hand. There was a fearful tumult in the town; but the alarm was however
greater than the misfortune seemed likely to prove. Some single houses,
it is true, were fired; but the greater part were protected by the
snow, although the roofs were of straw. Many glowing stones from the
balista missed their mark, many cooled ere they fell. The storehouse of
the monastery instantly caught fire: it was necessary to sacrifice it,
and partly to pull it down; but not a single stone fell on the
principal building, nor on the guest-house, where the king had
established himself.

Meanwhile the king was instantly astir; none were more zealous and
active than he and Count Henrik; they rode constantly through the
streets, and were always first on the spot where any house was fired.

The king was highly exasperated--he often cast a glance of menace at
the castle. He halted without the burning monastery, by the count's
side, just as another discharge from the balista took place, and a
large burning stone fell down between their horses, and rolled hissing
into the snow.

"My liege!" exclaimed Count Henrik, "the burghers may put out the
flames, but we can do more; let us sally forth and storm instantly."

"Not yet," answered the king, shaking his head. "Look," he continued,
pointing to the flame-lit copper roof of the principal building of the
monastery; "when the sun stands highest, and the tower shadow falls
yonder, then will it be time; then will my patience have reached its
limits--its uttermost bounds."

As soon as it was daylight the firing from the balista through the
loopholes, ceased; but the parapets upon the outer wall were observed
to be filled with men-at-arms. The towers of the wall were also
perceived to be strongly garrisoned, and a numerous array of lances and
battle-axes glittered over the battlements in the grey dawn of morning.
The wall before the gate in particular was strongly manned, as well as
the tower above the gate, where they seemed most to apprehend an
attack. The great iron portcullis between the gate and the outward wall
was drawn up by strong iron rings. There was great alarm and tumult at
the castle and its garrison: a desperate storm and revenge for the
night's disturbance was apparently apprehended. The fire meanwhile had
been put out, as well in the monastery as in the town. The pious
Franciscans rang to mattins, as usual, and the king did not neglect to
share in their devotion.

"But--what is become of Aagé?--Where is the Drost?" he asked Count
Henrik, as he again vaulted on his horse, without the church of the
monastery, in order to inspect the hastily prepared storming machines
with his general. "I saw him not the whole night, nor even just
now at mattins; it is not his wont, however, to sleep when I watch or
pray--least of all when danger is impending."

"I have not seen him since midnight," answered Count Henrik,
endeavouring to hide his embarrassment and uneasiness; "After our
adventure beside the sea-tower, I saw him last by yonder watch-fire,"
added the count, assuming a gay air. "It was a fine night; all around
was so still and peaceful. He must have got love fancies or some kind
of visionary notions into his head. He went towards the tower, without
desiring my company, and bade me not expect him before noon."

"Strange!" said the king, "Aagé upon a light love adventure, and at
this time! It cannot be. Humph! what became of the spy you captured?
Hath he been examined? Hath he confessed?"

"He hath disappeared, my liege! 'tis a strange and almost
incomprehensible tale. I was myself at the sea-tower, two hours after
midnight, the man-at-arms was dead, but the devil had carried off his
murderer: that, they swore roundly, was the fact. He had lain bound in
the corpse-chamber of the drowned; no egress was possible; at midnight
he was heard to cry and howl, that the devil was carrying him off. No
one dared to enter the chamber, and when I came neither robber or Drost
was to be seen."

"How! the Drost!" interrupted the king; "what hath all this to do with
Aagé? He lay not in the chamber with the murderer."

"True--excuse me, your grace," answered Count Henrik, clearing
his throat. "I speak at random, I perceive: that comes from the
night-watch."

"Truly, count! we must be broad awake to-day, especially since Aagé is
not here," answered the king hastily, and rode down towards the tower.
"I will find out what is meant by that devil's story."

Count Henrik followed the king. The report of the disappearance of the
bound murderer, had already collected a crowd of curious persons, who
crossed themselves on hearing the terrific tale, which they repeated
one to another, with still more marvellous and more terrible
circumstances. Place was respectfully made for the king, who heard with
wonder from the guard the same tale as that current in the crowd, with
the alarming addition, that the Drost had entered at midnight into the
chamber of the raving murderer, and that all traces of him had likewise
disappeared. Various opinions were however entertained of the affair,
and some thought it was not the Drost, but the devil, who, in the
Drost's form, had entered the chamber of the dying murderer, to carry
him off in person.

"Tush!" said the king, "lead me to that accursed corpse-chamber! There
must be some trick in this." He hastily entered the murky stone
chamber, and looked around it on all sides with anxious attention.
There was no furniture except the bench appropriated to the bodies of
the drowned, which was streaked with blood, and on which hung some rent
and half-decayed rope. From the high iron grating in the wall, which
was hardly large enough to admit a sparrow, fell a faint light, which
glimmered on a plumed hat lying in a corner. "What see I here?"
exclaimed the king in astonishment. "The Drost's hat and plume;
and there is his green mantle also. Plundered, murdered, great
God!--Yet no! a robber would surely have made off with the booty. The
captured murderer was certainly sorely wounded?"

"To the death of the body, most gracious liege, according to the
surgeon's opinion," answered an aged monk, who, with a curious crowd of
the lower class, had thronged together with the men-at-arms, into the
tower after the king. "Ah, yes," continued the solemn Franciscan, in a
tone of devout exhortation, "it was a fearful end. Here we see
manifestly how the ungodly are punished. This blood crieth not unto
heaven, like the innocent Abel's, but it crieth unto hardened sinners
upon earth, from the road to the bottomless pit, that they may behold
the traces of the damned with fear and trembling. My pious hearers, men
may now-a-days delay _temporal_ death, by means of surgeons and
apothecaries, with St. Cosmo's and St. Damian's help; but _eternal_
death they never can: when the term is out, lo! then cometh he who hath
the bond, and fetches that which is his own, without respect of
persons. Here hath been given a sign, to the terror and warning of many
in our ungodly time: Sancta Maria! ora pronobis!"

"It is thou then, monk, who puttest those vagaries into the people's
head?" interrupted the king at last, with impetuous impatience.
"Believest thou, in truth, that the Evil One hath carried off yon
murderer, both body and soul?"

"St. Franciscus preserve me from doubting it!" answered the monk,
crossing himself. "He who can carry off the souls of the ungodly can
doubtless annihilate their sinful bodies. Lo! he hath but left these
blood-drops behind, as a witness of the power which is given him, and
also, though _he_ willed it not, to the honour of the all-righteous
Judge. The truth is so manifest in our sight, it were blindness and
heretical presumption to doubt."

"And, my Drost, my faithful Aagé, believest thou the same of him?"

"Be not wroth, my liege?" answered the Franciscan with frankness, and
laying his meagre hand on his breast, "my conscience forbids me to
witness falsely on the brink of the grave, to please or flatter the
great and mighty, or to conceal the wondrous things which have taken
place in our sight, for the conversion of hardened sinners, with fear
and trembling. The noble Drost hath also disappeared in an
incomprehensible manner, and seeing that we know he had fallen under
the awful ban of the church, and was given over by our most venerable
archbishop to the destruction of the flesh, and the power of the great
enemy of souls!"

"Silence, presumptuous monk! thou knowest not what thou sayest!"
exclaimed the king, in the greatest wrath, darting a lightning glance
at the pale trembling monk; "let the prince of darkness take that which
is his! I will not quarrel either with him or thee for that; but this I
know, no devil shall injure a hair of my faithful Drost Aagé's head,
whether he be dead or alive. There must have been a murder here, a foul
misdeed," he continued, "a shameless treachery. So help me God, and all
the holy men, it shall be discovered, and sternly avenged! Hence, monk!
hie thee to thy cell, and pray the Lord to enlighten thy understanding.
Thy intentions are good--it were sin to be wroth with thee. Go hence,
good people; ye stand in our way. Hither, my true men; the floor must
be broken up; the tower must be pulled down. If the Drost be not found,
one stone shall not remain upon another."

At the king's stern command the monk and all the idle spectators
departed. The spearmen came with spears and boat-hooks, and whatever
was at hand, and began to break up the stone floor. It was not long ere
they discovered the loose stone in the corner by the little iron
trap-door, which was hardly discernible in the faint glimmer of
daylight from the grating. "Look, look!" was the cry; "a trap-door! a
pitfall!"

"Ha! the murderer's pit! Here we have it!" exclaimed the king. "Torches
here, quick! I will go below, myself.

"Let that be my business, my liege," said Count Henrik. "Here is
assuredly the secret entrance to the castle," he added in a low voice;
"perhaps it might be used for our attack."

"No, Count! a king's path lies not through a fox's den"--interrupted
the king, proudly: "bring me but my faithful Aagé!"

Torches were quickly brought, and the passage was searched. The king
however suffered himself to be withheld from descending. Count Henrik
hasted forward with eagerness and curiosity, holding a torch in his
hand, and accompanied by three men-at-arms. The torches were often
nearly extinguished by the subterranean air; they found however and
recognised the robber's body, which was immediately borne off by two of
the men, while Count Henrik and the third pursued the search. At last
they reached the great iron gate, which they vainly attempted to burst
open. Within, the sounding of horns and the clash of numerous weapons
were heard, and Count Henrik considered it advisable to hasten back.

The king had meanwhile obtained information of every circumstance
respecting the Drost's nocturnal visit to the tower, and was in some
degree tranquillised by the sight of the robber's body, when Count
Henrik returned and acquainted him with what he had discovered. "The
daring Drost is assuredly alive, if not quite in safety, my liege,"
said the Count, as he ascended from the secret passage, quite spent and
breathless. "As the murderer was found dead and alone, he cannot have
mastered the brave Drost; but it is plain they have had a hard struggle
together. Here is the Drost's sword; it was found close to the body.
There is actually a secret passage to the castle; but it is strongly
guarded, and we were near falling into the enemy's hand."

"Well, now we know where Aagé is," said the king; "he meant well; but
'tis an arch trick he hath played us. Ere the sun goes down he shall be
free, by God's assistance," he added. "Woe to the traitors, should they
injure a hair of his head!"

The king left the tower, and the preparations for storming were
continued with increased zeal.

Towards noon the king, mounted on his white steed, stationed himself
without the eastern rampart of the castle: he was stern and silent. He
often looked with uneasy expectation and rising indignation towards the
gate of the town, where, in a few moments, his brother the junker would
appear, did he purpose taking any measures to effect a reconciliation.
Some horsemen, who were placed on the look-out on the hill by St.
George's hospital, returned at the time appointed, at full gallop, and
announced that the expected party was not to be seen on the road.

"Now then, in the name of the righteous God," exclaimed the king in a
low voice, but greatly incensed, "I have no longer a brother; the
measure is full--Let them sound to storm, Count Henrik; let the
trumpets thunder forth my wrath!"

Hardly was the command uttered ere the trumpets sounded to storm. The
sun stood highest in the heaven, and the tower shadow fell upon the
roof of the monastery. The whole force was instantly in activity. The
attack was made according to the plan concerted with the Drost, from
three sides at once; but on two sides feignedly, in order to mislead
the enemy, while the principal assault, in which the whole force of the
troop combined by degrees, was directed against the eastern wall, by
the tower gate.

The outermost drawbridge was speedily pulled down by the boat-hooks of
the brave boatmen and seamen. With the aid of all the fire ladders
belonging to the town, the outer wall was quickly mounted. No leader
was here present, and the junker's Zealand peasants, as well as the
Samsöers, fought unwillingly against their countrymen. A brave
resistance was indeed made against the German Count Henrik, but
wherever the king himself appeared, the weapons dropped from the hands
of the Danish defenders of the wall, while they fell at his feet and
implored mercy. The outer wall came thus speedily into the power of the
king, who was himself one of the first who mounted it; but the most
vigorous defence was made from the tower, over the fortified gate.
Within was heard a powerful voice of command, and from the loopholes
and battlements rained a thick shower of stones and javelins. Count
Henrik saw the danger, and hastened to form a roof of shields for the
king's protection, while it was vainly attempted to tear down the great
portcullis which served as a sort of raised iron drawbridge over the
moat, between the outer wall and the gate.

"Fire the gate!" commanded the king, with wrathful impetuosity.

"Fire! fire, here!" was echoed from mouth to mouth, and crowds soon
flocked from the town, with torches of pitch, with fire and splintered
tar-barrels, which they threw in over the portcullis. The gate and the
tower were soon shrouded in smoke and flame, amid the shouts of the
besiegers.



                               CHAP. IV.


During this eager and hazardous attack, on the eastern side of the
castle, the captive Drost Aagé stood before the iron-grated loophole in
the square upper tower, which rose from the middle of the principal
western wing of the castle. Far below, perpendicularly from the prison
grating, the great wooden staircase projected into the castle court,
from which, through a balcony, was the entrance into the vestibule of
the upper story. The prison tower was separated from the besieged gate
by the two principal wings to the north and south of the circular
court, by the ladies' apartment, and the knights' hall. From his high
prison grating Aagé was thus enabled to witness the combat and
strenuous efforts, as well of the assailants as of the besieged. He had
succeeded in climbing up into the recess in the wall within the
grating, whence he looked out with steadfast gaze and throbbing heart
over the castle yard towards the tower gate. Here he knew the principal
attack was to be made. He had for some time heard the din of the fight,
and perceived how all the forces combined to assault and defend this
one point. He now beheld the dense pillar of smoke rising without the
gate, and observed at the same time, through the loopholes of the
tower, that the garrison were putting their largest machines of defence
in motion in order to crush the besiegers with stones and beams, ere
they could succeed in firing the gate. "Must I stand passive here,
while the king is in battle and danger?" exclaimed Aagé, as he shook
the iron gate in wrath. He had nearly fallen down backwards into his
prison, as a fragment of the ancient wall loosened and fell in before
him, together with a part of the grating. "A hint!" he exclaimed in
surprise; "thanks be to thee, my good angel! thou art, then, more
powerful than the Evil One." He instantly conceived the design of
availing himself of this accident to make a venturous flight from the
tower, in the hope of hastening to the assistance of the besiegers, and
perhaps of opening the gate to them. He bound his shoulder scarf to
that part of the grating which remained firm, and made preparations for
letting himself down to a lower shelf of the tower wall; but at this
moment he heard a voice, which constrained him to draw back, and filled
him with dismay. He had leaned his head against a pillar of the tower,
which being raised the whole height of the building conducted the sound
to his ear from an unfathomable depth. Directly under him, where the
high wooden staircase projected, was a deep vault with a well,
concealed under the uppermost landing, which led through the balcony to
the great vestibule of the castle. This vault, with its deep well, was,
in cases of emergency, the last defence of the castle, and might prove
a frightful grave for every besieger who was not aware of the
contrivance, as in the landing of the stairs was a concealed trap-door,
which could suddenly be let down from within to plunge the entering foe
and the supposed victor into the abyss. This contrivance for the
defence of the castle had been recently planned by the junker: neither
the king nor the Drost knew of it; and as a secret and extreme defence,
it had even been kept concealed from most of the inmates of the castle.
The existence of such a stratagem had been already suspected by Aagé,
from the contents of the private letter he had seized and destroyed;
but the distant voice which reached his ear from beneath now flashed
conviction like lightning across his mind.

"There shalt thou stand!" sounded the stern voice of the commandant, in
a low and hollow tone. "If the gate falls, and they throng in hither,
then mark--the moment thou hearest a footstep on the stair, let down
the door!"

A faint voice replied; but Aagé heard not the answer.

"Whatever blood flows here comes on the junker's head!" said the
commandant's voice again; "he must answer for it here and yonder--We
are but the instruments of death in his hand--Enquire not! think not!
be silent and obey or thou art perjured and damned eternally!"

Aagé stood as if petrified with terror: from some single words which
were added, the whole fearful contrivance became clear to him: even the
voice of the stern chief appeared to him to tremble while issuing the
terrible mandate.

All was again hushed in the hidden abyss, while the clash of arms and
the din of battle at the castle gate increased, and overpowered every
other sound. A high flame presently shot up through the pillar of smoke
above the gate, and a shout of dismay was heard from the burning tower,
the defenders of which were now forced to fly to escape perishing in
the flames. Without resounded the victorious shouts of the besiegers,
while the rattling of iron chains, and a hollow clanging noise
announced that the outer portcullis between the wall and the gate was
pulled down; to this a still louder crash succeeded; the besiegers
burst the burning gate.

An overwhelming dread seized the listening captive: almost without
knowing on what he was about to venture, he swung himself out of the
loosened prison grating, and let himself down by his shoulder scarf so
low towards the tower wall that he was able to take his stand on a
projecting buttress; but hardly had he succeeded in doing this, ere
another fragment of the prison wall loosened, together with the iron
grating to which his scarf was bound; it flew past his head and dashed
against the iron railing of the balcony below, where his scarf remained
hanging. He himself lost his balance, and was forced to let go his
hold; but he snatched involuntarily, as if with the instinct of
self-preservation, at the projecting buttress on which his foot had
just rested, and thus continued to cling, while he succeeded in resting
one foot on the corner of the sloping porch above the staircase
entrance. He stood thus directly over the stair, yet still at such a
height above it as to involve the certainty of sustaining a serious
injury in case of falling. He had ascertained that the trap-door of the
well was immediately under his feet, and that the first footstep upon
it would be the signal for its falling, and opening its deep and
certain grave. It was hardly possible for Aagé to continue his hold
long in this hanging position. Amid the universal tumult no one
perceived him. He now heard the crash caused by the bursting of the
gates, and the victorious shout, "The castle is won! Long live young
king Eric!" The king had already entered the castle as a victor through
the flaming gate. Aagé could not turn his head round and look down into
the yard without losing his balance; but he heard, and instantly
recognised the king's and Count Henrik's voices far below him.

"Beware, my liege! here is a pitfall!" he shouted with all his might;
but his voice was too faint; he was exhausted by his desperate
exertions, and no one appeared to hear him amid the universal clashing
of weapons, and the noisy shouts of victory. He was, besides, hidden by
the pillar of the tower from those who were nearest to the upper story
of the building. "Farewell, sweet Margaretha! farewell, love and life!"
he gasped; "I must below." His fall and death, at this moment, appeared
to be the only means of saving the king's life. "Long live my king!" he
shouted, and let go his hold of the buttress. All seemed to grow dark
before him; he fancied he was falling an unfathomable depth; but beyond
this he was unconscious of what was passing around him.

"Aagé, Aagé's voice!" cried the king, who, excited by the fight and the
storm, stood at the head of his victorious troop of knights at the foot
of the high wooden staircase. He had heard Aagé's voice, but where he
knew not; some of the furthest men-at-arms had seen him fall down from
the porch on the landing of the stairs, but the general noise and
tumult overpowered their shouts of alarm. The king had already set his
foot on the first step of the stair.

"Back, my liege! treachery!" shouted Count Henrik suddenly. "Yonder
hangs the Drost's shoulder scarf; there is certainly a pitfall here."

The long red scarf hung just above their heads from the iron railing of
the balcony.

"As I live, my faithful Aagé; I heard him bemoan himself above there,"
said the king eagerly, without heeding the warning, and hastened up the
stair; but Count Henrik rushed after him and seized his arm ere he
reached the uppermost landing. They both stopped as in amazement, and
at the same moment uttered a cry of horror on seeing the unhappy Drost
lie deadly pale and bleeding at the top of the staircase.

"Dead! dead!" cried the king, and was hastening up to him; but Count
Henrik still detained him, while he himself sprang forward, and tramped
on every step of the hollow stair. Aagé opened his eyes, and recognised
the king. "Back from the grave, my liege!" he called with a faint
voice, as he rolled himself forward to the king's feet, and clasped his
knees. "Aagé! great Heavens! what is this?" exclaimed the king, and
raised him in his arms. At the same instant the door of the hall of the
upper story opened, and a tall, steel-clad knight, disarmed, and with
an uncovered and hoary head, stepped across the balcony, and took his
stand on the uppermost landing of the stair. "You stand beside a grave,
King Eric!" he said in a terrific voice; "I had prepared it for you;
but a higher power presides here; now shall it open, and swallow me up
before your eyes." He stamped with all his might on the rocking and
creaking trap-door under his feet. "Ha! why tarriest thou, slave?" he
shouted in a voice of thunder. "Away with the bolt; draw it quick."

"No, no, in the name of a merciful Heaven!" said a beseeching voice
from the castle cellar far beneath him; "I cannot; I would sooner be
perjured and eternally damned."

"What is all this?" asked the king in the greatest amazement. "Doth
that man rave? Who is he?"

"The commandant of the castle, my liege," answered Count Henrik, who
stood with his drawn sword before the king, and with the one foot on
the trap-door.

"Bind that madman," commanded the king to the knights nearest him,
without withdrawing his gaze from the signs of returning life in Aagé's
face. He bore him himself in his arms, with Count Henrik's assistance,
over the creaking trap-door, and over the balcony, into the upper hall.
As soon as Count Henrik had seen the Drost and the king in safety he
hastened back to the shouting men-at-arms, to secure and guard all the
entrances, and prevent any disorder from the disarming of the garrison.
It was not till the king saw that Aagé's consciousness was returning,
and that his limbs, however bruised, still were not seriously injured,
that he looked towards the knights who surrounded him, and assisted in
tending the Drost. At the door of the antechamber stood the tall
commandant of the castle, with his arms tied behind his back, between
two halberdiers; he gazed before him, mute and pale, as a marble
statue. "Had I _such_ a master to die for!" he muttered in a deep and
hardly audible voice, and a tear rolled down between the furrows of the
aged warrior's haughty and unmoved countenance.

Count Henrik soon re-entered the hall with hasty steps. "My liege," he
said aloud, "the margrave is without the gate; the highborn junker is
with him. They entreat your grace to withhold your stern sentence and
wrath, and hear what the prince hath to say in his defence."

"Let him step hither instantly," commanded the king, and the sternness
of his countenance seemed mingled with profound sorrow. "The hour of
judgment is come," he added; "but I condemn no one unheard."

Count Henrik bowed in silence and departed. A deathlike stillness
prevailed in the chamber. Drost Aagé reposed, pale and bleeding, on a
bench, with his head leaning on the king's breast, and appeared as yet
not to have fully recovered his consciousness after his shattering and
stunning fall. His temples had been chafed with wine; at a signal from
the king he was carried into the ladies' apartment, that he might
repose in quiet, and be more carefully tended. As he was borne off the
king pressed his feeble hand, and looked on him with affection and
sadness. Aagé gazed fixedly and anxiously upon the king. "Remember you
are to pass sentence on a brother," he whispered in a faint voice. He
would have said more, but the king motioned to him to be silent, and
turned from him as he hastily passed his hand over his high and glowing
forehead.

A deep stillness once more prevailed around. The king's knights had
ranged themselves in solemn silence at his side: they yet stood with
their drawn swords in their hands, and the halberdiers were stationed
with their long spears by the door guarding the gloomy chief, who
looked like one petrified. Footsteps were soon heard on the hollow
stair, where the trap-door had already been secured. Count Henrik
opened the door, and remained standing on the balcony. He bowed coldly
as Junker Christopher and the Margrave of Brandenborg entered,
followed by their knightly train. The margrave's wonted gaiety and
light-heartedness had vanished. He seemed exhausted from violent
exertion, and in an anxious and uneasy mood. When the tall Junker
Christopher uncovered his black locks, which floated wild and tangled
around his shoulders, and advanced towards the king, his feet appeared
to totter, while, however, there was a cold and forced smile on his
long, large-featured visage.

"My royal brother hath visited me in a peculiar fashion," he said in a
tone of bitterness, as he greeted Eric with a stiff and formal bow. "I
lament that I was not informed of your gracious visit, that I might
have received my royal liege in a fitting manner, and have prevented
the senseless acts of my vassals as well as the deeds of violence, of
which I perceive traces here."

"I am wont, even when unannounced, to find the castles of my vassals
and servants open as well to my ambassadors as to me," answered the
king with stern vehemence. "The contumacy I have here met with is high
treason; the gate of a fortress hath been shut against me in my own
kingdom: where this happens, fief and goods are forfeited, be the
criminal who he may! I perceive, also, that my life has been basely and
treacherously sought after: it is a Judas act and miscreant deed; it
stirs up my inmost soul;" he continued in a voice of emotion, and with
a doubtful glance at the prince's sullen countenance. "It is bitter and
dreadful to me to think that my own brother could have shared these
crimes--So, however, it seems to mortal eyes; but if ye can justify
yourself, Prince Christopher of Denmark, speak! and with a single word
remove from my heart the heaviest weight that ever oppressed it! Are
you guilty or not?"

"Who accuses me?" exclaimed the junker haughtily, and with vehemence.
"Who dares to mark me out for contumacy and treason? Where is my
accuser? Where is my commandant? His is the responsibility for what
hath happened. Where is he?"

"Here!" said a powerful and hollow voice from the door of the apartment
close behind him. It seemed as though the prince shrunk at the sound,
while he turned and gazed on the aged warrior with a wild and haggard
look.

"Crush me, if you will, Prince Christopher," continued the chief; "I am
prepared for death; my life is yours, but not my honour--Here stands
your aged loyal servant, the only one who was true to you here at the
castle. Therefore do I now stand bound as a miscreant and traitor; but
I swear by the most high God, in the sight of the king and of Danish
chivalry, I have but fulfilled my duty--I obeyed the command of that
master to whom I swore fealty and obedience. No one can serve two
masters; every one must account to his own. I have mine; but that he
commanded, he must himself answer for."

"Dost thou rave?" shouted the prince, foaming with rage. "Did I order
thee to defend the castle against other than my foes?"

"True, sir junker! against your foes," repeated the warrior, "whether
they were great or small, whether they wore helmet or crown--that was
your stern behest; and if you named not the king, assuredly it was him
you meant, so help me St. George and the merciful God, in my last
hour!"

"Liar! calumniator! mad, presumptuous rebel and traitor!" shouted the
prince, as if in a transport of rage, and rushing menacingly towards
the bound commandant. "Darest thou thus to pervert my commands? Wouldst
thou read in my soul, and make my thoughts traitors to my king? Nay,
now I see it; I penetrate thy plan, traitor! Thou wouldst set strife
and enmity between me and my royal brother! thou wouldst waken
rebellion and civil war in the country--thou art a kinsman of Marsk
Stig; thou art a secret friend of the outlawed regicides."

The king started and gazed on the prisoner with a searching look; the
proud chief seemed to have lost his self-possession; he stared upon the
junker with fixed and strained eyes, but no word passed his lips.

"See you, my liege, the traitor is struck dumb;" continued the junker,
turning once more with a look of proud triumph to the prisoner. "Canst
thou deny the traitor's blood in thy veins, wretch? Canst thou deny
thou art a friend of the outlaws?"

"I am proud of my birth," said the commandant, regaining his
self-possession by a desperate effort. "My unfortunate friends I disown
not either, even though they be outlawed and accursed in this world;
but the charge you ground thereon, I deny and despise."

"Take him to the prison tower, my men!" called the junker hastily in a
proud authoritative tone; "I am his master and judge, by the laws of
the country. The crime he would roll on his master's head, shall
assuredly fall on his own, and crush him."

Some knights of the prince's train had already approached the prisoner
to lead him away; but they lingered, and cast a timid and inquiring
look at the king.

"Haste not!" ordered the king with vehemence; "so long as I am present
myself, no one commands beside me."

The junker's knights drew back respectfully at these words. The captive
had raised his eyes towards the ceiling of the apartment, and seemed to
be internally preparing himself for death.

"You deny, then, all participation in what here hath happened. Junker
Christopher?" continued the king in a thoughtful and gloomy mood, while
his searching gaze still dwelt on the wild and passionate countenance
of the junker. "I ask you not to swear by your salvation--With a
brother's salvation I would not even redeem my crown or life; but I
demand your knightly and princely word, in confirmation of your
testimony. This chief's birth, and his friendship for my deadly foes, I
ask not of: it is now question of the present rebellious and traitorous
transaction. Can you confidently affirm, on your knightly and princely
word, that your commandant hath in this matter acted according to his
own arbitration, and against your order?"

"Yes, by my knightly and princely honour!" cried the prince with a
glowing and fierce countenance, and bit his lips in wrath.

"Those words you will repent at the last judgment day, junker!" said
the commandant in his ear with a deep and hollow voice, as if from the
grave, and gazing on him with a deathlike stare.

"Silence, mad liar!" interrupted the junker. "I will show you, my royal
brother and liege," he continued in a raised voice, and turned from the
thunder-stricken captive, "I will show you that I can maintain
discipline in my castle--none shall go unpunished, who have dared to
insult you in my name, and abuse the power you have entrusted to me by
contumacy and treason--I demand instant justice and sentence on this
criminal, according to the jurisdiction of the castle and law of the
land."

"I cannot deny you the power of judging and passing sentence upon your
servants." answered the king. "Whatever may have been your commandant's
transgression, he must answer for it! He shall instantly be brought
before the castle tribunal, and be sentenced according to law; but if
he be pronounced guilty in the absence of proof, and from the want of
explanations, which can be known to none but yourself, it shall be left
to you to award the sentence. Junker Christopher! if your conscience
can answer for it before God and men!"

"Well, then! he is doomed; he shall assuredly lie on the wheel ere the
sun rise again," muttered the junker: "you have heard the king's
command: obey! take the captive to the justice court!" He addressed
these words with an authoritative air to his knights, and they
instantly led off the prisoner, who cast a proud and contemptuous look
at his master, and pointed menacingly towards heaven.

The king had thrown himself into a chair, thoughtful and silent, with
his hand before his brow; a severe conflict seemed passing in his
inmost soul. He now rose up suddenly, and cast a stern and penetrating
glance at his brother: "Pass sentence, and execute it on thy servant
in my name, as thou wouldst be judged thyself in the sight of the
all-knowing and righteous God!" he said in a low tone of admonition. "I
invest thee, also, with my highest prerogative--that of mercy. If he
_be_ mad--if his blood can be spared, without breach of law--by
all the holy men! I ask it not in pledge of the truth of thy
declaration. The word of honour of a knight and prince needs no bloody
confirmation--There is my hand, brother Christopher," he added, and his
voice trembled; "I will believe thee, whether thy servant be found
innocent or guilty." The junker gave Eric his hand, in gloomy silence,
and with an averted countenance; there was, for a moment, a general and
anxious silence.

"Let the musicians strike up. Sir Junker! now there is surely peace and
good understanding again, my royal friends!" said Margrave Waldemar,
hastily breaking silence, in his gay, volatile tone; "it rejoiceth me
that I have contributed towards it, even though I have foundered my
best horse in the cause: now we will forget the whole vexatious
affair, and let the junker's good wine wash away all remains of
misunderstanding."

"You are right, Waldemar!" exclaimed Junker Christopher, with a gay
mien, and looked boldly round the hall; "I ought not to forget I am
host here, although my honoured guests have taken me somewhat by
surprise." He then opened the door himself into the knights' hall, and
besought the king to enter: he himself followed with the Margrave,
Count Henrik, and the whole numerous train of knights.

The king continued silent and thoughtful. He seemed to put a restraint
on himself to conceal his mistrust of his brother. Margrave Waldemar
was evidently desirous to cheer the king, and place the intercourse
between the brothers on a more easy footing. The quarrel as yet was
only but slightly accommodated; but Junker Christopher seemed carefully
to shun all closer explanation; he merely ventured on a passing comment
on the beleaguering of Holbek castle by the Drost, as if it was but a
rumour which he had heard, and as if he trusted, at all events, it was
only a precipitate act of the Drost and a misunderstanding of the will
of his royal brother. He evaded the grave answer which hovered on the
king's lips, and employed himself zealously and courteously in
attending to the wants of his guests. The door of the large dining hall
was presently thrown open, where a table of refreshments always stood
ready for the junker and his followers, when they were on a visit at
the castle. From the gallery, in the great hall above, sounded the
joyous tones of hunting horns and trumpets, and Kallundborg castle,
which lately rung with the clash of weapons and din of war, soon
re-echoed with the ringing of goblets and the mirth of festivity.

It was nearly evening ere the royal party were assembled at table. As
soon as the junker had seated his guests, and a lively and easy
conversation had in some degree commenced, he departed, with a hasty
excuse, and remained absent above half an hour. He returned gloomy and
pale, but appeared afterwards in high spirits, excited by the wine and
the company at table. To the king's inquiry as to what had so long
deprived his guests of his company, he answered in a low tone, "I have
been attending the court of justice, my liege! I would not let the
judges wait for my explanation; matters of life and death it is ever
best to get out of hand, ere we come to the drinking table."

The king became again silent and thoughtful, but the junker frequently
drained his goblet, and Margrave Waldemar sought, by many a merry jest,
to disperse the dark thoughts which frequently seemed to disturb the
festivities in honour of a reconciliation; which, however, appeared
rather to be forced than the effect of mutual good understanding.

The king purposed not to pass the night it the castle, where he had met
with such hostile reception; but as it grew dark and late it was
difficult for him to reject his brother's repeated invitation, without
again betraying a distrust he wished he could wholly drive from his
mind. As the junker at last, with a cheerful air, once more earnestly
urged his invitation, while he drained the last goblets of wine with
the king, to a speedy and happy union with the lovely Princess
Ingeborg, and to a brotherly understanding, the cloud on Eric's brow
vanished, and the last remains of mistrust seemed to be banished from
his kindly heart. He pressed his brother's hand warmly, and drained his
cup to the bottom: "Well, Christopher! I remain," he continued, in a
confidential tone and half aside. "All shall be forgotten as in old
times, when the good Drost Peter settled our childish disputes, and our
mother Agnes joined our hands together." The king now appeared
perfectly happy and satisfied; Christopher often laughed loudly. This
cheerful tone soon pervaded the whole assemblage.

After the repast the king seated himself with his brother at a
backgammon board; he only shook the dice, however, while he ordered the
state of his faithful Aagé to be inquired into, and waited in vain for
a word of frankness and confidence from Christopher. The junker was
especially courteous and attentive, but he still seemed desirous, by
indifferent talk, to ward off all approaches to serious conversation.
At this moment an officer of justice entered, and put a sheet of
parchment into his hand: he became suddenly silent, and changed colour.
The attendant hastily departed.

"What was that? my brother!" asked the king. "The death doom of my
presumptuous servant, according to the verdict of the court of justice
of this castle, and to the law of the land," answered the junker,
without looking at him; "will you confirm it? Upon life and death you
yourself determine?"

"As the friend and kinsman of the outlaws, he was doubtless my foe; but
how guilty he is thou must know best," answered the king, with stern
solemnity; "thou hast my authority for it: in my name to confirm the
doom, or to pardon, as justice or moderation prompt thee. None save
thou and the all-seeing God can know with certainty whether thy command
could have been thus misinterpreted--If there be the least doubt,
then----"

"No, there is no doubt here," exclaimed the junker impetuously, with a
dark and gloomy countenance, and a wild and frightful glance, as he
rose from the backgammon table, and departed with hasty strides.

The king looked long after him, with a serious and thoughtful gaze. He
started up suddenly once or twice, and put his hand to his brow. "No!"
he said, "it is impossible--I have his knightly and princely word of
honour." The margrave now approached gaily and courteously, and took
the vacant seat near the king at the table, where he soon succeeded in
introducing a lively and amusing conversation.



                                CHAP. V.


The Drost had been brought from the ladies' apartment to a remote and
quiet chamber, in the knights' story. Although he had sustained no
serious injury in his heavy fall, he was, however, shattered in every
limb, and unable to move. After a restorative bath, he had been carried
to his couch and had fallen asleep; but the harrowing anxiety which he
had endured so agitated his mind that it was impossible for him to
sleep soundly. At one time he dreamed he was wrestling with corpses in
dark graves, at another that he hovered over unfathomable abysses; but
the idea of the king's danger, and the pitfall under the staircase,
seemed to work most powerfully upon his imagination, and he frequently
exclaimed in his disturbed slumber, "Beware, my liege! Now opens the
grave under thy feet. Believe him not, believe him not, he is a
traitor!"

It was late in the evening. A lamp burned on the table in Aagé's
chamber, and an aged, withered crone sat by his bed, muttering
constantly to herself with toothless gums and shaking head. The door
presently opened, and the king entered the darkened chamber,
accompanied by Count Henrik and Junker Christopher. The nurse instantly
withdrew, half in alarm, and with oft-repeated curtsey, without,
however, allowing herself to be interrupted in her mutterings, and
unconscious monologue. Junker Christopher and Count Henrik remained
standing at the entrance, where they conversed together in a low tone
and at intervals, of the chase and their horses, and of the large
antlers of the stag over the door, while the king approached the
Drost's couch, and drew the lamp forward on the table that he might
have a full view of his features. Aagé appeared for a moment to be
sleeping soundly; but as the king stood by his couch, and with
sympathising sorrow bent over his handsome though pallid face, the
Drost suddenly opened his eyes and stared wildly before him. "Is it
thou, my liege?" he whispered; "art thou still living in this murderous
den? Beware! Believe him not!"

"Recollect thyself, my Aagé, thou dreamest," said the king. "Thy
pious wish is fulfilled; I and my brother are reconciled. Look!
there he stands. He also wishes to see thee. The whole was a
misunderstanding--the desperate plan of a rebel--one of the outlaws'
race and friends. Be calm, my Aagé; I am now a peaceful guest here with
my brother--We have drunk to reconciliation and brotherly fellowship
together--I have done him injustice also in the affair with Bruncké. I
will give him back both Holbek and Kallunborg. He is now to accompany
me on the expedition against the dukes."

"Noble, generous, kingly soul!" exclaimed Aagé, seemingly quite roused
from his dreaming state. "Hath a word, hath a cup of wine effaced such
enmity and wrath? Now the Lord and our blessed Lady be praised! Love
healeth all wounds, and mercy is a precious virtue. _How_ great is now
thy love and clemency, my liege!" he continued, again somewhat wildly,
and as if half dreaming; "doth it extend even unto the outlaws and
their unhappy race--even unto Marsk Stig's kindred and children?"

"Ha! breathe not that accursed name, Aagé," interrupted the king, with
stern vehemence; "_so_ far my clemency will never extend--Now sleep
well, my faithful Aagé," he added, with his former mildness and
affection. "Think not on what it is best to forget--they tell me thou
art already out of danger, and can, perhaps, follow me to-morrow, or in
a few days."

"Where sleeps my liege to-night?" asked Aagé, in an anxious voice, and
again gazing wildly around him.

"Close by thee, here in the knights' story; only be thou calm and sleep
in peace. I sleep under a brother's roof."

"Come, my royal brother," interrupted Christopher, hastily approaching
the couch, "speak no more with that sick dreamer, he is in a fair way
to infect you with his feverish phantasies."

"Good night, my Aagé," said the king, pressing the Drost's hand as he
departed. "I will keep that I promised him," he said to the junker. "I
will sleep near him, here in the knights' story."

"As you command, my royal brother," answered the junker, with a cold
and bitter smile; and they left the sick chamber.

Count Henrik had also given his hand to Aagé, and was about to follow
the king; but the Drost detained him for a moment, in a state of
painful anxiety. "Look, look!" he whispered, "there goes the murdered
King Eric with Junker Abel[2]; _they_ once were brothers! and, hark! a
flood roars beneath this castle. It is surely the bloody Slie,--take
heed!--take heed, that no misfortune happens here!"

"You have perturbed dreams, Drost Aagé," said Count Henrik, letting go
Aagé's fevered hand. "Sleep ye but in quiet; I watch." He then hastened
after the king and the junker; but first glanced out of the window, and
saw with secret horror, by the deepening star-light, a high, black
scaffold in the back court of the castle, without the knights' story.
He hastily drew the curtain before the window and departed; whereupon
the old nurse (still shaking and muttering) re-entered the Drost's
chamber. She was attired in the homely dress of a country burgher's
wife; her eyes were large and sunken, and her pale, emaciated visage
greatly resembled that of a corpse. With a distaff and a rosary in her
hand, she resumed her station by the Drost's couch before the lamp,
which she drew aside, that it might not shine in the face of the
patient. All was now soon quiet in this wing of the castle, which only
comprised the sleeping apartments of the knights. Aagé lay long
listening in anxiety. In the unusual stillness of the evening, however,
a distant sound as of lutes and mirthful songs reached his ear.

"What is that?" he asked, raising his head with pain and difficulty.

"There is merriment in the knights' hall, noble sir! yes in troth! that
there is," answered the nurse; "our stern junker hath caused minstrels
and jugglers to be fetched from the town. There is no lack either of
mead or sweet wine, that knoweth the precious Lord in heaven! He drinks
to friendship with his brother, they say. Alack yes!" she added, "the
great can be merry, doubtless, and leave care to the fiddle; ay! ay!
when they quarrel among themselves, it all falls on the small! yes, in
troth! does it--all falls on the small. My departed husband was, by my
troth, doomed to death, in the great Marsk Stig's feud--alack yes! by
my troth was he, he was but a poor man, I must tell ye: _he_ had
neither knightly nor princely honour to swear himself free with, like
the high-born junker; no, by my troth! had he not, that was the whole
mishap. There sits now our old commandant in the tower--ay! ay! he will
hardly see sun or moon more; they say he is to be executed to-night;
alack yes! and yesterday he was master here at the castle; yes, in
troth! was he so, but so goeth it in the world; alack yes."

"Executed?" repeated Aagé; "the Lord have mercy on his soul; the king
is strict and hasty: ha! but knew he?----"

"He doubtless knew, what we all know, that his high-born brother hath
borne false witness," sighed the old woman; "but what care the great
about cutting off an insignificant head, when they would save their
own? The law must have its course--yes, in troth! that it must, _one_
head doubtless must fall, after such a commotion and uproar, but the
junker's is placed too high, I trow! 'What should great lords keep
servants for, if they could not wash themselves clean in their blood?'
said my departed husband, when he was executed; yes, in troth! said he
so, the blessed soul--But see now if ye can get to sleep, noble young
sir! that is assuredly best for you. I talk mayhap rather too much:
'tis my bosom sin, they say--yes, by my troth! one talks too little,
and another too much; was there no such thing as talk, no poor man
would talk himself over to the evil one, and no high-born rogue would
talk himself from the gallows."

"I must speak with the king," burst forth Aagé, with eagerness, and
vainly strove to rise, but his strength entirely forsook him, and he
fell back in a swoon. The old nurse thought he slept, and indeed he
soon appeared to have fallen into a kind of slumber. The nurse looked
at him several times, with the lamp in her hand, and nodded, as she
continued to chatter to herself; "Ay! ay! a good honest face, in
troth!" she muttered. "But who is honest in this sinful world? he
consorts with the great,--ay! ay! and those good folk one should never
believe--no in troth, one should never believe. He would have spoken
with the king--yes, forsooth! when it is question of saving a poor
devil's life, and telling the king that his brother is a rogue and
traitor; then such a fine courtier fellow swoons or falls asleep, till
it is too late. Wake up, Sir Knight! wake up!" She shook him in vain;
"Alack! I verily believe it is death's sleep,--well then he is excused:
after such a fall and being battered into a pudding, there can
doubtless be no great life in him--he draws breath though, I believe!
yes, in troth he does! Youth is strong, perhaps nature will help
herself--Hark! now they follow the king to bed," she continued, and
listened: "he will surely sleep close by here, ay! ay! This is his
favourite servant, this same Drost. Weil, the Lord keep his hand over
the king! he means well by us all; yes, in troth he does--alack yes!
even though he should doom many a poor devil to death--but indeed
that's his business--it is therefore he is king. He upholds law and
justice, yes in troth! and makes, besides, no difference between high
and low. Should he now have doomed to death his own brother according
to the flesh? That would have been too hard--yes, in troth, would it;
he is after all but a man, and who is just in all things in this sinful
world? Ay, ay! but the junker--alack, yes! The Lord preserve us from
him--if we get _him_ for a king, it will be a bad look-out--yes, in
troth will it! alack, yes!" Thus she muttered to herself, and nodded
beside the lamp until she fell asleep in the arm-chair. It might be
somewhat past midnight, when Drost Aagé awoke, strengthened in body,
and refreshed by the deep sleep, caused by exhaustion, which seemed to
have given a favourable turn to his illness. He was still, however, in
a feverish state; he looked around him with surprise, and appeared not
to know where was. The pale sleeping nurse, beside the lamp, seemed to
him, as the light faintly lit up her emaciated visage, like a sitting
corpse. He half arose and stared fixedly at her; he remarked signs of
strong agitation in her deathlike face; her toothless gums mumbled, but
without any sound; it appeared as though she wished to speak, but had
not the power to utter a word. It seemed to him, as if he now beheld
what he had often heard and read of in ancient sagas and poems of olden
time. The dark vaulted chamber in his imagination was a subterranean
prophet's cave, and the old mumbling crone a dead prophetess, on whose
tongue Runic letters had been laid to cause her to prophesy.[3] He
tried to rise and the attempt succeeded; his shattered limbs were
strengthened and pliant. He wrapped the white woollen coverlet around
him, and soon stood listening on the floor, and gazing on the old
woman's visage. "Whom talkest thou with?--corpse! what dost mumble of
in thy grave?" he whispered, and she moved her mouth still faster.
"Murder, murder!" she exclaimed, at length, in audible words. "Hark,
hark! now his head falls before the axe."

At the same instant Aagé actually heard with dismay a sound outside the
window, as of the stroke of an axe; he rushed forward, and pulled aside
the curtain. The light of a number of torches glared on him from the
back court of the castle. He saw with horror, a body of men-at-arms
surrounding a scaffold, on which stood an executioner with a bloody
head in his hand. A cold shudder came over Aagé; he knew not, as yet,
whether he waked or dreamed; he stood speechless, as if rooted to the
spot, and gazed on the horrid sight; a low chant fell on his ear, and
he beheld a crowd of Franciscan monks advance under the scaffold with a
black coffin. Among the spectators he recognised Junker Christopher's
dark countenance, strongly lit up by a torch. The bloody head fell from
the executioner's hand, and it seemed to him, to his inexpressible
horror, to be the king's; he staggered back and overturned the table
with the lamp. The old woman waked in affright, and shrieked loudly;
but Aagé rushed out of the chamber, into the dark passage, in
indescribable consternation. "Murdered!--the king murdered!" was the
cry of his inmost soul; but no word passed his lips; he went on, like a
sleep-walker, with staring eyes, not knowing whither he was going.
"Here he was to sleep--here close by me,"--he thought, and stopped at a
side door. He had already extended his hand to open it, when he saw a
light, and heard footsteps at a distance in the passage. The door
beside which he stood, was enclosed between two pillars projecting from
the wall--he stopped behind one of the pillars, and kept his eye on the
light in the passage. It approached slowly, and often stopped; at last
it came so near that he could see, it was carried by a tall figure in a
dark mantle. The light fell only on the lower part of the shrouded
form; his walk was tottering and hesitating; a large sword glittered
under his mantle. The figure came nearer and nearer; but with stealthy
and almost noiseless steps. At last it advanced close to the pillar,
behind which Aagé stood, and paused again. The light was now; raised,
while the shrouded bearer looked around him on all sides, and the light
fell on a long and wildly glaring visage--it was Junker Christopher.

"Ha! fratricide! regicide!" shouted Aagé, in a frenzy, and rushed out
upon him.

With a cry of alarm the junker let fall the light, and sprang backward.
"Murder! help! a madman!" he shouted, and drew his sword.

Amid this noise the door between the pillars opened, and Count Henrik
stepped forth with a light. "What is the matter here?" he asked
eagerly, but in a low tone. "Who dares to wake the king?"

"The king! the king!" exclaimed Aagé, with inexpressible joy, "he
lives?--the Lord be praised! it was then but a dreadful dream! but saw
I not the junker here?"

"Yes, assuredly, thou saw'st him, madman!" cried the junker, returning
his sword into the sheath. "Had you not come out. Count Henrik, I
should have cut that mad fellow down on the spot. He fell upon me here,
with a wild incoherent speech, as I was stealing softly to my chamber
that I might not wake the king. If I see aright, it is the chivalrous
Sir Drost, who is walking in his sleep, or would play the ghost. One
would think my castle was turned into a madhouse."

"A _singular_ adventure, noble Junker," said Count Henrik, gazing with
a penetrating look on his perturbed countenance. "Our good Drost is
sick, as you know, and hath disquiet fevered dreams," he added in a
light courtier-like tone. "He must in his phantasies have taken you for
a murderer and traitor; but you must excuse him; his loyalty and
devotion for your royal brother are alone to blame for it."

"You come from an execution, Sir Junker!" said Aagé, whose
self-possession was now fully restored; "it was, I presume, your
unhappy commandant, who so ill underwood your order and will?"

"Right!" answered the prince; "he hath got his well-merited wages--the
presumptuous madman! but madness spreads here, I perceive."

"Your highness's imagination hath surely also been at work," continued
Aagé, "since my dreams could scare you thus. I beseech you meanwhile
graciously to pardon me for stopping you just beside _this_ door. It
was, perhaps, however, a lucky chance; you might easily have made a
mistake between your own and the king's sleeping chamber."

"Go to thy couch, madman!" replied the junker, with gloomy harshness,
and with his hand on his sword. "You dream as yet it seems to me, and
might deserve to be wakened by my good sword--One should bind and shut
up a visionary and dreamer like you when one would have a quiet night:"
so saying, he hastily snatched his candle, which Count Henrik had taken
up from the floor and lighted, and the junker went with rapid strides
through the next side door into his own sleeping apartment.

"I have a fearful suspicion," whispered Aagé to Count Henrik; "but I
was ill and over-excited--I may be wrong: it is too dreadful to think
of--Let it not disturb the king's peace."

"What you mean, Drost, I am also loth to think of," answered the count,
"though after what hath here happened, almost every thing is possible.
Come, let us stay here together to-night."

They then both entered the door between the pillars, and all was soon
perfectly quiet at the castle.

The next morning early the king and his men rode out of the burnt and
dilapidated gate of Kallundborg castle. Count Henrik, Margrave
Waldemar, and Junker Christopher accompanied him on horseback, together
with his fifty knights, and a numerous troop of lancers. Drost Aagé
followed slowly behind in a litter, borne by two horses. He was far
from recovered from the effects of his dangerous fall, but was not to
be kept back.

The king and his brother rode in silence through the town, at some
distance from their train. "Thou hast surely wished to take from me the
desire of being oftener thy guest at Kallundborg, Christopher!" said
the king in a gloomy, dissatisfied mood, as they rode slowly up the
hill to St. George's hospital, and looked back on the castle and town.
"I have used thy fair castle gate badly it is true; some broken pates,
too, I have left behind me; but neither didst _thou_ prepare me any
fair spectacle at my mattins."

"What! the criminal on the wheel?" muttered Christopher. "Hath his head
said good morning to you from the stake? The fault was not mine: that
unpleasant sight would have been kept from your eyes, but you yourself
chose your sleeping apartment with that unsightly prospect. To say
truth, my royal brother," he added in an upbraiding tone, "you seemed
to me to require _proof_ that there was no manner of doubt in this
case."

"That word then sounded ill to thee," answered the king. "Understood'st
thou me not? There might be a doubt of the criminal's sanity, but not
of his miscreant deed; there might be a doubt of the ambiguity of thy
commands to him, without there being the slightest doubt of thy
meaning, as thou didst explain it to me on thy knightly word. Only on
that ground did I make over to thee my privilege of pardon, together
with the power of confirming the sentence: there was no need, either,
to hasten with the execution of the bloody doom."

"It was needful to decide the matter ere you left the castle," replied
Christopher eagerly. "I, for my part, had no ground for doubt. I have
shown I feared not to witness the fall of the traitor's head, as your
Drost can affirm, if he hath come to his senses."

"He is now quite collected," answered the king. "I know he walked in
his sleep last night, and gave thee a start by my door."

"Ay, indeed! hath he told you of that pleasant adventure!" said the
junker, starting and changing colour. "Had he been in his right senses,
I would have demanded that he be declared infamous for the audacious
outrage."

"As I have heard the circumstance, he is excused: thy alarm he hath
also accounted for to me."

"How mean ye?" asked Christopher, in the greatest anxiety.

"Truly, it is not good to return to one's couch with such a bloody
spectacle before one's eyes," said the king, with not unsympathising
glance at the junker pale and agitated countenance. "Be not ashamed of
it, Christopher! mayhap it does thy heart honour--Thou wert sick at
heart, and greatly moved by the sight of thine aged servant's execution
Aagé supposed. I see myself how it hath taken hold on thee. It is the
first death-warrant thou hast sealed--I know by experience such acts
excite peculiar and painful feelings."

As the king said these words the junker's countenance seemed suddenly
to brighten, and he again breathed more freely. "In truth, my royal
brother," he said, hastily while a deep crimson flush succeeded to his
former paleness, "the stupid fellow was a brave man, notwithstanding!
It was not the most agreeable duty you put upon me. I was in some sort
a party concerned; but I was perfectly right; no one could know my
criminal servant as well as I; and the sentence was passed according to
law and justice, by impartial men. Your Drost is an excellent knight,"
he added, "but somewhat disposed to be visionary: he is devoted to you,
however, and I have nought against him, on account of his foolish
dreamings."

Count Henrick and Margrave Waldemar now approached the royal brothers,
and the conversation turned on indifferent topics. The procession
proceeded on the road to Korsóer, from whence the king intended to
cross the Belts, in order to join the Marsk, and the forces which were
to march against the turbulent dukes of Slesvig.

At the famous sea-fight of Grönsund, the young King Eric had gained a
decided victory over these haughty princes, who frequently sought to
withdraw their allegiance to the Danish crown, and since the regicide
of Eric Glipping had secretly, as well as openly, made common cause
with the foes of the country and the outlawed regicides. By this
victory the king had indeed gained a high reputation with the dukes as
well as with the neighbouring northern powers, and the princes of north
Germany; but the quarrel with the archbishop and the Romish see, and
still more the king's excommunication at Sjöborg, had given all his
foes courage, and renewed their hopes of shaking his throne, and
frustrating his bold projects. It was feared, not without reason, that
the young high-spirited King of Denmark, who now appeared as though he
would defy ban and interdict, might possibly have a desire to regain
the influence and power won by the great Waldemar the Victorious in
Germany. That monarch's chivalrous character, and the lustre his
conquests had shed on the Danish name, seemed early to have inspired
his bold descendant with the wish to tread in the paths of his renowned
ancestor, and a glorious reputation like that of Waldemar the
Victorious was assuredly the secret wish of Eric's heart, though he
lived in a time and under circumstances which demanded no ordinary
degree of power and wisdom, in a sovereign, even to save the country
from downfall, and preserve his own life and crown.

The renewed demands of the dukes, and the revival of long-accommodated
differences, but, especially, tidings of the outlaws having again found
protection and shelter in Slesvig, had in a great measure induced the
king to take up arms; and since the archbishop's flight, he had become
much more precipitate than formerly, and more inclined to carry every
thing through by the strong hand. The people well knew but cheerfully
tolerated Eric's youthful and often impetuous eagerness, and his liking
for chivalrous pomp. His firmness of purpose was indeed often called
obstinacy; and it was admitted he was not altogether free from an
excessive love of show, but from his childhood he had been the people's
darling, and such he continued to remain.

This breach with the dukes appeared to many to be rash and
inconsiderate; but the king's wrath was deemed justifiable, and the
public mind was calmed by the belief that with all his impetuosity he
had too much love for his people, and possessed too much sound policy
not to spare the blood of his warriors, and the scanty revenues of his
country, could he, sword in hand, honourably negotiate. The calm,
thoughtful Drost Aagé contributed not a little to restrain the king's
vehemence, and now that Eric's older and more experienced counsellors,
the aged Jon Little and Drost Hessel were absent, the greater number and
most peaceably minded of the people rejoiced to see Drost Aagé in the
king's train. The Drost's suffering state, and the perilous adventure
which had caused it, which was daily exaggerated by rumour, with the
most marvellous additions, attracted towards him the sympathy and
admiration of the lower classes. Those especially who had before
shunned him as an excommunicated man, now mourned over his misfortune,
since the king himself shared the same fate. The energetic and warlike
Count Henrik of Mecklenborg, with his bold commanding glance, also
found favour with the people, who looked up to him with confidence. He
and Aagé were often received with animated shouts of acclamation, while
a dumb and almost timorous courtesy was, on the contrary, shown to the
gloomy Junker Christopher; and the foreign Margrave Waldemar, who
always rode by the junker's side, was looked on as a half suspicious
guest, whose presence might well be dispensed with. Wherever the
procession passed, the young chivalrous monarch himself was received
with the most loyal demonstrations of the people's affection, which had
been more than ever called forth by the knowledge of the ecclesiastical
persecution he then endured. Even the much dreaded lightnings of
excommunication seemed transformed into a halo of martyrdom around the
head of Eric, the avenger of his father, and the defender of the
throne; especially as the greater and most estimable part of the Danish
clergy boldly declared his cause to be just and honourable.

The sorrow and displeasure which it was known had been caused the king
by his brother the junker's suspicious conduct had still more increased
the sympathy of the people for him.

"For Eric, the youthful king!" was the general salutation, when all
hats and caps waved in the air in his honour. "Away with the red hat
from Rome! Away with all traitors! King Eric! and none other!" often
resounded as he rode through the crowded street. "Long live Princess
Ingeborg! Long live the king's true love!" also shouted many a merry
bachelor. Where this salutation greeted the king, his own greeting
became doubly kind and gracious. "Thanks, good people! thanks!" he
answered cheerfully, and waved his hand; "if the Lord and our blessed
Lady will it so, you shall see her here as your queen in the summer!"



                               CHAP. VI.


On Sommersted heath, in the province of Haddersleben, a bloody battle
seemed likely to take place between Eric and his haughty kinsmen, the
Dukes of Slesvig and Langeland, in whose army it was asserted many of
the regicides were enlisted; notwithstanding it had been stipulated by
treaty the preceding year, that these exiled criminals should be no
less outlawed by these princes, than by the king, and his brother. When
the dukes beheld the forces, at the head of which the incensed king,
attended by his fifty chosen knights, was marching against them, they
appeared to hesitate, and the swords of the one party seemed to keep
those of the other in the sheath. Through the Drost's mediation a truce
was negotiated; according to which all hostilities were to cease, the
dukes' troops were to lay down their arms, and no outlaws suffered to
continue in their service; all claims also on the part of the dukes
were to be suspended, until formal terms could be agreed upon. For this
purpose an amicable interview between these princes and their royal
liege was proposed to take place at Wordingborg castle.

The Drost and privy council rarely succeeded in persuading the king to
a reconciliation, or to enter into a formal treaty of peace with any
opponent who had protected his father's murderers. The only person who,
under such circumstances, had been occasionally successful in acting as
mediator, was Eric's sagacious and kindhearted stepfather, Count
Gerhard, who ever stood in a friendly and almost fatherly relation to
the young monarch.

The present peace also with Norway was only a truce, occasionally
renewed for single years or months; for the outlaws had constantly met
with protection from the Norwegian King Eric, and Duke Hako; and
according to his promise given to these fugitives, the Norwegian king
was unable to conclude a permanent peace with Denmark, unless his
Danish guests should be again admitted into their native land. Many of
these deadly foes to the royal house of Denmark had, indeed, fallen in
their unsuccessful expedition against Denmark; some had been seized and
maltreated by the populace, or captured by the king's commanders, and
executed for robbery and incendiarism. This had been the fate of Arved
Bengtson, one of the wildest and fiercest of the regicides, who with
ten of his comrades had fallen into the hands of the stern Tulé
Ebbeson, and the whole of the eleven had been mercilessly beheaded. But
each time the number of their chiefs was thus diminished, the revenge
and defiance of those who were left increased. From their connection
with foreign powers, with Archbishop Grand, and with the papal see,
these exiled noblemen were the most dangerous enemies of the country.
So long as one of them was living the king considered himself under the
necessity of being constantly prepared for war, and the mention of an
outlaw was almost sufficient to make him gird on his armour.

After the conclusion of the truce with the Dukes of Slesvig, the king
visited his royal manors in Jutland and in the Isles; but he disbanded
his troops only so far as to admit of their being assembled again in a
few days at the Marsk's summons. The young king sought, as much as it
was possible, to atone for whatever injustice had been committed during
the government of his unhappy father. Even his bitterest enemies were
forced to acknowledge his disinterested zeal in the administration of
justice; but despite the respect and affection of which Eric received
the most gratifying proofs from his people, his personal safety was,
nevertheless, often endangered, as the condition of the country was in
general in a very unsettled state. The outlaws belonged to most noble
families in Denmark, and had not a few kinsmen, friends, and secret
adherents, who endeavoured to protect them from the indignation of the
people, whenever they secretly or openly dared to venture back to their
father-land, for the purpose of exciting disturbance or seeking
opportunities for revenge. All the discontented in the country, all
restless spirits, and those who were at war with law and authority, all
criminals and burgher politicians, who feared or hated kingly rule,
joined themselves to these martyrs in the cause of liberty, and foes of
despotism as they were denominated. Some powerful prelates, the
archbishop's friends, were on their side, although the clergy in
general were devoted to the king. Meanwhile the most sincere patriots
could not deny that the discontented had often real grievances to
complain of, and that the lawful rights of citizenship were frequently
infringed. The king's friends and devoted subjects often went too far
in their zeal for his security; and state functionaries not
unfrequently exercised violence and injustice in his name, where they
suspected any one of siding with the outlaws. Among the discontented in
the country, and the secret partisans of the outlaws, such proceedings
served as a pretext and excuse for similar conduct towards the king's
servants and friends; what especially disquieted all lovers of their
country, was the dread of a general closing of the churches, in case
the king did not yield in the affair of the archbishop. An apprehension
also prevailed of civil war and dangerous conspiracies of the outlaws,
and other disturbers of the peace; particularly if any open breach
should take place between the king and his brother, the junker.

During the first chilly days of spring, the roads to Wordingborg were
unusually thronged on occasion of the important treaty of peace just
concluded with the Dukes of Slesvig. The splendid festivities and
tournaments which were the delight of the chivalrous king, were now in
preparation to celebrate the event. Many knights and nobles from
Jutland and the Isles journeyed to Wordingborg, to display their
splendour before the king and the court, as well as to share in the
expected festivities in honour of the peace, which however was regarded
by the king's friends rather in the light of a victory.

A party of three knights, with a numerous train of squires and
attendants, rode one evening amid storm and hail through the forest
near Suséa, and approached the great forest monastery of St. Peter. The
accommodations for travellers were but scarce and simple. The public
inns established in the time of King Eric Glipping were few and
generally despised; travellers of high degree, therefore, often took
shelter in monasteries, which were occasionally put to much cost and
inconvenience by these sometimes forcibly-imposed visitations. The
monasteries had been, in fact, exempted by a royal decree, from the
ancient obligation of giving free entertainment to travellers; they
were even forbidden to receive wayfaring guests, where there was any
public inn in the neighbourhood; but the prohibition was hardly ever
observed even by the clergy themselves, as it was contrary to the rules
of the monasteries.

The knights and their train seemed nowise inclined to pass by without
visiting the rich "Forest Monastery" (as it was called) which now, with
its high, white and notched gable ends, and its shining copper roof,
came in sight above the forest in the fitful light of the stormy
evening. The party drew near the great oak avenue within the domain of
the monastery, and the attendants pointed, gladly, to the smoking
chimneys: but the two foremost knights had shrouded themselves in their
mantles, and drawn their large travelling hoods over their eyes. They
seemed, notwithstanding the increasing storm, so absorbed in their own
thoughts that they cared but little about the road, or the inviting
hearth of the monastery. They were the same tall, silent knights, who
had so mysteriously visited Prince Christopher at Holbek Castle, the
night on which it was garrisoned by Drost Aagé. The little hump-backed
man in the red cloak, who was then their companion, was not now seen in
their train; but they were accompanied by Prince Christopher's
gentleman of the bedchamber, the fat short-necked Sir Pallé, who
frequently lamented over the weather, and seemed as weary of the
journey as of his taciturn and unsociable travelling companions.

"This way! up the monastery avenue, sir knights!" he called,
impatiently. "You would not surely go farther in this infernal tempest?
It is a good way yet to Nestved, and to that dog-hole of an inn, the
road every way is long. We stand in need of a good supper, and a good
night's rest--I know Pater, head-cook."

"_I_ know the _abbot_," answered the taller of the two grave knights,
with a haughty mien. "At all events, I know myself and my squires, and
what a wayfaring man may demand."

"For the Lord's sake! let us not play the braggart, excellent Sir
Brock!" said Pallé, rather in alarm, and drawing his bridle. "If we
proceed with violence and bragging, the pious monks may shut the door
in our faces, and make the king our enemy to boot; one should, by my
troth, seek a shelter by fair means when one slinks past law and
ordinance."

"Bah! Here one may make light of secular law and royal ordinance,"
answered Sir Brock, scornfully. "St. Bent's rules no king can shake."

"Let us only not attack the rules of the monastery, worthy knights!"
sighed Sir Pallé, slapping his empty stomach, "or we may have to put up
with fasting fare this evening, and learn of St. Bent to knock out the
flesh tooth."

"If that tooth had been knocked out in the monastery there would
scarcely be so many butchers in Nestved," remarked the other
knight; "keep easy, Sir Pallé; I promise you a fat roast for this
evening--Every Sunday the Nestved butchers are forced to pay their
tribute in good roasts and sausages."

"The Abbot understands that," said Sir Brock, with a nod. "That is a
fellow who knows how to uphold his rights both with high and low--trust
me, Sir Papæ, the Nestved burghers may well provide him wine for his
roast--the whole town hath to thank the monastery and the rich abbot
for its rise. Truly, these are burgher and grocer times we live in--we
now see villages and towns where before we saw lordly castles, and
domains, and mark, now, if the grocers' houses will not at last shoot
up over both lordly castles and monasteries. It passes the
comprehension, both of king and statesmen, how to keep the people under
finger and thumb; but it is well enough understood by _him_ yonder."

"You know the abbot then, Sir Brock?" resumed Pallé, inquisitively, and
with a look of curiosity. "He must be a mighty prelate; they say, he
was a good friend of Archbishop Grand's. You have surely no errand to
him? You know more of him, perhaps, than I do of Pater, head-cook; for
that is but a slight acquaintance. On second thoughts. Sir Knight,
would it not be better in these troublous and suspicious times, to pass
by the monastery and put up with the dog-hole of an inn?--unless you
really have any errand here--you have perhaps known the abbot long. Sir
Brock? You are even perhaps of his kindred?"

"Excellent! Go on! if you have more queries, or any more scruples, let
me have all out at once, and have done with it," said the tall Sir
Brock, with an air of contempt. "To speak plainly, my good Sir Pallé,
you seem somewhat inquisitive. You have asked me of more during this
journey, than I would answer my confessor in a whole year.

"And you are as mysterious and cautious as though you took me for a
tell-tale, and a man not to be counted on," answered Pallé, in a tone
of annoyance. "If the high-born junker hath trusted me to bring you a
private letter, you may well suppose I am among his most confidential
friends."

"A confidant is wont, however, to know what tidings he brings,"
remarked the tall knight.

"You think, perhaps, I know them not," returned Pallé, assuming an air
of consequence. "It will rejoice the noble junker to see you and your
friends at Wordingborg, in order to come to a closer and mutual
understanding.--Is it not so?"

"Ha, indeed! my sly Sir Pallé; you understand then, the noble art of
opening wax seals?--another time you must do it more dexterously, or,
at least, be able to hold your tongue about it. The high-born junker
hath known his messenger, and hath not entrusted you with a greater
secret than he might suffer to be cried in the streets through every
town."

The other knight laughed scornfully. Pallé was silent, wroth, and crest
fallen. The party now halted, drew bridle before the gate of the
monastery, and knocked loudly at it. The porter put forth his shaven
head from a shutter, and inquired in a peevish tone, who it was, and
what was wanted so late.

"Wayfaring and christian men," was the answer. "If you are a pious man
of God, Father Porter, sin not by asking forbidden questions, but
unlock the gate instantly, in St. Bent's and St. Peter's name!"

"In nomine St. Benedict! Anianensis et St. Petri Apostoli," answered
the clerical porter, and instantly withdrew the great iron bolt which
secured the gate.

"See ye," said Sir Niels Brock, "St. Bent and St. Peter are more
powerful here than kings and worldly despots."

Although the most important household matters were managed by the monks
themselves, according to monastic rule, the travellers, on their
entering the monastery, were instantly received by a whole crowd of
attendant lay-brothers and conversers, who took off their mantles, and
eagerly waited on them with handbasons and whatever they required.
Father Porter had allowed himself to be replaced at his post by a
lay-brother, that he might not miss the evening devotion and the
evening meal that accompanied it. After an announcement to the Abbot,
he followed the three knights to the refectory, while a lay-brother
attended to the wants of the train.



                               CHAP. VII.


In the high-vaulted refectory, the small arched windows of which looked
out into the garden of the monastery, and were darkened by a row of
lime-trees, sat the heavy-built abbot Johan in his laced leathern
arm-chair, with a lamp before him, at the supper-table, holding a kind
of instructive discourse for the edification of the humbly-listening
brethren of the order and the pupils of the monastery. Nearest him sat
eleven monks in black cloaks, among whom Peter Porter took his place as
the twelfth. The same number of little boys, who were educating as
monks, and wore black benedictine mantles, as well as the brethren of
the order, took the lowest place at the table, and eagerly partook of
the repast, while, however, they seemed to listen very attentively to
the abbot's discourse. On the entrance of the travellers the dignified
prelate half rose from his seat, with a look of annoyance, and bade
them welcome in St. Peter's and St. Bent's name, but almost without
vouchsafing them a glance, and in a tone which betrayed that it was
only in compliance with the rules of his order that he received such
self-invited guests. However, when the two tall knights approached him
nearer, with a reverent and courteous salutation, and the lamp on the
table lit up Sir Niels Brock's martial visage, the abbot's proud
bearing and repulsive looks suddenly changed. He signed a blessing over
the knight and his companions, and, with courteous condescension,
besought them to be seated, while he hastily, with a side-wink of the
eye, laid his finger on his mouth, and continued to address them as
strangers.

Besides the twelve brethren of the order and the monkishly-clad
children, there sat a person at the table, also in a black benedictine
mantle, but without the hood and complete dress of the order. He had
hastily risen on the entrance of the travellers, and appeared about to
withdraw; but, on hearing Sir Niels Brock's powerful voice, he turned
round to the newly-arrived guests, and nodded familiarly to Brock. It
now appeared that this person bore not the tonsure, and was even
adorned with a warrior-like beard; his forehead and eye-brows were
hidden by his yellowish red and combed down hair.

Brock started, and greeted him with surprise, but in silence.

"A guest from the world who hath sought safety in the dress of our holy
order and the sanctuary of the monastery," said the abbot. "I can,
therefore, only present him to you without mention of his name, as I
also have received you in the holy Bent's and St. Peter's name, without
asking of your name in the world, or the object of your journey."

"Your hospitality and high mindedness are well known throughout the
country, pious sir," said Brock, with another obeisance. "We are not,
it is true, among the persecuted. The object of our journey also is no
secret; but we equally acknowledge, with thanks and reverence, the
shelter these holy walls afford from storms of _all_ kinds."

"From the hour in which, by God's grace, I received the bishop's mitre
and the holy crosier," resumed the abbot, with the air of a prince of
the church, but with stooping head, and a kind of studied rhetorical
tone, "be it said without all vain self-commendation, and to the honour
of the Most High!--from the time St. Peter and his holy heir set me a
ruler over these souls, and over this asylum of the pious and
oppressed, I have striven according to my poor ability in the spirit of
St. Benedict of Nurcia, and with the pious will of St. Benedict of
Anianes before mine eyes, to give succour and protection to all
travellers and pilgrims, and all outlawed and persecuted persons,
against the wild turbulence of nature, as well as against human
ferocity and the violence and persecution of an ungodly world. You just
now interrupted me in a godly discourse, my guests! I spoke of the
Church's might and authority, which is now so scandalously assaulted by
the blind children of this world in our ungodly times. I was
inculcating the duties of our holy order on the children, and for the
edification of my dependents, on occasion of the crying deeds of
violence and injustice we daily hear of and see before our eyes. You
have also surely heard how shamelessly and treacherously the king's men
have dealt with the outlawed Count Jacob's men in Halland, and what an
outrageous and arbitrary act the royal vassal, Jonas Fries, hath lately
perpetrated here, on the boundary of my abbey's consecrated ground and
territory?"

"What I have heard is almost past belief, pious Father Abbot," answered
Brock; "but the matter is related very differently by the friends of
freedom and those of despotism. Rumour hath indeed possibly exaggerated
the stern vassal's despotic act."

"My fugitive guest, who sits there, can bear testimony to the truth,"
said the abbot. "The unhappy victim to the lawlessness and barbarity of
that royal vassal was his good friend and comrade."

"It is as true as that I stand here," began the warrior-like personage
in the monk's cloak, and rose from his seat. His accent sounded
half-Norwegian; the combed-down hair slipped aside for an instant from
his brow, and over his wild fiery eye a pair of bristly meeting
eye-brows and a large red scar were visible. "Thus are law and justice
now upheld in Denmark," he continued. "I had come down hither in
reliance on truce and treaty, but truth and justice are no longer
recognised, where the friends of freedom are outlawed. My comrade had
saved my life, and freed me from a degrading captivity; he was, like
myself, in the service of the Norwegian king. Three days since he was
taken captive at my side in broad day-light, by Sir Jonas Fries
himself, and dragged to his castle.--I escaped to the sanctuary of the
abbey; but when I yesterday, with the pious abbot's men, would have
liberated my unhappy comrade, we found him hanged, without law or
sentence, on Jonas Fries's closed castle gate."

"Ha, indeed! the more madly they act the sooner they will have to
account for it," exclaimed Brock, in a powerful martial tone, and
striking his large battle sword against the flagged floor. "The master
who hath such zealous servants may fare badly at last--that deed of
violence shall prove a firebrand----"

"We meddle not here with worldly matters," interrupted the abbot
hastily, with an admonitory wink, and a side glance at the attentive
and startled monks, who all, however, sat silent with humbly drooping
heads, and appeared to fear, rather than love, their despotic and
mighty superior. "Worldly matters are to me and my dependents, but
vehicles for spiritual things," continued the prelate with a devout
air, "and I only permit any discourse concerning them when it may serve
us for holy and edifying meditation, according to St. Benedict of
Anianes' pious will and injunction. I now forbid all further talk on
such subjects here. Refresh yourselves, my stranger guests! Pray a
silent prayer, brother bed-maker, and discharge thy duty towards the
strangers! Pray in silence, and retire to rest, children! Let every
brother set about his evening work! You must not suppose, my unknown
guests," he added, "that the conversers and lay brothers you have seen
here, alone perform the bodily labour which is incumbent on us all--it
is precisely in order to gain bodily strength for the performance of
the stern duties of our order that I give, as you see, occasional
dispensations with respect to the nourishment of the frail body with
substantial meat."

The brethren of the order and the monkishly clad children now folded
their hands, and muttered a prayer; they then departed, after they had
all, with a deep and submissive inclination of the head, kissed the
abbot's hand, which lay extended for the purpose on the arm of his
chair, in which he remained sitting, and gazed on his guests with an
attentive and searching glance. "You are welcome. Sir Niels Brock and
Sir Johan Papæ," now commenced the abbot, in a confidential and
condescending tone, with a side look at Sir Pallé. "This knight I know
not, but I presume you bring none with you but your most confidential
friends."

"The high-born Junker Christopher's gentleman of the bed-chamber, Sir
Pallé, accompanies us to Wordingborg by his lord's command," said
Brock, hastily, "although we cannot boast of knowing him intimately."

"Ay, indeed! You are welcome also, Sir Pallé," resumed the abbot, in a
tone of haughty condescension, once more assuming the dignified mien of
a prelate. "Your master, the junker, is now said deeply to repent his
sin and cruelty against our most learned and God-fearing archbishop,
and to feel a longing after peace and reconciliation with the holy
church? With all his errors, he seems still, however, to be of a more
tractable and pious mind than his hardened brother, and it may one day,
perhaps, stand him in good stead, for God resisteth the proud, but
giveth grace to the humble."

"Yes, my lord junker will now assuredly be converted, pious Sir Abbot,"
answered Pallé, thrusting a large piece of meat into his mouth, by
which he was hindered from continuing his speech.

"To judge from the build of Sir Pallé's person, _he_ stands most in
need of refreshment and rest," said Brock, with significance.
"According to his assurance, there is now the best understanding
between the junker and his brother."

"Ay, indeed! hum! well, then! It is good assuredly that brothers should
be united, provided it be in that which is right," said the prelate,
and broke off the conversation. Little was now said, and that only on
indifferent topics. Sir Pallé's gormandising appetite perceptibly
decreased at the cautious pause in the conversation, and at the
sight of the fugitive in the monk's cloak, who had remained silently
sitting at that end of the table which was least lighted up, and who
kept his scrutinising eyes fixed upon him. As no one either ate or
drank any more, the abbot folded his hands and muttered a Latin
prayer; after which he rang a little silver hand-bell, and Pater
master-of-the-household entered.

"This knight desires instantly to retire to rest," said the abbot,
pointing to Pallé; "perhaps you will go with him as his contubernalis
over yonder." As he said this, he winked at Sir Papæ, and the taciturn
knight immediately accompanied Sir Pallé and the master of the
household across the court yard of the monastery to the guesthouse,
which was situated apart.

As soon as the abbot was alone with Brock and the disguised fugitive,
he gave them a mysterious nod and arose. He took the lamp in his hand,
and opened a private door in the refectory which led to a long vaulted
passage. He went on before, and they followed him in silence through
the passage, and up a winding stair to the library of the monastery and
the prelate's private chamber; he opened all the doors himself, and
locked them carefully behind him. Sir Pallé's indolence and love of
good cheer seemed to be contending with curiosity and repressed alarm.
"Whom take you yon sharp-eyed fugitive to be, Sir Papæ?" he asked his
silent travelling companion, as soon as the monk had shown them to
their sleeping apartment and departed.

"I care not who he is," said the knight sullenly, and took off his
vest.

"It is assuredly one of the outlaws," continued Pallé, anxiously.
"Truly it is strange to have sat at table, and now to sleep under the
same roof with such a fellow. It might get wind one day, and waken
suspicion."

"I will give you good counsel, Sir Pallé," answered the sullen knight.
"Take your horse out of the stable again, and ride off at full speed,
despite night and storm! Our company may also seem suspicious to you. A
man like you, who holds his own peace and safety dearer than aught
beside, should never devote himself to the service of any master in
these troublous times. As far as I can judge you are as little fit for
the junker's as the king's service, and least of all to be your own
master, like me and other free men."

"The devil! Sir Papæ! what do you take me for?" said Pallé, bridling up
and highly affronted; "think ye I am afraid for my skin? I would fain
see the man who hath oftener risked life and blood in the service of my
master, than I have, and yet as a free man dare snap my fingers at the
world's rulers and tyrants. What my master, the junker, is about, he
must know best himself, and answer for--it concerns not me--_his_ head
truly is placed too high to be imperilled. When it comes to the push,
all falls on those beneath; yet when he calls you and Sir Niels his
friends, and sends you greeting and courteous invitation, as his
servant, I surely run no risk by companionship with you;--but an
_outlaw!_ think! perhaps even one of the regicides!--to have sat at
table with him may cost us all dear."

"You are in a very unpleasant position, Sir Pallé." said the haughty
partizan, with a contemptuous smile. "With the king, you stand not
well, they say; and though you have already settled yourself
comfortably in the junker's service, it may end badly enough, after
all. If he gets but a hint how you keep the seal of his private
letters----"

"It is a shameful falsehood, I deny it positively," answered Pallé,
glowing crimson. "But for the Lord's and our dear lady's sake,
excellent Sir Papæ! bring me not into trouble by such talk, and beseech
Sir Niels also to be silent about it. I am in truth innocent as an
unborn babe. I know not in the least what either you or the junker have
in hand, and there was not a word about it in the letter; that is what
you say yourself; for what know _I_ of it?" he added hastily. "But
whatever it may be," he continued, "I pray you only to consider that,
after all, the king is a mighty man, and not to be jested with when he
is wroth. Even my own master, the high-born junker, I would in all
confidence here between us two, counsel ye to deal somewhat cautiously
with. Too much confidence in the great answers not, either;--in our
times one should in troth know how to obey the commands of one's
master, and nevertheless use one's own understanding,--do you see? To
speak plainly. Sir Papæ! since the commandant at Kallundborg was forced
to lose his head, I have often had uneasy dreams."

"Now good night, my dear Pallé!" said the knight, clapping him
compassionately on the shoulder. "I would not for a great deal be in
your place. It must be grievous for an honest knight adventurer like
you, who so faithfully strives to serve the great, not to be able to
fathom his master's mind, any more than his own stomach." The knight
then strode into his sleeping apartment and shut the door after him
with a scornful laugh.

"Another awkward scrape!" muttered Sir Pallé, striking his forehead. He
threw himself into a chair and yawned. It seemed as though his body and
soul were at war. He appeared to feel a desire to sleep, but could not
rest. He threw himself once or twice on the couch, but soon rose again,
panting and puffing with uneasiness. All was now quiet at the
monastery; nothing was to be heard but the howling of the storm through
the chimney and around the high gable ends of the roof. After some
deliberation, Pallé wrapped himself in his mantle, and stole softly out
of the door. He found the anti-chamber of the guest-house open, and
slipped out into the court-yard of the monastery. He looked around him
on all sides. It was dark and gloomy; there was not a light to be seen
in any of the twelve cells; but, from the second story of the principal
building a solitary lamp shone through the creaking boughs of the lime
trees. The light came from an apartment which Pater, head-cook, had
pointed out to him as the abbot's private chamber. Before it stood a
remarkably tall, thick, lime tree, which was not yet in leaf. Sir Pallé
stole forward under the tree, and endeavoured to climb up its trunk;
the build of his figure rendered this very difficult for him to do; but
he succeeded at last by dint of much exertion, in getting so high up in
the tree, that at some distance he could peep in through the small
lit-up window panes. He beheld the abbot and Sir Niels Brock very
singularly occupied. A tall warlike form stood before them in ancient
knightly armour. The abbot was in full costume; he placed a helmet
(over which he appeared to be pronouncing a benedicité) upon the
warrior's head. Brock seemed to be rubbing the eye-brows and beard of
the armour-clad personage with an ointment. Pallé listened in vain, the
storm prevented his hearing a single word of what was said; but he now
saw that the abbot opened a cupboard, and produced a black book with
silver clasps, which looked to him like a Testament. Sir Niels Brock,
as well as the steel-clad warrior, laid their hands on the book and
knelt. They remained in this position while the abbot fetched a silver
chalice from the cupboard, and went through the same ceremonies as on
the performance of low mass. He took a silver wine-flagon, filled the
chalice, signed a benediction over it, and drank himself. He then
opened a silver box, signed a cross, and a blessing likewise over it,
and seemed to administer the sacrament to each of the kneeling knights.

"Gracious Heaven! He is surely giving them the sacrament!" whispered
Pallé to himself, "what can all this mean?"

The abbot now stepped back, and appeared to be speaking with great
emphasis and energetic enthusiasm. At last the knights arose and kissed
the bishop's hand, and the dismayed spy recognised the powerful tones
of Niels Brock, who clapped the steel clad warrior on the shoulder and
said, in a loud tone, "Now, then! in the name of all the saints, have
you courage, Kaggé! The devil himself could not know ye now, or injure
a hair of your consecrated head."

On hearing the name of Kaggé, Sir Pallé became so alarmed, that he lost
his balance. The branch broke on which he had placed his foot, and he
was forced to let himself slide down the trunk of the lime-tree without
being able to save the skin of his hands or his rich attire, in which
great rents were torn. He fell with violence to the ground, and stunned
by fear and pain, stole back again in this pitiable plight to his
chamber.

Abbot Johan did not appear to his guests on the following morning, and
when Brock and Papæ, during mattins, rode forth from the monastery with
the worn-out and hapless Sir Pallé, the party had received an addition
in the person of a stranger, mounted on a large well-fed horse from the
abbot's stable, and clad in an old-fashioned suit of armour. His hair
and brow were hidden by an ample helmet, fastened under the chin with a
silver clasp. His meeting eye-brows and broad beard were shining, and
coal-black; over his coat of mail he wore a large silver chain, in
token of a knight's sacred vow. Sir Pallé hardly dared to turn his eyes
on him. It was, indeed, impossible for him to recognize in this figure
the fugitive guest at the monastery; but he was nevertheless convinced
it was he, whom he now knew to be the outlawed regicide, Kaggé himself.
Pallé looked as though he already felt the rope round his neck, at the
thought of the dangerous company into which he was thrown. This new and
mysterious travelling companion rode in silence between his two
powerful friends. His glance was wild and restless; at first setting
out he often looked behind on all sides, as if he feared to be
recognised and pursued; but he soon, however, nodded confidentially to
his companions, and presently fell into a deep reverie. His dark
imaginings were occasionally interrupted by a wild and half-smothered
laugh.

"I have met with a good friend and kinsman here in the monastery," said
Brock, in a careless tone, to Pallé. "He is a merry fellow, as you
doubtless perceive; and laughs at his own thoughts when there is a lack
of mirth and wit in his companions. He hath a true love at Wordingborg
whom he would surprise; but therefore he would rather be unknown, and
you can surely be silent where one ill-timed word might prove dangerous
to yourself."

"Yes, doubtless," answered Pallé, "silence is a virtue necessity
teaches every wise man in our times; and here it is easy for me to be
silent, since I know not even the name of your honourable friend and
kinsman."

"That I will confide to you: he is called Johan Limbek, but gives
himself out to be Ako Krummedigé, or Blackbeard, going on a pilgrimage
to the holy land," continued Brock in a lowered tone; "but keep this to
yourself. My kinsman is not to be jested with, do you see, and if you
disturb his love adventure by unseasonable talk you must be prepared to
break a sharp lance with him. He fights better than the devil himself.
I would only just mention to you,--he hath broken the neck of many a
doughty knight, ere this, in love adventures."

"He will scarcely find a rival in me," answered Pallé, "although I am
reputed to stand high in the favour of the fair."

"Assuredly," replied Sir Niels, and laughed. "Who knows not that rare
ballad of Sir Pallé's wooing fair Gundelillé's driver lad?"

"Would that all dainty maidens and wooing were at the devil!" returned
Pallé, angrily. "That dainty maiden will never more make a fool of any
honest man, as surely as Marsk Stig's vagabond brood are caged for life
at Wordingborg."

At these words the steel-clad traveller became attentive, and measured
Sir Pallé with a scornful and angry look.

"See you," whispered Sir Niels, "my enamoured friend cannot even hear
maidens and rivals spoken of without the blood instantly boiling within
him. Beware, as I said before, Sir Pallé, that you do not meddle with
his concerns." So saying, he turned, with a contemptuous look, from the
perplexed gentleman of the bedchamber, and joined his two other
companions, who seemed as little in a communicative mood as himself.
Absorbed in gloomy reverie, and almost without another word being
spoken, the travellers pursued the journey to Wordingborg.



                              CHAP. VIII.


When the two powerful and well-known knights, Niels Brock and Johan
Papæ, with their outlawed friend between them, and the anxious Sir
Pallé at their side, rode with their train through the gates of
Wordingborg, there was so much bustle among the gathering crowd in the
town that they were scarcely noticed. The king had arrived with his
brother the junker and his numerous train of knights--Drost Aagé, Marsk
Oluffsen, Count Henrik of Mecklenborg, and nearly all his most
important councillors were with him. The castle was filled with
princely guests and their splendid trains. Duke Valdemar of Slesvig,
and his brother the gigantic Duke Eric of Langeland, had just made
their entry into the castle, and there was much talk among the populace
of the long legs of Duke Eric, of which none had ever seen the like.

"'Tis a devil of a fellow, yon long-shanks," said the sentinel at the
castle gate to his comrade. "'Twas surely he who slew Drost Skelm in
Nyborg just under the king's nose."

"No, comrade, he slew him in his bed; I know that better," answered the
other man-at-arms. "I was myself among the king's spear-men at the
Danish court: it will be just four years come next Lady-day; the heat
was great, and they drank hard at court--the long-legged lord is fierce
when he is hot in the head or drunk; and at that time, sure enough, he
sided with the outlaws. Had the king been present, long-shanks would
scarcely have ventured on so rough a jest--he was forced to flee from
Nyborg the same night, and for three years he durst not show his face
before the king. For all that he is a very able fellow," continued the
man-at-arms; "and since he got a dressing at Grónsund he hath learned
to take off his hat to our king. However fierce and mad he may be, he
is nevertheless a hundred times honester than his wizened brother, the
yellow scarecrow from Slesvig."

The talk now turned upon this generally unpopular prince. It was known
that the ambitious and wily Duke Valdemar had aspired to the Danish
crown, and been suspected of a secret understanding with Marsk Stig and
the outlaws. Since the great sea-fight at Grónsund, his proud spirit
had drooped, however; his last conspiracy and contumacy against his
liege sovereign resembled the flaring up of a burnt-out and exhausted
volcano. The duke's sallow, withered visage and long nose were the
subjects of the coarse jests and biting comments of the populace,
although his well-known acuteness, and sagacious state-policy still
appeared to be dreaded.

The king's step-father. Count Gerhard of Holstein, or the one-eyed
count, as he was called by the people, was, on the contrary, much
lauded. Since his marriage with Queen Agnes he often sojourned at the
castle of Nykiöping. He had on this day arrived from Falster, to act as
counsellor and mediator in the treaty with the Dukes. Much reliance was
placed on his uprightness and wisdom, and his frank and joyous
deportment gained him general favour.

Every hour brought new arrivals to the town and castle, and among them
were seen many venerable prelates and bishops known to be devoted to
the king. Among others, the Bishops of Aarhuus and Ribé, and the
provincial Prior of the Dominicans, the venerable Master Olaus, who
stood at the head of the Danish clergy's appeal to the pope against the
enforcement of the interdict according to the constitution of Veilé.
This estimable and truly patriotic prelate, with his mild, calm, aged
face, and snowy ring of hair around his tonsure, was almost worshipped
by the people, and wherever he appeared it was whispered that it was he
who would deliver the country from ban and interdict.

Every traveller who announced himself to the Marsk as the king's
vassal, or belonging to Danish knighthood, was instantly assigned a
place in the large upper story of the castle appropriated to the use of
the knights. The spacious apartments in this side wing were, however,
nearly all occupied, when Sir Niels Brock and Sir Johan Papæ announced
themselves to the Marsk, with their unknown friend, whom they gave out
to be Sir Ako Blackbeard of the renowned race of Krummedigé. He had
returned home from a pilgrimage, it was said, and had vowed silence at
the holy grave, and bound himself not to lay aside the armour of his
ancestor until the knight's vow was fulfilled which he had there made
to the Lord. Such vows were then not uncommon. They met with ready
approbation, and carried with them a claim to special honour, and a
species of religious reverence. As the king's vassals, and Danish
knights of some consideration, the three travellers likewise were now
admitted at the castle. Sir Pallé had separated from them as soon as
possible, and announced their arrival to his master the junker,
without, however, mentioning the suspicious guest they had brought with
them. Disquieted by this secret, he went from one party to another,
feeling, as it were, that he carried his life in his hand. He was seen,
now among the king's, now among the junker's friends, where, with
assumed eagerness, he adopted the prevailing tone of the company he was
in. He presently, however, rejoined Brock and other haughty and
independent knights, who spake freely and boldly both against the king
and the junker, and whom he desired not to offend, nor to be despised
by, for servile or timid conduct. He thus thought to secure his safety
under all circumstances; but he considered no party as perfectly safe,
and could not determine in what manner he might best avail himself of
the important discovery he had made while in the great lime-tree in the
court of the forest monastery.

Notwithstanding the stir which was necessarily caused by the presence
of so many strangers in the castle and the town, a remarkable stillness
prevailed, and a stern seriousness pervaded the assemblage at the
castle. There were no public amusements. The king only appeared at
mattins and mass, and at table, noon and evening, in the great upper
hall, where were placed two long dining-tables--one for the king and
his princely guests, as well as for the prelates and chief men of the
state, and another for the Danish knights in general, and the guests
who had joined them. Among them sat the mysterious personage from the
forest monastery, between Sir Niels Brock and Sir Johan Papæ. According
to his knight's vow, the pretended Sir Ako kept on his helmet as well
as the old-fashioned armour, and his silence and solemn deportment were
regarded with respect. At the same table sat the knights and courtiers
of the duke's train, with the German professors of minstrelsy and other
learned and foreign visitors. When the noontide repast was over, the
company dispersed. Some remained in the spacious apartments of the
castle, where they amused themselves with chess and backgammon, or
listened to the German minstrels' lays and tales of chivalry;
others went to the tennis-court, or the riding-house, and the
great tilting-yard, where they whiled away the time with tennis,
horse-racing, and martial exercises; some parties went a hawking in the
chase, or rode through the town in order to show themselves in all
their splendour to the ladies of the place. Many were interested in
surveying the royal fleet which lay in the harbour, while others took
the opportunity of bargaining with the Hanseatic merchants and
skippers, or of making purchases of the famous Wordingborg cloth,
which, next to that of Ypres and Ghent, was in especial demand, and
bore as high a price as that of Bruges. In the evening the sound of
lutes and love ditties was heard, as well in the castle as in the town,
where the youthful knights were in search of acquaintance and love
adventures.

The important negociations with the dukes appeared for the first few
days, entirely to occupy the king and his council. Through the
mediation of Count Gerhard, a peace was soon concluded, and on the most
honourable terms for the king. A herald then summoned the knights and
guests together in the great knights' hall of the castle. Here the king
was seated on a raised throne, between his brother the junker and Count
Gerhard, surrounded by the dukes and all his vassals, as well as the
state council, and the prelates present at the castle. The Drost read
aloud the ratified treaty of peace, in which Duke Valdemar pledged
himself that no injustice should be done to the king's peasants in the
dukedom, and also scrupulously to perform his duties of vassalage to
the Danish crown. On these terms the king consented to pardon him and
his brother as well as every one who had sided with the duke in this
feud, with the stern exception, however, that henceforth every knight
and squire who had been proved to have taken part in his father's
murder should be doomed to death wherever they should be found.

While this article of the treaty was read, the king looked around the
assemblage with a severe and what seemed to many, a threatening glance.
There were not a few present of the acknowledged friends and kinsmen of
the outlaws, and in the train of the Duke of Slesvig were several
persons unknown both to the Marsk and the Drost, who had excited
suspicion by their mysterious and unruly deportment. This strict clause
in the treaty appeared greatly to disappoint the expectations of the
Duke's friends, and their confidence in this politic prince. He himself
sat with downcast eyes, and vainly strove to assume an air of calm
indifference.

The Drost finished the reading of the treaty, which excited great
attention, and awakened interest of very different kinds, without a
single sound being heard in the numerous and anxious assembly. The
concluding article however seemed in some degree to soften the stern
victor-like tone, which characterised the treaty. By a just recognition
of the rights of his brave opponent, the king had invested Duke Eric of
Langeland with the fiefs of Oe and of Alt, which he was entitled to
demand in right of his consort Sophia's inheritance. This article
terminated the essential part of the treaty, and the assemblage broke
up.

Count Gerhard still purposed remaining some days longer, and the Duke
of Langeland, who was especially pleased with the king's uprightness,
and with the whole treaty, also remained; but his brother the Duke of
Slesvig immediately quitted the castle with his whole retinue. He left
Wordingborg with his hat slouched low over his eyes, apparently
depressed and humbled to a degree which he had never before manifested.
He was escorted part of the way by Junker Christopher, who on this
occasion seemed desirous to surpass the king in generous sympathy and
attentions towards this fallen aspirant to the throne of Denmark, who
owed his downfall to his own rancorous animosity and deluded ambition.
Sir Niels Brock and Sir John Papæ, who appeared to seize every
opportunity of approaching the junker without exciting remark, had
joined his train.

It was not until late in the evening that Prince Christopher returned.
He had sent Papæ with the rest of his train on before, and arrived a
whole hour later in the town, accompanied by Brock. They rode slowly
along the dusky road, and conversed in a low tone, and at intervals,
together. They found the town lighted up with flambeaux and torches, on
occasion of the ratification of the treaty. Songs and merry lutes
resounded from several houses. At the castle, the knight's hall was
illuminated; music and song was also to be heard there. Workmen were
busied at the lists by the light of lanterns; and carpenters were
employed in erecting railings and a high stand for the next day's
tournament, in which the king himself intended taking a part.

"Ay! he will never tire of this child's play," muttered Junker
Christopher, after he had rode past the lists and had seen these
preparations; "he squanders more on such nonsense in a year, than both
Samsóe and Kallundborg bring me in; he ruins the country with it, and
will at last break his own neck in this foolery."

"His courtiers are too polite and obsequious for that," answered
Brock--"there is assuredly not one among his strutting halberdiers, or
knights of the round table, who would not willingly let himself be
pushed out of his saddle ten times a day, to please his chivalrous
master. Credit me, they have regularly exercised themselves in the art
of kicking up their heels in the air, as soon as he touches them with
his lance.

"They would be badly paid for such courtesy, did they venture on it,"
answered the junker. "After the most trifling tilt, a strict knights'
council is held; and he pays almost more attention to those mock
fights, regulated by all the foreign laws and rules of honour, than to
the manners and morals of his subjects."

"Doth he also mix with stranger-knights and masters of arms on such
occasions?" asked Brock. It is the first time of my attending this kind
of entertainment.

"Oh yes!" muttered the junker, "when his vanity may be flattered, he
despises no laurels. Hitherto he hath really passed for an invincible
king Arthur."

"Perhaps he may meet with his overmatch, nevertheless," said Brock in a
lowered tone, and looking cautiously around him. "I never fight for
sport myself; but give heed to-morrow, high-born junker--Know you the
ancient tradition of the puling enamoured demi-god Baldur, and the bold
Hother?"[4]

"How mean ye?" asked the junker, stalling.----

"I have a good friend,--I know of a foreign knight I would say--a
master of his weapon, who in such courteous game might have a mind to
play Hother."

"Ay! indeed!" muttered Christopher, looking uneasily around,--"you
should caution your friend, though, against playing so dangerous a
game; you should least of all speak to me, Sir Brock, of such friends
and their wishes. What I have confided to you, in no wise warrants such
presumptuous confidence. Whatever there may be between me and a certain
mighty personage, matters will hardly be pushed so far as you and your
bold friends think."

"Be pleased to understand me aright, high-born junker," interrupted Sir
Niels hastily. "I speak but of a sport; I know they amuse themselves
here at times with mumming, and such diversions."

"They may amuse themselves as they please, for aught I care," muttered
the junker, gloomily; "but I will be out of the game. Half one's life
is but a sorry piece of mumming, whether we play friend or foe. It will
be seen who hath best enacted his part, when the childs' play here is
ended, and people think in earnest again in Denmark. He then spurred
his horse, and rode into the court of the castle.

"After the junker and Brock had dismounted from their horses in the
castle-yard, and as they were passing the maidens' tower, they heard
the sound of a lute, and saw a knightly figure hastily conceal himself
behind the pillars of the tower."

"Hath every one gone mad? Serenades here in the country, and that even
ere the nightingale hath come!" muttered the junker with a scornful
laugh, and wrapping himself in his mantle to keep out the cold wind.
"Hum! as is the master so are his servants--are we not far advanced
here in courtesy, and gentle customs Sir Niels! Know ye ought of such
gallantry in Jutland? All will now go on in as chivalrous a fashion as
in Spain and Italy. That we may thank these vagabond minstrels for,
with their ballads and their books of adventures, which my chivalrous
brother even takes with him in his pocket, on his campaigns. In the
knights' hall there, they are now talking, no doubt, of the beautiful
Florez and Blantzeflor, and of the virtuous Tristan and King Arthur.
All that is indispensable if one would pass for a courteous and courtly
knight;--and without, here, wanders a fool to sing serenades in the
moonlight, to the owls of Wordingborg tower."

"If that was a prison we passed. Sir Junker," observed his companion,
"it might be easily explained without such players' tricks."

"Well possibly," said the junker nodding. "It was here the Drost took
the liberty of caging Marsk Stig's raven brood instead of at
Kallundborg. Even the pretty vagabond ladies we shall find have their
adorers." The junker then ascended the stairs of the balcony.



                               CHAP. IX.


In the castle-yard, before the knights' hall, stood a crowd of curious
grooms and kitchen maids, to hear the singing, and gaze at the king and
the stranger-guests. Amid this gossiping and jesting throng, wandered a
fat, silent personage, closely muffled in a cloak. The maidens crowded
together, and giggled whenever he came near them, and the one joked the
other about him as a well-known wooer of the whole fair sex. It was the
generally self-satisfied and obsequious Sir Pallé, who now however
looked most solemn and thoughtful. He had here for some time listened
to the jests of the maidens and their talkative admiration of the
king's handsome presence and his splendour, and of all the pomp they
beheld. This seemed however but little to amuse him to-night; he yawned
with a sigh, and went with undecided steps towards the maidens' tower;
he now heard the sound of a lute in that part of the square, where fell
a partial shadow, and the cold wind whistled in eddies around the
pillars of the tower. He paused, and listened attentively; the sounds
continued, and he thought he discerned a dark form standing under the
tower window. He drew nearer with curiosity, and distinctly beheld a
man with a knight's helmet, around whose person fluttered an ample
mantle; while he gazed up at the grated window, and occasionally struck
the cords of a lute with wild earnestness. Pallé leaned back in alarm
against the wall, and thought he had recognised the mysterious guest of
the forest monastery. The cold perspiration broke out on his forehead;
but his curiosity overcame his fright, and he remained standing. He
heard a whisper, which was answered from above, and a deep but low
voice, now sung beneath:


           "Oh list then, Agneté, thus sue I to thee![5]
            Wilt thou be moved my true love to be?
              Ho! ho! ho!
            Wilt thou be moved my true love to be,
            To morrow they lead here the dance so free?"


The deep voice ceased; the little window rattled behind the grating,
and a sweet female voice sang from above--


           "Oh yes, by my troth, that will I indeed,
            O'er the sea so blue if thou'lt bear me with speed--
              Ha! ha! ha!
            O'er the sea so blue if thou'lt bear me with speed,
            But not to its depths will I dive with thee,
            Then to-morrow we'll lead the dance so free."


"Ha! Gundelille's voice, Ulrica Stig!" muttered Pallé; "ay, indeed, a
love adventure then! and yonder outlawed hound on _my_ preserve. This
shall soon be put a stop to!" In his jealous eagerness he plucked up
courage, and first stole a good way back from the tower; he then went
briskly forward again, and growled forth a song, while he tramped hard,
letting his long sword clatter after him on the stone pavement; but he
had hardly swaggered ten paces from the tower ere the disguised figure
rushed past him like lightning and threw him on the ground; he felt at
the same time a stab in his right side. "Murder! help!" gasped Pallé,
in a low voice. He dared not cry aloud and give the alarm lest the
terrible fugitive should return and despatch him at once. "Alas! poor
unoffending fellow I that am!" he moaned, "when I carry my head highest
I even get run through the body. Those accursed women! they are only
created to be my ruin--" He hasted to get upon his legs, and ran as hard
as he could over the dusky part of the court-yard to his chamber in the
knights' story, where in all secresy he had his wound examined and
bound up. His ample mantle had parried the thrust, and the wound seemed
trifling; but it pained him exceedingly, and the fright had so
overpowered him that he was compelled to retire to his couch. To the
many inquisitive questions put to him as to who it was that had wounded
him, he dared not answer a word; and the more he thought of his
mysterious rival the more alarmed he became. "The Drost!--send for the
Drost!" he at last exclaimed in a low tone. "It is a state secret; no
other may know it." Nobody attended much to this expression, which was
regarded merely as one of his customary boasts of a knowledge of state
affairs and secrets which it was known would never be entrusted to him.
At last, however, his attendants were forced to humour him, and sent a
messenger to summon the Drost.

Meanwhile the Lady Ulrica stood alone, and listened at the little
grated window in in the maidens' tower. On a work-table in the chamber
stood a lamp, and a handsome fisher-maiden's costume, trimmed with
pearls and silk ribbon, lay upon it. A sweet female voice was heard
singing in the adjoining apartment; here sat her sister, the meek
Margaretha, before the lamp, occupied in embroidering a large piece of
tapestry for an altar-cloth. The edge or border consisted of skilfully
worked foliage, with figures and scenes taken from life. There sprang
hart and hind--here danced ladies and knights in miniature; but within
the border hung the Saviour on the cross, and the Virgin Mary stood
with St. John and St. Magdalen at the foot of the cross as Mater
Dolorosa, represented as usual with a sword through the bosom. In the
foreground knelt a knight in black armour, with his consort and two
little maidens in mourning attire. In these figures she had pourtrayed
her father, the mighty Marsk Stig, and her proud and unhappy mother
Ingeborg, together with herself and her sister, as children. While
Margaretha sat diligently occupied in this employment, and sang the
ballad of Hagbarth and Signé, she noticed not what her capricious
sister was about.[6]

The distant sound of the festive din at the castle occasionally reached
the lonely prison of the captive maidens; when this happened, Ulrica
always became impatient, and wept at the thought of her exclusion from
these festivities, and Margaretha found it a hard task to comfort her.
Each time the sprightly little Karen came to supply their wants, Ulrica
eagerly and inquisitively questioned her of all that passed, and the
maiden was forced to give a description of all the stranger guests and
knights. It was only when Margaretha heard Drost Aagé's name, and
Karen's account of what she knew of his dangerous adventure at
Kallundborg, that she forgot her work, her hands dropped into her lap,
and she listened with attentive interest. What their attendant related
of the king, of his condescension towards the lowest, and his just
strictness towards the great and mighty, she also heard with a species
of interest, although not without a melancholy and sometimes bitter
smile when she thought of her own fate; but when Ulrica would be
informed of the looks of each of the stranger knights, of the colour of
their hair, beard, and clothes--how they sat at table, and with what
they were served, Margaretha was near losing patience; she therefore
was very glad when Ulrica, as now, took a fancy to shut herself up in
the little tiring chamber, there to busy herself with her gay apparel,
and gossip with their attendant Karen. Since the maiden had on the
morning of this day mentioned the tournament which was in preparation,
and the dance and masque which it was hoped would take place the next
evening, Ulrica had become joyous again. When she was not whispering
and gossiping with Karen, she sang quite gaily in the little tiring
chamber to which she had taken a special fancy.

Ulrica had shut herself up this evening in her favourite retreat. She
was again busied with her gay attire, and was humming a merry ballad
about Carl of Risé and Lady Rigmor; but she now heard her sister's
sweet melancholy song as she sat at her pious occupation, and the tears
suddenly started to the eyes of the easily excited Ulrica; she rose in
haste, as if scared by her own thoughts, and threw her decorations on
the floor. She opened the door, and flew to embrace her meek sister
with eager emotion.

"What is this, Ulrica? What ails thee, dearest sister?" asked
Margaretha, with sympathising uneasiness, as she returned her ardent
demonstrations of affection.

"Ah! I grew all on a sudden so anxious and sad," said Ulrica. "Thy song
was so sweet and sorrowful, just like a lonely forsaken bird's in its
cage, and I thought how it would be if thou wert left _quite_ alone in
this horrid tower, with no one whatever to care for thee and comfort
thee as thou hast comforted me and spoken kindly to me every day."

"Thou art still with me, dear Ulrica, and truly I sit here with a
cheerful heart at my precious tapestry. When the Lord wills it our
prison doors will assuredly open for us, and ere that time we need not
expect it. We will, however, never sorrow as those who have no hope."

"That is true indeed," said Ulrica, half offended, and wiping her eyes.
"When thou canst but embroider and tell thy rosary, and the adventures
of courteous knights, or sing the Drost's ballads, thou carest but
little for the whole fair world without; but _I_ can endure this life
no longer: when I hear the sea dashing below at night I often wish that
a merman would come and carry me off like Agneté. I would almost rather
be at the bottom of the sea than in this wearisome prison-hole."

"Never make such foolish and ungodly wishes, dear sister," answered
Margaretha, half alarmed, and involuntarily crossing herself. "It is
better, however, to be in prison and innocent than at liberty and
guilty, rememberest thou not what stands in holy writ about St. Peter
in prison, and what he said?"

"I know all that well enough," interrupted Ulrica, pettishly; "but,
nevertheless, there came an angel and took him out."

"If the Lord and our Lady will it so, such an angel might be sent to us
also," continued Margaretha. "It needs but an angel's thought in a
kindly soul. I, too, should rejoice to see God's fair world again, when
that might be with honour and without sin--but thou wert speaking of
mermen[7] and evil spirits, and I heard before how wildly thou sang'st;
it sounded to me like Agneté's answer to the merman--as though thou
wert an unhappy deluded maiden like her. Ah, sweet sister! I know too
well who thou art thinking of; but beware of him! he is assuredly just
as false as the ocean foam, and as the hapless Agneté's bridegroom."

"I require not he should be one hair better," answered Ulrica, eagerly.
"Truly it was that foolish fickle Agneté, and not her bridegroom, who
was false and faithless. She broke her vow, and left her wedded husband
and her little children, and would not return to them, however much he
besought her--such goodness and piety _I_ cannot understand; no, truly,
_he_ was far more good and honourable! I ever pitied him, poor wretch!
So _very_ frightful, either, he could not have been," she continued;
"he had fair hair and sparkling eyes like Sir Kaggé. Just listen!" and
she sang--


      "His hair was as the pure gold bright,
      His eyes they sparkled with joyous light."


"But it surely was no good sign," observed Margaretha, "when he entered
into the church, and all the holy images turned to the wall. Alas,
dearest sister, I could never look at Sir Kaggé's small sparkling
snake-like eye, but it seemed as though all pious and godly images fled
from my soul."

"Ah, thou art so unreasonable," exclaimed Ulrica impetuously; "so
terribly unreasonable, that it is impossible longer to bear with thee.
I shall run from thee as soon as I can,--that I tell thee beforehand;
but then," she added half sadly--"ah, then thou must not weep and mourn
for me, Margaretha! Wilt thou promise me that? or--wilt thou come too?"

"What art thou thinking of, poor dear child! art thou ever dreaming of
flight, and yet canst not find in thy heart to leave me? Make up thy
mind to be patient, sweet Ulrica! After all, we _cannot_ escape, and I
_would not_ if we could. With all his severity, the king is still good
and just, every one here says so; he will surely one day come to know
we are innocent, and will let us wander free out of his kingdom; that
is the utmost we can hope for, after what hath happened; and this hope
I do not give up."

"The king!" resumed Ulrica with vehemence, and with a proud toss of the
head; "truly the king is a revengeful, an obstinate, and unjust tyrant.
I would tell him so to his face, even were I certain he were my real
brother, as people say; but he should beware," she continued, with a
look of defiance, "it is neither chivalrous nor kingly, to keep ladies
and noble knights' daughters, perhaps even a king's daughter, in
prison. I know however of _one_ knight in the world who hath courage to
avenge us, and free me from this degradation."

"You terrify me, dear bewildered child! Art thou dreaming again of that
fearful greatness, and thinking of ungodly revenge! This comes not of
thyself--That dreadful Kaggé can surely never be here again?"

"If he _were_ here, should I tell it to thee, that thou in thy
conscientiousness might betray it to the zealous Sir Drost, and that I
might see my only friend on the wheel to-morrow?--thus far extends not
our sisterhood. A little while ago, I cared for thee, with my whole
heart," she continued, in a voice of lamentation, "but _now_ I cannot
abide thee; thou dost hate and despise the only human being that cares
for me, and thou mightest almost make me fear him did I not know him
better--this is not good of thee, Margaretha." She burst into a flood
of tears, held both her hands before her eyes, and pushed away her
sorrowing and sympathising sister, with her pretty elbows.

"Weep not, be not naughty and wroth, dearest Ulrica," entreated
Margaretha. "I hate no living soul in the world. Perhaps even Kaggé may
be better than I think; but if he is here and thou canst send a message
to him, then for heaven's sake, beseech him to fly, and not plot more
mischief."

"No, no!" said Ulrica, impatiently, and stamping with her little feet,
without, however, taking her hands from her eyes. "Who says he is here?
Would he _were_ here, and was going to help me hence! If I were once
gone, thou wouldst miss me though, Margaretha! Then thou wouldst rue
having made me so naughty and wroth and untoward to-night. Now thou
mayst sit down at thine ease, and think how thou wilt be able to make
me good again--I am going to my couch without even kissing thee, and
bidding thee good night," so saying, she ran to her couch, sprang into
it with her clothes and shoes on, and drew up the down quilt quite over
her head.

Margaretha seated herself on the side of the couch, and spoke gently
and soothingly to her. She would have taken the thick down quilt from
her face, but the little self-willed maiden held it fast with both
hands, and appeared to be strongly convulsed under it. Margaretha
became alarmed and feared she was ill; at last she was nearly weeping
herself; but Ulrica presently set up a loud laugh, and sprang from
under the quilt. "Look! now! am good again!" she said, playfully, and
hopped a graceful dancing step. "Come now, Margaretha, and thou shalt
see all my finery; for I will be present at the gay dance to-morrow,
that I tell thee; and if thou dost not let me slip out of the door with
little Karen, I jump out of the window and break my neck,--then thou
wilt be quit of me. Come and thou shalt see all my fine things!" so
saying, she threw her arms round her grave sister's neck, kissed her
and skipped with her into the little tiring chamber.



                                CHAP. X.


Some of the company in the knights' hall were entertaining themselves
with singing and lutes, but Junker Christopher had sat down to a grave
game at chess with the Duke of Langeland. Sir Niels Brock, Sir Johan
Papæ and their silent friend with the helmet, tried their fortune at
dice and backgammon. Count Gerhard listened with the king, the Marsk,
and the young knights, to the adventures and songs of the German
minstrels. These foreign masters of song sought especially to entertain
the king and his guests with lays composed in honour of all crowned
heads, whom they lauded as their munificent patrons and protectors. At
last they addressed themselves immediately to the king in a strain of
somewhat exaggerated panegyric, particularly on his learning, and in
the same metre and high-flown phrase in which the Minnesingers formerly
sang the praises of their loves. Count Gerhard smiled, and the king at
last became impatient. "No! this goes too far!" he exclaimed; "would
you make me believe, Master Rumelant, that you are enamoured of me as
though I were a fair maiden? No more of this! Sing to us, rather of the
brave Nibélungen, and the hero Siégfred."

"As you command! most mighty prince! My generous and noble patron!"
answered Master Rumelant, with a bow; but he had been thrown into such
confusion by the king's displeasure at his flatteries, that he could
recollect nothing perfectly, but jumbled different songs together.
"Stop! let _me_!" interrupted Master Poppé, with his warrior-like
voice, and he now began the bold and spirited German epic poem of the
brave Nibélungen, in tones which rang through the hall. The lay gained
great applause, but it was a long epic, which became wearisome by the
monotony of the melody or recitative. When Poppé paused only for a
moment to take breath, or recollect, Master Rumelant instantly took up
the lay, and as soon as he made any mistake, or faultered, Master Poppé
recommenced with renovated powers; and thus it seemed as though the
poem would never be ended.

The king was, however, an attentive listener, and laughed once or twice
right heartily at the naïve and vivid descriptions; but at last he grew
tired, and cleared his throat several times. "Excellent! excellent!
good sirs; thanks!" he said, interrupting the unwearied singers. "That
is enough for one time. There is marrow and bone in your heroic lays,
as well as in your warriors; they are almost as hard to despatch. Now
we should like to hear a Danish song. We have, indeed, no such single
heroic poem, unless it be our chronicles. In reality, they compose an
epic which I trust will never be ended. Our war songs are but fragments
of them, but they are therefore better suited for songs. They never
flag, but go on briskly, and that I ought to like right well, since I
am myself of a somewhat impetuous temper. We have, besides, no real
master of the art as yet," he continued: "but our songs are national,
and are sung both by knight and peasant. Where is the Drost?"

The Drost had been some time ago summoned from the hall, and no one
knew where he was.

"Now Marsk Oluffsen! do _you_ sing of our warriors and heroes!" said
the king. "But have a care you split not the good arches here in our
hall! I know your voice well."

"I would rather fight than sing songs for you, my liege!" answered the
Marsk; "they say I sing like a growling bear, but if you desire it I
will willingly growl you out a song." He then cleared his throat, and
began in a bass voice as deep and hollow as from an abyss.


                 "It was young Ulf van Jern,
                    Unto the king went he,
                  My father's death for to avenge,
                    Your men will you lend me."[8]


"Silence!" exclaimed the king, stamping vehemently on the floor.

The Marsk was silent, and stared at him in astonishment.

"What are ye thinking of, Sir Marsk! would you remind the king of his
father's death?" whispered Count Henrik in his ear.

"By all the martyrs! who ever thought of that?" said the Marsk, and
hastily withdrew. Soon after, the master of the household stepped
forward, and summoned the king and his guests to the supper-table, as
he threw open the door of the dining-hall.

As was customary when the king was present, all the etiquettes of the
table were observed according to chivalrous usage. Each knight had his
appointed seat, with a small separate trencher and napkin. When the
king went to take his place, he was wont to walk round the table of his
knights, and at times to cast an observant glance over these small
napkins, which were to lie whole and smoothly spread before the seats
of the knights, with bread and trenchers, or plates, in a prescribed
position. If a rent or a slit was found in the napkin, or if the bread
lay reversed, it implied a charge touching the honour of the knight to
whom the bread and napkin belonged, and the person thus accused was
instantly obliged to leave the table, and remain shut out from the
community of knights, until he should have justified himself. The day
preceding a tournament there were generally a herald and two
pursuivants, or under-heralds, present, at the king's table and that of
his knights, to watch over the observance of these customs. This was
the case on this evening.

When the king came to the middle of the knights' table, he stopped, on
remarking three trenchers upon which the bread lay reversed; he
started, and nodded to the herald.

"Who are to sit here?" asked the king with a stern look.

"The high-born knights, Sir Niels Brock and Sir Johan Papæ, my liege,"
answered the herald, with lowered staff and a precise deportment. "Also
a certain Ako Krummedigé, whom no one knows. It is he to whom it hath
been permitted to wear his helmet here in the hall, and keep silence
towards every one, according to his knights' vow at the holy
sepulchre."

"Who is their accuser?"

"An unknown knight, my liege! but he hath placed his covered shield as
a pledge in the armoury; he will appear and give his name when it is
demanded."

"Well! be watchful, herald! fulfil thy duty!" so saying, the king went
to take his seat.

Shortly afterwards Sir Niels and Sir Papæ, with their mysterious
friend, appeared, and were about to take their accustomed places. On
seeing the reversed bread, however, they started; the knight of the
helmet changed colour and drew back a step; but Brock and Papæ hastily
replaced the bread in prescribed form, and took their seats with a look
of haughty defiance; at the same moment the herald advanced with a
drawn sword in his hand, directly opposite to them on the other side of
the table; he slit, with the point of his sword, the three small
napkins before them. "Sir Niels Brock, Sir Johan Papæ, and you who call
yourself Sir Ako Krummedigé!" he said, solemnly, "In the name of Danish
chivalry, I cut asunder, as I have done your table napkins, every tie
of fellowship between you and knighthood. You are accused of treachery
and treason; of a Judas deed and projected regicide; therefore you are
ejected from the king's, and every honourable knight's society, until
you have met your accuser and justified yourselves, if you are able to
do so; in consideration of the gravity of the accusation, I demand of
ye, besides, your weapons, and announce to you that you are put under
knightly arrest."

The herald then beckoned, and the two pursuivants advanced to receive
the swords of the prisoners, and lead them to their confinement. All
the guests rose in astonishment, and the king's knights and halberdiers
drew their swords.

"Confounded mummery!" muttered the tall knight, Brock, as he rose.
"There, herald!" he called in a loud voice, and threw his glove on the
table--"Take that to my accuser! wherever he meets me, my good sword
shall prove him to be a liar and a fool--where is he? Dare he not name
himself and look me in the face?"

"Here he stands!" said a voice from the door of the dining hall, and
Drost Aagé stood there erect and calm on the threshold, with his hand
on his sword, gazing with a searching look on the three accused
knights.

"I laugh at the accusation of a dreamer and a visionary," cried Brock
in a proud and scornful tone. "We meet. Sir Drost! I do but deposit my
sword in the hands of these men that I may receive it to-morrow,
acquitted by the king and knighthood, after washing out the blot here
cast on mine and my friends' honour with the blood of the calumniator."
He then delivered up his sword to the pursuivants.

Papæ had risen likewise; he also threw his glove with a contemptuous
smile on the table--"There lies my pledge." he said, "and here is my
answer to my accuser, whoever he may be, even though he should be given
over to the devil, and the destruction of the flesh." So saying, he
flung his large battle sword on the flagged floor at the herald's feet.
They then both went with haughty and hasty strides out of the door,
casting one or two flashing glances at the Drost, and with the
pretended Ako Krummedigé between them. This silent and disguised knight
had become as blanched in the face as his slit trencher-napkin. He had
given up his sword to the pursuivants; no sound issued from his blue
compressed lips--but his glance rolled with fearful wildness beneath
his bushy and blackened eyebrows; his legs tottered under him, and he
was forced to take hold of the strong Sir Niels to keep himself from
sinking on the floor. The Drost himself followed these dangerous
prisoners to see that the formalities of their imprisonment were
legally and properly conducted.

This singular occurrence had excited great astonishment. The general
silence was soon succeeded by a low whispering. The two daring knights
were well known; every one was aware that they were suspected of having
abetted the archbishop's flight. It was also known that they belonged
to the discontented in the land;--of friends they had not a few; and
they passed for brave, independent lovers of their country, who cared
not to flatter royalty, but had strength and courage to maintain the
liberties of the people, and their own rights in council against the
mightiest. That they should have joined in treasonable conspiracies did
not seem probable; and it was supposed the Drost had been too
precipitate in making this singular charge. As the king's favourite, he
was not free from the attacks of envy. "It is sad to think of the young
Drost," whispered one of the junker's knights, "he is such a dreamer he
scents treason everywhere, and makes the king to be hated, by his
ill-timed zeal." Respecting the unknown knight with the helmet, and his
guilt, there were many conjectures; he appeared in a suspicious light
to most of the company--but that one of the outlaws should have dared
to enter into the king's presence and sit at his table, seemed an act
of such presumptuous daring, that none believed it to be possible.
Meanwhile, all took their seats. Although the wine-flasks soon went
round, the company appeared, however, unable to forget the unpleasant
transaction which had clouded the king's countenance, as well as his
step-father's; and, as it seemed, had also thrown Junker Christopher
into an anxious and uneasy mood. It was not until all were seated, that
Drost Aagé again entered the supper hall. He also was silent and
depressed. He took his seat directly opposite the king and Junker
Christopher. The three nearest knights rose to make room for him,
according to the ancient usages of the table, and he sat down without
saying a word respecting the accused and their crime. He seemed lost in
reverie, and appeared not to notice the unusual flagging of the
conversation around him; but his attention was in reality rivetted with
affectionate sympathy on the deep emotion he thought he discovered in
the king's countenance. The gloomy sternness before depicted in it
seemed now to be lost in thoughtful sadness. Eric sat with his wine cup
in his hand, and regarded with a kindly look his friend and step-father
Count Gerhard; at last he nodded involuntarily, and turned towards his
reconciled foe, Duke Eric of Langeland. "A health in honour of the
negotiator of peace and of my reconciled kinsman!" he said, suddenly
rising from his seat. All the knights stood up--and the king
continued--"Even this feast in honour of peace hath been made gloomy to
me by traitors; they shall have their deserts; to-morrow is the day for
passing sentence; to-day we will not think on it. At _this_ moment, I
trust in the Lord and our blessed Lady that no secret traitor drains a
cup in our hall. Long live Count Gerhard and Duke Eric!"

"Long life to them, and long live our noble king!" was echoed from
mouth to mouth, with great and nearly universal enthusiasm, while the
goblets rang, and the horn-players, on a signal from the herald, made
their instruments resound through the hall.

Junker Christopher had also joined in the general shout of acclamation,
and the king appeared especially to rejoice at hearing his brother's
voice so animated on this occasion. His eye sought the junker's while
he rung his glass against his; but Christopher's glance was cold,
restless, and irresolute, while his cheek glowed, and he twisted the
corner of his napkin with his left hand. A smothered sigh escaped the
king's breast as he again resumed his seat. Aagé now observed, with
great astonishment, that there was a large rent in Junker Christopher's
napkin, which he was vainly striving to conceal with his hand. The king
seemed to have made the same discovery at the same instant. He had
suddenly changed colour, and his countenance expressed a fearful degree
of wrath and grief; he made a movement as if he were about to start up,
but instantly recovered himself by a strong internal effort; he set
down his cup directly before him on the table, and, by pushing his own
napkin from him, contrived to hide with it the rent in his brother's.

A look of affectionate admiration from Drost Aagé was repressed by a
stern glance of the king's serious eye while he laid his finger on his
lips. "Music!" he called, and gave a signal to the herald. The hall
soon resounded with lively hunting horns. The gravity of the guests
presently disappeared, and each talked gaily with his neighbour; the
king himself appeared gay and in spirits, although Aagé, indeed,
remarked that it cost him a desperate effort. When the castle chaplain,
at the conclusion of the feast, was about to pronounce the blessing,
all the knights had become so joyous and loud-tongued, that the herald
was twice compelled to remind them of the etiquette of the table. When
the repast was ended the king retired in haste to his private chamber,
and beckoned gravely to Aagé to follow him. When Christopher rose, he
threw his napkin, as if by accident, under the table; he then went out
on the hall balcony, and whistled; soon afterwards the prince's large
hunting-hound came bounding through the hall, with a crumpled napkin in
his mouth.

The king had entered the private chamber with Aagé; he had thrown
himself into a chair, and held his hand before his eyes. He remained a
long time in this posture. Aagé stood in silence opposite to him,
regarding him with a look of sorrowful sympathy. The king at last took
his hand from his eyes, and he appeared to have wept. "Who hath dared
to destroy love and confidence between brothers?" he exclaimed; "if it
was you, Drost Aagé, it is the last time I call you my Drost."

"I it was not, my noble liege!" answered Aagé; "_who_ it was I know
not. May the Lord pardon that man among your true servants who so
unwisely and rashly hath grieved you! It must have been done secretly,
and without the herald's knowledge."

"I despise a secret accusation," continued the king; "it is unlawful;
it is in a high degree deserving of chastisement; it shall--yet no--no
examination can take place in this case. If he _is_ a traitor," he
continued, and deep grief was again visible in his countenance, "were
he capable! Be it as God wills--_I_ injure not a hair of his head.
Should I disgrace my father in his children? Should I doom my mother's
son outlawed and dishonoured? Should I myself, Great God!----" He
paused, and his hair seemed to stand on end with horror. "Look at me,
Aagé," he resumed; "could _such_ a thought be harboured here?" He laid
his hand on his high and glowing forehead. "It burns within," he
continued; "but no unseen Cain's mark burns there. My hand was sternly
raised against him--love me he cannot--fear me he must. Well! let him
tremble before his liege and sovereign until he learns to love his
brother. Now, not a word more of this! It is perhaps only spite and
slander. Who dares charge my left hand of treachery against the right?
I know nothing as yet--I _will_ know nothing--I have known enough of
evil----" He began again after a thoughtful pause, and with a gloomy
downcast look--"have I not had traitors around me since I was a child?
Have I not seen my father murdered, and his shameless murderers in my
presence? Have not their bloody hands been secretly and openly raised
against my life from the hour in which I doomed them outlawed? yet have
they not had the power to touch me," he continued with cheerfulness,
and raised his head. "No assassin's dagger hath yet reached me, even
though excommunicated and given over to the Evil One. I know it, Aagé;
I have seen it--the hand of the righteous Lord was betwixt me and my
deadly foes. No traitor and murderer--not even a soul murderer--no
sinful archbishop or pope--not the arch-fiend himself--shall shake the
crown upon this head." As he said these words he raised his hand and
looked upwards with a glance of almost prophetic inspiration, and there
was a nobleness and majesty in his countenance which seemed capable of
humbling the most presumptuous foe.

"My liege!" exclaimed Aagé, with heartfelt joy, "the spirit which
speaks through you at this hour is not alone the spirit of royalty and
justice, but surely that of love also."

"Go to my brother, my faithful Aagé," interrupted the king hastily;
"take him this----" He took a gold chain from his neck, to which hung
an image of the Madonna. "Pray him to accept this jewel from his
brother, as a memorial of this celebration of peace. Tell him our
unhappy father wore this image to the day of his death." The king
turned hastily away, and seemed desirous to hide the sorrowful emotion
which had caused his voice to falter. Aagé stood with the chain in his
hand, and was about to give vent to the warmth of his feelings; but the
king turned suddenly, and said, in a stern voice, "Tomorrow a council
of knights will be held. The accused shall be arraigned, and defend
themselves if they can. All are equal here with respect to the law--be
they friends or foes. Woe to the accuser who hath not ample proof, were
he even my dearest friend! Go! and the Lord be with thee."

Aagé bowed in silence, with wounded feelings, and would have departed,
but the king, on perceiving his emotion, stretched out his arms towards
him, and pressed him to his heart, without saying a word more.

Aagé hastily departed with the chain. When the king was alone in his
chamber, he put his hand into his vest, and drew forth a rosary,
garnished with pearls and rubies. "Thy Christmas gift when we were
children, my Ingeborg!" he said, with deep emotion. "What thou knewest
I would ask for besides, thy angel joined me in prayer for at the
throne of Grace.--Christopher! Christopher! may God forgive thee the
thought thine eye betrayed!" He then imprinted a kiss on the rosary,
replaced it in his vest, and sat down quietly before his table to
attend to state affairs.



                               CHAP. XI.


Early the next morning a herald-pursuivant stood in Drost Aagé's
sleeping apartment, with his large plumed hat in one hand, and a long,
pointed sword in the other. The Drost hastened to put on his garments,
while he listened with anxious attention to the information which was
given him. The three accused knights had disappeared in the night,
together with the men-at-arms, who had relieved guard at midnight
before the door of the knights' story. Sir Niels Brock's and Sir Johan
Papæ's horses had been taken out of the stable--none of their squires
or servants were to be seen in the castle; but the large well-fed horse
which the pretended Sir Ako Krummedigé had bestrode was still standing
in the stable. The pursuivant who brought these tidings to the Drost
delivered to him, at the same time, the sword which at the repast of
the preceding evening he had received from the mysterious knight with
the helmet, and drew the Drost's attention to a singular contrivance in
it. The hilt was hollow, and contained a fluid, which, by means of a
spring, might be imparted to the blade. A dog, whose skin had been
scratched with this sword, had died in convulsions.

"Ha! a poisoned weapon!" exclaimed Aagé in alarm, returning the sword
with a look of horror; "take it instantly before the judgment hall of
the castle--Thou canst of course bear witness on oath from whom thou
didst receive it?"

"That I shall find it hard to do. Sir Drost, seeing no one knows who he
really is," answered the pursuivant; "but that it was the dumb knight
with the helmet--him they call Sir Krummedigé--I can take my oath upon.
I should also announce, Sir Drost," he continued, "that the junker's
gentleman of the bedchamber, Sir Pallé, died last night of his wound,
although it was so trifling that we jeered him about it almost to the
last. The surgeon swears he hath been wounded by a three-edged poisoned
dagger."

"Our Lady be merciful unto us!" exclaimed Aagé. "His deadly terror was
then but too well founded--We have had a poisoner then as our guest!
Even now he may perhaps be among us!"

The Drost hastily left his chamber. Soon afterwards Marsk Oluffsen's
rough voice was heard in the court of the castle, and ere it rang for
mattins a knight, at the head of a troop of horse, rode at full gallop
out of the castle gate. The Marsk himself, it was said, was gone to the
chase. He dashed on with a number of hunters and hounds through the
park. The Drost searched the whole castle. Ere mattins were ended, the
Marsk and his huntsmen brought a bound captive to the tower. It was the
mute knight with the helmet. His beard and eyebrows had changed colour,
and it was soon known that he was one of the outlaws.

Amid the bustle caused at the castle by providing for the court, and
attending on its numerous guests, much notice was not attracted towards
these serious proceedings. The expected tournament and the knightly
festivities occupied every one. The squires polished their master's
arms and costly saddle-furniture; the prancing chargers were trained
and tended; and the mild spring weather seemed to promise a bright day
for the festivity. From the town and the neighbourhood crowds of gaily
attired persons flocked to the castle. The splendidly accoutred knights
careered eagerly and indefatigably with each other. All the castle
windows which looked on the tilt-yard were already crowded with richly
attired ladies, and most persons seemed to have forgotten both mattins
and mass for the festival. It was whispered, indeed, that the
tournament would not take place; but no one was disposed to believe
this, as workmen began to bestir themselves, and preparations were
still carried on, which kept expectation alive. Meanwhile the king was
seen to ride as usual to mass with his princely guests, attended by his
halberdiers. He was grave and thoughtful. Junker Christopher rode in
gloomy silence by his side; he wore over his breast the large gold
chain, with the image of the Madonna, which the king was wont to wear
himself; and this token of distinction was regarded as a sign that all
misunderstanding must have been removed between the brothers. The
junker's eye meanwhile avoided the king's, and not one word was
exchanged between them on the road to and from church.

After mass, the king instantly repaired to the knights' hall with all
his men, and it was announced by the heralds that a knights' council,
and a court of justice would be held. The tournament and the other
festivities were in the meantime announced by the Marsk to be given up;
and people now flocked to the knights' hall to see the king administer
justice among his knights. He sat with an unusually stern and grave
aspect on the raised ivory throne, and was surrounded by regal state
and splendour. He first examined into the conduct of some young knights
who were accused of minor faults and transgressions of the laws of
chivalry. Those who either could not prove their innocence according to
the established proceedings of temporal justice, or where doubt was
entertained, relied on sword and lance, for redeeming their honour were
sternly banished the castle; but those who acknowledged and repented a
pardonable error, obtained permission by bold and knightly deeds, to
regain their place and rank among the king's men.

The Drost now stepped forth in his own and in the name of the murdered
Sir Pallé, with an accusation against the pretended Sir Ako Krummidigé,
as the assassin of that slain knight, as well as against Sir Niels
Brock and Sir Johan Papæ, as traitors and secret conspirators against
state and crown, and he craved permission, in case the testimony he
brought forward was not considered sufficient to establish his charge,
to confirm it with sword and lance, to be judged by God, in a combat
for life and death with the traitors. As the two knights so seriously
accused, had escaped by unlawful flight, they were proclaimed to be
suspected, and cited to appear and defend themselves before the
expiration of six weeks and one day, if they would not be passed
sentence upon as traitors; but the pretended Ako Krummedigé, whose real
name was now discovered by sufficient evidence, was led before the
tribunal. He was clad in the ancient armour in which he was attired on
his first arrival; he wore also the helmet and shield he had brought
with him from the monastery, and on which the famous armorial bearings
of the noble family of the Hvides were noticed for the first time; but
he had no sword by his side, and was surrounded by a strong guard. The
glossy black was removed from his stiff beard, which now resembled the
bristles of a boar; and from his bushy, meeting-eyebrows which were
considered by the lower orders as a [9]"Wolfman's mark." and by which
the outlawed Sir Kaggé was especially distinguished.

He was pale, and stared wildly around him. When he heard himself named
and accused, and beheld the king in the large circle of attentive
knights, he seemed to struggle against appearing cast down or humbled.

He raised his head, and stepped forward with a bold and haughty look,
and even with the assumption of a degree of knightly dignity. "I greet
thee, King Eric Ericson!" he said, in a loud voice. "I greet every
brave knight who serves with honour here at court! Christ preserve
every dear son of Denmark from the misfortune which brings me hither!
But if there be brave and true Danish men here present, the man who
became outlawed for Denmark's freedom and the honour of Danish chivalry
will not lack weapons and defenders."

"Talk not of freedom and honour, _thou_ who hast nought but effrontery
and deeds of infamy to boast of!" began the king with calm and cold
contempt. "Under the name of a pious and honourable man, thou hast
crept into my hall among men of honour, and abused the sacred laws of
chivalry, to hide deceit and treachery. Thy mask hath fallen off
traitor! thy poisoned weapon hath betrayed thee--Thou wert chased from
Denmark for a Judas deed; yet still thou hast dared to enter my
presence. _One_ assassination thou hast already perpetrated in my royal
castle, and another thou hast meditated--Canst thou deny it? Hast thou
a word to say in thy defence, miscreant?"

The prisoner bit his lips, and ground his teeth. "If I come not
precisely from the holy sepulchre," he muttered, "I come, however, from
the graves of kinsmen and friends, and from the corpses of murdered
comrades. The fool whose mouth I have stopped, was a soulless lump of
flesh, on whom I did but whet my dagger. What I purposed besides, is no
concern of any one; but what I had promised, it was my fixed resolve to
perform. Against tyrants no weapon is dishonourable, King Eric! and if
an outlawed man hath neither rights nor safety, how then can you
suppose he will let himself be bound by your pitiful laws?"

"Have ye considered the matter, my knights!" said the king; "then
pronounce doom upon this audacious criminal, according to the laws of
God and man!"

"He hath forfeited honour and life, according to the laws of the land,"
was the unanimous verdict. "According to strict justice, he hath even
forfeited hand and eye." The herald pronounced the doom in a loud
voice.

When Kaggé heard his death doom, his knees shook, and he looked around
him with a rapid and searching glance, as if expecting to find
defenders or protectors against the sentence, among the spectators, but
there was a death-like stillness; no one moved tongue or hand in his
defence. He seemed humbled, and now bent on one knee before the
tribunal. "Bethink you, King Eric!" he said, in a supplicating tone, "I
served in your royal father's castle, and he himself gave me the praise
of being the best squire he had. His death was never my wish, I would
have saved him had it been in my power; although he had broken his
contract and had himself loosened the tie which bound Denmark's crown
to his head."

"I remember well thou didst serve in my father's castle, for hire and
for garments," answered the king; "but I know, and every man in Denmark
knows, also, that thou wert in Finnerup barn, on that bloody St.
Cecilia's eve, and thy sword was not the _last which_ was plunged into
the breast of thy unhappy master and king. As a faithless traitor and
regicide thou wert however but outlawed while I was a minor, but now
thou shalt suffer just punishment, as surely as I wear Denmark's
crown!"

"Is there not a single free man here, who dares to speak a word for
me?" cried the captive, springing up with a wild look. "Ha! slaves of a
tyrant! I despise ye," he continued, looking frantically around him.
"The deed for which I was outlawed, was the proudest ever achieved by
Danish man. A tyrant's murder hath been an honoured deed so long as the
world hath stood, wherever a spark of freedom was in the spirit of the
people--Now there are nought but cowardly slaves in Denmark, and it
shames me to call you countrymen. There you stand aghast! because a
bold word is heard again in kingly hall--You have courage only for
crawling in the dust before a revengeful despot, and to doom the last
friend of freedom to the scaffold--Is it not enough for you to see my
blood? Will you saw off my hands and feet? Will you pluck out my eyes,
that no free man may see you blush? Will you deal thus with a
descendant of Skialm--Hvide's noble race? I am a knight," he added
proudly. "I demand but to be judged by the law of knighthood--That is
recognised over all the world, but under this country's laws I stand no
longer."

"Who dubbed thee a knight? asked the king, with a contemptuous look.

"The greatest knight in Denmark's kingdom," answered the captive,
drawing himself up with a look of defiance. "The man whose shoe latchet
no knight here was worthy to loose--The Marsk of Denmark's kingdom,
Stig Anderson Hvide, and if your chivalrous bearing is aught else than
empty boast and mockery, King Eric, you will suffer me to be judged
with equity according to the law which is as the apple of your eye."

"Be it so, by all the holy men!" exclaimed the king with glowing
cheeks; "according to the law of chivalry shall thy doom be executed,
since thou dost thyself demand it, and thou shalt learn what it is to
be doomed to dishonour. The knighthood which an outlawed regicide gave
thee is truly but little honour worth, nevertheless thou shalt not take
it with thee to thy dishonourable death. Thy hands and feet thou shalt
keep, and thy false eyes also--but the honour thou boastest of, thou
shalt lose according to law, for the sake of chivalry--and thy life for
my father's sake alone."

At a signal from the king, the captive was now removed, and a council
of the oldest knights met together to decide upon the mode of carrying
the sentence into execution, according to the laws of chivalry.

Three hours afterwards, the captive was led in full knightly armour,
and on horseback, to a high scaffold within the lists, under which the
king himself appeared on horseback, surrounded by all his knights. The
castle chaplain stood on the scaffold, at the head of a row of monks
from the Dominican monastery. The captive was led up hither, not indeed
to suffer death, but, according to the laws of chivalry to be ejected
from the community of knights in a manner the most degrading. There was
a crowd assembled; all the windows of the castle, as well as the stands
on the lists were thronged with curious spectators. From the window of
the servants' hall, close by the maidens' tower, peeped forth a fair
little inquisitive face which was remarked for its beauty and
animation; it was the captive Lady Ulrica, who without knowing what was
going forward, had persuaded the tractable Karen to take her with her,
to see the great procession which was talked of. No one knew what was
to happen. The whole transaction was hitherto unknown in Denmark, where
the young King Eric was the first sovereign who endeavoured to
introduce all the usages of chivalry, and the novelty and mystery of
the proceeding, tended still more to heighten curiosity. Ulrica beheld
the priests on the high scaffold, and a knight in full armour led upon
it: his back was turned to the window, and she did not recognise him. A
rough sour-visaged man in a red cloak, with an iron club in hand, now
stepped forward, he looked like an executioner, but however carried
neither sword nor axe. He tore the shield from the knight, and struck
off his armour; after which he broke the shield and armour into pieces
with his iron club, and cast the fragments at his feet.

"Gracious heaven! Is this an execution?" cried Ulrica in dismay. The
knight was now led down from the scaffold. He turned his pale and
terrible countenance towards her, and she recognised him. "Kaggé!
righteous heaven!" she exclaimed with a shriek, and sank swooning in
the arms of her attendants. They hastened to carry her back to the
tower, and to the fostering care of her gentle sister.

The armorial bearings were taken from Kaggé's broken shield; they were
now, together with the shield, fastened to the tail of a mare, and thus
dragged in the mire through the streets of Wordingborg, followed by the
scoffs of the herald, which were echoed by the enraged mob.

The disarmed knight was meanwhile led upon the dunghill near the
stables of the castle; here his gold spurs were taken off, and on the
same degrading spot the tail of the horse he rode last was docked.
While the attention of the spectators was rivetted on these singular
proceedings, the dishonoured knight made a vain attempt to escape. He
was now bound with cords, and again led upon the scaffold--there he
stood staring wildly around him and foaming with rage, while the
priests chanted a requiem over him as over the dead. He looked around
in a frenzy; when, however, he perceived that the sword of the
executioner was not glittering over his head, he seemed not as yet to
have abandoned all hope of life, and drew himself up in desperate
defiance. The solemn death-chant, nevertheless, appeared to awe him,
and to damp his resolution. Ere it was ended, he sank down in an
attitude of prayer. The chanting ceased, and the castle chaplain
presently stepped forward with the holy scriptures, and began to read
with a loud voice the Psalmist's denunciations against traitors--"Let
there be none to extend mercy unto him, let his posterity be cut off,
and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. As he
loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he delighted not in
blessing, so let it be far from him----"

"Nay! silence with thy curses Priest! Whether they be scripture or
not!" called the king with vehemence. "His soul must be judged by the
merciful God. It is here question only of knightly honour."

But the chaplain had entered with such zeal into his text, that,
without heeding the king's words, he still added, "When he shall be
judged, let him be condemned, and let his prayer become sin----"

The kneeling knight started up at these words, and glared frantically
at the priest, "Know then, every free man in Denmark! and judge if it
were sin!" he shouted--"I prayed in this hour to the vanquisher of
monsters, St. Magnus, and all the saints, that king Glipping's accursed
race might be rooted out of the earth, as he was himself by this hand
in Finnerup Barn."

"Thou didst declare the truth unto him priest!" said the king,
suppressing with difficulty his exasperated feelings-- "yet--no more
ecclesiastical cursing! his thoughts and prayers are for God to judge;
this criminal stands here only before his earthly judges."

The priest was silent; the king now turned solemnly to the
pursuivant-at-arms, and asked, "Say, what is this criminal's name?"

"Sir Aagé Kaggé, of the noble race and lineage of the high-born
Hvides," answered the pursuivant-at-arms.

"That is not _his_ name who here stands in our sight," cried the
herald, "for in _him_ I and Danish chivalry only recognise a traitor, a
deceiver, and a false swearer."

The king thrice asked the name of the criminal. The herald-pursuivant
named it each time, and each time the herald cried, "that is not HIS
name!" with the same annulling addition. When the herald had proclaimed
these words for the last time, he received from the hand of the
pursuivant-at-arms an ewer with hot water; he then mounted the scaffold
with it, and dashed the water over the head and shoulders of the
dishonoured knight, with these words, "Thus I efface the sacred mark of
knighthood from this corpse."

As soon as these words were uttered, the criminal was looked upon as
dead, and treated as an actual corpse. He was dragged by cords down
from the scaffold, and tied on a bier. A pall was spread over him, and
while the king and all his knights rode back to the castle, Kaggé,
followed by a scoffing mob of the lowest class, was borne to the
church, where the priests again prayed and chanted over him as over the
dead. When the pall was at last removed, in order to lead him to actual
death, he lay senseless on the bier, and it was doubted whether he
ought in this state to be carried to the place of execution.

"Go hence and let him alone! The sun hath gone down, and he shall be
unmolested here till to-morrow," said a powerful and authoritative
voice, and the Commendator of the monastery of the Holy Ghost stepped
solemnly forward in his white dress as master of the choir, with his
double twelve-pointed silver cross on his breast. All recognised him,
and bowed reverently with folded hands, and half-bended knees, to
receive his blessing.

The provost and his attendants, who were to conduct the prisoner to the
place of execution, seemed, however, somewhat doubtful and lingered.
"_I_ am responsible! Go hence all of you, and let the sinner lie here
till to-morrow!" repeated the Commendator, "his soul shall have time to
prepare for its separation from the sinful body. It is the duty of my
holy office to care for the souls of the departing. In the name of the
church and the holy spirit, I command the temporal authority here
present to give way!"

Every one departed; the Commendator last quitted the church, and
ordered the church door to be locked. By command of the provost, a
strong guard of men-at-arms was stationed before it.

When the provost and his attendants early the following morning entered
the church to lead the unknighted captive (already dead in law) to
execution, a real corpse was found bound to the bier. Some thought that
the proceedings of the previous day were sufficient to kill him; others
deemed it probable that he might have expired from dread when he came
to himself in the night, and found himself alone and bound on the bier
in the deserted church. The idea that terror had caused the death of
the miscreant captive while lying in such wretched plight the whole
night, in expectation of his death, now excited a species of compassion
in the same mob who on the preceding day could not sufficiently taunt
and scoff the detested assassin; and it was discovered that, after all,
the king had been far too strict, and that even the pious Commendator
himself had in a great degree augmented the sinner's punishment by
caring for his soul in such sort; and allowing him the space of a whole
night to die of terror, during his preparation for death. The face of
the corpse was swollen, and already in such a state that none could
recognise the outlawed knight, excepting from the bristly beard and
meeting eyebrows. The body was instantly, and in all privacy, buried
without the customary ritual of the church, and in unconsecrated
ground. But hardly was the dead man interred, ere a low murmur was
heard among the restless populace that it could scarcely have been the
right corpse after all. The speedy change in the appearance of the body
so early in the spring was deemed exceedingly suspicious, and it was
rumoured that the beard and eye-brows were undoubtedly false. It was
known that the outlawed Aagé Kaggé had been a kinsman of Archbishop
Grand; and the Commendator of the order of the Holy Ghost, who from the
monastery might have ingress to the church, was conjectured to have
availed himself of his authority on this occasion, to save a kinsman of
that mighty and dangerous prelate. This rumour, however, was instantly
put down by the provost and his attendants, whom it might have caused
seriously to be brought to account. It reached neither the ears of the
King nor the Drost, and it was believed at court (as had been in legal
form announced by the temporal authorities of the town) that the
outlawed regicide had been found lifeless on the bier, and that the
body had been buried in the morning, after lawful inspection.

The stern solemnity which pervaded the king's proceedings at this time
at Wordingborg was remarked by all. The festivities which had been
looked forward to with pleasure on occasion of the treaty with the
Dukes, were wholly relinquished, and all the stranger nobles and
knights soon left the castle. Junker Christopher had taken a cold and
hasty farewell, and it was said had repaired to Kallundborg or Holbeck.
Both these castles had been restored to him with full investiture of
the fiefs. Ere his departure, he had announced that the maidens' tower
was carelessly guarded, and that the fair prisoners were in
communication with the household, and probably even with persons of
more consideration. This information compelled the commandant to
observe more strictness in guarding the captives. The obliging little
Karen was replaced by a grave female attendant, and no one but herself
and a monk skilled in medicine were admitted to the tower. The youngest
of the captive maidens was ill, it was said, and not quite in her right
mind. She imagined she had seen an execution, and that she herself was
a princess who had an unfortunate prince for a lover. This gave rise to
much gossip, and all manner of conjectures among the household at the
castle. Drost Aagé was spoken of as the most zealous friend and
advocate of the captive maidens, and it was supposed that by means of
his influence their cause would soon be decided in their favour.

The king, with his state council and halberdiers, remained until past
Easter at Wordingborg Castle, from whence were issued many royal
mandates and ordinances. In these matters the Drost was, next to the
king himself, especially occupied, and was seldom seen to join the
other knights in their diversions within the lists or in the tennis
court. He was, as usual, grave and pensive. Occasionally he was seen in
the moonlight spring evenings to wander alone, as if lost in reverie,
around the maidens' tower. Since the king's arrival at Wordingborg,
Aagé had not seen the captive maidens; it appeared that he had heard
the gossiping reports of his warm interest for them, and that he feared
to injure their cause or their reputation by a visit.



                               CHAP. XII.


It was a fortnight after Easter. The trees of the chase were springing
into leaf. Flocks of twittering starlings in whirling clouds hovered
and sang above the towers of Wordingborg Castle. The cuckoo's note was
heard in the beech groves, and the nightingale was come. The Marsk
stood in the ante-chamber awaiting orders. Ah inquiry was made after
the Drost. He had repaired to the maidens' tower with the judges of the
court of justice of the castle, in order to be present at an
examination of Marsk Stig's daughters. He had himself hastened this act
of justice, in his firm conviction of their innocence; he hoped by his
testimony to be instrumental towards their acquittal, and that the
affair might, from the king's presence there, come to a speedy and
happy termination. The Drost's longing to see the fair Margaretha
again, had perhaps some share in the haste and zeal with which he
followed the grave judges. But hardly had he entered the prison with
these personages, and had met, and responded to, a tender and
melancholy glance from the gentle Margaretha, ere Ulrica, who appeared
to have been sitting quietly before her sister's tapestry frame,
suddenly started up with a wild look and dishevelled hair, and rushed
menacingly towards them. "Ye have murdered him, ye monsters,"--she
cried--"Ye have murdered my true knight--are ye now come to drag me
also to the scaffold? Look! here I am!--tarry not!--bring forward your
chains!--bring forward your executioner! Lead me but to death! I
despise life and all of ye! I knew Kaggé was here to avenge my
degradation, and lead me out of this vile captivity. Me, you may murder
also--the sooner the better. I ask no other freedom--call but your
executioner, and put an end to my sorrow! I knew the king's life was in
danger, and I was silent to save my friend and true knight--but my
sister is innocent--none shall injure a hair of _her_ head. She
besought me to move him to flee, and cause no mishap--that I can
witness on the gospels."

"Both were then, it seems, cognizant of the presence of the outlawed
regicide and of his treasonable purpose," said the chief judge; "Sir
Drost! the testimony we have here from the most guilty of the two,
renders them both, at the least, state prisoners for their lifetime."

Drost Aagé appeared thunderstruck. "The unhappy lady must rave," he
said, hastily recollecting himself. "She hath been ill, and not in her
right mind, as we know--her confession and testimony are of no weight.
Her knowledge of yon miscreant I have indeed observed; but it is
impossible she could have been an accomplice in his crime, and still
less her pious sister; that I will stake my life upon! Answer us! for
the sake of the Lord in heaven, tell us the truth noble Lady
Margaretha! Knew you Kaggé was here in disguise at the castle, and
seeking after the king's life?"

"I knew it, Sir Drost." answered Margaretha calmly, with her hand on
her heart. "But by the lips of the Holy Virgin, and the Spirit of holy
truth, it lay not in my power, nor in my sister's, to hinder his
coming. When I heard he was here, and what he meditated, it was night,
and our prison door was locked. It was not possible for me to caution
you and the king against him, had I even (which I trust in God I had)
courage and strength and will to do so. In the morning it was affirmed
he had escaped, and--I was silent, that I might not plunge an erring
unhappy soul into still greater misery."

"A serious case! a very serious case!" said the judge. "We must examine
into all the circumstances of the affair."

While the examination was continued the commandant of the castle
entered, and summoned the Drost to the king. Aagé left the chamber with
a deep sigh, and a sorrowing glance at the unhappy maidens, of whose
acquittal and liberation from prison he now almost despaired.
With feelings of deep emotion the Drost joined the Marsk in the
ante-chamber, where he was to await the king's commands. They heard the
king pacing with hasty steps up and down his private chamber.

"There are snakes in the grass, Drost!" said the Marsk. "Why did they
not instantly cut off the heads of those hounds, without ceremony, and
cast their high-born friend and protector into the tower. Now they have
all 'scaped, the whole pack of them, and we have enough to do to be on
our guard."

"Whom mean you, Sir Marsk?" asked Aagé absently. "You have received
letters I know?"

"Yes, in abundance--Brock and Papæ got off for that once; they are
scouring Jutland round, and stirring up the people about these
priest-riots and the shutting of the churches, which all dread so much;
just as if a church-door was a fortress gate with ramparts and towers,
and had St. Paul himself for a porter. I thought truly, it was a bad
business when those haughty nobles laid their heads together so often
with the junker, and had slit napkins laid before their noses. I should
have been right glad to have hewn the whole pack of them in pieces; but
amid all our stupid ceremonies with trencher and napkin, and tattered
clouts, we let fly the birds of prey, and the junker into the bargain,
although he got a rent to hide which made his ears glowing red."

"How, Sir Marsk!" exclaimed Aagé, a conjecture suddenly flashing across
his mind. "You surely were not yourself his secret accuser?"

"You have hit it, Drost! I cared not much to keep the secret: had any
one asked, my answer would have been ready, and my good sword with it,
if required: proofs and such like frippery I had not, it is true--that
was the worst of it; but, however, I had my conjectures and my own
thoughts. I cannot abide that fellow, do you see--were he guiltless,
and had he courage to defend his honour,--by the foul fiend! he would
not have sat there as if upon thorns, and have hid that little rent. I
was just going by the table, do you see? and saw how matters stood with
those three mangy hounds. The junker's napkin lay so conveniently at
hand, my blood was up, and it struck me the high-born junker would be
the better for a little alarm."

"By your favour. Sir Marsk! it was a most rash proceeding; by acting
thus, you have increased the misunderstanding between the king and his
brother."

"So much the better; either keep with him or break with him--one or the
other; nought comes of this truckling: but so far you are right--I
should not have busied myself with those apish ceremonies, they better
beseem all of _you_. I should rather have said it right out, and
answered for it instantly with my hand on my neck:--but enough of
this--Know ye Master Grand is here?"

"Grand! the Archbishop? Where?"

"At Copenhagen, and with a royal convoy. That was a piece of folly,
also--_You_ were, no doubt, one in council?"

"It was not deemed necessary," answered Aagé, repressing his annoyance
at the Marsk's offensive bluntness. "The counsel you so flatteringly
attribute to me was not mine either. The state council and the king
himself considered it good policy. The cardinal demanded it, and
offered his mediation. If the archbishop becomes manageable, and
recalls the ban, he, of course, could not come hither without an
assurance of personal safety."

"Do ye not yet know that fellow better?" answered the Marsk. "Ere
_he_ becomes tractable, heaven and earth will pass away. In this
respect, the king is not far behind him--but if he _will_ be at the
archbishop--by Satan! he should not have given him a convoy, and
allowed him to set foot again upon Danish ground, though the whole
state-council should get a colic from fright. Now, Grand and that
accursed red hat sit like a pair of popes at Axelhuus, and none dare
injure a hair of their heads: there they may begin the game, and stir
us up the whole country in a trice. The cardinal hath already confirmed
that confounded constitution of Veilé, and the Bishop of Roskild now
causes all his churches to be shut. The storm will and must burst soon,
and then all depends on how wind and current drive."

"Great Heavens! is it possible?" exclaimed Aagé, in dismay. "Have you
certain tidings, Sir Marsk? Doth the king know it?"

"I have brought him some doses on a fasting stomach in a couple of
letters--that he hath swallowed them you may know from the clatter of
his spurs and boot-heels--You brought him letters from Sweden, Drost!
Love letters, doubtless, and fine ballads from his betrothed? Were
there any tidings of a rational kind?"

"None of a very cheering description," answered Aagé, looking with
uneasiness towards the king's door. "What the princess hath imparted I
know not; but the excellent Master Petrus can effect nothing with the
state-council touching the king's marriage."

"S'Death!" said the Marsk, rubbing his hands. "Then it will not be easy
to get to talk with him to-day. These are knots which it will be hard
even for _your_ state-policy to loose, my wise Sir Drost! but if _I_
know the king well, he will give all your fine wisdom to the devil, and
keep him to me and his good sword."

"Against rebels we may use the sword, Marsk, but neither against bishop
nor pope, and just as little against the king's future brother-in-law,"
answered Aagé. "We stand in need of discretion in this matter, and,
above all, of the help of the Lord."

The door of the king's private chamber now opened, and the king himself
looked out into the ante-chamber, and nodded. His countenance indicated
passion and anxiety, and the Marsk, as well as the Drost, entered the
chamber with a thoughtful aspect.

An hour afterwards Marsk Oluffsen departed with the Wordingborg troop
of horse on his way to Jutland; and Drost Aagé set out, attended by
twelve knights and squires, as ambassador to the Swedish court, with a
letter which inspired him with secret anxiety for his king and country.

Among the twelve knights appointed to accompany Drost Aagé to Sweden,
was Sir Pallé's brother-in-law, the brave knight, Helmer Blaa, who had
made himself famous by gaining his bride by dint of arms, and
vanquishing Sir Pallé and her six brothers, who had all fallen upon him
at once. He was young, of a tall and well-proportioned figure, with
sparkling brown eyes, and remarkably light and agile in his movements.
He was a native of Fyen, of high birth; a great friend of the Drost's,
and devoted heart and soul to the king.


          "He rides in the saddle so free--"


was wont to be carolled forth by the lower orders whenever they saw
Helmer riding his handsome Arabian horse, which flew with him swift as
the wind, and was the gift of royal favour to him on his marriage-day
the preceding summer.

Drost Aagé rode for an hour in calm silence by the side of this gallant
knight, on the road to Kiöge, from whence he was to embark for Skanór
on the Swedish coast.

"Count Henrik goes with the king of course?" said Sir Helmer, at last
breaking silence. "If one would visit a bishop's nest in these times,
it must assuredly be with sword and coat of mail."

"Count Henrik stirs not from his side," answered Aagé--"that he hath
promised me with word and hand--I now go hence unwillingly; Grand's
thirst for revenge, and the boldness of the outlaws know no bounds."

"That accursed Kaggé! He made an end also of my fat seal of a
brother-in-law--that lump of flesh, indeed, I accounted not much of;
his miserable death, however, I have vowed to St. George to avenge,
chiefly for my dear wife's sake. She had but that one brother left
since I came to mishap with all the others; but it was done openly,
and in honourable self-defence; she hath not even loved me the less
either for that affair--but to fight by stealth, and with a poisoned
weapon--faugh! 'Twas an accursed Italian trick--such was never before
the usage here in the north. Are you quite certain the wretched
assassin is dead and buried in good earnest, Sir Drost? The people have
divers tales to tell. He who hath had no shame in his life would not
die of shame, I should think--One hath seen ere this a cunning fox run
from the trap and leave his tail behind him."

Aagé started. "I saw him not after death," he answered; "but his end
was certainly announced by the provost and Commendator of the
monastery. There can surely be no doubt of the truth."

"The Commendator is a holy man of God, doubtless," replied Helmer, with
an incredulous smile; "one ought not, indeed, to suspect him of deceit
and treason, even though he be a good friend of Master Grand's, and
might have wished to save the dishonoured life of one of so high and
holy a race. I first heard that unbelieving gossip when the body was
thrown into the carrion pit, and consumed with unslacked lime; it
doubtless showed great caution and good care for the public health; but
they will have it it was a corpse from the hospital of the monastery,
with beard and eyebrows of good Danish boar bristles."

"Can it be possible!" exclaimed Aagé. "Should he be alive and at
liberty, he would then become a more pestilent foe than all the outlaws
put together--Yon dishonoured miscreant is capable of any crime; he
hath now hardly aught more to lose."

"Be that as it may," answered Helmer, "if Kaggé be above ground, so is
my arm and my good sword also--the Lord be praised for it!--and
wherever I meet him, I am his man."

"If the miscreant is alive, and falls into our hands, we can but bind
his hands and wash our own of the matter," answered Aagé.

They now continued their journey in grave silence for another hour.
Each time Aagé thought of the unfortunate daughters of Marsk Stig in
the maidens' tower a sigh burst from his heart; and whenever he felt
the king's important letter within his vest it seemed to him as if he
was oppressed by the future fate of king and country.

"We received but scanty orders," resumed Helmer Blaa again, seemingly
wearied by the long silence and the Drost's reverie. "We were to learn
the rest from you, Drost; but you seem to have left tongue and speech
at Wordingborg."

"You know what is of most importance," answered Aagé. "It concerns King
Eric's highest happiness in this world. As matters stand now with the
archbishop and pope, you may easily imagine there are great
difficulties about the dispensation for his marriage; if we cannot
prevail on King Birger and his state council to permit the marriage to
take place ere St. John's Day, and that despite both pope and clergy,
then--more should not be said," he added, in a lowered voice; "then I
fear matters will stand badly, Sir Helmer."

"Not worse surely than with me when they threw hindrances in the way of
my marriage!" answered Helmer. "How such difficulties may be got over
our bold king knows full as well as I--" So saying, he gaily struck
upon his clanking sword.

"That did very well with your brother-in-law, brave Helmer," said Aagé.
"It concerned only half a dozen of our worst knights. HERE state and
kingdom are in question. The king is of a hasty temper, you know; he is
only but too ready to imitate your bold manner of wooing; but if he is
to win his bride by war and battle, there will be a bloody bridal here
in the summer, to as little pleasure for Denmark as for Sweden."

"There you may perhaps be in the right, Drost," answered Helmer. "There
is a difference between _my_ brothers-in-law and the king's, I own; but
if honour and our king's fortune in love are now at stake, assuredly no
Danish knight will hesitate to become his bridegroom's man with sword
and lance, however hard one might be put to it. This much we must allow
to the Swede--he ever fights like a brave fellow. Swedish knighthood
yields not to us in manhood; but when we sing,


           'For Eric the youthful king!'


the heart of no Danish man will sink below his belt, I know, were the
Swede ten times as strong, and had they ten Thorkild Knudsons in
council and camp."

"Let us not talk too loud of these things," said Aagé, in a low voice,
and allowing the other knights to pass by, while he and Helmer
slackened their pace. "Honourable warfare is indeed ever to be
preferred to a deceitful and shameful peace," he continued; "but the
Lord and St. George forbid it should come to a breach now, just when
love and good will seem in truth desirous to make us and our brave
neighbours friends. Could these unhappy scruples be removed I should
deem both Denmark and Sweden fortunate indeed. If a noble Swedish
princess sits on the throne of Denmark's queens, and a Danish one on
that of Sweden, we might then hope to see extinguished the last spark
of ancient national hate and fraternal enmity. We may say what we
please in our pride, and boast of Danish greatness in the days of
Canute the Great and the Valdemars; Scandinavians were, however,
brethren in the beginning; we have shared honour and fame with each
other all over the world, among Longobards and Goths and Northmen; and
we must combine together again, if aught great is to be achieved by the
powers of the north."

"It may be so," answered Sir Helmer. "I am well nigh of your opinion,
especially since it hath now come to something more than mere state
policy and cold calculations with these betrothings of royal children.
This one at first was but a politic scheme of Queen Agnes and Drost
Hessel; in such plans there are seldom any truth and honesty. Strange
enough it should turn out as it hath done; for every man, both here and
in Sweden's land, knows that our young king is almost more enamoured
than a Sir Tristan or Florez in the new books of chivalry; and
the fair Princess Ingeborg--here they already call her our second
Dagmar--although we have but heard she is pious and mild, and hath
pretty blue eyes and beautiful golden hair, like Dagmar. I shall be
well pleased to see her," he added. "No Swedish or Danish knights can
ever commend her sufficiently, and she is, indeed, well nigh praised to
the disparagement of our own lovely ladies--that vexes me I own."

"I saw her at Helsingborg, at the bridal of Count Gerhard and Queen
Agnes," said Aagé, and his pensive eye sparkled. "She was then still
almost a child; but she hath since ever seemed to me like one of God's
holy angels, destined to diffuse the blessings of peace and love
through this land and kingdom. There is but one female form in the
world which I could compare with her, or perhaps even exalt above her
in fair and noble presence," he added with emotion; but suddenly paused
and cleared his throat with some embarrassment.

"Now, out with it, Drost Aagé; I am not jealous," said Sir Helmer, with
a pleased and proud look. "You mean doubtless my fair young wife--It is
worthy a true knight to admire the beauty of a young and fair woman in
all reverence and honour. She hath well nigh the fairest presence of
any woman here in the country; every one says so who sees her, both
here and in Fyen; and I have nought against it. I know assuredly she
holds me dearest of all, although I came to mishap, as you know, both
with her uncle and those stiff-necked brothers. She is now at my
castle, longing to have me back again; if it please the Lord and St.
George, she shall soon hear a good report of me, if there is anything
to be done in earnest."

Drost Aagé's usually pale cheek had become crimson. "You guessed wrong,
however, this once Sir Helmer"--he said, with a smile; "the lady I
thought of was another, without disparagement to your fair young wife.
But, if we would reach Kjögé ere midnight, we must ride faster. In a
steady trot, and at the long run, I think my Danish horse will be a
match for your Arabian." He spurred his horse, and Sir Helmer hastened
to redeem the honour of his favourite Arabian, while he shook his head
at the Drost's want of discernment in the matter of female beauty.



                              CHAP. XIII.


When they reached Kjögé it was three hours past vespers, and after
burgher bedtime. In this town, as yet, neither the great Franciscan nor
Carmelite monasteries were erected, which afterwards became so
celebrated. Here the travellers were forced to be content with one of
the unpretending hostelries from the time of Eric Glipping, which were
often stigmatised as dungeons and farthing taverns.

During the last two years the town had been frequently visited by the
Hanseatic merchants, since the king had extended their trading
privileges; and when these active traders went to or from the great
fairs at Skanor or Falsterbo, or to the herring fishery, on the Swedish
coast, they often ran their vessels into Kjögé bay, to wait for a
favourable wind, and dispose of their wares to the burghers of Kjögé.
The bay was now full of Hanseatic merchant vessels, and the numerous
lights in the ships shone fair upon the shore. Drost Aagé, with his
train, had much difficulty in getting a room in what was called the
ale-house, near the harbour. In the large public room of the tavern,
where the guests were wont to beguile the time until late at night,
with drinking and dice, there was on the entrance of the Drost and his
knights, much hubbub and loud-tongued talk among the guests, which,
however, was suddenly hushed on the appearance of the richly-attired
strangers, in whom the king's knights and halberdiers were instantly
recognised. At the upper end of the long oaken table, which was fixed
to the floor, sat a heavy-built, consequential-looking personage, with
a sable-bordered cap and tunic; it was Berner Kopmand, from Rostock (so
notorious for his wealth and pride) who had bid defiance to the king at
Sjöberg. He lolled in his seat with an air of importance, and had laid
one leg upon the table, that he might be more completely at his ease.
His broad visage glowed from the effects of wine; he held a silver
goblet in his hand, and had a large wine-flask before him. By his side
sat his trusty friend and trading companion, Henrik Gullandsfar, from
Wisbye, with a large purse in his hand, from which he threw some coins
into the host's cap. Between them stood a backgammon board, on which
the dice were swimming in ale and wine, and which Berner Kopmand kicked
aside to make room for his ponderous foot. Here they sat, surrounded by
a number of Hanseatic merchants, skippers and boatmen. All were armed,
like themselves, with broad battle swords and sabres, and drank merrily
to their own success. When the Drost and his knights entered, the two
merchants remained sitting in their easy posture, without returning the
greeting of the strangers, and whispers and murmurs of dissatisfaction
were heard among the guests.

In the least lit-up part of the room sat two men with the cross of the
order of the Holy Ghost on their black travelling mantles. The one drew
his hood over his brow; he instantly arose, and with his ecclesiastical
colleague presently disappeared in the throng of guests, who were
flocking in and out. Sir Helmer had noticed the deportment of the monk;
he hastily approached Aagé to whisper a word in his ear, but the Drost,
who had instantly recognised the two arrogant Hanseatic merchants, had
turned his whole attention upon their bearing, and was pondering within
himself, how far it would be wise or necessary to meddle with them, or
attach any significance to their former powerless menace.

"Short and sweet, my good friends!" now began the heavy Rostocker, with
lisping tongue, while he struck the heel of his boot on the table to
obtain a hearing, and seemed wrath at the pause in the talk. "The
Lauenberg knight was forced to dangle from our new gallows, despite the
cry of his high birth and lineage; and the high-born Duke Albert of
Saxony was ready to choke with rage. It is therefore, he now protects
and eggs on these high-born highwaymen. But we will no longer suffer
ourselves to be plundered and pulled by the nose, unavenged, by knights
and princes. We shall one day teach all these high and mighty lords,
where the gold lies buried, the blessed bright gold which rules the
world, and what the rich and combined Hanse-towns can do. We merchants
and small folk, have now also learned something of the art of war, and
the art of politics, and he who treads on our corns may beware of Lubek
law, and the Rostock gallows--Hurra! freedom in trade! freedom in word
and deed! To hell with all tyrants and aristocrats!" So saying, Berner
Kopmand kicked the empty wine flask off the table, while he moved his
foot to the floor, and rose reeling with the goblet at his lips.

The foreign merchants and skippers, shouted and drank. Henrik
Gullandsfar shook his head, and pulled his drunken colleague by the
sleeve, with a side glance at the Drost and the king's halberdiers.

"I give them to death and the devil! I can buy them up body and soul,
and their forefathers into the bargain," growled the proud burgher
magnate of Rostock--allowing himself, however, to be led out of the
apartment, by the sober and more wary Gullandsfar. The other merchants
and skippers now departed one after another, singing and whistling as
they went. Aagé had instantly perceived that the conduct of the proud
Hanseatics was meant as defiance and insult; but he had himself, as
Drost, two years before, jointly with the state-council, confirmed the
great privileges which were granted to these traders, and the law
strictly forbade all violent and arbitrary proceedings towards them so
long as they themselves refrained from committing any act of violence.
Aagé remained silent, with a contemptuous smile, and warned to the
incensed knights to keep quiet. But Sir Helmer's blood boiled,--he had
sat upon thorns since his eye had caught the monk. As the Hanseatic
sea-men left the inn, he thought he once more caught a glance, through
the open door, of the same figure, among the tumultuous throng which
was hastening to the vessels. He whispered a few hurried words in the
Drost's ear, and rushed out of the apartment. Aagé looked gravely and
thoughtfully after him. He gave a secret signal to two of the most
discreet knights to follow him, and requested the others to remain.
They now seated themselves at the almost deserted table. The humble and
officious host hastened to serve them, and to remove the empty flasks
and cans of ale. Their wrath which they had repressed with difficulty,
had rendered the knights silent, and their humour was manifested only
in taunting exclamations and jeers at the grocer-heroes, as they were
designated. It was indeed allowed that the proud Berner Kopmand's
inveteracy against the nobles of the land was not altogether unfounded.
The knights' castles in Denmark, were not in fact robber-holds, as in
Germany; foreign traders here enjoyed the greatest security, and had
even greater privileges than the burghers of the country; but the
knights delighted in scoffing at the uncouth and awkward bearing of the
armed grocers; even Drost Aagé with all his moderation, and in spite of
all that he had himself effected for the security of trade and the
extension of commerce, could not altogether suppress the feeling of
aristocratic contempt, entertained by those in his own rank for this
class of persons, whose growing prosperity and wealth were often united
with a degree of insolence and envious pride, which excited and
fostered this mutual bad-feeling.

The attention of Aagé and the knights was soon directed towards two
singular strangers who still remained with them at table; the one was a
young man of a good figure and remarkably animated countenance; he wore
a dark red, and rather thread-bare lay mantle, but the black cap which
covered his tonsure, and a canon's hat which lay by his side on the
table, appeared to denote him an ecclesiastic. At one time he talked
Latin, at another Icelandic and Danish, with his next neighbour, whom
he addressed as master, and to whom he shewed marked respect. When the
young clerk spoke Danish, he frequently pronounced the words wrong. At
times he became enthusiastic, and recited as well from the ancient
classics as from old northern poems. His neighbour was a little,
deformed man, with a hump upon his back, a thin sharp visage, and an
intelligent piercing eye; his head was sunk deep between his shoulders,
and hardly reached above the table, but his arms were uncommonly long
and thin; he occasionally put on and took off a pair of large
spectacles set in lead, and had a number of singular instruments and
boxes before him on the table. He wore a bright-red mantle, bordered
with fur, over a lay-brother's blue dress, and his head was adorned
with a scarlet cap, trimmed with gold lace and tassels. In this showy
garb, which rendered the deformity of his person still more striking,
he resembled one of those foreign mountebanks and quacks, who at the
great fairs were wont to exhibit feats before the mob, and vend relics,
amulets, and universal remedies against all ailments; this personage
however, had an air of much greater distinction and pretension. It was
the same little red-cloaked man, who, with Sir Niels Brock and Sir
Johan Papæ, had paid the nightly visit to Junker Christopher, at Holbek
castle. In his dying hour Sir Pallé had described him to the Drost,
when in his alarm, he had made him the depositary of his secrets. Aagé
however had never before beheld this figure and did not remember Sir
Pallé's confused description.

The little man sat with a flask of wine before him, which he appeared
to be examining with close attention. "Bad!--adulterated!" he now said
in Danish to the Icelander, also in a foreign and Icelandic accent,
while he puckered up his sharp nose. "See you this sediment. Master
Laurentius? In the light of art and science, truth will one day become
manifest in small things as well as in great--Eureka!" he continued,
with a self-satisfied smile, "What would my great master Roger have
said, if such a flask of wine had been set before him? Even without
these skilful, searching eyes--for which I am in some measure indebted
to his great optical discovery--although I may justly claim the honour
of the practical application--even without my wondrous spectacles, he
would perhaps have discovered that which I need all this apparatus to
detect. The nature of poisons is altogether unknown and occult, Master
Laurentius!" he added, mysteriously, but so loud as to be heard by all.
"Not only for the preservation of life and health, but much more for
the sake of science and art, an intimate knowledge of the essence of
things is of the highest importance to us. Here in the north, however,
people care but little for such matters; they gulp down everything,
like the dumb beasts, without possessing the wise instincts of animals,
and without seeking by wisdom and art to find a remedy for the narrow
limits of our physical nature. All learning here is expended in
theological subtleties, and what are called godly things--which,
however, they know nought of--poor fools! Our common-place scholars
still chew the cud of mysticism, the useless learning of the schools,
and the dry, worn-out Aristoteles. Ignorance of all that is true and
useful, renders forgers and cheats quite safe here, and these
overbearing merchants can enrich themselves at the expence of this
ignorant people, as much as they choose. There you see one of their new
coins! I have detected its composition! It contains more tin and lead
than silver; the Danish king's image and superscription are here, it is
true--the size is precisely that of the royal coinage; but four of
those go to a silver mark, and this is of six times less value. What an
enormous profit might not a single ship-load of such coins bring those
fellows!"

Drost Aagé had become attentive, and found in the stranger's last
assertion an important confirmation of a charge generally made against
the Rostock merchants. The attention of the Drost and the knights did
not appear to displease the intelligent little man--he seemed, indeed,
not to heed them--but he now continued to converse in Danish with the
young clerk, and though he appeared to speak in a whisper, he
nevertheless enunciated every word in a singularly distinct, and
perfectly audible tone. "Nothing is small in science and in nature," he
continued, "the least may here lead to the greatest; in every blade of
grass their lies a world. How long will men shut their eyes on the
great and only true revelation of the Deity, through the miracles and
holy writ of nature! Mark my young friend! the time will come when
the colossus of ignorance, barbarism, and madness, which hath been
erected on nature's grave, and worshipped for centuries--must fall.
As is the course of temporal things, so is that of the spiritual
world--Stagnation is death and rottenness. We have stood stationary
with antiquity and tradition. The powerful ferment of life hath
subsided--life hath lost its savour. What is it but senseless oriental
adventures, and the childish dreams of our race, which have turned
men's brains, and kept us at a distance from nature and the source of
true wisdom for nearly thirteen centuries? The heathens were far above
us. What are we in science and art compared with the Greeks and
Egyptians?--and yet even they were erring. They also had their idols,
their fancies and dreams of a Tartarus and Elysium, and withal, that
madness now worshipped under the name of poetry."

"Stop, my learned master!" interrupted the young Icelander with
eagerness. "Now you attack _my_ sanctuary--let the world change its
fashion as it may--let Time devour his own children, as in ancient
fable! But what hath been beautiful in every age, none can destroy--it
must re-appear, though under new forms. True, eternal poetry shall
rescue and embalm all wherein was life or beauty, as well in our times
as in those gone by. Its image and memorial no cold enlightening wisdom
shall ever efface.


                 "Cattle die,
                  Wise men die,
                  Time itself dies too--
                  One thing I know
                  That never dies--
                  Judgment on the dead."


"Be it so!" answered the little sage with a scornful smile, "Judgment
shall not die; the art of judging is the only one that is immortal; the
poetry of all ages shall vanish as soon as the world understands itself
and its own thoughts. When the kernel is found we may cast away the
shell, or give it to children to play with. It was a true saying,
though, of that old heathen bard--the judgment on the dead _is_
eternal--but when this generation hath passed away a succeeding one
will jeer at the achievements of their fathers, and what is now
worshipped shall be the scorn of posterity. But one likes not to hear
such things, Master Laurentius! The kernel of truth is unpalatable; it
suits not the taste of the vulgar and uninitiated; and he who proffers
it runs the risk of being stoned by the enemies of truth and the slaves
of prejudice. What my great Master Roger was forced to confess is known
to all the world; if he found not himself the philosopher's stone, he
hath, however, shewn us where to seek for it, and what was hidden from
his sharp gaze is not necessarily hid from that of his disciples." So
saying, the little man rose with a look of proud importance; he
departed with a slight salutation to Drost Aagé and the knights, in
whose looks he was well satisfied to perceive the astonishment which
his last mysterious remark, about the philosopher's stone especially,
seemed to have excited.

The young clerk remained behind, and now addressed himself to Drost
Aagé, whose rank and name were known to him. He introduced himself to
the Drost as an Iceland theologian, jurist, and poet, who in his ardent
zeal for knowledge and enlightenment, had quitted his easy office of
priest of St. Olaf's church and p[oe]nitentarius of the Archbishop of
Nidaros,[10] to visit foreign universities with his learned countryman
and fellow-traveller Magister Thrand Fistlier, a disciple, as he
asserted, of the renowned Roger Bacon, whose wonderful knowledge, and
free and bold opinions, had drawn on him so shameful a persecution from
his ecclesiastical brethren, and who, after many years' imprisonment,
had died two years since in England.

The young Iceland clerk now purposed, under the protection of his
learned friend, to visit the Danish court, where he hoped to find that
the king would lend a favourable ear to his own and the ancient
Icelandic poems; while his travelling companion intended to display his
wondrous arts before the king, and to make known some very important
discoveries in natural philosophy, which might prove of incalculable
use and effect both in war and peace. The report of the young King
Eric's especial regard for science, and the intrepidity with which he
dared to oppose the usurpations of the court of Rome and the hierarchy,
had induced the learned Master Thrand to seek freedom and protection in
Denmark.

"You will doubtless both be welcome to the king," answered Aagé,
looking narrowly at him, "he favours and protects all fair and useful
sciences. Your travelling companion belongs not to the herd of common
mountebanks, as far as I can judge: if he can prove what he affirmed,
of the false coin brought hither into this country, his learning may be
most important to us. But since you are a theologian and scholar,
Master Laurentius, I would but ask you one question," continued Aagé,
"Doth not your companion entertain some confused opinions on sacred
subjects? His expressions struck me as being somewhat singular,
although I, as a layman, understand not such matters. I well know,
however, those who are called Leccar Brethren,--who will only believe
in the Creator, but neither in God's Son, nor in the Holy Spirit, nor
in an universal christian church,--are as little tolerated in this
country as by any right-thinking monarch in Christendom; you must in
nowise believe our king's unfortunate position in regard to the
Archbishop of Lund and the papal court hath made any alteration in his
opinions in what concerns the matter of his own and his people's
salvation."

"From the errors of the Leccari I believe myself free." answered the
young Icelander, with some embarrassment; "about my learned companion's
theology, I must confess I have not greatly troubled myself; seeing
that he is a worldly philosopher and not a theologian. Of the noble art
of bardship he hath not either any conception; I admire him solely for
his rare knowledge of the secrets of nature."

"If he errs in the one thing needful, and if the highest and most
sacred truths, as well as all that is beautiful and noble, are in his
estimation nothing but folly," observed Aagé, "I have but little
confidence in his knowledge of less important matters; and I would not
give much for all the rest of his learning."

"I thus judged once myself, of the sciences and arts that teach us but
earthly things," answered the Icelander, "but while I was at the
foreign universities a new light dawned upon me. I am indeed far from
calling (like my learned travelling companion) the revelation of deity
in nature the only true one, by which, as you have rightly observed, he
hath in his inconsiderate zeal, betrayed a highly erroneous opinion;
but even the wisdom of the heathen in worldly concerns is in nowise to
be despised, and I have never seen anything that hath more strengthened
my faith in the Almighty power and wisdom of the Triune God, than the
marvellous effects of the powers of nature, with which this singular
man hath made me acquainted."

"What hath he shown you, then, of such great importance? Master
Laurentius!" asked Aagé.

"I have seen effects of his art, which I should in common with the
ignorant multitude, and my prejudiced colleagues, have taken to be
witchcraft and the work of the devil," answered the Icelander eagerly,
"had he not explained them to me by the powers of nature, and from the
great misjudged Roger Bacon's 'Opus Majus,' of which he carries a rare
and invaluable manuscript with him. Not to speak of his great knowledge
of plants and animals, and the properties and composition of metals;
what most hath captivated me is all that points to the soul's dominion
over time and decay, over life and death, over the universe, and all
passive powers in nature. He affirms that by his art alone, without
supernatural aid, he is able to preserve youth, and prevent the
infirmities of age; he knows the course of the heavens, and the
influence of the stars on human life; he hath a number of artful
glasses, by which he is almost able to see the invisible; but his
greatest and most wondrous art is the preparation of an
inextinguishable fire, with which he imitates the thunder and lightning
of the heavens. He hath shewn me a specimen of it, which hath
astonished me. With a single handful of that subtle combustible matter,
he can produce such an amazing thunder-clap, that the strongest wall
would be rent by it, and such a burst of consuming flame, that he who
rightly understands its powers, would be able to destroy a whole army
with it, and devastate castles and towns."

The knights stared in amazement at the Icelander, and some crossed
themselves. "It is impossible! That no man can do! it cannot be done by
natural means!--it must be done by witchcraft and devilry!" said the
one to the other.

Drost Aagé was silent, and looked sharply and gravely at the Icelander.
"I hold you neither for an unwise man, nor for one who would deal in
falsehood and deceit, good Master Laurentius!" he at length began,
"although what you tell us of your learned companion borders on the
incredible--but are you not yourself deceived? You say you have but
known this man of miracles a short time. In your admiration of his arts
and his rare knowledge of the secrets of nature, you have concerned
yourself but little about his principles and way of thinking, which,
however, I consider to be the most important points in every man's
character, whether he be scholar or layman. If he is not a juggler or
braggart, I fear he is something worse. He would fain have us laymen
believe he had found the philosopher's stone. Those who talk openly of
such things are generally enthusiasts or impostors."

"That which is above our understanding, Sir Drost," answered the
Icelander, "we are but too apt to misjudge as folly, or the invention
of the evil-minded--but here our own self-conceit and vanity are to
blame. That which the wisest men in the world have so long mused upon,
cannot assuredly be an absurd imagination, and I doubt not the
philosopher's stone will and must one day be found--if it be not found
already. Perhaps we may meet at Skanor fair, Sir Drost!" he added,
rising to depart, "My learned friend and travelling companion doth not
visit princes and nobles only--the enlightenment of the ignorant vulgar
is a more important object to him. I accompany him as amanuensis,
partly from a present necessity, which I blush not to acknowledge, and
in this lay mantle, that I may not give offence to my prejudiced
colleagues; but I learn much in this way, and, as I said--I trust to
return more rich in knowledge from these worldly bye-paths to the
service of St. Olaf, and to my most venerable friend and protector at
Nidaros, who probably may soon need support in the cause against his
unruly canons."

The conversation was now broken off with the Iceland clerk, as Sir
Helmer rushed almost breathless into the apartment. "It _was_ Kaggé!
Drost! there is no doubt of it," exclaimed Helmer, "but, by Satan!--he
is already on board the Rostock vessel."

"Who? the dead Kaggé? dream ye, Helmer? Was it he ye meant before?"

"He, and none other--the base regicide! as surely as I have eyes and
ears. He hath both his beard and eye-brows shaved; but I know his fox's
face and screeching voice; the dull Rostocker mentioned his name
himself in his drunkenness, out of defiance and pride. They insulted me
in the ancient coarse fashion I will not name, and pushed off from
shore with the outlaw before mine eyes."

"We must arrest them at Skanor tomorrow," answered Aagé, "if the
criminal is on board the Rostock vessel, he hath now peace and respite
of life under the Hanse flag and the Lubeck law; but whenever he sets
foot on Danish ground he dies! Such pestilent ware no Hanseatic hath
the privilege of unloading." They then retired to rest. The Iceland
clerk had gone, and no more was seen of either him or the learned
Thrand Fistlier. The account they had heard of this worker of wonders
continued, however, till a late hour in the night, the theme of the
knights' conversation at the drinking table.



                               CHAP. XIV.


Drost Aagé retired to rest in silence, but he vainly tried to sleep. He
was uncertain whether he ought not instantly to have captured the two
overbearing Hanseatics on the ground of their former menace at Sjöberg;
here they were no longer ambassadors and privileged persons. If they
had circulated false coin, and openly protected an outlaw upon Danish
ground, they might with strict justice be called to account. The
knowledge that the base Kaggé still lived also disquieted him; but what
still more banished sleep from the Drost's eyes, was the idea of the
mysterious Master Thrand, and his wondrous arts. That a human being
possessed such a power over nature as to be able to imitate the thunder
and lightning of the heavens, with all their terrific effects, appeared
to him an amazing prodigy, and what the enthusiastic Master Laurentius
had said of the still deeper views of his master--of the preservation
of youth by a mysterious art, and of the philosopher's stone, as
something actually existent in nature, had especially inspired the
meditative and somewhat visionary Aagé with singular musings.

The countenance and mountebank deportment of the little deformed
philosopher, had, indeed, awakened great doubts of his honesty, and
what Aagé had comprehended of his expressions appeared to him strange
and confused, as opposed to what he had been piously taught in
childhood regarding the highest and eternal truths in which, despite
his unhappy excommunication, he had been confirmed by his confessor,
Master Petrus de Dacia, who had succeeded in making him at peace with
himself and the church. But the Iceland clerk's ardent enthusiasm for
Master Thrand and his worldly wisdom had not been without its effect;
and Aagé was forced to confess there lay an acuteness and intelligence
in the little mountebank's eye which he had never seen equalled in any
of the pious and learned men he knew. Laurentius's open and ingenuous
countenance bore witness also to the truth of his testimony as to what
he had seen and admired in the disciple of the famous Roger Bacon; and
the longer Aagé pondered on what he had heard, the more doubts and
strange thoughts crowded upon his mind. Master Thrand's contempt of the
age in which he lived, and the confidence with which he expressed
himself respecting the only true revelation of nature with which he
was, above all, conversant, had also excited a feeling of strange and
painful uneasiness in Aagé's mind. The melancholy knight had often,
when oppressed by the thought of his excommunication, sought peace and
tranquillity in the contemplation of nature in lonely nights under a
calm and starry sky, without, however, feeling able to dispense with
the comfort and consolation of the church. He now stood, with his arms
folded, in his sleeping chamber, gazing out on the gloomy heavens.
"Were it possible!" said he to himself. "Am I wandering here with all
my contemporaries in thick darkness? Know we neither our own nature nor
that around us? Are all our purposes and energies but as the gropings
of the blind, without aim or object? Will the time come when children
will jeer at us as erring fools and insane dreamers, scared by what did
not exist, and amused by empty juggling? Can this be? Can even that
which is most high and sacred, which we have believed in and lived for
with our fathers--for which thousands of inspired martyrs have died
with a halo of glory around their beaming countenances--for which our
pilgrims and Crusaders wend to Jerusalem, and renounce all the riches
and treasures of this world--which was the spring of action in our
ancestors' lives as our own, and made them heroes and conquerors in
life and death--could all that be dreaming, deception, and ignorance?
Could the existence and achievements of whole centuries have been a
monstrous lie? No! No! If yonder fellow be not a liar and a cheat,
there is neither truth, nor life, nor redemption, nor salvation." He
shrunk with horror from his own thoughts. A sound now reached his ears
which, at this moment, almost struck him with dismay. He fancied he
once more heard the voice of the mysterious stranger close beside him.

"Darest thou not yet face the naked truth? my dear Laurentius!" sounded
the shrill voice of the philosopher, slowly and solemnly through the
thin wooden partition of the adjoining chamber. "Dost thou dread to
enter into the holy calling of a Leccar Brother, and priest of nature?
Dost thou tremble at an initiation into the great church of the world,
of which we are all originally priests; we who have eyes for truth, and
courage to announce it, despite the repeated outcry of the fools of
thirteen centuries! Look, I open unto thee the great sanctuary in the
name of truth and science, and in the sight of that deity who dwells in
the breast of the initiated. Cast off the miserable prejudices of thy
time! Throw down the phantom thou callest the Church, and a saving
faith, with the same strength with which thou hast rejected the
senseless fables of heathenism! Cast off all that was not given thee
when thou becamest a human being! Rid thyself of all exploded and worn
out doctrines--cast off the whole puerile tissue of phantasms and
visions of crude ages, which thou callest Revelation! Divest thyself of
thy preconceptions regarding the essence of things, and of all the pomp
and imagery thou callest poetry! Then gaze freely around thee, and tell
me what remains!"

"Nothing! nothing! learned master!" answered the voice of the young
Icelander, in a desponding tone.

"Yes, assuredly!" was the answer; "thou thyself remainest, and great
eternal nature, and, if thou wilt, a great and mighty deity, which is
the soul and life of this nature of which thou art thyself a part--all
truth, all wisdom lie slumbering and buried there. Wake it if thou
canst! Call forth deity in thyself and in nature! Rule it by that
mighty art! Ask boldly, and force it to respond!"

"That I am not able to do, my wise master!" said the voice of the young
Icelander, within the partition; "but could I wake lifeless nature, and
force her to solve the mysteries I gaze upon, would she answer aught
else than what the dead have ever answered the living, what the dead
Vola[11] answered Odin in our ancient poems, what the spirit of Samuel
answered Saul in the presence of the Witch of Endor:--'Thou shalt die!
to-morrow thou shalt die!'"

"Well," resumed the philosopher, "were the answer not much more
cheering, if it were but truth could a philosopher, a Leccar Brother, a
priest of nature and truth demand or wish it otherwise? You _will_ have
flattery, you _will_ all of you be cheated and deceived--therefore you
cling so fast to that flattering lie, but hate and persecute truth as
ungodliness, heresy, or devilry--therefore are popes and bishops, like
the prophets and evangelists of old, still able to lead the whole human
race blindfold round in an eternal circle of error from one age to
another until they have their eyes opened, and see that they stand
where their blind fathers stood, by the closed book of nature, which
amid their dreaming they have forgotten to open through the lapse of
ages. Look! there thou standest, my pupil! and art ready to despair,
because all that fair jugglery hath vanished and been blown away by my
breath as it were a spider's web, or bubbles of air! and thou seest
nought but one enormous lifeless body which I call nature.--But look!
the lifeless body wakes! 'Tis deity, and yet our slave,--obedient to
the mightier manifestation of deity within us. Only through our means
can nature's deity awake to consciousness and self-knowledge. In us,
and in our will alone lives the only true God we should obey. Courage,
Laurentius!--courage! Truth must make its way--the slumbering and
disguised god of nature must be wakened and unveiled. It must open to
us its vast recesses, it must restore to us what it hath robbed and
hidden--the philosopher's stone must be found, even though its workings
should seem to us eternal death and petrifaction."

All was again hushed in the adjoining chamber; Aagé had thrown open a
window, and the cool night air streamed in upon him; the sky had become
clear--Aagé raised his eyes towards the starry vault, he grasped the
cross-hilt of his sword, a heavy load oppressed his heart, he bent his
knee in silent devotion, and rose, feeling that his prayer was answered
by the return of a calm and cheerful frame of mind. "To God be thanks
and praise! I know better however," he said, with a feeling of
consolation. "He, within there, is a liar and deceiver, as surely as
_He_ above is love itself! and He whom He sent unto us was the way, the
truth, and the life!" Aagé was now about to betake himself to rest, but
the voice of the learned Master Thrand again caught his ear. The young
Icelander he heard no more. German was now spoken, but in a low
whispering tone, and the talk seemed to be on worldly matters. Aagé
tried not to overhear anything; it was repugnant to his feelings, and
appeared to him dishonourable and unworthy, to become a concealed
witness to the secrets of others. He thought of knocking to give notice
of his presence and the thinness of the partition; but, at this moment,
he heard the name of "Grand" mentioned, and he started. The whispering
continued for a long time afterwards, and he caught words which caused
him the greatest uneasiness. The talk was of the king and Junker
Christopher, of the outlaws, of death, and downfall; but what it was he
could neither hear nor comprehend, with any distinctness. At last all
became silent. He conjectured that his foreign neighbour had left the
inn, and towards morning Aagé fell asleep. When he was awakened at dawn
by his squire, in order to embark in a Swedish vessel, he had dreamt
the most marvellous things. He fancied he had beheld an entirely
changed world; without monasteries and monks, without fortified
castles, without the images of the Madonna and the saints, without
kings and thrones, even without women and children, and with nothing
but men, with keen staring eyes and diminutive and deformed bodies,
like Master Thrand's. At last it seemed to him that the sun was burnt
out and hung, like a great black coal, over his head; that the moon and
all the stars were pulled down and used instead of stones, for fences
and inclosures round small withered cabbage gardens. All trees and
flowers were torn up and peeled into fibres; all birds and animals lay
slaughtered and cut open; and the little hump-backed men sat, with
great spectacles, examining the putrified carcases. All that he
beheld,--the whole subverted and disjointed world, seemed to him at
last metamorphosed into one enormous mass of stone, and a terrific
voice sounded over the petrified world, and cried "Behold! _This_ is
thy world! _this_ is thy God! _this_ is the philosopher's stone!" Amid
his dismay at hearing this voice, Aagé awakened, just as his brisk
squire knocked at his door, still so confused by his dream that he
could not distinguish between what he had dreamed, and what he thought
he had heard from behind the partition.



                               CHAP. XV.


At the fair of Skanor a great number of persons of all classes were
assembled. It was thronged with skippers and merchants from every part
of the world, but especially from Hamburgh, Lubeck, Rostock, Deventer,
and Overyssel. These last were chiefly dealers in spices. They brought
hither the most costly groceries to market from Venice and Genoa: wares
were here to be seen even from India, Persia, and Egypt, which these
enterprising traders had brought down the Rhine, and with which they
journeyed to northern lands. Here lay many English vessels laden with
wine; but what especially struck the eye were the splendid assortments
of cloths, of all colours, which waved like flags from the vessels in
the harbour, and lay in large bales in the streets under tents or
wooden sheds.

The situation of Skanor was advantageous for trade. The town extended
quite to the shore of the coast of Skania, between Falsterbo and
Malmoe. It lay to the north of Falsterbo, and was both larger and much
more ancient than that town. Over the gate of the place was a stone
with an inscription, in the ancient Scanian language, which bore
witness to the antiquity of the town, and which afterwards ran thus in
more modern rhyme:


           "Lund and Skanor throve apace,
            When Christ appeared to bring us grace."


The great fairs of the town were particularly famed, and, during
fair-time, many persons crossed over from Zealand. On the whole the
intercourse between Scania and the Danish provinces was far more
frequent than in aftertime, when this beautiful province, which bore
the closest affinity to Zealand, was dismembered from the kingdom. Amid
the crowd of visitors at the fair were seen knights, monks, and
burghers of towns, both from Zealand and Scania, among peasants,
knights' ladies, and gaily-attired dairy and kitchen maids from the
nearest lordly castles, as well as ragged beggars and pretty country
maidens, in the national costumes of Scania and Halland. The fair was
thronged with musicians and jugglers of all kinds. Rosaries and little
images of saints were exposed for sale by the side of every description
of worldly wares and foreign luxuries.

Over the two best stocked and most frequented booths at the fair, waved
Henrik Gullandsfar's and Berner Kopmand's well-known flag and sign--a
griffin and a dragon, with a bundle of lances tied together, and with
the Lubek charter in their claws, defending their treasures against a
troop of robbers in knightly attire, and ridiculously caricatured.
These great merchants who had their agents, or resident grocers'
apprentices, in the town, did not attend the sale of their goods in
person, but were present at the unloading of their ships, to watch that
no toll was demanded, contrary to the privileges of trade. The sound of
music and dancing was heard in the taverns, and all places of
entertainment. German ale and wine were poured out in abundance for the
rich guests at the fair, while the poorer were content with Scanian and
Zealand ale. Towards evening many drunken persons were to be seen; here
and there disputes and fights occurred, and the provost with the
watchmen and armed constables of the town were often forced to
interfere.

What attracted most attention at Skanor fair at this time was a booth
hung with coloured lamps, close to the quay, where fireworks were
exhibited, together with many new and curious sights, at which the
spectators wondered and crossed themselves as though they beheld the
delusions of the evil one. Here the learned Master Thrand had erected
his optical theatre. He stood himself on a raised platform and
harangued the mob on the excellence of his masterpieces, and their
great superiority over all the relics, amulets, and false panacea with
which people suffered themselves to be imposed upon by unlearned
mountebanks and jugglers. He chiefly extolled his arts as being
innocent, and grounded on the principles of nature; and invited the
unprejudiced and sensible public to draw nearer, and attend to what he
(rather, he said, for the sake of science and truth, than for worldly
gain) was about to expound and exhibit. His admirer, the young Master
Laurentius, who, in his red lay-mantle, was not suspected to be an
ecclesiastic, zealously assisted him as an amanuensis, and collected
from time to time in his hat, money from the spectators, but in a
manner which showed that he was ashamed of this employment; to which,
however, he had doubtless (though with another and more pious aim) been
accustomed, when on the anniversaries of the dedication of St. Olaf's
church at Nidaros, he had, as p[oe]nitentarius, collected alms for the
treasury of the church.

Close by the booth of the distinguished and learned mountebank stood a
light, under the image of the Madonna, in a little stone-walled chapel,
where was also an iron-bound poor-box nailed fast upon a block. No
merchant or skipper went to or from his ship without first kneeling
here and depositing a piece of money in the box for the poor, and for
the treasury of the Holy Virgin. In the evening there stood by this
chapel, which went by the name of the Quay Chapel, Sir Helmer Blaa,
who, with the Drost's squire Canute of Fyen, and some young knights of
Aagé's train, kept a sharp look out on every one who came up from the
quay. The wind had been contrary all day, and the merchants were just
come on shore. Berner Kopmand's Rostock vessel lay at anchor before
them in the harbour. It had reached Skanor with a fair wind ere
day-break. The indefatigable owner of the vessel had been on board the
whole day superintending the unlading of the cargo, and ere it was
dark, Sir Helmer thought he saw the outlawed fugitive on deck by his
side. In case of the criminal's venturing to land preparations had been
made for his seizure, with the knowledge of the provost; but the
fugitive seemed not to purpose quitting his place of refuge. After
vespers, however, Berner Kopmand and Henrik Gullandsfar landed with
great parade, and a considerable train of armed seamen. They omitted
not to cross themselves at the chapel, and to throw a loud-chinking
offering into the poor-box, as they passed by the knights with an air
of proud defiance.

"How many false silver coins think ye are now in that box?" said Sir
Helmer, aloud. The heavy Rostocker turned towards him with a look of
rage; but Gullandsfar nudged his elbow with a grave look, and they
passed on. Helmer and the other young knights followed them, and seemed
to have a great desire to chastise their arrogance.

Drost Aagé had not neglected to attend Thrand Fistlier's performances,
and the optic theatre with which he entertained the astonished visitors
at the fair. He had bought of the artist some of his most remarkable
and valuable inventions, and gained information of their application
and use. He could not refuse his admiration to what he here saw of the
famous discoveries of Roger Bacon, and observed the whole exhibition
with attention. It consisted chiefly of small optical cases in which
the powers of the magnifying glass were applied in a manner hitherto
unknown in the North, and by which the artist excited great
astonishment. What was seen in these boxes was not only the
transformation of small animals into monsters, but even a figurative
metamorphosis of the world in Master Thrand's own taste:--saints and
martyrs, miraculous sights, and legendary pictures, processions of
monks with the Host, the banners of the Madonna, and crucifixes, were
represented in a ridiculous manner by the side of all the Grecian and
Roman gods with their profanest love adventures. All this passed in dim
caricature before the eyes of the spectators, and gave place at last to
a number of dazzling allegorical figures, intended to represent Wisdom,
Philosophy, Freedom, Burgher Commerce, Political Economy, The Study of
Nature, and other subjects of the same kind. As soon as it grew
sufficiently dark for the purpose, Master Thrand exhibited small
burning wheels, stars, and suns with many-coloured rays, which flew
with a clear light into the air, and suddenly exploded with a slight
report.

The Drost considered this last exhibition both beautiful and
remarkable; all these things, however, were but trifles compared with
what Master Laurentius had related of the matchless and wondrous feats
which this mountebank was capable of performing. The sight of the small
stars and suns which flew up over the sea and burst in the calm evening
sky, afforded endless amusement to the spectators, to whom it seemed an
entirely novel and incomprehensible phenomenon; but the people's
admiration of this dazzling diversion as well as the beautiful
fantastic spectacle itself in its aërial theatre, threw Aagé into a
singularly pensive mood.

This glimpse of a new and secret art, whose vast and hidden workings he
had already heard mentioned, struck him as being the forerunner of that
new era announced by the mysterious artist, in which all opinions and
ideas should be reformed and enlarged, and all that was ancient should
vanish like the mimic suns and stars now waning and disappearing over
the sea. Aagé could not forget the strange conversations he had heard
between the artist and his pupil, of the delusive dream in which the
whole Christian world was wandering. In the learned Master Thrand's
peculiar conception of the doctrine of the notorious Leccar Brethren he
saw but a haughty and contumacious insanity, which, should it ever
become dominant, would subvert all that was beautiful and true, and
sacred upon earth; his own dream of the petrified world was still
fearfully present to his recollection. The noise and joyousness of the
crowd became almost painful to him. At last he sought relief and
freedom from these distressing thoughts in the little chapel of the
quay. He bent his knee before the painted wooden image of the Madonna,
who was here represented as usual with the child in her arms, and the
globe of the world with a cross upon it, like a ball and sceptre in the
child's hand. Aagé had folded his hands in prayer, but as he turned his
eyes on the image, it was suddenly illuminated by a ball of fire sent
up from the artist's booth. The Madonna's image appeared to him in the
vivid flash of light like a horribly grinning idol--at the same moment
he heard a loud report in the air, resembling a clap of thunder,
followed by shrieks of terror from women and children. The little
chapel shook; the ancient worm-eaten image of the Virgin tottered, and
fell down at his feet. He started up, and rushed out of the chapel. The
joyousness of the people was changed to fear and wrath. Some women had
fainted; the life of one had been seriously endangered; a Capuchin's
beard had been singed by the explosion. "Witchcraft! Sorcery!" was
re-echoed in the crowd. "Stone him!--Burn him! the accursed wizard! He
is a heretic!" cried some. "He hath said he will draw off all
worshippers from our Lady and the saints--he saith he will match his
thunders against the Lord's himself.--Stone him! Burn him! Cast him
upon the beach! Tear down the wizard's house!"

Amid all this commotion the enraged mob rushed upon the pyrotechnist's
booth. The hapless little artist had hid himself with his amanuensis
among some large boxes in an adjacent booth. Two of the enraged mob and
a lay brother drew them forth from under the planks of the broken-down
booth to give them up to the maltreatment of the mob. The provost and
constables vainly strove to hinder these acts of violence. At last
Drost Aagé stepped forth, and cried in an authoritative voice, "Stop
there, countrymen! Peace here, in the king's name! Secure these
jugglers, but injure not a hair of their heads. They shall be judged
and punished according to the law of the land if they cannot give
account of themselves. What they have shewn us was done by natural
means, my friends! These people know more than we do of the powers of
nature; but they abuse their wisdom by boasting and juggling, and by
scoffing at sacred things."

As soon as they heard the name of the king, and recognised his and the
nation's favourite, the enraged mob was pacified. Thrand Fistlier and
his amanuensis were instantly seized by the constables and conducted to
the quay, with all their effects; followed by a great throng of people.
Drost Aagé followed them himself on board a royal vessel, which was to
sail next day to Helsingborg, and the captain, with his armed seamen,
received orders to protect the captives from all injury.

As soon as the captive mountebank heard he was in safety, but was to be
taken as a prisoner to a fortress, he looked around him with a proud
smile, "My noble persecuted master was right," he said. "The age is not
sufficiently matured for us and our compeers. It is dangerous to be
wise among fools; even the least glimpse of the light which is to
appear is, as yet, too strong for these weak-sighted barbarians. It is
not the first time a great genius hath appeared a century too soon!"

"Silence, wretched juggler!" said Aagé. "The great man whom thou
dishonourest, by calling thy master, was a wise and pious monk, I have
been told, but no juggler and self-appointed priest. Thank the holy
Virgin and her Son, whom thou deniest, for thy life to-day! It is not
for thy wisdom, but for thy folly, and the confusion thou wouldest
spread among the people, that I have caused thee to be bound."

Ere Aagé quitted the vessel he took Master Laurentius aside, and gazed
on him with a look of thoughtful interest. "You are too good to be this
juggler's attendant and apprentice," he said; "your blind admiration
for his knowledge of the perishing things of time, hath caused you to
deny and dishonour your own holy calling, and the high vocation to
which you are dedicated. St. Olaf, and the souls entrusted to you, you
have deserted for this deformed artificer of hell-fire. From want and
need you shall no longer be necessitated thus to degrade yourself. The
captain of the vessel hath orders to care for your requirements; at
Helsingborg he will provide you with suitable priest's attire, and
money for your journey. To save your life, Master Laurentius, I have
been forced to use you more hardly than I wished. When you arrive at
Helsingborg, you are free and your own master; but your suspicious
companion must, as a state prisoner, tarry the king's coming, and
justify himself before him, if he can do so. It is known to me that he
is a Leccar brother; as such it is forbidden to him to rove the country
at large and mislead the people. I know, also, he wishes you to join
his sect; but, I conjure you by that Almighty Lord and Master you have
been near betraying--draw back, good Master Laurentius, and preserve
your immortal soul! It hath assuredly a higher and a worthier calling,
if your countenance and warm enthusiasm for what is beautiful and true
have not deceived me. The Lord be with you! farewell!" Aagé quitted the
ship without awaiting an answer from the deeply agitated youth, whose
eyes were suffused with tears, and who vainly strove to reach him his
fettered hand.

The Drost rowed back to Skanor. It was dark night, and there was a
great stir and tumult on the quay. A quarrel and serious affray had
arisen between the Drost's knights and the Hanseatic merchants, who had
been chased from the inn and had taken flight towards the harbour.
Berner Kopmand and Henrik Gullandsfar, with their armed seamen, laid
furiously about them, but could not compete in the dexterous use of
their weapons with Sir Helmer and the other incensed young knights, who
were supported by the Skanor burghers. "Cut the forgers down! The
cheats! The overbearing dogs!" they shouted. "They have brought false
coin here to the fair--they have outlaws on board!" The affray was
serious and bloody. The Hanseatics withdrew, fighting, to their boats.
It was impossible for Aagé to restore peace. The foreign merchants and
the greater part of their seamen at last escaped to their ships, under
cover of the night. They instantly hoisted sail. It was not until they
were in the open sea that the knights missed Sir Helmer and the Drost's
most active squire, Canute of Fyen.



                               CHAP. XVI.


Drost Aagé was compelled to prosecute his journey early the next
morning, without having been able to discover Sir Helmer and the
squire. When Aagé and the royal halberdiers left Skanor, they were
followed through the streets by a great crowd of persons. It appeared
that the burghers had learned, or conjectured, the object of this showy
procession.

The ballad, "For Eric the youthful king!" was as popular in Scania as
in Denmark. "Long live king Eric and his true men!" shouted the crowd.
"Bring him and Denmark a second Dagmar, good sirs!"

Aagé rejoiced at these tokens of the disposition of the brave Scanians;
but he entertained little hope of a happy result from his embassy, and
he was under great anxiety for the fate of the brave Sir Helmer and his
own alert and trusty squire. Two of his other squires, and three of the
young knights remained dangerously wounded at Skanor.

Sir Helmer, and his companions, had followed the bragging Rostocker and
his seamen to their inn. They had unanimously resolved with their own
hands to chastise and humble the overbearing Hanseatics. While at the
inn the Drost's squire had displayed a false coin, with which one of
the lower class had been imposed upon in Berner Kopmand's booth, and it
was affirmed the Rostockers had brought with them whole chests of such
money. It was conjectured, and with reason, that this false money was
coined by the outlaws, who the preceding year had captured some of the
king's chief coiners. Complaints of false coin had frequently been made
before, and now that it was heard the Rostockers imported them by
bushels, the indignation instantly became great and general, and a
fight soon commenced with the foreign merchants and skippers. When the
Hanseatics were chased from the quay of Skanor, Sir Helmer had eagerly
pursued the armed seamen, and had assisted in rolling into the sea some
chests containing their bad money; at last, accompanied by the Drost's
squire, the daring Canute, he had sprung after them into the boat to
hinder their flight; but here they were overpowered by numbers, and
dragged captive on board the Rostock vessel.

Sorely wounded, and with hands and feet fast bound, Helmer and his
companion were thrown down into the ship's hold. Here they lay the
whole night among a number of ale barrels, firkins of salt, and sacks
of groceries, which had not been unladen. The vessel rolled heavily;
the weather had become boisterous, and those on board seemed only
busied in saving ship and goods. At length the weather grew calmer. The
strong motion of the ship ceased; it glided slowly and almost
imperceptibly forward, and all became quiet on deck. The wearied seamen
appeared to sleep. Sir Helmer now perceived a faint light above his
head. He thought it was daylight; but soon discovered it was the moon
shining in upon him through a chink in the ship's hatches directly
above him. He presently heard the voices of two men in the stillness of
the night; and recognised the tones of Berner Kopmand and Henrik
Gullandsfar. "I cannot sleep for wrath and wound-smarting," growled the
Rostocker. "Lo! this is the free trade and security one has to expect
when a greenhorn sits on the throne, and justice lies in the knights'
lances. Pestilence and destruction on the whole pack of puffed-up
aristocrats! The accursed sycophants and slaves of kings and tyrants!
They would have it _seem_ as if they protected the people and the
burghers--pshaw! It is but for themselves and their high master they
fight. Had I not spoken those bold words against their strutting
knight-king at Sjöborg, nor had that piece of royal game of an outlaw
on board, our money would surely have been as good ware as before. They
are a vile robber pack, the whole set of them that call themselves
knights and noble, as well here as in Germany--as long as there are
thrones and knights' castles left, neither trade nor burghership can
thrive. So soon as the sun rises those two jackanapes we laid hold of
shall dangle at the yard-arm."

"Hearest thou, countryman?" whispered Helmer in the hold to his
fellow-prisoner, "that concerns us two; a pleasant prospect! Could we
but sink the ship and drown the braggart grocers we could go down to our
home with some sort of pleasure."

"That would be truly but a sorry jest, and a slender satisfaction. Sir
Helmer; still, it would be better than to let oneself be hanged by
those rascals," answered the squire. "I have torn the skin off my left
hand," he continued; "but it can slip well enough out of the knot. If I
am allowed but half an hour for it our bonds shall be loosened. I have
a good clasp knife in my pocket; yonder lies a good ship's auger, and
an axe; many a hearty blow shall be dealt ere they get the halter round
our necks."

"The Lord and St. George assist us!" whispered Helmer, breathing hard,
"if I 'scape hence alive, and see my dear Anna again," he added, with a
smothered sigh, "I promise St. George a new altar-table, and every
bottle-nosed Hanseatic I meet a broken head!"

"'Tis a pious vow, noble sir!" whispered the squire, "you will see it
will help us. Now my hand slides out of the knot; but it pinches hard."

"Hush!" whispered Helmer, rolling himself nearer to the chink in the
hatches.

"I ever told you it was a bad business with that money-trading, and
that coining with the outlaws," now said the smoother, toned voice of
Henrik Gullandsfar above the knight's head. "No clear profit is ever
got by such dealings; it lessens faith, and rarely pays in the long
run, Master Berner! No! with _pure_ gold and silver might we rule the
world; and sober prudence would sway the gold sceptre--that I have ever
said. With a little less eagerness we should, perhaps, have made a
better market in Scania; but you will drive everything through with
might, Master Berner!"

"Might against might! that was ever my word in the covenant: there may
be something in what you say," answered the Rostocker, "of the gold and
silver sceptre; it may just as well, however, be alloyed with a little
copper or tin, when none perceive it; but with pure sharp steel it must
be defended. Ere we can lay the sword in the balance against all the
crowns and armorial bearings in the world, our proud plan is but a
glittering castle in the air."

"Give time, Master Berner," resumed Gullandsfar; "the great Rome was
not built in one day, yet she became the ruler of the world. Let us
first rid the seas and the highways of petty robbers, and then we may
let fly at the great in their castles and thrones. Let us first get
possession of the sea! then shall it overflow the earth with our waves!
It shall heap us up mountains of gold, and wash away every castle and
throne that stands in our way. We Wisbye men lie very close to the King
of Denmark; we must be cautious, even though as prudent merchants
we give patriotism to death and the devil. You Rostockers are too
hot-headed; one should not break too soon with authorities. The menace
at Sjöberg was a stupid trick: I did but assent to it, and was silent
for your sake. It never answers to bluster and threaten unless one can
fight at the same time; and it answers just as little to fight, unless
we know we are the strongest."

"Out upon your caution!" growled the Rostocker. "We have power already
if we will but use it; we may have as many souls in our service as we
can pay for."

"Men's souls are dear merchandise," observed Gullandsfar; "and besides
it easily corrupts and spoils. How many marks of pure silver hath not
that miserable fellow on the quarter deck yonder already cost you?
And he is, after all, but a villanous outlaw and renegade from our
high-born deadly foes. That pack no wise burgher should count on."

"Such a fellow is worth his weight in gold," said the Rostocker with a
laugh. "Mark! those aristocratic vermin shall now devour each other. A
dishonoured and death-doomed knight, without castle and lands, whose
honour and name have been scalded off him may be the best king-killer
one could have; he, yonder, is practised in the trade! He was in
Finnerup barn. I will let him loose in the harbour! I will smuggle him
in among our agents--there will soon be troubled waters to fish in. The
crowned green-horn shall not have turned his back on us at Sjöberg for
nothing. Mark! he shall have other things to think on than keeping his
bridal in the summer."

"We are not authorised by the covenant to go so far as that, however,
Master Berner," remarked Gullandsfar. "What yon dishonoured knight may
have to avenge is his own concern; his and your secret trade concerns
not the league; I would rather have nothing to do with that smuggling
traffic. When the prosperity of the league, and a great and matchless
plan like ours is in question, we should wisely set aside private
revenge, and all petty personal views."

"Do you slink? Are you afraid, Master colleague?" growled Berner
Kopmand, beginning to talk loud. "Let not that concern _you_ my wise
Master Henrik! You need not tell an old reckoner what is small and what
is great. I can as well as you make a difference between what I
undertake in the Hanse-towns' name, and what I risk in my own. If I
reckon wrong, the loss is Berner Kopmand's. I know what that man can
stand; and you are right--the covenant hath naught to do with it!"

"If it fails, it may however injure our trade and enterprises in great
matters," replied Henrik Gullandsfar in a tone of calm calculation.
"Consider the point well, Master Berner! All ports are now open to us;
the king is proud and authoritative, but nevertheless he favours us far
more than we could expect from his policy. Our 'prentices and agents
are protected in the sea-ports--our trade is as free and untaxed here
as any where--it hath not struck any one but the king himself that the
road to salt and pepper, to ale and German cloth, as we heard from his
own lips, is equally broad and convenient for all, and Danish corn and
cattle will give a good return, and pay both wages and taxes. St.
Nicolas and St. Hermes be thanked! the _navigation is ours_. _They are
too dull and lazy to understand their own interests_. The peasant is
content with small beer, and the citizen with skim milk, and they let
us run off with the ale and the cream; but if you make good your
threat, secretly or openly, and if anything a little too notorious
chances here, in which the Hanse have lot or part, people's eyes may be
opened, and our trading dominion is at an end here in the north."

"The eyes which might be most dangerous to us were they wide open, are
just those I would have shut," muttered the Rostocker. "Greater service
could none do the Hanse in these kingdoms and lands,--but silence! What
is that? I heard something move under us. The captives are surely not
loose?"

"The captives! Death and misfortune!" exclaimed Henrik. "Have they cast
them into the hold? Then perhaps they now know more than any living
soul must carry farther."

"It matters not, Master colleague," said the Rostocker with a scornful
laugh, "they shall not carry it farther, however, than to the yard-arm!
Now doth the sun rise red as pure gold--that sight they shall see for
the last time. Ho! steersman!" he shouted, "how far are we?"

"If a breeze springs up, we shall reach Kallebo ere it rings to mass in
Copenhagen, Master!" answered a hoarse voice at the helm.

"That's well! Then we will keep mattins and ship's law on our own
ground, ere the Bishop takes Lubeck law out of our hands. Up! all
hands! Ring the great bell!"

The sound of a brass bell instantly assembled all the seamen upon deck.

"Bring the prisoners up here, boatswain!" continued the captain of the
vessel. "Sing out, fellows! Shout forth the poor sinners' vigil. Let
the Danish scoundrels hear we are good Christians! and let their
houndish souls go to hell amid song and clang!"

While the ship's crew with a fearful bellowing chaunted a sort of hymn
on the departure of sinners from the world, and two sturdy fellows in
tarry jackets coolly fastened two ropes to the yard-arm, the hatches of
the ship's hold were opened and the boatswain went below with two armed
men. Cries and tumult were heard in the hold; all became instantly
quiet again, but neither the boatswain nor the two men returned.

"What is this?" exclaimed Berner Kopmand in dismay. "What is become of
them? Those Danish hell-hounds must be loose! Down after them fellows!
Bring them up here dead or alive! Hence! below! or ye shall be scourged
at the mast!"

The whole ship's crew were in commotion; they flocked to the hatchway,
but none seemed to like to go below, despite the threats of the stern
captain.

"The first who sets foot here below dies!" said Sir Helmer's voice from
the hold. "Ere, I and my comrade will let our necks be twisted by your
grocer hands, by St. Michael and his flaming sword! ye shall all of ye
go with us to the bottom of the sea--Any moment I please every soul of
us shall perish. We have bored a ground-leak--we loosen ye a plank with
a single pull."

"That devil of a fellow!" cried the Rostocker, growing deadly pale, "he
hath us all in his power. What are we to do?"

"We must treat with them," answered Gullandsfar. "Aside all men! Let me
speak with that worthy knight. This is doubtless a little stratagem of
war, noble Sir knight!" began Master Henrik, courteously; "but since we
cannot search into the matter without peril of our lives we will submit
to necessity, and acknowledge you have this once very craftily ensnared
us. What have ye done to our three men, noble sir?"

"They have met with their deserts, and lie here stone dead," answered
the knight. "Thus it shall fare with all of ye--if ye will fight with
us fairly, three at once, we will encounter on dry boards; but if more
come, the sea shall help us. Throw us our own good swords below
instantly! or we will try who best can swim."

"You have won back your freedom with honour, noble sir!" answered
Gullandsfar, "If ye would believe my word you might safely come here
among us; we are peaceable people, and purpose not to measure our skill
in arms with yours. Your swords shall instantly be returned to you;
but upon one condition, noble knight--you must only use the sword in
self-defence, and not to assault any of us as long as you are here on
board; for this I demand your knightly word of Honour."

"That I promise on my faith and honour," cried Helmer,--and two swords
were instantly thrown down to them.

"We will set you unscathed on shore at Copenhagen, noble sir,"
continued Henrik Gullandsfar, "provided you promise to be silent
concerning what you perhaps may have heard and perceived, which might
get us into disfavour in high places, or injure our trade and
enterprises."

"I leave grocers and pettifoggers to wage war with the tongue,"
answered the knight haughtily. "What I have heard of your fine plans
and projects I deem not worth wasting one word upon; but from this hour
I defy you all to the death.--Until I set foot on shore you are
unmolested; but from the moment we separate broken heads will be the
consequence of our meeting."

"That is but natural," returned Gullandsfar. "We accept your proffer in
the first instance; keep but quiet! In a few hours you will be on
shore."

There was a murmur of dissatisfaction and uneasiness on board the
vessel. Some of the boldest seamen grumbled at the shameful peace with
the two captives. They blamed Henrik Gullandsfar for cowardice and
treachery; but none cared to go down into the hold, and dare an
encounter with the redoubted captives, who had both ship and crew in
their power. At last, however, they submitted to necessity. Berner
Kopmand had lost the use of his tongue, and the discreet Master Henrik
had taken the command of the ship. He ordered every one to go quietly
about their business, and was obeyed without any objections being made.
The captain himself stood on the forecastle, with rolling eyes and
crimson cheeks. He concealed with his large person a man in a black
priestly mantle, who conversed with him in a low tone, and kept his
back constantly turned towards the stern. A fresh breeze had sprung up.
The wind was favourable, and ere noon the vessel glided into Kallebo
strand, between the Isle of Amak and the green pastures of the village
of Solbierg, which occupied the whole of the western side where the
suburb of Copenhagen, Vesterbro, was afterwards built. It was a fine
spring day. The proud castle of Axelhuus[12] rose towards the east in
the sunshine, with its circular walls and its two round towers, and was
mirrored in the surrounding waters. The castle lay apart from the town,
without any bridge, and was only accessible by boats. Behind the castle
island were two other small islands, almost covered with buildings,
whither boats were constantly plying. The one was the abode of the
stationary skippers, and on the other (Bremen Island) the warehouses of
the Bremen merchants seemed to tower in emulation of the castle of
Axelhuus itself. The Rostock vessel steered not to the great haven,
from which the city afterwards derived its name, but ran into the
Catsound, on both sides of which were seen a number of small houses of
frame-work, the walls of which were plastered with clay, and the roofs
thatched with straw and reeds; between the houses were cabbage gardens
and orchards, with wooden fences, or thorn hedges; and in the
neighbourhood of the quay was seen the little church of St. Clement.



                               FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: The word Runes is here used in its original
signification,--that of mystery or secret. Each letter of the Runic
alphabet was supposed to possess a mysterious and magical power. In the
Scandinavian mythology, each Rune was originally dedicated to some
deity; it also denoted some natural quality or object: their Asiatic
origin is now proved beyond doubt. There is a remarkable poem in the
elder Edda--the Song of Brynhildé, in which mention is made of several
kinds of Runes. Among them may be classed numerous amulets of most of
the Asiatic tribes, as well as of the Egyptians, Greeks, &c., on which
these characters were cut or traced. The custom among sailors of
marking their skins with letters and devices may clearly be traced to
Runic origin, and the tattooing among savage tribes is evidently
similarly derived. In Wilson's account of the Pelew Islands, King Abba
Thulé is represented as tattooed with two crosses on the breast and two
on one shoulder, with a snake, and these distinct northern Runes
[Illustration of rune]. In the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth
centuries, when superstition dragged her victims to the stake
throughout all Christian Europe, the use of Runes became an especial
object for the persecutions exercised by the authorities and clergy of
Iceland,--the word Rune there signifying a mysterious and magical
character. The songs of the Finns and Laps, which are supposed by them
to possess magic powers, are still called Runes.--_Translator_. Vide
_Professor Finn Magnussen's Notes to the Elder Edda_, vol. iii.]

[Footnote 2: King Eric the Sixth of Denmark, surnamed Plough Penny, the
son and successor of Valdemar the Victorious, was murdered by the
command of his brother, Junker Abel, Duke of Slesvig, under
circumstances of peculiar atrocity, on the 4th of August, 1250. Abel
had frequently rebelled against his brother; but at last finding that
his forces were unequal to the contest, he had recourse to stratagem,
and made overtures of friendship to Eric, who gladly accepted them, and
hesitated not to visit his brother at one of his palaces in Slesvig.
After an apparently cordial reception, however, the duke contrived to
turn the conversation on their former feuds, and reproached the king
with having devastated his territories, saying, "Dost thou not remember
how thou didst plunder my town of Slesvig, and compel my daughter to
fly barefoot to a place of shelter? Thou shalt not do so twice." Eric
was then seized and led to the river Slie, where he was placed in a
boat, beheaded, and his body sunk by stones into the deepest part of
the stream. In order to cover this crime, Duke Abel and twenty-four of
his knights, according to the usage of those times, endeavoured to
clear themselves of suspicion, by solemnly affirming that the king had
met with his death by the upsetting of the boat, but two months
afterwards the headless trunk floated to the river side, and the murder
became known. The body was deposited in St. Benedict's church at
Ringsted, where the Translator not long ago was shown one of the bones
through an aperture of the walled-up niche.]

[Footnote 3: The placing runes upon the tongue was employed in Runic
magic to waken the dead priestess, and compel her to give a prophetic
answer to the magician whose spells had aroused her from the sleep of
death. In the song of Vegtam, in the Elder Edda, known to the English
reader in our poet Gray's fine translation, "The Descent of Odin," the
Scandinavian bard describes the magic power of runes traced on the
ground towards the north, and repeated as incantations, in calling
forth the prophetic response from the tomb.


      "Right against the eastern gate,
      By the moss-grown pile he sate,
      Where long of yore to sleep was laid
      The dust of the prophetic maid;
      Facing to the northern clime,
      Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme;
      Thrice pronounced in accents dread,
      The thrilling verse that wakes the dead,
      Till from out the hollow ground,
      Slowly breathed a sullen sound."

                    _Translator's Note_.]

[Footnote 4: Baldur, the son of Odin, was slain by Hother, a Danish
warrior, his rival in the affections of Nanna, a Norwegian princess.]

[Footnote 5: Fragment of an old Danish ballad entitled "Agneté and the
Merman."]

[Footnote 6: One of the most ancient and characteristic ballads of the
north. It is the subject of one of M. Ohlenschlager's most popular
tragedies.]

[Footnote 7: The superstitious belief in the existence of mermen,
prevailed in Denmark at no very remote period. It seems probable that
the pirates or Vikings of the north availed themselves of this
superstition, by assuming the disguise of mermen to scare the
inhabitants from those coasts it was important they should possess. The
adventures of some Scandinavian pirate and maiden probably gave rise to
the curious old ballad of Agneté and the Merman. See the Danish "Kjæmpe
Viser."--_Translator_.]

[Footnote 8: Fragment of an heroic ballad.]

[Footnote 9: Varulve (Manwolf) according to ancient superstition, a man
who had been metamorphosed for a certain time into a wolf. The
superstitions of the Scandinavians, as handed down in the Sagas and
Kempe Vise (heroic ballads), partake so much of the character of
Eastern fable, that there can be little doubt of their Asiatic
origin.--_Translator_.]

[Footnote 10: Nidaros, the ancient name of Drontheim in Norway.]

[Footnote 11: "Vola's qvad," or "The Song of the Prophetess," is one of
the most imaginative poems in the Elder Edda. It opens with an account
of the springing forth of creation from chaos, and after announcing
death as the final doom of all physical nature, ends by foretelling the
rise of a better and brighter world, from the ocean in which the first
had been engulphed.--_Translator_.]

[Footnote 12: The name of the ancient castle of Copenhagen, built by
Bishop Absalon in the thirteenth century as a defence against pirates.]



                       END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.



                                London:
                      Printed by A. Spottiswoode,
                           New-Street-Square.





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