The house seemed very quiet that spring day when the sound of horses’
hoofs had died away in the distance. In the flurry of leave-taking,
the doors had been left open; the table was still set after Ulrik
Frederik’s breakfast, with his napkin just as he had crumpled it at
his plate, and the tracks of his great riding-boots were still wet on
the floor. Over there by the tall pier-glass he had pressed her to his
heart and kissed and kissed her in farewell, trying to comfort her
with oaths and vows of a speedy return. Involuntarily she moved to the
mirror as though to see whether it did not hold something of his image,
as she had glimpsed it a moment ago, while locked in his arms. Her own
lonely, drooping figure and pale, tear-stained face met her searching
glance from behind the smooth, glittering surface.
She heard the street door close, and the lackey cleared the table.
Ulrik Frederik’s favorite dogs, Nero, Passando, Rumor, and Delphine,
had been locked in, and ran about the room, whimpering and sniffing his
tracks. She tried to call them, but could not for weeping. Passando,
the tall red fox-hound, came to her; she knelt down to stroke and
caress the dog, but he wagged his tail in an absent-minded way, looked
up into her face, and went on howling.
Those first days–how empty every thing was and dreary! The time
dragged slowly, and the solitude seemed to hang over her, heavy and
oppressive, while her longing would sometimes burn like salt in an open
wound. Ay, it was so at first, but presently all this was no longer
new, and the darkness and emptiness, the longing and grief, came again
and again like snow that falls flake upon flake, until it seemed to
wrap her in a strange, dull hopelessness, almost a numbness that made
a comfortable shelter of her sorrow.
Suddenly all was changed. Every nerve was strung to the most acute
sensitiveness, every vein throbbing with blood athirst for life, and
her fancy teemed like the desert air with colorful images and luring
forms. On such days she was like a prisoner who sees youth slip by,
spring after spring, barren, without bloom, dull and empty, always
passing, never coming. The sum of time seemed to be counted out with
hours for pennies; at every stroke of the clock one fell rattling at
her feet, crumbled, and was dust, while she would wring her hands in
agonized life-hunger and scream with pain.
She appeared but seldom at court or in the homes of her family, for
etiquette demanded that she should keep to the house. Nor was she in
the mood to welcome visitors, and as they soon ceased coming, she
was left entirely to herself. This lonely brooding and fretting soon
brought on an indolent torpor, and she would sometimes lie in bed for
days and nights at a stretch, trying to keep in a state betwixt waking
and sleeping, which gave rise to fantastic visions. Far clearer than
the misty dream pictures of healthy sleep, these images filled the
place of the life she was missing.
Her irritability grew with every day, and the slightest noise was
torture. Sometimes she would be seized with the strangest notions and
with sudden mad impulses that might almost raise a doubt of her sanity.
Indeed, there was perhaps but the width of a straw between madness and
that curious longing to do some desperate deed, merely for the sake of
doing it, without the least reason or even real desire for it.
Sometimes, when she stood at the open window, leaning against the
casement and looking down into the paved court below, she would feel
an overmastering impulse to throw herself down, merely to do it. But
in that very second she seemed to have actually made the leap in
her imagination and to have felt the cool, incisive tingling that
accompanies a jump from a height. She darted back from the window
to the inmost corner of the room, shaking with horror, the image of
herself lying in her own blood on the hard stones so vivid in her mind
that she had to go back to the window again and look down in order to
drive it away.
Less dangerous and of a somewhat different nature was the fancy that
would seize her when she looked at her own bare arm and traced, in a
kind of fascination, the course of the blue and deep-violet veins under
the white skin. She wanted to set her teeth in that white roundness,
and she actually followed her impulse, biting like a fierce little
animal mark upon mark, till she felt the pain and would stop and begin
to fondle the poor maltreated arm.
At other times, when she was sitting quietly, she would be suddenly
moved to go in and undress, only that she might wrap herself in a thick
quilt of red silk and feel the smooth, cool surface against her skin,
or put an ice-cold steel blade down her naked back. Of such whims she
* * * * *
Finally, after an absence of fourteen months, Ulrik Frederik returned.
It was a July night, and Marie lay sleepless, listening to the slow
soughing of the wind, restless with anxious thoughts. For the last week
she had been expecting Ulrik Frederik every hour of the day and night,
longing for his arrival and fearing it. Would everything be as in olden
times–fourteen months ago? Sometimes she thought no, then again yes.
The truth was, she could not quite forgive him for that trip to Spain.
She felt that she had aged in this long time, had grown timid and
listless, while he would come fresh from the glamor and stir, full of
youth and high spirits, finding her pale and faded, heavy of step and
of mind, nothing like her old self. At first he would be strange and
cold to her; she would feel all the more cast down, and he would turn
from her, but she would never forsake him. No, no, she would watch over
him like a mother, and when the world went against him he would come
back to her, and she would comfort him and be kind to him, bear want
for his sake, suffer and weep, do everything for him. At other times
she thought that as soon as she saw him all must be as before; yes,
they romped through the rooms like madcap pages; the walls echoed their
laughter and revelry, the corners whispered of their kisses–
With this fancy in her mind she fell into a light sleep. Her dreams
were of noisy frolic, and when she awoke the noise was still there.
Quick steps sounded on the stairs, the street door was thrown open,
doors slammed, coaches rumbled, and horses’ hoofs scraped the
There he is! she thought, sprang up, caught the large quilt, and
wrapping it round her, ran through the rooms. In the large parlor she
stopped. A tallow dip was burning in a wooden candlestick on the floor,
and a few of the tapers had been lit in the sconces, but the servant in
his flurry had run away in the midst of his preparations. Some one was
speaking outside. It was Ulrik Frederik’s voice, and she trembled with
The door was opened, and he rushed in, still wearing his hat and cloak.
He would have caught her in his arms, but got only her hand, as she
darted back. He looked so strange in his unfamiliar garb. He was tanned
and stouter than of old, and under his cloak he wore a queer dress,
the like of which she had never seen. It was the new fashion of long
waistcoat and fur-bordered coat, which quite changed his figure and
made him still more unlike his old self.
“Marie!” he cried, “dear girl!” and he drew her to him, wrenching her
wrist till she moaned with pain. He heard nothing. He was flustered
with drink; for the night was not warm, and they had baited well in the
last tavern. Marie’s struggles were of no avail, he kissed and fondled
her wildly, immoderately. At last she tore herself away and ran into
the next room, her cheeks flushed, her bosom heaving, but thinking that
perhaps this was rather a queer welcome, she came back to him.
Ulrik Frederik was standing in the same spot, quite bewildered between
his efforts to make his fuddled brain comprehend what was happening
and his struggles to unhook the clasps of his cloak. His thoughts and
his hands were equally helpless. When Marie went to him and unfastened
his cloak, it occurred to him that perhaps it was all a joke, and he
burst into a loud laugh, slapped his thigh, writhed and staggered,
threatened Marie archly, and laughed with maudlin good nature. He was
plainly trying to express something funny that had caught his fancy,
started but could not find the words, and at last sank down on a chair,
groaning and gasping, while a broad, fatuous smile spread over his face.
Gradually the smile gave place to a sottish gravity. He rose and
stalked up and down in silent, displeased majesty, planted himself by
the grate in front of Marie, one arm akimbo, the other resting on the
mantel, and–still in his cups–looked down at her condescendingly.
He made a long, potvaliant speech about his own greatness and the
honor that had been shown him abroad, about the good fortune that had
befallen Marie when she, a common nobleman’s daughter, had become the
bride of a man who might have brought home a princess of the blood.
Without the slightest provocation, he went on to impress upon Marie
that he meant to be master of his own house, and she must obey his
lightest nod, he would brook no gainsaying, no, not a word, not one.
However high he might raise her, she would always be his slave, his
little slave, his sweet little slave, and at that he became as gentle
as a sportive lynx, wept and wheedled. With all the importunity of a
drunken man he forced upon her gross caresses and vulgar endearments,
The next morning Marie awoke long before Ulrik Frederik. She looked
almost with hatred on the sleeping figure at her side. Her wrist was
swollen and ached from his violent greeting of the night before. He
lay with muscular arms thrown back under his powerful, hairy neck. His
broad chest rose and fell, breathing, it seemed to her, a careless
defiance, and there was a vacant smile of satiety on his dull, moist
She paled with anger and reddened with shame as she looked at him.
Almost a stranger to her after their long parting, he had forced
himself upon her, demanding her love as his right, cocksure that all
the devotion and passion of her soul were his, just as he would be sure
of finding his furniture standing where he left it when he went out.
Confident of being missed, he had supposed that all her longings had
taken wing from her trembling lips to him in the distance, and that the
goal of all her desire was his own broad breast.
When Ulrik Frederik came out he found her half sitting, half reclining
on a couch in the blue room. She was pale, her features relaxed, her
eyes downcast, and the injured hand lay listlessly in her lap wrapped
in a lace handkerchief. He would have taken it, but she languidly held
out her left hand to him and leaned her head back with a pained smile.
Ulrik Frederik kissed the hand she gave him and made a joking excuse
for his condition the night before, saying that he had never been
decently drunk all the time he had been in Spain, for the Spaniards
knew nothing about drinking. Besides, if the truth were told, he liked
the homemade alicant and malaga wine from Johan Lehn’s dram-shop and
Bryhans’ cellar better than the genuine sweet devilry they served down
Marie made no reply.
The breakfast table was set, and Ulrik Frederik asked if they should
not fall to, but she begged him to pardon her letting him eat alone.
She wanted nothing, and her hand hurt; he had quite bruised it. When
his guilt was thus brought home to him he was bound to look at the
injured hand and kiss it, but Marie quickly hid it in a fold of her
dress, with a glance–he said–like a tigress defending her helpless
cub. He begged long, but it was of no use, and at last he sat down
to the table laughing, and ate with an appetite that roused a lively
displeasure in Marie. Yet he could not sit still. Every few minutes
he would jump up and run to the window to look out; for the familiar
street scenes seemed to him new and curious. With all this running, his
breakfast was soon scattered about the room, his beer in one window,
the bread-knife in another, his napkin slung over the vase of the
gilded Gueridon, and a bun on the little table in the corner.
At last he had done eating and settled down at the window. As he
looked out, he kept talking to Marie, who from her couch made brief
answers or none at all. This went on for a little while, until she came
over to the window where he sat, sighed, and gazed out drearily.
Ulrik Frederik smiled and assiduously turned his signet ring round
on his finger. “Shall I breathe on the sick hand?” he asked in a
plaintive, pitying tone.
Marie tore the handkerchief from her hand and continued to look out
without a word.
“‘Twill take cold, the poor darling,” he said, glancing up.
Marie stood resting the injured hand carelessly on the window-sill.
Presently she began drumming with her fingers as on a keyboard, back
and forth, from the sunshine into the shadow of the casement, then from
the shadow to the sunlight again.
Ulrik Frederik looked on with a smile of pleasure at the beautiful
pale hand as it toyed on the casement, gamboled like a frisky kitten,
crouched as for a spring, set its back, darted toward the bread-knife,
turned the handle round and round, crawled back, lay flat on the
window-sill, then stole softly toward the knife again, wound itself
round the hilt, lifted the blade to let it play in the sunlight, flew
up with the knife–
In a flash the knife descended on his breast, but he warded it off,
and it simply cut through his long lace cuff into his sleeve, as he
hurled it to the floor and sprang up with a cry of horror, upsetting
his chair, all in a second as with a single motion.
Marie was pale as death. She pressed her hands against her breast, and
her eyes were fixed in terror on the spot where Ulrik Frederik had been
sitting. A harsh, lifeless laughter forced itself between her lips,
and she sank down on the floor, noiselessly and slowly, as if supported
by invisible hands. While she stood playing with the knife, she had
suddenly noticed that the lace of Ulrik Frederik’s shirt had slipped
aside, revealing his chest, and a senseless impulse had come over her
to plunge the bright blade into that white breast, not from any desire
to kill or wound, but only because the knife was cold and the breast
warm, or perhaps because her hand was weak and aching while the breast
was strong and sound, but first and last because she could not help it,
because her will had no power over her brain and her brain no power
over her will.
Ulrik Frederik stood pale, supporting his palms on the table, which
shook under his trembling till the dishes slid and rattled. As a rule,
he was not given to fear nor wanting in courage, but this thing had come
like a bolt out of the blue, so utterly senseless and incomprehensible
that he could only look on the unconscious form stretched on the floor
by the window with the same terror that he would have felt for a ghost.
Burrhi’s words about the danger that gleamed in the hand of a woman
rang in his ears, and he sank to his knees praying; for all reasonable
security, all common-sense safeguards seemed gone from this earthly
life together with all human foresight. Clearly the heavens themselves
were taking sides; unknown spirits ruled, and fate was determined by
supernatural powers and signs. Why else should she have tried to kill
him? Why? Almighty God, why, why? Because it must be–must be.
He picked up the knife almost furtively, broke the blade, and threw the
pieces into the empty grate. Still Marie did not stir. Surely she was
not wounded? No, the knife was bright, and there was no blood on his
cuffs, but she lay there as quiet as death itself. He hurried to her
and lifted her in his arms.
Marie sighed, opened her eyes, and gazed straight out before her with
a lifeless expression, then, seeing Ulrik Frederik, threw her arms
around him, kissed and fondled him, still without a word. Her smile
was pleased and happy, but a questioning fear lurked in her eyes.
Her glance seemed to seek something on the floor. She caught Ulrik
Frederik’s wrist, passed her hand over his sleeve, and when she saw
that it was torn and the cuff slashed, she shrieked with horror.
“Then I really did it!” she cried in despair. “O God in highest
heaven, preserve my mind, I humbly beseech Thee! But why don’t you
ask questions? Why don’t you fling me away from you like a venomous
serpent? And yet, God knows, I have no part nor fault in what I did.
It simply came over me. There was something that forced me. I swear to
you by my hope of eternal salvation, there was something that moved my
hand. Ah, you don’t believe it! How can you?” And she wept and moaned.
But Ulrik Frederik believed her implicitly, for this fully bore out
his own thoughts. He comforted her with tender words and caresses,
though he felt a secret horror of her as a poor helpless tool under the
baleful spell of evil powers. Nor could he get over this fear, though
Marie, day after day, used every art of a clever woman to win back his
confidence. She had indeed sworn, that first morning, that she would
make Ulrik Frederik put forth all his charms and exercise all his
patience in wooing her over again, but now her behavior said exactly
the reverse. Every look implored; every word was a meek vow. In a
thousand trifles of dress and manner, in crafty surprises and delicate
attentions, she confessed her tender, clinging love every hour of the
day, and if she had merely had the memory of that morning’s incident to
overcome, she would certainly have won, but greater forces were arrayed
Ulrik Frederik had gone away an impecunious prince from a land where
the powerful nobility by no means looked upon the natural son of a
king as more than their equal. Absolute monarchy was yet young, and
the principle that a king was a man who bought his power by paying in
kind was very old. The light of demi-godhead, which in later days cast
a halo about the hereditary monarch, had barely been lit, and was yet
too faint to dazzle any one who did not stand very near it.
From this land Ulrik Frederik had gone to the army and court of Philip
the Fourth, and there he had been showered with gifts and honors, had
been made Grand d’Espagne and put on the same footing as Don Juan
of Austria. The king made it a point to do homage in his person to
Frederik the Third, and in bestowing on him every possible favor he
sought to express his satisfaction with the change of government in
Denmark and his appreciation of King Frederik’s triumphant efforts to
enter the ranks of absolute monarchs.
Intoxicated and elated with all this glory, which quite changed his
conception of his own importance, Ulrik Frederik soon saw that he
had acted with unpardonable folly in making the daughter of a common
nobleman his wife. Thoughts of making her pay for his mistake, confused
plans for raising her to his rank and for divorcing her chased one
another through his brain during his trip homeward. On top of this
came his superstitious fear that his life was in danger from her, and
he made up his mind that until he could see his course more clearly,
he would be cold and ceremonious in his manner to her and repel every
attempt to revive the old idyllic relation between them.
Frederik the Third, who was by no means lacking in power of shrewd
observation, soon noticed that Ulrik Frederik was not pleased with his
marriage, and he divined the reason. Thinking to raise Marie Grubbe
in Ulrik Frederik’s eyes, he distinguished her whenever he could and
showered upon her every mark of royal grace, but it was of no avail.
It merely raised an army of suspicious and jealous enemies around the
* * * * *
The Royal Family spent the summer, as often before, at Frederiksborg.
Ulrik Frederik and Marie moved out there to help plan the junketings
and pageants that were to be held in September and October, when the
Elector of Saxony was coming to celebrate his betrothal with the
Princess Anne Sofie. The court was small as yet, but the circle was
to be enlarged in the latter part of August, when the rehearsals of
ballets and other diversions were to begin. It was very quiet, and
they had to pass the time as best they could. Ulrik Frederik took long
hunting and fishing trips almost every day. The King was busy at his
turning-lathe or in the laboratory which he had fitted up in one of the
small towers. The Queen and the princesses were embroidering for the
In the shady lane that led from the woods up to the wicket of the
little park, Marie Grubbe was wont to take her morning walk. She was
there to-day. Up in the lane, her dress of madder-red shone against
the black earth of the walk and the green leaves. Slowly she came
nearer. A jaunty black felt hat trimmed only with a narrow pearl braid
rested lightly on her hair, which was piled up in heavy ringlets. A
silver-mounted solitaire gleamed on the rim where it was turned up on
the side. Her bodice fitted smoothly, and her sleeves were tight to the
elbow, whence they hung, deeply slashed, held together by clasps of
mother-of-pearl and lined with flesh-colored silk. Wide, close-meshed
lace covered her bare arms. The robe trailed a little behind, but
was caught up high on the sides, falling in rounded folds across the
front, and revealing a black and white diagonally striped skirt, which
was just long enough to give a glimpse of black-clocked stockings and
pearl-buckled shoes. She carried a fan of swan’s feathers and raven’s
Near the wicket she stopped, breathed in her hollow hand, held it first
to one eye then to the other, tore off a branch and laid the cool
leaves on her hot eyelids. Still the signs of weeping were plainly to
be seen. She went in at the wicket and started up toward the castle,
but turned back and struck into a side-path.
Her figure had scarcely vanished between the dark green box-hedges
when a strange and sorry couple appeared in the lane: a man who walked
slowly and unsteadily as though he had just risen from a severe
illness, leaning on a woman in an old-fashioned cloth coat and with a
wide green shade over her eyes. The man was trying to go faster than
his strength would allow, and the woman was holding him back, while she
tripped along, remonstrating querulously.
“Hold, hold!” she said. “Wait a bit and take your feet with you! You’re
running on like a loose wheel going down hill. Weak limbs must be
weakly borne. Gently now! Isn’t that what she told you, the wise woman
in Lynge? What sense is there in limping along on legs that have no
more starch nor strength than an old rotten thread!”
“Alack, good Lord, what legs they are!” whimpered the sick man and
stopped; for his knees shook under him. “Now she’s all out of sight”–he
looked longingly at the wicket–“all out of sight! And there will be no
promenade to-day, the harbinger says, and it’s so long till to-morrow!”
“There, there, Daniel dear, the time will pass, and you can rest to-day
and be stronger to-morrow, and then we shall follow her all through
the woods way down to the wicket, indeed we shall. But now we must go
home, and you shall rest on the soft couch and drink a good pot of ale,
and then we shall play a game of reversis, and later on, when their
highnesses have supped, Reinholdt Vintner will come, and then you shall
ask him the news, and we’ll have a good honest lanterloo, till the sun
sinks in the mountains, indeed we shall, Daniel dear, indeed we shall.”
“‘Ndeed we shall, ‘ndeed we shall!” jeered Daniel. “You with your
lanterloo and games and reversis! When my brain is burning like molten
lead, and my mind’s in a frenzy, and–Help me to the edge of the road
and let me sit down a moment–there! Am I in my right mind, Magnille?
Huh? I’m mad as a fly in a flask, that’s what I am. ‘Tis sensible in a
lowborn lout, a miserable, mangy, rickety wretch, to be eaten up with
frantic love of a prince’s consort! Oh ay, it’s sensible, Magnille, to
long for her till my eyes pop out of my head, and to gasp like a fish
on dry land only to see a glimpse of her form and to touch with my
mouth the dust she has trodden–’tis sensible, I’m saying. Oh, if it
were not for the dreams, when she comes and bends over me and lays her
white hand on my tortured breast–or lies there so still and breathes
so softly and is so cold and forlorn and has none to guard her but only
me–or she flits by white as a naked lily!–but it’s empty dreams,
vapor and moonshine only, and frothy air-bubbles.”
They walked on again. At the wicket they stopped, and Daniel supported
his arms on it while his gaze followed the hedges.
“In there,” he said.
Fair and calm the park spread out under the sunlight that bathed air
and leaves. The crystals in the gravel walk threw back the light in
quivering rays. Hanging cobwebs gleamed through the air, and the dry
sheaths of the beech-buds fluttered slowly to the ground, while high
against the blue sky, the white doves of the castle circled with
sungold on swift wings. A merry dance-tune sounded faintly from a
lute in the distance.
“What a fool!” murmured Daniel. “Should you think, Magnille, that one
who owned the most precious pearl of all the Indies would hold it as
naught and run after bits of painted glass? Marie Grubbe and–Karen
Fiol! Is _he_ in his right mind? And now they think he’s hunting,
because forsooth he lets the gamekeeper shoot for him, and comes back
with godwits and woodcocks by the brace and bagful, and all the while
he’s fooling and brawling down at Lynge with a town-woman, a strumpet.
Faugh, faugh! Lake of brimstone, such filthy business! And he’s so
jealous of that spring ewe-lambkin, he’s afraid to trust her out of his
sight for a day, while–”
The leaves rustled, and Marie Grubbe stood before him on the other side
of the wicket. After she turned into the side-path, she had gone down
to the place where the elks and Esrom camels were kept, and thence back
to a little arbor near the gate. There she had overheard what Daniel
said to Magnille, and now–
“Who are you?” she asked, “and were they true, the words you spoke?”
Daniel grasped the wicket and could hardly stand for trembling.
“Daniel Knopf, your ladyship, mad Daniel,” he replied. “Pay no heed to
his talk, it runs from his tongue, sense and nonsense, as it happens,
brain-chaff and tongue-threshing, tongue-threshing and naught else.”
“You lie, Daniel.”
“Ay, ay, good Lord, I lie; I make no doubt I do; for in here, your
ladyship”–he pointed to his forehead–“’tis like the destruction of
Jerusalem. Courtesy, Magnille, and tell her ladyship, Madam Gyldenlöve,
how daft I am. Don’t let that put you out of countenance. Speak up,
Magnille! After all we’re no more cracked than the Lord made us.”
“Is he truly mad?” Marie asked Magnille.
Magnille, in her confusion, bent down, caught a fold of Marie’s dress
through the bars of the wicket, kissed it, and looked quite frightened.
“Oh, no, no, indeed he is not, God be thanked.”
“She too”–said Daniel, waving his arm. “We take care of each other, we
two mad folks, as well as we can. ‘Tis not the best of luck, but good
Lord, though mad we be yet still we see, we walk abroad and help each
other get under the sod. But no one rings over our graves; for that’s
not allowed. I thank you kindly for asking. Thank you, and God be with
“Stay,” said Marie Grubbe. “You are no more mad than you make yourself.
You must speak, Daniel. Would you have me think so ill of you as to
take you for a go-between of my lord and her you mentioned? Would you?”
“A poor addle-pated fellow!” whimpered Daniel, waving his arm
“God forgive you, Daniel! ‘Tis a shameful game you are playing; and I
believed so much better of you–so very much better.”
“Did you? Did you truly?” he cried eagerly, his eyes shining with joy.
“Then I’m in my right mind again. You’ve but to ask.”
“Was it the truth what you said?”
“As the gospel, but–”
“You are sure? There is no mistake?”
“Is–he there to-day?”
“Is he gone hunting?”
“What manner”–Marie began after a short pause–“what manner of woman
is she, do you know?”
“Small, your ladyship, quite small, round and red as a pippin, merry
and prattling, laughing mouth and tongue loose at both ends.”
“But what kind of people does she come from?”
“‘Tis now two years ago or two and a half since she was the wife
of a French _valet de chambre_, who fled the country and deserted
her, but she didn’t grieve long for him; she joined her fate with an
out-at-elbows harp-player, went to Paris with him, and remained there
and at Brussels, until she returned here last Whitsun. In truth, she
has a natural good understanding and a pleasing manner, except at times
when she is tipsy. This is all the knowledge I have.”
“Daniel!” she said and stopped uncertainly.
“Daniel,” he replied with a subtle smile, “is as faithful to you now
and forever as your own right hand.”
“Then will you help me? Can you get me a–a coach and coachman who is
to be trusted, the instant I give the word?”
“Indeed and indeed I can. In less than an hour from the moment you give
the word the coach shall hold in Herman Plumber’s meadow hard by the
old shed. You may depend on me, your ladyship.”
Marie stood still a moment and seemed to consider. “I will see you
again,” she said, nodded kindly to Magnille, and left them.
“Is she not the treasure house of all beauties, Magnille?” cried
Daniel, gazing rapturously up the walk where she had vanished. “And so
peerless in her pride!” he went on triumphantly. “Ah, she would spurn
me with her foot, scornfully set her foot on my neck, and softly tread
me down in the deepest dust, if she knew how boldly Daniel dares dream
of her person–So consuming beautiful and glorious! My heart burned
in me with pity to think that she had to confide in me, to bend the
majestic palm of her pride–But there’s ecstasy in that sentiment,
Magnille, heavenly bliss, Magnilchen!”
And they tottered off together.
The coming of Daniel and his sister to Frederiksborg had happened
in this wise. After the meeting in the Bide-a-Wee Tavern, poor
Hop-o’-my-Thumb had been seized with an insane passion for Marie. It
was a pathetic, fantastic love, that hoped nothing, asked nothing, and
craved nothing but barren dreams. No more at all. The bit of reality
that he needed to give his dreams a faint color of life he found
fully in occasional glimpses of her near by or flitting past in the
distance. When Gyldenlöve departed, and Marie never went out, his
longing grew apace, until it made him almost insane, and at last threw
him on a sick-bed.
When he rose again, weak and wasted, Gyldenlöve had returned. Through
one of Marie’s maids, who was in his pay, he learned that the relation
between Marie and her husband was not the best, and this news fed
his infatuation and gave it new growth, the rank unnatural growth of
fantasy. Before he had recovered enough from his illness to stand
steadily on his feet, Marie left for Frederiksborg. He must follow
her; he could not wait. He made a pretence of consulting the wise
woman in Lynge, in order to regain his strength, and urged his sister
Magnille to accompany him and seek a cure for her weak eyes. Friends
and neighbors found this natural, and off they drove, Daniel and
Magnille, to Lynge. There he discovered Gyldenlöve’s affair with Karen
Fiol, and there he confided all to Magnille, told her of his strange
love, declared that for him light and the breath of life existed only
where Marie Grubbe was, and begged her to go with him to the village
of Frederiksborg that he might be near her who filled his mind so
Magnille humored him. They took lodgings at Frederiksborg and had for
days been shadowing Marie Grubbe on her lonely morning walks. Thus the
meeting had come about.