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Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian) / The Sand-Hills of Jutland
Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Chris Curnow, Lindy Walsh,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at










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The Following Tales








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_The Sand-hills of Jutland._

This is a story from the Jutland sand-hills, but it does not commence
there; on the contrary, it commences far away towards the south, in
Spain. The sea is the highway between the two countries. Fancy
yourself there. The scenery is beautiful; the climate is warm. There
blooms the scarlet pomegranate amidst the dark laurel trees; from the
hills a refreshing breeze is wafted over the orange groves and the
magnificent Moorish halls, with their gilded cupolas and their painted
walls. Processions of children parade the streets with lights and
waving banners; and, above these, clear and lofty rises the vault of
heaven, studded with glittering stars. Songs and castanets are heard;
youths and girls mingle in the dance under the blossoming acacias;
whilst beggars sit upon the sculptured blocks of marble, and refresh
themselves with the juicy water-melon. Life dozes here: it is all like
a charming dream, and one indulges in it. Yes, thus did two young
newly-married persons, who also possessed all the best gifts of
earth--health, good humour, riches, and rank.

"Nothing could possibly exceed our happiness," they said in the
fulness of their joyful hearts; yet there was one degree of still
higher happiness to which they might attain, and that would be when
God blessed them with a child--a son, to resemble them in features and
in disposition.

That fortunate child would be hailed with rapture; would be loved and
daintily cared for; would be the heir to all the advantages that
wealth and high birth can bestow.

The days flew by as a continual festival to them.

"Life is a merciful gift of love--almost inconceivably great," said
the young wife; "but the fulness of this happiness shall be tasted in
that future life, when it will increase and exist to all eternity. The
idea is incomprehensible to me."

"That is only an assumption among mankind," said her husband. "In
reality, it is frightful pride and overweening arrogance to think that
we shall live for ever--become like God. These were the serpent's wily
words, and he is the father of lies."

"You do not, however, doubt that there is a life after this one?"
asked his wife; and for the first time a cloud seemed to pass over
their sunny heaven of thought.

"Faith holds forth the promise of it, and the priests proclaim it,"
said the young man; "but, in the midst of all my happiness, I feel
that it would be too craving, too presumptuous, to demand another life
after this one--a happiness to be continual. Is there not so much
granted in this existence that we might and ought to be content with

"To us--yes, there has been much granted," replied the young wife;
"but to how many thousands does not this life become merely a heavy
trial? How many are not, as it were, cast into this world to be the
victims of poverty, wrangling, sickness, and misfortune? Nay, if there
were no life after this one, then everything in this globe has been
unequally dealt out; then God would not be just."

"The beggar down yonder has joys as great, to his ideas, as are those
of the monarch in his splendid palace to him," said the young man;
"and do you not think that the beasts of burden, which are beaten,
starved, and toiled to death, feel the oppressiveness of their lot?
They also might desire another life, and call it unjust that they had
not been placed amidst a higher grade of beings."

"In the kingdom of heaven there are many mansions, Christ has told
us," answered the lady. "The kingdom of heaven is infinite, as is the
love of God. The beasts of the field are also His creation; and my
belief is that no life will be extinguished, but will win that degree
of happiness which may be suitable to it, and that will be

"Well, this world is enough for me," said her husband, as he threw his
arms round his beautiful, amiable wife, and smoked his cigarette upon
the open balcony, where the deliciously cool air was laden with the
perfume of orange trees and beds of carnations. Music and the sound of
castanets arose from the street beneath; the stars shone brightly
above; and two eyes full of affection, the eyes of his charming wife,
looked at him with love which would live in eternity.

"Such moments as these," he exclaimed, "are they not well worth being
born for--born to enjoy them, and then to vanish into nothingness?"

He smiled; his wife lifted her hand and shook it at him with a gesture
of mild reproach, and the cloud had passed over--they were too happy.

Everything seemed to unite for their advancement in honour, in
happiness, and in prosperity. There came a change, but in place--not
in anything to affect their well-being, to damp their joy, or to
ruffle the smooth current of their lives. The young nobleman was
appointed by his king ambassador to the court of Russia. It was a post
of honour to which he was entitled by his birth and education. He had
a large private fortune, and his young wife had brought him one not
inferior to his own, for she was the daughter of one of the richest
men in the kingdom. A large ship was about that time to go to
Stockholm. It was selected to convey the rich man's dear daughter and
son-in-law to St. Petersburg; and its cabin was fitted up as if for
the use of royalty--soft carpets under the feet, silken hangings, and
every luxury around.

Amidst the ancient Scandinavian ballads, known to all Danes under
their general title of _Koempeviser_, there is one called "The King
of England's Son." He likewise sailed in a costly ship; its anchor was
inlaid with pure gold, and every rope was of twisted silk. Every one
who saw the Spanish vessel must have remembered the ship in this
legend, for there was the same pageantry, the same thoughts on their

"God, let us meet again in joy!"

The wind blew freshly from off the Spanish shore, and the last adieux
were therefore hurried; but in a few weeks they would reach their
destination. They had not gone far, however, before the wind lulled,
the sea became calm, its surface sparkled, the stars above shone
brightly, and all was serenity in the splendid cabin.

At length they became tired of the continued calm, and wished that the
breeze would rise and swell into a good strong wind, if it would only
be fair for them; but they still lacked wind, and if it did arise, it
was always a contrary one. Thus passed weeks, and when at length the
wind became fair, and blew from the south-west, they were half way
between Scotland and Jutland. Just then the wind shifted, and
increased to a gale, as it is described to have done in the ballad of
"The King of England's Son."

"The sky grew dark, and the wind it blew,
They could see neither land nor haven of rest;
So then they cast out their anchor true,
But to Denmark they drove with the gale from the west."

This was many years ago. King Christian the Seventh occupied the
Danish throne, and was then a young man. Much has happened since that
time, much has changed; lakes and morasses have become fruitful
meadows, wild moors have become cultivated land, and on the lee of the
West Jutlander's house grow apple trees and roses; but they must be
sheltered from the sharp west winds. Up there one can still, however,
fancy one's self back in the period of Christian the Seventh's reign.
As then in Jutland, so even now, stretch for miles and miles the brown
heaths, with their tumuli, their meteors, their knolly, sandy cross
roads. Towards the west, where large streams fall into the fiords, are
to be seen wide plains and bogs, encircled by high hills, which, like
a row of Alpine mountains with pinnacles formed like saws, frown over
the sea, which is separated from them only by high clay banks; and
year after year the sea bites a large mouthful off of these, so that
their edges and summits topple over as if shaken by an earthquake.
Thus they look at this day, and thus they were many years ago, when
the happy young couple sailed from Spain in the magnificent ship.

It was the end of September. It was Sunday and sunshine: the sound of
the church bells reached afar, even to Nissumfiord. The churches up
there were like rocks with spaces hewn out in them: each one of them
was like a piece of a mountain, so heavy and massive. The German Ocean
might have rolled over them, and they would have stood firmly. Many of
them had no spires or towers, and the bells hung out in the open air
between two beams. The church service was over. The congregation had
passed from the house of God out into the churchyard, where then, as
now, not a tree, not a bush was to be seen--not a single flower, not a
garland laid upon a grave. Little knolls or heaps of earth point out
where the dead are buried; a sharp kind of grass, lashed by the wind,
grows over the whole churchyard. A solitary grave here and there has,
perhaps, a monument; that is to say, the mouldering trunk of a tree,
rudely carved into the shape of a coffin. The pieces of tree are
brought from the woods of the west. The wild ocean provides, for the
dwellers on the coast, beams, planks, and trees, which the dashing
billows cast upon the shore. The wind and the sea spray soon decay
these tree monuments. Such a stump was lying over the grave of a
child, and one of the women who had come out of the church went
towards it. She stood gazing upon the partially loosened piece of
wood. Shortly afterwards her husband joined her. They remained for a
time without either of them uttering a single word; then he took her
hand, and led her from the grave out upon the heath, across the moor,
in the direction of the sand-hills. For a long time they walked in
silence. At last the husband said,--

"It was an excellent sermon to-day. If we had not our Lord we should
have nothing."

"Yes," said the wife, "He sends joy, and He sends affliction. He is
right in all things. To-morrow our little boy would have been five
years old if he had been spared to us."

"There is no use in your grieving for his loss," replied the husband.
"He has escaped much evil. He is now where we must pray to be also

They dropped the painful subject, and pursued their way towards their
house amidst the sand-hills. Suddenly, from one of these where there
was no lyme-grass to keep down the sand, there arose as it were a
thick smoke. It was a furious gust of wind, that had pierced the
sand-hill, and whirled about in the air the fine particles of sand.
The wind veered round for a minute; and all the dried fish that was
hung up on cords outside of the house knocked against its walls, then
everything was still again. The sun was shining warmly.

The man and his wife entered their house, and having soon divested
themselves of their Sunday clothes, they hastened over the sand-hills,
which stood like enormous waves of sand suddenly arrested in their
course. The sea-reed's and the lyme-grass's blue-green sharp blades
gave some variety to the white sand. Some neighbours joined the couple
who had just come from church, and they assisted each other in
dragging the boats higher up the beach. The gale was increasing; it
was bitterly cold; and when they were returning over the hills, the
sand and small stones whisked into their faces, the waves mounted
high with their white crests, and the spray dashed after them.

It was evening; there was a doleful whistling in the air, increasing
every moment--a wild howling, as if a host of unseen despairing
spirits were uttering their complaints. The moaning sound overpowered
even the angry dashing of the waves, although the fisherman's house
lay so near to the shore. The sand drifted against the windows, and
every now and then came a blast that shook the house to its
foundation. It was very dark, but the moon would rise at midnight.

The air cleared; yet the storm still raged in all its might over the
deep gloomy sea. The fishermen and their families had retired for some
time to rest, but no one could close his eyes in such terrible
weather. Some one knocked at the windows of some of the cottages, and
when the doors were opened the person said,--

"A large ship is lying fast upon the outer shoal."

In a moment the fishermen and their wives were up and dressed.

The moon had risen, and there was light enough to see if they had not
been blinded by the sand that was flying about. The wind was so strong
that they were obliged to lie down, and creep amidst the gusts over
the sand-hills; and there flew through the air, like swan's down, the
salt foam and spray from the sea, which, like a roaring, boiling
cataract, dashed upon the beach. A practised eye was required to
discern quickly the vessel outside. It was a large ship; it was lifted
a few cable lengths forward, then driven on towards the land, struck
upon the inner sand-bank, and stood fast. It was impossible to go to
the assistance of the ship, the sea was running too high: it beat
against the unfortunate vessel, and dashed over her. The people on
shore thought that they heard cries of distress--cries of those in the
agony of death; and they saw the desperate, useless activity on board.
Then came a sea that, like a crushing avalanche, fell upon the
bowsprit, and it was gone. The stern of the vessel rose high above the
water--two people sprang from it together into the sea--a moment, and
one of the most gigantic billows that were rolling up against the
sand-hills cast a body upon the shore: it was that of a female, and
every one believed it was a corpse. Two women, however, knelt down by
the body, and thinking that they found in it some sign of life, it was
carried over the sand-hills to a fisherman's house. How beautiful she
was, and how handsomely dressed!--evidently a lady of rank.

They placed her in the humble bed; there was no linen on it, only
blankets to wrap her in, yet these were very warm.

She soon came to life, but was in a high fever. She did not seem to
know what had happened, or to remark where she was; and this was
probably fortunate, since all who were dear to her on board the
ill-fated ship were lying at the bottom of the sea. It had been with
them as described in the song, "The King of England's Son:"--

"It was, in sooth, a piteous sight!
The ship broke up to bits that night."

Portions of the wreck were washed ashore. She was the only living
creature out of all that had so lately breathed and moved on board the
doomed ship. The wind was howling their requiem over the inhospitable
coast. For a few minutes she slept peacefully, but soon she awoke and
uttered groans of pain; she cast up her beautiful eyes towards heaven,
and said a few words, but no one there could understand them.

Another helpless being soon made its appearance, and her new-born babe
was placed in her arms. It ought to have reposed on a stately couch,
with silken curtains, in a splendid house. It ought to have been
welcomed with joy to a life rich in all this world's goods; but our
Lord had ordained that it should be born in a peasant's hut, in a
miserable nook. Not even one kiss did it receive from its mother.

The fisherman's wife laid the infant on its mother's breast, and it
rested near her heart; but that heart had ceased to beat--she was
dead! The child who should have been nurtured amidst happiness and
wealth was cast a stranger into the world--thrown up by the sea among
the sand-hills, to experience heavy days and the fate of the poor. And
again we call to mind the old song:--

"The king's son's eyes with big tears fill:
'Alas! that I came to this robber-hill.
Here nothing awaits me but evil and pain.
Had I haply but come to Herr Buggé's domain,
Neither knight nor squire would have treated me ill.'"

A little to the south of Nissumfiord, on that portion of the shore
which Herr Buggé had formerly called his, the vessel had stranded.
Those rough, inhuman times, when the inhabitants of the west coast
dealt cruelly, it is said, with the shipwrecked, had long passed away;
and now the utmost compassion was felt, and the kindest attention paid
to those whom the engulfing sea had spared. The dying mother and the
forlorn child would have met with every care wherever "the wild wind
had blown;" but nowhere could they have been received with more
cordial kindness than by the poor fishwife who, only the previous
morning, had stood with a heavy heart by the grave wherein reposed her
child, who on that very day would have attained his fifth year if the
Almighty had permitted him to live.

No one knew who the foreign dead woman was, or whence she came. The
broken planks and fragments of the ship told nothing.

In Spain, at that opulent house, there never arrived either letter or
message from the daughter and son-in-law; they had not reached their
destination; fearful storms had raged for some weeks. They waited with
anxiety for months. At last they heard, "Totally lost--every one on
board perished!"

But at Huusby-Klitter, in the fisherman's cottage, there dwelt now a
little urchin.

Where God bestows food for two, there is always something for a third;
and near the sea there is plenty of fish to be found. The little
stranger was named Jörgen.

"He is surely a Jewish child," said some people, "he has so dark a

"He may, however, be an Italian or a Spaniard," said the priest.

The whole tribe of fishermen and women comforted themselves that,
whatever was his origin, the child had received Christian baptism. The
boy throve, his noble blood mantled in his cheek, and he grew strong,
notwithstanding poor living. The Danish language, as it is spoken in
West Jutland, became his mother tongue. The pomegranate seed from the
Spanish soil became the coarse grass on the west coast of Jutland.
Such are the vicissitudes of life!

To that home he attached himself with his young life's roots. Hunger
and cold, the poor man's toil and want, he was to experience, but also
the poor man's joys.

Childhood has its bright periods, which shine in recollection through
the whole of after life. How much had he not to amuse him, and to
play with! The entire seashore, for miles in length, was covered with
playthings for him--a mosaic of pebbles red as coral, yellow as amber,
and pure white, round as birds' eggs, all smoothed and polished by the

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