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TWO BROTHERS

 

ON one of the Danish islands where the old places of assembly are found in the fields and great trees tower in the beech woodsthere lies a little townwhose low houses are covered with red tilesin one of these houses wondrous things were brewed over glowing coals on the open hearththere was a boiling in glassesa mixing and a distillingand herbs were being bruised in mortarsand an elderly man attended to all this

One must only do the night thingsaid he;“yesthe right thingOne must learn the truth about every created particleand keep close to this truth.”

In the room with the good housewife sat her two sonsstill smallbut with grownup thoughtsThe mother had always spoken to them of right and justiceand had exhorted them to hold truth fast declaring that it was as the countenance of the almighty in this world

The elder of the boys looked roguish and enterprisingIt was his delight to read of the forces of natureof the sun and of the starsno fairy tale pleased him so much as theseOhHow glorious it must beto go out on voyages of discoveryor to find out how the wings of birds could be imitatedand then to fly through the airYesto find that out would be the right thingfather was rightand mother was right——truth keeps the world together

The younger brother was quieterand quite lost him self in booksWhen he read of Jacob clothing himself in sheepskinsto be like Esau and to cheat his brother of his birthrighthis little fist would clench in anger against the deceiverwhen he read of tyrantsand of all the wickedness and wrong that is in the world the tears stood in his eyesand he was quite filled with the thoughts of the right and truth which must and will at last be triumphant

One evening he already lay in bedbut the curtains were not yet drawn closeand the light streamed in upon himhe had taken the book with him to bedbecause he wanted to finish reading the story of Solon

And his thoughts lifted and carried him away marvellouslyand it seemed to him that his bed became a shipunder full sailDid he dream Or what was happening to himIt glided onward over the rolling waters and the great ocean of timeand he heard the voice of SolonIn a strange tongueand yet intelligible to himhe heard the Danish motto,“With law the land is ruled.”

And the Genius of the human race stood in the humble roomand bent down over the bedand printed a kiss on the boy's forehead

Be thou strong in fameand strong in the battle of lifeWith the truth in thy breastfly thou towards the land of truth!”

The elder brother was not yet in bedhe stood at the window gazing out at the mists that rose from the meadowsThey were not elves dancing thereas the old nurse had told himhe knew betterthey were vaporswarmer than the airand consequently they mountedA shooting star gleamed athwart the skyand the thoughts of the boy were roused from the mists of the earth to the shining meteorThe stars of heaven twinkledand golden threads seemed to hang from them down upon the earth

Fly with meit sang and sounded in the boy s heartand the mighty geniusswifter than the birdthan the arrowthan anything that flies with earthly meanscarried him out into space where rays stretching from star to star bind the heavenly bodies to each otherour earth revolved in the thin airits cities seemed quite close togetherand through the sphere it sounded,“What is nearwhat is far to menwhen the mighty genius of mind lifts them up?”

And again the boy stood at the window and gazed forthand the younger brother lay in his bedand their mother called them by their names,“Anders andHans Christian

Denmark knows themand the world knows the two brothersOERSTED

 


 

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