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THE BISHOP OF BORGLUM

AND HIS KINSMEN

 

NOW we are up inJutland quitebeyondthe"wild moor" We hear what is called the"Western wow-wow" the roarofthe North Sea as it breaksagainst the western coast of Jutland——and we are quite near to it but before usrises a great mound of sanda mountain we havelong seen and towards which we are wending our way drivingslowlyalong through the deep sand Onthismountain of sandis alofty old buildingthe convent of BrglumIn one of its wingsthe larger one there is stilla churchAndat this we arrive in the late evening hourbutthe weatheris clear in the bright Junenightaround usandtheeye can range far far over field and moor to the Bay ofAalborgo over heath and meadow and far across the sea

Now we are there and roll past between barns and other farm buildingsand at the left of the gate we turnaside to the old Castle Farm where the lime trees stand inlines along the walls and sheltered from the wind and weather grow so luxuriantly that their twigs and leaves almost conceal the windows

We mount the winding staircase of stone and march throughthe long passages underthe heavyroof-beams. The wind moans verystrangely here both within and without It is hardly knownhow but the people say yes people say a great many things when they are frightened orwantto frighten othersthey say that theold dead canons glide silently past us into the churchwhere mass is sung They can be heard in the rushing of the storm and their singing brings up strange thoughts in the hearersthoughts of the old times into whichwe are carried back

On the coast a ship is stranded and the bishop'swarriors are there and spare not those whom the sea hasspared The sea washes away the blood that has flowed fromthe cloven skullsThestranded goods belong to the bishop and there is a store of goods here. The sea castsup casksandbarrelsfilled with costly wine forthe con vent cellar and in the convent is already good store of beer andmead There is plenty in the kitchen——dead game and poultry hams and sausages; and fat fish swimin the ponds without

The Bishop of Brglumis a mighty lordHe has greatpossessions butstillhelongsformoreeverything mustbowbefore the mightyOlafGlob His richcousinat Thyland is dead"Kinsman is worst to kinsman" his widow will find this saying true Her husband has possessed all Thyland with the exception of the Church propertyHer son was not athome.In his boyhood he had alreadybeen sentabroad to learnforeign customs, as it was his wish to doForyears there hadbeen no news of him Perhapshe had long beenlaid in the graveand would never come back to his home to rule where hismother then ruled

"What has a woman todowith rule" said the bishop

He summoned the widow before a law court butwhat did hegain therebyThe widow hadneverbeendis obedient to thelaw andwasstrong in her justrights

Bishop Olaf of Brglumwhat dost thou purposeWhat writeist thou on yonder smooth parchment sealing it with thyseal and entrusting it to the horsemen and ser vantswho ride awayfar awayto the city ofthe Pope

It is the time of falling leaves and of stranded shipsand soon icy winter will come

Twicehadicy winterreturned before the bishop wel- comed thehorsemenandservantsback to their homeThey camefromRome with a papaldecreeaban orbull a gainst the widow who had dared to offend the pious bishop "Cursed be she and all that belongs to herLet her be expelledfrom the congregationand the ChurchLet no man stretch forth a helping hand to her and let friends and relations aviodher as a plagueand a pestilence

"What will not bend must break" said the Bishop of Brglum

And all forsake the widowbut she holds fast to her GodHe is her helper and defender

One servant onlyan old maidremained faithful to her and with the old servant the widow herself followedthe ploughand the crop grewalthough the landhadbeen Cursed by the Pope and by the bishop

"Thou child of perdition Iwill yet carry out my pur-pose"cried the Bishop of Brglum"Now willI lay the hand of the Pope upon theeto summon thee before the tri- bunalthatshallcondemn thee"

Then did the widow yoke the two last oxen that re mained to her to a wagon and mounted up on the wagonwith her old servant and travelled away across the heathout oftheDanish land As a strangershe came into afor eign countrywhere a strange tonguewasspokenandwhere new customs prevailed. Farther and farther she journeyed to where green hillsrise into mountainsand the vine clothestheir sides Strange merchants drive by herand they look anxiouslyafter theirwagons laden with merchan diseThey fear an attack from the armed followers of therobberknights The two poor women in their humble ve hicle drawn by two blackoxen travel fearlessly through thedangeroussunken road andthrough the darksome forest And now they were in France And there met them a stalwartknightwith a train of twelve armed followersHe pausedgazed at the strange vehicle and questioned the womenas to the goal of their journeyand the place whence they came. Then one of them mentioned Thyland in Denmark and spokeofhersorrowsofherwoes-which were soon to ceasefor so Divine Providence had willed it For thestranger knight is the widow's sonHe seized her hand he embraced her and the mother wept For years she had not been able to weep but had only bitten her lips tillthe blood started

It is the time of falling leaves and of stranded ships

The sea rolled winecasks to the shore for the bishop's cellarInthe kitchen the deer roasted on the spit before the fire. At Brglum it was warm and cheerful in the heated rooms while cold winter raged without when a pieceofnewswasbrought tothe bishop"Jens Glob of Thyland has come back and his mother with him Jens Globlaid a complaint against the bishopand summoned him before the temporal and the spiritual court

"That will avail him little"said the bishop"Bestleave off the efforts knight Jens"

Again it is the time of falling leaves of strandedshipsicy winter comes again and the"white bees are swarming and sting the traveller'sface tillthey melt

"Keen weather today" say the peopleas they step in

Jens Glob stands by the fireso deeply wrapped inthoughtthathe singesthe skirtofhislonggarment

"Thou Brglum bishop"he exclaims"Ishall subdue theeafter all Under the shield of the Popethe law cannot reach thee but Jens Glob shall reachthee"

Then he writes a letter to his brotherinlaw OlafHase in Sallingland andprays thatknight to meet him on Christmaseve at matins in the church atWidberg Thebishop himselfisto say the massand consequently will journey from Brglum to Thyland;and this is known toJensGlob

Moorlandand meadow are covered with ice and snowThe marsh will bear horse and riderthe bishop with his priests and armed men.They ride the shortest waythroughthe brittle reeds where the wind moans sadly

 Blow thy brazen trumpet thou trumpeter clad infoxskin Itsounds merrily in theclear airSotheyride on overheath andmoorlandoverwhat is the gardenofFata Morgana in the hot summer towards the church of Wid- berg

The windis blowing his trumpet tooblowing it harder and harder He blowsup a storma terrible stormthat increases more and more. Towards the church they ride, as fastasthey may through the storm The church stands firmbut the storm careerson over field and moorland over land and sea

Brglum's bishop reaches the churchbut Olaf Hase will scarce do so hard as he may ride He journeys withhis warriors on thefarther sideofthe bay to help Jens Glob now that the bishop is to be summoned before the judgement seat of the Highest

The church is the judgement hall the altar is thecouncil table The lights burn clear in the heavy brass candelabra Thestorm reads out the accusation and the sen- tence resounding in the air over moor and heath and over the rolling watersNo ferryboatcan sail overthebayin such weather as this

Olaf Hase makes halt at OttesundThere he dismisses his warriorspresents them with their horses and harnessand givesthemleave to ridehome andgreet his wifeHe intends to risk his life alone in the roaningwaters but theyaretobear witness for him that it is not his fault ifJens Glob stands without reinforcement in thechurch at Wid bergThe faithful warriors will not leave him but followhim out into the deep waters Ten of them are carried away but Olaf Hase and two of the youngest men reach the farther sideThey have still four miles to ride

Itis past midnight It is Christmas The wind has abatedThe church is lighted up the gleamingradianceshines throughthewindowpanes and pours outover meadow and heath The mass has long been finished si-lence reigns in the churchandthewaxis heard dropping from the candlestothe stone pavement And now Olaf Hase arrives

In the forecourt Jens Glob greets him kindly andsays

"I havejust made an agreement with the bishop"

"Sayest thou so"replied Olaf Hase"Then neither thou northe bishop shallquit this church alive" And thesword leaps from the scabbard and Olaf Hase deals a blow that makes the panel of the church door, which Jens Glob hastily between them, fly in fragments. "Hold brotherFirst hear what the agreement was that Imade Ihaveslain thebishopand hiswarriorsand priests They will have no word more to say in the matter nor willI speak again of all the wrongthatmy motherhas endured"

The long wicksofthe altar lights glimmer redbut there is aredder gleam upon the pavement where the bishop lies with cloven skull and his dead warriorsaroundhim in thequietoftheholyChristmas night

And four days afterwards the bells toll for a funeral in the convent of Brglum The murdered bishopand the slain warriors and priests are displayed under a black canopy, surrounded by candelabra decked with crape There lies the dead man in the black cloak wrought with silver the crosier in the powerless hand that was once so mighty The incenserises in clouds and the monks chant the funeralhymn.It sounds like awailit sounds like a sentence of wrath and condemnation that must be heard far over the land carried by the windsung by the windthe wail that sometimes is silent but never diesfor ever again it rises in song singing even into our owntime thislegend of the Bishop of Brglum and his hard nephewIt is heardin the darknight by thefrightened husbandmandriving by in the heavysandyroad past the convent of Brglum It is heard by the sleepless listener in the thicklywalledroomsat Brglum And not only to the earof superstitionis the sighingand the treadofhur- rying feetaudible inthe long echoing passages leadingto the convent door that has longbeen locked Thedoor still seems to openandthe lightsseem to flame in the brazen candlesticksthe fragrance of incense arisesthe churchgleams in its ancientsplendour; and themonks singand say the mass overthe slain bishop who lies there in the black silverembroidered mantle with the crosier in hispowerless hand and on his pale proud forehead gleamsthe red wound like fire and there burn the worldly mind and the wicked thoughts

Sink down into his graveinto oblivionye terrible shapes of the times of old

Hark to the raging of the angry wind soundingabove the rolling sea Outside a storm approachescalling aloud forhuman livesThesea hasnotput on a newmind withthenewtime.This might it is ahorrible pit to devour up livesand tomorrowperhaps it may bea glassy mir- roreven as intheoldtime that wehave buriedSleep sweetly if thou canst sleep

Now it is morning.

The newtime fling sunshine into the room The wind still keeps up mightilyA wreck is announcedas in the old time

Duringthenightdownyonder by Lkkenthelittle fishing village with the redtiled roofswe can see it up here from thewindowa shiphas come ashoreIthas struck and is fast embedded in the sand but the rocketapparatus has thrown a rope on board and formed a bridge from the wreck to the mainland and all on board are saved and reach the landand are wrapped in warm blan- kets and today they areinvited to the farm at the convent of Brglum.In comfortable rooms they encounter hospitality and friendly facesThey are addressed in the language of their country and the piano sounds for them with melodies of their native land and before these have died awaythe chord has been struckthe wire of thought that reaches to thelandofthe sufferers announces that they are rescued Then their anxieties aredispelledand in the evening they join in the dance at the feast given in the great hall at Brglum Waltzes and other dances will be dancedand songs will be sung of Denmark and of"The Gallant Soldier" of the present day

Blessed bethou new timeSpeak thou of summer andofpurer galesSend thy sunbeams gleaming into our hearts and thoughtsOn thy glowing canvas let them be paintedthedark legends of the roughhard times that are past

 


 

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