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GREATGRANDFATHER

 

REAT-GRANDFATHER was so very nice and wise and good that we all looked up to himHe was reallycalledas far back as I can remember"Grandfather"but when my brother's little sonFrederickcame intothe familyhe was advanced to"Great-grandfather"higher up he could not getHe thought so much of all ofusbut he seemed not to think so much of our times

"Old times were the best times"he said"theywere steady and solidnow there is such a rush and sucha turning up and down of everythingYouth leads thetalkand speaks of royalty itself as if they were its equalEvery person from the street can dip his rag in dirty waterand wring it out on the head of a gentleman"

With such talk Great-grandfather got very red in theface but a little time afterhis friendly smile reappearedand then the words"Wellwellperhaps I am a littlemistakenI stand in old times and cannot get a properfoothold in the newMay our Father lead and guidethem"

When Greatgrandfather talked about old times itwas just as if I had them before meIn thought I drove ina golden chariot with attendants in liverysaw the guildscarrying their signs in procession with music and flagsand took part in the delightful Christmas partieswith for-feits and mumming

There was certainlyalsoin those times much thatwas horrible and nastythe stakethe wheeland theshedding of bloodbut all the horrible had something alluring and exciting about itI learned about the Danishnoblemen who gave the peasants their freedomand Den- mark's Crown Prince who abolished the slavetrade

It was delightful to hear Great-grandfather tell aboutall thisand to hear about the days of his youthStill thetime before that was the very bestso strong and so great

"Rough it was"said brother Frederick"God bepraised that we are out of it"and he said this straight outto GreatgrandfatherIt was not nice to say thatbut yet Ihad great respect for Frederickhe was my eldest brotherand he could have been my fatherhe saidHe said somany funny thingsHe was a very successful studentandso diligent in my father's office that he would soon be ableto go into the businessHe was the one that Great-grandfa-ther was most familiar withbut they always ended in dis- puting about somethingThese two did not understand eachotherand never wouldthe family saidbut little as IwasI soon noticed that these two could not do withouteach other

Greatgrandfather listened with shining eyes whenFrederick spoke or read about progress in scienceaboutthe discoveries of the powers of natureand about all theremarkable things of our time

"People become wiserbut not better"he said"they invent the most terrible weapons of destructionagainst each other"

"The quicker will war be past"said Frederick"onewill not have to wait seven years for the blessings of peaceThe world is fullblooded and must occasionally be bleditis necessary"

One day Frederick told him something which had really happened in our time in a little town

The Mayor's clockthe big one on the townhallsetthe time for the town and the peopleThe clock did not goquite correctlybut all the same the town ordered itself byitBy and by the railways cameand they are connectedwith all other countriesand so one must know the time exactlyor there will be collisionsThe railway got a clockwhich was set by the sun and so keptgood timeand nowthe whole of the townspeople settled everything by the rail-way clock

I laughed and thought it was a funny storybut Great- grandfather didn't laughhe became quite serious

"There is a great deal in that story of yours"hesaid"and I also understand your idea in telling it to meThere is instruction in your clockworkIt makes me thinkof another instancemy parents'simple old grandfather'sclockwith its leaden weightsit was their and my childhood's chronometerit did not go quite correctlybut itwentand we looked at the handswe believed in themand did not think of the wheels insideSo also was it withthe machinery of the state at that timeone looked at itwith confidence and believed in the handsNow the statemachine has become like a glass clockwhere one can lookright into the machinery and see the wheels turn and whirlOne gets quite afraid for this pivot and that wheelI wonder how it will go with the strikingand I have no longermy childhood's faithThat is the weakness of the presenttime"

And so Greatgrandfather talked himself quite angryHe and Frederick could not agreebut they could not separate eitherjust like the old and the new timeTheylearned thatboth of them and all the familywhen Frederick had to start on a long journeyfar away to AmericaIt was on the business of the house that the journey had tobe madeIt was a terrible separation for Greatgrandfatherand the journey was so longright across the ocean toanother part of the globe

"Every fortnight you will have a letter from me"saidFrederick"and quicker than all the lettersyou will beable to hear from me by telegraphthe days become hoursand the hours minutes"

Over the telegraph wires came a message from Eng-landwhen Frederick went on boardQuicker than a lettereven if the flying clouds had been the postmancamea message from America when Frederick landedIt wasonly a few hours since he had done so

"It is a divine thought which is granted to our time"said Great-grandfather"a blessing for mankind"

"Yesand Frederick has told me that it was in ourcountry that these powers of Nature were first understoodand made known"

"Yes"said Greatgrandfatherand kissed me"Yesand I have looked into the two mild eyes which firstsaw and understood this power of Naturethey were childish eyeslike yoursand I have shaken hands with him"

And he kissed me again

More than a month had gonewhen we had a letterfrom Frederick with the news that he was engaged to acharming young girlwhom the whole family would as-suredly be delighted withHer photograph was sentandwas examined with the naked eye and with a magnifyingglassfor that is the charm of these picturesthat they canstand examination with the sharpest glassand that thelikeness becomes even clearer in that wayNo painter hasever been capable of thatnot even the greatest of the oldtimes

"If one had only known the discovery in those times"said Great-grandfather"we should have been able to seethe world's great men and benefactors face to faceHowgood and sweet this young girl looks"he saidand gazedthrough the glass"I shall know her now when she comesin at the door"

But it was very near not happeningfortunately we athome scarcely knew of the danger until it was past

The young newly-married couple arrived in England injoy and good healthfrom there they proceeded with thesteamer to CopenhagenThey saw the Danish coastthewhite sandhills of Jutlandthen a great storm aroseandthe ship grounded on one of the sandbanks and stuck fastThe sea rose high and seemed as if it would wreck theshipno lifeboat could workThe night camebut in themiddle of the darkness a rocket was thrown from the shoreover the stranded shipThe rocket carried a rope over itaconnexion was made between those out there and those onthe shoreand soon a beautiful young lady was drawnthrough the heavy rolling waves in a cradleand glad andhappy was she when her young husband stood by her sideon dry landAll on board were savedand it was not daylight yet

We lay sleeping soundly in Copenhagenthinkingneither of sorrow nor dangerAs we assembled for break- fastthere came a rumourbrought by a telegramthat anEnglish steamer had gone down on the west coastWe werein great anxietybut just then came a telegram from Frederick and his young wifewho had been saved and wouldsoon be with us

They all wept togetherI wept tooand Great-grand-father weptfolded his handsandI am certain of itblessed the new times

That day Great-grandfather gave twenty pounds forthe monument to Hans Christian Oerstedthe electrician

When Frederick came home with his young wife andheard ithe said"That was rightGreat-grandfathernow I shall read to you what Oersted many years agp saidabout the old and new times"

"He was of your opinionno doubt"said Greatgrandfather

"Yesyou may be sure of that"said Frederick"and you are toosince you have subscribed for the mon-ument to him"

 


 

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