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LUCKY PEER

 

 

IN the most fashionable street in the city stood a fineold house the wall around it had bits of glass worked intoit so that when the sun or the moon shone it looked as if itwere covered with diamondsThat was a sign of wealth and there was great wealth inside It was said that the merchant was a man rich enough to put two barrels of gold intohis best parlor and could even put a barrel of gold piecesas a savings bank against the future outside the door of theroom where his little son was born

When the baby arrived in the rich house there was great joy from the cellar up to the garretand up there there was still greater joy an hour or two later The warehouseman and his wife lived in the garret and there tooat the same time a little son arrivedgiven by our Lordbrought by the stork and exhibited by the motherAnd there too was a barrel outside the doorquite accidentally but it was not a barrel of goldit was a barrel of sweepings

The rich merchant was a very kindfine manHis wife delicate and always dressed in clothes of high qualitywas pious and besideswas kind and good to the poorEverybody rejoiced with these two people on now having a little son who would grow up and be rich and happy like his father When the little boy was baptized he was called Felix which in Latin means"lucky" and thishe was and his parents were even more so

The warehouseman a fellow who was really good to the core and his wife an honest and industrious womanwere well liked by all who knew them How lucky they were to have their little boy he was called Peer

The boy on the first floor and the boy in the garret each received the same amount of kisses from his parentsand just as much sunshine from our Lord but still theywere placed a little differentlyone downstairs and oneupPeer sat the highestway up in the garret and he had his own mother for a nurselittle Felix had a strangerfor his nurse but she was good and honestthat was written in her service book The rich child had a prettybaby carriage which was pushed about by his elegantly dressed nurse the child from the garret was carried in thearms of his own nitherboth when she was in her Sunday clothes and when she had her everyday things on and hewas just as happy

Both children soon began to observe things they were growing and both could show with their hands how tall they were and say single words in their mother tongueThey were equally handsome pettedand equallyfond of sweets As they grew up they both got an equalamount of pleasure out of the merchant's horses and carriagesFelix was allowed to sit by the coachman alongwith his nurse and look at the horses he would fancyhimself drivingPeer was allowed to sit at the garret window and look down into the yard when the master and mistress went out to driveand when they had left hewould place two chairsone in front of the other up there in the room and so he would drive himself he wasthe real coachmanthat was a little more than fancying himself to be the coachman

They got along splendidly these two yet it was notuntil they were two years old that they spoke to each otherFelix was always elegantly dressed in silk and velvetwith bare knees after the English style"The poor childwill freezer"said the family in the garretPeer had trousers that came down to his ankles but one day his clothes were torn right across his knees so that he got asmuch of a draft and was just as much undressed as the merchant's delicate little boyFelix came along with hismother and was about to go out through the gate when Peer came along with his and wanted to go in

"Give little Peer your hand"said the merchant'swife"You two should talk to each other"

And one said"Peer"and the other said"Felix"Yes and that was all they said at that time

The rich lady coddled her boybut there was one who coddled Peer just as much and that was his grandmother

She was weaksighted and yet she saw much more in little Peer than his father or mother could see yes more thanany person could

"The sweet child"she said"is surely going to get on in the worldHe was born with a gold apple in his hand I can see it even with my poor sightWhy there is the shining apple" And she kissed the child's little handHis parents could see nothingand neither could Peerbut as he grew to have more understanding he liked to believe it

"That is such a story such a fairy tale that Grand- mother tells"said the parents

Yes Grandmother could tell stories and Peer wasnever tired of hearing always the same onesShe taught him a psalm and the Lord's Prayer as well and he could say it not as gabble but as words that meant something

she explained every single sentence in it to him He gave particular thought to what Grandmother said about the words"Give us this day our daily bread" he was to un-derstand that it was necessary for one to get wheat breadfor another to get black bread one must have a great housewhen he had many people in his employ another in small circumstances could live quite as happily in a little roomin the garret"So each person has what he calls 'daily bread'"

Peer of course had his good daily breadand the most delightful days too but they were not to last foreverThe sad years of war began the young men were to goaway and the older men as well Peer's father was amongthose who were called in and soon afterward it was heard that he had been one of the first to fall in battle against thesuperior enemy

There was bitter grief in the little room in the garretThe mother cried the grandmother and little Peer cried

and every time one of the neighbors came up to see them they talked about"Papa and then they cried all together

The widow meanwinle was given permission to stay in hergarret flatrent-freeduring the first yearand afterward she was to pay only a small rent The grandmother stayed with the mother who supported herself by washing forseveral"single elegant gentlemen"as she called themPeer had neither sorrow nor want He had plenty of food and drink and Grandmother told him stories such strangeand wonderful ones about the wide world that he asked herone day if the two of them might not go to foreign lands some Sunday and return home as prince and princess wearing gold crowns

"I am too old for that"said Grandmother"and youmust first learn a good many things and become big and strong but you must always be a good and affectionate childas you are now"

Peer rode around the room on hobbyhorses he had two such horses But the mer- chant's son had a real live horse it was so small that it might well have been called a baby horse which in fact Peer called it and it never could become any biggerFe lix rode it in the yard yes and he even rode it outside the gatewhen his father and a riding master from the king's stable were with himFor the first halfhour Peer had not liked his horses and hadn't ridden them for they were not real and then he had asked his mother why he could not have a real horse like little Felix had and his mother had said"Felix lives down onthe first floor close by the stables but you live high upunder the roof One cannot have horses up in the garret except like those you have You should ride on them"

And so now Peer rodefirst to the chest of drawersthe great mountain with its many treasuresboth Peter'sSunday clothes and his mother's were there and there were the shining silver dollars that she laid aside for rentthen he rode to the stovewhich he called the black bearit slept all summer longbut when winter came it had to be useful to warm the room and cook the meals

Peer had a godfather who usually came there every Sunday during the winter and got a good warm meal

Things had gone wrong for him said the mother and the grandmother He had begun as a coachmanHe had been drinking and had fallen asleep at his post and that neither a soldier nor a coachman should do He then had become acabman and driven a cab or sometimes a carriage and often for very elegant peopleBut now he drove a garbage wagon and went from door to door swinging his rattle "snurrerurreud"and from all the houses came the ser vantgirls and housewives with their buckets full and turned these into the wagonrubbish and junk ashes and sweepings were all thrown in

One day Peer came down from the garret after his mother had gone to town He stood at the open gate andthere outside was Godfather with his wagon"Would you like to take a drive" he asked Yes Peer was willing to indeedbut only as far as the corner His eyes shone as he sat on the seat with Codfather and was allowed to hold the whipPeer drove with real live horsesdrove right to the corner Then his mother came along she looked rather du bious for it was not very nice to see her own little son rid-ing on a garbage wagonShe told him to get down at once

Stillshe thanked Godfatherbut at home she forbade Peer to drive with him again

One day he again went down to the gate There was no Codfather there to tempt him with a drive but therewere other temptations Three or four small street urchinswere down in the gutterpoking about to see what they could find that had been lost or had hidden itself thereFrequently they had found a button or a copper coinbut frequently too they had cut themselves on a broken bot tle or pricked themselves with a pin which just now was the casePeer simply had to join them and when he got down among the gutter stones he found a silver coin

Another day he was again down digging with the other boys they only got dirty fingers he found a gold ring andthenwith sparkling eyes showed off his lucky findwhereupon the others threw dirt at him and called himLucky PeerThey wouldn't permit him to be with them any more when they poked in the gutter

Back of the merchant's yard there was some low ground that was to be filled up for building lotsgraveland ashes were carted and dumped out theregreat heaps of it Godfather helped deliver it in his wagon but Peerwas not allowed to drive with him The street urchins dug in the heaps dug with a stick and with their bare handsthey always found one thing or another that seemed worth Picking up

Then little Peer came along They saw him and cried"Get away from hereLucky Peer"And when despite this he came closer they threw lumps of dirt athim One of these struck against his wooden shoe and crumbled to pieces Something shining rolled out and Peer picked it up it was a little heart made of amber Heran home with it The other boys did not notice that even when they threw dirt at him he was a child of luck

The silver coin he had found was put away in his savings bank The ring and the amber heart were shown to the merchant's wife downstairs because the mother want-ed to know if they were lost articles that should be returned to the police

How the eyes of the merchant's wife shone on seeing the ring It was her own engagement ring one that she bad lost three years before That's how long it hadlain in the gutter Peer was well rewarded and the money rattled in his little box The amber heart was a cheap thing the lady saidPeer might just as well keep that

At night the amber heart lay on the bureauand the grandmother lay in bed

"My what is it that burns so" she said"It looksas if a small candle is lighted there"She got up to seeand it was the little heart of amberyesGrandmother with her weak sightfrequently saw more than anyone else could seeShe had her own thoughts about itThe next morning she took a narrowstrong ribbondrew it through the opening at the top of the heart and put it around her little grandson's neck

"You must never take it off except to put a new ribbon into it and you must not show it to the other boys either for then they would take it from you andyou would get a stomachache"That was the only painful sickness little Peer had known so far There was a strange power too in that heart Grandmother showed him that when she rubbed it with her hand and a little straw wasput next to it the straw seemed to be alive and was drawn to the heart of amber and would not let go

 

 

The merchant's son had a private tutor who taught him his lessons and who took walks with him too Peerwas also to have an education so he went to publicschool with a great number of other boys They played to gether and that was much more fun than going along with a tutor Peer would not have changed places with him

He was a lucky Peer but Godfather was also a lucky peeralthough his name was not Peer He won a pnize in the lottery of two hundred dollarson a ticket he shared with eleven others He immediately bought some better clothes and he looked very well in them

Luck never comes alone it always has company and soit did this timeGodfather gave up the garbage wagon and joined the theater

"What's that" said Grandmother"Is he going into the theater As what"

As a machinist That was an advancement He be-came quite another person and he enjoyed the plays very much although he always saw them from the top or from the side Most wonderful was the ballet but that gavehim the hardest work and there was always danger of fire They danced both in heaven and on earth That was something for little Peer to see and one evening when there was to be a dress rehearsal of a new ballet inwhich everyone was dressed and made up as on the open ing night when people pay to see all the magnificence he had permission to bring Peer with him and put him in a place where he could see the whole show

It was a Biblical balletSamson The Philistinesdanced about him and he tumbled the whole house downover them and himself but there were both fire engines and firemen on hand in case of any accident

Peer had never seen a stage play not to mention a balletHe put on his Sunday clothes and went with God father to the theaterIt was just like a great deying loftwith many curtains and screens big openings in the floor lampsand lights There were so many tricky nooks and corners everywhere from which people appeared just as in a great church with its gallery pews Peer was seated down where the floor slanted steeply and was told to stay there until it was all finished and he was sent forHehad three sandwiches in his pocket so that he need notstarve

Soon it grew lighter and lighter then up in front just as if straight out of the earth there came a number ofmusicians with both flutes and violins In the seats next toPeer sat people dressed in street clothesbut there also appeared knights with gold helmets beautiful maidens ingauze and flowers even angels all in white with wings on their backsThey seated themselves upstairs and downstairs on the floor and in the balcony seats towatch what was going onThey were all members of the ballet but Peer did not know that He thought they belonged in the fairy tales his grandmother had told him about There then appeared a woman and she was themost beautiful of all with a gold helmet and spear she seemed to be above all the others and sat between an angel and a troll Ah how much there was to see And yet the ballet bad not even begun

Suddenly everything became quietA man dressed in black moved a little fairy wand over all the musicians and then they began to play the music made a whistling sound through the theater and the whole wall in front be- gan to riseOne looked into a flower garden where the sun shone and all the people danced and leaped Such a wonderful sight Peer had never imagined There weresoldiers marching and there was war and there was a banquet and there were the mighty Samson and his lover

But she was as wicked as she was beautiful she betrayed him The Philistines plucked his eyes out he was forced togrind in the mill and to be mocked and insulted in the great house it fell and there burst forth wonderful flames of redand green fire

Peer could have sat there his whole life long and looked on even if the sandwiches were all eatenand they were all eaten

Now here was something to tell about when he gothomeIt was impossible to get him to go to bedHe stood on one leg and laid the other on the tablethat was what Samson's lover and all the other ladies had done He madea treadmill out of Grandmother's chair and upset two chairsand a pillow over himself to show how the banquet hall had come downHe showed thisyesand he even presented it with the music that belonged to itthere was no talking in the ballet He sang high and low[with words andwithout words] and it was quite incoherent It was like awhole opera The most noticeable thing of all meanwhilewas his beautiful bellclear voice but no one spoke ofthat

Peer previously had wanted to be a grocer's boy tobe in charge of prunes and powdered sugar Now he foundthere was something much more wonderful and that was toget into the Samson story and dance in the ballet A great many poor children had taken that road said the grandmother and had become fine and honored people yet no little girl of her family would ever be permitted to do sobut a boywell he stood more firmly Peer had not seen a single one of the little girls fall down before the whole house fell and then they all fell together he said

 

 

 Peer wanted toand felt he mustbe a ballet dancer

"He gives me no rest"said his mother

At last his grandmother promised to take him to theballet master who was a fine gentleman and had his ownhouse like the merchant Would Peer ever be that richNothing is impossible for our LordPeer had been born with a gold apple luck had been laid in his handsperhaps it was also in his legs

Peer went to the ballet master and knew him at onceit was Samson himselfHis eyes had not suffered atall at the hands of the Philistines That was only acting inthe play he was told And Samson looked kindly and pleasantly at him and told him to stand up straight lookright at him and show him his anklePeer showed his whole foot and leg too

"So be got a place in the ballet"said Grandmother

This was easily arranged with the ballet master

but before that his mother and grandmother had spo ken with several understanding peoplefirst with the merchant's wife who thought it a good career for ahandsome bonest boy like Peer but without any fu ture Then they had spoken with Miss Frandsen she knew all about the ballet and at one time in Grand-mother's younger days she had been the most beautiful danseuse at the theater she had danced goddesses and princesses had been cheered and applauded wherever she had gone but then she had grown olderweall doand so no longer had she been given principal parts she'd had to dance behind the younger onesand when finally her dancing days had come to an end she had become a wardrobe woman and dressed the others as goddesses and princesses

"So it goes"said Miss Frandsen"The theater road is a delightful one to travel but it is full of thornsJealousy grows thereJealousy"

That was a word Peer did not understand at allbut he came to understand it in time

"No force or power can keep him from the bal let"said his mother

"A pious Christian childthat he is"said Grandmother

"And well brought up"said Miss Frandsen

"Well formed and moral That I was in my heyday"

And so Peer went to the dancing school and got some summer clothes and thinsoled dancing shoes to make himself lighterAll the older girl dancers kissed him and said that he was a boy good enough to eat

He had to stand up stick his legs out and hold on to a post so as not to fall while he leaned to kick firstwith his right leg then with his left It was not nearly sodifficult for him as it was for most of the others The ballet master patted him and said that he would soon be in the ballet he was to play the child of a king who was carried on shields and wore a gold crown This was practiced at the dancing school and rehearsed at the theater itself

The mother and grandmother had to see little Peer in all his glory and when they saw this they both cried although it was such a happy occasion Peer in all his pomp and glory did not see them at all but he did see the merchant's family who sat in the loge nearest the stageLittleFelix was with them[in his best clothes]He wore but toned glovesjust like a grownup gentleman and although he could see perfectly wellhe looked through an opera glass the whole evening just like a grownup gentleman

He looked at Peer and Peer looked at him Peer was a king's child with a crown of gold This evening brought thetwo children into closer relationship with one another

A few days laterwhen they met each other at home in the yardFelix went up to Peer and told him he had seen him when he was a prince He knew very well that he was not a prince any longer but then he had worn a prince's clothes and a gold crown"I shall wear them again on Sunday"said Peer

Felix did not see him Sunday but he thought about it the whole eveningHe would have liked very much to have been in Peer's place he had not heard Miss Frandsen'swarning that the road of the theater was a thorny one and that jealousy grew along it nor did Peer know this yet buthe would very soon learn it

His young companionsthe dancing childrenwere not all so good as they ought to be although they often played angels and had wings on them There was a little girl Malle Knallerupwho alwayswhen she was dressedas a page and Peer was a pagestepped maliciously on the side of his foot so as to dirty his stockings Therewas a wicked boy who always was sticking pins in his back and one day he ate Peer's sandwichesby mistake but that was impossible for Peer had meat balls onhis sandwiches and the other boy had only bread withoutbutter he could not have made a mistake

It would be impossible to recite all the annoyances that Peer endured in two yearsand the worst was yet to come

There was a ballet per formed called The Vampire

In it the smallest dancing children were dressed as bats wore grayknitted tights that fitted snugly to their bodies

black gauze wings were stretched from their shoulders

They were to run on tiptoe as if they were light enough to fly and then they wete to whirl around on the floor

Peer could do this especially wellbut his trousers and jacketall of one piecewere old and worn and could not stand the strainSo just as he whirled around before the eyes of all the people there was a rip right down his back straight from his neck down to where the legs are fastenedin and all of his short white shirt could be seen Allthe people laughedPeer felt it andknew what had hap pened he whirled and whirled but it grew worse andworsePeople laughed louder and louderthe other vam pires laughed with themand whirled into himand all the more dreadfully when the people clapped and shouted "Bravo"

"That is for the ripped vampire"said the dancing childrenAnd from then on they always called him Rippy

Peer cried Miss Frandsen comforted him"It is only jealousy"she said and now Peer knew what jealousywas

Besides the dancing school they had a regular school at the theater where the cinldren were taught arithmetic and writinghistory and geographyyes and they even had a teacher in religion for it is not enough to know how to dancethere is something more important in the world than wearing out dancing shoes Here too Peer was quick the very quickest of all and got plenty of good marksbut hisfellow students still called him Rippy They were only teas ing himbut at last he could not stand it any longerand he swung and hit one of the boys so that he was black and blue under the left eye and had to have grease paint on it in the evening when he appeared in the balletPeer got a scolding from the dancing masterand a worse one from the sweeping woman for it was her son he had"given asweeping"

 

 

 A good many thoughts went through little Peer's head And one Sunday when he was dressed in his bestclothes he went out without saying a word about it to hismother or his grandmother not even to Miss Frandsen who always gave him good advice he went straight to the orchestra conductor he thought this man was the most impor tant one there was outside the ballet Cheerfully he stepped in and said"I am at the dancing school but there is so much jealousy thereand so I would rather be a player or a singer if you would help me please"

"Have you a voice"asked the conductor and looked quite pleasantly at him"Seems to me I know you Where have I seen you before Wasn't it you who was ripped down the back" And now he laughed But Peer grew redhe was surely no longer Lucky Peer as his grandmother had called himHe looked down at his feet and wished he were far away

"Sing me a song"said the conductor"Come nowcheer up my boy"And he tapped him under the chinand Peer looked up into his kind eyes and sang a song "Mercy for Me"which he had heard at the theaterin the opera Robert le Diable

"That is a difficult songbut you did it pretty well"

said the conductor"You have an excellent voiceas long as it doesn't rip in the back"And he laughed and calledhis wife She also had to hear Peer sing and she nodded her head and said something in a foreign tongueJust at that moment the singing master of the theater came initwas really to him Peer should have gone if he wanted to be a singer now the singing master came to himquite acci dentally as it were he also heard him sing"Mercy for Me" but he did not laugh and he did not look so kindlyat him as the conductor and his wife still it was decided that Peer should have singing lessons

"Now he is on the right track"said Miss Frandsen

"One gets much farther with a voice than with legs If I had had a voice I would have been a great songstress andwould perhaps have been a baroness by now"

"Or a bookbinder's wife" said Mother"Had you become rich you surely would have taken the book binder"

We do not understand that hint but Miss Frandsendid

Peer had to sing for her and sing for the merchant's family when they heard of his new career He was calledin one evening wnen they had company downstairs ana hesang several songs among them"Mercy for Me"All the company clapped their handsand Felix didtoohe had heard him sing before in the stable Peer had sung the entire ballet of Samson and that was the most delightful of all

"One cannot sing a ballet"said the lady

"Yes Peer can"said Felix and so they asked him to do it He sang and he talked he drummed and hehummedit was child's playbut fragments of wellknown melodies came forth which really illustrated what the ballet was about All the company found it very entertainingthey laughed and praised it one louder than another

The merchant's wife gave Peer a huge piece of cake and a silver dollar

How lucky the boy felt until he discovered a gentleman who stood somewhat in the background and wholooked sternly at him There was something harsh and se vere in the man's black eyes he did not laughhe didnot speak a single friendly word this gentleman was the singing master from the theater

Next forenoon Peer went to him and he stoodthere quite as severelooking as before

"What was the matter with you yesterday"he said

"Could you not understand that they were making a fool of youNever do that againand don't you go running about and singing at doors either inside or outside Nowyou can goI won't give you any singing lesson today"

When Peer lefthe was dreadfully downcast he had fallen out of the master's good graces On the contrarythe master was really more satisfied with him than ever before In all the absurdity which he had seen him per form there was really some meaning something quite unusual The boy had an ear for music and a voice asclear as a bell and of great compass if it continued likethat then the little fellow's fortune was made

Now began the singing lessonsPeer was industrious and Peer was clever How much there was to learn howmuch to know The mother toiled and slaved to make an honest living so that her son might be well dressed and neat and not look too shabby among the people to whom he now was invited He was always singing and jubilant

they had no need at all of a canary bird the mother saidEvery Sunday he had to sing a psalm with his grandmoth er It was delightful to hear his fresh voice lift itself upwith hers"It is much more beautiful than to hear him sing wildly"That's what she called his singing when like a little bird his voice jubilantly gave forth with tonesthat seemed to come of themselves and make such music as they pleased What tones there were in his little throat what wonderful sounds in his little breast In deed he could imitate a whole orchestra There wereboth flute and bassoon in his voice and there were violinand bugle He sang as the birds sing but man's voice is much more charming even a little man's when he cansing like Peer

But in the winter just as he was to go to the pastor to be prepared for confirmation he caught cold the littlebird in his breast said pip The voice was ripped like thevampire's backpiece

"It is no great misfortuneafter all"thought Moth er and Grandmother"Now he doesn't go singing trala so he can think more seriously about his religion"

His voice was changing the singing master saidPeer must not sing at all now How long would it be Ayear perhaps two perhaps the voice would never comeagainThat was a great grief

"Think only of your confirmation now"said Mother and Grandmother"Practice your music"said the singing master"but keep your mouth shut"

He thought of his religionand he studied his mu sicit sang and resounded within him He wrote entire melodies down in notes songs without words Finally he wrote the words too

"You ale a poettoolittle Peer"said the mer chant's wife to whom he carried his text and musicThemerchant received a piece of music dedicated to him a piece without wordsFelix got one too andyes MissFrandsen also didand that went into her scrapbookin which were verses and music by two who were once young lieutenants but now were old majors on half pay the book had been given by"a friend"who had bound it himself

And Peer was confirmed at EasterFelix presented him with a silver watch It was the first watch Peer had owned he felt that this made him a man for now he didnot have to ask others what time it wasFelix came up to the garret congratulated him and handed him thewatch he himself was not to be confirmed until the au tumn They took each other by the handthese two chil- dren of the houseboth the same ageborn the same day and in the same houseAnd Felix ate a piece of the cake that had been baked in the garret for the occasion of the confirmation

"It is a happy day with solemn thoughts"saidGrandmother

"Yesvery solemn"said Mother"If only Father had lived to see Peer today"

The following Sunday all three of them went to Communion When they came home from church they found a message from the singing master asking Peer to come tosee him and Peer went Some good news awaited himand yet it was serious too While he must give up singingfor a year and his voice must lie fallow like a field as apeasant might sayduring that time he was to further hiseducationnot in the capital where every evening he wouldbe running to the theater from which he could not keepaway but he was to go one hundred and twenty miles fromhome to board with a schoolmaster who boarded a coupleof other young men There he was to learn language andscience which someday would be useful to him The charge for a year's coirse was three hundred dollars andthat was paid by a"benefactor who does not wish hisname to be known"

"It is the merchant"said Mother and Grandmother

The day of departure cameA good many tears were shed and kisses and blessings given and then Peer rodethe hundred and twenty miles on the railway out into thewide world It was Whitsuntide The sun shone and thewoods were fresh and green the train went rushing through themnew fields and villages were continually coming into view country manors peeped out the cattle stood in the pastures Now they passed a station then anotherand market town after market townAt each stopping place there was a crowd of people welcoming or saying goodby there was noisy talking outside and inthe carriagesWhere Peer sat there was a lot of entertain ment and chattering by a widow dressed in black She talked about his grave his coffinand his corpsemean ing her child's It had been such a poor little thing thatthere could have been no happiness for it had it lived It had been a great relief for her and the little lamb when it had fallen asleep

"I spared no expense on flowers on that occasion"

she said"and you must remember that it died at a veryexpensive time when the flowers had to be cut from potted plants Every Sunday I went to my grave and laid a wreath on it with great white silk bows the silk bows were immediately stolen by some little girls and used for dancing bows they were so temptingOne Sunday I wentthere and I knew that my grave was on the left of themain path but when I got there there was my grave onthe right'How is this' says I to the gravedigger'Isn't my grave on the left'

"'Noit isn't any longer'the gravedigger an swered'Madam's grave lies there all rightbut the mound has been moved over to the right that placebelongs to another man's grave'

"'But I want my corpse in my grave'says I'andI have a perfect right to say soShall I go and decorate a false mound when my corpse lies without any sign on theother sideIndeed I won't'

"'Then Madam must talk to the dean'

"He is such a good man that dean He gave me per mission to have my corpse on the rightIt would cost five dollars I gave that with a kiss of my hand and walked back to my old grave'Can I now be very sure that it is my own coffin and my corpse that is moved'

"'That Madam can' And so I gave each of the men a coin for the moving But now since it had cost so muchI thought I should spend something to make it beautiful and so I ordered a monument with an inscription But

will you believe itwhen I got it there was a gilded but terfly painted at the top'Why that means Frivolity'

said I'I won't have that on my glave'

"'It is not Frivolity Madam it is Immortality'

"' I never heard that' said INow have any of youhere in the carriage ever heard of a butterfly as a sign for anything but Frivolity I kept quiet I don't like long conversations I composed myself and put the monument away in my pantryThere it stood till my lodger came homeHe is a student and haa so many many books He assured methat it really stood for Immortalityand so the monument was placed on the grave"

And during all the chatter Peer arrived at the station of the town where he was to live and become just as wiseas the student and have just as many books

 

 

 Herr Gabriel the honorable man of learning withwhom Peer was to live as a boarding scholar was at therailway station to call for him Herr Cabriel was a man asthin as a skeleton with great shiny eyes that stuck out sovery far that one was almost afraid that when he sneezed they would pop out of his head entirelyHe was accompa nied by three of his own little boys one of them stumbledover his own legs and the other two stepped all over Peer's feet in their eagerness to get a close view of himTwo larger boys were with them the older about fourteenyears fairskinned freckled and full of pimples

"Young Madsen who will be a student in aboutthree yearsif he studies Primus son of a dean"Thatwas the younger who looked like a head of wheat"Bothare boarders studying with me"said Herr Gabriel"Oursmall stuff" he called his own boys

"Trinebring the newcomer's trunk on your wheel- barrow The table is set for you at home"

"Stuffed turkey" said the other two young gentlemen boarders

"Stuffed turkey" said the"small stuff" and againone of them fell over his own legs

"Caesarlook after your feet"exclaimed Herr Gabriel

And they walked into town and then out of it Therestood a great half-tumbleddown timber house with a jasminecovered summerhousefacing the road Here MadamGabriel waited with more"small stuff"two little girls

"The new pupil" said Herr Gabriel

"A most hearty welcome" said Madam Gabriel ayouthful wellfed woman red and white with spit curlsand a lot of pomade on her hair

"Good heavenshow grownup you are"she said toPeer"Why you are a fully developed gentleman al- ready I thought that you were like Primus or young Mad-senAngel Gabriel it's a good thing the inner door isnailed You know what I think"

"Nonsense"said Herr Gabriel And they stepped into the room There was a novel on the tablelying openand a sandwich on itOne might have thought that it had been placed there as a bookmarkit lay across theopen page

"Now I must be the housewife"And with all five ofher children and the two boarders she showed Peer through the kitchen and the hallwayand into a littleroom the windows of which looked out on the gardenthat was to be his study and bedroomit was next to Madam Gabriel's room where she slept with all the fivechildren the connecting door for decency's sake and toprevent gossip"which spares nobody"had been nailed up by Herr Gabriel that very dayat Madam's express re quest

"Here you can live just as if you were at your par ents' We have a theater too in the townThe pharma- cist is the director of a private companyand we have trav eling players But now you are going to have your turkey"

And so she showed Peer into the dining room where the wash was drying on a line

"That doesn't do any harm" she said"It is only cleanliness and that you are surely accustomed to"

So Peer sat down to eat the roast turkey while thechildren of the house but not the two boarders who hadwithdrawngave a dramatic show for the entertainment of themselves and the stranger There had lately been a traveling company of actors in townwhich had played Schiller's The Robbers The two oldest boys had been im mensely taken with it And they now performed the whole play at homeall the parts notwithstanding that they re-membered only these words"Dreams come from the stom ach"But they were spoken by all the characters in differ ent tones of voiceThere stood Ameliawith heavenly eyes and a dreamy look"Dreams come from the stomach"she said and covered her face with both her hands Carl Moorcame forward with a heroic stride and manly voice "Dreams come from the stomach" and at that the wholeflock of children boys and girlsrushed in they were allrobbersand murdered one another crying out"Dreams come from the stomach"

That was Schiller's The Robbers This performance and stuffed turkey were Peer's first introduction into HerrGabriel's house He then went to his little chamber wherethrough the window into which the sun shone warmly he could see the gardenHe sat down and looked outHerr Gabriel was walking there absorbed in reading a book Hecame closer and looked in his eyes seemed fixed upon Peerwho bowed respectfullyHerr Gabriel opened his mouth as wide as he would stuck out his tongue and letit wag from one side to the other right in the face of theastonished Peerwho could not understand why he wastreated in such a mannerWhereupon Herr Gabriel leftbut then turned back to the window and again stuck histongue out of his mouth

Why did he do thatHe was not thinking of Peeror that the panes of glass were transparent from the outsidehe saw only the reflection of himself in themandhe wanted to look at his tongueas he had a stomach-achebut Peer did not know all this

Early in the evening Herr Gabriel went into hisroomand Peer sat in hisMuch later in the evening heheard quarrelingfemale quarrelingin Madam Gabriel'sbedroom

"I am going up to Gabriel and tell him what rascalsyou are"

"We will also go to Gabriel and tell him whatMadam is" "I shall have a fit"she cried

"Who wants to see a woman in a fitFour shillings"

Then Madam's voice sank deeperbut was distinctly heard"What will the young man in there think of ourhouse when he hears all this vulgarity"At that the quar-rel subsidedbut then again rose louder and louder

"PeriodFinis"cried Madam"Go and make thepunchit's better to agree than to quarrel"

And then it was stillThe door openedand thegirls leftand then Madam knocked on the door to Peer'sroom

"Young mannow you have some idea of what it isto be a housewifeYou should thank heaven that youdon't have to bother with girlsI want to have peacesoI give them punchI would gladly give you a glass-onesleeps so well after it-but no one dares go through thehallway door after ten o'clockmy Gabriel will not permititBut you shall have some punchneverthelessThere isa big hole in the doorstopped up with puttyI will pushthe putty out and put a funnel through the holeyou holdyour waterglass under itand I shall pour you some punchKeep it a secreteven from my GabrielYou must notworry him with household affairs"

And so Peer got his punchand there was peace inMadam Gabriel's room peace and quiet in the wholehousePeer went to bedthought of his mother and grand-mothersaid his evening prayerand fell asleepWhat onedreams the first night one sleeps in a strange house hasspecial significanceGrandmother had saidPeer dreamedthat he took the amber heartwhich he still constantlyworelaid it in a flowerpotand it grew into a great treeup through the ceiling and the roofit bore thousands ofhearts of silver and goldso heavy that the flowerpotbrokeand it was no longer an amber heart-it had be-come moldearth to earth-gonegone foreverThen Peerawokehe still had the amber heartand it was warmwarm against his own warm heart

 

 

 Early in the morning the first study hours began atHerr Gabriel'sThey studied FrenchAt lunch the onlyones present were the boardersthe childrenand MadamShe drank her second cup of coffee hereher first she al-ways took in bed"It is so healthy when one is liable tospasmsShe asked Peer what he had studied that day

"French"he answered

"It is an expensive language"She said"It is thelanguage of diplomats and one used by distinguished peopleI did not study it in my childhoodbut when one ismarried to a learned man one gains from his knowledgeasone gains from his mother's milkThusI have all thenecessary wordsI am quite sure I would know how to express myself in whatever company I happened to be"

Madam had acquireed a foreign name by her marriagewith a learned manShe had been baptized Mette after arich auntwhose heir she was to have beenShe had gotthe namebut not the inheritanceHerr Gabriel rebaptizedMette as Metathe Latin word for measureAt the time ofher weddingall her clotheswoolen and linenweremarked with the letters MG.,Meta Gabrielbut youngMadsenwho was a witty boyinterpreted the letters MGto be a mark meaning"most good"and he added abig guestion mark in inkon the tableclothsthe towelsand the sheets

"Don't you like Madamasked Peerwhen youngMadsen made him privately acquainted with this joke"She is so kindand Herr Gabriel is so learned"

"She is a bag of lies"said young Madsen"andHerr Gabriel is a scoundrelIf I were only a corporaland he a recruitohhow I would discipline him"And abloodthirsty expression came to young Madsen's facehislips grew narrower than usualand his whole face seemedone great freckle

There were terrible words to hearand they gavePeer a shockyet young Madsen had the clearest right tothink that wayIt was a cruel thing on the part of parentsand teachers that a fellow had to waste his best timedelightful youthon learning grammarnamesand dateswhich nobody cares anything aboutinstead of enjoyinghis liberty relaxingand wandering about with a gun overhis shoulder like a good hunter"Noone has to be shutin and sit on a bench and look sleepily at a bookHerrGabriel wants thatAnd then one is called lazy and getsthe mark'passable'yesone's parents get letters aboutitthat's why Herr Gabriel is a scoundrel"

"He gives lickingstoo"added little Primuswhoagreed with young MadsenThis was not very pleasant forPeer to hearBut Peer got no lickingshe was too grownupas Madam had saidHe was not called lazyeitherfor that he was notHe had his lessons aloneHe wassoon well ahead of Madsen and Primus

"He has ability"said Herr Gabriel

"And one can see that he has been to dancingschool"said Madam

"We must have him in our dramatic club"saidthe pharmacistwho lived more for the town's privatetheater than for his pharmacyMalicious people appliedto him the old stale joke that he must have been bittenby a mad actorfor he was completely insane about thetheater

"The young student was born for a lover"said thepharmacist"In a couple of years he could be RomeoandI believe that if he were well made upand we put a littlemustache on himhe could very well appear this winter"

The pharmacist's daughter-"great dramatic talent"said the father"true beauty"said the motherwas to beJulietMadam Gabriel had to be the nurseand the phar-macistwho was both director and stage managerwouldtake the role of the apothecarywhich was small but ofgreat importanceEverything depended on Herr Gabriel'spermission for Peer to play RomeoThis had to be workedthrough Madam Gabrielone had to know how to win herover-and this the pharmacist knew

"You were born to be the nurse"he saidandthought that he was flattering her exceedingly"That is actually the most important part in the play"he continued"It is the comedy rolewithout itthe play would be toosad to sit throughNo one but youMadam Gabrielhasthe quickness and life that should sparkle here"

All very trneshe agreedbut her husband wouldsurely never permit the young student to contribute whatev-er time would be required to play the part of RomeoShepromisedhoweverto"pump"himas she called itThepharmacist immediately began to study his partand especially to think about his make-upHe wanted to look almost like a skeletona poormiserable fellowand yet aclever man-a rather difficult problemBut Madam Gabrielhad a much harder one in"pumping "her husband to givehis permissionHe could nothe saidanswer for it toPeer's guardianswho paid for his schooling and boardifhe permitted the young man to play in tragedyWe cannotconceal the facthoweverthat Peer had the greatest desireto do it"But it won't work"he said

"It's working"said Madam"only let me keep onpumping"She would have given him punchbut HerrGabriel did not like to drink itMarried people are oftendifferentthis is said without any offense to Madam

"One glass and no more"she thought"It elevatesthe mind and makes one happyand that's what we oughtto be-it is our Lord's with us"

Peer was to be Romeothat was pumped through byMadamThe rehearsals were held at the pharmacist'sThey had chocolate and"genii"-that is to saysmallbiscuitsThese were sold at the bakerytwelve for a pennyand they were so exceedingly smalland there wereso manythat it was considered witty to call them genii

"It is an easy matter to make fun"said HerrGabrielalthough he himself often gave nicknames to onething and anotherHe called the pharmacist's house"Noah's arkwith its clean and unclean beasts"andthat was only because of the affection which was shown bythat family toward their pet animalsThe young lady hadher own catGraciosawhich was pretty and softskinnedit would lie in the windowin her lapon hersewing workor run over the table spread for dinnerThewife had a poultry yarda duck yarda parrotand canary birds-and Polly could outcry them all togetherTwodogsFlick and Flockwalked about in the living roomthey were by no means perfume bottlesand they lay onthe sofa and on the family bed

The rehearsal beganand it was only interrupted amoment by the dogs slobbering over Madam Gabriel's newgownbut that was out of pure friendship and it did notspot itThe cat also caused a slight disturbanceit insisted on giving its paw to Juliet and sitting on her headand wagging its tailJuliet's tender speeches were divided equally between cat and RomeoEvery word that Peerhad to say was exactly what he wished to say to the pharmacist's daughterHow lovely and charming she wasachild of naturewhoas Madam Gabriel expressed itwas perfect for the rolePeer began to fall in love withher

There surely was instinct or something even higherin the catIt perched on Peer's shoulders as if to sym-bolize the sympathy between Romeo and JulietWith eachsuccessive rehearsal Peer's fervor became strongermoreapparentthe cat became more confidentialthe parrotand the canary birds noisierFlick and Flock ran in andout

The evening of the performance cameand Peer wasa perfect Romeohe kissed Juliet right on her mouth

"Perfectly natural"said Madam Gabriel

"Disgraceful"said the CouncilorHerr Svendsenthe richest citizen and fattest man in the townThe perspiration poured from himit was warm in the houseandwarm within him as wellPeer found no favor in his eyes"Such a puppy"he said"a puppy so long that one couldbreak him in half and make two puppies of him"

Great applause-and one enemyThat was havinggood luckYesPeer was a Lucky PeerTired and overcome by the exertions of the evening and the flatteryshown himhe went home to his little roomIt was pastmidnightMadam Gabriel knocked on the wall

"RomeoI have some punch for you"

And the funnel was put through the hole in thedoorand Peer Romeo held his glass under

"Good nightMadam Gabriel"

But Peer could not sleepEverything he had saidand particularly what Juliet had saidbuzzed through hisheadand when he finally fell asleep he dreamed of awedding-a wedding with Miss FrandsenWhat strangethings one can dream

 

 

"Now get that playacting out of your head"saidHerr Gabriel the next morning"and let's get busy withsome science

Peer had come near to thinking like young Madsenthat a fellow was wasting his delightful youthbeing shutin and sitting with a book in his handBut when he satwith his bookthere shone from it so many noble andgood thoughts that Peer found himself quite absorbed initHe learned of the world's great men and theirachievementsso many had been the children of poorpeopleThemistoclesthe heroson of a potterShakespearea poor weaver's boywho as a young man heldhorses outside the door of the theaterwhere later he wasthe mightiest man in poetic art of all countries and alltimeHe learned of the singing contest at Wartburgwhere the poets competed to see who would produce themost beautiful poem-a contest like the old trial of theGrecian poets at the great public feastsHerr Gabrieltalked of these with especial delightSophocles in his oldage had written one of his hest tragedies and won theaward over all the othersIn this honor and fortune hisheart broke with joyOhhow blessed to die in the midstof one's joy of victoryWhat could be more fortunateThoughts and dreams filled our little friendbut he hadno one to whom he could tell themThey would not beunderstood by young Madsen or by Primus-nor by Madam Gabrieleither she was either in a very good hu-moror was the sorrwing motherin which case she wasdissolved in tears

Her two little girls looked with astonishment at herNeither they nor Peer could discover why she was so overwhelmed with sorrow and grief

"The poor children"she said"A mother is always thinking of their futureThe boys can take care ofthemselvesCaesar fsllsbut he gets up againthe twoolder ones splash in the water tubthey ought to be inthe navyand would surely marry wellBut my two littlegirlsWhat will their future beThey will reach the agewhen the heart feelsand then I am sure that whoevereach of them falls in love with will not be at all afterGabriel's likinghe will choose someone they'll despiseand that will make them so unhappyAs a motherIhave to think about these thingsand that is my sorrowand griefYou poor childrenYou will be so unhappy"She wept

The little girls looked at herPeer looked at her andfelt rather sadhe could think of nothing to sayso hereturned to his little roomsat down at the old pianoandtones and fantasies came forth as they streamed throughhis heart

In the early morning he went to his studies with aclear mind and performed his dutiesfor someone waspaying for his schoolingHe was a conscientiousrightminded fellowIn his diary he recorded each day what hehad read and studiedand how late he had sat up playingthe piano-always mutelyso that he wouldn't awakenMadam GabrielIt never said in his diaryexcept onSundaythe day of rest"Thought of Juliet""Was atthe pharmacist's""Wrote a letter to Mother and Grandmother"Peer was still Romeo and a good son

"Very industriously"said Herr Gabriel"Followthat exampleyoung MadsenOr you'll fail"

"Scoundrel"said young Madsen to himself

Primusthe Dean's sonsuffered from sleepingsickness"It is a disease"said the Dean's wifehe wasnot to be treated with severity

The deanery was only eight miles awaywealth andcomfort were there

"That man will die a bishop"said Madam Gabriel"He has good connections at the courtand the Deanessis a lady of noble birthShe knows all about heraldry-that means coats of arms

It was WhitsuntideA year had passed since Peercame to Herr Gabriel's houseHe had gained muchknowledgebut his voice had not come backwould itever come

The Gabriel household was invited to the Dean's toa great dinner and a dall later in the eveningA goodmany guests came from the town and from the manorhouses aboutThe pharmacist's family was invitedRomeo would see his Julietperhaps dance the first dancewith her

The deanery was a wellkept placewhitewashedand without any manure heaps in the yard,[and it had a dovecot painted greenaround which twined an ivy vine.]The Deaness was tallcorpulent woman"AtheneGlaucopis"Herr Gabriel called her"the blueeyed"not"the oxeyed"as Juno was calledthought PeerTherewas a certain distinguished kindness about herand aneffort to have an invalid lookshe probably had sleepingsickness just like PrimusShe was in a light-blue silkdress and wore great curlsthe one on the right side wasfastened with a large medallion portrait of her great-grand-mothera general's wifeand the one on the left with anequally large bunch of grapes made of white porcelain

The Dean had a ruddyplump facewith shiningwhite teethwell suited to biting into a roast filletHisconversation always consisted of anecdotesHe could converse with everybodybut no one ever succeeded in carrying on a conversation with him

The Councilortoowas thereand among the strangers from the manors was Felixthe merchant's sonhe had been confirmed and was now a most elegant younggentlemanboth in clothes and mannershe was a millionairethey saidMadam Gabriel did not have courageenough to speak to him

Peer was overjoyed at seeing Felixwho came tohim in a very genial manner and said that he had broughtgreetings from his parentswho read all the letters Peerwrote home to his mother and grandmother

The dancing The pharmacist's daughter was to dance the first dance with the Councilorthat was apromise she had made at home to her mother and to theCouncilorThe second dance had been promised to Peerbut Felix came and took her with a goodnatured nod

"Permit me to have this one dancethe young ladywill give her permission only if you say so

Peer kept a polite facehe said nothingand Felixdanced with the pharmacist's daughterthe most beautifulgirl at the ballHe also danced the next dance with her

"You will grant me the supper dance"asked Peerwith a pale face

"Yesthe supper dance"she answered with her mostcharming smile

"You surely will not take my partner from me"saidFelixwho stood close by"That's not being very friendlyWe two old friends from townYou say that you are soglad to see meThen you must allow me the pleasure oftaking the lady to supper"And he put his arm aroundPeer and laid his forehead jestingly against him"Grantedisn't itGranted"

"No"said Peerhis eyes sparkling with anger

Felix gaily raised his arms and set his elbows akimboas if he were trying to look like a frog ready to leap"Youare Perfectly rightyoung manI would say the same if thesupper dance were promised mesir"He drew back witha graceful bow to the young lady

But shortly afterwhen Peer stood in a corner and ad-justed his necktieFelix returnedput his arm around hisneckandwith the most coaxing looksaid"Be big-heartedMy mother and your mother and old grandmotherwill all say that is just like youI am leaving tomorrowand I will be terribly bored if I do not take the young ladyto supperMy own friendmy only friend"

Peeras his only friendcould not resist thathepersonally led Felix to the young beauty

It was bright morning of the next day when the guestsdrove away from the Dean'sThe Gabriel household was inone carriageand the whole family went to sleepexceptPeer and Madam

She talked about the young merchantthe nich man'ssonwho was really Peer's friendshe had heard him say"Skaalmy friendTo Mother and Grandmother"Therewas something so"uninhibitedgallant in him"she said"one saw at once that he is the son of rich peopleor acount's childThatthe rest of us can't acquireOnemust bow to that"

Peer said nothingHe was depressed all dayAtnightwhen bedtime had come and he lay in bedsleepwas chased awayand he said to himself"One has tobowone has to please"That's what he had donehehad obeyed the rich young fellow"because one is bornpoorhe is placed under obligation and subjection to theserichly born peopleAre they then better than weAnd whywere they created better than we"

There was something vicious rearing up in himsomething that his grandmother would he grieved atHe thoughtof her"Poor GrandmotherYou have also known whatpoverty isWhy has God permitted that"And he feltanger in his heartand yet at the same time he was conscious of having sinned in thoughts and words against thegood GodHe was grieved to think he had lost his child'smindand his faith returnedas wholesome and rich as be-foreHappy Peer

A week later a letter came from GrandmotherShewrote in the only way she couldmixing up big letters andsmall lettersbut all her heart's love was in everythingbig and smallthat concerned Peer

My own sweetblessed boy

I am thinking of youI am longing for youand sois your motherShe is getting along wellshe takes washingAnd the merchant's Felix came up to see us yesterdaywith a greeting from youYou had both been dt the Dean'sballand you had been such a gentlemanbut that youwill always beand make your old grandmother and yourhardworking mother happyShe has something to tell youabout Miss Frandsen

And then followed a postscript from Peer's mother

Miss Frandsen is going to be marriedthe oldthingThe bookbinderHerr Hofhas been appointedcourt bookbinderin accordance with his petitionHehas a great new sign"Court Bookbinder Hof"And shewill become Madam HofIt is an old love that does notrustmy sweet boy

YOUR MOTHER Second PostscriptGrandmother has knitted you sixpairs of woolen socksyou will get them at the first opportunityI am also sending you a pork pieyour favorite dishI know that you never get pork at Herr Gabriel'ssince hiswife is so afraid of what I have difficulty in spelling"trichines"You must not believe in thesebut just goahead and eat

YOUR OWN MOTHER Peer read the letterand it made him happyFelixwas so goodwhat a great injustice he had done himTheyhad separated at the Dean's without saying goodby to eachother

"Felix is better than I"said Peer

 

 

 In a quiet lifeone day slips into the nextandmonth quickly follows monthPeer was already in thesecond year of his stay at Herr Gabriel'swho with greatearmestness and determinationthough Madam called itobstinacyinsisted that he should not again go on thestage

Peer received from the singing masterwho monthlypaid the stipend for his instruction and supporta seriousreminder not to think of the stage as long as he wasplaced thereAnd he obeyedbut his thoughts frequentlytraveled to the theater at the capital-they carried himas if by magiconto the stage therewhere he was tohave appeared as a great singerNow his voice was goneand it did not returnwhich often deeply grieved himWho could comfort himNeither Herr Gabriel nor Madambut our Lord surely couldConsolation comes tous in many waysPeer found it in sleephe was indeed aLucky Peer

One night he dreamed that it was Whitsundayand hewas out in the beautiful green forestwhere the sun shonethrough the branches and where all the ground was coveredwith anemones and primroseThen the cuckoo began"Cuckoo""How many years shall I live" asked Peerforone always asks the cuckoo thatthe first time in the yearone hears it cuckooand the cuckoo answered"Cuckoo"but no moreit was silent

"Shall I live only one more year"asked Peer"Thatis really too littleBe so good as to cuckoo again"Thenthe bird began again"CuckooCuckoo"Yesand it wenton without stoppingand Peer cuckooed with itas realistically as if hetoowere a cuckoobut his notes werestronger and clearerAll the song birds joined in the warblingPeer sang their songsbut far more beautifullyHehad all the clear voice of his childhoodand rejoiced insonghe was so happy at heartAnd then he awokebutwith the assurance that the"soundboard"was still in himthat his voice still lived andsome bright Whitsun morningwould burst forth in all its freshnessand so he slepthappy in this assurance

But in none of the following daysweeksor monthsdid he have any feeling of his voice returning

Every bit of news he could get of the theater at thecapital was a true feast for his soulit was spiritual breadto himCrumbs are also breadand he received crumbsthankfully-the smallest bits of news

There was a flax dealer's family living near theGabriels'The mothera highly respectable housewifelively and laughingbut without any acquaintance or knowledge of the theaterhad been at the capital for the first timeand was delighted with everything thereeven with the peoplewho had laughed at all she had saidshe assured-and that was very likely

"Were you at the theater also"asked Peer

"That I was"replied the flax dealer's wife"How IsteanedYou should have seen me sit and steam in thatheat"

"But what did you seeWhat play"

"I will tell you that"she said"I shall give youthe whole playI was there twiceThe first evening itwas a talking playOut came the princess'AhbedahbeAbedabe'-how she could talkNext came aman-'AhbedahbeAbedabe'And then down fellMadamNow they began againThe prince'AhbedahbeAbedabe'Then down fell MadamShe felldown five times that eveningThe second time I wasthereit was all singing-'AhbedahbeAbedabe'And then down fell Madam againIt so happened that acountrywoman was sitting next to meshe had never beenin the theaterand thought the show was all overbut Iwho now knew all about itsaid that when I was therelastMadam fell down five timesThe singing eveningshe only did it three timesYesthere you have both theplaysas true to life as I saw them"

Was it tragedy she bad seensince she said thatMadam always fell downThen it dawned on Peer whatshe meantThe great theater curtain that fell between theacts had a large female figure painted on ita Muse withthe comic and the tragic masksThis was the Madam whofell downThat had been the real comedywhat they hadsaid and sung had been only"AhbedahbeAbe dabe"to the flax dealer's wifebut it had been a greatpleasureand so it had been to Peertooand not less toMadam Gabrielwho had heard this recital of the playsShe had sat with an expression of astonishment and a consciousness of mental superiorityfor the pharmacist hadsaid that sheas the nursehad"carried"Shakespeare'sRomeo and Juliet"Down fell the Madam"as explainedby Peerafterward became a witty byword in the houseevery time a childa cupor one or another piece of fur-niture fell on the floor in the house

"That is the way proverbs and familiar sayings arecreated"said Herr Gabrielwho carried everything intothe sphere of learning

New Year's Eveat the stroke of twelvetheGabriels and their boarders stoodeach with a glass ofpunchthe only one Herr Gabriel drank the whole yearbecause punch is bad for a weak stomachThey drank atoast"Skaal"to the new yearand counted the strokesof the clock"Onetwo-"to the twelfth stroke"Downfell the Madam"they said

The new year rolled up and rolled alongBy WhitsuntidePeer had been two years in the house

 

 

 Two years were gonebut the voice had not returnedHow would the future be for our young friend

He could always be a teacher in a schoolopinedHerr Gabrielthere was a livelihood in thatthough nothing to be married onhoweverthat hadn't entered Peer's mindno matter how large a place in his heart the pharmacist's daughter had

"Be a teacher"said Madam Gabriel"a school-masterThen you'll be the most boring individual onearthjust like my GabrielNoyou were born for thetheaterBe the greatest actor in the worldthat is some-thing more than being a teacher"

An actorYesthat was the goal

He mentioned this in a letter to the singing masterhe told of his longing and his hopeHe longed most eagerly for the great citywhere his mother and grandmotherlivedhe had not seen them for two long yearsThe distance was only one hundred and twenty milesby fasttrainhe could be there in six hoursWhy had they notseen one anotherThat is easily explainedOn his departurePeer had given his promise to stay where he was being sent and not to think of a visitHis mother was busyenough with her washing and ironingyet she had oftenthought of making the great journeyeven if it would costa good deal of moneybut this never materializedGrandmother had a horror of railwaysto travel by railwas to tempt the LordNothing could induce her to travelby steamshe was an old womanand she was not goingto travel until she traveled up to our Lord

That she said in Maybut in June the old womanwould traveland all alonethe one hundred and twentylong milesto the strange townto strange peopleand allto get to PeerIt would be a big occasionyet the mostdismal one that could occur to Mother and Grandmother

The cuckoo had said"Cuckoo"without end whenPeer had asked it the second time"How many years shallI live"His health and spirits were goodand the futurelooked brightHe had received a delightful letter from hisfatherly friendthe singing masterPeer was to go homeand they would see what could be done for himwhatcourse he should take now that his voice was still gone

"Appear as Romeo"said Madam Gabriel"Nowyou are old enough for the lover's part and have someflesh on your bonesYou don't need to use makeup"

"Be Romeo"said the pharmacist and the pharmacist's daughter

Many thoughts went through his head and heartBut"Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring"

He sat down in the garden that stretched out to themeadowit was eveningand there was moonlightHischeeks burnedhis blood was on firethe air brought adelightful coolnessOver the moor hung a mist that roseand sank and made him think of the dance of the elfinmaidensThen into his mind came the old ballad aboutKnight Olafwho rode out to ask the guests to his weddingbut was stopped by the elfin maidenswho drewhim into their dance and play and thereby caused hisdeathIt was a piece of folklorean old poemThemoonlight and the mist over the moor formed pictures of itthis evening

Peer was soon in a state of half dreaminglookingout upon it allThe bushes seemed to have shapes ofboth humans and beaststhey stood motionlesswhile themist rose like a great waving veilPeer had seen something like this in a ballet at the theaterwhen elfin maidens were represented whirling and waving with veils ofgauzebut here it was far more charming and more wonderfulA stage as large as thisno theater could havenone had so clear an airso shining a moonlight

Right in front in the mistthere distinctly appeared afemale shapethe one became threeand the three becamemanyhand in hand they dancedthey were floatinggirlsThe air bore them along to the hedge where PeerstoodThey nodded to himthey spokeit was like thesound of silver bellsThey danced into the garden abouthimthey enclosed him in their circleWithoutthoughthe danced with thembut not their danceHewhirled aboutas in the unforgettable vampire dancebut he didn't think of thathe really didn't think atallhe was completely overwhelmed by all the magnificent beauty he saw about him

The moor was a seaso deep and dark bluewithwater lilies that were bright with all conceivable colorsDancing over the wavesthey carried him upon their veilto the opposite shorewhere the old viking burial moundhad thrown aside its grassy turf and risen into a castle ofcloudsbut the clouds were of marbleFlowering treesof gold and costly stones twined about the mighty blocksof marbleeach flower was a brilliantly colored bird thatsang with a human voiceIt was like a choir of thousands and thousands of happy childrenWas it heavenor was it Elfin Hill

The castle walls movedthey glided toward eachotherThey closed about himHe was insideand theworld of man was outsideHe then felt anguishastrange fearas never beforeThere was no exit to befoundbut from the floor way up to the roofand fromall the wallsthere smiled at him lovely young girlsthey were so lifelike to look atand yet he thoughtArethey but paintingsHe wanted to speak to thembut histongue found no wordshis speech was completely gonenot a sound came from his lipsThen he threw himselfupon the earthmore miserable than he had ever been

One of the elfin maidens approached himsurely shemeant wellfor she had taken the shape he would mostlike to seeshe looked like the pharmacist's daughterhe was almost ready to believe that it was shebut soonhe saw that she was hollow in back and had only abeautiful front-open in the backwith nothing at allinside

"One hour here is a hundred years outside"shesaid"You have already been here a whole hourEveryone you know and love outside these walls is deadStay with usYesstay you mustor the walls willsqueeze you until the blood flows from your brow"

And the walls trembledand the air became likethat of a glowing bake ovenHe found his voice

"O LordO Lordhave You forsaken me"he criedfrom the depths of his soul

Then Grandmother stood beside himShe took himin her armsshe kissed his browshe kissed his mouth

"My own sweet little one"she said"Our lordwill not forsake youHe forsakes none of usnot eventhe greatest sinnerGod be praised and honored for alleternity"

And she brought forth her psalmbookthe same onefrom which she and Peer had sung on many a SundnyHow her voice rangHow full were her tonesAll theelfin maidens laid their heads down for a wellneededrestPeer sang with Grandmotheras before he had sungevery Sundayhow wtrong and powerful yet how softhisvoice was all at onceThe walls of the castle movedtheybecame clouds and mistGrandmother walked with himout of the hill into the tall grasswhere the glowwormsgleamed and the moon shoneBut his feet were so tirednow he could not move themhe sank down on the turfit was the softesd bedthere he rested well and awoke tothe sound of a psalm

Grandmother sat beside himsat by his bed in thelittle chamber in Herr Gabriel's houseThe fever wasoverhealth and life had returnedHe had been deathlyillThey had found him in a faint on that evening downin the gardena violent fever had followedThe doctorhad thought that he would not get up from itbut woulddieand they had written to his mother about itShe andGrandmother had wanted toand felt they mustgo tohimboth had not been able to leaveand so the oldgrandmother had goneand gone by the railway

"That I would only do for Peer"she said"I did itin God's nameotherwise I would have had to believethat I flew with the evil ones on a broomstick on Midsummer Eve"

 

 

The journey home was made with a glad and lightheartGrandmother deeply thanked our Lord that Peerwas to outlive herShe had delightful traveling companions in the railway carriage-the pharmacist and hisdaughterthey talked about Peerand loved Peer as ifthey were of the same familyHe was to become a greatactorsaid the pharmacistHis voice had now returnedtooand there was a fortune in such a throat as his

What a pleasure it was to the grandmother to hearsuch wordsShe lived on themshe believed them thoroughlyAnd then they arrived at the station in the capitalwhere the mother met her

"God be praised for the railway"said Grandmoth-er"and be praisedtoothat I quite forgot I was on itI owe that to these splendid people"And she pressed thehands of the pharmacist and his daughter"The railway isa blessed discovery when one is through with itOne is inGod's hands"

And then she talked of her sweet boywho was outof all dangerand who lived with welltodo peoplewhokept two servant girls and a manservantPeer was like ason in the houseand on the same footing with two chil-dren of distinguished familiesone of whom was a dean'ssonThe grandmother had lodged at the post innit wasterribly expensivebut then she had been invited toMadam Gabriel'sthere she had stayed five daysandthey were simply wonderful peopleparticularly the wifeshe had urged her to drink punchsplendidly made butstrong

With God's helpPeer would be strong enough tocome home to the capital in a month

"He must have become very elegant and spoiled"said the mother

"He will not feel at home here in the garretI amvery happy that the singing master has invited him to staywith himAnd yet"cried the mother"it is awfully sadthat one should be so poor that one's child cannot live inhis own home"

"Don't say those words to Peer"said Grandmother"You don't understand him as I do"

"But he must have food and drinkno matter howfine he has grownand he shall hot go hungry so long as Ican move my handsMadam Hof has told me that he caneat his dinner twice a week with hernow that she is welloffShe has known both prosperity and hard timesShehas told me herself that one eveningin the box at the theater where the old danseuses have a placeshe felt sickThe whole day long she had only had water and a caraway-seed bunand she was ill from hungerand very faint'WaterWater'cried the others'NoSome food'shebegged'Food'She needed something nourishingandhad not the least need of waterNow she has her ownlarder and a wellspread table"

Peer was still one bundred and twenty miles awaybut happy in the thought that he would soon be in the cityand at the theaterwith all his dear old friendswhom nowhe would know how to valueHappiness sang and resounded within him and all about himthere was sunshine everywherein this happy time of youththe time of hope andexpectationEvery day he grew strongerhis good spiritsand his color returnedBut Madam Gabriel became verymoved as the time for departure drew near

"You are on your way to greatnessand there will bemany temptationsfor you are handsomethat you havebecome in our houseYou are naturaljust as Iand thatwill help when temptations comeOne must not be too sensitive or unruly sensitive like Queen Dagmarwho on Sun-day laced her silk sleeves and then had pangs of conscienceover such a minor thingit should take more than that toaffect oneI would never have grieved as Lucretia didWhat did she stab herself forShe was pure and honestshe knew thatand everybody in the town knew thatWhatcould she do about the misfortune which I won't talk aboutbut which you at your age understand perfectly wellSoshe gave out a shriek and took the daggerThat wasn'tnecessary at allI would not have done itand neitherwould youwe are both natural peopleone should benatural at all timesand that you will continue to be inyour artistic careerHow happy I shall be to read aboutyou in the papersPerhaps sometime you will come to ourlittle town and appear as Romeobut I shall not be thenurse thenI shall sit in the parquet and enjoy myself"

Madam had a lot of washing and ironing done theweek he went awayso Peer could go home with a cleanwardrobeas he had had on his arrival thereShe drew anewstrong ribbon through his amber heartthat was theonly thing she wanted as a"remembrance souvenir"butshe did not get it

From Herr Gabriel he received a French lexicontheone he had used during his school hoursand it hadmarginal notes in Herr Gabriel's own handMadamGabriel gave him roses and quaking grassThe roseswould witherbut the grass would keep all winter if itwasn't put into the water but was kept in a dry placeAnd she wrote a quotation from Goethe on a kind of albumleafUmgang mit Frauen ist das Element guter SittenShe gave a translation of it"Companionship with womenis the foundation of good mannersGoethe"

"He was a great man"she said"If he had onlynot written Faustfor I don't understand itGabriel sayssotoo"

Young Madsen presented Peer with a not badly donedrawing he had made of Herr Gabriel hanging from thegallowswith a birch rod in his handand the inscription"A great actor's first conductor on the road of sci-ence"Primusthe Dean's songave him a new pair ofslipperswhich the Deaness herself had madebut solarge that Primus could not fill them for a year or two yetUpon the soles was written in ink"A reminder of a sor-rowing friendPrimus"

Herr Gabriers'entire household accompanied Peerto the train

"It shall not be said that you left us sans adieu"said Madamand she kissed him at the railway station

"I am not bashful"she said"When one does not doa thing secretlyone can do anything"

The signal whistle blewyoung Madsen and Primusshouted hurrahsthe"small stuff"joined in with themMadam dried her eyes and waved with her pocked handkerchiefHerr Gabriel said only the word"Vale"

The villages and stations flew byWere the peoplein them as happy as PeerHe thought of thatpraised hisgood fortuneand thought of the invisible golden applethat Grandmother had seen lying in his hand when he wasa childHe thought of his lucky find in the gutter andabove allof his newfound voice and of the knowledgehe had now acquiredHe had become altogether anotherpersonHe sang inwardly with happinessit took greatself-control for him to keep from singing aloud in the car

Now the towers of the city appearedand the buildings began to show themselvesThe train reached the sta-tionThere stood Mother and Grandmotherand someonewith themMadam Hofwell boundCourt BookbinderHof's wifeborn FrandsenNeither in want nor in prosperity did she forget her friendsShe had to kiss him ashis mother and his grandmother did

"Hof could not come with me"she said"he ishome at workbinding a set of collected works for theking's private libraryYou have your good luck and Ihave mineI have my Hof and my own fireside cornerwith a rocking chairTwice a week you are to eat withusYou will see my life at homeit is a completeballet"

Mother and Grandmother bardly had an opportunityto talk to Peerbut they looked at himand their eyesshone with delightThen he had to take a cab to get tohis new home at the singing master'sThey laughed andthey cried

"What a wonderful man he is"said Grandmother

"He still has such a kind facejust as when he wentaway"said Mother"and that he will keep in thetheater"

The cab stopped at the singing master's doorbutthe master was outhis old servant opened the door andshowed Peer up to his roomwhere there were portraits ofcomposers on the walls and a white plaster bust stoodgleaming on the stoveThe old mana little dullbuttrustworthiness itselfshowed him the drawers in the bureau and hooks for him to hang his clothes onand saidhe was very willing to shine his bootsThen the singingmaster arrived and welcomed Peer with a hearty handshake

"This is the apartment"he said"Make yourself athomeYou may use my piano in the living roomTomorrow we will hear how your voice isThis is our castlewardenour housekeeper"And he nodded to the old servant"All is in orderCarl Maria von Weberon thestove therehas been whitened in honor of your cominghe was terribly dirtyBut it isn't Weber that's up thereafter allit is MozartWhere did he come from"

"It is the old Weber"said the servant"I carriedhim myself to the plastererand I brought him home againthis morning"

"But this is a bust of Mozartand not a bust ofWeber"

"Pardon mesir"said the servant"it is the oldWeberwho has been cleanedThe master does not rec-ognize him now that he has been whitened"The plasterercould verify that

But at the Plasterer's he got the answer that Weberhad been broken to piecesand so he had given himMozart insteadit was all the same on a stove

The first day Peer was not to sing or playbut whenour young friend came into the parlorwhere the pianostoodand the opera Joseph lay open upon ithe sang"My Fourteenth Spring"and sang with a voice that wasas clear as a bellThere was something so sincere aboutitso innocentand yet so strong and fullThe singingmaster's eyes were wet with tears

"That's the way it should be"he said"and it willbe even betterNow we shall close the pianoYou needto rest"

"But I have promised my mother and grandmother tovisit them tonight"And he hurried awayThe settingsun shone over the home of his childhoodthe bits of glassin the wall sparkledit was like a diamond castleMotherand Grandmother were waiting for him in the garreta goodmany steps upbut he flew upthree stairs at a timereached the doorand was received with kisses and embraces

It was clean and tidy there in the little roomTherestood the stovethe old bearand the chest of drawers withthe hidden treasure from his hobbyhorse dayson the wallshung the three familiar picturesthe King's portraitapicture of our Lordand Father's silhouettecut out ofblack paperIt was an excellent side view of himsaidMotherbut it would have been more like him if the paperhad been white and redfor that he wasA wonderfulmanAnd Peer was the very picture of him

There was much to talk aboutmuch to tellTheywere to have a headcheeseand Madam Hof had promisedto visit them later in the evening

"But how is it that those two old peopleHof andMiss Frandsenever thought of getting married"askedPeer

"It has been in their thoughts these many years"saidMother"You knowof coursethat he was marriedWellhe did itthey sayto irritate Miss Frandsenwholooked down on him when she was in her high and mightystateHis wife was wealthybut she was very oldbutlivelyand on crutchesShe could not diehe was waitingfor itIt would not have surprised me iflike the man inthe storyhe had every Sunday put the old lady out in theopen airso that our Lord could see her and remember tosend for her"

"Miss Frandsen sat quietly by and waited"saidGrandmother"I never believed she would attain thisButlast year Madam Hof diedand so Frandsen came to be thewife in the house"

At that moment in came Madam Hof

"We were talking about you"said Grandmother"wewere talking about your patience and reward"

"Yes"said Madam Hof"It did not come in myyouthbut one is always young enoughwhen one's healthis goodsays my HofHe has the most charming flashesof witWe were oldfine workshe saysboth in onevolumeand with a gilt topI am so happy with my Hofand my corner by the firesideA porcelain stoveTherea fire is started in the eveningand it keeps warm allthe next dayIt is such a joyIt is as in the ballet ofCirce's islandDo you remember me as Circe"

"Yesyou were charming"said Grandmother"But how a person can change"That was not at allsaid impolitelyand was not so takenThen came theheadcheese and the tea

The next morning Peer paid a visit to the merchant'sThe lady met himpressed his handandasked him to take a seat by herDuring their conversation he expressed his great gratitudehe knew that themerchant was his secret benefactorThe lady did notknow it"But it is like my husband"she said"It isnot worth talking about"

The merchant was almost angry when Peer mentioned this"You are on the wrong track altogether"hesaidas he closed the conversation and walked away

Felix was a student and was to have a diplomaticcareer

"My husband calls it madness"said the lady"Ihave no opinionProvidence takes care of such things"

Felix did not show himselffor he was taking alesson at his fencing master's

At home Peer told how he had thanked the mer-chantbut that he would not receive this thanks

"Who told you that he waswhat you call himyour benefactor"asked the singing master

"My mother and my grandmother did"answeredPeer

"Wellthen it must be he"

"You know about it"said Peer

"I knowbut you will not find out from meAndfrom now onwe shall sing an hour here at home everymorning"

Once a week there was quartet musicEarssouland thought were filled with the grand musical poems ofBeethoven and MozartIt had been a long time since Peerhad heard good and well-played musicIt was as if a kissof fire traveled down his spine and shot through all hisnervesHis eyes filled with tearsEvery musical eveninghere at home was a festive evening to himwhich made adeeper impression upon him than any opera at the theaterwhere something always disturbs one or imperfections arerevealedSometimes the words do not come out righttheyare so smoothed dowm in the singing that they are as intelligible to a Chinese as to a Greenlanderand sometimes theeffect is weakened by faults in dramatic expressionand bya full voice sinking in places to the power of a music box ordrawling out false tonesLack of truthfulness in stage set-tings and costumes also is to be observedAll this was ab-sent from the quartetThe music poems rose in all theirgrandeurcostly hangings decorated the walls in the concertroomhere he was in the world of musicwhich its mastershad created

One eveningBeethoven's"Pastoral" Symphony wasgiven by a great orchestra in the big public music hallItwas the andante movement"the scene by the brook"thatparticularlyand with a strange powerstirred and excitedour young friendIt carried him into the livingfreshwoodsthe lark and the nightingale rejoicedand thecuckoo sang thereWhat beauty of naturewhat a wellspring of refreshment there wasFrom this hour he knewwithin himself that it was the picturesque musicin whichnature was reflected and the emotions of human hearts wereset forththat struck deepest into his soulBeethoven andHaydn became his favorite composers

He often spoke with the singing master about thisand with each conversation the two became closer friendsHow rich in knowledge this man wasas inexhaustible asMimir's wellPeer listened to himjust as eagerly as hehad to Grandmother's fairy tales and stories as a littleboyhe now listened to those of the world of musicandcame to know what the forest and the sea toldwhatsounds in the old giant moundswhat every bird singswith its billand what the flower silently exhales in fragrance

The hour devoted to his singing lesson every morningwas an hour of true delight for master and pupileverylittle song was sung with freshnessexpressionand simplicitymost charmingly did he sing the Schubert series ofTravel SongsBoth the melodies and the words wereheard to their full advantagethey blended togethertheyexalted and illumined one anotheras is fittingPeer wasundeniably a dramatic singerHis ability showed progresseacn montheach weekday by day

Our young friend grew in a wholesomehappy wayknowing no want or sorrowHis was a rich and wonderfullifewith a future full of blessings before himHis trustin mankind was never deceivedhe had a child's souland a man's enduranceand everywhere he was receivedwith gentle eyes and a kind welcomeDay by day the re-lations between him and the singing master grew moreheartfelt and confidentialthe two were like an elder anda younger brotherand the younger had all the fervor andwarmth of a young heartwhich was understood andreturned in full measure by the elder

The singing master's personality was characterizedby a southern ardorand one saw at once that this mancould hate vehemently or love passionatelyandfortunatelythis last governed in himHe wasmoreoversosituated by a fortune his father had left him that he didnot need to workunless it interested and pleased himto do soSecretly he did a great deal of good in a sensible waybut didn't want people to thank him or to talkabout it

"If I have done anything"he said"it was becauseI could and should have done itIt was my duty"

His old servant"our warden"as be called him injesttalked only with half a voice when he gave expres-sion to his opinion about the master of the house"I knowwhat he has given away and done during years and daysand yet I don't know the halfThe king ought to givehim a star to wear on his breastBut he would not wearithe would be furiousif I know himshould he behonored for his kind deedsHe is happymore so thanthe rest of usin whatever faith he hasHe is just like aman out of the Bible"

And to that the old fellow gave additional emphasisas if Peer could have some doubt

He felt and understood well that the singing masterwas a true Christian in good deedsan example for everyoneyet the man never went to churchand when Peerone day mentioned that the following Sunday he was goingwith his mother and his grandmother to our"Lord's table"and asked if the singing master ever did the sametheanswer was"No"It seemed as if he wanted to saysomething moreas ifindeedhe had something to confide to Peerbut nothing was said

One evening he read aloud from the newspaper aboutthe beneficence of a couple of menand that led him tospeak of good deeds and their reward

"When one does not think of itit is sure to comeThe reward for good deeds is like dates that are spoken ofin the Talmudthey ripen late and then are sweet"

"Talmud"asked Peer"What sort of book isthat"

"A book"was the answer"from which more thanone seed of thought has been implanted in Christianity"

"Who wrote that book"

"Wise men in the earliest timeswise men in vari-ous nations and religionsHere wisdom is preserved in afew wordsas in Solomon's ProverbsWhat kernels oftruthOne reads here that men round about the wholeearthin all the centurieshave always been the same'Your friend has a friendand your friend's friend has afriendbe discreet in what you say'is found hereIt isa piece of wisdom for all times'No one can jump overhis own shadow'is heretooand'Wear shoes whenyou walk over thorns'You ought to read this bookYouwill find in it the proof of culture more clearly than youwill find it in the layers of the earthFor meas a Jewit ismoreoveran inheritance from my fathers"

"Jew"said Peer"Are you a Jew"

"Did you not know thatHow strange that we twoshould not have spoken of it before today"

Mother and Grandmother knew nothing about itei-therthey had never thought anything about itbut alwayshad known that the singing master was an honorablewonderful manIt was through God's guidance that Peerhad met him on his waynext to our Lord he owed him allhis good fortune

And now the mother divulged a secret that she hadcarried faithfully a few days only and thatunder thepledge of secrecyhad been told her by the merchant'swifeThe singing master must never know that this wasrevealedit was he who had paid for Peer's support andeducation at Herr Gabriel'sFrom the evening whenatthe merchant's househe had heard Peer sing the balletSamsonhe alone had been his real friend and benefac-torbut in secret

 

 

Madam Hof was expecting Peer at her houseandnow he arrived there

"Now you will meet my Hof"she saidand youwill meet my fireside cornerI never dreamed of thiswhen I danced in Circe and The Rose Elf in ProvenceIndeedthere are not many now who think of that balletand of little FrandsenSic transit gloria in the moon-that's what my Hofwho is a witty fellowcalls it inLatinand he uses that phrase when I talk about my timeof gloryHe likes to poke fun at mebut he does it witha good heart"

The"fireside corner"was an inviting room with a lowceilinga carpet on the floorand portraits suitable for abookbinder to haveThere were pictures of Gutenbergand of Franklinof ShakespeareCervantesMolièreandthe two blind poetsHomer and OssianLowest down hungoneenclosed in glass and a broad frameof a danseusecut out of paperwith great gold spangles on a dress ofgauzethe right leg lifted toward heavenand with a versewritten beneath

Who captures all hearts by her dancing

Who wears her wreath of art entrancing

Miss Emilie Frandsen

It was written by Hofwho wrote charming versees-pecially comic verseHe had clipped the picture out him-self and pasted and sewed it before he had married his firstwifeFor many years it had lain in a drawernow it wasdisplayed here in the poet picture gallery-"my firesidecorner"as Madam Hof called her little roomHere Peerand Hof were introduced to each other

"Isn't he a wonderful man"she said to Peer"Tome he is just the most wonderful"

"Yeson Sundaywhen I am well bound in my newclothes"said Herr Hof

"You are wonderful without any binding"shesaidand then she tipped her head down as if she realized that she had spoken a little too childishly for one ofher age

"Old love does not rust"said Herr Hof"An oldhouse on fire burns down to the ground"

"It is as with the phoenix bird"said Madam Hof"one rises up young againHere is my paradiseI don'tcare to be any other place-except for an hour or so atyour mother's and grandmother's"

"And at your sister's"said Herr Hof

"NoAngel Hofthat is no longer a paradiseI musttell youPeerthey live in small circumstancesand amidbig complicationsOne doesn't know what he dares sayin that houseOne doesn't dare mention the word'darky'for the eldest daughter is engaged to one whohas some Negro blood in himOne doesn't dare say'hunchback'for that one of the children isOnedoesn't dare talk about 'deficit'-my brotherinlawhas heen involved in such a mishapOne doesn't evendare say that he has been driving in the woodwood hasan ugly soundfor Wood was the name of the fellow whobroke his engagement with the youngest daughterIdon't like to go out and sit and keep my mouth shutIfl don't dare talkI want to be in my own house and sitin my fireside cornerWere it not too sinfulas theysayI would gladly ask our Lord to let us live as long asmy fireside corner holds outfor here one grows betterHere is my paradiseand this my Hof has given me"

"She has a gold mill in her mouth" he said

"And you have gold grains in your beard"she said

Grindgrind what the bag will hold

Emilie is as pure as gold

He saidas she tickled him under the chin

"He wrote that verse at this very momentIt'sgood enough to be printed"

"Yesand handsomely bound"he said

That's how these two old folks amused each other

A year passed before Peer began to study a role atthe theaterHe chose Josephbut he exchanged it forthe role of George Brown in the opera The White LadyHe quickly learned the words and musicand from Walter Scott's novelwhich had furnished the material forthe operahe obtained a clearfull picture of theyoungspiried officer who visits his native hills andcomes to his ancestral castle without knowing itan oldsong awakens recollections of his childhoodluck is withhimand he wins a castle and a wife

What he read became like something he himself hadliveda chapter of his own life's storyThe richly melo-dious music was entirely in keepingA longlong timepassed before the first rehearsals beganThe singing masterdid not think that there was any hurry for him to make hisappearancebut finally the day to start arrivedHe was notmerely a singerhe was an actorand his whole personalitywas thrown into the roleThe chorus and the orchestra applauded him loudly at the outsetand the opening nightwas looked forward to with the greatest expectation

"One can be a great actor in a dressing gown athome"said a goodnatured companion"can be very greatby daylightbut only soso before the footlights in a packedhouseTimewill tell"

Peer had no fearbut had a burning desire for theeventful eveningThe singing masteron the contrarywasextremely nervousPeer's mother had not the courage to goto the theatershe would be ill with fear for her dear boyGrandmother was sick and must stay at homethe doctorhad saidbut the faithful friendMadam Hofpromised tobring news the very same evening of how it all wentSheshould and would be at the theatereven if she were dy-ing

How long that evening wasHow the three or fourhours stretched into eternityGrandmother sang a psalmand prayed with Mother to the good God for their littlePeerthat he might this evening also be Lucky PeerThehands of the clock moved slowly

"Now Peer is beginning"they said"Now he is inthe middleNow he has finished"The mother and grandmother looked at each otherbut they didn't say anotherword

In the streets there was the rumbling of carriagespeople were driving home from the theaterThe two womenlooked down from the windowthe people who were passingtalked in loud voicesthey had come from the theaterwhat they knew would bring either gladness or sadness upinto the garret of the merchant's house

At last someone came up the stairsMadam Hof burstinfollowed by her husbandShe flung herself about theneck of the mother and grandmotherbut didn't say awordShe wept and sobbed

"Lord God"said Mother and Grandmother"Howdid everything go for Peer"

"Let me weep"said Madam Hofwho was so movedso overcome"I cannot bear itAhyou dearpeopleyou cannot bear iteither"And her tearsstreamed down

"Have they hissed him off"cried Mother

"Nonot that"said Madam Hof"They have-ohthat I should live to see it"

Then both Mother and Grandmother wept

"Be calmEmilie"said Herr Hof"Peer has con-queredHe has triumphedThey clapped so much thatthe house nearly tumbled downI can still feel it in myhandsIt was one storm of applause from the first row tothe galleryThe entire royal family clappedtooReallyIt was what one may call a redletter day in the annals ofthe theaterIt was more than talent-it was genius"

"Yes genius"said Madam Hof"those are mywordsGod bless youHofbecause you said them formeYou good peoplenever would I have believed thatone could both sing and act like thatthough I have livedthrough a theater's whole history"She cried againMother and Grandmother laughedwhile tears still randown their cheeks

"Now sleep well on that"said Herr Hof"ComealongEmilieCood nightgood night"

They left the garret room and two happy peoplethereThese two were not alone longThe door openedand Peerwho hadn't promised to come before the nextforenoonstood in the roomHe well knew how the oldpeople had followed him in their thoughtshow ignoranttoothey still must be of his successand when drivingby the house with the singing masterhe had stopped outsidewith the light still burning up in the garrethe hadfelt he must go to them

"SplendidglorioussuperbAll went well"heexclaimed jubilantlyand kissed his mother and hisgrandmotherThe singing master nodded with a beamingface and pressed their hands

"And now he must go home and have some rest"hesaidAnd the late visit was over

"Our Father in heavenhow gracious and good Youare"said these two poor womenThey talked far into thenight about PeerEverywhere in the great city peopletalked about himthe younghandsomewonderful singerLucky Peer had gone that far

 

ⅩⅢ

 

With great fanfarethe morning paper told of the debut as something out of the ordinarythe drama critic reserving his privilege of expressing his opinion in a followingissueThe merchant invited Peer and the singing master toa grand dinnerIt was an observance-a testimony of hisand his wife's interest in the young manwho had beenborn in the housein the same year and on the very sameday as their own son

The merchant made a beautiful speech and proposed atoast to the singing masterthe man who had found andpolished this"Precious stone"a name one of the prominent papers had called PeerFelix sat by his side and wasthe soul of gaiety and affectionAfter dinner he brought outhis own cigarsthey were better than the merchant's"Hecan afford to get them"said the latter"he has a rich fa-ther"Peer did not smoke-a great faultbut one whichcould be remedied easily enough

"We must be friends"said Felix"You have becomethe lion of the townAll the young ladiesand the oldonestoofor that matteryou have taken by stormYouare lucky with everythingI envy youespecially in thatyou can go in and out over there at the theateramong allthe little girls"

To Peer that did not seem anything very worthy of envy

He received a letter from Madam GabrielShe wasin a state of ecstasy over the splendid accounts in thepapers of his debut and over what he would become asan artistShe and the girls had drunk a toast to him withpunchHerr Gabriel also had a share in his honorandwas quite sure that hebeyond most otherscould pronounce foreign words correctlyThe pharmacist ran abouttown and reminded everyone that it was at their little theater they had first seen and admired his talentwhich nowfor the first time was recognized in the capital"The pharmacist's daughter would surely be irritated"addedMadam"now that he could propose to baronesses andcountesses"The pharmacist's daughter had been in toomuch of a hurry and given in too soonfor a month earliershe had becomebetrothed to the fat CouncilorThe bannshad been publishedand they were to be married on thetwentieth of the month

It was just the twentieth of the month when Peer received this letterHe felt as if he had been piercedthrough the heartAt that moment it became clear to himthatduring all the vacillation of his soulshe had beenhis steadfast thoughtHe cared more for her than anyoneelse in the worldTears came into his eyeshe crumpledthe letter in his handIt was the first great grief of hearthe had known since he had heardwith Mother and Grandmotherthat his father had fallen in the warHethought that all happiness was gonethat his future wouldbe empty and sorrowfulThe sunlight no longer beamedfrom his youthful facethe sunshine was put out in hisheart

"He doesn't look well"said Mother and Grandmother"It is the hard work at that theater"

They could both see that he was not the same as beforeand the singing master saw ittoo

"What is the matter"he said"May I not knowwhat troubles you"

At that his cheeks turned redhis tears flowedafreshand he told him about his sorrowhis loss

"I loved her so deeply"he said"Only nowwhenit is too lateis it really clear to me"

"Poorgrieved friendI understand you so wellWeep freelyand as soon as you canhold onto thethought that whatever happens in the world happens forthe bestItoohave known and felt what you now arefeelingIlike youonce loved a girlshe was intelligentprettyand fascinatingshe was to be my wifeIcould offer her good circumstancesand she cared for mebut one condition had to be met before the marriageher parents required itand she required itI must become a Christian"

"And that you would not"

"I could notOne cannotwith an honest consciencejump from one religion to another without sinningeither against the one he takes leave of or the one hesteps into"

"Have you no faith"said Peer

"I have the God of my fathersHe is a light for myfeet and my understanding"

They sat in silence for a whileThen the hands ofthe singing master touched the keysand he played anold folk songNeither of them sang the wordsperhapseach was deep in his own thoughts

Madam Gabriel's letter was not read againShenever dreamed what sorrow it had brought

A few days later a letter arrived from Herr Gabrielhe also wished to offer his congratulations and"a commission"which perhaps was the real reason for the letterHe asked Peer to buy a little porcelain figurenamelyAmor and HymenLove and Marriage"It is all sold outhere in town"he wrote"but can easily be bought inthe capitalThe money is enclosed with thisSend thething as quickly as possibleit is a wedding present forthe Councilorat whose marriage I was with my wife"MoreoverPeer was told"Young Madsen never will become a studenthe has left the house and has painted thewalls with embarrassing remarks against the familyAbad subjectthat young MadsenSunt pueri pueripueripuerilia tractantie.,'Boys are boysand boys doboyish things'I translate it since you are not a Latinscholar"

And with that Herr Cabriel's letter closed

 

ⅩⅣ

 

Frequentlywhen Peer sat at the pianotheresounded tones in it that stirred within his breast andheadThe tones rose into melodieswhich now and thencarried words along with themthey could not be separat-ed from the melodiesThus several little poems that wererhythmic and full of feeling came into beingThey weresung in a subdued voiceIt was as if theyshy and afraidof being heardwere gliding along in loneliness

Everything passeslike the wind that blows

There is nothing lasting here

From your cheek will fade the rose

As well as smile and tear

Why be burdened with pain and grief

Away with your trouble and sorrow

For everything goesfades like the leaf

Time and man pass with the morrow

All vanisheseverything goes

Your youthyour hopeand your friend

Everything passeslike the wind that blows

Never to returnonly to end

"Where did you get that song and melody"askedthe singing masterwho by chance saw the words and mu-sic written down

"It came of itselfthat and all theseThey will never fly farther into the world"

"A downcast spirit sets out flowerstoo"said thesinging master"but a downcast spirit dares not give adviceNow we must set sail and steer toward your next debutWhat do you say to Hamletthe melancholy youngPrince of Denmark"

"I know Shakespeare's tragedy"said Peer"butnot yet Thomas'opera"

"The opera should be called Ophelia"said thesinging masterIn the tragedyShakespeare has made theQueen tell us of Ophelia's deathand this has become thehigh light in the musical renderingOne sees before hiseyesand feels in the toneswhat before we could learnonly from the narrative of the Queen

There is a willow grows aslant a brook

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream

There with fantastic garlands did she come

Of crow-flowersnettlesdaisiesand long purples

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name

But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them

Thereon the pendent boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hangan envious sliver broke

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brookHer clothes spread wide

Andmermaid-likeawhile they bore her up

Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes

As one incapable of her own distress

The opera brings all this before our eyesWe seeOpheliashe comes out playingdancingsinging the oldballad about the mermaid who entices men down beneaththe riverand while she sings and plucks the flowers thesame tones are heard from the depths of the streamtheysound in the voices of the chorus alluringly from the deepwatershe listensshe laughsshe draws near the brinkshe holds onto the overhanging willow and stoops to pluck the white water liliesgently she glides out onto them andsingingreclines on their broad leavesshe swings withthem and is carried by the stream out into the deepwherelike the broken flowershe sinks in the moonlìghtwith the mermaid's melody welling forth about her

In this great scene it is as if Hamlethis motherhisuncleand the deadavenging king were created only tomake the frame for this exquisite pictureWe do not getShakespeare's Hamletjust as in the opera Faust we donot get Goethe's FaustThe speculative is no material formusicIt is the love element in both these tragedies thatelevates them to musical poems

The opera of Hamlet was presented on the stageTheactress who had Ophelia's part was admirableand thedeath scene was very effectivewhile Hamlet himself received sympathetic greatness on this eveninga fullness ofcharacter that grew with each scene in which he appearedFurthermorepeople were astonished at the extent of thesinger's voiceat the freshness shown in the high as wellas in the deep tonesand that hewith an equal brilliancyof powercould sing Hamlet and Ceorge Brown

In most of the Italian operas the singing parts areeach like a canvas on which the gifted singer or songstressputs his or her soul and geniusand with the variedwavy colors creates the form the poem requiresHowmuch more glorious they must be able to reveal themselveswhen the music is composed and carried out throughthought centered upon the characterand Gounod andThomas have understood

That evening at the theaterthe character Hamletwas given flesh and bloodand he raised himself into theposition of the leading personage in the opera Unforget-table was the night scene on the rampartswhere Hamletfor the first timesees his father's ghost-the scene inthe castlebefore the stage that has been erectedwherehe flings out the words that are drops of poison -the terrible meeting with his motherwhere the father's ghoststands with avengeful attitude before the son-and finallywhat power in his voicewhat tonesat Ophelia'sdeathShe was the sympathetic lotus flower upon thedeepdark seaits waves rolled with a mighty force intothe soul of the spectatorsThat evening Hamlet becamethe leading figureThe triumph was complete"Fromwhom did that boy get it"said the merchant's rich wifeas she thought of Peer's parents and his grandmother upin the garretThe father had been a warehousemangoodand honorableand had fallen as a soldier on the field ofhonor-the mothera washerwoman-but that does notgive the son culturehe had grown up in a charityschooland how much knowledge could a provincialschoolmaster give him in a period of two years

"It is genius"said the merchant"Genius-that isborn of God's grace"

"Most certainly"said his wifeAnd she folded herhands as she talked to Peer"Do you really feel humble inyour heart at what you have receivedHeaven has been inconceivably gracious to youEverything is given youYoudo not know how gripping your Hamlet isYou simply can-not imagine itI have heard that many great poets do notthemselves know the glory of what they have giventhephilosophers must reveal it to themWhere did you getyour conception of Hamlet"

"I have thought about the characterhave read agreat deal of what has been written about Shakespeare'sworkand then on the stage I have tried to put life into theperson and his surroundingsI give my shareand our Lordgives the rest"

"Our Lord"she said with a halfreproving look"Donot use that name in such a mannerHe gave you abilitybut you surely do not believe that He has anything to dowith the theater and opera"

"Yesmost certainly"said Peer courageously"Hehas a pulpit theretooand most people listen more therethan in church"

She shook her head"God is with us in everythinggood and beautifulbut let us be careful not to take Hisname in vainIt is a gift of grace for one to be a greatartistbut it is still better to be a good Christian"Felixshe feltwould never have compared the theater and thechurch before herand she was glad

"Now you have fallen out with Mamma"said Felixlaughing

"That was so far from my thoughts"

"Don't trouble yourself about itYou will get intoher good graces again next Sunday when you go to churchStand outside her pewand look up to the rightfor therein the balcony pewis a little face which isworth looking at-the widow baroness'charming daughterThis is a wellmeant bit of adviceand I'll give yousome moreYou cannot live where you are nowMove into a larger apartment-with a decent stairway-orifyou won't leave the singing masterthen let him live inbetter styleHe has means enoughand you have a prettygood incomeYou must give a partytooan eveningsupperI could give it myselfand will do sobut youcan invite a few of the little dancing girlsYou're a luckyfellowBut I believeheaven help methat you don't yetunderstand how to be a young man"

Peer did understand it exactlyin his own wayWith his fullwarmyoung hearthe was in love withartshe was his brideshe returned his love and liftedhim into gladness and sunshineThe depression that hadcrushed him evaporated soongentle eyes looked uponhimand everyone met him in a friendly and cordial mannerThe amber heartwhich he still wore constantlyonhis breastwhere Grandmother once had hung itwascertainly a talismanyesso he thoughtfor he was notquite free from superstition-a childlike faithone maycall itEvery nature that has genius in it has something ofthisand looks to and believes in its starGrandmotherhad shown him the power that lay in the hearthow itcould draw things to itselfHis dream had shown him atree growing out of his amber heartbursting through ceiling and roofand bearing thousands of hearts of silver andgoldthat surely neant that in the heartin his own warmheartlay the power of his artwhereby he had won andstill would win thousands upon thousands of hearts

Between him and Felix there was undoubtedly a kindof sympathydifferent as they were from each otherPeerassumed that the difference between them lay in that Felixas the rich man's sonhad grown up amid temptations anddesires and could afford to taste them

He hadon the contrarybeen more fortunatelyplaced as a poor man's son

Both of these two chilthen of the house had sincegained prominenceFelix would soon be a gentleman inwaiting to the royal coultand that is the first step towardbecoming a chamberlainthen one has a gold key behindPeeralways luckyalready had the gold key of genius inhis handthough it was invisible-the key that opens allthe treasures of the earthand all heartstoo

 

ⅩⅤ

 

It was still wintertimeThe sleigh bells jingledandthe clouds carried snowflakes in thembut wherever a sunbeam burst through themit announced that spring wasnearIn the young heart there was a fragrance and a songthat flowed out in picturesque tones and found expression inwords

The snow is still upon the earth

O'er the lakeskaters race in mirth

The trees are frostrimmedfull of crows

But tomorrow perhaps the winter goes

The sun breaks through the sky of gray

Spring is in townit's like a summer day

The willow's woolen gloves fall from the tree

Strike upmusiciansfor a merry spree

Singlittle birdsAll voices blend

For mow the winter has come to an end

Ohto be kissed by the warming sun

Comepluck violets and primrose-what fun

It's as if the forest its breath were holding

While in the night each leaf is unfolding

The cuckoos singyou know their song

Hear them sing that your life will be long

The world is youngso be young with the young

With thankful heart and merry tongue

Sing of springAll voices blend

For never does youth come to an end

Never does youth come to an end

Life on earth is a magic blend

Of sunshine and stormjoy and pain

Within our hearts a world was lain

It vanishes not like a shooting star

For man is the image of God afar

God and nature remain ever young

Teach usO Springthe song you've long sung

Every little bird singsall voices blend-

For never does youth come to an end

"That is a complete musical painting"said thesinging master"and well adapted for chorus and orchestraIt is the best yet of your emotional compositionsYoucertainly must learn thorough bassalthough it is not yourdestiny to be a composer"

Young music friends soon introduced the song at agreat concertwhere it attracted attention but aroused noexpectationsOur young friend's career was open beforehimHis greatness and importance lay not only in thesympathetic tones of his voicebut in his remarkable dra-matic talent as wellthis he had shown as George Brownand as HamletHe very much preferred the regular operato the light operaIt was contrary to his soundnaturalsense to go from song to talk and back to song

"It is"he said"as if one were going from marblesteps onto wooden stepssometimes even onto mere henroostsand then back onto marbleThe whole poemshould live and breathe in its passage through tones"

The music of the futureas the new movement inopera is calledand for which Wagnerin particularis abannerbearerhad a defender and admirer in our youngfriendHe found here characters so clearly drawnpassages so full of thoughtand the entire action characterized by forward movementwithout any standstill or fre-quent recurrence of melodies"It is most unnatural toinclude those long arias"

"Yes"said the singing master"But how theyin the works of most of the great mastersstand out as amost important part of the wholeThat is as it should andmust beIf the lyric has a home in any placeit is in theopera"And he mentioned in Don GiovanniDon Ottavio's aria"Tearscease your flowing""How much it is likea beautiful lake in the woodsby whose bank one rests andenjoys the music that streams through itI bow to the ingenuity that lies in this new musical movementbut I do notdance with you before that golden calfEither it is not yourheart's real opinion that you expressor else it is not quiteclear to you"

"I will appear in one of Wagner's operas"said ouryoung friend"If I cannot express my meaning in wordsIwill do so by my singing and acting"

The choice made was Lohengrinthe young mysterious knight whoin the boat drawn by the swanglides overthe river Scheldt to fight for Elsa of BrabantWho had eversung and acted so well the first song of the meetingthelove song in the bridal chamberand the song of farewellwhen the Holy Grail's white dove hovers about the youngknight who cameconqueredand vanishedThis eveningwasif possibleanother step forward in the artistic greatness and significance of our young friendand to thesinging master it was a step forward in the recognition of the music of the future

"Under certain conditions"he said

 

ⅩⅥ

 

At the great yearly exhibition of paintingsPeer andFelix met one daybefore the portrait of a pretty young ladythe daughter of the widow baronessas the mother wasgenerally calledthe latter's salon was the rendezvous forthe world of distinction and for everyone of importance inart and scienceThe young baroness was in her sixteenthyearan innocentbeautiful childThe picture was a goodlikeness and done with artistic skill

"Step into the hall near by"said Felix"Therestands the young beauty herself with her mother"

They stood engrossed in viewing a painting of characterizationIt represented a field where two young married people were riding on the same horseholding ontoone anotherThe chief figurehoweverwas a youngmonk who was looking at the two happy travelersTherewas a sorrowfuldreamy look on the young man's faceone could read his thoughts in itthe story of his life-anaim missedgreat happiness lostHappiness in humanlove he had not won

The elder baroness saw Felixwho respectfullygreeted her and the beautiful daughterPeer showed thesame customary politenessThe widow baroness knew himimmediately from having seen him on the stageand afterspeaking to Felix she said some friendlyobliging wordsto Peer as she pressed his hand

"I and my daughter belong to your admirers"

How perfectly beautiful the young girl was at thismomentShe looked with her gentleclear eyes almostgratefully at him

"I see in my house"said the window baroness"somany of the most distinguished artistsWe common peo-ple stand in need of a spiritual airingYou will be heartily welcomeOur young diplomat"she pointed to Felix"will bring you along the first timeand afterward I hopethat you will find the way yourself"

She smiled at himThe young girl reached out herhand naturally and cordiallyas if they had long knowneach other

Late in the autumnon a coldsleety eveningthetwo young men went to the Baroness'homethe two bornin the rich merchant's houseIt was weather for drivingand not walkingfor the rich man's son and the firstsinger on the stageNeverthelessthey walkedwellwrapped upwith galoshes on their feet and Bedouin capson their heads

It was like entering a complete fairyland to comefrom the raw air into this home that displayed such luxuryand good tasteIn the vestibulebefore the carpetedstairsthere was a great display of flowers among bushesand fan palmsA little fountain splashed water into abasinwhich was surrounded by tall callas

The great salon was magnificently lightedand alarge part of the company had already gatheredIt soonbecame very crowdedPeople stepped on silk trains andlacesamid the hummingsonorous mosaic of conversationwhichon the wholewas the least worth while ofall the splendor there

Had Peer been a vain fellowwhich he was nothecould have imagined that it was a party for himso cordial was the reception he received from the lady of thehouse and the beaming daughterYoung and elderly

ladiesyesand gentlementoopaid him many compliments

There was musicA young author read a well-written poemThere was singingand tactfulness was shownin that no one urged our young and honored singer tomake the affair completeThe lady of the house was amost attentive hostessbrilliant and genialin that ele-gant salon

That was his introduction into the great worldandour young friend was soon also one of the select group inthe choice family circleThe singing master shook hishead and laughed

"How young you aredear friend"he said"thatit can please you to be with these peopleIn a way theyare good enoughbut they look down on us plain citizensFor some of them it is only a matter of vanityanamusementand for others a sort of sign of exclusive culturewhen they receive into their circle artists and the lions of the dayThese belong in the salon much as theflowers in a vasethey decorate and then they are thrownaway"

"How harsh and unreasonable"said Peer"You donot know these peopleyou do not want to know them"

"No"answered the singing master"I don't feel athome among themnor do youeitherThat they all remember and knowThey pat you and look at you just asthey pat and look at a race horse that is expected to win awagerYou belong to another race than theyThey willlet you go when you are no longer in the fashionDon'tyou understand thatYou are not proud enoughYou arevainand you show that by seeking these people's com-pany"

"How very differently you would talk and judge"said Peer"if you knew the widow baroness and a few ofmy friends there"

"I shall not come to know them"said the singingmaster

"When is the engagement to be announced"askedFelix one day"Is it the mother or the daughter"And helaughed"Don't take the daughterfor then you'll haveall the young nobility against youand Itooshall beyour enemyand the deadliest one"

"What do you mean"asked Peer

"You are indeed the favoriteYou can go in and outat all hoursWith the motheryou'd get money andbelong to a good family"

"Stop your joking"said Peer"There is nothingamusing to me in what you say"

"It is not supposed to be amusing"said Felix"Itis a most serious matterfor you surely wouldn't let hergeace sit and weep and be a double widow"

"Leave the Baroness out of this conversation"saidPeer"Make fun over me if you want tobut over mealoneand I will answer you"

"No one will believe that it is a love match on yourside"continued Felix"She is a little outside of the lineof beautyTrueone does not live on intellect alone"

"I thought you had more refinement and good

sense"said Peer"than to talk so disrespectfully of alady you should esteem and whose house you visitand Ican't bear to listen to you any longer"

"What are you going to do about it"asked Felix"Do you want to fight"

"I know that you have learned thatand I have notbut I can learn"And he left Felix

A couple of days later the two children of thehouse met againthe son from the first floor and the sonfrom the garretFelix talked to Peer as if no break hadcome between themHe answered courteouslybut curtlytoo

"What is the matter now"said Felix"We twowere a little irritable recentlybut one must have his littlejokewhich doesn't necessarily mean one is flippantIdon't like to bear a grudgeSo let us forgive and forget"

"Can you forgive yourself the manner in which youspoke of a lady to whom we both owe great respect"

"I spoke very frankly"said Felix"In high societyone can also talk with a razor edgebut no one takes thatvery seriouslyit is the salt for the tastelesseveryday fishdinneras the poet calls itWe are all just a little spite-fulYou can also let a drop fallmy frienda little drop ofinnocence that smarts"

Soon they were seen arm in arm againFelix wellknew that more than one pretty young lady who otherwisewould have passed him by without looking at him now noticed him because he was walking with the"idol of thestage"The footlights always cast a glamour over the theater's hero and loverand it still shines about him when heshows himself on the streetin daylightthough it is moreor less extinguished thenMost of the artists of the stageare like swansone should see them in their elementnoton the paving stones or the public promenadeThere areexceptionshoweverand to these belonged our youngfriendHis personality off the stage never disturbed theconception one had of him as George Brownor HamletorLohengrinTo many a young heart these poetical and musical figures were the artist himself and rose to the exaltationof their idealHe knew that this was the case and found asort of pleasure in itHe was happy in his art and with thetalents he possessedstill a shadow would come over thehappy young faceand then from the piano would sound themelody to the words

All vanisheseverything goes

Your youthyour hopeand your friend

Everything passeslike the wind that blows

Never to returnonly to end

"How mournful"said the widow baroness"Youhave good fortune in full measureI know no one who is asfortunate as you"

"Call no one fortunate before he is in his gravethewise Solon said"he repliedand smiled through his se-riousness"It would be wrong a sin if I were not thank-ful and happy in my heartI am thatI am thankful forwhat is entrusted to mebut I myself set a different valueon this than others doIt is a beautiful piece of fireworksthat soars forth and then goes outSo it is with the stageactor's workThe everlasting shining stars may be forgotten for the meteors of a momentbut when these are ex-tinguishedthere is no lasting trace of them other thanwhat may be found in old recordsA new generation doesnot know and cannot picture to itself those who delightedtheir grandfathers from the stagethe youth of today perhaps applauds the luster of brass as fervently and loudlyas the old folks once did the luster of pure goldFar morefortunately placed than the performing artist are the poetthe sculptorthe painterand the composerThey oftenexperience trying conditions in the struggle of life and missthe merited appreciationwhile those who exhibit theirworks live in luxury and in arrogance born of idolatry

"Let the mob stand and admire the brightcoloredcloud and forget the sunthe cloud vanishesbut the sunshines and beams for new generations"

He sat at the piano and improvised with a richnessof thought and a power such as he never before hadshown

"Wonderfully beautiful"broke in the widowbaroness"It was as if I heard the story of a whole lifetimeYou gave your heart's song in the music"

"I thought of the Thousand and One Nights"saidthe young girl"of the lamp of fortuneof Aladdin"Andshe looked at him with innocenttearful eyes

"Aladdin"he repeated

That evening was the turning point in his lifeAnew chapter surely began

What happened to him during this fast-moving yearHis fresh color left his cheeksthough his eyes shonefar more clearly than beforeHe passed sleepless nightsbut not in wild orgiesin revels and drinkingas so manygreat artistsHe became less talkativebut more cheerful

"What is it that fills you so" said his friendthesinging master"You do not confide everything to me"

"I think of how fortunate I am"he replied"I thinkof the poor boyI think ofAladdin"

 

ⅩⅦ

 

Measured by the expectations of a poorborn childPeer now led a prosperouspleasant lifeHe was so welloff thatas Felix once had saidhe could give a big partyfor his friendsHe thought of itand thought of his twoearliest friendshis mother and his grandmotherFor themand himself he provided a festival

It was wonderful spring weatherand the two old people were going to drive with him out of town and see a littlecountry place that the singing master had recently boughtAs he was seating himself in the carriagea woman camealong humbly cladabout thirty years oldshe had a noterecommending hersigned by Madam Hof

"Don't you know me"she said"Little Curlyheadthey used to call meThe curls are gonethere isso much that is gonebut there are still good peopleleftWe two have appeared together in the balletYouhave become better off than IYou have become a greatmanI am now separated from two husbands and no

longer at the theater"

The note requested a sewing machine for her

"In what ballet have we two performed together"asked Peer

"In the Tyrant of Padua"she replied"We wereboth pagesin blue velvet and beretsDon't you rememberlittle Malle KnallerupI walked right behind you in theprocession

"And stepped on the side of my foot"said Peerlaughing

"Did I"she said"Then I took too long a stepBut you have gone far ahead of meYou have understoodhow to use your head instead of your legs"And sheloked coquettishly at him with her melancholy facequitesure she had paid him a witty complimentPeer was agenerous fellowShe should have the sewing machinehepromisedLittle Malle had indeed been one of those whoin pariticular had driven him out of the ballet into a morefortunate career

He was soon outside the merchant's houseandhe then ascended the stairs to his mother's and hisgrandmother'sThey were in their best clothesandby chance they had a visit from Madam Hofwho wasat once invited to drive with themwhereupon she hadquite a struggle with herselfwhich ended in her sending a note to Herr Hof to inform him that she hadaccepted the invitation

"Such fine greeting Peer gets"she said

"How stylishy we are driving"said Mother

"And in such a beautifulcomfortable carriage"said Grandmother

Near the townclose to the royal parkstood a cozylittle housesurrounded by vines and roseshazels andfruit treesHere the carriage stoppedThis was the country houseThey were received by an old woman well acquainted with Mother and Grandmothershe had oftenhelped them with their washing and ironing

The garden was inspectedand the house was in-spectedThere was one particularly charming thingalittle glasshouse with beautiful flowers in itIt was connected with the sitting roomthe sliding door betweencould be pushed right into the wall

"That is just like a coulisse on the stage"saidMadam Hof"It moves by bandAnd one can sit herejust as in a bird cagewith chickweed all aboutIt iscalled a winter garden"

The bedroom was equally delightful in its wayThere were longheavy curtains at the windowssoft carpetsand two armchairs so comfortable that Mother andGrandmother must try them

"One would get very lazy sitting in them"said Mother

"One loses his weight"said Madam Hof"Indeedhere you two music people can rest comfortably after yourtheatrical laborsI have also known what they areYesbelieve meI can still dream of doing high kicksand Hofdoes high kicks by my sideIs it not charming'twosouls and one thought'"

"The air is fresher hereand there is more roomthan in the two small rooms up in the garret"said Peerwith beaming eyes

"That there is"said Mother"Stillhome is nicetooThere you were bornmy sweet boyand there I livedwith your father"

"It is better here"said Grandmother"Here youhave a whole mansionI do not begrudge you and that noble manthe singing masterthis home of peace"

"Then I do not begrudge you thisGrandmotherandyoumy dear blessed motherYou two shall always livehereand notas in townwalk up so many steps and bein such narrow and small quartersYou shall have a servant to help you and shall see me as often as in townAreyou happy about itAre you content with it"

"What is all this the boy stands here and says"saidMother

"The housethe gardenit's all yoursMotherandyoursGrandmotherTo be able to give you this is what Ihave striven forMy friend the singing master has faithfullyhelped me with getting it ready"

"What is all this you are sayingchild"exclaimedthe mother"You want to give us a gentleman's mansionYou sweet boyYesyou would do it if you could"

"I am serious"he said"The house is yours andGrandmother's"He kissed them bothand they burst intotearsMadam Hof shed just as manyIt is the happiestmoment of my lifeexclaimed Peeras he embraced allthree of them

And now they had to see everything all over againsince it was their ownThey now had that beautiful littleglasshouse in which to put their five or six pot plants fromthe garret roofInstead of a little cupboardthey had herea great roomy pantryand the kitchen was a completewarm little chamberThe chimney bad an oven and cook-ing stoveit looked like a greatshining flatironsaidMother

"Now you have a fireside corner just like I have"said Madam Hof"This is magnificentYou have attainedall that people can attain on this earthand youtoomyownpopular friend"

"Not all"said Peer

"The little wife will come along"said Modam Hof"I have her already for youI feel sure I know who sheisBut I shall keep my mouth shutYou wonderful manIsn't all this like a ballet"She laughed with tears in hereyesand so did Mother and Grandmother

 

ⅩⅧ

 

To write the text and music for an operaand be theinterpreter of his own work on the stagewas a great andhappy aimOur young friend had a talent in common withWagnerin that he could construct the dramatic poemhimselfbut did helike Wagnerhave the fullness ofmusical emotion to create a musical work of any significance

Courage and doubt alternated in himHe could notdismiss this persistent thought of hisFor years and daysit had shone in his mind as a picture of fancynow it wasa possibilityhis life's goalMany free fancies were welcomed at the piano as birds of passage from that Land ofPerhapsThe little ballads and the characteristic springsong gave promise of the still undiscovered land of toneThe widow baroness saw in them the sign of promiseasColumbus saw it in the fresh green weed that the currentsof the sea bore toward him before he saw the land itself onthe horizon

Land was thereThe child of fortune should reachitA word thrown out was the seed of thoughtShetheyoungprettyinnocent girlhad spoken the wordAladdinOur young friend was a child of fortune likeAladdinit shone within him

With understanding and delight he read and rereadthe beautiful Oriental storySoon it took dramatic formscene after scene grew into words and musicand themore it grewthe richer the music thoughts becameAtthe close of the work was as if the well of tone werenow for the first time piercedand all the abundant freshwater streamed forthHe then recomposed his workandin stronger formafter monthsarose the opera Alddin

No one knew of this workno one had heard asmuch as a single bar of itnot even the most sympatheticof all his friendsthe singing masterNo one at the theaterwhen in the evening the young singer entranced hispubic with his voice and his masterful actinghad anyidea that the young man who seemed so to live andbreathe in his role lived more intenselyyesand forhours afterward lost himself in a mighty work of music thatpoured from his own soul

The singing master had not heard a bar of the operaAladdin before it was put on his table for examinationcomplete in notes and textWhat judgment would bepassedAssuredly a strong and just oneThe young com-poser passed from highest hope to the thought that thewhole thing was only a self-delusion

Two days passed byand not a word was exchangedabout this important matterFinallythe singing masterstood before him with the score in his handswhich henow knewThere was a peculiar seriousness spread overhis face that did not indicate his thoughts

"I had not expected this"he said"I had not be-lieved it of youIndeedI do not yet have a clear judgmentso I dare not express itHere and there there arefaults in the instrumentationfaults that can easily becorrectedThere are single thingsbold and novelthatone must hear under proper conditionsAs there is inWagner a certain influence of Carl Maria von Webersothere is noticeable in you a breath of HaydnThat whichis new in what you have given is still rather remote to meand you yourself are too near for me to be the right judgeI would rather not judgeI will embrace you"he burstoutbeaming with happiness"How have you been ableto do this"And he embraced him in his arms"Happyman"

A rumor soon spread through the cityvia the newspapers and gossipabout the new opera by the popularyoung singer

"He's a poor tailor who cannot put together a child's coat out of the scraps left over on his board"said oneand another. 

"Write the textcompose itand sing it himself"was also said"That is a threestoried geniusBut hereally was born still higherin a garret"

"There are two at ithe and the singing master"they said"Now they'll begin to beat the signal drum ofthe partnership of mutual admiration"

The opera was given out for studyThose who tookpart would not give any opinion"It shall not be said thatit is judged from the theater"they remarkedand almosteveryone put on a serious face that did not show any expectation

"There are a good many horns in the piece"said ayoung trumpeter"If only he doesn't run a horn into himself"

"It has geniusit is brilliantfull of melody andcharacter"That was also said

"Tomorrow at this time"said Peer"the scaffold willbe raisedThe judgment isperhapsalready passed"

"some say that it is a masterpiece"said the singing master"othersthat it is a mere patchwork"

"And where lies the truth"

"Truth"said the singing master"Yestell me whereLook at that star up thereTell me exactly where

its place isShut one eyeDo you see itNow look at it with the other onlyThe star has shifted its placeWhen each eye in the sameperson sees so differentlyhow differ- ently must the great multitude see"

"Happen what may"said our young friend"I must know my place in the worldunderstand what I can and must createor give up"

The eveing camethe eveing of decisionA popu- lar artist was to be exalted to a higher place or humiliated in his giganticvain effortSuccess or failureThe matter concerned the whole cityPeople stood all night in the street before the ticket officeto obtain seatsThe house was crammed fullThe ladies came with great bouquets

would they be earried home again or thrown at the victor's feet

The widow baroness and the youngbeautiful daugh ter sat in a box above the orchestraThere was a stir in the audiencea murmuringa movementwhich stopped atonce as the leader of the orchestra took his place and the overture began

Who does not remember Hanselt's piece"Si l'

oiseau j'étais" which is like a twittering of birdsThis was somewhat simailarthere were jubilantplaying chil drenhappy child voices minglingthe cuckoo cuckooed with themthe thrush sangIt was the play and jubilation of the innocent child mindthe mind of AladdinThen a thunderstorm rolled inNoureddin displayed his powera flash of deadly lightning split the mountainGentlebeck oning tones followeda sound came from the enchanted grottowhere the lamp shone in the petrified cavernwhile the wings of mighty spirits brooded over itNowin the tones of a French hornsounded a psalmwhich was as gentle and soft as if it were coming from the mouth of a childa single horn was heardand then anothermoreand more were blended in the same tones and rose in full-ness and poweras if they were the trumpets of the judgment dayThe lamp was in Aladdin's handand thenthere swelled forth a sea of melody and grandeur such asonly the ruler of spirits and the masters of music can create

The curtain rolled up in a storm of applause thatsounded like a fanfare under the conductor's batonAgrownupbandsome boy was playinghe was so big andyet so innocentit was Aladdinwho leaped about amongthe other boysGrandmother would at once have said"That is Peer as he played and jumped about between thestove and the chest of drawers at home in the garretHeis not a year older in his soul"

With what faith and sincerity he sang the playerNoureddin bade him offer before he stepped down into therocky cavern to obtain the lampWas it the purereli-gious melody or the innocence with which he sang that enchanted all the listenersThe applause would not cease

It would have been a profane thing to have repeatedthe songIt was demandedbut it was not givenThecurtain fellthe first act was over

Every critic was speechlesspeople were overcomewith gladness andin their appreciationwere certain ofenjoying the rest of the evening

A few chords sounded from the orchestraand thecurtain roseThe strains of musicas in Gluck's Armidaand Mozart's Magic Flutearrested the attention of everyone as the scene was disclosedthe scene in which Al-addin stood in the wonderful gardenSoftsubdued musicsounded from flowers and stonesfrom springs and deepcavernsdifferent melodies blending in one great harmonyAn air of spirits was heard in the chorusit was nowfar offnow nearswelling in might and then dying awayArising from this harmonyand supported by itwas thesong monologue of Aladdinwhat one indeed calls a greatariabut so entirely in keeping with character and situation that it was a necessary dramatic part of the wholeThe resonantsympathetic voicethe intense music of theheartsubdued all listeners and seized them with a rapture that could not rise higher when he reached for thelamp of fortune that was embraced by the song of the spirits

Bouquets tained down from all sidesa carpet ofliving flowers was spread out before his feet

What a moment of life for the young artistthehighestthe greatestA mightier one could never againbe granted himhe feltA wreath of laurel touched hisbreast and fell down in front of him

He had seen whose hand it had comeHe saw the young girl in the box nearest the stagethe youngbaronessrising like a spirit of beautyloudly rejoicingover his triumph

A fire rushed through himhis heart swelled as nev-er beforehe bowedtook the wreathpressed it againsthis heartand at the same moment fell backwardFaintedDeadWhat was itThe curtain fell

"Dead"resounded through the houseDead in themoment of triumphlike Sophocles at the Olympiangameslike Thorvaldsen in the theater during Beethoven's symphonyAn artery in his heart had burstand as by a flash of lightning his days here were endedended without painended in an earthly triumphin thefulfillment of his mission on earthLucky PeerMorefortunate than millions

 


 

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