HOLGER THE DANE 339
time ; but the boy in the bed yonder may get to see him, and be there when the push really comes.'
And the old grandfather nodded again : and the more he looked at his Holger the Dane the more plain did it become to him that it was a good image he had carved. It seemed really to gain colour, and the armour appeared to gleam like iron and steel; the hearts in the Danish arms became redder and redder, and the lions with the golden crowns on their heads leaped up.1
' That's the most beautiful coat of arms there is in the world ! ' said the old man. ' The lions are strength, and the heart is gentleness and love ! '
And he looked at the uppermost lion, and thought of King Canute, who bound great England to the throne of Denmark ; and he looked at the second lion, and thought of Waldemar, who united Denmark and conquered the Wendish lands ; and he glanced at the third lion, and remembered Margaret, who united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. But while he looked at the red hearts, they gleamed more brightly than before ; they became flames which moved, and his heart followed each of them.
The first heart led him into a dark narrow prison : there sat a prisoner, a beautiful woman, the daughter of King Christian IV, Eleanor Ulfeld ; and the flame, which was shaped like a rose, attached itself to her bosom and blossomed, so that it became one with the heart of her, the noblest and best of all Danish women. ' That is one of the hearts in the arms of Denmark,' said the old grandfather.
And his spirit followed the second flame, which led him out upon the sea, where the cannons thundered and the ships lay shrouded in smoke ; and the flame fastened itself in the shape of a ribbon of honour on the breast of Hvitfeld, as he blew himself and his ship into the air, that he might save the fleet.
And the third flame led him to the wretched huts of Greenland, where the preacher Hans Egede wrought, with love in every word and deed : the flame was a star on his breast, another heart in the Danish arms
1 The Danish arras consist of three lions between nine hearts.