514 IB AND CHRISTINE
* You have found in the earth the best thing you could find,' said the judge.
' The best thing ! ' thought lb. ' The very best thing for me, and found in the earth ! Well, if that is the best, the gipsy woman was correct in what she prophesied to me.'
So lb travelled with the boat from Aarhus to Copenhagen. To him, who had only crossed Gudenaa, it was like a voyage across the ocean. And he arrived in Copenhagen.
The value of the gold he had found was paid over to him ; it was a large sum—six hundred dollars. And lb of the heath wandered about in the great capital.
On the day on which he had settled to go back with the captain, lb lost his way in the streets, and took quite a different direction from the one he intended to follow. He had wandered into the suburb of Christianshaven, into a poor little street. Not a human being was to be seen. At last a very little girl came out of a wretched house. lb inquired of the little one the way to the street which he wanted ; but she looked shyly at him, and began to cry bitterly. He asked her what ailed her, but could not understand what she said in reply. But as they were both under a lamp, and the light fell on the girl's face, he felt quite strange, for Christine stood bodily before him, just as he remembered her from the days of his childhood.
And he went with the little maiden into the wretched house, and ascended the narrow, crazy staircase, which led to a little attic chamber in the roof. The air in this chamber was heavy and almost suffocating : no light was burning ; but there was heavy sighing and moaning in one corner. lb struck a light with the help of a match. It was the mother of the child who lay on the miserable bed.
' Can I be of any service to you ? ' asked lb. ' This little girl has brought me up here, but I am a stranger in this city. Are there no neighbours or friends whom I could call to you ? ' And he raised the sick woman's head.
It was Christine of the heath !
For years her name had not been mentioned at home in Jutland, for it would have disturbed Ib's peace of mind, and rumour had told nothing good concerning her. The