IB AND CHRISTINE 515
wealth which her husband had inherited from his parents had made him proud and arrogant. Hejiad given up his certain appointment, had travelled for half a year in foreign lands, and on his return had incurred debts, and yet lived in an expensive fashion His carriage had bent over more and more, so to speak, until at last it turned over com≠pletely. The many merry companions and table-friends he had entertained declared it served him right, for he had kept house like a madman ; and one morning his body was found in the canal.
The hand of death was already on Christine. Her youngest child, only a few weeks old, expected in pros≠perity and born in misery, was already in its grave, and it had come to this with Christine herself, that she lay sick to death and forsaken, in a miserable room, amid a poverty that she might well have borne in her childish days, but which now oppressed her painfully, since she had been accustomed to better things. It was her eldest child, also a little Christine, that here suffered hunger and poverty with her, and who had conducted lb there.
' I am afraid I shall die and leave the poor child here alone,' she said. ' Where in the world will she go then ? ' And not a word more could she utter.
And lb brought out another match, and lighted up a piece of candle he found in the room, and the flame illumined the wretched dwelling. And lb looked at the little girl, and thought how Christine had looked when she was young ; and he felt that for her sake he would be good to this child, which was as yet a stranger to him. The dying woman gazed at him, and her eyes opened wider and wideródid she recognize him ? He never knew, for no further word passed over her lips.
And it was in the forest by the river Gudenaa, in the region of the heath. The air was grey, and there were no blossoms on the heath plant; but the autumn tempests whirled the yellow leaves from the wood into the stream, and out over the heath towards the hut of the boatman, in which strangers now dwelt; but beneath the ridge, safe beneath the protection of the high trees, stood the little farm, trimly whitewashed and painted, and within it the