THE OLD BACHELOR'S NIGHTCAP 577
And here in the town of his childhood, which he thus saw again through tears, much came back into his remembrance. His father's house stood as in the old times ; but the garden was altered, and a field-path led over a portion of the old ground, and the apple-tree that he had not broken down stood there, but outside the garden, on the farther side of the path. But the sun threw its rays on the apple-tree as in the old days, the dew descended gently upon it as then, and it bore such a burden of fruit that the branches were bent down towards the earth.
' That flourishes ! ' he said. ' The tree can grow ! '
Nevertheless, one of the branches of the tree was broken. Mischievous hands had torn it down towards the ground ; for now the tree stood by the public way.
' They break its blossoms off without a feeling of thankfulness—they steal its fruit and break the branches. One might say of the tree as has been said of some men—" It was not sung at his cradle that it should come thus." How brightly its history began, and what has it come to ? Forsaken and forgotten—a garden tree by the hedge, in the field, and on the public way! There it stands unprotected, plundered, and broken ! It has certainly not died, but in the course of 3Tears the number of blossoms will diminish ; at last the fruit will cease altogether ; and at last—at last all will be over ! '
Such were Anthony's thoughts under the tree ; such were his thoughts during many a night in the lonely chamber of the wooden house in the distant land—in the street of the small houses in Copenhagen, whither his rich employer, the Bremen merchant, had sent him, first making it a condition that he should not marry.
' Marry ! Ha, ha ! ' he laughed bitterly to himself.
Winter had set in early ; it was freezing hard. Without, a snow-storm was raging, so that every one who could do so remained at home ; thus, too, it happened that those who lived opposite to Anthony did not notice that for two days his house had not been unlocked, and that he did not show himself; for who would go out unnecessarily in such weather ?
They were grey, gloomy days ; and in the house, whose windows were not of glass, twilight only alternated with dark night. Old Anthony had not left his bed during the