716 A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES
in fact, the visit of the brother of Jurgen's foster-mother, the eel breeder from Fjaltring, upon the neighbourhood of the ' Bow Hill \ He used to come in a cart painted red and filled with eels. The cart was covered and locked like a box, and painted all over with blue and white tulips. It was drawn by two dun oxen, and Jurgen was allowed to guide them.
The eel breeder was a witty fellow, a merry guest, and brought a measure of brandy with him. Every one received a small glassful or a cupful when there was a scarcity of glasses : even Jurgen had as much as a large thimbleful, that he might digest the fat eel, the eel breeder said, who always told the same story over again, and when his hearers laughed he immediately told it over again to the same audience. As, during his childhood, and even later, Jurgen used many expressions from this story of the eel breeder's, and made use of it in various ways, it is as well that we should listen to it too. Here it is :
' The eels went out in the river ; and the mother-eel said to her daughters, who begged leave to go a little way up the river, " Don't go too far : the ugly eel spearer might come and snap you all up." But they went too far ; and of eight daughters only three came back to the eel-mother, and these wept and said, " We only went a little way before the door, and the ugly eel spearer came directly, and stabbed our five sisters to death." " They'll come again," said the mother-eel. " Oh, no," exclaimed the daughters, " for he skinned them, and cut them in two, and fried them." " Oh, they'll come again," the mother-eel persisted. "No," replied the daughters, " for he ate them all up." " They'll come again," repeated the mother-eel. " But he drank brandy after them," continued the daughters. " Ah, then they'll never come back," said the mother, and she burst out crying, " It's the brandy that buries the eels."
1 And therefore,' said the eel breeder, 'it is always right to take brandy after eating eels.'
And this story was the tinsel thread, the most humorous recollection of Jurgen's life. He likewise wanted to go a little way outside the door and up the river—that is to say, out into the world in a ship ; and his mother said, like the