A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES 731
That was a journey !—it was like taking fresh breath— out of the cold dungeon air into tho, warm sunshine ! The heath stood blooming in its greatest pride, and the herd-boy sat on the grave-mound and blew his pipe, which he had carved for himself out of the sheep's bone. Fata Morgana, the beautiful aerial phenomenon of the desert, showed itself with hanging gardens and swaying forests; and the wonderful trembling of the air, called here the ' Lokeman driving his flock', was seen likewise.
Up through the land of the Wendels, up towards Skagen, they went, from whence the men with the long beards (the Longobardi, or Lombards) had emigrated in the days when, in the reign of King Snio, all the children and the old people were to have been killed, till the noble Dame Gambaruk proposed that the younger people had better leave the country. All this was known to Jurgen—thus much knowledge he had ; and even if he did not know the land of the Lombards beyond the high Alps, he had an idea how it must be there, for in his boyhood he had been in the south, in Spain. He thought of the southern fruits piled up there ; of the red pomegranate blossoms ; of the humming, murmuring, and toiling, in the great bee-hive of a city he had seen ; but, after all, home is best; and Jurgen's home was Denmark.
At length they reached ' Wendelskage,' as Skagen is called in the old Norwegian and Icelandic writings. Then already Old Skagen, with Vesterby and Osterby, extended for miles, with sand-hills and arable land, as far as the lighthouse near the Fork of Skagen. Then, as now, houses and farms- were strewn among the wind-raised sand-hills—a desert where the wind sports with the sand, and where the voices of the seamews and the wild swans strike harshly on the ear. In the south-west, a mile from the sea, lies Old Skagen ; and here dwelt merchant Bronne, and here Jurgen was henceforth to dwell. The great house was painted with tar ; the smaller buildings had each an overturned boat for a roof ; the pig-sty had been put together of pieces of wreck. There was no fence here, for indeed there was nothing to fence in ; but long rows of fishes were hung upon lines, one above the other, to dry in the wind. The whole coast was strewn with spoiled