732 A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES
herrings, for there were so many of those fish, that a net was scarcely thrown into the sea before they were caught by cartloads ; there were so many, that often they were thrown back into the sea or left to lie and rot.
The old man's wife and daughter, and his servants too, came rejoicingly to meet him. There was a great pressing of hands, and talking, and questioning. And the daughter, what a lovely face and bright eyes she had !
The interior of the house was roomy and comfortable. Plates of fish were set on the table, plaice that a King would have called a splendid dish ; and there was wine from the vineyard of Skagen—that is, the sea ; for there the grapes come ashore ready pressed and prepared in barrels and in bottles.
When the mother and daughter heard who Jiirgen was, and how innocently he had suffered, they looked at him in a still more friendly way ; and the eyes of the charming Clara were the friendliest of all. Jurgen found a happy home in Old Skagen. It did his heart good ; and his heart had been sorely tried, and had drunk the bitter goblet of love, which softens or hardens according to circumstances. Jurgen's heart was still soft—it was young, and there was still room in it; and therefore it was well that Clara was going in three weeks in her father's ship to Christiansand, in Norway, to visit an aunt and to stay there the whole winter.
On the Sunday before her departure they all went to church, to the Holy Communion. The church was large and handsome, and had been built centuries before by Scotchmen and Hollanders ; it lay at a little distance from the town. It was certainly somewhat ruinous, and the road to it was heavy, through the deep sand ; but the people gladly went through the difficulties to get to the house of God, to sing psalms and hear the sermon. The sand had heaped itself up round the walls of the church, but the graves were kept free from it.
It was the largest church north of the Limfjord. The Virgin Mary, with the golden crown on her head and the Child Jesus in her arms, stood lifelike upon the altar; the holy Apostles had been carved in the choir ; and on the walls hung portraits of the old burgomasters and