A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES 737
time. Every Sunday he went with the old people to church, and sat silent there with vacant gaze. One day, while the Psalms were being sung, he uttered a deep sigh, and his eyes gleamed : they were fixed upon the altar, upon the place where he had knelt with his friend who was dead. He uttered her name, and became pale as death, and tears rolled over his cheeks.
They led him out of the church, and he said to the bystanders that he was well, and had never been ill: he, the heavily afflicted, the waif cast upon the world, remembered nothing of his sufferings. And the Lord our Creator is wise and full of loving-kindness—who can doubt it ? Our heart and our understanding acknowledge it, and the Bible confirms it : ' His mercy is over all His works.'
In Spain, where the warm breezes blow over the Moorish cupolas, among the orange trees and laurels, where song and the sound of castanets are heard, sat in the sumptuous house a childless old man, the richest merchant in the place, while children marched in procession through the streets, with waving flags and lighted tapers. How much of his wealth would the old man not have given to have his children again ! his daughter, or her child, that had perhaps never seen the light in this world.
' Poor child ! '
Yes, poor child—a child still, and yet more than thirty years old ; for to that age Jiirgen had attained in Old Skagen.
The drifting sand had covered the graves in the churchyard quite up to the walls of the church ; but yet the dead must be buried among their relations and loved ones who had gone before them. Merchant Bronne and his wife now rested here with their children, under the white sand.
It was spring-time, the season of storms. The sand-hills whirled up in clouds, and the sea ran high, and flocks of birds flew like clouds in the storms, shrieking across the dunes ; and shipwreck followed shipwreck on the reefs from Skagen as far as the Husby dunes. One evening Jtirgen was sitting alone in the room. Suddenly his mind seemed to become clearer, and a feeling of unrest came upon him, which in his younger years had often driven him forth upon the heath and the sand-hills.
ANDEBSEN £ fo