On one of the Danish islands where the old places of assembly are found in the fields, and great trees tower in the beech woods, there lies a little town, whose low houses are covered with red tiles. In one of these houses wondrous things were brewed over glowing coals on the open hearth ; there was a boiling in glasses, a mixing and a distilling, and herbs were being bruised in mortars, and an elderly man attended to all this.
' One must only do the right thing,' said he ; ' yes, the right thing. One must learn the truth about every created particle, and keep close to this truth.'
In the room with the good housewife sat her two sons, still small, but with grown-up thoughts. The mother had always spoken to them of right and justice, and had exhorted them to hold truth fast, declaring that it was as the countenance of the Almighty in this world.
The elder of the boys looked roguish and enterprising. It was his delight to read of the forces of nature, of the sun and of the stars ; no fairy tale pleased him so much as these. Oh ! how glorious it must be, to go out on voyages of discovery, or to find out how the wings of birds could be imitated, and then to fly through the air ! yes, to find that out would be the right thing : father was right, and mother was right—truth keeps the world together.
The younger brother was quieter, and quite lost himself in books. When he read of Jacob clothing himself in sheepskins, to be like Esau and to cheat his brother of his birthright, his little fist would clench in anger against the deceiver : when he read of tyrants, and of all the wickedness and wrong that is in the world, the tears stood in his eyes, and he was quite filled with the thoughts of the right and truth which must and will at last be triumphant. One evening he already lay in bed, but the curtains were not yet drawn close, and the light streamed in upon him : he had taken the book with him to bed, because he wanted to finish reading the story of Solon.
And his thoughts lifted and carried him away marvellously, and it seemed to him that his bed became a ship,