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A short story by Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen

A Knight Of Dannebrog

Title:     A Knight Of Dannebrog
Author: Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen [More Titles by Boyesen]


Victor Julien St. Denis Dannevig is a very aristocratic conglomeration of sound, as every one will admit, although the St. had a touch of irony in it unless placed before the Julien, where in the present case its suggestion was not wholly unappropriate. As he was when I first met him, his nature seemed to be made up of exquisite half-tints, in which the most antagonistic tastes might find something to admire. It presented no sharp angles to wound your self-esteem or your prejudices. Morally, intellectually, and physically, he was as smooth as velvet, and as agreeable to the touch. He never disagreed with you, whatever heterodox sentiments you might give vent to, and still no one could ever catch him in any positive inconsistency or self-contradiction. The extreme liberal who was on terms of intimacy with the nineteenth century, and passionately hostile to all temporal and spiritual rulers, put him down as a rising man, who might be confidently counted on when he should have shed his down and assume I his permanent colors; and the prosperous conservative who had access to the private ear of the government lauded his good sense and his moderate opinions, and resolved to press his name at the first vacancy that might occur in the diplomatic service. In fact, every one parted from him with the conviction that at heart he shared his sentiments; even though for prudential reasons he did not choose to express himself with emphasis.

The inference, I am afraid, from all this, is that Dannevig was a hypocrite; but if I have conveyed that impression to any one, I certainly have done my friend injustice. I am not aware that he ever consciously suspended his convictions for the sake of pleasing; but convictions require a comparative depth of soil in order to thrive, and Dannevig's mind was remarkable for territorial expanse rather than for depth. Of course, he did with astonishing ease assume the color of the person he was talking with; but this involved, with him, no conscious mental process, no deliberate insincerity. It was rather owing to a kind of constitutional adaptability, an unconquerable distaste for quarrelling, and the absence of any decided opinions of his own.

It was in the year 186--, just as peace had been concluded between Prussia and Denmark, that I made Dannevig's acquaintance. He was then the hero of the day; all Copenhagen, as it seemed, had gone mad over him. He had just returned from the war, in which he had performed some extraordinary feat of fool-hardiness and saved seven companies by the sacrifice of his mustache. The story was then circulating in a dozen different versions, but, as nearly as I could learn, he had, in the disguise of a peasant, visited the Prussian camp on the evening preceding a battle and had acted the fool with such a perfection of art as to convince the enemy of his harmlessness. Before morning, however, he had furnished the Danish commander with important intelligence, thereby preventing the success of a surprise movement which the Prussians were about to execute. In return for this service he had been knighted on the battle-field, the order of Dannebrog having been bestowed upon him.

One circumstance that probably intensified the charm which Dannevig exerted upon the social circles of the Danish capital was the mystery which shrouded his origin. There were vague whisperings of lofty parentage, and even royal names were hinted at, always, of course, in the strictest privacy. The fact that he hailed from France (though no one could say it for a certainty) and still had a Danish name and spoke Danish like a native, was in itself looked upon as an interesting anomaly. Then again, his easy, aristocratic bearing and his finely carved face suggested all manner of romantic possibilities; his long, delicate hands, the unobtrusive perfection of his toilet and the very texture of his handkerchiefs told plainly enough that he had been familiar with high life from the cradle. His way of living, too, was the subject of much curious comment. Without being really extravagant, he still spent money in a free-and-easy fashion, and always gave one the impression of having unbounded resources, though no one could tell exactly what they were. The only solution of the riddle was that he might have access to the treasury of some mighty man who, for reasons which perhaps would not bear publicity, felt called upon to support him.

I had heard his name abundantly discussed in academical and social circles and was thoroughly familiar with the hypothetical part of his history before chance led me to make his personal acquaintance. He had then already lost some of his first lustre of novelty, and the professional yawners at club windows were inclining to the opinion that "he was a good enough fellow, but not made of stuff that was apt to last." But in the afternoon tea-parties, where ladies of fashion met and gently murdered each other's reputations, an allusion to him was still the signal for universal commotion; his very name would be greeted with clouds of ecstatic adjectives, and wild interjections and enthusiatic superlatives would fly buzzing about your ears until language would seem to be at its last gasp, and for a week to come the positive and comparative degrees would be applicable only to your enemies.

It was an open secret that the Countess von Brehm, one of the richest heiresses in the kingdom, was madly in love with him and would probably bestow her hand upon him in defiance of the wishes and traditions of her family. And what man, outside of the royal house, would be fool enough to refuse the hand of a Countess von Brehm?


During the winter 1865-66, I met Dannevig frequently at clubs, student festivals, and social gatherings, and his melodious voice, his epigrammatic talk, and his beauty never failed to extort from me a certain amount of reluctant admiration. I could not help noticing, however, that his charming qualities were all very much on the surface, and as for his beauty, it was of a purely physical kind. As a mere animal he could not have been finer. His eyes were as pure and blue and irresponsible as a pair of spring violets, and his face was as clean-cut and perfect as an ideal Greek mask, and as devoid of spiritual meaning. His animation was charmingly heedless and genuine, but nevertheless was mere surface glitter and never seemed to be the expression of any really strong and heartfelt emotion. I could well imagine him pouting like Achilles over the loss of a lovely Briseis and bursting into vituperative language at the sight of the robber; but the very moment Briseis was restored his wrath would as suddenly have given way to the absolute bliss of possession.

The evening before my final departure from Copenhagen he gave a little party for me at his apartments, at which a dozen or more of our friends were invited.

I must admit that he was an admirable host. Without appearing at all to exert himself, he made every one feel at his ease, filled up every gap in the conversation with some droll anecdote or personal reminiscence, and still contrived to make us all imagine that we were entertaining instead of being entertained. The supper was a miracle of culinary skill, and the wines had a most refined and aristocratic flavor. He ate and drank with the deliberation and relish of a man who, without being exactly a gourmand, nevertheless counted the art of dining among the fine arts, and prided himself on being something of a connoisseur. Nothing, I suppose, could have ruined me more hopelessly in his estimation than if I had betrayed unfamiliarity with table etiquette,--if, for instance, I poured Rhine wine into the white glasses, or sherry or Madeira into the blue.

As the hours of the night advanced, Dannevig's brilliancy rose to an almost dangerous height, which, as it appeared to us, could end in nothing short of an explosion. And the explosion came at last in the shape of a speech which I shall quote as nearly as the long lapse of years will permit.

After some mysterious pantomimic play directed toward a singularly noiseless and soft-mannered butler, our host arose, assumed an attitude as if he were about to address the universe, and spoke as follows:

"Gentlemen! As our distinguished friend here (all Americans, as you are aware, are born sovereigns and accordingly distinguished) is about to leave us, the spirit moves me to give voice to the feeling which animates us all at this peculiar juncture of events." (Here the butler returned with two bottles, which Dannevig seized and held up for general inspection.) "Bravo! here I hold in my hand a rare and potent juice, the condensed essence of all that is rich and fair and sweet in the history, character, and climate of la belle France, a juice for which the mouths of princes have often watered in vain--in short a bottle of Chateau Yquem. I have my reasons for plucking the fairest bloom of my cellar on an occasion like this: for what I am about to say is not entirely in the nature of a compliment, and the genial influence of this royal wine will be needed to counteract the possible effects of my speech. In other words, I want the goodness of my wine to compensate for the rudeness of my intended remarks.

"America has never until now had the benefit of my opinion of her, which may in part account for the crudeness of her present condition. Now she has sent a competent emissary to us, who will return and faithfully report my sentiments, and if he does his work well, you may be prepared for revolutions beyond the Atlantic in decades to come. To begin with the beginning: the American continent, extending as it does from pole to pole, with a curious attenuation in the middle, always looked to me in my boyhood as a huge double bag flung across the back of the world; the symbolic sense of this form was not then entirely clear to me; but now, I think, I divine its meaning. As the centuries with their changing civilizations rolled over Europe, it became apparent to the Almighty that a spacious lumber-room was needed, where all the superfluous odds and ends that no longer fitted to the changed order of things might be stowed away for safe-keeping. Now, as you will frequently in a lumber-room, amid a deal of absolute dross, stumble upon an object of rare and curious value, so also in America you may, among heaps of human trumpery, be startled by the sparkle of a genuine human jewel. Our friend here, I need not add, is such a jewel, though cut according to the fashion of the last century, when men went wild over liberty and other illusory ideals and when, after having exhausted all the tamer kinds of dissipation, they amused themselves by cutting each other's heads off. Far be it from me to impute any such truculent taste to my honored guest. I only wish to observe that the land from which he hails has not yet outlived the revolutionary heresies of a century ago, that his people is still afflicted with those crude fever fantasies, of which Europe was only cured by a severe and prolonged bleeding. It has always been a perplexing problem to me, how a man who has seen the Old World can deliberately choose such a land as his permanent abode. I, for my part, should never think of taking such a step until I had quarrelled with all the other countries of the world, one by one, and as life is too short for such an experience, I never expect to claim the hospitality of Brother Jonathan under his own roof.

"As regards South America, I never could detect its use in the cosmic economy, unless it was flung down there in the southern hemisphere purely as ballast, to prevent the globe from upsetting.

"Now, the moral of these edifying remarks is that I would urge my guest to correct, as soon as possible, the mistake he made in the choice of his birthplace. As a man never can be too circumspect in the selection of his parents, so neither can he exercise too much caution in the choice of his country. My last word to thee is: 'Fold thy tent, and pitch it again where mankind, politics and cookery are in a more advanced state of development.' Friends, let us drink to the health of our guest, and wish for his speedy return."

I replied with, perhaps, some superfluous ardor to this supercilious speech, and a very hot discussion ensued. When the company finally broke up, Dannevig, fearing that he had offended me, laid his arm confidentially on my shoulder, drew me back from the door, and pushed me gently into an easy-chair.

"Look here!" he said, planting himself in front of me. "It will never do for you and me to part, except as friends. I did not mean to patronize you, and if my foolish speech impressed you in that way, I beg you to forgive me."

He held out his long, beautiful hand, which after some hesitation I grasped, and peace was concluded.

"Take another cigar," he continued, throwing himself down on a damask-covered lounge opposite me. "I am in a confiding mood to-night, and should like to tell you something. I feel an absolute need to unbosom myself, and Fate points to you as the only safe receptacle of my confidence. After to-morrow, the Atlantic will be between us, and if my secret should prove too explosive for your reticence, your indiscretion will do me no harm. Listen, then. You have probably heard the town gossip connecting my name with that of the Countess von Brehm."

I nodded assent.

"Well, my modesty forbids me to explain how far the rumor is true. But, the fact is, she has given me the most unmistakable proofs of her favor. Of course, a man who has seen as much of the world as I have cannot be expected to reciprocate such a passion in its sentimental aspects; but from its--what shall I say?"

"Say, from a financial point of view it is not unworthy of your consideration," I supplied, unable to conceal my disgust.

"Well, yes," he resumed blandly, "you have hit it. However, I am by no means blind to her fascination. Moreover, the countess has a latent vein of fierceness in her nature which in time may endear her to my heart. Last night, for instance, we were at a ball at the Baron P----'s, and we danced together incessantly. While we were whirling about to the rhythm of an intoxicating melody, I, feeling pretty sure of my game, whispered half playfully in her ear: 'Countess, what would you say, if I should propose to you?' 'Propose and you will see,' she answered gravely, while those big black eyes of hers flashed at until I felt half ashamed of my flippancy. Of course I did not venture to put the question then and there, although I was sorely tempted. Now that shows that she has spirit, to say the least. What do you think?"

"I think," I answered, with emphasis, "that if I were a friend of the Countess von Brehm I should go to her to-morrow and implore her to have nothing to do with you."

"By Jove," he burst forth, laughing; "if I were a friend of the countess, I should do the very same thing; but being her lover, I cannot be expected to take such a disinterested view of the case. Moreover, my labor would be thrown away; for, entre nous, she is too much in love with me."

I felt that if I stayed a moment longer we should inevitably quarrel. I therefore rose, somewhat abruptly, and pulled on my overcoat, averring that I was tired and should need a few hours of sleep before embarking in the morning.

"Well," he said, shaking my hand heartily, as we parted in the hall, "if ever you should happen to visit Denmark again, you must promise me that you will look me up. You have a standing invitation to my future estate."


Some three years later I was sitting behind my editorial desk in a newspaper office in Chicago, and the impressions from my happy winter in Copenhagen had well nigh faded from memory. The morning mail was brought in, and among my letters I found one from a Danish friend with whom I had kept up a desultory correspondence. In the letter I found the following paragraph:

"Since you left us, Dannevig has been going steadily down hill, until at last his order of Dannebrog just managed to keep him respectable. About a month ago he suddenly vanished from the social horizon, and the rumor says that he has fled from his numerous creditors, and probably now is on his way to America. His resources, whatever they were, gradually failed him, while his habits remained as extravagant as ever. If the popular belief is to be credited, he lived during the two last years on his prospect of marrying the Countess von Brehm, which prospect in Copenhagen was always convertible into cash. The countess, by the way, was unflinching in her devotion to him, and he would probably long ago have led her to the altar, if her family had not so bitterly opposed him. The old count, it is said, swore that he would disinherit her if she ever mentioned his name to him again; and those who know him feel confident that he would have kept his word. The countess, however, was quite willing to make that sacrifice, for Dannevig's sake; but here, unfortunately, that cowardly prudence of his made a fool of him. He hesitated and hesitated long enough to wear out the patience of a dozen women less elevated and heroic than she is. Now the story goes that the old count, wishing at all hazards to get him out of the way, made him a definite proposition to pay all his debts, and give him a handsome surplus for travelling expenses, if he would consent to vanish from the kingdom for a stated term of years. And according to all appearances Dannevig has been fool enough to accept the offer. I should not be surprised if you would hear from him before long, in which case I trust you will keep me informed of his movements. A Knight of Dannebrog, you know, is too conspicuous a figure to be entirely lost beneath the waves of your all-levelling democracy. Depend upon it, if Dannevig were stranded upon a desert isle, he would in some way contrive to make the universe aware of his existence. He has, as you know, no talent for obscurity; there is a spark of a Caesar in him, and I tremble for the fate of your constitution if he stays long enough among you."

Four months elapsed after the receipt of this letter, and I had almost given up the expectation (I will not say hope) of seeing Dannevig, when one morning the door to my office was opened, and a tall, blonde-haired man entered. With a certain reckless grace, which ought to have given me the clue to his identity, he sauntered up to my desk and extended his hand to me.

"Hallo, old boy!" he said, with a weak, weary smile. "How are you prospering? You don't seem to know me."

"Heavens!" I cried, "Dannevig! No, I didn't know you. How you have altered!"

He took off his hat, and flung himself into a chair opposite me. His large, irresponsible eyes fixed themselves upon mine, with a half-daring, half-apologetic look, as if he were resolved to put the best face on a desperate situation. His once so ambitious mustache drooped despondingly, and his unshaven face had an indescribably withered and dissipated look. All the gloss seemed to have been taken off it, and with it half its beauty and all its dignity had departed.

"Dannevig," I said, with all the sympathy I had at my command, "what has happened to you? Am I to take your word for it, that you have quarrelled with all the world, and that this is your last refuge?"

"Well," he answered, evasively, "I should hardly say that. It is rather your detestable democratic cookery which has undone me. I haven't had a decent meal since I set my foot on this accursed continent. There is an all-pervading plebeian odor of republicanism about everything one eats here, which is enough to ruin the healthiest appetite, and a certain barbaric uniformity in the bill of fare which would throw even a Diogenes into despair. May the devil take your leathery beef-steaks, as tough as the prose of Tacitus, your tasteless, nondescript buckwheats, and your heavy, melancholy wines, and I swear it would be the last you would hear of him!"

"There! that will do, Dannevig!" I cried, laughing. "You have said more than enough to convince me of your identity. I do admit I was sceptical as to whether this could really be you, but you have dispelled my last doubts. It was my intention to invite you to dine with me to-day but you have quite discouraged me. I live quite en garcon, you know, and have no Chateau Yquem nor pheasant a la Sainte Alliance, and whatever else your halcyon days at the Cafe Anglais may have accustomed you to."

"Never mind that. Your company will in part reconcile me to the republicanism of your table. And, to put the thing bluntly, can you lend me thirty dollars? I have pawned my only respectable suit of clothes for that amount, and in my present costume I feel inexpressibly plebeian,--very much as if I were my own butler, and--what is worse--I treat myself accordingly. I never knew until now how much of the inherent dignity of a man can be divested with his clothing. Then another thing: I am absolutely forced to do something, and, judging by your looks, I should say that journalism was a profitable business. Now, could you not get me some appointment or other in connection with your paper? If, for instance, you want a Paris correspondent, then I am just your man. I know Paris by heart, and I have hobnobbed with every distinguished man in France."

"But we could hardly afford to pay you enough to justify you in taking the journey on our account."

"O sancta simplicitas! No, my boy, I have no such intention. I can make up the whole thing with perfect plausibility, here under your own roof; and by little study of the foreign telegrams, I would undertake to convince Thiers and Jules Favre themselves that I watched the play of their features from my private box at the French opera, night before last, that I had my eye at the key-hole while they performed their morning ablutions, and was present as eavesdropper at their most secret councils. Whatever I may be, I hope you don't take me to be a chicken."

"No," I answered, beguiled into a lighter mood by his own levity. "It might be well for you if you were more of one. But as Paris correspondent, we could never engage you, at least not on the terms you propose. But even if I should succeed in getting a place for you, do you know English enough to write with ease?"

"I see you are disposed to give vent to your native scepticism toward me. But I never knew the thing yet that I could not do. At first, perhaps, I should have to depend somewhat upon your proof-reading, but before many months, I venture to say, I could stand on my own legs."

After some further parley it was agreed that I should exert myself in his behalf, and after a visit to the pawnbroker's, where Dannevig had deposited his dignity, we parted with the promise to meet again at dinner.


It was rather an anomalous position for a knight of Dannebrog, a familiar friend of princes and nobles, and an ex-habitue of the Cafe Anglais, to be a common reporter on a Chicago republican journal. Yet this was the position to which (after some daring exploits in book-reviewing and art criticism) my friend was finally reduced. As an art-critic, he might have been a success, if western art had been more nearly in accord with his own fastidious and exquisitely developed taste. As it was, he managed in less than a fortnight to bring down the wrath of the whole artistic brotherhood upon our journal, and as some of these men were personal friends of the principal stockholders in the paper, his destructive ardor was checked by an imperative order from the authorities, from whose will there is no appeal. As a book-reviewer he labored under similar disadvantages; he stoutly maintained that the reading of a volume would necessarily and unduly bias the critic's judgment, and that a man endowed with a keen, literary nose could form an intelligent opinion, after a careful perusal of the title-page, and a glance at the preface. A man who wrote a book naturally labored under the delusion that he was wiser or better than the majority of his fellow-creatures, in which case you would do moral service by convincing him of his error, inhumanity continued to encourage authorship at the present rate, obscurity would soon become a claim to immortality. If a writer informed you that his work "filled a literary void," his conceit was reprehensible, and on moral grounds he ought to be chastised; if he told you that he had only "yielded to the urgent request of his friends," it was only fair to insinuate that his friends must have had very long ears. Nevertheless, Dannevig's reviews were for about a month a very successful feature of our paper. They might be described as racy little essays, bristling with point and epigram, on some subject suggested by the title-pages of current volumes. At the end of that time, however, books began to grow scarce in our office, and before another month was at an end, we had no more need of a reviewer. My friend was then to have his last trial as a reporter.

One of his first experiences in this new capacity was at a mass-meeting preceding an important municipal election. Not daring to send his "copy" to the printer without revision, I determined to sacrifice two or three hours' sleep, and to await his return. But the night wore on, the clock struck twelve, one, and two, and no Dannevig appeared. I began to grow anxious; our last form went to press at four o'clock, and I had left a column and a half open for his expected report. Not wishing to resort to dead matter, I hastily made some selections from a fresh magazine, and sent them to the foreman.

The next day, about noon, a policeman brought me the following note, written in pencil, on a leaf torn from a pocket-book.


I made a speech last night (and a very good one too) in behalf of oppressed humanity, but its effect upon my audience was, to say the least, singular. Its results, as far as I am personally concerned were also somewhat unpleasant. Looking at myself in my pocketglass this morning, I find that my nose has become disproportionately prominent, besides showing an abnormal lateral development If you would have the goodness to accompany the obliging gentleman, who is the bearer of this, to my temporary lodgings, I will further explain the situation to you. By the way, it is absolutely necessary that you should come.

Yours in haste,


[Footnote A: Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.]

I found Dannevig, as I had expected, at the so-called Armory (the city prison), in pleasant converse with half-a-dozen policemen, to whom he was describing, with inimitable grace and good-humor, his adventures of the preceding night. He was too absorbed in his narrative to notice my arrival, and I did not choose to interrupt him.

"You can imagine, gentlemen," he was saying, accompanying his words with the liveliest gesticulations, "how the rude contact of a plebeian fist with my tender skin must have impressed me. Really gentlemen, I was so surprised that I literally lost my balance. I was, as you are no doubt aware, merely asserting my rights as a free citizen to protest against the presumptions of the unprincipled oligarchy which is at present ruling this fair city. My case is exactly parallel to that of Caius Gracchus, who, I admit, reaped a similar reward."

"But you were drunk," replied a rude voice from his audience. "Dead drunk."

"Drunk," ejaculated Dannevig, with a gesture of dignified deprecation. "Now, I submit it to you as gentlemen of taste and experience: how would you define that state of mind and body vulgarly styled 'drunk?' I was merely pleasantly animated, as far as such a condition can be induced by those vulgar liquids which you are in the habit of imbibing in this benighted country. Now, if I had had the honor of your acquaintance in the days of my prosperity, it would have given me great pleasure to raise your standard of taste regarding wines and alcoholic liquors. The mixed drinks, which are held in such high esteem in this community, are, in my opinion, utterly demoralizing."

Thinking it was high time to interrupt this discourse, I stepped up to the orator, and laid my hand on his shoulder.

"Dannevig," I said, "I have no time to waste Let me settle this business for you at once."

"In a moment I shall be at your service," he answered, gracefully waving his hand; and for some five minutes more he continued his harangue on the corrupting effects of mixed drinks.

After a visit to the court-room, a brief examination, and the payment of a fine, we took our departure. Feeling in an exceptionally amiable mood, Dannevig offered me his arm, and as we again passed the group of policemen at the door he politely raised his dilapidated hat to them, and bade them a pleasant good-morning. The cross of Dannebrog, with its red ribbon, was dangling from the button-hole of his coat, the front of which was literally glazed with the stains of dried punch.

"My type of countenance, as you will observe," he remarked, as we hailed a passing omnibus, "presents some striking deviations from the classic ideal; but it is a consoling reflection that it will probably soon resume its normal form."

Of course, all the morning as well as the evening papers, recounted, with flaming headings, Dannevig's oration, and his ignominious expulsion from the mass-meeting, and the most unsparing ridicule was showered both upon him and the journal which, for the time, he represented. One more experience of a similar nature terminated his career as a journalist; I dared no longer espouse his cause and he was dismissed in disgrace. For some weeks he vanished from my horizon, and I began to hope that he had again set his face toward the Old World, where talents of the order he possessed are at higher premium in the social market. But in this hope I was to be grievously disappointed.


One day, just as I had ordered my lunch at a restaurant much frequented by journalists, a German, named Pfeifer, one of the largest stockholders in our paper, entered and seated himself at the table opposite me. He was a somewhat puffy and voluminous man with a very round bald head, and an air of defiant prosperity about him. He had retired from the brewery business some years ago, with a very handsome fortune.

"I have been hunting for you high and low," he began in his native tongue. "You know there is to be a ball in the Turnverein to-morrow night,--a very grand affair, they say. I suppose they have sent you tickets."

"Yes, two."

"And are you going?"

"I had half made up my mind to send Fenner or some one else."

Mr. Pfeifer here grew superfluously confidential and related to me in a mysterious whisper his object in seeking me. The fact was, he had a niece really ein allerliebstes Kind, who had come from Milwaukee to visit him and was to spend the winter with him. Now, to be honest, he knew very few young gentlemen whom he would be willing to have her associate with, and the poor child had set her heart on going to the Turn-ball to-morrow. Would I kindly overlook the informality of his request, and without telling the young lady of his share in the proceeding, offer her my escort to the ball? Would I be responsible for her and bring her home in good season? And to avert Fraulein Pfeifer's possible suspicions, would I come and dine at his house to-night and make her acquaintance?

To refuse the acquaintance of a young lady who even remotely answered to the description of "a very lovely child," was contrary to my principles, and I need not add that I proved faithful to them in the present instance.

A German, even if he be not what one would call a cultivated man, has nevertheless a certain sombre historic background to his life which makes him averse to those garish effects of barbaric splendor that impress one so unpleasantly in the houses of Americans whose prosperity is unsupported by a corresponding amount of culture. This was my first reflection on entering Mr. Pfeifer's drawing-room, while in my heart I begged the proprietor's pardon for the patronizing attitude I found myself assuming toward him. The heavy, solid furniture, the grave and decorously mediocre pictures, and the very tint of the walls wore an air of substantial, though somewhat lugubrious comfort. His niece, too, although her form was by no means lacking in grace, seemed somehow to partake of this all-pervading air of Teutonic solidity and homelike comfort. She was one of those women who seemed born to make some wretched man undeservedly happy. (I always feel a certain dim hostility to any man, even though I may not know him, who marries a charming and lovable woman; it is with me a foregone conclusion that he has been blessed beyond his deserts.) There was a sweet matronliness and quiet dignity in her manner, and beneath the placid surface of her blue eyes I suspected hidden depths of pure maidenly sentiment. The cast of her countenance was distinctly Germanic; not strikingly beautiful, perhaps, but extremely pleasing; there was no discordant feature in it, no loud or harsh suggestion to mar the subdued richness of the whole picture. Her blond hair was twisted into a massive coil on the top of her head, and the unobtrusive simplicity and taste of her toilet were merely her character (as I had conceived it) translated into millinery. My feelings, as I stood gazing at her, unconsciously formulated themselves into the well-known benediction of Heine's, which I could with difficult keep from quoting:

"Mir ist als ob ich die Haende,
Auf's Haupt dir legen sollt',
Betend dass Gott dich erhalte,
So rein mid schoen und hold."

I observed with quiet amusement, though in a very sympathetic spirit, that she did not manage her train well; and from the furtive attention she was ever bestowing upon it, I concluded that her experience with long dresses must have been of recent date. I noticed, too, as she came forward to salute me, that her hands were not unused to toil; but for this I only honored her the more.

The dinner was as serious and substantial as everything else in Mr. Pfeifer's house, and passed off without any notable incident. The host persisted in talking business with me, which the young lady, at whose side I sat, accepted as a matter-of-course, making apparently no claim whatever upon the smallest share of my attention. When the long and tedious meal was at an end, upon her uncle's suggestion, she seated herself at the piano, and sang in a deep, powerful contralto, Schubert's magnificent arrangement of Heine's song of unrequited love:

"Ich grolle nicht, und wenn das Herz auch bricht,
Ewig verlornes Lieb! ich grolle nicht.
Wie du auch strahlst in Diamantenpracht,
Es fallt kein Strahl in deines Herzens Nacht."

There was a pathos and passion in her voice which fairly startled me, and when I hastened to her side to thank her for the pleasure she had given me, she accepted my compliments with a beautiful, unaffected enthusiasm, as if they were meant only for the composer, and were in no respect due to her.

"There is such a depth of suffering in every word and note," she said with glowing cheeks. "He bears her no ill-will, he says, and still you feel how the suppressed bitterness is still rankling within him."

She then sang "Auf Fluegeln des Gesanges," whereupon we sat down and talked music and Heine for the rest of the evening. Mr. Pfeifer, reclining in his capacious easy-chair, smoked on with slow, brooding contentment, and now and then threw in a disparaging remark regarding our favorite poet.

"He blackguarded his country abominably," he said. "And I have no respect for a man who can do that. Besides, he was a miserable, renegade Jew, and as I never like to have any more to do with Jews than I can possibly help, I have never read any of his books."

"But, uncle," retorted his niece, warmly, "he certainly could not help being a Jew. And there was no one who loved Germany more ardently than he, even though he did say severe things about it."

"That is a thing about which you can have no opinion, Hildegard," said Pfeifer, with paternal decision; and he blew a dense cloud of smoke toward the ceiling.

Miss Hildegard looked rebellious for an instant, but accepted the verdict of superior wisdom with submissive silence. The old man gave me a little confidential wink as if to say:

"There is a model girl for you. She knows that women should not speak in meeting."

"What a delightfully fresh and unspoiled girl," I reflected, as I wended my way homeward through the still moonlight; "so true-hearted, and genuine, and unaffected. And still beneath all that sweet, womanly tranquillity there are strong slumbering forces, which some day will startle some phlegmatic countryman of hers, who takes her to be as submissive as she looks."


Some fifteen minutes after the appointed hour I called with a carriage for Fraulein Hildegard, whom, to my wonder, I found standing in all the glory of her ball-toilet (for she was evidently afraid to sit down) in the middle of the sombre drawing-room. I had been prepared to wait for a good half-hour, and accordingly felt a little provoked at myself for my seeming negligence.

"I do not mind telling you," she said, as I sat compressed in a corner of the carriage, striving to reduce myself to the smallest practicable dimensions, "that this is my first ball. I don't know any of the gentlemen who will be there to-night, but I know two or three Milwaukee ladies who have promised to come, so, even if I don't dance much, I shall not feel lonely."

"Of course you will give me the first chance at your card," I answered. "How many dances will you grant me?"

"As many as you want. Uncle was very explicit in impressing upon me that I am to obey you unquestioningly and have no will of my own."

"That was very unkind of him. I shall be unwilling to claim any privilege which you do not of your own free will bestow upon me."

"I didn't mean it so," she answered, impulsively, and by the passing light of a gas-lamp I caught a glimpse of her beaming, innocent face. "I shall not be apt to forget that I am indebted to your kindness for all the pleasure I shall have to-night, and if you wish to dance with me, of course it is very kind of you."

"Well, that is not much better," I murmured, ruefully, feeling very guilty at heart. "On that ground I should be still more reluctant to assert my claim on you."

"Oh, what a bungler I am!" she exclaimed with half-amused regret. "The truth is, I am so glad, and when I am very happy I always make blundering speeches."

As we entered the magnificently lighted and decorated hall, I noticed, to my dismay, that the company was a little more mixed than I had anticipated. I had, therefore, no scruples in putting down my name for four waltzes and a quadrille. I observed, too, that my fair partner attracted much attention, partly, perhaps, on account of her beauty, and partly on account of her superb toilet. Her dress was of satin, of a cool, lucid, sea-green tint, such as one sees in the fjords of Norway on a bright summer's day; the illusion was so perfect that in dancing with her I expected every moment to see sea-weeds and pale-green things sprouting up along its border, and the white bunches of lilies-of-the-valley in her hair, as they wafted their faint fragrance toward me, seemed almost an anomaly. She danced, not with vehement abandon, but with an airy, rhythmical grace, as if the music had entered into her soul and her limbs were but obeying their innate tuneful impulse. When we had finished the first waltz, I left her in the company of one of her Milwaukee friends and started out in quest of some acceptable male partner whose touch of her I should not feel to be a positive desecration. I had reached about the middle of the hall when an affectionate slap on my shoulder caused me to turn around.

"Dannevig!" I exclaimed, with frigid amazement "By Jove! Where do you come from? You are as unexpected as a thunderclap from a cloudless sky."

"Which was a sign that Jupiter was wroth," replied Dannevig, promptly, "and required new sacrifices. Now the sacrifice I demand of you is that you shall introduce me to that charming little girl you have had the undeserved luck of securing."

"You choose your metaphors well," I remarked, calmly. "But, as you know, even the Romans with all their reputed hardness of heart, were too conscientious to tolerate human sacrifices. And I, being, in the present instance, the pontifex, would never be a party to such an atrocity."

The transformation which Dannevig's face underwent was almost terrible. A look of perfectly animal savageness distorted for a brief moment his handsome features; his eyes flashed, and his brow was one mass of wrinkles.

"Do you mean to say that you refuse to introduce me?" he asked, in a hoarse whisper.

"That is exactly what I mean to say," I answered, with well-feigned coolness.

"And do you really suppose," he continued, while his brow slowly relaxed, "that you can prevent me from making that girl's acquaintance, if I have made up my mind to thwart you?"

"I don't suppose anything of the kind," was my reply. "But you know me well enough to be aware that you cannot browbeat me. She shall, at all events, not owe your acquaintance to me."

Dannevig stood for a while, pondering; then with one of those sudden transitions of feeling which were so characteristic of him, he continued in a tone of good-fellowship:

"Come, now; this is ridiculous! You have been dining on S----'s leathery beef-steak, which I have so frequently warned you against, and, what is worse, you have had mince pie for dessert. Your digestion is seriously deranged. For old friends like you and me to quarrel over a little chit of a girl, is as absurd as committing suicide because you have scratched your hand with a pin. If your heart is really engaged in this affair, then I wont interfere with you. I wish you luck, although judging by what I have seen, I should say you might have made a better choice. Au revoir."

He skipped lightly down the floor, and was lost in the crowd. Having selected some journalistic friends as partners for Fraulein Hildegard, and listened with great patience to their rhapsodies over her beauty and loveliness, I stationed myself at the upper end of the hall, and in philosophic discontent watched the dancers. Dannevig's parting words had filled me with vague alarm; I knew that they were insincere, and I suspected that he was even now at work to accomplish some disastrous intention. At this moment a couple came whirling straight toward me; a pale-green satin, train swept over my feet, and the cross of the order of Dannebrog sent a swift flash into my very eyes. A fierce exclamation escaped me; my blood was in tumult. I began to feel dangerous. As the usual accelerated rush of violins and drums announced that the dance was near its end, I did not dare to seek my fair partner, and I had no pleasure to feign when I saw her advancing, with a light and eager step, to where I was standing. She was evidently too preoccupied to notice the change I had undergone since our last parting.

"Now," she said, with as near an approach to archness as a woman of her type is capable of, "you must not think me odd if I do something that may seem to you a little bit unconventional. It is only your own kindness to me which encourages me to ask a favor, which I shouldn't wonder if you would rather grant than not. The fact is, there is a gentleman who wishes very much to dance with me, and my card is already full. Now, would you mind giving up one of yours? I know, in the first place, that it was from a sense of duty that--that--that you took so many," she finished desperately, as I refused to come to her aid.

"We will not discuss my motives, Fraulein," I said, with as much friendliness as I had at my command. "But, before granting your not unreasonable request, you must be good enough to tell me who the gentleman is who is to profit by my sacrifice."

"His name is Mr. Dannevig. He is a knight of Dannebrog, and moreover, as he tells me, an intimate friend of yours."

"Tell him, then, Fraulein, that he might have presumed sufficiently upon our friendship to prefer his request in person, instead of sending you as his messenger."

The color sprang to her cheeks; she swept abruptly around, and with an air of outraged majesty, marched defiantly down the hall.

The night wore on. The hour for supper came, and politeness forced me to go and find Miss Pfeifer. Then we sat down in a corner, and ate and chattered in a heedless, dispirited fashion, dwelling with feigned interest on trifling themes, and as by a tacit agreement avoiding each other's glances. Then some gentleman came to claim her, and I was almost glad that she was gone. And yet, in the very next moment a passionate regret came over me, as for a personal loss, and I would fain have called her back and told her, with friendly directness my reasons for interfering so rudely with her pleasure.

I do not know how long I sat thus idly nursing my discontent, and now and then, as my anger blazed up, muttering some fierce execration against Dannevig. What was this girl to me, after all? I was certainly not in love with her. And if she chose to ruin herself, what business had I to prevent her? But then, she was a woman, and a sweet and pure and true-hearted woman; it was, at all events, my duty to open her eyes, and I vowed that, even though she should hate me for it, I would tell her the truth. I looked at my watch; it was a few minutes past two. With a sting of self-reproach, I remembered my promise to Mr. Pfeifer, and resolved not to shirk the responsibility I had voluntarily assumed. I hastened up the hall, then down again, surveyed the dancers, sent a girl into the dressing-room with a message; but Fraulein Hildegard was nowhere to be seen. A horrible thought flashed through me. I seized my hat, and rushed down into the restaurant. There, in an inner apartment, divided from the public room by drooping curtains, I found her, laughing and chatting gayly with Dannevig over a glass of Champagne and a dish of ice-cream.

"Fraulein," I said, approaching her with grave politeness, "I am sorry to be obliged to interrupt this agreeable tete-a-tete. But the carriage has arrived, and I must claim the pleasure of your company."

"Now, really," she exclaimed, with impulsive regret, while her eyes still hung with a fascinated gaze on Dannevig's face, "is it, then, so necessary that we should go just now? Do you really insist upon it? Mr. Dannevig was just telling me some charming adventures of his life in Denmark."

"I am happy to say," I answered, "that I am so well familiar with Mr. Dannevig's adventures as to be quite competent to supplement his fragmentary statements. I shall be very happy to continue the entertainment--"

"Sacr--r-r-e nom de Dieu!" Dannevig burst forth, leaping up from his seat. "This is more than I can bear!" and he pulled a card from his portmonnaie and flung it down on the table before me. "May I request the honor of a meeting?" he continued, in a calmer voice. "It is high time that we two should settle our difficulties in the only way in which they are capable of adjustment."

"Mr. Dannevig," I replied, with a cool irony which I was far from feeling, "the first rule of the code of honor, to which you appeal, is, as you are aware, that the combatants must be equals in birth and station. Now, you boast of being of royal blood, while I have no such claim to distinction. You see, therefore, that your proposition is absurd."

Miss Hildegard had in the meanwhile risen to take my proffered arm, and with a profound bow to the indignant hero we moved out of the room. During our homeward ride hardly a word was spoken; the wheels rattled away over the uneven pavement and the coachman snapped his whip, while we sat in opposite corners of the carriage, each pursuing his or her own lugubrious train of thought. But as we had mounted together the steps to Mr. Pfeifer's mansion, and I was applying her latchkey to the lock, she suddenly held out her hand to me, and I grasped it eagerly and held it close in mine.

"Really," she said in a tone of conciliation, "I like you too well to wish to quarrel with you. Won't you please tell me candidly why you objected to my dancing with Mr. Dannevig?"

"With all my heart," I responded warmly; "if you will give me the opportunity. In the meanwhile you will have to accept my reasons on trust, and believe that they were very weighty. You may feel assured that I should not have run the risk of offending you, if I had not felt convinced that Dannevig is a man whose acquaintance no young lady can claim with impunity. I have known him for many years, and I do not speak rashly."

"I am afraid you are a very severe judge," she murmured sadly. "Good-night."


During the next months many rumors of Dannevig's excesses reached me from various sources. He had obtained a position as interpreter for one of the Immigration Companies, and made semi-monthly excursions to Quebec, taking charge of the immigrants, and conducting them to Chicago. The opportunity for revealing his past history to Miss Pfeifer somehow never presented itself, although I continued to call frequently, and spent many delightful evenings with her and her uncle. However, I consoled myself with the reflection that the occasion for such a revelation no longer existed, and I had no desire needlessly to persecute a man whose iniquities could, at all events, harm no one but himself. And still, knowing from experience his talent for occult diplomacy, I took the precaution (without even remotely implicating Miss Hildegard) to put Mr. Pfeifer on his guard. One evening, as we were sitting alone in his library enjoying a confidential smoke, I related to him, merely as part of the secret history of our paper, some of Dannevig's questionable exploits while in our employ. Pfeifer was hugely entertained, and swore that Dannevig was the most interesting rascal he had ever heard of.

A few days later I was surprised by a call from Dannevig, who seemed again to be in the full bloom of prosperity. And yet, that inexpressible flavor of aristocracy, and that absolute fineness of type which at our first meeting had so fascinated me, had undergone some subtle change which was almost too fleeting for words to express. To put it bluntly, he had not borne transplantation well. Like the finest European grapes, he had thriven in our soil, but turned out a coarser product than nature intended. He talked with oppressive brilliancy about everything under the sun, patronized me (as indeed he had always done), and behaved with a certain effusive amiability, the impudence of which was simply masterly.

"By the way," he cried, with fine unconcern, "speaking of beer, how is your friend, Miss Pfeifer? Her old man, I believe, owns a good deal of stock in this paper, quite a controlling interest, I am told."

"It will not pay to make love to her on that ground, Dannevig," I answered, gravely, knowing well enough that he had come on a diplomatic errand. "Mr. Pfeifer is, in the first place, not her father, and secondly, he has at least a dozen other heirs."

"Make love to Miss Pfeifer!" he exclaimed, with a hearty laugh. "Why, I should just as soon think of making love to General Grant! Taking her all in all, bodily and mentally, there is a certain Teutonic heaviness and tenacity about her--a certain professorial ponderosity of thought which would give me a nightmare. She is the innocent result of twenty generations of beer-drinking."

"Suppose we change the subject, Dannevig," I interrupted, rather impatiently.

"Well, if you are not the oddest piece I ever did come across!" he replied, laughingly. "You don't suppose she is a saint, do you?"

"Yes, I do!" I thundered, "and you would greatly oblige by never mentioning her name again in my presence, or I might be tempted to do what I might regret."

"Heavens!" he cried, laying hold of the door-knob. "I didn't know you were in your dangerous mood to-day. You might at least have given a fellow warning. Suppose, henceforth, when you have your bad days, you post a placard on the door, with the inscription: 'Dangerous--must not be crossed.' Then I might know when not to call. Good-morning."

* * * * *

On the lake shore, a short distance north of Lincoln Park, Mr. Pfeifer had a charming little villa where he spent the summer months in idyllic drowsiness, exhibiting a spasmodic interest in the culture of European grapes. Here I found myself one Saturday evening in the middle of June, having accepted the owner's invitation to stay over Sunday with him. I rang the door-bell, and inquired for Mr. Pfeifer. He had unexpectedly been called in to town, the servant informed me, but would return presently; the young lady I would probably find in the garden. As I was not averse to a tete-a-tete with Miss Hildegard just then, I threaded my way carefully among the flower-beds, whose gorgeous medley of colors gleamed indistinctly through the twilight. A long bar of deep crimson traced itself along the western horizon, and here and there a star was struggling out from the faint, blue, nocturnal dimness. Green and red and yellow lights dotted the surface of the lake, and the waves beat, with a slow, gurgling rhythm, against the strand beneath the garden fence; now and then the irrational shrieks of some shrill-voiced little steamer broke in upon the stillness like an inappropriately lively remark upon a solemn conversation. I had half forgotten my purpose, and was walking aimlessly on, when suddenly I was startled by the sound of human voices, issuing apparently from a dense arbor of grape-vines at the lower end of the walk.

"Why will you not believe me, darling?" some one was saying. A great rush of emotion--fear, anguish, hatred, shook my very soul. "Your scepticism would make Tyndall tear his hair. Angels have no business to be so sceptical. You are always doubting me, always darkening my life by your irrational fears."

"But, Victor," answered another voice, which was none other than Hildegard's, "he is certainly a very good man, and would not tell me anything he believed to be untrue. Why, then, did he warn me so solemnly against you? Even though I love you, I cannot help feeling that there is something in your past which you hide from me."

"If you will listen to that white-livered hypocrite, it is useless for me to try to convince you. But, if you must know it,--though, mind you, I tell you this only because you compel me,--I once interfered, because my conscience forced me to do so, in a very disgraceful love-affair of his in Denmark. He has hated me ever since, and is now taking his vengeance. I will give you the details some other time. Now, are you satisfied?"

"No, Victor, no. I am not. It is not because I have been listening to others, that I torment you with these ungrateful questions. Sometimes a terrible dread comes over me, and though my heart rebels against it, I cannot conquer it. I feel as if some dark memory, some person, either living or dead, were standing between us, and would ever keep you away from me. It is terrible, Victor, but I feel it even now."

"And then all my love, my first and only abiding passion, my life, which I would gladly lay down at your feet--all goes for naught, merely because a foolish dream has taken possession of you. Ah, you are ill, my darling, you are nervous."

"No, no, do not kiss me. Not to-night, Victor, not to-night."

The horrible discovery had completely stunned me. I stood as if spell-bound, and could neither stir nor utter a sound. But a sudden rustling of the leaves within broke through the torpor of my senses, and, with three great strides, I stood at the entrance to the arbor. Dannevig, instantly recognizing me, slipped dexterously out, and in the next moment I heard him leaping over the fence, and running away over the crisp sand. Miss Hildegard stood still and defiant before me in the twilight, and the audible staccato of her breath revealed to my ears the agitation which the deepening shadows hid from my eyes. An overwhelming sense of compassion came over me, as for one who had sustained a mortal hurt that was beyond the power of healing. Alas, that simplicity and uprightness of soul, and the boasted womanly intuitions, should be such poor safeguards against the wiles of the serpent! And yet, I knew that to argue with her at this moment would be worse than vain.

"Fraulein," I said, walking close up to her, and laying my hand lightly on her arm, "with all my heart I deplore this."

"Pray, do not inconvenience yourself with any such superfluous emotion," she answered, in a tone, the forced hauteur of which was truly pathetic. "I wish to hear no accusations of Mr. Dannevig from your mouth. What he does not choose to tell me himself, I will hear from no one else."

"I have not volunteered any revelations, Fraulein," I observed. "Moreover, I see you are posing for your own personal gratification. You wish to convince yourself of your constancy by provoking an attack from me. When love has reached that stage, Miss Hildegard, then the patient is no longer absolutely incurable. Now, to convince you that I am right, will you have the kindness to look me straight in the eyes and tell me that there is no shadow of doubt in your heart as to Mr. Dannevig's truthfulness; that, in other words, you believe that on one occasion he assumed the attitude of indignant virtue toward me, and in holy horror rebuked my profligacy. Dare you meet my eye, and tell me that?"

"Yes," she exclaimed, boldly stepping out into the moonlight, and meeting my eye with a steady gaze; but slowly and gradually the tears would gather, her underlip would quiver, and with a sudden movement she turned around, and burst out weeping.

"Oh, no! I cannot! I cannot!" she sobbed, sinking down upon the green sod.

I stood long gazing mournfully at her, while the sobs shook her frame; there was a child-like, hearty abandon in her grief, which eased my mind, for it told me that her infatuation was not so hopeless, nor her hurt so great as I had feared.

* * * * *

The next evening when dinner was at an end, Mr. Pfeifer proposed a walk in the park. Hildegard pleaded a headache, and wished to be excused.

"Nonsense, child," said Pfeifer, with his usual good-humored peremptoriness. "If you have a headache, so much the more ought you to go. Put on your things now, and don't keep us waiting any longer than you can help."

Hildegard submitted with demure listlessness, and soon re-appeared in her walking costume.

The daylight had faded, and the evening was in its softest, most ethereal mood. The moon was drifting lazily among the light summer clouds, gazing down upon the many-voiced tumult of the crowded city, with that calm philosophic abstraction which always characterizes the moon, as if she, up there in her airy heights, were so infinitely exalted above all the distracting problems and doubts that harass our poor human existence. We entered a concert garden, which was filled with gayly dressed pleasure seekers; somewhere under the green roof of the trees an orchestra was discoursing strains of German music to a Teutonic audience.

"Donnerwetter!" said Pfeifer, enthusiastically; "that is the symphony in E flat; pretty well rendered too. Only hear that"--and he began to whistle the air softly, with lively gesticulations "Come, let us go nearer and listen."

"No, let us stay here, uncle," remonstrated Hildegard. "I don't think it is quite nice to go so near. They are drinking beer there, and there are so many horrible people."

"Nonsense, child! Where did you get all those silly whims from? Where it is respectable for your uncle to go, I am sure it won't hurt you to follow."

We made our way through the throng, and stationed ourselves under a tree, from which we had a full survey of the merry company, seated at small tables, with huge foam-crowned mugs of beer before them. Suddenly a voice, somewhat louder than the rest, disentangled itself from the vague, inarticulate buzz, which filled the air about us. Swift as a flash my eyes darted in the direction from which the voice came. There, within a few dozen steps from us, sat Dannevig between two gaudily attired women; another man was seated at the opposite side of the table, and between them stood a couple of bottles and several half-filled glasses. The sight was by no means new to me, and still, in that moment, it filled me with unspeakable disgust. The knight of Dannebrog was as charmingly free-and-easy as if he were nestled securely in the privacy of his own fireside; his fine plumes were deplorably ruffled, his hat thrust back, and his hair hanging in tangled locks down over his forehead; his eyes were heavy, and a smile of maudlin happiness played about his mouth.

"Now, don't make yourself precious, my dear," he was saying, laying his arm affectionately around the waist of the woman on his right. "I like German kisses. I speak from experience. Angels have no business to be--"

"Himmel, what is the matter with the child," cried Pfeifer, in a voice of alarm. "Why, my dear, you tremble all over. I ought not to have made you go out with that headache. Wait here while I run for some water."

Before I could offer my services, he was gone, leaving me alone with Hildegard.

"Let us go," she whispered, with a long, shuddering sigh, turning a white face, full of fright, disgust, and pitiful appeal toward me.

"Shall we not wait for your uncle?" I asked.

"Oh, I cannot. Let us go," she repeated, seizing my arm, and clinging convulsively to me.

We walked slowly away, and were soon overtaken by Mr. Pfeifer.

"How do you feel now, child?" he inquired anxiously.

"Oh, I feel--I feel--unclean," she whispered and shuddered again.


Two years passed, during which I completely lost sight of Dannevig. I learned that he had been dismissed from the service of the Immigration Company; that he played second violin for a few months at one of the lowest city theatres, and finally made a bold stroke for fame by obtaining the Democratic nomination for County Clerk. I was faithless enough, however, to call attention to the fact that he had never been naturalized, whereupon, a new caucus was called, and another candidate was put into the field.

The Pfeifers I continued to see frequently, and, at last, at Hildegard's own suggestion, told her the story I had so long withheld from her. She showed very little emotion, but sat pale and still with her hands folded in her lap, gazing gravely at me. When I had finished, she arose, walked the length of the room, then returned, and stopped in front of me.

"Human life seems at times a very flimsy affair, doesn't it?" she said, appealing to me again with her direct gaze.

"Yes, if one takes a cynical view of it," I answered.

She stood for a while pondering.

"Did I ever know that man?" she asked, looking up abruptly.

"You know best."

"Then it must have been very, very long ago."

A slight shiver ran through her frame. She shook my hand silently, and left the room.

One evening in the summer of 1870, just as the news from the Franco-Prussian war was arousing the enthusiasm of our Teutonic fellow-citizens, I was sauntering leisurely homeward, pondering with much satisfaction on the course history was taking. About half a mile from the Clark street bridge I found my progress checked by a crowd of men who had gathered on the sidewalk outside of a German saloon, and were evidently discussing some exciting topic. My journalistic instincts prompted me to stop and listen to the discussion.

"Poor fellow, I guess he is done for," some one was saying. "But they were both drunk; you couldn't expect anything else."

"Is any one hurt?" I asked, addressing my next neighbor in the crowd.

"Yes. It was a poor fool of a Dane. He got into a row with somebody about the war. Said he would undertake to whip ten Deutschers single-handed; that he had done so many a time in the Schleswig-Holstein war. Then there was some fighting, and he was shot."

I spoke a few words to the policeman at the door, and was admitted. The saloon was empty but in the billiard-room at its rear I saw a doctor in his shirt-sleeves, bending over a man who lay outstretched on a billiard-table. A bartender was standing by with a basin of water and a bloody towel.

"Do you know his name?" I inquired of the police officer.

"They used to call him Danish Bill," he answered. "Have known him for a good while. Believe his real name was Danborg, or Dan--something."

"Not Dannevig?" I cried.

"Dannevig? Yes, I guess you have got it."

I hastily approached the table. There lay Dannevig--but I would rather not describe him. It was hard to believe it, but this heavy-lidded, coarse-skinned, red-veined countenance bore a cruel, caricatured resemblance to the clean-cut, exquisitely modelled face of the man I had once called my friend. A death-like stupor rested upon his features; his eyes were closed, but his mouth half open.

"By Jove!" exclaimed the physician, in a burst of professional enthusiasm, "what a splendid animal he must have been! Hardly saw a better made man in all my life."

"But he is not dead!" I protested, somewhat anxiously.

"No; but he has no chance, that I can see. May last over to-morrow, but hardly longer. Does any one know where he lodges?"

No one answered.

"But, Himmel! he cannot stay here." The voice was the bartender's, but it seemed to be addressed to no one in particular.

"I have known him for years," I said. "Take him to my rooms; they are only a dozen blocks away."

A carriage was sent for, and away we drove, the doctor and I, slowly, cautiously, holding the still unconscious man between us. We laid him on my bed, and the doctor departed, promising to return before morning.

A little after midnight Dannevig became restless, and as I went to his side, opened his eyes with a look of full, startled consciousness.

"I'm about played out, old fellow, aint I?" he groaned.

I motioned to him to be silent.

"No," he went on, in a strained whisper, "it is no use now. I know well enough how I stand. You needn't try to fool me."

He lay for a while motionless, while his eyes wandered restlessly about the room. He made an effort to speak, but his words were inaudible. I stooped over him, laying my ear to his mouth.

"Can--can you lend me five dollars?"

I nodded.

"You will find--a pawnbroker's check--in my vest pocket," he continued. "The address is--is--on it. Redeem it. It is a ring. Send it--to--to the Countess von Brehm--with--with--my compliments," he finished with a groan.

We spent several hours in silence. About three o'clock the doctor paid a brief visit; and I read in his face that the end was near. The first sunbeams stole through the closed shutters and scattered little quivering fragments of light upon the carpet. A deep stillness reigned about us. As I sat watching the defaced ruin of what had been, to me at least, one of the noblest forms which a human spirit ever inhabited, the past moved in a vivid retrospect before my eye, and many strange reflections thronged upon me. Presently Dannevig called me and I stood again bowing over him.

"When you--bury me," he said in a broken whisper. "Carry my--cross of--Dannebrog--on a cushion after me." And again after a moment's pause: "I have--made a--nice mess of it, haven t I? I--I--think it would--have--have been better for--me, if--I had been--somebody else."

Within an hour he was dead. Myself and two policemen followed him to the grave; and the cross of Dannebrog, with a much soiled red ribbon, was carried on a velvet cushion after his coffin.

[The end]
Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen's short story: A Knight Of Dannebrog