THERE was once a sculptor, named Alfred, who having won
the large gold medal and obtained a travelling scholarship,
went to Italy, and then came back to his native land. He was
young at that time- indeed, he is young still, although he is
ten years older than he was then. On his return, he went to
visit one of the little towns in the island of Zealand. The
whole town knew who the stranger was; and one of the richest
men in the place gave a party in his honor, and all who were
of any consequence, or who possessed some property, were
invited. It was quite an event, and all the town knew of it,
so that it was not necessary to announce it by beat of drum.
Apprentice-boys, children of the poor, and even the poor
people themselves, stood before the house, watching the
lighted windows; and the watchman might easily fancy he was
giving a party also, there were so many people in the streets.
There was quite an air of festivity about it, and the house
was full of it; for Mr. Alfred, the sculptor, was there. He
talked and told anecdotes, and every one listened to him with
pleasure, not unmingled with awe; but none felt so much
respect for him as did the elderly widow of a naval officer.
She seemed, so far as Mr. Alfred was concerned, to be like a
piece of fresh blotting-paper that absorbed all he said and
asked for more. She was very appreciative, and incredibly
ignorant- a kind of female Gaspar Hauser.
'I should like to see Rome,' she said; 'it must be a
lovely city, or so many foreigners would not be constantly
arriving there. Now, do give me a description of Rome. How
does the city look when you enter in at the gate?'
'I cannot very well describe it,' said the sculptor; 'but
you enter on a large open space, in the centre of which stands
an obelisk, which is a thousand years old.'
'An organist!' exclaimed the lady, who had never heard the
word 'obelisk.' Several of the guests could scarcely forbear
laughing, and the sculptor would have had some difficulty in
keeping his countenance, but the smile on his lips faded away;
for he caught sight of a pair of dark-blue eyes close by the
side of the inquisitive lady. They belonged to her daughter;
and surely no one who had such a daughter could be silly. The
mother was like a fountain of questions; and the daughter, who
listened but never spoke, might have passed for the beautiful
maid of the fountain. How charming she was! She was a study
for the sculptor to contemplate, but not to converse with; for
she did not speak, or, at least, very seldom.
'Has the pope a great family?' inquired the lady.
The young man answered considerately, as if the question
had been a different one, 'No; he does not come from a great
'That is not what I asked,' persisted the widow; 'I mean,
has he a wife and children?'
'The pope is not allowed to marry,' replied the gentleman.
'I don't like that,' was the lady's remark.
She certainly might have asked more sensible questions;
but if she had not been allowed to say just what she liked,
would her daughter have been there, leaning so gracefully on
her shoulder, and looking straight before her, with a smile
that was almost mournful on her face?
Mr. Alfred again spoke of Italy, and of the glorious
colors in Italian scenery; the purple hills, the deep blue of
the Mediterranean, the azure of southern skies, whose
brightness and glory could only be surpassed in the north by
the deep-blue eyes of a maiden; and he said this with a
peculiar intonation; but she who should have understood his
meaning looked quite unconscious of it, which also was
'Beautiful Italy!' sighed some of the guests.
'Oh, to travel there!' exclaimed others.
'Charming! Charming!' echoed from every voice.
'I may perhaps win a hundred thousand dollars in the
lottery,' said the naval officer's widow; 'and if I do, we
will travel- I and my daughter; and you, Mr. Alfred, must be
our guide. We can all three travel together, with one or two
more of our good friends.' And she nodded in such a friendly
way at the company, that each imagined himself to be the
favored person who was to accompany them to Italy. 'Yes, we
must go,' she continued; 'but not to those parts where there
are robbers. We will keep to Rome. In the public roads one is
The daughter sighed very gently; and how much there may be
in a sigh, or attributed to it! The young man attributed a
great deal of meaning to this sigh. Those deep-blue eyes,
which had been lit up this evening in honor of him, must
conceal treasures, treasures of heart and mind, richer than
all the glories of Rome; and so when he left the party that
night, he had lost it completely to the young lady. The house
of the naval officer's widow was the one most constantly
visited by Mr. Alfred, the sculptor. It was soon understood
that his visits were not intended for that lady, though they
were the persons who kept up the conversation. He came for the
sake of the daughter. They called her Kaela. Her name was
really Karen Malena, and these two names had been contracted
into the one name Kaela. She was really beautiful; but some
said she was rather dull, and slept late of a morning.
'She has been accustomed to that,' her mother said. 'She
is a beauty, and they are always easily tired. She does sleep
rather late; but that makes her eyes so clear.'
What power seemed to lie in the depths of those dark eyes!
The young man felt the truth of the proverb, 'Still waters run
deep:' and his heart had sunk into their depths. He often
talked of his adventures, and the mamma was as simple and
eager in her questions as on the first evening they met. It
was a pleasure to hear Alfred describe anything. He showed
them colored plates of Naples, and spoke of excursions to
Mount Vesuvius, and the eruptions of fire from it. The naval
officer's widow had never heard of them before.
'Good heavens!' she exclaimed. 'So that is a burning
mountain; but is it not very dangerous to the people who live
'Whole cities have been destroyed,' he replied; 'for
instance, Herculaneum and Pompeii.'
'Oh, the poor people! And you saw all that with your own
'No; I did not see any of the eruptions which are
represented in those pictures; but I will show you a sketch of
my own, which represents an eruption I once saw.'
He placed a pencil sketch on the table; and mamma, who had
been over-powered with the appearance of the colored plates,
threw a glance at the pale drawing and cried in astonishment,
'What, did you see it throw up white fire?'
For a moment, Alfred's respect for Kaela's mamma underwent
a sudden shock, and lessened considerably; but, dazzled by the
light which surrounded Kaela, he soon found it quite natural
that the old lady should have no eye for color. After all, it
was of very little consequence; for Kaela's mamma had the best
of all possessions; namely, Kaela herself.
Alfred and Kaela were betrothed, which was a very natural
result; and the betrothal was announced in the newspaper of
the little town. Mama purchased thirty copies of the paper,
that she might cut out the paragraph and send it to friends
and acquaintances. The betrothed pair were very happy, and the
mother was happy too. She said it seemed like connecting
herself with Thorwalsden.
'You are a true successor of Thorwalsden,' she said to
Alfred; and it seemed to him as if, in this instance, mamma
had said a clever thing. Kaela was silent; but her eyes shone,
her lips smiled, every movement was graceful,- in fact, she
was beautiful; that cannot be repeated too often. Alfred
decided to take a bust of Kaela as well as of her mother. They
sat to him accordingly, and saw how he moulded and formed the
soft clay with his fingers.
'I suppose it is only on our account that you perform this
common-place work yourself, instead of leaving it to your
servant to do all that sticking together.'
'It is really necessary that I should mould the clay
myself,' he replied.
'Ah, yes, you are always so polite,' said mamma, with a
smile; and Kaela silently pressed his hand, all soiled as it
was with the clay.
Then he unfolded to them both the beauties of Nature, in
all her works; he pointed out to them how, in the scale of
creation, inanimate matter was inferior to animate nature; the
plant above the mineral, the animal above the plant, and man
above them all. He strove to show them how the beauty of the
mind could be displayed in the outward form, and that it was
the sculptor's task to seize upon that beauty of expression,
and produce it in his works. Kaela stood silent, but nodded in
approbation of what he said, while mamma-in-law made the
'It is difficult to follow you; but I go hobbling along
after you with my thoughts, though what you say makes my head
whirl round and round. Still I contrive to lay hold on some of
Kaela's beauty had a firm hold on Alfred; it filled his
soul, and held a mastery over him. Beauty beamed from Kaela's
every feature, glittered in her eyes, lurked in the corners of
her mouth, and pervaded every movement of her agile fingers.
Alfred, the sculptor, saw this. He spoke only to her, thought
only of her, and the two became one; and so it may be said she
spoke much, for he was always talking to her; and he and she
were one. Such was the betrothal, and then came the wedding,
with bride's-maids and wedding presents, all duly mentioned in
the wedding speech. Mamma-in-law had set up Thorwalsden's bust
at the end of the table, attired in a dressing-gown; it was
her fancy that he should be a guest. Songs were sung, and
cheers given; for it was a gay wedding, and they were a
handsome pair. 'Pygmalion loved his Galatea,' said one of the
'Ah, that is some of your mythologies,' said mamma-in-law.
Next day the youthful pair started for Copenhagen, where
they were to live; mamma-in-law accompanied them, to attend to
the 'coarse work,' as she always called the domestic
arrangements. Kaela looked like a doll in a doll's house, for
everything was bright and new, and so fine. There they sat,
all three; and as for Alfred, a proverb may describe his
position- he looked like a swan amongst the geese. The magic
of form had enchanted him; he had looked at the casket without
caring to inquire what it contained, and that omission often
brings the greatest unhappiness into married life. The casket
may be injured, the gilding may fall off, and then the
purchaser regrets his bargain.
In a large party it is very disagreeable to find a button
giving way, with no studs at hand to fall back upon; but it is
worse still in a large company to be conscious that your wife
and mother-in-law are talking nonsense, and that you cannot
depend upon yourself to produce a little ready wit to carry
off the stupidity of the whole affair.
The young married pair often sat together hand in hand; he
would talk, but she could only now and then let fall a word in
the same melodious voice, the same bell-like tones. It was a
mental relief when Sophy, one of her friends, came to pay them
a visit. Sophy was not, pretty. She was, however, quite free
from any physical deformity, although Kaela used to say she
was a little crooked; but no eye, save an intimate
acquaintance, would have noticed it. She was a very sensible
girl, yet it never occurred to her that she might be a
dangerous person in such a house. Her appearance created a new
atmosphere in the doll's house, and air was really required,
they all owned that. They felt the want of a change of air,
and consequently the young couple and their mother travelled
'Thank heaven we are at home again within our own four
walls,' said mamma-in-law and daughter both, on their return
after a year's absence.
'There is no real pleasure in travelling,' said mamma; 'to
tell the truth, it's very wearisome; I beg pardon for saying
so. I was soon very tired of it, although I had my children
with me; and, besides, it's very expensive work travelling,
very expensive. And all those galleries one is expected to
see, and the quantity of things you are obliged to run after!
It must be done, for very shame; you are sure to be asked when
you come back if you have seen everything, and will most
likely be told that you've omitted to see what was best worth
seeing of all. I got tired at last of those endless Madonnas;
I began to think I was turning into a Madonna myself.'
'And then the living, mamma,' said Kaela.
'Yes, indeed,' she replied, 'no such a thing as a
respectable meat soup- their cookery is miserable stuff.'
The journey had also tired Kaela; but she was always
fatigued, that was the worst of it. So they sent for Sophy,
and she was taken into the house to reside with them, and her
presence there was a great advantage. Mamma-in-law
acknowledged that Sophy was not only a clever housewife, but
well-informed and accomplished, though that could hardly be
expected in a person of her limited means. She was also a
generous-hearted, faithful girl; she showed that thoroughly
while Kaela lay sick, fading away. When the casket is
everything, the casket should be strong, or else all is over.
And all was over with the casket, for Kaela died.
'She was beautiful,' said her mother; 'she was quite
different from the beauties they call 'antiques,' for they are
so damaged. A beauty ought to be perfect, and Kaela was a
Alfred wept, and mamma wept, and they both wore mourning.
The black dress suited mamma very well, and she wore mourning
the longest. She had also to experience another grief in
seeing Alfred marry again, marry Sophy, who was nothing at all
to look at. 'He's gone to the very extreme,' said
mamma-in-law; 'he has gone from the most beautiful to the
ugliest, and he has forgotten his first wife. Men have no
constancy. My husband was a very different man,- but then he
died before me.'
''Pygmalion loved his Galatea,' was in the song they sung
at my first wedding,' said Alfred; 'I once fell in love with a
beautiful statue, which awoke to life in my arms; but the
kindred soul, which is a gift from heaven, the angel who can
feel and sympathize with and elevate us, I have not found and
won till now. You came, Sophy, not in the glory of outward
beauty, though you are even fairer than is necessary. The
chief thing still remains. You came to teach the sculptor that
his work is but dust and clay only, an outward form made of a
material that decays, and that what we should seek to obtain
is the ethereal essence of mind and spirit. Poor Kaela! our
life was but as a meeting by the way-side; in yonder world,
where we shall know each other from a union of mind, we shall
be but mere acquaintances.'
'That was not a loving speech,' said Sophy, 'nor spoken
like a Christian. In a future state, where there is neither
marrying nor giving in marriage, but where, as you say, souls
are attracted to each other by sympathy; there everything
beautiful develops itself, and is raised to a higher state of
existence: her soul will acquire such completeness that it may
harmonize with yours, even more than mine, and you will then
once more utter your first rapturous exclamation of your love,
'Beautiful, most beautiful!''