OUR scene is laid in Northern Jutland, in the so-called
'wild moor.' We hear what is called the 'Wester-wow-wow'- the
peculiar roar of the North Sea as it breaks against the
western coast of Jutland. It rolls and thunders with a sound
that penetrates for miles into the land; and we are quite near
the roaring. Before us rises a great mound of sand- a mountain
we have long seen, and towards which we are wending our way,
driving slowly along through the deep sand. On this mountain
of sand is a lofty old building- the convent of Borglum. In
one of its wings (the larger one) there is still a church. And
at this convent we now arrive in the late evening hour; but
the weather is clear in the bright June night around us, and
the eye can range far, far over field and moor to the Bay of
Aalborg, over heath and meadow, and far across the deep blue
Now we are there, and roll past between barns and other
farm buildings; and at the left of the gate we turn aside to
the Old Castle Farm, where the lime trees stand in lines along
the walls, and, sheltered from the wind and weather, grow so
luxuriantly that their twigs and leaves almost conceal the
We mount the winding staircase of stone, and march through
the long passages under the heavy roof-beams. The wind moans
very strangely here, both within and without. It is hardly
known how, but the people say- yes, people say a great many
things when they are frightened or want to frighten others-
they say that the old dead choir-men glide silently past us
into the church, where mass is sung. They can be heard in the
rushing of the storm, and their singing brings up strange
thoughts in the hearers- thoughts of the old times into which
we are carried back.
On the coast a ship is stranded; and the bishop's warriors
are there, and spare not those whom the sea has spared. The
sea washes away the blood that has flowed from the cloven
skulls. The stranded goods belong to the bishop, and there is
a store of goods here. The sea casts up tubs and barrels
filled with costly wine for the convent cellar, and in the
convent is already good store of beer and mead. There is
plenty in the kitchen- dead game and poultry, hams and
sausages; and fat fish swim in the ponds without.
The Bishop of Borglum is a mighty lord. He has great
possessions, but still he longs for more- everything must bow
before the mighty Olaf Glob. His rich cousin at Thyland is
dead, and his widow is to have the rich inheritance. But how
comes it that one relation is always harder towards another
than even strangers would be? The widow's husband had
possessed all Thyland, with the exception of the church
property. Her son was not at home. In his boyhood he had
already started on a journey, for his desire was to see
foreign lands and strange people. For years there had been no
news of him. Perhaps he had been long laid in the grave, and
would never come back to his home, to rule where his mother
'What has a woman to do with rule?' said the bishop.
He summoned the widow before a law court; but what did he
gain thereby? The widow had never been disobedient to the law,
and was strong in her just rights.
Bishop Olaf of Borglum, what dost thou purpose? What
writest thou on yonder smooth parchment, sealing it with thy
seal, and intrusting it to the horsemen and servants, who ride
away, far away, to the city of the Pope?
It is the time of falling leaves and of stranded ships,
and soon icy winter will come.
Twice had icy winter returned before the bishop welcomed
the horsemen and servants back to their home. They came from
Rome with a papal decree- a ban, or bull, against the widow
who had dared to offend the pious bishop. 'Cursed be she and
all that belongs to her. Let her be expelled from the
congregation and the Church. Let no man stretch forth a
helping hand to her, and let friends and relations avoid her
as a plague and a pestilence!'
'What will not bend must break,' said the Bishop of
And all forsake the widow; but she holds fast to her God.
He is her helper and defender.
One servant only- an old maid- remained faithful to her;
and with the old servant, the widow herself followed the
plough; and the crop grew, although the land had been cursed
by the Pope and by the bishop.
'Thou child of perdition, I will yet carry out my
purpose!' cried the Bishop of Borglum. 'Now will I lay the
hand of the Pope upon thee, to summon thee before the tribunal
that shall condemn thee!'
Then did the widow yoke the last two oxen that remained to
her to a wagon, and mounted up on the wagon, with her old
servant, and travelled away across the heath out of the Danish
land. As a stranger she came into a foreign country, where a
strange tongue was spoken and where new customs prevailed.
Farther and farther she journeyed, to where green hills rise
into mountains, and the vine clothes their sides. Strange
merchants drive by her, and they look anxiously after their
wagons laden with merchandise. They fear an attack from the
armed followers of the robber-knights. The two poor women, in
their humble vehicle drawn by two black oxen, travel
fearlessly through the dangerous sunken road and through the
darksome forest. And now they were in Franconia. And there met
them a stalwart knight, with a train of twelve armed
followers. He paused, gazed at the strange vehicle, and
questioned the women as to the goal of their journey and the
place whence they came. Then one of them mentioned Thyland in
Denmark, and spoke of her sorrows, of her woes, which were
soon to cease, for so Divine Providence had willed it. For the
stranger knight is the widow's son! He seized her hand, he
embraced her, and the mother wept. For years she had not been
able to weep, but had only bitten her lips till the blood
It is the time of falling leaves and of stranded ships,
and soon will icy winter come.
The sea rolled wine-tubs to the shore for the bishop's
cellar. In the kitchen the deer roasted on the spit before the
fire. At Borglum it was warm and cheerful in the heated rooms,
while cold winter raged without, when a piece of news was
brought to the bishop. 'Jens Glob, of Thyland, has come back,
and his mother with him.' Jens Glob laid a complaint against
the bishop, and summoned him before the temporal and the
'That will avail him little,' said the bishop. 'Best leave
off thy efforts, knight Jens.'
Again it is the time of falling leaves and stranded ships.
Icy winter comes again, and the 'white bees' are swarming, and
sting the traveller's face till they melt.
'Keen weather to-day!' say the people, as they step in.
Jens Glob stands so deeply wrapped in thought, that he
singes the skirt of his wide garment.
'Thou Borglum bishop,' he exclaims, 'I shall subdue thee
after all! Under the shield of the Pope, the law cannot reach
thee; but Jens Glob shall reach thee!'
Then he writes a letter to his brother-in-law, Olaf Hase,
in Sallingland, and prays that knight to meet him on Christmas
eve, at mass, in the church at Widberg. The bishop himself is
to read the mass, and consequently will journey from Borglum
to Thyland; and this is known to Jens Glob.
Moorland and meadow are covered with ice and snow. The
marsh will bear horse and rider, the bishop with his priests
and armed men. They ride the shortest way, through the waving
reeds, where the wind moans sadly.
Blow thy brazen trumpet, thou trumpeter clad in fox-skin!
it sounds merrily in the clear air. So they ride on over heath
and moorland- over what is the garden of Fata Morgana in the
hot summer, though now icy, like all the country- towards the
church of Widberg.
The wind is blowing his trumpet too- blowing it harder and
harder. He blows up a storm- a terrible storm- that increases
more and more. Towards the church they ride, as fast as they
may through the storm. The church stands firm, but the storm
careers on over field and moorland, over land and sea.
Borglum's bishop reaches the church; but Olaf Hase will
scarce do so, however hard he may ride. He journeys with his
warriors on the farther side of the bay, in order that he may
help Jens Glob, now that the bishop is to be summoned before
the judgment seat of the Highest.
The church is the judgment hall; the altar is the council
table. The lights burn clear in the heavy brass candelabra.
The storm reads out the accusation and the sentence, roaming
in the air over moor and heath, and over the rolling waters.
No ferry-boat can sail over the bay in such weather as this.
Olaf Hase makes halt at Ottesworde. There he dismisses his
warriors, presents them with their horses and harness, and
gives them leave to ride home and greet his wife. He intends
to risk his life alone in the roaring waters; but they are to
bear witness for him that it is not his fault if Jens Glob
stands without reinforcement in the church at Widberg. The
faithful warriors will not leave him, but follow him out into
the deep waters. Ten of them are carried away; but Olaf Hase
and two of the youngest men reach the farther side. They have
still four miles to ride.
It is past midnight. It is Christmas. The wind has abated.
The church is lighted up; the gleaming radiance shines through
the window-frames, and pours out over meadow and heath. The
mass has long been finished, silence reigns in the church, and
the wax is heard dropping from the candles to the stone
pavement. And now Olaf Hase arrives.
In the forecourt Jens Glob greets him kindly, and says,
'I have just made an agreement with the bishop.'
'Sayest thou so?' replied Olaf Hase. 'Then neither thou
nor the bishop shall quit this church alive.'
And the sword leaps from the scabbard, and Olaf Hase deals
a blow that makes the panel of the church door, which Jens
Glob hastily closes between them, fly in fragments.
'Hold, brother! First hear what the agreement was that I
made. I have slain the bishop and his warriors and priests.
They will have no word more to say in the matter, nor will I
speak again of all the wrong that my mother has endured.'
The long wicks of the altar lights glimmer red; but there
is a redder gleam upon the pavement, where the bishop lies
with cloven skull, and his dead warriors around him, in the
quiet of the holy Christmas night.
And four days afterwards the bells toll for a funeral in
the convent of Borglum. The murdered bishop and the slain
warriors and priests are displayed under a black canopy,
surrounded by candelabra decked with crape. There lies the
dead man, in the black cloak wrought with silver; the crozier
in the powerless hand that was once so mighty. The incense
rises in clouds, and the monks chant the funeral hymn. It
sounds like a wail- it sounds like a sentence of wrath and
condemnation, that must be heard far over the land, carried by
the wind- sung by the wind- the wail that sometimes is silent,
but never dies; for ever again it rises in song, singing even
into our own time this legend of the Bishop of Borglum and his
hard nephew. It is heard in the dark night by the frightened
husbandman, driving by in the heavy sandy road past the
convent of Borglum. It is heard by the sleepless listener in
the thickly-walled rooms at Borglum. And not only to the ear
of superstition is the sighing and the tread of hurrying feet
audible in the long echoing passages leading to the convent
door that has long been locked. The door still seems to open,
and the lights seem to flame in the brazen candlesticks; the
fragrance of incense arises; the church gleams in its ancient
splendor; and the monks sing and say the mass over the slain
bishop, who lies there in the black silver-embroidered mantle,
with the crozier in his powerless hand; and on his pale proud
forehead gleams the red wound like fire, and there burn the
worldly mind and the wicked thoughts.
Sink down into his grave- into oblivion- ye terrible
shapes of the times of old!
Hark to the raging of the angry wind, sounding above the
rolling sea! A storm approaches without, calling aloud for
human lives. The sea has not put on a new mind with the new
time. This night it is a horrible pit to devour up lives, and
to-morrow, perhaps, it may be a glassy mirror- even as in the
old time that we have buried. Sleep sweetly, if thou canst
Now it is morning.
The new time flings sunshine into the room. The wind still
keeps up mightily. A wreck is announced- as in the old time.
During the night, down yonder by Lokken, the little
fishing village with the red-tiled roofs- we can see it up
here from the window- a ship has come ashore. It has struck,
and is fast embedded in the sand; but the rocket apparatus has
thrown a rope on board, and formed a bridge from the wreck to
the mainland; and all on board are saved, and reach the land,
and are wrapped in warm blankets; and to-day they are invited
to the farm at the convent of Borglum. In comfortable rooms
they encounter hospitality and friendly faces. They are
addressed in the language of their country, and the piano
sounds for them with melodies of their native land; and before
these have died away, the chord has been struck, the wire of
thought that reaches to the land of the sufferers announces
that they are rescued. Then their anxieties are dispelled; and
at even they join in the dance at the feast given in the great
hall at Borglum. Waltzes and Styrian dances are given, and
Danish popular songs, and melodies of foreign lands in these
Blessed be thou, new time! Speak thou of summer and of
purer gales! Send thy sunbeams gleaming into our hearts and
thoughts! On thy glowing canvas let them be painted- the dark
legends of the rough hard times that are past!