When the wind sweeps over the grass
it ripples like water; when it sweeps over the corn,
it undulates like waves of the sea. All that is
the wind’s dance. But listen to what the
wind tells. It sings it aloud, and it is repeated
amidst the trees in the wood, and carried through
the loopholes and the chinks in the wall. Look
how the wind chases the skies up yonder, as if they
were a flock of sheep! Listen how the wind howls
below through the half-open gate, as if it were the
warder blowing his horn! Strangely does it sound
down the chimney and in the fireplace; the fire flickers
under it; and the flames, instead of ascending, shoot
out towards the room, where it is warm and comfortable
to sit and listen to it. Let the wind speak.
It knows more tales and adventures than all of us
put together. Hearken now to what it is about
It blew a tremendous blast: that
was a prelude to its story.
“There lay close to the Great
Belt an old castle with thick red walls,” said
the wind. “I knew every stone in it.
I had seen them before, when they were in Marshal
Stig’s castle at the Naes. It was demolished.
The stones were used again, and became new walls a
new building at another place, and that
was Borreby Castle as it now stands. I have seen
and known the high-born ladies and gentlemen, the
various generations that have dwelt in it; and now
I shall tell about WALDEMAR DAAE AND HIS DAUGHTERS.
“He held his head so high:
he was of royal extraction. He could do more
than hunt a stag and drain a goblet: that would
be proved some day, he said to himself.
“His proud lady, apparelled
in gold brocade, walked erect over her polished inlaid
floor. The tapestry was magnificent, the furniture
costly, and beautifully carved; vessels of gold and
silver she had in profusion; there were stores of
German ale in the cellars; handsome spirited horses
neighed in the stables; all was superb within Borreby
Castle when wealth was there.
“And children were there; three
fine girls Ide, Johanne, and Anna Dorthea.
I remember their names well even now.
“They were rich people, they
were people of distinction born in grandeur,
and brought up in it. Wheugh wheugh!”
whistled the wind; then it continued the tale.
“I never saw there, as in other
old mansions, the high-born lady sitting in her boudoir
with her maidens and spinning-wheels. She played
on the lute, and sang to it, though never the old Danish
ballads, but songs in foreign languages. Here
were banqueting and mirth, titled guests came from
far and near, music’s tones were heard, goblets
rang. I could not drown the noise,” said
the wind. “Here were arrogance, ostentation,
and display; here was power, but not OUR LORD.”
“It was one May-day evening,”
said the wind. “I came from the westward.
I had seen ships crushed into wrecks on the west coast
of Jutland. I had hurried over the dreary heaths
and green woody coast, had crossed the island of Funen,
and swept over the Great Belt, and I was hoarse with
blowing. Then I laid myself down to rest on the
coast of Zealand, near Borreby, where there stood
the forest and the charming meadows. The young
men from the neighbourhood assembled there, and collected
brushwood and branches of trees, the largest and driest
they could find. They carried them to the village,
laid them in a heap, and set fire to it; then they
and the village girls sang and danced round it.
“I lay still,” said the
wind; “but I softly stirred one branch one
which had been placed on the bonfire by the handsomest
youth. His piece of wood blazed up, blazed highest.
He was chosen the leader of the rustic game, became
‘the wild boar,’ and had the first choice
among the girls for his ‘pet lamb.’
There were more happiness and merriment amongst them
than up at the grand house at Borreby.
“And then from the great house
at Borreby came, driving in a gilded coach with six
horses, the noble lady and her three daughters, so
fine, so young three lovely blossoms rose,
lily, and the pale hyacinth. The mother herself
was like a flaunting tulip; she did not deign to notice
one of the crowd of villagers, though they stopped
their game, and courtesied and bowed with profound
“Rose, lily, and the pale hyacinth yes,
I saw them all three. Whose ‘pet lambs’
should they one day become? I thought. The
‘wild boar’ for each of them would assuredly
be a proud knight perhaps a prince.
“Well, their equipage drove
on with them, and the young peasants went on with
their dancing. And the summer advanced in the
village near Borreby, in Tjaereby, and all the surrounding
“But one night when I arose,”
continued the wind, “the great lady was lying
ill, never to move again. That something had come
over her which comes over all mankind sooner or later:
it is nothing new. Waldemar Daae stood in deep
and melancholy thought for a short time. ’The
proudest tree may bend, but not break,’ said
he to himself. The daughters wept; but at last
they all dried their eyes at the great house, and
the noble lady was carried away; and I also went away,”
said the wind.
“I returned I returned
soon, over Funen and the Belt, and set myself down
by Borreby beach, near the large oak wood. There
water-wagtails, wood-pigeons, blue ravens, and even
black storks built their nests. It was late in
the year: some had eggs, and some had young birds.
How they were flying about, and how they were shrieking!
The strokes of the axe were heard stroke
after stroke. The trees were to be felled.
Waldemar Daae was going to build a costly ship, a man-of-war
with three decks, which the king would be glad to
purchase: and therefore the wood the
seamen’s landmark, the birds’ home was
to be sacrificed. The great red-backed shrike
flew in alarm his nest was destroyed; the
ravens and all the other birds had lost their homes,
and flew wildly about with cries of distress and anger.
I understood them well. The crows and the jackdaws
screamed high in derision, ’From the nest from
the nest! Away away!’
“And in the midst of the wood,
looking on at the crowd of labourers, stood Waldemar
Daae and his three daughters, and they all laughed
together at the wild cries of the birds; but his youngest
daughter, Anna Dorthea, was sorry for them in her
heart; and when the men were about to cut down a partially
decayed tree, amidst whose naked branches the black
storks had built their nests, and from which the tiny
little ones peeped out their heads, she begged it might
be spared. She begged begged with
tears in her eyes; and the tree was permitted to remain
with the nest of black storks. It was not a great
boon after all.
“The fine trees were cut down,
the wood was sawn, and a large ship with three decks
was built. The master shipbuilder himself was
of low birth, but of noble appearance. His eyes
and his forehead evinced how clever he was, and Waldemar
Daae liked to listen to his conversation; so also
did little Ide, his eldest daughter, who was fifteen
years of age. And while he was building the ship
for the father, he was also building castles in the
air for himself, wherein he and Ide sat as man and
wife; and that might have happened had the castles
been of stone walls, with ramparts and moats, woods
and gardens. But, with all his talents, the master
shipbuilder was but a humble bird. What should
a sparrow do in an eagle’s nest?
I flew away, and he flew away, for he dared not remain
longer; and little Ide got over his departure, for
she was obliged to get over it.
“Splendid dark chargers neighed
in the stables, worth being looked at; and they were
looked at and admired. An admiral was sent by
the king himself to examine the new man-of-war, and
to make arrangements for its purchase. He praised
the spirited horses loudly. I heard him myself,”
said the wind. “I followed the gentlemen
through the open door, and strewed straw before their
feet. Waldemar Daae wanted gold, the admiral
wanted the horses he admired them so much;
but the bargain was not concluded, nor was the ship
bought the ship that was lying near the
strand, with its white planks a Noah’s
ark that was never to be launched upon the deep.
“Wheugh! It was a sad pity.
“In the winter time, when the
fields were covered with snow, drift-ice filled the
Belt, and I screwed it up to the shore,” said
the wind. “Then came ravens and crows,
all as black as they could be, in large flocks.
They perched themselves upon the deserted, dead, lonely
ship, that lay high up on the beach; and they cried
and lamented, with their hoarse voices, about the
wood that was gone, the many precious birds’
nests that were laid waste, the old ones rendered homeless,
the little ones rendered homeless; and all for the
sake of a great lumbering thing, a gigantic vessel,
that never was to float upon the deep.
“I whirled the snow in the snow
storms, and raised the snow-drifts. The snow
lay like a sea high around the vessel. I let it
hear my voice, and know what a tempest can say.
I knew if I exerted myself it would get some of the
knowledge other ships have.
“And winter passed winter
and summer; they come and go as I come and go; the
snow melts, the apple blossom blooms, the leaves fall all
is change, change, and with mankind among the rest.
“But the daughters were still
young little Ide a rose, beautiful to look
at, as the shipbuilder had seen her. Often did
I play with her long brown hair, when, under the apple
tree in the garden, she was standing lost in thought,
and did not observe that I was showering down the
blossoms upon her head. Then she would start,
and gaze at the red sun, and the golden clouds around
it, through the space among the dark foliage of the
“Her sister Johanne resembled
a lily fair, slender, and erect; and, like
her mother, she was stately and haughty. It was
a great pleasure to her to wander up and down the
grand saloon where hung the portraits of her ancestors.
The high-born dames were painted in silks and
velvets, with little hats looped up with pearls on
their braided locks they were beautiful
ladies. Their lords were depicted in steel armour,
or in costly mantles trimmed with squirrels’
fur, and wearing blue ruffs; the sword was buckled
round the thigh, and not round the loins. Johanne’s
own portrait would hang at some future day on that
wall, and what would her noble husband be like?
Yes, she thought of this, and she said this in low
accents to herself. I heard her when I rushed
through the long corridor into the saloon, and out
“Anna Dorthea, the pale hyacinth,
who was only fourteen years of age, was quiet and
thoughtful. Her large swimming blue eyes looked
somewhat pensive, but a childish smile played around
her mouth, and I could not blow it off; nor did I
wish to do so.
“I met her in the garden, in
the ravine, in the fields. She was gathering
plants and flowers, those which she knew her father
made use of for the drinks and drops he was fond of
distilling. Waldemar Daae was arrogant and conceited,
but also he had a great deal of knowledge. Everybody
knew that, and everybody talked in whispers about it.
Even in summer a fire burned in his private cabinet;
its doors were always locked. He passed days
and nights there, but he spoke little about his pursuits.
The mysteries of nature are studied in silence.
He expected soon to discover its greatest secret the
transmutation of other substances into gold.
“It was for this that smoke
was ever issuing from the chimney of his laboratory;
for this that sparks and flames were always there.
And I was there too,” said the wind. “‘Hollo,
hollo!’ I sang through the chimney. There
were steam, smoke, embers, ashes. ’You will
burn yourself up take care, take care!’
But Waldemar Daae did not take care.
“The splendid horses in the
stables, what became of them? the silver
and the gold plate, the cows in the fields, the furniture,
the house itself? Yes, they could be smelted smelted
in the crucibles; and yet no gold was obtained.
“All was empty in the barns
and in the pantry, in the cellars and in the loft.
The fewer people, the more mice. One pane of glass
was cracked, another was broken. I did not require
to go in by the door,” said the wind. “When
the kitchen chimney is smoking, dinner is preparing;
but there the smoke rolled from the chimney for that
which devoured all repasts for the yellow
“I blew through the castle gate
like a warder blowing his horn; but there was no warder,”
said the wind. “I turned the weathercock
above the tower it sounded like a watchman
snoring inside the tower; but no watchman was there it
was only kept by rats and mice. Poverty presided
at the table poverty sat in the clothes’
chests and in the store-rooms. The doors fell
off their hinges there came cracks and
crevices everywhere. I went in, and I went out,”
said the wind; “therefore I knew what was going
“Amidst smoke and ashes amidst
anxiety and sleepless nights Waldemar Daae’s
hair had turned grey; so had his beard and the thin
locks on his forehead; his skin had become wrinkled
and yellow, his eyes ever straining after gold the
“I whisked smoke and ashes into
his face and beard: debts came instead of gold.
I sang through the broken windows and cracked walls came
moaning in to the daughter’s cheerless room,
where the old bed-gear was faded and threadbare, but
had still to hold out. Such a song was not sung
at the children’s cradles. High life had
become wretched life. I was the only one then
who sang loudly in the castle,” said the wind.
“I snowed them in, and they said they were comfortable.
They had no wood to burn the trees had
been felled from which they would have got it.
It was a sharp frost. I rushed through loopholes
and corridors, over roofs and walls, to keep up my
activity. In their poor chamber lay the three
aristocratic daughters in their bed to keep themselves
warm. To be as poor as church mice that
was high life! Wheugh! Would they give it
up? But Herr Daae could not.
“‘After winter comes spring,’
said he. ’After want come good times; but
they make one wait. The castle is now mortgaged we
have arrived at the worst we shall have
gold now at Easter!’
“I heard him murmuring near a spider’s
“’Thou active little weaver!
thou teachest me to persevere. Even if thy web
be swept away thou dost commence again, and dost complete
it. Again let it be torn asunder, and, unwearied,
thou dost again recommence thy work over and over
again. I shall follow thy example. I will
go on, and I shall be rewarded.’
“It was Easter morning the
church bells were ringing. The sun was careering
in the heavens. Under a burning fever the alchemist
had watched all night: he had boiled and cooled mixed
and distilled. I heard him sigh like a despairing
creature; I heard him pray; I perceived that he held
his breath in his anxiety. The lamp had gone
out he did not seem to notice it. I
blew on the red-hot cinders; they brightened up, and
shone on his chalky-white face, and tinged it with
a momentary brightness. The eyes had almost closed
in their deep sockets; now they opened wider wider as
if they were about to spring forth.
“Look at the alchemical glass!
There is something sparkling in it! It is glowing,
pure, heavy! He lifted it with a trembling hand.
He cried with trembling lips, ‘Gold gold!’
He staggered, and seemed quite giddy at the sight.
I could have blown him away,” said the wind;
“but I only blew in the ruddy fire, and followed
him through the door in to where his daughters were
freezing. His dress was covered with ashes; they
were to be seen in his beard, and in his matted hair.
He raised his head proudly, stretched forth his rich
treasure in the fragile glass, and ‘Won won!
gold!’ he cried, as he held high in the air the
glass that glittered in the dazzling sunshine.
But his hand shook, and the alchemical glass fell
to the ground, and broke into a thousand pieces.
The last bubble of his prosperity had burst. Wheugh wheugh!
And I darted away from the alchemist’s castle.
“Later in the year, during the
short days, when fogs come with their damp drapery,
and wring out wet drops on the red berries and the
leafless trees, I came in a hearty humour, sent breezes
aloft to clear the air, and began to sweep down the
rotten branches. That was no hard work, but it
was a useful one. There was sweeping of another
sort within Borreby Castle, where Waldemar Daae dwelt.
His enemy, Ove Ramel, from Basnaes, was there,
with the mortgage bonds upon the property and the
dwelling-house, which he had purchased. I thundered
against the cracked window-panes, slammed the rickety
doors, whistled through the cracks and crevices, ‘Wheu-gh!’
Herr Ove should have no pleasure in the prospect
of living there. Ide and Anna Dorthea wept bitterly.
Johanne stood erect and composed; but she looked very
pale, and bit her lips till they bled. Much good
would that do! Ove Ramel vouchsafed his
permission to Herr Daae to remain at the castle during
the rest of his days; but he got no thanks for the
offer. I overheard all that passed. I saw
the homeless man draw himself up haughtily, and toss
his head; and I sent a blast against the castle and
the old linden trees, so that the thickest branch
among them broke, though it was not rotten. It
lay before the gate like a broom, in case something
had to be swept out; and to be sure there was
a clean sweep.
“It was a sad day, a cruel hour,
a heavy trial to sustain; but the heart was hard the
neck was stiff.
“They possessed nothing but
the clothes they had on. Yes, they had a newly-bought
alchemist’s glass, which was filled with what
had been wasted on the floor: it had been scraped
up, the treasure promised, but not yielded. Waldemar
Daae concealed this near his breast, took his stick
in his hand, and the once wealthy man went, with his
three daughters, away from Borreby Castle. I
blew coldly on his wan cheeks, and ruffled his grey
beard and his long white hair. I sang around
them, ‘Wheu-gh wheu-gh!’
“There was an end to all their grandeur!
“Ide and Anna Dorthea walked
on each side of their father; Johanne turned round
at the gate. Why did she do so? Fortune would
not turn. She gazed at the red stones of the
wall, the stones from Marshal Stig’s castle,
and she thought of his daughters:
’The eldest took the
And out in the wide world
She thought upon that song. Here
there were three, and their father was with them.
They passed as beggars over the same road where they
had so often driven in their splendid carriage to SMIDSTRUP
MARK, to a house with mud floors that was let for
ten marks a year their new manor-house,
with bare walls and empty closets. The crows and
the jackdaws flew after them, and cried, as if in
derision, ’From the nest from the
nest! away away!’ as the birds had
screeched at Borreby Wood when the trees were cut
“And thus they entered the humble
house at Smidstrup Mark, and I wandered away over
moors and meadows, through naked hedges and leafless
woods, to the open sea to other lands.
Wheugh wheugh! On on on!”
What became of Waldemar Daae?
What became of his daughters? The wind will tell.
“The last of them I saw was
Anna Dorthea, the pale hyacinth. She had become
old and decrepit: that was about fifty years after
she had left the castle. She lived the longest she
saw them all out.”
“Yonder, on the heath, near
the town of Viborg, stood the dean’s handsome
house, built of red granite. The smoke rolled
plentifully from its chimneys. The gentle lady
and her beautiful daughters sat on the balcony, and
looked over their pretty garden on the brown heath.
At what were they gazing? They were looking at
the storks’ nests, on a castle that was almost
in ruins. The roof, where there was any roof,
was covered with moss and houseleeks; but the best
part of it sustained the storks’ nests that
was the only portion which was in tolerable repair.
“It was a place to look at,
not to dwell in. I had to be cautious with it,”
said the wind. “For the sake of the storks
the house was allowed to stand, else it was really
a disgrace to the heath. The dean would not have
the storks driven away; so the dilapidated building
was permitted to remain, and a poor woman was permitted
to live in it. She had to thank the Egyptian
birds for that or was it a reward for having
formerly begged that the nests of their wild black
kindred might be spared in Borreby Wood? Then
the wretched pauper was a young girl a
lovely pale hyacinth in the noble flower parterre.
She remembered it well poor Anna Dorthea!
“’Oh! oh! Yes, mankind
can sigh as the wind does amidst the sedges and the
rushes Oh! No church bell tolled at
thy death, Waldemar Daae! No charity-school
children sang over his grave when the former lord
of Borreby was laid in the cold earth! Oh, all
shall come to an end, even misery! Sister Ide
became a peasant’s wife. That was the hardest
trial to her poor father. His daughter’s
husband a lowly serf, who could be obliged by his
master to perform the meanest tasks! He, too,
is now under the sod, and thou art there with him,
unhappy Ide! O yes O yes! it was not
all over, even then; for I am left a poor, old, helpless
creature. Blessed Christ! take me hence!’
“Such was Anna Dorthea’s
prayer in the ruined castle, where she was permitted
to live thanks to the storks.
“The boldest of the sisters
I disposed of,” said the wind. “She
dressed herself in men’s clothes, went on board
a ship as a poor boy, and hired herself as a sailor.
She spoke very little, and looked very cross, but
was willing to work. She was a bad hand at climbing,
however; so I blew her overboard before any one had
found out that she was a female; and I think that
was very well done on my part,” said the wind.
“It was one Easter morning,
the anniversary of the very day on which Waldemar
Daae had fancied that he had found out the secret of
making gold, that I heard under the storks’
nests, from amidst the crumbling walls, a psalm tune it
was Anna Dorthea’s last song.
“There was no window. There
was only a hole in the wall. The sun came like
a mass of gold, and placed itself there. It shone
in brightly. Her eyes closed her heart
broke! They would have done so all the same,
had the sun not that morning blazed in upon her.
“The storks had provided a roof
over her head until her death.
“I sang over her grave,”
said the wind; “I had also sung over her father’s
grave, for I knew where it was, and none else did.
“New times came new
generations. The old highway had disappeared in
inclosed fields. Even the tombs, that were fenced
around, have been converted into a new road; and the
railway’s steaming engine, with its lines of
carriages, dashes over the graves, which are as much
forgotten as the names of those who moulder into dust
in them! Wheugh wheugh!
“This is the history of Waldemar
Daae and his daughters. Let any one relate it
better who can,” said the wind, turning round.
And he was gone!