Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

parsonage, for he did not know where to find the pastor's study; a gleam of light, however, that shone through a chink of the door drew him nearly straight along and enabled him to hit upon the right room.

The pastor raised his head from his writing-table, and just in front of him stood his visitor, who asked :

‘Doän't ya knaw me, Remmert ? Ya’re jist the saäme yersen es ya wur twenty year sin.'

The pastor's face indicated no recognition of the speaker, who now hastily removed a green shade from off the lamp, so that the light fell full upon him :

'Noo see ! The features of the two men were decidedly alike, only those of the pastor bore the impress of intellectual power-of one versed in many sorts of learning and trained to the loftiest thought; while the face of the stranger told of rough tossing to and fro amidst wind and waves, and of severe physical strain. His skin bore the signs of premature age; only his steel-gray eyes shone with a still youthful gleam, and they expressed a firmness and fearlessness that indicated no mean spirit underneath his rough exterior.

Casting an earnest, piercing look on Pastor Remmert, he continued in a somewhat doubtful dialect, hovering between High and Low German :

Doän't ya knaw me, brother, truly ?' The last words awoke the pastor's memory, and he replied : 'Surely--Ulbert

' Noä; I be Tyalka. Ulbert be oop wi' the ship. This be all along o' not seein' or 'earin' on each other fur twenty year. Deena, too, hev quite forgotten me.'

"Tyalka l'exclaimed Remmert. "Yes, I remember now. This is a surprise! What brings you here, brother? Have you seen our parents in Osterloo ? I have not heard from them since the spring. I pray God that all may be well with them.'

The seaman shook his brother's hand once more.

'I know, Remmert, that you a' done your utmost to help them ; sister wrote me word. It be true things be not a-goin' on at Osterloo es one cud wish. But wi’ God's help we ken noo do summat to show we're our feyther's sons as well as yer

There's naw toime to waäste—naäy indeed.' He then hastily explained that his father had been confined for some months to a sick-bed, unable to do anything for him

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sen.

self or family, or get together a sum of money, without the payment of which he would next month be forced to sell house and farm. This, they knew, he would never survive; it would be his death-blow. Yet the other brothers could do nothing to prevent it. They two, Ulbert and Tyalka, had long been seeking in vain for some means to ward off the worst. And now they had just had a stroke of good luck. A large English mercantile firm had entrusted them with a valuable cargo, which they were to land in Germany. If they succeeded, their own pay would be so large that they would be able with it to save their father's farm. So without the least hesitation they had undertaken the hazardous enterprise; they had hired a ship, which now lay out at sea, and from it they had that day, favoured by the mist, landed their cargo unperceived on a little island haunted only by sea-gulls. They had chosen this spot because they knew they could here depend upon their brother's aid. The precious commodities should be carried over that night as soon as it was low-tide, and secreted at the parsonage until opportunity offered to convey them safely on to the Harlinger coast, whence provision was made for carrying them by safe roads to the interior. In conclusion, Tyalka again repeated :

'I've noä toime to waäste ; I've gotten to row back at wonst. That be why I've coom at midnight, Remmert. It be best the islanders shud knaw nowt on't.'

The eyes of the speaker sparkled with a happy confidence in the successful issue of his undertaking.

The pastor had heard him to the end with an expression of wonder and embarrassment. Now he involuntarily asked :

But have you forgotten that by the laws of the blockade you are forbidden to introduce English goods into the country?'

The seaman responded, with a laugh:

"Oh, that's a lucky thing for us; but for that job they would not bring us in as much as we want for father.'

Pastor Remmert's voice trembled with a tone of anxiety :

“So you mean to disobey God's appointed ruler and come here expecting me to help you?' Tyalka looked as if he could not understand his brother :

God's appointed ruler? You surely don't mean to call that cursed Frenchman, who is sucking the very life's blood out of us, our lawful ruler?'

God has made him our earthly ruler, together with the

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

officers under him. It may please God to chastise us by their hand; nevertheless, it is plainly written in His Word: “Ye servants, obey your masters with all fear, not only the good and gentle, but also the froward."

Without answering a word, the seaman gazed incredulously at his brother, who thus continued :

'Remember how it is further written : “This is acceptable, if, for conscience towards God, a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. . . . For hereunto were ye called : because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps.”

Remmert passed his hand across his brow, as though struck by some sudden thought; he took a deeper breath, and continued hastily :

God, in His mercy, has Himself intervened to save you from the blindness caused by your filial devotion and to hinder you from going thus astray. By His providential care a French recruiting-officer and two men are at this moment on the island, so that worldly prudence alone warns you to abandon your design.'

The face of the seaman showed alarm, but only for a moment. Then he calculated aloud :

• There be nobbut three men ? I reckons we're a match for 'em.'

He made a sign to indicate tying a cord round the throat. The pastor held up his hand in horror :

Unhappy man, what are you thinking of? break the sixth commandment?'

*Noä; ya’re reight.' Tyalka considered a moment: 'But not fur the saäke o' them French varmints—they beän't naw men. They desarve skinnin' aloive, they do, fur hull es they've doon in our land. But fur yer saäke, Remmert, and fur the saäke o' them who be wi' ya on the island, we weän't hang 'em like pirates but put the handcuffs on 'em and carry 'em ower the watter wi' us, soä them varmints weän't holler oot.'

A burning hatred of his country's oppressors flashed out in these words ; but its first ardour was somewhat chilled by the thought of possible ill consequences to his brother and the islanders. The pastor, having in the meantime regained the firmness which he had for a moment lost, and having mastered the passing weakness through which he had been induced to urge worldly considerations, thus rejoined:

Would you

[ocr errors]

What you propose is an act of violence against the servants of the Government, even as your object is a breach of the law. The mere design renders you amenable to justice, and it is my duty to arrest you, and deliver you up to the authorities. If, however, you will abandon your scheme, I will remain silent, and give you the opportunity to re-embark the cargo and convey it back to England.

For the first time the seaman's face betrayed a sign of comprehension. But his eyes were fixed upon his brother's features, as though he read in them something incredible. Scarcely could he bring out the words :

"What wull ya doa ?' The answer came :

“How could you for a moment expect that God's servant would help you to break God's laws ?' At these words the strong lips of Tyalka quivered :

What d'ya saäy? Doaän't ya moind the fifth commandment, Remmert ?'

The pastor calmly replied :

'I have obeyed it and always will, in accordance with the filial piety enjoined by God's Word. But I will not, for the sake of any earthly advantage, lend a hand towards the ruin of an immortal soul. All the riches in the world weigh as nothing in comparison with such a loss.'

· Brother !

The bronzed face of the seaman had lost every tinge of colour ; it was almost gray as the sand-hills. The exclamation had burst from his lips, and then he stood seeking in vain for further words. At last they poured forth like a flood from his bosom :

* Think on yer feyther's whoite ’airs, which be es whoite es the foöm o' the sea. Be ya a-goin' to let 'em sell e'en the bed neath 'im, and tun 'm in the cowd street fur the saäke on them Frenchmin? He'll hev a stroäk, and not git off the road. Yet it'll not be nobbut yersen which hev tun 'im oot and left 'im to dee.'

'Such is the unsearchable will of God, who has a reward in store for all His servants' trials. I stand here before you and father with the words of the champion of our faith.

May He help me, for I cannot act otherwise. I cannot commit a wilful sin for the sake of any worldly considerations, nor can I suffer you to do so. For the command of God is of more importance

a

[ocr errors]

a

in my estimation than the fear of man, even as eternity outweighs the brief span of earthly life.'

A few seconds of perfect stillness reigned in the little room ; the seaman's brain was clearly not capable of grasping all at once the meaning of the words that fell upon his ears. His arm twitched convulsively, as though he were about to lift it, but he repressed the impulse, and, letting his half-raised hand fall, he only said :

• It ’ud be a poor look-out if the world was ruled by sich a one es theät. Then wi' God's help we'll do oor best wi’out ya. In the village p'raps I'll foind a body wi' a feyther !

With the sailor's heavy swing he hurriedly passed through the doorway, and entered once more the room where Deena sat.

*D'ya think the saäme es yer man?'

In a few words he explained the matter to her, and asked if she could direct him to some trustworthy fisherman, in whose dwelling he might conceal his cargo.

At the mention of the large gain that was expected, a look of avarice glared in the eyes of the listener, as with greater promptitude than usual, she inquired what reward she would receive for her aid.

"Ya?' rejoined Tyalka, who did not immediately grasp her meaning ; 'I've told ya we needs all we ken git fur feyther.'

And ya reckon I'm as grett a fool as the paärson, to worry mysen fur nowt ?'

The seaman gave her a look which showed that he had suddenly discovered in the hard, mocking features before him the hollow-heartedness within.

A half-suppressed 'Dang this 'ouse!' escaped his lips, as he turned towards the door.

But the door was opened that very moment from the outside, and Roeluf Utsee entered the rooin with the message that Teda would spend the night on the other side of the island. Deena received the information without saying a word, but her looks plainly showed that it was a matter of perfect indifference to her where her daughter was, and why she did not return home.

Tyalka, however, asked eagerly, 'Who be ya ?' as he sharply scanned Roeluf's features.

The examination evidently inspired confidence, for he at once seized him by the arm, and drew him along into the open air. There they exchanged a few hurried words, after which they ran together towards the western side of the island.

« ForrigeFortsett »