[ocr errors]

a preacher on these barren, neglected sandhills, cut off as they were from all intellectual progress.

Both the above requirements were, however, at the beginning of the nineties in the last century, possessed in an eminent degree by the pastor then in possession, Remmert Meynolt. He was of pure Frisian descent, but was born on the mainland, near Wittmund, where his family had for centuries been in possession of the farm of Osterloo, 'the east lea.' His father, Meynolt Remmert, at the beginning of the fifties, still cultivated his land with vigorous industry as a well-to-do farmer. Having, however, a very large family, it was evident that on his death the portion of each child could be but small. So the sons, with true filial piety, wishing to relieve their parents of a burden, and not to diminish their sisters' portions, sought at an early age for means of self-support.

Two of them, Sokko and Waling, did not hesitate to work as hired labourers in the service of a stranger ; two others, Ulbert and Tyalka, went to sea, and found, as mariners, a sufficient subsistence. Remmert, the eldest, when but eight years old, had been placed by some family connections in Emden for education at the grammar-school of that city. He had a thirst for learning, especially for the classic tongues, in which he made rapid progress; his desire for instruction in Hebrew was also gratified by a friendly pastor, through whose influence he was led, whilst still in the midst of his school career, to devote himself to the work of the Christian ministry. Endowed with abundant physical health and great mental activity, he nevertheless took but little share, even whilst young, in the pursuits and pleasures of his fellow-students, and, in spite of his devotion to the classic tongues, he took little interest in the many remarkable ancient monuments which are to be found in the town of Emden. The sole bent of his mind was for books, and his favourite recreation was a debate on some metaphysical or theological question. Even the varied aspects of Nature had no charm for him. When, in vacation time, he paid a visit to his home, and, as years passed on, such visits became ever rarer and rarer, he was never struck by the contrast of sandy tracts and marsh, of cultivated lands, moor, and heath, or by the many varieties of plants and birds. The sole interest which he ever manifested in the works of Nature was to stand sometimes on the dyke with his gaze fixed on the shoreless, limitless ocean. On these visits to the

for a

paternal home, his behaviour was irreproachable, marked by obedience to, and reverence for, father and mother. Not a trace of conceit or feeling of his own superior education could be perceived. Indeed, towards everyone he displayed a wellbalanced, serious friendliness; he was obliging and unselfish, but none the less, after the old Frisian nature, entirely selfreliant in his views and opinions. To no one was he bound by a close and intimate affection, neither to friend nor brother. His complete unselfishness was plainly shown when he renounced, in favour of his brothers and sisters, all future claims to a share of the family inheritance, on the ground that so much had already been expended on his education at school and at the University. He maintained this resolution with inviolable firmness, although, after passing his examination, he was often reduced to great extremity, and was forced

mere subsistence to spend many years in the littleesteemed position of a family tutor. He thought only of the performance of the duties he undertook; money was of no consideration to him, and to the amenities of life he was wholly indifferent.

Of an agreeable exterior, Remmert had always been an object of attraction to the fair sex, but he had never met their advances with the slightest response. He felt no impulse in this direction ; he needed love just as little as friendship. All his efforts were directed to the obtaining of some pastoral appointment, and when Death made a vacancy on the little island, he at once offered himself as a candidate for the post. No rival appeared, and the ecclesiastical authorities, delighted with the opportunity of filling up the office so promptly, readily accorded their assent.

Another living on the mainland had fallen vacant at the same time. It was in a more wealthy and agreeable neighbourhood, and there was a much larger income. chance of receiving it, but he was quite satisfied with this despised and remote island pastorate.

When he received the appointment he was verging on his thirtieth year, and then he bethought hiinself for the first time of taking a partner for life; not because he felt the want of one himself, but because his island home would need a mistress ; and also because, according to Lutheran views, a pastor should have a helpmate. His choice was soon made. Near to the place where he had last been engaged as family tutor lived

He had every

In any

Wolbrant Swidder, a small landed proprietor blessed with several daughters. They had all been brought up as simple, domesticated, well-bred country maidens. One of the sisters was more especially noted for her household management and practical skill. Deena (such was her name), with her rosy cheeks and the immaculate spotlessness of her person and her surroundings, possessed all the charm of fresh and healthy maidenhood. She had never dared to raise her thoughts up to the learned young divine, but she was always at home when he called upon her father, and it gave her pleasure to see him. Whether he had noticed this, it is impossible to say. case, it may have influenced his decision to ask the father for the hand of Deena Swidder, whom he installed, two months later, in the little island parsonage, where for some weeks he had been already exercising the duties of his office. The wedding took place early one autumn day at the house of Deena's parents. Immediately after the ceremony, the young couple set out in order to reach their home before nightfall. The weather was very stormy as they took their place in a boat and sailed from the harbour of Norden. It was the first time the young wife had ever been on the sea, so that at last, as the wind howled louder and louder, and she caught sight of the threatening waves between the rifts of mist, she clung to her husband with a cry of terror. But the latter asked calmly :

'What are you afraid of? You are ever in the hand of God, here as well as on the land. Should it be His purpose to summon you before His face to joys eternal, He can find you in calm as well as in tempest. Should it, however, be His will to expose you still longer to trial, and not yet vouchsafe you a sight of His glory, this ocean is but a drop in His hand.'

These words failed, however, to still Deena's piteous cries, so that at last he rebuked her very seriously.

Such behaviour, he said, was quite unbefitting the wife of a pastor. And, tearing himself from her grasp, he added : ‘Put not your trust in man, but look to the Rock on which your faith is built.'

The day declined, and for many weary hours they remained tossed about on the foaming waves and hearing naught but the roaring gale. It was at a very late hour of the night that they at last landed on the island, and, after climbing the dimly glistening downs, where every step they took sank deep into the sand, they reached at length the entrance to the gloomy parsonage. All around was wrapped in darkness. No embers gleamed upon the hearth by which to kindle a light. On crossing the threshold, the pastor said :

‘God bless thy entrance here, Deena! May it be blessed to thee and to every dweller on this isle !

He took her hand to guide her into the bedroom; the clothes of both were dripping with wet. Having reached the chamber, he said :

"You had better undress quickly and wrap yourself in a blanket to avoid taking cold. Of course, nothing can happen to us without God's permission ; still, He requires us to make use of the reason which is His gift. Do not forget, too, to ask His forgiveness for your fear and want of trust at sea ; and may you sleep peacefully beneath His watchful care !

The long-continued rocking of the boat was still felt by the young wife in her nervous excitement, and the vibration soon lulled her into a deep, sound sleep.



When Deena awoke late on the gloomy November morn, it was some time before her scattered senses allowed her to realize where she was. She had some faint impression of another bed standing, as usual, near her own, but not occupied, as usual, by one of her sisters, but by someone else. Then it suddenly flashed upon her that she was on the island, and wife of Pastor Remmert. But as she turned her head with an inquiring look around, no other couch met her eye ; she lay alone in a small chamber, the objects in which were but dimly seen in the pale gray light that just managed to make its way through the dormer-window.

She rose and dressed. The floor seemed still to sway beneath her feet-a lingering effect of her recent voyage. In her half-dried garments she went shivering towards the door in search of her husband. But he had already left the house, in order to see to some matters in the church. Looking all about, she wandered through the unfamiliar empty rooms. A feeling of chilly dampness reigned everywhere; a thick mist covered the window-panes, so that she could not catch a glimpse of the country beyond ; only the continuous roar of wind and water announced that the sea embraced this little mound of earth as if about to crush it in its giant grasp.

The house, though comparatively roomy, was but scantily furnished with old-fashioned, indispensable household chattels, which the pastor had been able to purchase for a small sum out of the property left by his predecessor. The latter had been for many years a widower. In her quest Deena came upon a room which had doubtless been his sleeping-room, and, from the appearance of the bed, it was plain that her husband had passed the last night there. Not a movement, not a sound, broke the stillness; nothing was heard except the shrill scream

; of the sea-gull, flying to and fro above the house-top ever in search of its prey.

The pastor's bride was not endowed with a very lively fancy, but yet, all at once, she seemed to hear again her sisters' merry laughter, resounding far away on the land in the old house at home.

In the kitchen was a supply of turf, dried wrack, and chips of wood, apparently fragments of wrecks driven ashore ; but there was no live coal with which to make a fire on hearth or in stove. So she went out of the house-door in order to beg a supply from some neighbour.

Unable to find anybody, she wandered about for some time in the mist, until she came by chance upon her husband, as he was returning home from the church.

* Thank God, you are here !' she joyfully exclaimed, taking his arm.

‘One is as good as blind in this gray fog ; one can see nothing.'

He replied :

'It is an image of ou earthly life. He who possesses only the eye of the body, wanders in darkness, but if our soul be lighted by a ray from that land that knows no gloom, then shall we, too, walk ever in the light.'

He drew his arm from her hand. "What are you going to do? Are you not coming in ?' 'No,' he said ; the eldest son of Sonke Powes, Nonno, was

« ForrigeFortsett »