“What you have been carving is very beautiful, grandfather,” said she. “Holger Danske and the old coat of arms; it seems to me as if I have seen the face somewhere.”
“No, that is impossible,” replied the old grandfather; “but I have seen it, and I have tried to carve it in wood, as I have retained it in my memory. It was a long time ago, while the
English fleet lay in the roads, on the second of April,6 when we showed that we were true, ancient Danes. I was on board the Denmark, in Steene Bille’s squadron; I had a man by my side whom even the cannon balls seemed to fear. He sung old songs in a merry voice, and fired and fought as if he were something more than a man. I still remember his face, but from whence he came, or whither he went, I know not; no one knows. I have often thought it might have been Holger Danske himself, who had swam down to us from Kronenburg to help us in the hour of danger. That was my idea, and there stands his likeness.”
The wooden figure threw a gigantic shadow on the wall, and even on part of the ceiling; it seemed as if the real Holger Danske stood behind it, for the shadow moved; but this was no doubt caused by the flame of the lamp not burning steadily. Then the daughter-in-law kissed the old grandfather, and led him to a large arm-chair by the table; and she, and her husband, who was the son of the old man and the father of the little boy who lay in bed, sat down to supper with him. And the old grandfather talked of the Danish lions and the Danish hearts, emblems of strength and gentleness, and explained quite clearly that there is another strength than that which lies in a sword, and he pointed to a shelf where lay a number of old books, and amongst them a collection of Holberg’s plays, which are much read and are so clever and amusing that it is easy to fancy we have known the people of those days, who are described in them.
“He knew how to fight also,” said the old man; “for he lashed the follies and prejudices of people during his whole life.”