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The Adventures Of John Dietrich






Source: Folk-lore And Legends Scandinavian

There once lived in Rambin an honest, industrious man, named James
Dietrich. He had several children, all of a good disposition, especially
the youngest, whose name was John. John Dietrich was a handsome, smart
boy, diligent at school, and obedient at home. His great passion was for
hearing stories, and whenever he met any one who was well stored he
never let him go till he had heard them all.

When John was about eight years old he was sent to spend a summer with
his uncle, a farmer, in Rodenkirchen. Here John had to keep cows with
other boys, and they used to drive them to graze about the Nine-hills.
There was an old cowherd, one Klas Starkwolt who used frequently to join
the boys, and then they would sit down together and tell stories. Klas
abounded in these, and he became John Dietrich's dearest friend. In
particular, he knew a number of stories of the Nine-hills, and the
underground people in the old times, when the giants disappeared from
the country and the little ones came into the hills. These tales John
swallowed so eagerly that he thought of nothing else, and was for ever
talking of golden cups, and crowns, and glass shoes, and pockets full of
ducats, and gold rings, and diamond coronets, and snow-white brides, and
such like. Old Klas used often to shake his head at him, and say--

"John! John! what are you about? The spade and scythe will be your
sceptre and crown, and your bride will wear a garland of rosemary, and a
gown of striped drill."

Still John almost longed to get into the Nine-hills, for Klas told him
that every one who by luck or cunning should get a cap of the little
ones might go down with safety, and instead of their making a servant of
him, he would be their master. The person whose cap he got would be his
servant, and obey all his commands.

St. John's day, when the days were longest and the nights shortest, was
now come. Old and young kept the holiday, had all sorts of plays, and
told all kinds of stories. John could now no longer contain himself, but
the day after the festival he slipt away to the Nine-hills, and when it
grew dark laid himself down on the top of the highest of them, where
Klas had told him the underground people had their principal
dancing-place. John lay quite still from ten till twelve at night. At
last it struck twelve. Immediately there was a ringing and a singing in
the hills, and then a whispering and a lisping, and a whiz and a buzz
all about him, for the little people were now, some whirling round and
round in the dance, and others sporting and tumbling about in the
moonshine, and playing a thousand merry pranks and tricks. He felt a
secret dread come over him at this whispering and buzzing, for he could
see nothing of them, as the caps they wore made them invisible, but he
lay quite still with his face in the grass, and his eyes fast shut,
snoring a little, just as if he were asleep. Now and then he ventured to
open his eyes a little and peep out, but not the slightest trace of them
could he see, though it was bright moonlight.

It was not long before three of the underground people came jumping up
to where he was lying, but they took no heed of him, and flung their
brown caps up into the air, and caught them from one another. At length
one snatched the cap out of the hand of another and flung it away. It
flew direct, and fell upon John's head. The moment he felt it he caught
hold of it, and, standing up, bid farewell to sleep. He flung his cap
about for joy and made the little silver bell of it jingle, then set it
upon his head, and--oh wonderful! that instant he saw the countless and
merry swarm of the little people.

The three little men came slily up to him, and thought by their
nimbleness to get back the cap, but he held his prize fast, and they saw
clearly that nothing was to be done in this way with him, for in size
and strength John was a giant in comparison with these little fellows,
who hardly came up to his knee. The owner of the cap now came up very
humbly to the finder, and begged, in as supplicating a tone as if his
life depended upon it, that he would give him back his cap.

"No," said John, "you sly little rogue, you will get the cap no more.
That's not the sort of thing one gives away for buttered cake. I should
be in a nice way with you if I had not something of yours, but now you
have no power over me, but must do what I please. I will go down with
you and see how you live down below, and you shall be my servant. Nay,
no grumbling. You know you must. I know that just as well as you do, for
Klas Starkwolt told it to me often and often!"

The little man made as if he had not heard or understood one word of all
this. He began his crying and whining over again, and wept and screamed
and howled most piteously for his little cap. John, however, cut the
matter short by saying--

"Have done. You are my servant, and I intend to make a trip with you."

So he gave up, especially as the others told him there was no remedy.

John now flung away his old hat, and put on the cap, and set it firm on
his head lest it should slip off or fly away, for all his power lay in
the cap. He lost no time in trying its virtues, and commanded his new
servant to fetch him food and drink. The servant ran away like the wind,
and in a second was there again with bottles of wine, and bread, and
rich fruits. So John ate and drank, and looked at the sports and dancing
of the little ones, and it pleased him right well, and he behaved
himself stoutly and wisely, as if he had been a born master.

When the cock had now crowed for the third time, and the little larks
had made their first twirl in the sky, and the infant light appeared in
solitary white streaks in the east, then it went hush, hush, hush,
through the bushes and flowers and stalks, and the hills rent again, and
opened up, and the little men went down. John gave close attention to
everything, and found that it was exactly as he had been told, and,
behold! on the top of the hill, where they had just been dancing, and
where all was full of grass and flowers, as people see it by day, there
rose of a sudden, when the retreat was sounded, a bright glass point.
Whoever wanted to go in stepped upon this. It opened, and he glided
gently in, the grass closing again after him; and when they had all
entered it vanished, and there was no further trace of it to be seen.
Those who descended through the glass point sank quite gently into a
wide silver tun, which held them all, and could have easily harboured a
thousand such little people. John and his man went down into such a one
along with several others, all of whom screamed out, and prayed him not
to tread on them, for if his weight came on them they were dead men. He
was, however, careful, and acted in a very friendly way towards them.
Several tuns of this kind went up and down after each other, until all
were in. They hung by long silver chains, which were drawn and hung
without.

In his descent John was amazed at the brilliancy of the walls between
which the tun glided down. They were all, as it were, beset with pearls
and diamonds, glittering and sparkling brightly, and below him he heard
the most beautiful music tinkling at a distance, so that he did not know
what was become of him, and from excess of pleasure he fell fast asleep.

He slept a long time, and when he awoke he found himself in the most
beautiful bed that could be, such as he had never seen the like of in
his father's house, and it was in the prettiest chamber in the world,
and his servant was beside him with a fan to keep away the flies and
gnats. He had hardly opened his eyes when his little servant brought him
a basin and towel, and held him the nicest new clothes of brown silk to
put on, most beautifully made. With these was a pair of new black shoes
with red ribbons, such as John had never beheld in Rambin or in
Rodinkirchen either. There were also there several pairs of beautiful
shining glass shoes, such as are only used on great occasions. John was,
as we may well suppose, delighted to have such clothes to wear, and he
put them upon him joyfully. His servant then flew like lightning, and
returned with a breakfast of wine and milk, and beautiful white bread
and fruits, and such other things as boys are fond of. He now perceived
every moment more and more, that Klas Starkwolt, the old cowherd, knew
what he was talking about, for the splendour and magnificence he saw
here surpassed anything he had ever dreamt of. His servant, too, was the
most obedient one possible, a nod or a sign was enough for him, for he
was as wise as a bee, as all these little people are by nature John's
bedchamber was all covered with emeralds and other precious stones, and
in the ceiling was a diamond as big as a nine-pin bowl, that gave light
to the whole chamber. In this place they have neither sun nor moon nor
stars to give them light, neither do they use lamps or candlesticks of
any kind, but they live in the midst of precious stones, and have the
purest of gold and silver in abundance, and the skill to make it light
both by day and night, though indeed, properly speaking, as there is no
sun there, there is no distinction between day and night, and they
reckon only by weeks. They set the brightest and clearest precious
stones in their dwellings, and in the ways and passages leading
underground, and in the places where they had their large halls, and
their dances and their feasts, where they sparkled so as to make it
eternal day.

When John had finished breakfast, his servant opened a little door in
the wall, where was a closet with the most beautiful silver and gold
cups and dishes and other vessels and baskets filled with ducats and
boxes of jewels and precious stones. There were also charming pictures,
and the most delightful books he had seen in the whole course of his
life.

John spent the morning looking at these things, and when it was midday a
bell rang, and his servant said--

"Will you dine alone, sir, or with the large company?"

"With the large company, to be sure," replied John. So his servant led
him out. John, however, saw nothing but solitary halls lighted up with
precious stones, and here and there little men and women, who appeared
to him to glide in and out of the clefts and fissures of the rocks.
Wondering what it was the bells rang for, he said to his servant--

"But where is the company?"

Scarcely had he spoken when the hall they were in opened out to a great
extent, and a canopy set with diamonds and precious stones was drawn
over it. At the same moment he saw an immense throng of nicely dressed
little men and women pouring in through several open doors. The floor
opened in several places, and tables, covered with the most beautiful
ware, and the most luscious meats and fruits and wines, placed
themselves beside each other, and the chairs arranged themselves along
the tables, and then the men and women took their seats.

The principal persons now came forward and bowed to John, and led him to
their table, where they placed him among their most beautiful maidens, a
distinction which pleased John well. The party, too, was very merry, for
the underground people are extremely lively and cheerful, and can never
stay long quiet. Then the most charming music sounded over their heads,
and beautiful birds, flying about, sang most sweetly, and these were not
real birds but artificial ones which the little men make so ingeniously
that they can fly about and sing like natural ones.

The servants of both sexes who waited at table and handed about the
golden cups, and the silver and crystal baskets with fruit, were
children belonging to this world, whom some casualty or other had thrown
among the underground people, and who, having come down without securing
any pledge, were fallen into the power of the little ones. These were
differently clad. The boys and girls were dressed in short white coats
and jackets, and wore glass shoes so fine that their step could never be
heard, with blue caps on their heads, and silver belts round their
waists.

John at first pitied them, seeing how they were forced to run about and
wait on the little people, but as they looked cheerful and happy, and
were handsomely dressed, and had such rosy cheeks, he said to
himself--"After all, they are not so badly off, and I was myself much
worse when I had to be running after the cows and bullocks. To be sure I
am now a master here, and they are servants, but there is no help for
it. Why were they so foolish as to let themselves be taken and not get
some pledge beforehand? At any rate the time must come when they will be
set at liberty, and they will certainly not be longer than fifty years
here."

With these thoughts he consoled himself, and sported and played away
with his little play-fellows, and ate, and drank, and made his servant
tell him stories, for he would know everything exactly.

They sat at table about two hours. The principal person then rang a
bell, and the tables and chairs all vanished in a whiff, leaving all the
company on their feet. The birds now struck up a most lively air, and
the little people danced their rounds most merrily. When they were done,
the joyous sets jumped and leaped, and whirled themselves round and
round, as if the world was grown dizzy. The pretty girls who sat next
John caught hold of him and whirled him about, and, without making any
resistance, he danced round and round with them for two good hours.
Every afternoon while he remained there he used to dance thus merrily
with them, and, to the last hour of his life, he used to speak of it
with the greatest glee. His language was--that the joys of heaven and
the songs and music of the angels, which the righteous hope to enjoy
there, might be excessively beautiful, but that he could conceive
nothing to surpass the music and the dancing under the earth, the
beautiful and lively little men, the wonderful birds in the branches,
and the tinkling silver bells in their caps.

"No one," said he, "who has not seen and heard it, can form any idea
whatever of it."

When the music and dancing were over it might be about four o'clock. The
little people then disappeared, and went each about his own business or
pleasure. After supper they sported and danced in the same way, and at
midnight, especially on star-light nights, they slipped out of their
hills to dance in the open air. John used then to say his prayers, a
duty he never neglected either in the evening or in the morning, and go
to sleep.

For the first week John was in the glass hill, he only went from his
chamber to the great hall and back again. After the first week, however,
he began to walk about, making his servant show and explain everything
to him. He found that there were in that place the most beautiful walks
in which he might ramble about for miles, in all directions, without
ever finding an end to them, so immensely large was the hill in which
the little people lived, and yet outwardly it seemed but a little place,
with a few bushes and trees growing on it.

It was extraordinary that, between the meads and fields, which were
thick sown with hills and lakes and islands, and ornamented with trees
and flowers in great variety, there ran, as it were, small lanes,
through which, as through crystal rocks, one was obliged to pass to come
to any new place; and the single meads and fields were often a mile
long, and the flowers were so brilliant and so fragrant, and the songs
of the numerous birds so sweet, that John had never seen anything on
earth like it. There was a breeze, and yet one did not feel the wind. It
was quite clear and bright, and yet there was no heat. The waves were
dashing, still there was no danger, and the most beautiful little barks
and canoes came, like white swans, when one wanted to cross the water,
and went backwards and forwards of themselves. Whence all this came no
one knew, nor could John's servant tell anything about it, but one thing
John saw plainly, which was, that the large carbuncles and diamonds that
were set in the roof and walls gave light instead of the sun, moon, and
stars.

These lovely meads and plains were, for the most part, all lonesome. Few
of the underground people were to be seen upon them, and those that were
just glided across them as if in the greatest hurry. It very rarely
happened that any of them danced out there in the open air. Sometimes
about three of them did so, or, at the most, half a dozen. John never
saw a greater number together. The meads were never cheerful except when
the servants, of whom there might be some hundreds, were let out to
walk. This, however, happened but twice a week, for they were mostly
kept employed in the great hall and adjoining apartments or at school.

For John soon found they had schools there also. He had been there about
ten months when one day he saw something snow-white gliding into a rock
and disappearing.

"What!" said he to his servant, "are there some of you that wear white
like the servants?"

He was informed that there were, but they were few in number, and never
appeared at the large tables or the dances, except once a year, on the
birthday of the great Hill-king, who dwelt many thousand miles below in
the great deep. These were the oldest among them, some of them many
thousand years old, who knew all things and could tell of the beginning
of the world, and were called the Wise. They lived all alone, and only
left their chambers to instruct the underground children and the
attendants of both sexes, for whom there was a great school.

John was much pleased with this intelligence, and he determined to take
advantage of it; so next morning he made his servant conduct him to the
school, and was so well pleased with it that he never missed a day going
there. They were there taught reading, writing, and accounts, to compose
and relate histories, stories, and many elegant kinds of work, so that
many came out of the hills, both men and women, very prudent and knowing
people in consequence of what they were taught there. The biggest, and
those of best capacity, received instruction in natural science and
astronomy, and in poetry and in riddle-making, arts highly esteemed
among the little people. John was very diligent, and soon became a most
clever painter and drawer. He wrought, too, most ingeniously in gold and
silver and stones, and in verse and riddle-making he had no fellow.

John had spent many a happy year here without ever thinking of the upper
world, or of those he had left behind, so pleasantly passed the time--so
many agreeable companions had he.

Of all of them there was none of whom he was so fond as of a fair-haired
girl named Elizabeth Krabbe. She was from his own village, and was the
daughter of Frederick Krabbe, the minister of Rambin. She was but four
years old when she was taken away, and John had often heard tell of her.
She was not, however, stolen by the little people, but had come into
their power in this manner. One day in summer she and other children ran
out into the fields. In their rambles they went to the Nine-hills, where
little Elizabeth fell asleep, and was forgotten by the rest. At night
when she awoke, she found herself under the ground among the little
people. It was not merely because she was from his own village that John
was so fond of Elizabeth, but she was very beautiful, with clear blue
eyes and ringlets of fair hair, and a most angelic smile. Time flew away
unperceived. John was now eighteen, and Elizabeth sixteen. Their
childish fondness was now become love, and the little people were
pleased to see it, thinking that by means of her they might get John to
renounce his power, and become their servant, for they were fond of him,
and would willingly have had him to wait upon them, for the love of
dominion is their vice. They were, however, mistaken. John had learned
too much from his servant to be caught in that way.

John's chief delight was walking about with Elizabeth, for he now knew
every place so well that he could dispense with the attendance of his
servant. In these rambles he was always gay and lively, but his
companion was frequently sad and melancholy, thinking on the land above,
where men live, and where the sun, moon, and stars shine. Now it
happened in one of their walks, as they talked of their love, and it was
after midnight, they passed under the place where the tops of the glass
hills used to open and let the underground people in and out. As they
went along, they heard of a sudden the crowing of several cocks above.
At this sound, which she had not heard for several years, Elizabeth felt
her heart so affected that she could contain herself no longer, but
throwing her arms about John's neck, she bathed his cheek with her
tears. At length she said--

"Dearest John, everything down here is very beautiful, and the little
people are kind and do nothing to injure me, but still I have been
always uneasy, nor ever felt any pleasure till I began to love you; and
yet that is not pure pleasure, for this is not a right way of living,
such as is fit for human beings. Every night I dream of my father and
mother, and of our churchyard where the people stand so pious at the
church door waiting for my father, and I could weep tears of blood that
I cannot go into the church with them and worship God as a human being
should, for this is no Christian life we lead down here, but a delusive
half-heathen one. And only think, dear John, that we can never marry, as
there is no priest to join us. Do, then, plan some way for us to leave
this place, for I cannot tell you how I long to get once more to my
father, and among pious Christians."

John, too, had not been unaffected by the crowing of the cocks, and he
felt what he had never felt there before, a longing after the land where
the sun shines.

"Dear Elizabeth," said he, "all you say is true, and I now feel it is a
sin for Christians to stay here, and it seems to me as if our Lord said
to us in that cry of the cocks, 'Come up, ye Christian children, out of
those abodes of illusion and magic. Come to the light of the stars, and
act as children of the light.' I now feel that it was a great sin for me
to come down here, but I trust I shall be forgiven on account of my
youth, for I was only a boy, and knew not what I did. But now I will not
stay a day longer. They cannot keep me here."

At these last words Elizabeth turned pale, for she recollected that she
was a servant, and must serve her fifty years.

"And what will it avail me," cried she, "that I shall continue young,
and be but as of twenty years when I go out, for my father and mother
will be dead, and all my companions old and grey; and you, dearest John,
will be old and grey also," cried she, throwing herself on his bosom.

John was thunderstruck at this, for it had never before occurred to him.
He, however, comforted her as well as he could, and declared he would
never leave the place without her. He spent the whole night in forming
various plans. At last he fixed on one, and in the morning he despatched
his servant to summon to his apartment six of the principal of the
little people. When they came, John thus mildly addressed them--

"My friends, you know how I came here, not as a prisoner or servant, but
as a lord and master over one of you, and of consequence over all. You
have now for the ten years I have been with you treated me with respect
and attention, and for that I am your debtor. But you are still more my
debtors, for I might have given you every sort of vexation and
annoyance, and you must have submitted to it. I have, however, not done
so, but have behaved as your equal, and have sported and played with you
rather than ruled over you. I have now one request to make. There is a
girl among your servants whom I love, Elizabeth Krabbe, of Rambin, where
I was born. Give her to me and let us depart, for I will return to where
the sun shines and the plough goes through the land. I ask to take
nothing with me but her and the ornaments and furniture of my chamber."

He spoke in a determined tone, and they hesitated and cast their eyes
upon the ground. At last the oldest of them replied--

"Sir, you ask what we cannot grant. It is a fixed law that no servant
can leave this place before the appointed time. Were we to break through
this law our whole subterranean empire would fall. Anything else you
desire, for we love and respect you, but we cannot give up Elizabeth."

"You can, and you shall, give her up!" cried John in a rage. "Go, think
of it till to-morrow. Return then at this hour. I will show you whether
or not I can triumph over your hypocritical and cunning stratagems."

The six retired. Next morning, on their return, John addressed them in
the kindest manner, but to no purpose. They persisted in their refusal.
He gave them till the next day, threatening them severely in case they
still proved refractory.

Next day, when the six little people appeared before him, John looked at
them sternly, and made no return to their salutations, but said to them
shortly--

"Yes, or No?"

They answered, with one voice, "No." He then ordered his servant to
summon twenty-four more of the principal persons, with their wives and
children. When they came they were in all five hundred men, women, and
children. John ordered them forthwith to go and fetch pick-axes, spades,
and bars, which they did in a second.

He now led them out to a rock in one of the fields, and ordered them to
fall to work at blasting, hewing, and dragging stones. They toiled
patiently, and made as if it were only sport to them.

From morning till night their task-master made them labour without
ceasing, standing over them constantly to prevent them resting. Still
their obstinacy was inflexible, and at the end of some weeks his pity
for them was so great that he was obliged to give over.

He now thought of a new species of punishment for them. He ordered them
to appear before him next morning, each provided with a new whip. They
obeyed, and John commanded them to lash one another, and he stood
looking on while they did it, as grim and cruel as an Eastern tyrant.
Still the little people cut and slashed themselves and mocked at John,
and refused to comply with his wishes. This he did for three or four
days.

Several other courses did he try, but all in vain. His temper was too
gentle to struggle with their obstinacy, and he commenced to despair of
ever accomplishing his dearest wish. He began now to hate the little
people of whom he had before been so fond. He kept away from their
banquets and dances, and associated with none but Elizabeth, and ate and
drank quite solitary in his chamber. In short, he became almost a
hermit, and sank into moodiness and melancholy.

While in this temper, as he was taking a solitary walk in the evening,
and, to divert his melancholy, was flinging the stones that lay in his
path against each other, he happened to break a tolerably large one, and
out of it jumped a toad. The moment John saw the ugly animal he caught
him up in ecstasy, and put him in his pocket and ran home, crying--

"Now I have her! I have my Elizabeth! Now you shall get it, you little
mischievous rascals!"

On getting home he put the toad into a costly silver casket, as if it
was the greatest treasure.

To account for John's joy, you must know that Klas Starkwolt had often
told him that the underground people could not endure any ill smell, and
that the sight, or even the smell, of a toad made them faint, and suffer
the most dreadful tortures, and that by means of one of those odious
animals one could compel them to do anything. Hence there are no bad
smells to be found in the whole glass empire, and a toad is a thing
unheard of there. This toad must certainly have been enclosed in the
stone from the creation, as it were, for the sake of John and Elizabeth.

Resolved to try the effect of his toad, John took the casket under his
arm and went out, and on the way he met two of the little people in a
lonesome place. The moment he approached they fell to the ground, and
whimpered and howled most lamentably as long as he was near them.

Satisfied now of his power, he, the next morning, summoned the fifty
principal persons, with their wives and children, to his apartment. When
they came he addressed them, reminding them once again of his kindness
and gentleness towards them, and of the good terms on which they had
hitherto lived. He reproached them with their ingratitude in refusing
him the only favour he had ever asked of them, but firmly declared that
he would not give way to their obstinacy.

"Therefore," said he, "for the last time, think for a minute, and if you
then say 'No,' you shall feel that pain which is to you and your
children the most terrible of all pains."

They did not take long to deliberate, but unanimously replied "No"; and
they thought to themselves, "What new scheme has the youth hit on with
which he thinks to frighten wise ones like us?" and they smiled as they
said "No." Their smiling enraged John above all, and he ran back a few
hundred paces to where he had laid the casket with the toad under a
bush.

He was hardly come within a few hundred paces of them when they all fell
to the ground as if struck with a thunderbolt, and began to howl and
whimper, and to writhe, as if suffering the most excruciating pain. They
stretched out their hands, and cried--

"Have mercy, have mercy! We feel you have a toad, and there is no escape
for us. Take the odious beast away, and we will do all you require."

He let them kick a few seconds longer, and then took the toad away. They
then stood up and felt no more pain. John let all depart but the six
chief persons, to whom he said--

"This night, between twelve and one, Elizabeth and I will depart. Load
then for me three waggons with gold and silver and precious stones. I
might, you know, take all that is in the hill, and you deserve it; but I
will be merciful. Further, you must put all the furniture of my chamber
in two waggons, and get ready for me the handsomest travelling carriage
that is in the hill, with six black horses. Moreover, you must set at
liberty all the servants who have been so long here that on earth they
would be twenty years old and upwards; and you must give them as much
silver and gold as will make them rich for life, and make a law that no
one shall be detained here longer than his twentieth year."

The six took the oath, and went away quite melancholy; and John buried
his toad deep in the ground. The little people laboured hard, and
prepared everything. At midnight everything was out of the hill; and
John and Elizabeth got into the silver tun, and were drawn up.

It was then one o'clock, and it was midsummer, the very time that,
twelve years before, John had gone down into the hill. Music sounded
around them, and they saw the glass hill open, and the rays of the light
of heaven shine on them after so many years. And when they got out, they
saw the first streaks of dawn already in the east. Crowds of the
underground people were around them, busied about the waggons. John bid
them a last farewell, waved his brown cap three times in the air, and
then flung it among them. At the same moment he ceased to see them. He
beheld nothing but a green hill, and the well-known bushes and fields,
and heard the town-clock of Rambin strike two. When all was still, save
a few larks, who were tuning their morning songs, they all fell on their
knees and worshipped God, resolving henceforth to live a pious and a
Christian life.

When the sun rose, John arranged the procession, and they set out for
Rambin. Every well-known object that they saw awoke pleasing
recollections in the bosom of John and his bride; and as they passed by
Rodenkirchen, John recognised, among the people that gazed at and
followed them, his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd, and his dog
Speed. It was about four in the morning when they entered Rambin, and
they halted in the middle of the village, about twenty paces from the
house where John was born. The whole village poured out to gaze on these
Asiatic princes, for such the old sexton, who had in his youth been at
Constantinople and at Moscow, said they were. There John saw his father
and mother, and his brother Andrew, and his sister Trine. The old
minister Krabbe stood there too, in his black slippers and white
nightcap, gaping and staring with the rest.

John discovered himself to his parents, and Elizabeth to hers; and the
wedding-day was soon fixed. And such a wedding was never seen before or
since in the island of Ruegen, for John sent to Stralsund and Greifswald
for whole boat-loads of wine and sugar and coffee; and whole herds of
oxen, sheep, and pigs were driven to the feast. The quantity of harts
and roes and hares that were shot upon the occasion it were vain to
attempt to tell, or to count the fish that was caught. There was not a
musician in Ruegen or in Pomerania that was not engaged, for John was
immensely rich, and he wished to display his wealth.

John did not neglect his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd. He gave
him enough to make him comfortable for the rest of his days, and
insisted on his coming and staying with him as often and as long as he
wished.

After his marriage John made a progress through the country with his
wife; and he purchased towns and villages and lands until he became
master of nearly half Ruegen and a very considerable Count in the
country. His father, old James Dietrich, was made a nobleman, and his
brothers and sisters gentlemen and ladies--for what cannot money do?
John and his wife spent their days in doing acts of piety and charity.
They built several churches, and had the blessing of every one that knew
them, and died universally lamented. It was Count John Dietrich that
built and richly endowed the present church of Rambin. He built it on
the site of his father's house, and presented to it several of the cups
and plates made by the underground people, and his own and Elizabeth's
glass-shoes, in memory of what had befallen them in their youth. But
they were taken away in the time of the great Charles the Twelfth of
Sweden, when the Russians came on the island and the Cossacks plundered
even the churches, and took away everything.





Next: How Thorston Became Rich

Previous: How Loki Wagered His Head



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