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THE wedding-day was near at hand, when Count Falkenstierne one evening asked his betrothed to take a walk with him. It was a holiday, and there were many gay parties promenading in the public walks. The count was by no means so full of smiles as they were. He was this day in one of his fits of bad humour, and often absent, as if he were pondering over something. Helena asked him anxiously and affectionately what was the matter, but he answered her in a fretful and abrupt manner, and scarcely spoke except to find fault with her figure and manners, and to point out to her what she ought to be and to do. In one of the open walks of the garden of Rosenborg they met an old man, who looked like a foreigner. When he came close to them he stopped, and exclaimed in the words which once so pleased the unfortunate Petrarch:

"Coppia più bella non vede mai il sole."

The count, who did not understand what he said, became angry, and was about to give vent in French to his displeasure, when Helena pressed his arm eagerly, and smiling to the stranger, addressed a few words to him in the Italian language. The old man seemed delighted, and with many bows withdrew. When she explained to the astonished count what had been said by the stranger, his ill-temper instantaneously vanished. He was delighted at the little adventure, took several turns with Helena, evidently proud of his lovely bride, in whom he had discovered a new accomplishment.

The lovers returned home in the best possible spirits, and for the first time the count sat down voluntarily to table with the family he was soon to enter, and drank some wine, which Mr. Svendsen, however, considered a poor substitute for punch. Falkenstierne exerted his utmost powers of fascination, and was so urbane, so delicate in his flatteries, that the old father-in-law to be got into unusual good-humour with him, and at length spoke to him in a paternal way about his pecuniary affairs, and asked if he were satisfied. The count seized the propitious moment, and confessed to Svendsen that he had a debt of five thousand dollars, which weighed heavily on his mind. Helena cast a beseeching glance at her father.

"Well," said he, "I have given out more money on your account, my children, than I had reckoned on doing; but that no cloud may obscure the happiness of your wedding-day, and that you, count, may have a mind quite at ease, come to-morrow to my office, and you shall have the five thousand dollars."

The count thanked him warmly; Helena hugged the old man in her gratitude and joy, and the little party separated in the happiest of moods,

in good humour with each other and with the whole bright and beautiful world.

Two days previous to that which was fixed for the wedding, Gustavus took leave of Helena, and then went to see Falkenstierne, whom he found in very low spirits, and extremely absent. Gustavus himself found it difficult to conceal his sadness. At length the two young friends remarked upon each other's unusual melancholy.

The count said:

"You do not know how happy you are! Free as a bird you are taking wing to the beautiful place which is already as good as your


"And you say this to me?" cried Gustavus, "you who are Fortune's favourite! Pray do not imitate that Englishman who put a pistol to his head and shot himself because he was too happy."

"No," replied Falkenstierne; "neither shall I imitate that other Englishman who put an end to himself because he had lost his all at play."

"What do you mean?" asked Gustavus, in much uneasiness.

"I will tell you the whole story," replied the count. "The other evening my father-in-law to be was in one of the most blessedly joyous humours that ever skipper indulged in. I saw that I could turn this to my advantage, and as he himself chose to ask me if I were easy in money matters, I answered that I was devilish uneasy, because I had a pressing debt of five thousand dollars. Helena cast her eyes upon him, and that look had more weight than any words of mine could have had. I devoutly hope her glances may always be as influential in that quarter, for he gave me these five thousand dollars."

Gustavus interrupted him with:

"Are you not touched by so much goodness ?"

"Of course I am," replied the count, carelessly. "But you see I thought to myself if I could only double the amount it would be a capital thing, as I should then have a good round sum over after the debt was paid. The next evening I went, as usual, to


Gustavus again interrupted him, crying:

"To the accursed gambling-table-and played ?"

"Yes," replied the count," and lost two thousand dollars. It generally happens that when one has plenty of money in hand one is sure to win; and besides, I had had such a long run of bad luck I felt confident my fortune was going to change, so I determined to hazard two thousand more. But before an hour had elapsed these two thousand dollars were gone too. I became furious, and was resolved to win it all back, but I had desperate bad luck, and was so unfortunate as to lose besides three thousand dollars of my own. For a couple of days I felt as if I were out of my mind, I was miserable, and I could think of nothing but trying to win back my losses. I returned again last night to the gaming-table, and not only my very last coin went, but I became indebted, on my word of honour, to the foreign prince and Baron Milliochi. I am actually in despair at all this."

Gustavus reflected with deep sorrow on the fate which was awaiting poor Helena, and expressed with the earnestness of truth his regret for the count's misfortune.

"What would you advise me to do?" asked Falkenstierne.

"It is difficult to advise," said Gustavus. "Confess the matter to Count Munck, and ask him to assist you out of the scrape."

"I should get no assistance from him,” replied the count.

"The nobleman at whose house all this happened is your intimate friend. Speak to him. Try through him to have some arrangements made. I do not see what else is to be done."

"That would be too humiliating," said the count; 66 that cannot be thought of for a moment. Besides, were it possible to make any such arrangement, it would be of little use; my other creditors have become extremely impatient since they have heard that I am going to make so rich a marriage. My father wished me to have entered into a compromise with them. I would not agree to his plan then, and now it is too late."

Gustavus remained a few minutes in deep thought, and then said:

"Aunt Matilda has no capital in money, and I know she would not agree to be security for any one. Would that I had anything of my



"Oh, you are an excellent fellow, I know," said the count, all those are who have nothing. But is it not dreadful that one must undergo such a martyrdom when one has a father-in-law who is sitting up to his ears in gold? If one could just ease him of a tolerably good portion of it! What do such people want with so much money? They can't make any use of it."

"I won't listen to you any longer," said Gustavus. Since you begin to talk in this way, I must bid you farewell. God be with you, for the sake of your amiable bride."

So saying, he took his departure, and left the count to his troubles and his speculations.

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At the residence of Mr. Svendsen everything was now prepared for the wedding of the beloved daughter. They had all agreed that but few guests should be at it. On the bridegroom's side there were to be none present but his stepfather; on that of the bride, besides the Struds family, two old friends of Mr. Svendsen's were invited, even though they were little accustomed to festive meetings, and the old country clergyman at whose house the lovers had first met was to perform the ceremony. The day previous to the wedding the old gentleman arrived at the Svendsens' house, accompanied by his daughter Marie, who rejoiced exceedingly at Helena's good fortune-a good fortune of which, not without some cause, she considered herself as having been the first promoter.

The future dwelling of the young couple looked upon that day as splendid as a fairy palace. Men-servants in rich liveries, female-servants smartly dressed, were already there, forming the new establishment. The stately horses and the handsome carriage were put in due order, ready the next evening to bring the young countess to her future home. Everything betokened pomp, magnificence, and joy. Soon after dinner, Helena, accompanied by Marie, went to this house to take a look of everything, and for the first time to make some little arrangements according to her own pleasure. Her parents promised to join her there a little later in the day. The count had also promised to meet her there, and Helena felt extremely anxious to have the opportunity of saying a

few words in private to him, for it had not escaped her quick-sightedness that there was a look of care on his countenance, and that he seemed endeavouring to conceal some heavy chagrin by the affectation of almost wild spirits.

He came at length, but not alone. His aunt the countess, her daughter Emilie, cousin Nancy, and the often-mentioned distinguished foreigner, were, to Helena's great vexation, the first to set foot in her future house. The ladies wandered through the rooms as they pleased, examined everything minutely, and pushed and tossed things about with the greatest freedom, and without the slightest reference to the future mistress of the house; indeed, they seemed to have forgotten her very existence in their anxiety to pay court to the distinguished stranger, who, on his part, seemed willing to forget them all in his admiration of Helena.

The foreign prince, of whom the Countess Emilie had spoken to Falkenstierne on the day of the death of Helena's bird, was passing in the street, and looking up, he saw the countess at the window; she opened it, and called to him to come up, which he accordingly did. Placing herself before a large mirror, the countess half danced two or three very pretty steps, which led to the proposal of trying a dance that had just come into fashion. The prince, Falkenstierne, the Countess Emilie, and "cousin Nancy," were the performers, dancing, for want of an orchestra, to their own singing, while the diplomatist took the part of a drummer, and knocked his fingers on a table in time to the tune. They jabbered in all sorts of languages, laughed, and made as much noise as if a set of wild savages of the woods had found their way into the, as yet, uninhabited


Helena and Marie stood apart in the deep embrasure of a window, grave and silent spectators of the gay scene. Falkenstierne's valet de chambre now entered as if to look for some one, but when he saw how his master was employed he remained standing at the door. As, however, there seemed no chance of the dance being soon finished, he looked anxiously round, and at last discovering Helena, he made for her, while she went forward to meet him, and to ask his errand.

"Your father and mother are here," said the man. They are sitting in the entrance-hall; they would not come in when they heard there was company here."

With one bound, Helena was in the hall, where, near the door, were placed some chairs, and where the countess's servant and another footman were waiting. The blood rushed into her cheeks as she beheld her parents! sitting there also, side by side, with a subdued, perplexed air, as if afraid to be considered intrusive in the house they had, with their own money, fitted up and embellished for their daughter. Helena kissed their hands, and pressed them to go into the reception-rooms with her. Her own embarrassment vanished before a nobler and still more powerful feeling. She took a hand of each, led them to the drawing-room, and presented them to the persons there assembled. The dance was suddenly stopped. Falkenstierne went up politely to meet his connexions, though his looks and manners showed how much he was disconcerted by their appearance. The rest of the party vouchsafed only a cold, distant salutation. young countess and cousin Nancy whispered together, and laughed. Helena tried to prevail on her father and mother to place themselves on


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the sofa, but they both refused, and withdrew to a corner of the room, where they remained standing. She then sought a pretext to get them away from the fashionable and insolent little circle who had taken possession of the drawing-room, and was glad that they accepted her offer to show them over the house. The Svendsens had not seen the whole of the house since it was furnished, and were much pleased with it. They came at last to a little cabinet or boudoir, which was especially destined for Helena's use. Her own book-case, her embroidery-frame, and several other little matters that belonged to her, stood there.

"See!" cried Mr. Svendsen, "there stand old friends-I can't help thinking they don't look in their proper place here-among all this grandeur. They are like your old parents in that."

The tears started to Helena's eyes. She took her father's hand, and kissed it, without saying a word. The old couple declined returning to the gay party they had so gladly left, but, after wishing Helena every happiness and every blessing in her new domicile, they repaired arm in

arm to their own. The remainder of the visitors soon after took their leave also; the count accompanied them, and Helena returned home with Marie, lost in deep and melancholy thought.

The sun rose clearly and brightly on Helena's bridal morn, announcing a beautiful spring day. Helena herself forsook the arms of sleep as fresh and blooming as the early spring. Her father paid her an early visit, wished her good morning, fidgeted a little, and then, while gazing with a melancholy smile on her, said:

"I have been thinking, my darling, that perhaps at a time like this you might be put to some little extra expense, and therefore I have brought a trifle which you must accept."

As he spoke, he stuffed a bank-note for a hundred dollars into her hand.

"Be sure you keep your promise, made voluntarily the other day, that if anything should occur to make you need or wish-one never can know what may happen in this world; but, happen what may, remember there is nobody-no, nobody-who will take so much delight in pleasing you as your old father!"

He uttered these words slowly, for he felt a choking at his throat. Helena could not refrain from tears. She threw her arms round her father's neck, and thanked him for all his goodness, and as her mother entered the room at that moment she drew the two together, surrounded them both with her arms, and exclaimed, while her tears flowed fast:


Oh, believe me, I feel how happy I have been with you in this dear home, and what affectionate forbearance you have shown me latterly. Be assured, my heart appreciates it all!"

"How deserted our house will be when you are gone!" cried Mr. Svendsen. "A thousand thanks, my beloved girl, for all the happiness you have given us!" The tears stole down his bronzed cheeks.


My dear husband," said his wife, "let us not make ourselves or our daughter heavy at heart on this joyful day. The God of goodness will be with us in our old age, and also with her. God bless you, my dear Helena!" she added, turning to her daughter, "and may He permit your own children to repay to you the love you have always shown to your parents!"

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