Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories.
was unflinching in her devotion to him, and he would probably long ago have led her to the altar, if her family had not so bitterly opposed him.  The old count, it is said, swore that he would disinherit her if she ever mentioned his name to him again; and those who know him feel confident that he would have kept his word.  The countess, however, was quite willing to make that sacrifice, for Dannevig’s sake; but here, unfortunately, that cowardly prudence of his made a fool of him.  He hesitated and hesitated long enough to wear out the patience of a dozen women less elevated and heroic than she is.  Now the story goes that the old count, wishing at all hazards to get him out of the way, made him a definite proposition to pay all his debts, and give him a handsome surplus for travelling expenses, if he would consent to vanish from the kingdom for a stated term of years.  And according to all appearances Dannevig has been fool enough to accept the offer.  I should not be surprised if you would hear from him before long, in which case I trust you will keep me informed of his movements.  A Knight of Dannebrog, you know, is too conspicuous a figure to be entirely lost beneath the waves of your all-levelling democracy.  Depend upon it, if Dannevig were stranded upon a desert isle, he would in some way contrive to make the universe aware of his existence.  He has, as you know, no talent for obscurity; there is a spark of a Caesar in him, and I tremble for the fate of your constitution if he stays long enough among you.”

Four months elapsed after the receipt of this letter, and I had almost given up the expectation (I will not say hope) of seeing Dannevig, when one morning the door to my office was opened, and a tall, blonde-haired man entered.  With a certain reckless grace, which ought to have given me the clue to his identity, he sauntered up to my desk and extended his hand to me.

“Hallo, old boy!” he said, with a weak, weary smile.  “How are you prospering?  You don’t seem to know me.”

“Heavens!” I cried, “Dannevig!  No, I didn’t know you.  How you have altered!”

He took off his hat, and flung himself into a chair opposite me.  His large, irresponsible eyes fixed themselves upon mine, with a half-daring, half-apologetic look, as if he were resolved to put the best face on a desperate situation.  His once so ambitious mustache drooped despondingly, and his unshaven face had an indescribably withered and dissipated look.  All the gloss seemed to have been taken off it, and with it half its beauty and all its dignity had departed.

“Dannevig,” I said, with all the sympathy I had at my command, “what has happened to you?  Am I to take your word for it, that you have quarrelled with all the world, and that this is your last refuge?”

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Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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