Of course, said the old man, we must be cautious what we offer to so fine a young gentleman as yourself; we have, however, something we think will just suit the occasion, a strange kind of thing which people say is a book, though no one that my dame or myself have shown it to can make anything out of it; so as we are told that you are a fine young gentleman, who can read all the tongues of the earth and stars, as the Bible says, we thought, I and my dame, that it would be just the thing you would like and my dame has it now at the bottom of her basket.
A book! said I, how did you come by it?
We live near the sea, said the old man; so near that sometimes our thatch is wet with the spray; and it may now be a year ago that there was a fearful storm, and a ship was driven ashore during the night, and ere the morn was a complete wreck. When we got up at daylight, there were the poor shivering crew at our door; they were foreigners, red-haired men, whose speech we did not understand; but we took them in, and warmed them, and they remained with us three days; and when they went away they left behind them this thing, here it is, part of the contents of a box which was washed ashore.
And did you learn who they were?
Why, yes; they made us understand that they were Danes.
Danes! thought I, Danes! and instantaneously, huge and grisly, appeared to rise up before my vision the skull of the old pirate Dane, even as I had seen it of yore in the pent-house of the ancient church to which, with my mother and my brother, I had wandered on the memorable summer eve.
And now the old man handed me the book; a strange and uncouth- looking volume enough. It was not very large, but instead of the usual covering was bound in wood, and was compressed with strong iron clasps. It was a printed book, but the pages were not of paper, but vellum, and the characters were black, and resembled those generally termed Gothic.
It is certainly a curious book, said I; and I should like to have it, but I cant think of taking it as a gift, I must give you an equivalent, I never take presents from anybody.
The old man whispered with his dame and chuckled, and then turned his face to me, and said, with another chuckle, Well, we have agreed about the price, but, maybe, you will not consent.
I dont know, said I; what do you demand?
Why, that you shake me by the hand, and hold out your cheek to my old dame, she has taken an affection to you.
I shall be very glad to shake you by the hand, said I, but as for the other condition, it requires consideration.
No consideration at all, said the old man, with something like a sigh; she thinks you like her son, our only child, that was lost twenty years ago in the waves of the North Sea.
Oh, that alters the case altogether, said I, and of course I can have no objection.
And now at once I shook off my listlessness, to enable me to do which nothing could have happened more opportune than the above event. The Danes, the Danes! And was I at last to become acquainted, and in so singular a manner, with the speech of a people which had as far back as I could remember exercised the strongest influence over my imagination, as how should they not! - in infancy there was the summer-eve adventure, to which I often looked back, and always with a kind of strange interest with respect to those to whom such gigantic and wondrous bones could belong as I had seen on that occasion; and, more than this, I had been in Ireland, and there, under peculiar circumstances, this same interest was increased tenfold. I had mingled much whilst there with the genuine Irish - a wild but kind-hearted race, whose conversation was deeply imbued with traditionary lore, connected with the early history of their
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