Here he had fastened Holger Danske, standing erect and proud with his long beard; in one hand he held his broad battle sword, while the other rested on a shield with the arms of Denmark.
And the old man told many stories about the strange Danish men and women, until the little boy felt he must know as much about them as Holger Danske himself, who could only dream. And when the youngster went to bed, he thought so much about all he had heard that he pressed his chin hard against the quilt, until he fancied that he had a long beard which had grown through it.
The old man sat at his work until he had finished the last carving, the Danish coat of arms on the shield. Then, as he looked at his carving, he thought of all he had read and heard and of what he had told the little boy that night. He nodded and wiped his spectacles, put them on again, and said, "Well, I don't suppose Holger Danske will ever come in my day, but the little boy there in bed may see him and may help to defend Denmark when there is really need."
And the grandfather nodded again, and the more he looked at his figurehead, the better he knew that his work was good. It almost seemed to him that color came into it; the armor seemed to gleam like steel and iron; in the coat of arms the hearts became redder, and the lions with the golden crowns on their heads were leaping.
"It's the most beautiful coat of arms in the world!" he said proudly. "The lions mean strength, and the hearts mean gentleness and love."
He looked at the uppermost lion, and thought of the old King Canute, who had bound mighty England to the throne of Denmark; he looked at the second lion and thought of Valdemar, who had conquered the Wendish lands and united Denmark; he looked at the third lion and thought of Margaret, who had joined together Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. But when he looked at the red hearts, they seemed to shine even more than before; they became leaping flames of fire, and in his own thoughts he followed each of them.