Under The Willow Tree
"Ah," he sighed, "that that last day were here now!"
Silently he wandered through a country that seemed to him like an orchard covered with soft turf. From the wooden balconies of the houses girls, busy with their lacemaking, nodded down at him. The summits of the mountains glowed in the red evening sun; and when he saw the blue lakes gleaming through the dark trees, he thought of the seacoast near Kjöge, and there was a sadness in his heart - but it was pain no longer.
There where the Rhine rolls onward like a great wave, and then bursts into snow-white, gleaming, cloudlike masses, as if clouds were being created there, with the rainbow fluttering like a loose band above them - it was there that he thought of the mill at Kjöge, with its rushing, foaming stream.
He would have been glad to have remained in the quiet Rhenish town, but here also there were too many elder trees and too many willows, so he traveled on, over the mighty, towering mountains, through shattered walls of rock, and on roads that clung to the mountainsides like the nests of swallows. The waters foamed in the depths, the clouds themselves were below him, and he strode on in the warm summer sun over shiny thistles, Alpine roses and snow. Thus he said farewell to the lands of the North and journeyed on under the shade of blooming chestnut trees, and through vineyards and fields of maize. Now the mountains were a wall between him and all his memories; that was how he wished it to be.
At last he reached that great, glorious city called Milan, and here he found a German master who gave him work. The master an his wife, in whose workshop he labored now, were a pious old couple. And they became quite fond of the quiet journeyman, who said little but worked all the harder and led a devout Christian life. And to Knud also it seemed that God had lifted the heavy burden from his heart.
His favorite relaxation was to climb from time to time to the mighty marble church, which seemed to him to have been built of the snow of his native Northland, formed into images, pointed towers, and decorated open halls; from every corner and every niche the white statues smiled down upon him.