Under The Willow Tree
He remained for tea, though he hardly knew if they had asked him to; and they were kind and gentle, and Johanne poured out his tea and sang to him. Her voice did not have its old tone, but still it was wonderfully beautiful and nearly broke his heart. And then they parted. Knud could not bear to offer his hand, but she took it and said, "Surely you'll shake hands with your sister at parting, old playmate!"
She smiled through the tears that were in her own eyes, and repeated the word "brother". Yes, that was supposed to be a great consolation! Such was their parting.
She sailed for France, and Knud wandered about the muddy streets of Copenhagen. His comrades in the workshop asked why he was so gloomy and urged him to join them and amuse himself, for he was still a young fellow.
So they took him to a dance hall. He saw many pretty girls there, but there was not one to compare with Johanne; here, where he had hoped to forget her, she was more vivid than ever before the eyes of his soul. "God gives us the strength for much," she had said, "if only we try to do our best." Then a devotion came to his mind, and he folded his hands quietly. The violins played, and the girls danced gaily, and suddenly it seemed to him that he should never have brought Johanne into a place like this - for she was there with him, in his heart.
Knud ran out and wandered aimlessly through the streets. He passed by the house where she had lived; it was dark there - everywhere were darkness and emptiness and loneliness. The world went in its way, and Knud went his.
Winter set in, and the waters froze over; it was as if everything were preparing itself for burial. But when spring returned, and the first steamer was to start, an intense longing seized him to go away, far into the world, anywhere - but not too close to France. So he packed his knapsack and wandered deep into Germany, from town to town, finding rest and peace nowhere. It was not until he came to the glorious old city of Nuremberg that he could quiet his restless spirit, and there he decided to stay.