Hidden is not Forgotten – Illustration
By Hans Christian Andersen (1865)
There was once an old manor-house with muddy ditches and a drawbridge, which was more often up than down ; for not all guests who come are good. Under the eaves were holes for shooting from, and pouring boiling water, and even melted lead, down over the enemy if he came too near. Inside it was high to the rafters, and that was good for the smoke which came from the hearth, where the great damp logs lay. There hung on the walls pictures of men in armour, and proud ladies in heavy clothes, but the stateliest of them all was living here still ; she was called Metta Mogens ; she was the lady of the manor. One evening robbers came there ; they killed three of her men, and the watch-dog besides, and then they chained Lady Metta to the kennel with the dog-chain, and sat themselves down in the hall, and drank the wine from her cellar, and all the good ale. Lady Metta stood chained up like a dog, but she could not even bark.
Then the robber’s boy came to her ; he sneaked along quietly, so that he might not be noticed ; otherwise they would have killed him.
Lady Metta Mogens,’ said the boy, ‘ can you remember when my father had to ride on the wooden ‘horse in your husband’s time ? You begged mercy for hjm then, but it had no effect ; he had to sit till he was crippled ; but you slipped down, as I do now, and you placed a little stone under each of his feet, so that he could get some ease. No one saw it, or they pretended not to ; you were the young, gracious lady. My father has told me this, and I have kept it to myself, but have not forgotten it ! now I will set you free, Lady Metba Mogens. Then they took horses from the stable, and rode in rain and in wind, and got friendly help.
‘ That was a good return for the little bit of service to the old man,’ said Metta Mogens.
‘ Hidden is not forgotten ! ‘ said the boy.
The robbers were hanged.
There stood another old mansion, it stands there still; it was not Lady Metta Mogens’ ; it belonged to another noble family.
It is in our own days. The sun shines on the gilt spire of the tower, little wooded islands lie like bouquets on the water, and round about them swim the wild swans. Roses grow in the garden. The lady of the house is herself the finest rose-leaf, shining in gladness, the gladness of good deeds, not out in the wide world, but inwardly in the heart, where they are hidden, but not forgotten.
She now goes from the house to an outlying cottage in the fields. In it lives a poor, pain-ridden girl. The window in the little room looked to the north, and the sun did not come there, she had only a view over a little bit of a field which is shut in by a high dyke. But to-day there is sunshine. Our Lord’s lovely warm sun is inside ; it comes from the south, through the new window, where there was only a wall before.
The invalid sits in the warm sunshine, sees the wood and shore ; the world has become so big and so lovely, and that at a single word from the kind lady up at the house.
‘ The word was so easy, the service so small,’ says she, and the joy I gained was unspeakably great and blessed .’
And so she does many good deeds, thinks of all the poor people in the cottages, and in the rich houses, where there are also afflicted ones. It is concealed and hidden, but it is not forgotten by our Lord.
There was another old house ; it was in the great busy town. In the house were rooms and halls ; but we will not go into them ; we will stay in the kitchen, it is snug and bright there, it is clean and neat. The copper things shine, the table looks polished, the sink is like a newly- scrubbed larding-board. It has all been done by one maid-of -all-work, and yet she has had time to dress herself as if she were going to church. She has ribbons in her cap black ribbons that means mourning. Yet she has no one to mourn for, neither father nor mother, neither relative nor sweetheart ; she is a poor girl. Once she was engaged to a poor young fellow ; they thought much of each other. One day he came to her. We two have nothing ! ‘ said he, c and the rich widow downstairs has spoken warm words to me ; she will put me into a good position, but you are in my heart. What do you advise me to do ? ‘
Whatever you think is for your happiness ! ‘ said the girl. ‘ Be good and kind to her, but remember, that from the moment we part, we two cannot see each other again I ‘
And so some years passed ; then she met her former friend and sweetheart on the street ; he looked ill and miserable ; then she could not forbear, she must ask, ‘How are you getting on ? ‘
Very well in every way said he. ‘ My wife is honest and good, but you are in my heart. I have fought my fight ; it will soon be finished ! We shall not see each other now until we meet in Heaven.’ A week has passed. Yesterday morning she read in the paper that he was dead: that is why she wears mourning. Her sweetheart is dead, leaving a widow and three step-children, the paper said.
The black ribbon betokens mourning : the girl’s face betokens it still more ! it is hidden in the heart, but will never be forgotten !
See, there are three stories ; three leaves on one stalk. Do you wish for more clover-leaves ? There are many in the book of the heart hidden but not forgotten !