Among the towns of
Jutland, Viborg justly holds a high place. It is the seat of a
bishopric; it has a handsome but almost entirely new cathedral, a
charming garden, a lake of great beauty, and many storks. Near it is
Hald, accounted one of the prettiest things in Denmark; and hard by is
Finderup, where Marsk Stig
murdered King Erik
Glipping on St Cecilia's
Day, in the year 1286. Fifty-six blows of square-headed iron maces were
traced on Erik's skull when his tomb was opened in the seventeenth
century. But I am not writing a guide-book.
are good hotels in Viborg - Preisler's and the Phoenix are all that can
be desired. But my cousin, whose experiences I have to tell you now,
went to the Golden Lion the first time that he visited Viborg. He has
not been there since, and the following pages will perhaps explain the
reason of his abstention.
Golden Lion is one of the very few houses in the town that were not
destroyed in the great fire of 1726, which practically demolished the
cathedral, the Sognekirke, the Raadhuus, and so much else that was old
and interesting. It is a great red-brick house - that is, the front is
of brick, with corbie steps on the gables and a text over the door; but
the courtyard into which the omnibus drives is of black and white
'cage-work' in wood and plaster.
sun was declining in the heavens when my cousin walked up to the door,
and the light smote full upon the imposing facade of the house. He was
delighted with the old-fashioned aspect of the place, and promised
himself a thoroughly satisfactory and amusing stay in an inn so typical
of old Jutland.
was not business in the ordinary sense of the word that had brought Mr
Anderson to Viborg. He was engaged upon some researches into the Church
history of Denmark, and it had come to his knowledge that in the
Rigsarkiv of Viborg there were papers, saved from the fire, relating to
the last days of Roman Catholicism in the country. He proposed,
therefore, to spend a considerable time - perhaps as much as a
fortnight or three weeks - in examining and copying these, and he hoped
that the Golden Lion would be able to give him a room of sufficient
size to serve alike as a bedroom and a study. His wishes were explained
to the landlord, and, after a certain amount of thought, the latter
suggested that perhaps it might be the best way for the gentleman to
look at one or two of the larger rooms and pick one for himself. It
seemed a good idea.
top floor was soon rejected as entailing too much getting upstairs
after the day's work; the second floor contained no room of exactly the
dimensions required; but on the first floor there was a choice of two
or three rooms which would, so far as size went, suit admirably.
landlord was strongly in favour of Number 17, but Mr Anderson pointed
out that its windows commanded only the blank wall of the next house,
and that it would be very dark in the afternoon. Either Number 12 or
Number 14 would be better, for both of them looked on the street, and
the bright evening light and the pretty view would more than compensate
him for the additional amount of noise.
Number 12 was selected. Like its neighbours, it had three windows, all
on one side of the room; it was fairly high and unusually long. There
was, of course, no fireplace, but the stove was handsome and rather old
- a cast-iron erection, on the side of which was a representation of
Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and the inscription, '1 Bog Mose, Cap. 22',
above. Nothing else in the room was remarkable; the only interesting
picture was an old coloured print of the town, date about 1820.
was approaching, but when Anderson, refreshed by the ordinary
ablutions, descended the staircase, there were still a few minutes
before the bell rang. He devoted them to examining the list of his
fellow-lodgers. As is usual in Denmark, their names were displayed on a
large blackboard, divided into columns and lines, the numbers of the
rooms being painted in at the beginning of each line. The list was not
exciting. There was an advocate, or Sagforer, a German, and some bagmen
from Copenhagen. The one and only point which suggested any food for
thought was the absence of any Number 13 from the tale of the rooms,
and even this was a thing which Anderson had already noticed half a
dozen times in his experience of Danish hotels. He could not help
wondering whether the objection to that particular number, common as it
is, was so widespread and so strong as to make it difficult to let a
room so ticketed, and he resolved to ask the landlord if he and his
colleagues in the profession had actually met with many clients who
refused to be accommodated in the thirteenth room,
had nothing to tell me (I am giving the story as I heard it from him)
about what passed at supper, and the evening, which was spent in
unpacking and arranging his clothes, books, and papers, was not more
eventful. Towards eleven o'clock he resolved to go to bed, but with
him, as with a good many other people nowadays, an almost necessary
preliminary to bed, if he meant to sleep, was the reading of a few
pages of print, and he now remembered that the particular book which he
had been reading in the train, and which alone would satisfy him at
that present moment, was in the pocket of his greatcoat, then hanging
on a peg outside the dining-room.
run down and secure it was the work of a moment, and, as the passages
were by no means dark, it was not difficult for him to find his way
back to his own door. So, at least, he thought; but when he arrived
there, and turned the handle, the door entirely refused to open, and he
caught the sound of a hasty movement towards it from within. He had
tried the wrong door, of course. Was his own room to the right or to
the left? He glanced at the number: it was 13. His room would be on the
left; and so it was. And not before he had been in bed for some
minutes, had read his wonted three or four pages of his book, blown out
his light, and turned over to go to sleep, did it occur to him that,
whereas on the blackboard of the hotel there had been no Number 13,
there was undoubtedly a room numbered 13 in the hotel. He felt rather
sorry he had not chosen it for his own. Perhaps he might have done the
landlord a little service by occupying it, and given him the chance of
saying that a well-born English gentleman had lived in it for three
weeks and liked it very much. But probably it was used as a servant's
room or something of the kind. After all, it was most likely not so
large or good a room as his own. And he looked drowsily about the room,
which was fairly perceptible in the half-light from the street-lamp. It
was a curious effect, he thought. Rooms usually look larger in a dim
light than a full one, but this seemed to have contracted in length and
grown proportionately higher. Well, well! sleep was more important than
these vague ruminations - and to sleep he went.
the day after his arrival Anderson attacked the Rigsarkiv of Viborg. He
was, as one might expect in Denmark, kindly received, and access to all
that he wished to see was made as easy for him as possible. The
documents laid before him were far more numerous and interesting than
he had at all anticipated. Besides official papers, there was a large
bundle of correspondence relating to Bishop Jorgen Friis, the last
Roman Catholic who held the see, and in these there cropped up many
amusing and what are called 'intimate' details of private life and
individual character. There was much talk of a house owned by the
Bishop, but not inhabited by him, in the town. Its tenant was
apparently somewhat of a scandal and a stumbling-block to the reforming
party. He was a disgrace, they wrote, to the city; he practised secret
and wicked arts, and had sold his soul to the enemy. It was of a piece
with the gross corruption and superstition of the Babylonish Church
that such a viper and blood-sucking Troldmand
harboured by the Bishop. The Bishop met these reproaches boldly; he
protested his own abhorrence of all such things as secret arts, and
required his antagonists to bring the matter before the proper court -
of course, the spiritual court - and sift it to the bottom. No one
could be more ready and willing than himself to condemn Mag. Nicolas
Francken if the evidence showed him to have been guilty of any of the
crimes informally alleged against him.
had not time to do more than glance at the next letter of the
Protestant leader, Rasmus Nielsen, before the record office was closed
for the day, but he gathered its general tenor, which was to the effect
that Christian men were now no longer bound by the decisions of Bishops
of Rome, and that the Bishop's Court was not, and could not be, a fit
or competent tribunal to judge so grave and weighty a cause.
leaving the office, Mr Anderson was accompanied by the old gentleman
who presided over it, and, as they walked, the conversation very
naturally turned to the papers of which I have just been speaking.
Scavenius, the Archivist of Viborg, though very well informed as to the
general run of the documents under his charge, was not a specialist in
those of the Reformation period. He was much interested in what
Anderson had to tell him about them. He looked forward with great
pleasure, he said, to seeing the publication in which Mr Anderson spoke
of embodying their contents. 'this house of the Bishop Friis," he
added, "it is a great puzzle to me where it can have stood. I have
studied carefully the topography of old Viborg, but it is most unlucky
- of the old terrier of the Bishop's property which was made in 1560,
and of which we have the greater part in the Arkiv, just the piece
which had the list of the town property is missing. Never mind. Perhaps
I shall some day succeed to find him."
taking some exercise - I forget exactly how or where - Anderson went
back to the Golden Lion, his supper, his game of patience, and his bed.
On the way to his room it occurred to him that he had forgotten to talk
to the landlord about the omission of Number 13 from the hotel, and
also that he might as well make sure that Number 13 did actually exist
before he made any reference to the matter.
decision was not difficult to arrive at. There was the door with its
number as plain as could be, and work of some kind was evidently going
on inside it, for as he neared the door he could hear footsteps and
voices, or a voice, within. During the few seconds in which he halted
to make sure of the number, the footsteps ceased, seemingly very near
the door, and he was a little startled at hearing a quick hissing
breathing as of a person in strong excitement. He went on to his own
room, and again he was surprised to find how much smaller it seemed now
than it had when he selected it. It was a slight disappointment, but
only slight. If he found it really not large enough, he could very
easily shift to another. In the meantime he wanted something -- as far
as I remember it was a pocket-handkerchief -- out of his portmanteau,
which had been placed by the porter on a very inadequate trestle or
stool against the wall at the farthest end of the room from his bed.
Here was a very curious thing: the portmanteau was not to be seen. It
had been moved by officious servants; doubtless the contents had been
put in the wardrobe. No, none of them were there. This was vexatious.
The idea of a theft he dismissed at once. Such things rarely happen in
Denmark, but some piece of stupidity had certainly been performed
(which is not so uncommon), and the stuepige must be severely spoken
to. Whatever it was that he wanted, it was not so necessary to his
comfort that he could not wait till the morning for it, and he
therefore settled not to ring the bell and disturb the servants. He
went to the window - the right-hand window it was - and looked out on
the quiet street. There was a tall building opposite, with large spaces
of dead wall; no passers-by; a dark night; and very little to be seen
of any kind.
light was behind him, and he could see his own shadow clearly cast on
the wall opposite. Also the shadow of the bearded man in Number 11 on
the left, who passed to and fro in shirtsleeves once or twice, and was
seen first brushing his hair, and later on in a nightgown. Also the
shadow of the occupant of Number 13 on the right. This might be more
interesting. Number 13 was, like himself, leaning on his elbows on the
window-sill looking out into the street. He seemed to be a tall thin
man - or was it by any chance a woman? - at least, it was someone who
covered his or her head with some kind of drapery before going to bed,
and, he thought, must be possessed of a red lamp-shade - and the lamp
must be flickering very much. There was a distinct playing up and down
of a dull red light on the opposite wall. He craned out a little to see
if he could make any more of the figure, but beyond a fold of some
light, perhaps white, material on the window-sill he could see nothing.
came a distant step in the street, and its approach seemed to recall
Number 13 to a sense of his exposed position, for very swiftly and
suddenly he swept aside from the window, and his red light went out.
Anderson, who had been smoking a cigarette, laid the end of it on the
window-sill and went to bed.
morning he was woke by the stuepige with hot water, etc. He roused
himself, and after thinking out the correct Danish words, said as
distinctly as he could:
must not move my portmanteau. Where is it?"
is not uncommon, the maid laughed, and went away without making any
rather irritated, sat up in bed, intending to call her back, but he
remained sitting up, staring straight in front of him. There was his
portmanteau on its trestle, exactly where he had seen the porter put it
when he first arrived. This was a rude shock for a man who prided
himself on his accuracy of observation. How it could possibly have
escaped him the night before he did not pretend to understand; at any
rate, there it was now.
daylight showed more than the portmanteau; it let the true proportions
of the room with its three windows appear, and satisfied its tenant
that his choice after all had not been a bad one. When he was almost
dressed he walked to the middle one of the three windows to look out at
the weather. Another shock awaited him. Strangely unobservant he must
have been last night. He could have sworn ten times over that he had
been smoking at the right-hand window the last thing before he went to
bed, and here was his cigarette-end on the sill of the middle window.
started to go down to breakfast. Rather late, but Number 13 was later:
here were his boots still outside his door - a gentleman's boots. So
then Number 13 was a man, not a woman. Just then he caught sight of the
number on the door. It was 14. He thought he must have passed Number 13
without noticing it. Three stupid mistakes in twelve hours were too
much for a methodical, accurate-minded man, so he turned back to make
sure. The next number to 14 was number 12, his own room. There was no
Number 13 at all.
some minutes devoted to a careful consideration of everything he had
had to eat and drink during the last twenty-four hours, Anderson
decided to give the question up. If his sight or his brain were giving
way he would have plenty of opportunities for ascertaining that fact;
if not, then he was evidently being treated to a very interesting
experience. In either case the development of events would certainly be
the day he continued his examination of the episcopal correspondence
which I have already summarized. To his disappointment, it was
incomplete. Only one other letter could be found which referred to the
affair of Mag. Nicolas Francken. It was from the Bishop Jorgen Friis to
Rasmus Nielsen. He said:
we are not in the least degree inclined to assent to your judgement
concerning our court, and shall be prepared if need be to withstand you
to the uttermost in that behalf, yet forasmuch as our trusty and
well-beloved Mag. Nicolas Francken, against whom you have dared to
allege certain false and malicious charges, hath been suddenly removed
from among us, it is apparent that the question for this time falls.
But forasmuch as you further allege that the Apostle and Evangelist St
John in his heavenly Apocalypse describes the Holy Roman Church under
the guise and symbol of the Scarlet Woman, be it known to you," etc.
as he might, Anderson could find no sequel to this letter nor any clue
to the cause or manner of the "removal" of the casus belli. He could
only suppose that Francken had died suddenly; and as there were only
two days between the date of Nielsen's last letter - when Francken was
evidently still in being - and that of the Bishop's letter, the death
must have been completely unexpected.
the afternoon he paid a short visit to Hald, and took his tea at
Baekkelund; nor could he notice, though he was in a somewhat nervous
frame of mind, that there was any indication of such a failure of eye
or brain as his experiences of the morning had led him to fear.
supper he found himself next to the landlord.
he asked him, after some indifferent conversation, "is the reason why
in most of the hotels one visits in this country the number thirteen is
left out of the list of rooms? I see you have none here."
landlord seemed amused.
think that you should have noticed a thing like that! I've thought
about it once or twice myself, to tell the truth. An educated man, I've
said, has no business with these superstitious notions. I was brought
up myself here in the High School of Viborg, and our old master was
always a man to set his face against anything of that kind. He's been
dead now this many years - a fine upstanding man he was, and ready with
his hands as well as his head. I recollect us boys, one snowy day - "
he plunged into reminiscence.
you don't think there is any particular objection to having a Number
13?" said Anderson.
to be sure. Well, you understand, I was brought up to the business by
my poor old father. He kept an hotel in Aarhuus first, and then, when
we were born, he moved to Viborg here, which was his native place, and
had the Phoenix here until he died. That was in 1876. Then I started
business in Silkeborg, and only the year before last I moved into this
followed more details as to the state of the house and business when
first taken over.
when you came here, was there a Number 13?"
no. I was going to tell you about that. You see, in a place like this,
the commercial class - the travellers - are what we have to provide for
in general. And put them in Number 13? Why, they"d as soon sleep in the
street, or sooner. As far as I'm concerned myself, it wouldn't make a
penny difference to me what the number of my room was, and so I've
often said to them; but they stick to it that it brings them bad luck.
Quantities of stories they have among them of men that have slept in a
Number 13 and never been the same again, or lost their best customers,
or - one thing and another," said the landlord, after searching for a
more graphic phrase.
what do you use your Number 13 for?" said Anderson, conscious as he
said the words of a curious anxiety quite disproportionate to the
importance of the question.
Number 13? Why, don't I tell you that there isn't such a thing in the
house? I thought you might have noticed that. If there was it would be
next door to your own room."
yes; only I happened to think - that is, I fancied last night that I
had seen a door numbered thirteen in that passage; and, really, I am
almost certain I must have been right, for I saw it the night before as
course, Herr Kristensen laughed this notion to scorn, as Anderson had
expected, and emphasized with much iteration the fact that no Number 13
existed or had existed before him in that hotel.
was in some ways relieved by his certainty but still puzzled, and he
began to think that the best way to make sure whether he had indeed
been subject to an illusion or not was to invite the landlord to his
room to smoke a cigar later on in the evening. Some photographs of
English towns which he had with him formed a sufficiently good excuse.
Kristensen was flattered by the invitation, and most willingly accepted
it. At about ten o'clock he was to make his appearance, but before that
Anderson had some letters to write, and retired for the purpose of
writing them. He almost blushed to himself at confessing it, but he
could not deny that it was the fact that he was becoming quite nervous
about the question of the existence of Number 13; so much so that he
approached his room by way of Number 11, in order that he might not be
obliged to pass the door, or the place where the door ought to be. He
looked quickly and suspiciously about the room when he entered it, but
there was nothing, beyond that indefinable air of being smaller than
usual, to warrant any misgivings. There was no question of the presence
or absence of his portmanteau tonight. He had himself emptied it of its
contents and lodged it under his bed. With a certain effort he
dismissed the thought of Number 13 from his mind, and sat down to his
neighbours were quiet enough. Occasionally a door opened in the passage
and a pair of boots was thrown out, or a bagman walked past humming to
himself, and outside, from time to time a cart thundered over the
atrocious cobble-stones, or a quick step hurried along the flags.
finished his letters, ordered in whisky and soda, and then went to the
window and studied the dead wall opposite and the shadows upon it.
far as he could remember, Number 14 had been occupied by the lawyer, a
staid man, who said little at meals, being generally engaged in
studying a small bundle of papers beside his plate. Apparently,
however, he was in the habit of giving vent to his animal spirits when
alone. Why else should he be dancing? The shadow from the next room
evidently showed that he was. Again and again his thin form crossed the
window, his arms waved, and a gaunt leg was kicked up with surprising
agility. He seemed to be barefooted, and the floor must be well laid,
for no sound betrayed his movements. Sagforer Herr Anders Jensen,
dancing at ten o'clock at night in a hotel bedroom, seemed a fitting
subject for a historical painting in the grand style; and Anderson's
thoughts, like those of Emily in the Mysteries of Udolpho, began to
"arrange themselves in the following lines":
When I return to my hotel,
ten o'clock p.m.,
waiters think I am unwell;
do not care for them.
when I've locked my chamber door,
put my boots outside,
dance all night upon the floor.
even if my neighbours swore,
go on dancing all the more,
I'm acquainted with the law,
in despite of all their jaw,
protests I deride.
not the landlord at this moment knocked at the door, it is probable
that quite a long poem might have been laid before the reader. To judge
from his look of surprise when he found himself in the room, Herr
Kristensen was struck, as Anderson had been, by something unusual in
its aspect. But he made no remark. Anderson's photographs interested
him mightily, and formed the text of many autobiographical discourses.
Nor is it quite clear how the conversation could have been diverted
into the desired channel of Number 13, had not the lawyer at this
moment begun to sing, and to sing in a manner which could leave no
doubt in anyone's mind that he was either exceedingly drunk or raving
mad. It was a high, thin voice that they heard, and it seemed dry, as
if from long disuse. Of words or tune there was no question. It went
sailing up to a surprising height, and was carried down with a
despairing moan as of a winter wind in a hollow chimney, or an organ
whose wind fails suddenly. It was a really horrible sound, and Anderson
felt that if he had been alone he must have fled for refuge and society
to some neighbour bagman's room.
landlord sat open-mouthed.
don't understand it," he said at last, wiping his forehead. "It is
dreadful. I have heard it once before, but I made sure it was a cat."
he mad?" said Anderson.
must be; and what a sad thing! Such a good customer, too, and so
successful in his business, by what I hear, and a young family to bring
then came an impatient knock at the door, and the knocker entered,
without waiting to be asked. It was the lawyer, in deshabille and very
rough-haired; and very angry he looked.
beg pardon, sir," he said, "but I should be much obliged if you would
kindly desist - "
he stopped, for it was evident that neither of the persons before him
was responsible for the disturbance; and after a moment's lull it
swelled forth again more wildly than before.
what in the name of Heaven does it mean?" broke out the lawyer. "Where
is it? Who is it? Am I going out of my mind?"
Herr Jensen, it comes from your room next door? Isn't there a cat or
something stuck in the chimney?"
was the best that occurred to Anderson to say, and he realized its
futility as he spoke; but anything was better than to stand and listen
to that horrible voice, and look at the broad, white face of the
landlord, all perspiring and quivering as he clutched the arms of his
said the lawyer, "impossible. There is no chimney. I came here because
I was convinced the noise was going on here. It was certainly in the
next room to mine."
there no door between yours and mine?" said Anderson eagerly,
sir," said Herr Jensen, rather sharply. "At least, not this morning."
said Anderson. "Nor tonight?"
am not sure," said the lawyer with some hesitation.
the crying or singing voice in the next room died away, and the singer
was heard seemingly to laugh to himself in a crooning manner. The three
men actually shivered at the sound. Then there was a silence.
said the lawyer, "what have you to say, Herr Kristensen? What does this
Heaven!" said Kristensen. "How should I tell! I know no more than you,
gentlemen. I pray I may never hear such a noise again."
do I," said Herr Jensen, and he added something under his breath.
Anderson thought it sounded like the last words of the Psalter, "omnis
spiritus laudet Dominum", but he could not be sure.
we must do something," said Anderson - 'the three of us. Shall we go
and investigate in the next room?"
that is Herr Jensen's room," wailed the landlord. "It is no use; he has
come from there himself."
am not so sure," said Jensen. "I think this gentleman is right: we must
go and see."
only weapons of defence that could be mustered on the spot were a stick
and umbrella. The expedition went out into the passage, not without
quakings. There was a deadly quiet outside, but a light shone from
under the next door. Anderson and Jensen approached it. The latter
turned the handle, and gave a sudden vigorous push. No use. The door
Kristensen," said Jensen, "will you go and fetch the strongest servant
you have in the place? We must see this through."
landlord nodded, and hurried off, glad to be away from the scene of
action. Jensen and Anderson remained outside looking at the door.
is Number 13, you see," said the latter.
there is your door, and there is mine," said Jensen.
room has three windows in the daytirne," said Anderson, with difficulty
suppressing a nervous laugh.
George, so has mine!" said the lawyer, turning and looking at Anderson.
His back was now to the door. In that moment the door opened, and an
arm came out and clawed at his shoulder. It was clad in ragged,
yellowish linen, and the bare skin, where it could be seen, had long
grey hair upon it. Anderson was just in time to pull Jensen out of its
reach with a cry of disgust and fright, when the door shut again, and a
low laugh was heard.
had seen nothing, but when Anderson hurriedly told him what a risk he
had run, he fell into a great state of agitation, and suggested that
they should retire from the enterprise and lock themselves up in one or
other of their rooms.
while he was developing this plan, the landlord and two able-bodied men
arrived on the scene, all looking rather serious and alarmed. Jensen
met them with a torrent of description and explanation, which did not
at all tend to encourage them for the fray.
men dropped the crowbars they had brought, and said flatly that they
were not going to risk their throats in that devil's den. The landlord
was miserably nervous and undecided, conscious that if the danger were
not faced his hotel was ruined, and very loth to face it himself.
Luckily Anderson hit upon a way of rallying the demoralized force.
this," he said, 'the Danish courage I have heard so much of? It isn't a
German in there, and if it was, we are five to one."
two servants and Jensen were stung into action by this, and made a dash
at the door.
said Anderson. "Don't lose your heads. You stay out here with the
light, landlord, and one of you two men break in the door, and don't go
in when it gives way."
men nodded, and the younger stepped forward, raised his crowbar, and
dealt a tremendous blow on the upper panel. The result was not in the
least what any of them anticipated. There was no cracking or rending of
wood - only a dull sound, as if the solid wall had been struck. The man
dropped his tool with a shout, and began rubbing his elbow. His cry
drew their eyes upon him for a moment; then Anderson looked at the door
again. It was gone; the plaster wall of the passage stared him in the
face, with a considerable gash in it where the crowbar had struck it.
Number 13 had passed out of existence. For a brief space they stood
perfectly still, gazing at the blank wall. An early cock in the yard
beneath was heard to crow; and as Anderson glanced in the direction of
the sound, he saw through the window at the end of the long passage
that the eastern sky was paling to the dawn.
said the landlord, with hesitation, "you gentlemen would like another
room for tonight - a double-bedded one?"
Jensen nor Anderson was averse to the suggestion. They felt inclined to
hunt in couples after their late experience. It was found convenient,
when each of them went to his room to collect the articles he wanted
for the night, that the other should go with him and hold the candle.
They noticed that both Number 12 and Number 14 had three windows.
morning the same party reassembled in Number 12. The landlord was
naturally anxious to avoid engaging outside help, and yet it was
imperative that the mystery attaching to that part of the house should
be cleared up. Accordingly the two servants had been induced to take
upon them the function of carpenters. The furniture was cleared away,
and, at the cost of a good many irretrievably damaged planks, that
portion of the floor was taken up which lay nearest to Number 14.
will naturally suppose that a skeleton - say that of Mag. Nicolas
Francken - was discovered. That was not so. What they did find lying
between the beams which supported the flooring was a small copper box.
In it was a neatly-folded vellum document, with about twenty lines of
writing. Both Anderson and Jensen (who proved to be something of a
palaeographer) were much excited by this discovery, which promised to
afford the key to these extraordinary phenomena.
possess a copy of an astrological work which I have never read. It has,
by way of frontispiece, a woodcut by Hans Sebald Beham, representing a
number of sages seated round a table. This detail may enable
connoisseurs to identify the book. I cannot myself recollect its title,
and it is not at this moment within reach; but the fly-leaves of it are
covered with writing, and, during the ten years in which I have owned
the volume, I have not been able to determine which way up this writing
ought to be read, much less in what language it is. Not dissimilar was
the position of Anderson and Jensen after the protracted examination to
which they submitted the document in the copper box.
two days" contemplation of it, Jensen, who was the bolder spirit of the
two, hazarded the conjecture that the language was either Latin or Old
ventured upon no surmises, and was very willing to surrender the box
and the parchment to the Historical Society of Viborg to be placed in
had the whole story from him a few months later, as we sat in a wood
near Upsala, after a visit to the library there, where we - or, rather,
I - had laughed over the contract by which Daniel Salthenius (in later
life Professor of Hebrew at Konigsberg) sold himself to Satan. Anderson
was not really amused.
idiot!" he said, meaning Salthenius, who was only an undergraduate when
he committed that indiscretion, "how did he know what company he was
when I suggested the usual considerations he only grunted. That same
afternoon he told me what you have read; but he refused to draw any
it, and to assent to any that I drew for him.
Rhodes James (1862 -- 1936)