In this she told him plainly

One fine day, Erik Grubbe was surprised to see Madam Gyldenlöve driving
in to Tjele. He knew at once that something was wrong, since she came
thus without servants or anything, and when he learned the facts, it
was no warm welcome he gave her. In truth, he was so angry that he
went away, slamming the door after him, and did not appear again that
day. When he had slept on the matter, however, he grew more civil, and
even treated his daughter with an almost respectful affection, while
his manner took on some of the formal graces of the old courtier. It
had occurred to him that, after all, there was no great harm done, for
even though there had been some little disagreement between the young
people, Marie was still Madam Gyldenlöve, and no doubt matters could
easily be brought back into the old rut again.

To be sure, Marie was clamoring for a divorce and would not hear of a
reconciliation, but it would have been unreasonable to expect anything
else from her, in the first heat of her anger, with all her memories
like sore bruises and gaping wounds, so he did not lay much stress upon
that. Time would cure it, he felt sure.

There was another circumstance from which he hoped much. Marie had come
from Aggershus almost naked, without clothes or jewels, and she would
soon miss the luxury which she had learned to look upon as a matter of
course. Even the plain food and poor service, the whole simple mode of
living at Tjele, would have its effect on her by making her long for
what she had left. On the other hand, Ulrik Frederik, however angry
he might be, could not well think of a divorce. His financial affairs
were hardly in such a state that he could give up Marie’s fortune; for
twelve thousand rix-dollars was a large sum in ready money, and gold,
landed estates, and manorial rights were hard to part with when once

For upward of six months all went well at Tjele. Marie felt a sense
of comfort in the quiet country place, where day after day passed all
empty of events. The monotony was something new to her, and she drank
in the deep peace with dreamy, passive enjoyment. When she thought
of the past, it seemed to her like a weary struggle, a restless
pressing onward without a goal, in the glare of smarting, stinging
light, deafened by intolerable noise and hubbub. A delicious feeling
of shelter and calm stole over her, a sense of undisturbed rest in
a grateful shadow, in a sweet and friendly silence, and she liked
to deepen the peace of her refuge by picturing to herself the world
outside, where people were still striving and struggling, while she
had, as it were, slipped behind life and found a safe little haven,
where none could discover her or bring unrest into her sweet twilight

As time went on, however, the silence became oppressive, the peace
dull, and the shadow dark. She began to listen for sounds of living
life from without. So it was not unwelcome to her when Erik Grubbe
proposed a change. He wished her to reside at Kalö manor, the property
of her husband, and he pointed out to her that as Ulrik Frederik had
her entire fortune in his possession and yet did not send anything
for her maintenance, it was but fair she should be supported from his
estate. There she would be in clover; she might have a houseful of
servants and live in the elegant and costly fashion to which she was
accustomed, far better than at Tjele, which was quite too poor for
her. Moreover, the King, as a part of his wedding gift, had settled
upon her, in case of Ulrik Frederik’s death, an income equal to that
at which Kalö was rated, and in doing so he had clearly had Kalö in
mind, since it was conveyed to Ulrik Frederik six months after their
marriage. If they should not patch up their difference, Ulrik Frederik
would very likely have to give up to her the estate intended for her
dowager seat, and she might as well become familiar with it. It would
be well, too, that Ulrik Frederik should get used to knowing her in
possession of it; he would then the more readily resign it to her.

What Erik Grubbe really had in mind was to rid himself of the expense
of keeping Marie at Tjele and to make the breach between Ulrik Frederik
and his wife less evident in the eyes of the world. It was at least a
step toward reconciliation, and there was no knowing what it might lead

So Marie went to Kalö, but she did not live in the style she had
pictured to herself, for Ulrik Frederik had given his bailiff, Johan
Utrecht, orders to receive and entertain Madam Gyldenlöve, but not to
give her a stiver in ready money. Besides Kalö was, if possible, even
more tiresome than Tjele, and Marie would probably not have remained
there long, if she had not had a visitor who was soon to become more
than a visitor to her.

His name was Sti Högh.

Since the night of the ballet in Frederiksborg Park, Marie had often
thought of her brother-in-law, and always with a warm sense of
gratitude. Many a time at Aggershus, when she had been wounded in some
particularly galling manner, the thought of Sti’s reverent, silently
adoring homage had comforted her, and he treated her in precisely the
same way now that she was forgotten and forsaken as in the days of her
glory. There was the same flattering hopelessness in his mien and the
same humble adoration in his eyes.

He would never remain at Kalö for more than two or three days at a
time; then he would leave for a week’s visit in the neighborhood, and
Marie learned to long for his coming and to sigh when he went away; for
he was practically the only company she had. They became very intimate,
and there was but little they did not confide to each other.

“Madam,” said Sti one day, “is it your purpose to return to his
Excellency, if he make you full and proper apologies?”

“Even though he were to come here crawling on his knees,” she replied,
“I would thrust him away. I have naught but contempt and loathing for
him in my heart; for there’s not a faithful sentiment in his mind,
not one honest drop of warm blood in his body. He is a slimy, cursed
harlot and no man. He has the empty, faithless eyes of a harlot and the
soulless, clammy desire of a harlot. There has never a warm-blooded
passion carried him out of himself; never a heartfelt word cried from
his lips. I hate him, Sti, for I feel myself besmirched by his stealthy
hands and bawdy words.”

“Then, madam, you will sue for a separation?”

Marie replied that she would, and if her father had only stood by her,
the case would have been far advanced, but he was in no hurry, for he
still thought the quarrel could be patched up, though it never would be.

They talked of what maintenance she might look for after the divorce,
and Marie said that Erik Grubbe meant to demand Kalö on her behalf.
Sti thought this was ill-considered. He forecast a very different lot
for her than sitting as a dowager in an obscure corner of Jutland and
at last, perhaps, marrying a country squire, which was the utmost she
could aspire to if she stayed. Her rôle at court was played out, for
Ulrik Frederik was in such high favor that he would have no trouble in
keeping her away from it and it from her. No, Sti’s advice was that she
should demand her fortune in ready money and, as soon as it was paid
her, leave the country, never to set foot in it again. With her beauty
and grace, she could win a fairer fate in France than here in this
miserable land with its boorish nobility and poor little imitation of
a court.

He told her so, and the frugal life at Kalö made a good background for
the alluring pictures he sketched of the splendid and brilliant court
of Louis the Fourteenth. Marie was fascinated, and came to regard
France as the theatre of all her dreams.

Sti Högh was as much under the spell of his love for Marie as ever,
and he often spoke to her of his passion, never asking or demanding
anything, never even expressing hope or regret, but taking for granted
that she did not return his love and never would. At first Marie heard
him with a certain uneasy surprise, but after a while she became
absorbed in listening to these hopeless musings on a love of which she
was the source, and it was not without a certain intoxicating sense
of power that she heard herself called the lord of life and death to
so strange a person as Sti Högh. Before long, however, Sti’s lack of
spirit began to irritate her. He seemed to give up the fight merely
because the object of it was unattainable, and to accept tamely the
fact that too high was too high. She did not exactly doubt that there
was real passion underneath his strange words or grief behind his
melancholy looks, but she wondered whether he did not speak more
strongly than he felt. A hopeless passion that did not defiantly
close its eyes to its own hopelessness and storm ahead–she could not
understand it and did not believe in it. She formed a mental picture
of Sti Högh as a morbid nature, everlastingly fingering himself and
hugging the illusion of being richer and bigger and finer than he
really was. Since no reality bore out this conception of himself, he
seemed to feed his imagination with great feelings and strong passions
that were, in truth, born only in the fantastic pregnancy of his
over-busy brain. His last words to her–for, at her father’s request,
she was returning to Tjele, where he could not follow her–served to
confirm her in the opinion that this mental portrait resembled him in
every feature.

He had bid her good-by and was standing with his hand on the latch,
when he turned back to her, saying: “A black leaf of my book of life is
being turned, now that your Kalö days are over, madam. I shall think
of this time with longing and anguish, as one who has lost all earthly
happiness and all that was his hope and desire, and yet, madam, if
such a thing should come to pass as that there were reason to think
you loved me, and if I were to believe it, then God only knows what it
might make of me. Perhaps it might rouse in me those powers which have
hitherto failed to unfold their mighty wings. Then perhaps the part of
my nature that is thirsting after great deeds and burning with hope
might be in the ascendant, and make my name famous and great. Yet it
might as well be that such unutterable happiness would slacken every
high-strung fibre, silence every crying demand, and dull every hope.
Thus the land of my happiness might be to my gifts and powers a lazy

No wonder Marie thought of him as she did, and she realized that it was
best so. Yet she sighed.

She returned to Tjele by Erik Grubbe’s desire, for he was afraid that
Sti might persuade her to some step that did not fit into his plans,
and besides he was bound to try whether he could not talk her into some
compromise, by which the marriage might remain in force. This proved
fruitless, but still Erik Grubbe continued to write Ulrik Frederik
letters begging him to take back Marie. Ulrik Frederik never replied.
He preferred to let the matter hang fire as long as possible, for the
sacrifice of property that would have to follow a divorce was extremely
inconvenient for him. As for his father-in-law’s assurances of Marie’s
conciliatory state of mind, he did not put any faith in them. Squire
Erik Grubbe’s untruthfulness was too well known.

Meanwhile Erik Grubbe’s letters grew more and more threatening, and
there were hints of a personal appeal to the King. Ulrik Frederik
realized that matters could not go on this way much longer, and while
in Copenhagen, he wrote his bailiff at Kalö, Johan Utrecht, ordering
him to find out secretly whether Madam Gyldenlöve would meet him there
unknown to Erik Grubbe. This letter was written in March of sixty-nine.
Ulrik Frederik hoped, by this meeting, to learn how Marie really felt,
and in case he found her compliant, he meant to take her back with
him to Aggershus. If not, he would make promises of steps leading to
an immediate divorce, and so secure for himself as favorable terms as
possible. But Marie Grubbe refused to meet him, and Ulrik Frederik was
obliged to go back to Norway with nothing accomplished.

Still Erik Grubbe went on with his futile letter-writing, but in
February of sixteen hundred and seventy, they had tidings of the death
of Frederik the Third, and then Erik Grubbe felt the time had come
to act. King Frederik had always held his son Ulrik Frederik in such
high regard and had such a blind fondness for him that in a case like
this he would no doubt have laid all the blame on the other party.
King Christian might be expected to take a different attitude, for
though he and Ulrik Frederik were bosom friends and boon companions,
a tiny shadow of jealousy might lurk in the mind of the King, who had
often, in his father’s time, been pushed aside for his more gifted
and brilliant half-brother. Besides, young rulers liked to show their
impartiality and would often, in their zeal for justice, be unfair
to the very persons whom they might be supposed to favor. So it was
decided that in the spring they should both go to Copenhagen. In the
meantime, Marie was to try to get from Johan Utrecht two hundred
rix-dollars to buy mourning, so that she could appear properly before
the new king, but as the bailiff did not dare to pay out anything
without orders from Ulrik Frederik, Marie had to go without the
mourning, for her father would not pay for it, and thought the lack
of it would make her pitiful condition the more apparent.

They arrived in Copenhagen toward the end of May, and when a meeting
between father and son-in-law had proved fruitless, Erik Grubbe wrote
to the King that he had no words to describe, in due submission, the
shame, disgrace, and dishonor with which his Excellency Gyldenlöve had,
some years ago, driven his wife, Marie Grubbe, out of Aggershus, and
had given her over to the mercies of wind and weather and freebooters,
who at that time infested the sea, there being a burning feud between
Holland and England. God in his mercy had preserved her from the
above-mentioned mortal dangers, and she had returned to his home in
possession of life and health. Nevertheless, it was an unheard-of
outrage that had been inflicted upon her, and he had time and again
with letters, supplications, and tears of weeping, besought his
noble and right honorable son, my lord his Excellency, that he would
consider of this matter, and either bring proofs against Marie why the
marriage should be annulled, or else take her back, but all in vain.
Marie had brought him a fortune of many thousand rix-dollars, and
she had not even been able to get two hundred rix-dollars with which
to buy mourning dress. In brief, her misery was too manifold to be
described; wherefore they now addressed themselves to his Majesty the
King, appealing to the natural kindness and condescension of their most
gracious sovereign, with the prayer that he would for God’s sake have
mercy upon him, Erik Grubbe, for his great age, which was seven and
sixty years, and upon her for her piteous condition, and be graciously
pleased to command his Excellency Gyldenlöve that he should either
bring proof against Marie of that for which Christ said married persons
should be parted, which, however, he would never be able to do, or else
take her back, whereby the glory of God would be furthered, the state
of marriage held in honor as God had Himself ordained, great cause of
offence removed, and a soul be saved from perdition.

Marie at first refused to put her name to this document, since she was
determined not to live with Ulrik Frederik, whatever happened, but her
father assured her that the appeal to her husband to take her back was
merely a matter of form. The fact was that Ulrik Frederik now wanted
a divorce at any price, and the wording of the petition would put the
onus of demanding it upon him, thus securing for her better terms.
Marie finally yielded and even added a postscript, written according to
her father’s dictation, as follows:

I would fain have spoken with your Royal Majesty, but, miserable woman
that I am, I have no dress proper to appear among people. Have pity on
my wretchedness, most gracious Monarch and King, and help me! God will
reward you.


* * * * *

As she did not put much faith in Erik Grubbe’s assurances, she managed
to get a private letter into the hands of the King through one of her
old friends at court. In this she told him plainly how she loathed
Ulrik Frederik, how eagerly she longed to be legally parted from him,
and how she shrank from having even the slightest communication with
him in regard to the settlement of money matters.

Yet Erik Grubbe had, for once, spoken the truth. Ulrik Frederik really
wanted a divorce. His position at court as the King’s half-brother was
very different from that of the King’s favorite son. He could no longer
trust to fatherly partiality, but simply had to compete with the men
about him for honor and emoluments. To have such a case as this pending
did not help to strengthen his position. It would be much better to
make an end of it as quickly as possible and seek compensation in a new
and wiser marriage for whatever the divorce might cost him in fortune
or reputation. So he brought all his influence to bear to reach this

The King laid the case before the Consistory, and this body delivered
a report, following which the marriage was dissolved by judgment of
the Supreme Court, October fourteenth, sixteen hundred and seventy.
Both parties were to have the right to marry again, and Marie Grubbe’s
twelve thousand rix-dollars were to be refunded to her with all her
other dowry of jewels and estates. As soon as the money had been paid
over to her, she began preparations to leave the country, without
listening to her father’s remonstrances. As for Ulrik Frederik, he
wrote his half-sister, wife of Johan Georg, Elector of Saxony, telling
her of his divorce, and asking if she would show him so much sisterly
kindness that he might flatter himself with the hope of receiving a
bride from her royal hands.