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Title: Forest Scenes in Norway and Sweden: Being Extracts from the Journal of a Fisherman

Author: Henry Newland

Release date: February 13, 2022 [eBook #67401]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: G. Routledge & Co, 1855

Credits: Charlene Taylor, Bryan Ness and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)










Extracts from the Journal of a Fisherman.


The Second Edition.




My dear Public,—

I have frequently heard you remark, in that quaint and pithy manner so peculiarly your own, that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” If you should happen to find the book which I here present to your notice to be really of such a character as your friend Jack might have written under these distressing circumstances, I am afraid I cannot plead this very sensible observation of yours as my excuse; for I must confess, which I do with thankfulness, that in my time I have enjoyed quite as much play as is good for me, or for any one, in this working-day world of ours. On this point, therefore, my book must stand on its own merits.

But, as I am extremely solicitous of your good opinion, and should be very sorry to see you err on the opposite extreme, imagining, as indeed you might, that mine has[iv] been “all play and no work,” I must request you to look at the Parson at home as well as the Parson abroad,—in short, to read my “Confirmation and First Communion,” as well as my “Forest Life;” a proceeding which, if it does not benefit you, my dear Public (and I sincerely hope it may), will, at all events,—through the medium of his Publisher,—benefit, and that materially,

Your faithful Servant,


Westbourne Vicarage,
July 7th, 1854.



Introduction Page 1
Chapter I.—Preparations 8
Chapter II.—The Voyage 18
Chapter III.—The Shipwash Sand 26
Chapter IV.—The Landfall 38
Chapter V.—Christiansand 49
Chapter VI.—The Torjedahl 61
Chapter VII.—The Encampment Mosse Eurd 78
Chapter VIII.—Making a Night of it 92
Chapter IX.—The Hell Fall 108
Chapter X.—Departure from Torjedahl 122
Chapter XI.—The Mountain March 141
Chapter XII.—The Homestead 158
Chapter XIII.—The Church 172
Chapter XIV.—Breaking up the Encampment 193
Chapter XV.—Eider Duck Hunting 203
Chapter XVI.—The Coasting Voyage 220[vi]
Chapter XVII.—Gotheborg 238
Chapter XVIII.—Trollhättan 253
Chapter XIX.—Gäddebäck 267
Chapter XX.—Wenern 280
Chapter XXI.—The Meet 295
Chapter XXII.—The Commencement of the Skal 305
Chapter XXIII.—The Satterval 318
Chapter XXIV.—Making another Night of it 333
Chapter XXV.—The Watch Fire 349
Chapter XXVI.—Beating out the Skal 367
Chapter XXVII.—The Ball 377
Chapter XXVIII.—The Wedding 389
Chapter XXIX.—Homeward Bound 402




Sketches in Norway and Sweden! Are they fact or fiction? are they to be instructive or simply entertaining? These are questions which the public has a right to ask, and which the author means to answer as truly as he can. He hopes there will be a little of both. At least, in making this selection from his own and his friends’ journals, he has had both these objects in his eye, and he trusts he has been able to keep his eye upon them both at the same time, and that without any very great amount of squinting. The framework which he has adopted is that of a very popular description of authors—the historical romancers, and, if he might venture to say so, of a certain equally popular historian: that is to say, fiction founded upon fact. He has laid down absolute facts, or what he believes to be facts, for his groundwork, and has dressed them up to suit his fancy.

These Northern Sketches are, in truth, a continuation of a former work, “The Erne, its Legends and its Fly-fishing;” as the expedition which gave rise to them was in every respect the same as the old Belleek fishing-association, with a simple change of scene. They are therefore written upon the same plan, which the author has found extremely convenient and very suitable to his purpose.

That purpose was not only to preserve the recollections of a most enjoyable time, but also to convey as much real information[2] on the subjects treated on as he could compass; and with such an object before him, absolute fiction would have been useless.

His descriptions, therefore, in that book were real descriptions, his anecdotes, real anecdotes—the incidents of the story did actually happen; his instructions in the art of fly-fishing and the hydrography of the river were the results of his own experience, and the fairy legends were his own collections. Unless these things had been true, his book would have been merely a book of entertainment,—and he was ambitious of something beyond that. Everything of this kind, therefore, was recorded accurately; and in the few instances in which the requirements of the story compelled the author to transplant his incidents, their real localities were always given.

All this was important to the public, or, at least, as important as the subject itself; but it was of no consequence to any one, except for the gratification of mere curiosity, to be able to identify the precise Captain A. who broke the weirs of the Laune, while such information would not have raised Captain A.’s character at the Horse-Guards. The Liberal member for B. might enjoy the recollection of the row he got up at Kildoney, but might not find it convenient to be reminded of it on the hustings. Attorneys might look askance at Barrister C., who for a whole summer had directed his studies to the practice of Club-law; while Parson D., who had passed three months of his life waist-high in the Erne, might possibly expect, were he identified, to have cold water thrown upon him by his Bishop for the rest of his life.

With all these matters, interesting enough to the characters themselves, the public had nothing whatever to do: it was sufficient for them that they had their information and their story; and, provided the incidents of that story happened to some one, it signified little to them, which, of all the letters of the alphabet, composed his name. The public should feel grateful to any fisherman who has truly revealed the silks and feathers of his favourite fly; it is what very few fishermen will do: let them be satisfied with that: they shall never know—they have no right to know—which of[3] all the “Squires” that haunted the Erne it was who landed the “Schoolmaster” on the “Bank of Ireland.”

In the present sketches the author has not so much reason to conceal the names of his characters; he can hurt no one. He has no rows or “ructions” to record; more’s the pity, for there is nothing so interesting to read about. Still, there are advantages in carrying out the same plan: first, it makes the continuation obvious—some of the Erne characters are again introduced: and this is not a fiction; for when rail-roads began to multiply, and sporting cockneys began to infest the innocent Erne, frightening its salmon and exacerbating its proprietors, that pleasant coterie of fishermen, who, in earlier and better times, were wont to concoct their punch and tell their stories at Mother Johnstone’s fire-side, and hang their great two-handed rods upon her hospitable brackets, actually did betake themselves to the exile of foreign lands.

But, in the second place, it conveys the same information in a more entertaining manner: the author is able to piece his characters; making them, like Mrs. Malaprop’s Cerberus, “three gentlemen at once,” by combining into one the incidents that happened to many. The author has thus availed himself of other journals and other note-books besides his own, and has been able to appropriate their contents, and to distribute whatever was characteristic of the country, into a series of connected sketches, instead of perpetually changing his locality and introducing new characters. He by no means intends to identify himself with his fictitious Parson, nor will he even undertake to say, that he was himself in all instances personally present whenever the Parson comes upon the scene: he will answer for the truth of nothing beyond the detached incidents and descriptions.

Neither can these Sketches be used as an itinerary. Now and then, though not often, names of places have been even suppressed or altered, and incidents transplanted. They will, indeed, give glimpses—slight, but true as far as they go—of northern scenery, costume, travelling peculiarities, and, above all, sport. They will contain practical hints and available directions, but it is only in a general way. They[4] are not at all intended as a guide-book, nor will they at all supersede the indispensable Murray.

The traveller, following upon the author’s footsteps, will find himself lost at two points of the narrative—the village of Soberud, and the locality of the Skal. In the former of these the reason is evident enough—the author wishes to convey an idea of what sort of men the Norwegian clergy are, not to draw the attention of subsequent travellers to any individual clergyman. In the case of the skal there is another reason. Although Mr. Lloyd, the author of “Northern Wild Sports,” being a great hunter, has always contrived to get a shot at the bear, it is, nevertheless, true, that an ordinary man sees about as much of a skal as a regimental officer does of a battle—that is to say, he sees about a dozen men on each side of him: and, it may well happen, that the share of any given individual in the most successful of skals, will amount to hearing a great deal of firing, and, at the end of three or four days’ hard work, seeing five or six carcasses paraded at the nearest village. In order, therefore, to give his readers a graphic sketch of a skal, without violently outraging probability, it was necessary for the author to make his ground, that is to say, to imagine ground of such a description that it was possible for his characters to see what was going on. It is not altogether fictitious either, for the traveller will find a good deal of it in the Toftdahl Valley, though this was never, so far as the author knows, the scene of a summer skal.

Similarly, also, though there is no such village as Soberud, that being the name of a district near Larvig in which Sir Hyde Parker’s fishing-lodge is situated and where the author caught a good many salmon and trout, yet the traveller will be able to patch together the fictitious country from real and actual elements. The church is Hitterdahl—but as there is no lake at Hitterdahl, one has been borrowed for it from the country between Larvig and Frederiksvärn—the “Lake of the Woods” is, really, about four miles north-east of the village of Boen; the little lake where the diver was shot, together with the forest about it, about as far to the west of the same place; and the dark sombre pine wood[5] is, really, situated in the valley of the Nid. This last has been slightly altered to suit the locality, for it is next to impossible to lose oneself in the Nid forest, the river itself being sufficient guide; but the rest is all drawn as accurately as the author’s recollections, aided by his journals, will enable him to depict it. With respect to the characters, Tom, Torkel, and Jacob were attendants on the author and his companions, and, though “a little rose upon,” to use a nautical expression, are drawn from actual life, and in their own proper names. The Captain and Parson, as has been said before, are not to be considered actual characters; that is to say, characters responsible as having done and said all that they are represented to have done and said, but merely as pegs upon which to hang the author’s personal experiences, or pieces of information which he may have received. The same may be said of Birger. It was necessary to associate with the party an intelligent Swede, and Lieut. Birger was chosen to fill that office. Bjornstjerna is wholly fictitious. Hjelmar is a real character; and his adventure in the Najaden frigate was related by him exactly as they are conveyed to the reader, the steamer following out among the islands the precise track of the chase. The author, however, will not undertake to say that the actual name of Hjelmar will be found on the watch and quarter bills of the frigate, though Hulm was actually her captain, and was actually buried near Lyngör, where his monument may be seen to this day. Moodie is a real character, though his name, also, is fictitious; or, rather, it is derived from a nick-name that the author understands he has acquired either by his courage or his foolhardiness: the appellation Modige, which is pronounced very like our English name, Moodie, is translatable either way. He does not, however, live at Gäddebäck, which is the name of a house formerly occupied by the celebrated Mr. Lloyd, the author of “Wild Sports of the North,” and “Scandinavian Adventures,” to whose kindness the author is indebted for his being able to describe, from experience, the fishing of the Gotha, which is drawn as accurately as the author’s recollection served him. The traveller need not, however, fear the quicksand which[6] engulphed poor Jacob; that scene, and a very ridiculous one it was, occurred on the Torjedahl just below Oxea. The fisherman is cautioned not to be guided in his choice of a river by the author’s success on the Torjedahl. It is too clear, too much overhung, and too steadily and regularly rapid to be a first-rate river under any circumstances. There are few shallows in it, for there are no tributaries below the Falls of Wigeland, and no salmon can get above them; therefore, its breeding-ground is very limited indeed; probably the flats of Strei, Oxea, and Mosse Eurd, form the whole of it. The author’s success must be attributed to the fact of his fly having been the first of his kind that ever floated on those transparent waters.

The songs which are put into the mouths of the different characters, are really Norwegian or Swedish, and are given as specimens. They are translations by Hewitt, Forester, Knightley, and others. Scandinavia has always been remarkable for its lyrical poetry from the earliest times; and the Gammle Norgé of Bjerregaard, which is given in chapter viii., would seem to show that the cup of poetic inspiration which Odin stole from the keeping of Gunlauth, and stored up in Asgard, is not yet empty. By far the best of the modern poets of the North is Grundtvig, but his subjects are, for the most part, of a nature too solemn for a work so light as this; a short specimen from his hymns is given in chapter xviii. The Evening Hymn, in chapter xxiii., though in common use in Norway, is not Norwegian; it belongs to the ancient church, and is said to be as old as the days of Ambrose and Augustine.

The legends are collected from all manner of sources: many of them from Tom and Torkel, some from the Eddas and Sagas, some from Malet and Knightley; they are all, however, legitimate Scandinavian legends, believed implicitly by some one or other.

One word about the voyage out. It signifies little to the public when and where those incidents really happened—whether in the North Sea, or in the Bay of Biscay, or in the Mediterranean; but it signifies to them a great deal, to know that these things actually did happen once, and may happen again at any time.


The main incidents adapted to that fictitious voyage are strictly and literally true. A large steamer was upon one occasion in the precise situation ascribed to the Walrus,—and—in the absence of its skipper, who for the time had mysteriously disappeared—was saved by the promptness of one of the passengers, precisely as is described in the narrative. And it is also true that the same vessel, after a run of not more than five hundred miles, did find herself fifty miles out of her course. The compasses, no doubt, being in fault, as they always are on such occasions—poor things!

These are important matters for the public to be made acquainted with; for the public do very frequently go down to the sea in steamers, and therefore any individual reader may at any time find himself in the very same situation.

The author has enlarged upon this, in the faint hope of drawing attention to these matters. He would suggest that some sort of superintendence would not be altogether superfluous, and that it is not entirely right that the lives of two or three hundred men on the deep sea should be entrusted to a skipper not competent to navigate a river, nor be committed to a vessel so parsimoniously found as to be unable to encounter casualties which might happen any day in a voyage to Ramsgate.

On a subject so important as this, the author thinks it his duty to state that these incidents, extraordinary as they may appear, are in no way fictitious; that they did happen under his own eye; and that the mate, the only real sailor on board, did request of him, after the escape, a certificate that he, at least, had done his duty. If that man should be still alive, he possesses a most unique document, a certificate of seamanship, signed by a clergyman of the United Church of England and Ireland.

The skipper’s name the author does not think it necessary to record. He is not likely to be employed again; for he is one of those who have since immortalised themselves in the public prints, by losing his vessel—a circumstance which, it will readily be believed, did not excite any very great feelings of surprise in the mind of the author.



“In every corner
Carefully look thou
Ere forth thou goest.”

There is no saying more true than that “he who would make a tour abroad, must first make the tour of London.” There are miscellaneous articles of appropriate clothing to be got together; there are bags, knapsacks, portmanteaus, to be fitted. Above all, there are passports to be procured; than which no plague more vexatious, more annoying, or more utterly useless for any practicable or comprehensible purpose, has been devised by modern ingenuity.

But if this is a necessary preliminary on ordinary occasions, much more is it necessary when the contemplated expedition has for its object sporting, and the northern wildernesses for its contemplated locality. In addition to the cares of ordinary travel, there are now tents, blankets, cloaks, guns, rifles, to be thought of; rods, reels, gaffs, lines, to be overhauled and repaired; material-books to be replenished, and the commissariat department to be adequately looked to. Deep and anxious, yet not without their pleasures, are the responsibilities which rest on the shoulders of him who undertakes the conduct of such an expedition as this.

Such were the thoughts that crossed the mind of the Parson, as—business in his musing eye, care on his frowning brow, and determination in his compressed lip—he stood under the archway of the Golden Cross; his hands mechanically feeling for the pockets of his fishing-jacket, which had been exchanged for a clerical frock-coat more befitting the locality, and his mouth pursing itself up for his habitual[9] whistle, which, had he indulged in it where he then stood, might have been considered neither appropriate nor decorous.

“Don’t you think this list rather a long one,” said the Captain, who had now joined him from the interior of the hotel, holding in his hand a pretty closely-written sheet of foolscap. “These are all very good things, and very useful things no doubt, but how are we to stow them, and how are we to carry them? Yours is anything but light marching order.”

“Why should it be?”

“My principle is, that no traveller can be too lightly equipped.”

“And a very good principle, too,” said the Parson. “Heavy and useless incumbrances are the invariable attributes of travelling Englishmen. You may know them by their endless train of household goods, as you would know a snail by its shell.”

“I believe,” said the Captain, “that foreign rail-roads are regulated precisely so as to tax us English tourists. Travel on whatever line you please in England, except that grasping Brighton and South Coast, and you may take just exactly what luggage you like; while abroad, the fare is so low and the charge for luggage so high, that an Englishman generally pays double; while the Frenchman, whose three spare collars and bottle of hair-oil are in his pocket; and the German, whose great tobacco-bag and little reticule of necessaries are so constructed as to fit the allowance, are permitted to go free.”

“Upon my word, I do not object to the tax; it is a tax upon folly. What can be so absurd as such a miscellaneous collection as Englishmen generally carry with them? What can a traveller want beyond a dry suit of clothes and half-a-dozen shirts and stockings?”

“There is a slight incongruity between your words and your actions,” said the Captain, holding up the list.

“Tush! put that paper into your pocket, and tell me what we are going to do. When I went on my reconnoitring expedition to Norway last year, my fourteen-foot[10] rod, my fly-book, and a change of clothes constituted all the cares of my life; and I contend, as you do, that no traveller whose object is information has any business with more. But we are going now more in the character of settlers: we are not going to explore, but to enjoy that which has been explored for us. Why should we not, therefore, take whatever may make life enjoyable?”

“Only for fear we may be called upon to choose between leaving them behind or leaving our purpose unaccomplished,” said the Captain.

“Do you think I have calculated my ambulances so badly? But come along. We must consult Fortnum and Mason first. I can explain all that on our road.

“Considering how wild and uninhabited the greater part of the country is, both in Norway and Sweden,” the Parson resumed, as they crossed the pavement under Nelson’s pillar, “it is astonishing how easily you may travel, and how little impediment are your impedimenta. The posting regulations are admirable. On every road there are posting stations at convenient distances, and, by writing to these, the traveller may command, at stated prices, every horse and cart in the district.”

“And at moderate prices?” said the Captain, whose means were not so abundant as to make him indifferent to expense.

“No, not at moderate prices; for I do not call a penny an English mile a moderate price, and this is what you pay in Sweden; and in Norway it is not more than three-halfpence, except in favoured spots in the vicinity of towns, where they are permitted to charge three-fold. My plans, therefore, are these. We are not going to travel, but to visit certain fishing stations, most of which are at no great distance from the coast; let us take, therefore, everything that will make us comfortable at these different settlements. As long as we coast, we have always traders of some sort or other, and generally as nice and comfortable little steamers as you can desire. When our road lies along the fjords or lakes, boats are to be had from the post stations on the same terms as you get the carts, a rower reckoning[11] the same as a horse; and when we want to take to the land, we have but to order as many carts as will hold our traps.”

“And how do we travel ourselves?” said the Captain.

“There is no carriage in the world so pleasant for fine weather as the cariole; and I propose that we each buy one. If we have to get them new, they do not cost above thirty specie-dalers—that is to say, about seven or eight pounds—with all their harness and fittings, in the very first style; and you may always sell them again at the end of your journey. That is the way the natives manage, and they are terrible gadabouts. You always find some jobber or other to take it off your hands. But the chances are that we shall meet with a choice of second-hand carioles to begin with. I gave twenty specie-dalers for mine last year, and sold it for fifteen. Drammen is the place for these things, up in Christiania fjord: it is the Long Acre of Norway.”

“What sort of things are these carioles?—Gigs, I suppose, to carry two.”

“Not they—barely one: and no great room for baggage either. A Scandinavian is of your way of thinking, and does not trouble himself with spare shirts. One horse draws one man, and that is all. If your gig carries two, you are charged a horse and a half for it. In Sweden they have a sort of light spring waggon, drawn by three horses, which will take our followers admirably, with as much luggage as we like to stow; and by having the collars of the harness made open at the top, they will do for all the variety of horses we may meet with on our road. This is better than the Norwegian mode of engaging the farm carts; for in this, so much time is lost at every stage in restowing luggage, that it becomes a serious hindrance. However, in Norway we must do as the Norwegians do. The light waggon would make a very unpleasant conveyance down some of their mountain roads.”

“And how do you manage crossing the fjords and lakes?”

“Easily enough. Every ferry-boat will take a cariole; and as for coasting, a cariole ranks as a deck passenger—that is to say, about ten skillings for a sea mile, you paying for your own passage in the cabin about twenty.”


“You travellers get so confoundedly technical. What the deuce do you mean by a sea mile and a skilling? And how am I to compare two things neither of which I know anything about?”

“A regular traveller’s fault,” said the Parson. “There is not a book written that does not abound with these absurdities. Well, a skilling is a halfpenny in our money, and a sea mile is four of our miles, and a land mile eight, nearly.”

“Pretty liberal in their measures of length,” said the Captain.

“Why, they have plenty of it, and to spare; as you will find when you come to travel from one place to another. But their money is not plentiful, and they dole it out in very small denominations indeed.”

“But here we are at Fortnum and Mason’s; and now for the stores.”

“I observe, you always go to the most expensive places,” said the Captain.

“That is because I cannot afford to go to the cheaper ones,” said the Parson. “On such an expedition as this, you should never take inferior stores. One hamper turning out bad when unpacked at the end of a thousand miles or so of carriage, will make more than the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive shop in London. But, to show you that I do study economy, I will resist the temptation of these preserved meats; and, let me tell you, it is a temptation, for up the country you will get nothing but what you catch, gather, or shoot. This, however, is a necessary,” pointing to some skins of portable soup; “there is not a handier thing for a traveller; it goes in the smallest compass of any sort of provisions; it is always useful on a pinch, and some chips of it carried in the waistcoat pocket on a pedestrian expedition, make a dinner, not exactly luxurious, but quite sufficient to do work upon. This we must lay in a good store of; in fact, if we have this, we need not be very anxious about anything else. Other things are luxuries: this is a necessary of life. Tea we must take: there is nothing more refreshing after a hard day’s work, and you cannot get it anywhere in the country. At least, what you[13] do meet with is altogether maris expers, being a villanous composition of dried strawberry leaves and other home productions. Oil, too—we must take plenty of that; we shall want it for the frying-pan.”

“Have they no butter, then?” said the Captain.

“Yes, they have, and in great plenty too; of all varieties of quality, from very bad, down to indescribably beastly. They call it smör, pronouncing the dotted o like the French eu; and I can assure you their very best butter tastes just as the word sounds.”

“Well, then, I vote for some of these sardines, to take off the taste.”

“With all my heart,” said the Parson; “they flavour anything, when they are not made of salted bleak, as they generally are—so does cayenne pepper. We may as well have some cocoa paste, and a Bologna sausage or two may prove a useful luxury.”

“What do you say to a cask of biscuits?” said the Captain. “What sort of bread have they?”

“Do you recollect that old story told of Charles the Twelfth, when he said of the bread brought to him, that it was not good, but that it might be eaten? No one can tell the heroism of that speech who has not eaten the Swedish black bread, which is generally the only representative of the staff of life procurable. It is gritty, it is heavy, it is puddingy; if you throw it against a wall it will stick there—and as for sourness, O, ye gods! they purposely keep the leaven till it is uneatably sour, and then fancy it becomes wholesome.”

“Well, I suppose it does,” said the Captain. “The Squire used to say, that everything that was good, is unwholesome or wrong; and I suppose the converse is true. But why not take the biscuits?”

“Because we can get that which will answer our purpose perfectly when we arrive at the country, and that without the carriage, and at a much cheaper rate. There is not a seaport town in all the coast where you may not get what they call Kahyt Scorpor, a sort of coarse imitation of what nurses in England feed babies upon, under the name of tops[14] and bottoms. They are made of rye, and are as black as my hat; but they are very good eating, keep for ever, and are cheap enough in all conscience, being from four to six skillings to the pound, that is to say, threepence. In Norway they call them Rö Kovringer.”

“We will take some rice, which very often comes in well by way of vegetables in a kettle of grouse soup; and a good quantity of chocolate, which packs easily, and furnishes a breakfast on the shortest possible notice. And this, I think, will do very well for the commissariat department of our expedition.”

“And now for arms and ammunition,” said the Captain.

“Everything we are likely to want in that department, we must take with us—guns, of course. Shot certainly may be got at Christiansand, and the other large towns; up the country, though, you will get neither that nor anything else: but powder can be got nowhere, at least, powder that does not give you an infinity of trouble in cleaning your gun, on account of the quantity of deposit it leaves. That little magazine of yours, with its block-tin canisters and brass screw-stoppers, will hold enough for us two, unless we meet with very good sport indeed, and in that case we must put up with the manufacture of the country.”

“And for guns?” said the Captain. “I shall certainly take that little pea-rifle I brought from Canada. I want to bring down a bear.”

“We shall be more likely to get a crack at a seal, where we are going,” said the Parson. “Bears are not so plentiful in Norway as is generally supposed. People imagine that they run about in flocks like sheep; however, it is possible that there may be a bear-hunt while we are there. As for rifles, I own I am partial to our own English manufacture. Those little pea affairs are sensible things enough in their own country, where one wanders for weeks on end through interminable forests and desolate prairies on foot, and where a pound of lead more or less in your knapsack is a matter of consequence: but where we have means of transport, I see no great sense in them. A pea, no doubt, will kill, if it hits in the right place; but, like the old Duke, I have myself[15] rather a partiality for the weighty bullet. However, each man to his fancy. The great merit of every gun, rifle, or pistol, lies behind the stock,—a truth that dandy sportsmen are apt to forget; a pea sent straight is better than a two-ounce ball beside the mark.”

“Well,” said the Captain, laughing, “I think I can hold my little Yankee pretty straight; but we shall want shot-guns more than rifles. I may as well take that case I had from Westley Richards, if you do not think it too heavy.”

“Not at all; you can always leave the case behind, and take one gun in a waterproof cover when we go on light-armed expeditions. This will furnish us with a spare gun in case of accidents. I shall take my own old one, and a duck gun—which last will be common property, and I think with this we shall be pretty sufficiently armed. Pointers and setters are of no great use, unless it is a steady old stager, who will retrieve; for you must recollect there is no heath, and very little field shooting. The character of the country is cover, not very thick anywhere, and in many places interspersed with glades and openings. We shall do better with beaters: a water-dog, however, is indispensable. Lakes and rivers abound, and so do ducks, teal, and snipes.”

“Have you thought about tents?” said the Captain.

“Well,” said the Parson, “I am not sure that tents are indispensable, and they certainly are not a little cumbersome. While we are fishing we can do very well without them: by the water-side we can never be without a cottage of some sort to put our heads under if it should come on bad weather, for every house in the whole country stands on the banks of some lake or river. I must say, though, when you get up into the fjeld after the grouse and the ducks, or, it may be, bigger game, it is another affair altogether. You may then go twenty or thirty miles on end without seeing a human habitation, unless you are lucky enough to meet with a säter, and you know what a highland bothy is, for dirt and vermin. But, even in the fjeld, I do not know that we should want tents; you can have no idea of the beauty of a northern summer’s night, and the very little need one has of any cover whatever. I remember, last year, standing on one of their[16] barrows, smoking my pipe at the foot of an old stone cross, coeval, probably, with St. Olaf, and shadowing the tomb of some of his followers that Hakon the Jarl thinned off so savagely. It was deep midnight, and there was not a chill in the air, or dew enough on the whole headland to fill the cup of a Lys Alf. The full round moon was shining down upon me from the south, while a strong glowing twilight was still lighting up the whole northern sky, where the sun was but just hid under the horizon. The whole scene was as light as day, with the deep solemn stillness of midnight all the while. I could distinctly make out the distant fishing-boats; I could almost distinguish what the men were doing in them, through the bright and transparent atmosphere; but at the same time all was so still that I could hear the whistle of the wings, as flight after flight of wild-fowl shot over me in their course to seaward, though they were so high in the air that I could not distinguish the individual birds, only the faint outline of the wedge-like figure in which they were flying. I remember, that night, thinking how perfectly unnecessary a tent was, and determining not to bring one; and, that night at all events, I acted up to my conviction; for, when my pipe was out, I slept at the foot of the old cross till the sun warned me that the salmon were stirring.”

“All very pleasant, no doubt,” said the Captain; “very enjoyable indeed: but does it never rain at night in this favoured land of yours?”

“Upon my word, it does not very often,” said the Parson; “at least, not in the summer-time. Besides, you cannot conceive how well the men tent themselves with pine-branches.”

“I do not quite like the idea,” said the Captain. “It is all very well to sleep out when anything is to be got by it; but, when there is nothing to be got by it but the rheumatism, to tell you the honest truth—unlucky, as the old women say it is—I rather prefer contemplating the moon through glass.”

“Well, I will tell you what we can do,” said the Parson, “and that will be a compromise. We can get some canvas made up into two lug sails. These will help us uncommonly[17] in our passage over lakes and fjords, for their boats are seldom well provided in that respect; and when we get to our destination, lug sails—being square, or, to speak more accurately, parallelogrammatical—will make us very capital gipsy tents, with two pairs of cross-sticks and a ridge-pole, which we shall always be able to cut from the forest. I think we may indulge ourselves so far. As for waterproof jackets, trousers, boots, and so forth, I need not tell you about that: you have been out before, and know the value of these when you want to fish through a rainy day. We shall not have so dripping a climate here as we had in Ireland, certainly, but we shall have one use for our waterproof clothing which we had not there, and that is, when we bivouac, vulcanised India-rubber is as good a defence against the dew and the ground-damp as it is against the rain. A case of knife, fork, and spoon apiece is absolutely necessary, for they do not grow in the fjeld. A light axe or two, and a couple of hand-bills, a hammer and nails, which are just as likely to be wanted to repair our land-carriages as our boats. If you are at all particular in shaving—which, by-the-by, is not at all necessary—you may as well take a portable looking-glass. You will not find it so easy to shave in the reflection of a clear pool—a strait to which I was reduced when I was there last year. And now, I think, we have everything—that is to say, if you have taken care of the fishing-tackle, as you engaged to do.”

“I have not taken care of your material-book.”

“No,” said the Parson; “but I have taken very good care of that myself. Fly-making may be a resource to fall back upon, if we meet with rainy weather, and my book is well replenished.”

“Everything else,—rods, books, reels, gaffs, and so forth,—I have packed in the old black box which we had with us at Belleek, with spare line, and water-cord, and armed wire, and eel hooks, and, in fact, everything that we can possibly want; and a pretty heavy package it makes, I can assure you.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “we may go to sleep now with a clear conscience. But so much depends upon a good start, that a little extra trouble, on the first day, will be found to save, in the end, a multiplicity of inconveniences.”



“Hurrah! hurrah! up she’s rising,—
Stamp and go, boys! up she’s rising,—
Round with a will! and up she’s rising,
Early in the morning.
What shall us do with a lubberly sailor?—
What shall us do with a lubberly sailor?—
Put him in the long-boat and make him bale her,
Early in the morning.
Hurrah! hurrah! up she’s rising.”—
&c. &c. ad infinitum.
Anchor Song.

Clear and joyous as ever a summer’s day came out of the heavens, was the 12th of June, 18—, when the good ship Walrus, with her steam up, her boats secured, and everything ready for sea, lay lazily at single anchor off Blackwall-stairs. The weather was as still and calm as weather might be. The mid-day sun, brilliant and healthful, imparted life and animation even to the black and unctuous waters, that all that morning had, in the full strength of the spring tide, been rushing past her sides. The breeze, light and fitful, just stirred the air, but was altogether powerless on the glazy surface of the stream, which sent back, as from a polished and unbroken mirror, the exact double of every mast, yard, and line of cordage, that reposed above it. The ships lay calm and still. The outward-bound had tided down with the first of the ebb, and were already out of sight, and the few sails that still hung festooned in their bunt and clew-lines, lay as motionless as the yards that held them. Like light and airy dragon-flies, just flitting on the surface, and apparently without touching it, the river steamers were darting from wharf to wharf; while ever and anon a great heavy[19] sea-going vessel would grind her resistless way, defying wind and tide, and dashing the black wave against the oily-looking banks.

Steamer after steamer passed, each steadily bent on her respective mission; and the day wore on—yet there lay the Walrus, though her sea-signalling blue Peter had hung from her fore-truck ever since day-light, and the struggling and impatient steam would continually burst in startling blasts from her safety-valves. The tide was slackening fast; the chain cable, that all that forenoon had stretched out taut and tense from her bows, like a bar of iron, now hung up and down from her hawsehole, while the straws and shavings and floating refuse of the great capital began to cling round her sides.

“It is a great honour, no doubt, to carry an ambassador, with Heaven knows how many stars of every degree of Russian magnitude in his train,” said the Parson, who, seated on the taffrail, with his legs dangling over the water, had been watching the turning tide, and grumbling, as ship after ship in the lower reaches began to swing at her anchors, while three or four of the more energetic craft were already setting their almost useless sails, and yo-ho-ing at their anchors, preparatory to tiding up; “it is a very great honour, and I hope we are all duly sensible of it; but, like most great honours, it is a very particular nuisance. These Russian representatives of an autocrat majesty must fancy they can rule the waves, when all the world knows it is only Britannia that can do that. They have let the whole of this lovely tide pass by—(the Parson cast his eyes on the greasy water)—and fancy, I suppose, that daddy Neptune is bound to supply them with a new one whenever they please to be ready for it.”

“Why, Mate!” said the Captain, as a smart sailor-like looking fellow fidgeted across the quarter-deck, with an irregular step and an anxious countenance; “is this what you call sailing at ten a.m. precisely? Most of us would have liked another forenoon on shore, but your skipper was so confounded peremptory; and this is what comes of it.”

“What is one to do, sir?” said the Mate, who seemed[20] fully to participate in the Captain’s grievance. “These Russians have taken up all the private cabins for their own particular use, and occupy half the berths in the main and fore-cabins besides—we cannot help waiting for them. They have pretty well chartered the ship themselves—what can we do? But,” continued he, after a pause, during which he had been looking over the side, as the steamer now began evidently to swing in her turn, “I wish we had gone down with the morning’s tide.”

“We should have been at the mouth of the river by this time,” said the Captain, “if we had started when we ought.”

“Yes,” said the Mate, “and we should now be crossing the dangerous shoals, with fair daylight and a rising tide before us.”

“Why, surely you are not afraid,” said the Parson; “that track is as well beaten as the turnpike road.”

The Mate shrugged his shoulders, and stepped forward, giving some unnecessary orders in a tone unnecessarily sharp and angry.

“Well, Birger, what news? Do you see anything of them?”

The individual addressed was a smart, active, little man, with a quick grey eye, and a lively, pleasant, good-humoured countenance, who was coming aft from the bridge of the steamer, on which he had been seated all the forenoon, sketching, right and left of him groups of shipping on the water and groups of idlers on the deck.

“Anything of whom?” said he. “Oh! the Russians. No, I don’t know. I suppose they will come some time or other; it does not signify—it is all in the day’s work. Look here,”—and he opened his portfolio, and displayed, in wild confusion all over his paper, the domes of Woolwich, the houses of Blackwall, the forests of masts and yards in the Pool, two or three picturesque groups of vessels, a foreign steamer or two, landing her weary and travel-soiled passengers at the Custom-house—and, over leaf, and in the background as it were, slight exaggerations of the ungainly attitudes in which his two friends were then sprawling. “If[21] you had found something as pleasant as this grumbling to fill up your time with, you would not be wasting your eyes and spoiling your temper in looking for the Russians. They are going back to their own country, poor devils! no wonder they are slow about it. Did you ever see a boy going to school?”

“Birger is not over-fond of the Russians,” said the Captain.

“Few Swedes are,” said Birger; “remember Finland and Pomerania.”

“Besides, it is not over-pleasant to have a great White Bear sitting perpetually at one’s gate, always ready to snap up any of one’s little belongings that may come in its way. The Russian fleet is getting formidable, and Revel and Kronstadt are not very far from the mouth of the Mälar.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” said Birger, gallantly; “we are the sons of the men who, under Gustaf, taught that fleet a lesson.”

“You are a gallant set of fellows,” said the Parson; “and Sweden would be a precious hard nut to crack. But your long-armed friends over the water know the value of a ring fence, and would dearly like a seaboard. Only fancy that overpowering country, which is now kept in order by the rest of Europe, only because, just at present, it lies at the back of creation, and cannot get out of the Baltic, Black, and White Seas, to do harm to any one,—only fancy that pleasant land, with its present unlimited resources, and Gothenborg for its Portsmouth, and Christiania, and Frederiksvärn and Christiansand for its outports—a pleasant vision, is it not, Mr. Guardsman? Don’t you think it probable that something of this sort has soothed the slumbers of the White Bear we were speaking of, before this?”

“Did you ever hear of Charles the Twelfth? He taught that White Bear to dance.”

“He taught that White Bear to fight,” said the Captain, “and an apt scholar he found him. There was more lost at Pultava than Charles’s gallant army.”


“There are men in Sweden yet,” said Birger, slightly paraphrasing the legend of “Holger.”

“There are,” said the Parson; “and if you could only agree among yourselves, you might have hopes of muzzling the White Bear yet. Another union of Calmar?”

“O, hang the union of Calmar; there is no more honesty in a Dane or a Norseman than there is in a Russ. We are not going to have another Bloodbath at Stockholm. My mother is a Lejonhöved,[1] and I am not likely to forget that day.”

“I should have thought you more nearly connected with the Svinhöved family,” said the Parson; “but depend upon it, unless you men of the north can make up your quarrels, the White Bear will chop you up in detail, and us after you.”

Birger, who, in some incomprehensible way, traced his descent from the founder of Stockholm, the great and terrible Earl Birger, was a smart young subaltern in the Royal Guards, and though his present dress—a modest and unpretending blouse—was anything but military, his well-set-up figure, firm step, and jaunty little forage cap stuck on one side of his head, sufficiently revealed his profession. From his earliest youth he had discovered a decided talent for drawing, and in accordance with a most praiseworthy custom in the Swedish service, he had been travelling for the last twelvemonth at the expense of the Government, and was now returning to the “Kongs Ofver Commandant’s Expedition,” with a portfolio filled with valuable sketches, and a mind no less well stored with military knowledge, which he had collected from every nation in Europe. The Captain[23] had fallen in with him at the Swedish ambassador’s, and, being himself something of an artist, had struck up on the spot a sort of professional friendship with him. The pleasant little subaltern was thus, from that time forward, enrolled among their party; and though their acquaintance was not yet of twenty-four hours’ standing, was at that moment talking and chatting with all the familiarity of old and tried friendship.

“Here come those precious rascals at last,” said he, breaking off the conversation, as a train of at least half-a-dozen carriages rattled down to the landing-place, and counts, countesses, tutors, barons, children, dogs, governesses, portmanteaus, bags, boxes, and trunks were tumbled out indiscriminately on the landing-place. “Heaven and earth! if they have not impedimenta enough for an army! and this is only their light marching baggage either. All their heavy articles came on board yesterday, and are stowed under hatches. I’ll be bound we draw an additional foot of water for them. Hang the fellows! they are as bad as Junot, they are carrying off the plunder of half the country.”

“Like the Swedes under Oxenstjerna,” said the Parson; “but what need you care for that? The plunder—if it is plunder—comes from England, not Sweden.”

“It will lumber up the whole cabin, whether it comes from the one or the other,” said Birger; “we shall not have room to swing a cat.”

“We don’t want to swing a cat,” said the Parson; “that is a Russian amusement rather than an English or a Swedish one, if all tales be true; and you may depend upon it we shall fare all the better for their presence: our skipper could never think of setting anything short of turtle and venison before such very magnificent three-tailed bashaws.”

“Yes,” said Birger, “they are going to Petersburgh, too, where the chances are, the bashaws will find some good opportunity of squaring accounts with the skipper for any ill-treatment, before the steamer is permitted to sail.”

All the while this conversation was going on, the illustrious passengers were rapidly accomplishing the short passage from the shore to the steamer, a whole flotilla of[24] boats being employed in the service, while the hurried click of the pauls, and the quick revolutions of the windlass, as the chain-cable was hove short, showed that in the Captain’s opinion, as well as that of the Mate, quite time enough had been wasted already.

But the golden opportunity had been lost. English tides respect no man, not even Russian ambassadors, and old Father Thames was yet to read them a lesson on the text—

If you will not, when you may,
When you will, you shall have Nay.

While the vessel was riding to the ebb tide, as she had done all the morning, a warp which had been laid out from her port quarter would have canted her head well into the stream; and the tide, acting on her starboard bow while the after-part was in comparatively still water, would have winded her downwards, almost before her paddles were in motion, or her rudder could be brought to act. But the turn of the tide had reversed all this. The vessel had indeed swung to the flood, which by this time was rattling up at the rate of five or six miles an hour, and thus her bowsprit was looking the way she wanted to go; but a strong eddy was now bubbling up under her starboard bow, and pressing it towards the left bank, while a great lumbering Indiaman lay just ahead of her, and a Hamburgh steamer, which had anchored a little higher up on her starboard quarter, forbade all reversing of the engine and thus getting out of the mess stern foremost.

The moment the anchor broke ground the helm was put hard a-port, and the paddles were set in motion; but though from the tide alone the rudder had some effect, the strength of the eddy was too much for her; round came her head to port, as if she were going to take a leap at the embankment.

“Hard a-port!—hard a-starboard!—ease her!—stop her!—turn her a-head!” were the contradictory orders bawled out almost simultaneously. If noise and shouting could have got the steamer out of the scrape, there was no lack of it; but all these cries, energetic as they were, produced no effect whatever, beyond exciting a little suspicion in the mind of[25] our travellers (some of whom having been at sea before, knew the stem of a ship from the stern) that the skipper was not altogether a “deacon in his craft;” and thus giving a point to the Mate’s silent but expressive shrug when the Parson had alluded to the shoals at the river’s mouth. At last, an indescribable sensation of grating, and a simultaneous volley of heterogeneous oaths, such as sailors shot their guns with on grand occasions, announced the fact that she had taken the ground abaft.

This, however, as it turned out, was about the best thing that could have happened, for it gave the skipper time to collect his senses; or, what was more to the purpose, gave the Mate time to whisper in his ear; and the rising tide was sure to float her again in ten minutes. By this time a warp had been got out to a ship anchored upon the Surrey side, an expedient which any sailor would have thought of before tripping his anchor in the first instance. The end of it was passed round the windlass and hove taut, and as the rising water slowly lifted the unlucky vessel from her sludgy bed and a few turns brought a strain upon her, she gradually slewed her head outwards. The steam was turned on, the paddles went round; the black water began to fizz under her counter, as if a million of bottles of stout had been poured into it—she was at last a-weigh and fairly on her course, only about six hours after her proper time.

“I tell you what,” said the Parson, as he dived down the companion to inspect the submarine arrangements of the cabin, “I leave this vessel at Christiansand, and I wish we were fairly out of her. This fellow knows no more of sea-craft than a tailor. Kind Providence shield us, or we shall come to grief yet!”



“Our ship,
Which but three glasses since we gave out split,
Is tight and yare and bravely rigged, as when
We first put out to sea.”

One by one the travellers crept down to the cabin. It was as uncomfortable as cabins usually are, perhaps more so, as being more lumbered and more crowded; and the ordinary space for locomotion had been miserably curtailed by a large supplementary table, which the steward was lashing athwart ship for the dinner accommodation of the supernumerary passengers. These were standing about here and there, as helpless and uncomfortable as people always are on first starting, and were regarding one another with looks of suspicion and distrust, as people who start by a public conveyance always do regard one another.

In this the English part of the community was prominently conspicuous. Denizens of a free land, it would seem as if they considered it as their bounden duty to be continually exhibiting their Magna Charta in the eyes of foreigners, and to maintain their just rights to the very death against all comers.

No rights, however, were invaded—there was no opportunity of asserting the Magna Charta; all were equally shy and equally miserable; till, by degrees, as the steamer crept slowly down the river against the tide, they shook into their places, and the ladies began to smile, and the ladies’ maids to look gracious.

The Parson was an old stager. Knowing full well the value of light and air in the present crowded state of the[27] cabin, he had very willingly assented to the apologetic invitation of the steward, and had established himself comfortably enough on the transom itself, upon which was spread for his accommodation a horsehair mattress. There was no great deal to spare in the height of his domicile, for it was as much as he could conveniently manage to sit upright in it; but it was, at all events, retired, airy, and not subject to be suddenly evacuated by its occupant under the overpowering influence of a lee lurch or a weather roll.

Totally disregarding the bustle and confusion in the cabin below him, he was occupied in arranging and beautifying his temporary home. The sill of one window formed his travelling library, the books of which he had been unpacking from his stores, and securing by a piece of spun yarn from the disagreeable consequences of any sudden send of the ship in a rolling sea. The next formed his toilet-table and workshop, exhibiting his reels and fly-books, and the huge and well-known “material book,” the replenishing of which had occupied so much of his attention. The third was left empty, so as to be opened and shut at pleasure.

Stretched on his mattress, with a guide-book in his hand, and the map of Norway and Sweden at his side, he looked from his high abode on the turmoil of the cabin deck, with all the calmness and complacency with which the gods of the Epicureans are said to regard the troubles and distresses of mortals below.

And thus wore on the day. Dinner, tea, had been discussed—some little portion of constraint and shyness had been rubbed off—small knots of men were formed here and there, discussing nothings and making conversation. Night sank down upon the steamer as she ploughed her way across the Nore, and the last of the talkers rolled himself up in his bedclothes, and tried, though for a long while in vain, to accustom himself to public sleeping.

It was still dark—for the time was hardly three in the morning—when the Parson—who, accustomed to all the vicissitudes of travel, had been making the most of the hours of darkness, and had been for some time fast asleep—was suddenly startled from his dreams by a furious concussion[28] on the rudder-case against which his head was pillowed. The vessel became stationary, and the fresh breezey hissing of the water in her wake and the tremulous motion everywhere suddenly ceased.

“By George, she’s hard and fast!” said the Captain; who, taking hint from the comfortable appearance which the Parson had given to his own berth, had occupied the same position on the starboard side, and was now invading the Parson’s territories from abaft the rudder-case.

“What the devil is to be done now?”

“Nothing at all,” said the Parson; “it is no business of ours; and I am sure it is not time to get up yet.”

“Well, but she has certainly struck on a sand.”

“I know that as well as you,” said the Parson; “but you can’t get her off. Besides, there is not a bit of danger yet, at all events, for the sea is as smooth as a mill-pond. There they go, reversing their engine: much good that will do. If there was any truth in that bump I felt, she is much too fast aground for that. And the tide falling too!”—he continued, striking a lucifer and looking at his watch. “Yes, it is falling now, it has turned this hour or more.”

By this time the hurried trampling and stamping on deck had roused up the passengers, few of whom could comprehend what had happened, for there was no appearance of danger, and the ship was as steady and firm as a house. But there is nothing more startling or suggestive of alarm than that rushing to and fro of men, so close to the ear, which sounds to the uninitiated as if the very decks were breaking up.

“Is it houraccan storrm?” shouted Professor Rosenschall, a fat greasy-looking Dane, whom Birger had been hoaxing and tormenting all the day before, partly for fun, and partly because he considered it the bounden duty of a true Swede to plague a Dane—paying off the Bloodbath by instalments.

“Steward!” shouted the Professor, above all the din and confusion of the cabin, “Steward, vinden er stærkere? is it houraccan storrm?”

“Yes, Professor, I am sorry to say it is,” said Birger, who[29] had rolled himself up in a couple of blankets under the table, upon which was reposing the weight of the Professor’s learning. “It is what we call an Irish hurricane—all up and down.”

“All up! O what will become of me—and down! O, my poor wife. Hvilken skrækelig storrm,” he screamed out, as half-a-dozen men clapped on to the tackle falls over his head, with the very innocent purpose of lowering the quarter-boat, and began clattering and dashing down the coils of rope upon the deck. “Troer de at der er fore paa Færde?—do you think there is any danger?”

What with the Professor’s shouting, and what with the real uncertainty of the case, and the natural desire that every one, even the most helpless, has to see their peril and to do something for themselves, every passenger was by this time astir, and the whole cabin was buzzing like a swarm of bees.

The Parson’s idea of sleeping was altogether out of the question; and, the Captain having gone on deck, he very soon followed him; for, notwithstanding his assumed coolness, he was by no means so easy in his mind as he would have his friends to understand. He had been at sea before this, and was, at least, as well aware as they, that grounding out of sight of land, is a very different thing from grounding in the Thames.

The scene on deck was desolate enough. The steamer had struck on the Shipwash, a dangerous shoal on the Essex coast, distant about twenty miles from land; and a single glance was sufficient to tell that there was not a chance of getting her off for the next twelve hours, though the Skipper was persisting in trying a variety of absurd expedients. The crew were looking anxious—the passengers were looking frightened; while the Skipper himself, who ought to have been keeping up every one’s spirits, was looking more wretched and more frightened than any one.

The day was just breaking, but a fog was coming on, and the wind showed every symptom of freshening. The vessel, indeed, had begun to bump, but the tide leaving her, that motion left her also, and she began now to lie over on her bilge. From some unfortunate list she had got in her stowing[30] (Birger declared it was the weight of the ambassador’s despatch boxes), she fell over to windward instead of to leeward, thus leaving her decks perfectly exposed to the run of the sea, if the wind should freshen seriously.

When the Parson came on deck, the boats had just returned from sounding. The Skipper had, indeed, endeavoured to lay out an anchor with them—an object in which he might possibly have succeeded, had he tried it at first and before there was any great rush of tide, for the steamer had struck at the very turn of the flood; but he had wasted his time in reversing his engines and in backing and taking in sails which there was no wind to fill; and thus, before he had got his anchor lashed to the boat, which, like all passage steamers’ boats, was utterly inadequate for the work, the stream was strong enough to swamp boat, anchor, and all, and it was fortunate indeed that no lives were lost.

It appeared from the soundings that the ship had not struck on the main shoal, but on a sort of spit or ridge, the neck of a submarine peninsula projecting from the S.W. corner of it. Almost under her bows was a deep turnhole or bay in the sand about two cables across, communicating with the open water, beyond which, right athwart her hawse, lay the main body of the shoal, so that the beacon which marked its northern extremity, and which was now beginning to show in the increasing light of the morning, lay broad on her port bow, while the other end of the shoal was well on her starboard beam; at half a cable length astern, and on her port quarter and beam was the deep water with which the turnhole communicated,—this being, in fact, the channel she ought to have kept.

It was perfectly evident that nothing could be done till the top of the next tide, and whether anything could be done then was extremely problematical with the wind rising and the sea getting up; experience having already shown that there was not a boat in the steamer fit for laying out an anchor.

However, for the present the water was smooth enough; they were for the time perfectly safe and comfortable, lying, as they did, under the lee of the shoal, patches of which[31] were now beginning to show just awash; while the seas were breaking heavily enough certainly, but a full half-mile to windward of them. The passengers, seeing nothing to alarm them, and feeling their appetites well sharpened by their early rising, began to lose their fears and to be clamorous for breakfast; and the meal was served with a promptness which, under the circumstances, was perfectly astonishing.

Those who know nothing fear nothing, and the jokes which were flying about and the general hilarity which pervaded the whole meeting, conveyed anything rather than the idea of shipwrecked mariners; though, truth to say, this feeling did not seem to be fully participated in by the Skipper, who presided at what might very fairly be called the head of the table, for it was many feet higher than the foot; he looked all the while as if he was seated on a cushion stuffed with bramble bushes.

The Parson, by way, he said, of utilising his moments, was preparing for fishing—calculating, and rightly too, that the whiting would congregate under the lee of the stranded ship.

He had made his preparations with characteristic attention to his own comfort and convenience. The dingy, which was hanging at the stern davits, formed at once his seat and his fishing-basket; and as he had eased off as much of the lee tackle fall as brought the boat to an even keel, the taffrail itself afforded him a shelter from the wind, which was now getting high enough to be unpleasant.

There he sat, hour after hour, busily and very profitably employed, heeding the gradual advance and strengthening of the tide only so far as its increasing current required the use of heavier leads.

The Captain and Birger had been trying to walk the sloping deck, a pursuit of pedestrianism under difficulties, for it was very much as if they had been trying to walk along the roof of a house. Time hangs heavily on the hands of those who have nothing to do, and there was nothing to do by the most active of sailors beyond hoisting the ensign union downwards, and that might just as well have been left undone too, for all the notice that was taken of it. Ship after ship passed by—the foreign traders to windward, the[32] English through the shorter but more dangerous channel that lay between them and the main land. Many of them were quite near enough for anxious passengers to make out the people in them reconnoitring the position of the unfortunate Walrus through their telescopes. But if they did look on her, certainly they passed by on the other side; it never seemed to enter into the heads of one of them to afford assistance.

“Pleasant,” said Birger, “very. Is this the way your sailors help one another in distress?”

“I am afraid so,” said the Captain.

“Gayer insects fluttering by
Ne’er droop the wing o’er those that die;
And English tars have pity shown
For every failure but their own.”

“You do not mean to say that they will not help us if there really is danger?” said the Swede.

“Upon my word, I hope there will not be any real danger; for if you expect any help from them, I can tell you that you will not get it.”

“Not get it!” said Birger, who did not at all seem to relish the prospect before him.

“That you will not. Sink or swim, we sink or swim by our own exertions. Those scoundrels could not help us without losing a whole tide up the river, a whole day’s pay of the men, and so much per cent. on the cargo, besides the chance of being forestalled in the market: do you think they would do that to save the lives of half-a-hundred such as you and me? Why, you have not learned your interest tables; you do not seem to understand how much twenty per cent. in a year comes to for a day. A precious deal more than our lives are worth, I can tell you.”

Birger looked graver still; drowning for a soldier was not a professional death, and he did not relish the idea of it.

The Captain continued his words of comfort. “I was very nearly losing a brother this way myself,” he said. “He was invalided from the coast of Africa, and had taken his[33] passage home in a merchant vessel. They had met with a gale of wind off the Scillies; the ship had sprung a leak, and when the gale had subsided to a gentle easterly breeze dead against them, there were they within twenty miles of the Longships, water-logged, with all their boats stove, and their bulwarks gone. Timber ships do not sink very readily, and incessant pumping had kept them afloat, but it was touch and go with that—their decks awash, and the seas rolling in at one side and out at the other. While they were in this state, the whole outward-bound fleet of English ships passed them, some almost within hailing distance, and all without taking more notice of them than those scoundrels are taking of us. They would, all hands, have gone to the bottom together, in the very midst of their countrymen, if a French brig had not picked them off and carried them into Falmouth. It was so near a thing, that the vessel sank almost before the last boat had shoved off from her side.

“Well,” said Birger, “if there is a selfish brute upon earth, it is an English sailor.”

“Natural enough that you should say so, just at present,” said the Captain; “though, as a Swede, you might have recollected the superstition that prevails in your own country against helping a drowning man. But the fact is, the fault lies not so much with the sailors as with the insurance regulations at Lloyds’. Likely enough, every one of these fellows has a desire to help us; but if they go one cable’s length from their course to do so, or if they stay one half-hour by us when they might have been making their way to their port, they vitiate their insurance. Man is a selfish animal, no doubt—sea-going man as well as shore-going man—and it is very possible that some of them would rather see their neighbours perish than lose the first of the market; but laws such as these render selfishness imperatively necessary to self-preservation, and banish humanity from the maritime code.”

“I wish all Lloyds’ were on the Shipwash,” said Birger, “and had to wait there till I picked them off.”

“Yes,” said the Captain; “or that the House of Commons were compelled to take a winter’s voyage every year[34] in some of these company’s vessels. I think, then, they might possibly find out the advantage of certain laws and certain officers to see them put in force, in order to prevent their going to sea so wretchedly found. There is nothing like personal experience for these legislators. This vessel has not a boat bigger than a cockle-shell belonging to her. Did you not hear how nearly the Mate was lost last night,—and he is the only real sailor in the ship—when they were trying to lay out an anchor—a manœuvre which, I see, they have not accomplished yet?”

“Hallo! this is serious,” said Birger, as a heavy sea struck the weather paddle-box, and broke over them in spray: for the tide had been gradually rising, without, as yet, raising the ship; and, as she lay over to windward, the seas that now began to break upon her starboard bow and side, deluged her from stem to stern.

“Upon my soul,” said the Captain, “I don’t like this, myself; and there sits the Parson, fishing away, as quietly as if he were on the pier at Boveysand. By Jove, Nero fiddling while Rome was burning, is a fool to him! Why, Parson, don’t you think there is some danger in all this?”

“‘Er det noget Færde?’ as your friend the professor would say,” said the Parson, laughing. “I do not think it improbable that the Walrus will leave her bones here, if you mean that.—Stop, I’ve got another bite!”

“Confound your bite! If she leaves her bones here, we shall leave ours too; for she has not boats for the fourth of us, the devil take them! and as for expecting help from these rascally colliers——”

“You may just as well fiddle to the dolphins,” said the Parson. “I know that; but do you see that little cutter,—that fellow, I mean, on our quarter, that has just tacked? and there beyond her is another, that is now letting fly her jib-sheet. I have been watching those fellows all the morning, beating out from Harwich. They are having a race, and a beautiful race they make of it: you cannot tell yet which has the best of it. If those cutters were going over to the Dutch coast, you may depend upon it they would not make such short boards. There—look—the leading one is in stays[35] again. Those fellows are racing for us, and with our ensign Union down, as we have it, we shall make a pretty good prize for the one that gets first to us. Those two are pilot-boats. You may depend upon it, we are not going to lay our bones here, whatever comes of the Walrus.”

The Parson’s anticipations were realised sooner than he expected, for a long low life-boat, that nobody had seen till she was close alongside, came up, carrying off the prize from both competitors—and preparations were begun, which ought to have been completed hours before, for laying out an anchor.

Before long, the cutters also had worked up and anchored on the lee edge of the shoal, to the great relief of every one on board; for the seas were by this time making such a breach over her, that no one could be ignorant of the danger.

Suddenly, and without preparation, she righted, throwing half the passengers off their legs, and very nearly precipitating the Parson into the sea; who took that as a hint to leave his seat in the dingy. Soon afterwards she began to bump, first lightly, and then more heavily, and the paddles were set in motion. The windlass was manned and worked; but the shifting sand afforded no good holding-ground for the anchor, which had not been backed—nor, indeed, had any precautions been taken whatever—and as soon as there was any strain upon it, it came home and was perfectly useless.

The ship now was hanging a little abaft the chess-tree, on the very top of the spit; but the stern was free, and the bows were actually in the deep water of the turnhole, while at every bump she gained an inch or two: just then, the anchor coming home, and the tide taking her under the port bow, she ran up in the wind, and pointed for the very centre of the shoal.

“Why the devil don’t you set your jib?” bellowed out the Captain, who had begun to get excited. “Where the deuce is that know-nothing Skipper of yours?”

“Upon my soul, sir, I do not know,” said the Mate, who[36] was standing at the wheel, and was looking very anxiously forward.

“Then why don’t you go forward and set it yourself? We shall be on the main shoal in two minutes, if she floats.”

“I know it, sir,” said the Mate; “but I dare not leave my post. We shall all have to answer for this; and if I am not where the Skipper has placed me, he will throw the blame upon me.”

“Then, by George, I don’t care that for your Skipper. Come along, boys, we’ll run up the jib ourselves.”

And away he rushed, pushing and shouldering his way along the crowded decks, among idlers, and horses, and carriages, followed by his own party, and a good many of the foreigners also; till he emerged on the forecastle, when, throwing down the jib and fore-staysail hallyards from the bitts and clattering them on the deck, while the Parson went forward to see all clear, he called out to the Russian servants, who, wet and frightened, were cowering under the carriages—

“Here, you slaveys, come out of that—clappez-vous sur ceci—clap on here, you rascals—rousez-vous dehors de ces bulwarks. What the devil is Greek for ‘skulking?’”

Whether the Russians understood one word of the Captain’s French, or whether they would have understood one word of it had they been Frenchmen, may be doubted; but his actions were significant enough; and the men, who only wanted to be told what to do, clapped on to the jib and fore-staysail hallyards as well and as eagerly as if they had known what was to be done with them; here and there, too, was seen a blue-jacket, for the seamen had no wish to skulk, if there had been any one to command them.

“Gib mig ropes enden!” shouted Professor Rosenschall, who had caught the enthusiasm, and was panting after them, though a long way astern.

“Birger will do that for you,” said the Parson, laughing, but without pausing for one moment from his work—“Birger! the Professor wants a rope’s-end.”

“Vær saa artig!” said Birger, tendering him the signal[37] hallyards, the bight of which he had hitched round a spare capstan-bar on which he was standing. For Birger, like most Swedish soldiers, had passed a twelvemonth in a midshipman’s berth, where, whatever seamanship he had picked up, he had, at all events, learned plenty of mischief.

“Away with you!” roared the Captain. “Up with the sails—both of them.”

“Skynda! Professor, Skynda!” echoed Birger, leaping off the capstan-bar as he spoke, and thus causing the Professor to pitch headlong among the trampling men.

“Up with it! up with it, cheerily! look there, she pays off already!” as the two sails flew out; the jib, which was not confined by any stay, bagging away to leeward and hanging there, but still drawing and doing good service. “Up with it, boys—round she comes, like a top! Hurrah, that’s elegant!” as a sea struck her full on the quarter, which, by her paying off, had now become exposed to it. On it came, breaking over the taffrail and deluging the idlers on the poop, but at the same time giving her the final shove off the ridge. “Off she goes! Shout, boys, shout! and wake up that Skipper, wherever he is!”

And amid the most discordant yells that ever proceeded from heterogeneous voices—Danish, Dutch, Swedish, German, and Russ, above which, distinct and ringing, rose the heart-stirring English cheer—the steamer, once more under command of her rudder, buzzed, and dashed her way into the open sea.



“Bewilderedly gazes
On the wild sea, the eagle
When he reaches the strand:
So is it with the man;
In the crowd he standeth
And hath but few friends there.”

“Nothing gives one so lively an idea of eternal, irresistible progress—of steady, inexorable, unalterable fate, as the ceaseless grinding of these enormous engines.” Thus moralised Birger, as, two days after the events recorded in the last chapter, he stood with his brother officer, the Captain, on the grating that gave air into the engine-room. “In joy or in sorrow, in hope or in fear, on they go—grinding—grinding, never stopping, never varying, never hurrying themselves:—the same quiet, irresistible round over and over again: we go to bed—we leave them grinding; we get up—there they are, grinding still; we are full of hope, and joy, and expectancy, looking out for land and its pleasures—they go no faster; they would go no faster if we went to grief and misery. If you or I were to fall dead at this moment, the whole ship would be in an uproar, every man of them all showing his interest, or his curiosity, one way or other—but still would go on, through it all, that eternal, everlasting grinding.”

“Everlasting it is,” said the Captain, who was not at all poetical, and who was anxious to be at his journey’s end. “This steamer is the very slowest top I have ever had the misfortune to sail in. By every calculation we should have made the coast of Norway ages ago; I have been on the look[39] out for it ever since daylight; but six, seven, eight, nine, and no coast yet. Breakfast over, and here are your everlasting wheels of fate grinding away, and not one bit nearer land, as far as I can see, than they were before. I’ll be hanged if the wind is not getting northerly too,” he said, looking up, as the fore and aft foresail over their head gave a flap, as if it would shake the canvas out of the bolt-ropes. “I thought so. Look at them brailing up the mainsail! wind and steam together, we never got seven knots out of this tub; I wonder what we shall get now—and the sea getting up too?”

Several consecutive pitches, which set the horses kicking, and prostrated one-half of the miserable, worn-out, dirty-looking deck passengers, seemed fully to warrant the Captain’s grumbling assertion, and they scrambled back to the poop; upon which most of the passengers were by this time congregated, for the sun was shining out brightly, and the wind, though there was plenty of it, was fresh and bracing.

They had evidently by this time opened the north of Scotland, for the slow, heaving swell of the Northern Ocean was rolling in upon them; and this, meeting the windwash knocked up by the last night’s south-easterly breeze, was making a terrible commotion in the ship, and everything and everybody belonging to it.

“Land! land!” shouted the Parson, who had climbed upon the weather bulwarks, and was holding on by the vang to steady his footing. “Land, I see it now; where could our eyes have been? There it is, like blue clouds rising out of the water.”

There was a general move and a general crowding towards the spot to which he was pointing, but just then the ship pitched bowsprit and bows under, jerking the Parson off his legs; upsetting every passenger who had nothing to hold on by, and submerging half-a-dozen men on the jib-boom, who were occupied in stowing the now useless jib. They rose from their involuntary bath puffing and blowing, and shaking the water from their jackets, but continuing their work as if nothing had happened.

There, however, was the land, beyond a doubt. No Cape Flyaway, but land—bold, decided, and substantial. Whether[40] it was that people had not looked for it in the right direction, or had not known what to look for; or whether, as was most likely, a haze had hung over the morning sea, which the sun had now risen high enough to dispel; whatever was the cause, there stood the hitherto invisible land, speaking of hope and joy, and quiet dinners, and clean beds, and creating a soul under the ribs of sea-sickness.

Long, however, it was before they neared it,—hour after hour; and Birger’s everlasting wheels went grinding on, and the mountains seemed no higher and no plainer than they were when the Parson had first descried them. But the day had become much more enjoyable, the wind had moderated, and the swell was less felt, as the land began to afford some protection.

The Captain and his friend Birger had by this time established themselves on the break of the poop, with their sketch-books in their hands, nominally to sketch the outline of the land, really to caricature the Russian magnates during their hours of marine weakness. While Monsieur Simonet, one of the numerous tutors, a venturesome Frenchman, climbed warily up the main shrouds to get a better view, creeping up step by step, ascertaining the strength of each rattlin before he ventured his weight upon it, and holding on to the shrouds like grim Death. Quietly and warily stole after him the Mate, with a couple of stout foxes hitched round his left arm.

“Faith,” said Birger, “they are going to make a spread-eagle of him. Well, that is kind; it will prepare him for his new country; it is in compliment to Russia, I suppose, that they turn him into the national device.”

But the Mate had reckoned without his host. The Frenchman made a capital fight for it, and in the energy of his resistance, entirely forgot his precarious position; he kicked, he cuffed, he fought gallantly, and finally succeeded in seizing his adversary’s cap, a particularly jaunty affair with gold lace round it, in imitation of her Majesty’s navy, of which the Mate was especially proud. This, the Frenchman swore by every saint the Revolution had left in his calendar, he would heave overboard; and before the Captain had completed[41] the little sketch he was taking of the transaction, a capitulation was entered into by the belligerents upon the principle of the statu quo, and the discomfited Mate descended, leaving his adversary to enjoy at once his position and his victory.

By this time sails, unseen before, had begun to dot the space which still intervened between the steamer and the iron-bound coast before it, which now rose stern and rugged, and desolately beautiful, clothed everywhere with a sort of rifle-green, from the dark hues of the fir and juniper, for none but the hardy evergreens could bear the severe blasts of even its southern aspect; few and far between were these sails at first, and insignificant did they seem under the abrupt and lofty mountains which rose immediately out of the sea, without any beach or coast-line, or low-land whatever; but, as they neared the land, the moving objects assumed a more conspicuous place in the landscape.

There was the great heavy galliasse with pigs from Bremen or colonial produce from Hamburg—a sort of parallelogram with the corners rounded, such as one sees in the pictures of the old Dutch school two hundred years ago—not an atom of alteration or improvement in its build since the days of old Van Tromp; the same flat floor and light draft of water—the same lumbering lee-boards—the same great, stiff, substantial, square-rigged foremast, with a little fore and aft mizen, which looked like an after-thought; she might be said to be harrowing the main instead of ploughing it, according to our more familiar metaphor, with a great white ridge of foam heaped up under her bows, and a broad, ragged wake like that of a steamer.

And there was the Norwegian brig returning from Copenhagen with a cargo of corn for Christiansand; rough and ill-found, nine times in ten not boasting so much as a foretop-gallant sail, yet tight and seaworthy, and far better than she looked; built after the model of a whale’s body, full forward and lean aft, with a stern so narrow that she looked as if she had been sailing through the Symplegades, and had got pinched in the transit.

Then came a fleet of a dozen jagts from the north, the[42] tainted breezes advertising their fishy cargo, as they came along. These were the originals of the English yacht, which unspellable word is merely the Norwegian jagt, written as it is pronounced in the country, for Norway is the only nation besides England that takes its pleasure on the deep sea. With their single great unwieldy sails, their tea-tray-shaped hulls, and towering sterns, they looked like a boy’s first essays in the art of ship-building.

But Bergen furnishes a far more ship-shape description of craft—sharp fore and aft vessels are the Bergeners, looking as if they had all been built on the same lines, with little, low bulwarks, and knife-like cutwaters, as if they were intended to cut through the seas rather than to ride over them, sailing almost in the wind’s eye, and, when very close hauled indeed, a point on the other side of it—at least, so their skippers unanimously assert, and they ought to know best,—at all events, ensuring a wet jacket to every one on board, be the weather as fine as it may, from the time they leave the port to the time they return to it.

Then came, crowding all sail and looking as if they were rigged for a regatta, with their butterfly summer gear and tapering spars, the lobster smacks from Lyngör, and Osterisö, and Arendahl, and Hellesund: and a regatta it was on a large scale, with the wide North Sea for a race-course, omnivorous London for the goal, and its ever-fluctuating markets for a prize. These were sharp, trim-looking vessels, admirably handled, and not unworthy of a place in the lists of any Royal Yacht Club for beauty or for speed; somewhat less sharp, perhaps, than the Bergeners, but scarcely less weatherly or sitting less lightly on the seas.

The near approach to the land, which had been for so many hours looked for in vain, seemed to bring no great comfort to the unfortunate Skipper, who kept fidgetting about the decks with a perplexed and anxious countenance. Glasses were brought on deck, and rubbed and polished over and over again, and directed in succession to every mountain peak that showed itself, and every inlet that opened before them. Then, little mysterious consultations were held between the Skipper and his First Mate; then, one man was[43] sent for, then another; then more whispering, and more mystery, more shaking of the heads and examination of charts; then an adjournment to the bridge, on which the Parson was then standing, taking his survey of the craft in sight, and enjoying the sunshine. At last, the whispering took a more objurgatory tone; more in the way of a growl, with now and then a short, emphatic sentence of eternal condemnation on somebody’s eyes, or blood, or other personalities,—as is the custom of those who “go down to the sea in ships.”

The first distinct words which met the Parson’s ear, came from the lips of the Skipper, pronounced in a sharp, acid, querulous sort of tone; such as superiors sometimes indulge in, when they are fixing on the shoulders of an inferior the blame they shrewdly suspect all the while, ought, if justice had its due, to rest on their own.

“You are not worth your salt, sir,” he said; “you are not worth your salt—you ought to be ashamed of wearing a blue jacket, you know-nothing, lubberly ...” and so forth; expressions by no means unusual at sea, certainly, but sounding somewhat misplaced in the present instance, inasmuch as if there was any one in the whole ship not worth his salt, the speaker certainly was the man, in his own proper person.

“Upon my soul, sir,” said the man addressed, “if I tried to tell you anything about it, I should be only deceiving you. I know the coast about Christiansand as well as any man. I have traded to that port for years, and taken the old brig in and out twenty times; but the land before us is all strange to me. I never saw those three hummocky hills before in my life. This is not Christiansand.”

“Well, but if it is not, does Christiansand lie east or west of us—which way am I to steer?”

The man raised his glass again, and took a long and anxious survey, but apparently with no better result.

“Really, sir, I cannot say. I cannot make it out at all; there is not one single sea-mark that I know.”

“Then what the devil did you ship for as a pilot, if you knew nothing of your business?” Here followed another strong detachment of marine expletives.


“I shipped as a pilot for Christiansand, sir; and, for the Sound, and for Copenhagen; and can take the steamer into any one of them, if she drew as much as a first-rate; but this place is neither one nor the other of them, and I never called myself a coasting pilot.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “this seems to me sad waste of breath and temper; if you are a couple of lost babes, why do you not ask your way? There lies a pilot-boat, as you may see with your own eyes,” pointing to a little cutter exhibiting in the bright sunshine a single dark cloth in a very white mainsail, which, with her foresheet to windward, lay bobbing about in the swell right ahead of them. “That is a pilot-boat, and I suppose she knows the way, if you do not—why do you not hail her?”

The Skipper looked askance at the Parson, as if he meditated some not very complimentary reply about minding one’s own business; for, conscious of the estimation in which he was himself held by the fishing party, who were in no way chary of their remarks, he regarded them with anything but friendly feelings. But the advice was too obviously sound to be neglected, and the Skipper was not by any means anxious that the magnates on the poop should become acquainted with the fact that he was at sea in more senses than one.

In a few minutes the steamer was alongside the little shrimp of a cutter, taking the wind out of her sails by her huge unwieldy hull.

A short conversation passed between them, which as one-half was sworn down the wind in very loud English, and the other half came struggling up in broad Norske, was not attended with any very satisfactory results.

Birger offered his services.

“You may as well ask them what they will take us into Christiansand for,” said the Skipper; “that will soon make them find their English.”

A few more unintelligible words were exchanged, and Birger burst out laughing.

“They cannot do it,” he said: “they cannot take us into Christiansand: not only they are not able, but they are not licensed to ply so far.”


“Why! where are we, then?” said the astonished Skipper.

“Off Arendahl!” said Birger.

“Arendahl!” broke in the Parson, “why, that is fifty miles to the westward of your course.”

“Well, I cannot conceive how that can be,” said the Skipper. “Something wrong, I am afraid, with the compasses. We ought not to be so far out; we steered a straight course, and—”

“That did you not,” said Birger, “whatever else you did; the Captain and I have been studying the theory of transcendental curves from your wake.”

“I can tell you how it is,” said the Parson; “you have steered your course as you say, and have not allowed for the easterly set of the current, and you imagine how this must have acted upon us under the influence of these rolling swells which we have had on our port bow ever since daylight, every one of which must have set us down a fathom or two to leeward. Don’t you recollect that we lost three line-of-battle ships coming home from the Baltic by this very blunder. Compasses!” he continued, sotto voce, “a pretty lot of blunders are thrown on those unfortunate compasses, in every court-martial. However,” he continued, aloud, “there is no help for it,—thankful ought we to be it is no worse; there is but one thing to be done now, and what that one thing is, you know as well as I.”

This the Skipper did know. A close survey of the remaining coals took place, and it was decided that notwithstanding the expenditure that took place on the day on the Shipwash, there might, with economy, be enough for six hours’ consumption, Birger inquiring innocently, “whether the Skipper had not anything that would burn in his own private stores?”

The steamer’s course was accordingly altered nine or ten points, for the coast from Arendahl to Christiansand trends southerly, and she had actually overshot her mark, and gone to the northward as well as to the eastward of her port, so that land which had hitherto lain before them, was thus brought abaft the starboard beam.

To those who, like our fishermen, were not exactly making[46] a passage, but exploring the country, and to whom it was a matter of indifference whether they dined at five or supped at eleven, the Skipper’s blunder was anything but an annoyance. It afforded them an opportunity, not often enjoyed, of seeing the outside coast of Norway; for in general, almost all the coasting trade, and all the passenger traffic, is carried on within the fringe of islands that guard the shores. An absolute failure in the article of fuel, and a week or so of calm within a few miles of their port, might have been a trial to their tempers; but there was no such temptation to grumbling on the present occasion; and, besides, the afternoon and evening were bright and warm, the wind had sunk to a calm, and though the ever restless sea was heaving and setting, the swells had become glassy, soft, and regular.

Cape after cape, island after island of that inhospitable coast was passed, and not a sign of habitation, not a town, not a village, not even a fisherman’s cottage, or a solitary wreath of smoke was to be seen. The land seemed utterly uninhabited, and, as they drew out from the stream of trade, the very sea seemed tenantless also.

The fact is, that the whole coast of Norway, and of Sweden also, is fringed with islands, in some places two or three deep, which are separated from the main and from each other by channels more or less broad, but always deep. Of these islands, the outer range is seldom inhabited at all, never on the seaward sides, which, exposed to the first sweep of the southwester, are either bare, bold rocks, or else nourish on their barren crags a scanty clothing of stunted fir or ragged juniper, but afford neither food nor shelter, and where that necessary of life, fresh water, is very rarely to be met with.

The whole of the coasting trade passes within this barrier, and the houses and villages, of which there are many, lie hidden on the sheltered shores of the numerous channels; so that, however well peopled the coast may be—and in some places population is by no means scanty—neither house, nor boat, nor ship, except the foreign trade as it approaches or leaves the coast, is ever seen by the outside coaster.

The shades of evening were already falling, and that at midsummer in Norway indicates a very late hour indeed,[47] when the glimmer of a light was seen through the scrubby firs of a cape-land island, occasioning a general rush of expectant passengers to the bridge, for some had begun to doubt the very possibility of discovering this continually retreating port, and to class it with the fairy territories of Cloudland and Cape Flyaway; while others, with more practical views and less poetical imaginations, had been contemplating with anxiety the rapidly decreasing coals in the bunkers. Both parties, poets and utilitarians alike, had their fears set at rest when, on rounding the point, the long-lost lighthouse of Christiansand hove in sight—tall, white, pillar-like, looking shadowy and ghost-like, against the dark background behind it. The poets might have thought of the guardian spirit of some ancient sea king, permitted to watch over the safety of his former dwelling-place, for Christiansand is renowned in story. To the utilitarians it might, and probably did, suggest visions of fresh vegetables, and salmon, and cod, and lobsters, for all of which that town is famous.

A bare, low, treeless slab of rock forms its site, a mere ledge, about a quarter-of-a-mile long, and sufficiently low, and sufficiently in advance of the higher islands, to form in itself a danger of no small magnitude during the long winter nights. It maintains on its withered wiry grass half-a-dozen sheep and a pig or two, the property of the lighthouse-keeper, which being the first signs of life and vestiges of habitation which had greeted the travellers during the afternoon’s steaming, were regarded with an interest of which they were not intrinsically deserving.

In a very few minutes, the heaving of the outside sea was exchanged for the perfect calm and deep stillness of the harbour, with its overhanging woods, its long dusky reaches, its quiet inlets, and mysterious labyrinthine passages, among its dark, shadowy islands. These became higher and more wooded as the steamer wound her way among them, deepening the gloom, and bringing on more rapidly the evening darkness. All, however, looked deserted and uninhabited, till suddenly, on opening a point of land, high and wooded like all the rest, the town of Christiansand lay close before them, dark and indistinct in the midnight twilight, without[48] the twinkle of a solitary lamp to enliven it, or to indicate the low houses from the rocks which surrounded and were confused with them.

“Hurrah!” said the Parson, as the plunge of the anchor and the rattle of the chain cable broke the stillness of the night. “Some of us are not born to be drowned, that is certain.”



“Dark it is without,
And time for our going.”
Skirnis Fär.

At the time the Walrus dropped her anchor, all seemed as still and lonely as if no sound had ever awakened the silence of the harbour. The chain cable, as it rattled through the hawse-hole, had even a startling effect, so solitary, so unusual was the sound. The place seemed as if it had been uninhabited since creation; for though the town lay close before it, the houses, low and lightless, looked like a collection of fantastic rocks; but scarcely had she felt the strain of her cable, when her stern swung into the middle of a group of boats, which seemed as if they had risen from the depths of the sea, so sudden and unexpected was their appearance, and crowds of earnest, business-like, trafficing Norsemen were clambering up her sides at every practical point. Norway has no inns, and Norway is said to be a place of universal hospitality, where every one is delighted to receive the wandering guest—and so every one is, and delighted to receive the wandering guest’s money also, with two or three hundred per cent. profit on the outlay. The real fact is, every house in Norway is an inn, to all intents and purposes, except the license; and in places like Christiansand, every man is his own touter. Whatever is the noise and confusion of a vessel arriving at a French or Flemish port, on this occasion it was doubled, not only from the number and assiduity of hospitable hosts, but also from the unusual quantity and quality of the passengers. It was not every day that a Russian ambassador graced with his august presence, and his distinguished[50] suite, an obscure trading town of Norway; and its citizens, inferior to no nation in the world in the art of turning an honest penny, were in two moments as well aware of the fact, and as fully determined to profit by it, as the Dutch landlady, who, having charged our second George the value of ten pounds sterling English for his two eggs and his bit of toast, informed him that though eggs were plentiful in her country, kings were not.

The confusion which pervaded the Walrus’s decks and cabins, the cries, the calls, the screams that were flying about unheeded; the extraordinary oaths that jostled one another, out of every language of Saxon, Russian, or Scandinavian origin; the obtrusive civilities of the touters; the officiousness of volunteering porters; the mistakes about luggage; the anxieties, the rushings to and fro, in which everybody is seeking for everybody, may easily be imagined; and none the less was the confusion of tongues; that night had thrown her veil over this floating Babel of the North.

But through it all the three friends sat on their carpet bags of patience, smoking the cigar of peace, now and then making a joke among themselves, as the steward’s lantern flashed upon some face of unusual solicitude, but totally unconcerned amid the fluctuating hubbub that surrounded them.

“Well,” said the Captain, “I have had enough of this fun, and am hungry besides; I vote we go on shore. I suppose your man is here?”

The Parson got up, and, putting his head over the side, shouted in a stentorian voice, through his hand, which he used as a speaking trumpet—“Ullitz! Ullitz!”

“Hulloh!” returned a voice from the dark waters, in the unmistakably English man-of-war’s fashion—“Hulloh!” repeated the voice.

“Shove alongside here, under the quarter,” said the Parson. “Who have you got in the boat along with you? Tom Engelsk for one, I am sure.”

“Only Tom and Torkel; I thought that would be enough,” said a voice from the waters below, in remarkably good[51] English, in which the foreign accent was scarcely perceptible.

“Quite enough,” said the Parson; “look out there!” as he hove the slack of the quarter-boat’s after-tackle fall, which he had been making up into coils as he was speaking. “Tell English Tom to shin up that, and come on board: it is nothing for an English man-of-war’s man to do, and one of you hold on by the rope.”

Tom, active as a cat, and delighted at being spoken of as an English man-of-war’s man before so many English people, scrambled up the side and stood before them, with his shallow tarpaulin hat in hand, as perfectly an English sailor, so far as his habiliments were concerned, as if he had dressed after the model of T. P. Cooke.

The man’s real name was Thorsen, and his birthplace the extreme wilds of the Tellemark; but having served for five years on board an English man-of-war, he had dropped his patronymic, and delighted in the name of English Tom; by which, indeed, he was generally known.

“Tom,” said the Parson, “you see to this luggage; count all the parcels; see that you have it all safe; pass it through the custom-house, and let us see you and it to-morrow morning. And now, he who is for a good supper, a smiling hostess, a capital bottle of wine, and clean sheets, follow me.”

As he spoke, he dropped his carpet bag over the side which Ullitz caught, and disappeared down the rope by which Tom had ascended, followed implicitly by his two companions.

“Shove off, Ullitz,” said he, as the Captain sat himself down and poised Tom’s oar in his hands, pointing it man-of-war fashion as Tom himself would have done, and when Ullitz had got clear of the steamer, seconding ably the sturdy strokes of Torkel. In a few moments the boat touched the quay of the fish market, and the party sprang on shore with all the glee that shore-going people feel when released from the thraldom of a crowded vessel.

Ullitz and Torkel remained behind, in order to secure the boat in some dark nook best known to themselves; for there[52] were several idlers on the fish-market quay, who, except for want of conveyance, would have been at that moment unnecessarily adding to the crowd on board, and were not very likely to be over-scrupulous about Torkel’s private property.

The three friends, in the meanwhile, in order to extricate themselves from two or three groups of drunken men (drunkenness, the Parson remarked, was the normal state of Norway, at that time of night), pressed forward, and walked ankle-deep through the sandy desert, which, in Christiansand, is called a street, the Captain stuffing the little black pipe which, as was his wont, he carried in his waistcoat pocket.

“Well,” said Birger, “no one can appreciate a blessing until he has been deprived of it. I declare, it is a luxury in itself to be able to go where one pleases, after having been cribbed and cabined and confined as we have been, and to plant one’s feet on the solid earth once more, instead of balancing our steps on a dancing plank.”

“Pretty well, to call this solid earth,” said the Captain; “I should call it decidedly marine.”

“Something like the Christiansanders themselves,” said Birger, “who, as all the world knows, are neither fish nor flesh, nor good red-herring; but I dare say Purgatory would be Paradise to those who arrived at it from the other way. Well, what is the matter? what are you stopping about?”

These last words were addressed to the Parson, who having been sent forward on the previous summer to spy out this Land of Promise, had volunteered to act as guide.

“If there is one thing more puzzling than another,” said he, “it is this rectangular arrangement of streets. I wish those utilitarian Yankees, who claim the invention, had it all to themselves. It is fit only for them.”

“The English of that is, you have lost your way,” said the Captain.

“No, not lost my way,” said the Parson, who piqued himself on his organ of locality; “but the fact is, I cannot remember, in the dark, which of all these rectangular crossings[53] is the right one. I wish I could see that great lump of a church they are so proud of. I say, Birger, knock up some one, and ask ‘if Monsieur Tonson lodges there.’”

“Not I,” said Birger. “You are the guide; besides, they must be coming ashore, some of them, from the steamer by this time; and, in good truth, here are a couple of them.”

This couple, much to their relief, turned out to be Ullitz and Torkel, who pointed out the road at once, but looked rather grave at the Captain’s pipe, which was now sending forth a bright red glow through the darkness, and occasionally illuminating a budding moustache which he was cultivating on the strength of being a military man.

Had the acquaintance been of longer standing, they possibly would have spoken out; as it was, they contented themselves with a muttered dialogue in their own language, in which the Parson soon made out the words, “Tobacco” and “Police,” both of which being modern inventions, bear nearly the same name in every language in Europe.

“By the by, I had forgotten that,” said he. “Captain, I am sorry to put your pipe out; but the fact is, you must not smoke.”

“Not smoke! why not?”

“For fear you should set fire to the town,” said the Parson,—“that is all. You need not laugh; the law is very strict about it, I can tell you.”

The Captain did burst out laughing; and, in truth, where they were standing, it seemed a ridiculous law enough, though it is pretty general both in Norway and Sweden. The street was one of unusual width, being one expanse of sand from side to side, and the houses, none of which boasted a storey above the ground floor, seemed absurdly distant,—almost indistinct in the darkness.

The Captain, however, obediently put his pipe into its receptacle, and resumed his route, muttering something about Warner and the long range—his estimate of the Norwegian legislative capacity being in no way raised by the sight of certain small tubs of very dirty water standing by the side of every house door, which the Parson informed him was another precaution against fire.


“Whether there really is to be found any one, well authenticated instance of a town being set on fire by a pipe of tobacco,” said Birger, “I will not take it upon myself to say, nor whether legislating upon pipes and leaving kitchen fires to take care of themselves, be not like guarding the spigot and forgetting the bung; but the fires here, when they do occur, are really awful. You talk in your country of twenty or thirty houses as something; we burn a town at a time. Everything here is of deal, every bit of this deal is painted, and in a season like this, everything you meet with is as dry as tinder, and heated half-way to the point of combustion already. Hark to that!” as a sharp, startling crack sounded close by them; “that is the wood strained and expanded by the roasting heat of a long summer’s day, yielding now to the change of temperature; we shall have plenty of these towards morning. Light up but one of these little bonfires of houses in a moderate breeze, and see how every house in the town will be burning within half-an-hour. Six months ago, the capital of my own province, Wenersborg, contained 10,000 inhabitants, and I believe now the church and the post-house are the only two buildings left in it.”

Here Ullitz, who was leading, came to a dead halt before a substantial porch containing wood enough to build a ship, from the open door of which a bright light was streaming across the street. Taking off his hat—every Norwegian is continually taking off his hat to everybody and everything—he made a profound bow to the party in general, and with the words, “Vær saa artig,” ushered them into the house.

The room into which they entered was long and low, the ceiling supported by a mass of timbers like the decks of a ship; every part of it was planked with bright deal,—floor, walls, and roof alike,—putting one something in mind of the inside of a deal box. It was, however, well furnished with birchen tables, birchen sofas chairs and cabinets (for birch is a wood that takes a high polish), the whole having rather a French look. The floor was uncarpeted, as is the case in almost all Norwegian houses, for they have no carpet manufactory of their own, and the duty upon English woollens is[55] so enormous that it is impossible to import them; but it was strewed with sprigs of green juniper, which diffused a pleasant fragrance; and these, in token that the family were keeping holiday, were spangled with the yellow heads of the trollius europæus, which the pretty Marie, the daughter of the house, had been gathering all the morning, and had scattered over them in honour of the expected guests.

Neither Marie nor her mother could speak one word of English—few of their women can—but their deeds spoke for them; for the hospitable board—and in this case it was literally a board, placed upon trestles, and removed when the supper was over—groaned under the weight of the good cheer. There were fish, not only in every variety, but in every variety of cookery; there was lobster-soup, and plok fiske, and whiting cakes, and long strips of bright red salmon, highly dried in juniper smoke and served up raw; enormous bowls of gröd,—a name which signifies everything semi-liquid, from rye-stirabout to gooseberry-fool;—with cream, as if the whole dairy was paraded at once,—some of it pure, some tinged with crimson streaks, from the masses of cranberry jelly that floated about it.

Nor were the liquors forgotten, which, in Norway, at least, are considered indispensable to qualify such delicacies. There was the corn brandy of the country, diffusing round it a powerful flavour of aniseed, without which no meal of any kind takes place; there, too, was French brandy, freely partaken of, but so light both in colour and taste, that it suggested ideas of a large qualification of water; there was English beer, and a light sort of clarety wine, that was drunk in tumblers. Madame Ullitz, indeed, presided over a marshalled array of tea-cups, of which she was not a little proud, for it is not every house that can boast of its tea equipage; but this was as an especial compliment to the English strangers. The tea-cups and saucers might be Staffordshire,—they had a most English look about them; but the tea was unquestionably of native growth, being little else than a decoction of dried strawberry leaves, not at all unpleasant, but by no means coming up to English ideas of tea.


“Vær saa artig,” said the lady of the house, with an inviting smile and a general bow, intimating that supper was ready; and the whole household and guests of various degrees, including Torkel the hunter, and Jacob the courier, and two or three stout serving-girls, and half-a-dozen hangers-on of one sort or other, placed themselves round the table, as indiscriminately as the viands upon it.

The house of Ullitz made a feast that day.

“Vær saa artig,” said Marie, handing to the Captain a plate heaped up with brown, crisp, crackling whiting cakes.

The Captain did his best to look his thanks as he took the plate. “What on earth do they all mean by that eternal ‘Vær saa artig?’” said he to the Parson, aside. “I have heard nothing else ever since we dropped our anchor. First, I thought it meant ‘Get out of the boat,’ or ‘Go up the street,’ or ‘Come in-doors,’ or ‘Sit down to supper,’ or something of that sort; but then those drunken porters on board were shoving and elbowing one another about with the very same words in their mouths; and, now I recollect, this was the very speech Birger made to the Professor on the day of the wreck, when he gave him that slippery hitch.”

“In that case,” said the Parson, laughing, “‘vær saa artig’ must mean two black eyes and a bloody nose, for that, as you know, is what the Professor got by it. But the fact is, ‘Vær saa artig,’ with variations, is the general passport throughout all Scandinavia. Some writers ascribe a mystic force to the words, ‘Vackere lilla flycka’—pretty little girl; and I am sure I am not going to deny the force of flattery. But among the natives, certainly, no one ever thinks of telling you what they want you to do. ‘Have another slice of beef?’ ‘Come in?’ ‘Take off your hat?’ ‘Take a seat?’ or whatever it is; all that is dumb show, preceded by the universal formula, ‘Vær saa artig,’ ‘Be so polite.’ All the rest is understood.”

“Vær saa artig,” said Ullitz, unconsciously, from the other end of the table, holding up a bottle of claret, from which he had just extracted the cork.

“Jag har äran drikka er till,” replied the Parson, who had[57] picked up some of the formularies during his former visit. “There,” he said, “that is another instance: an Englishman would have said, ‘Take a glass of wine,’ in plain English. He holds me a bottle, and tells me to ‘be polite.’ My belief is, that when Jack Ketch goes to hang a man in Norway, he is not such a brute as to tell him to put his head into the halter; he merely holds it up to him, and, with a bow, requests him ‘Att være saa artig.’”

“Yes,” said Birger, breaking in, “that is very true; it used to be the case; but the Storthing has abolished that piece of politeness, and capital punishment along with it. The fact is, the Norwegians are so virtuous now, as everybody knows, that they never want hanging.”

This sarcasm, which was spoken in a little louder tone than the conversation which preceded it, threatened rather to interfere with the harmony of the evening, which it probably would have done had the language been generally understood. But the Parson acted as peace-maker.

“Now, Ullitz,” said he, not giving that worthy time to reply, “tell us what arrangements you have been making for us. Shall we be able to start to-morrow?”

“I have done everything according to the instructions transmitted to me,” said Ullitz, speaking like a secretary of state, and with the solemnity warranted by the importance of his subject. “There are two boats now lying at the bridge quay, with their oars and sails in my porch, and we can easily get another for the foreign gentleman” (so Ullitz designated his Swedish fellow-countryman—a little trait of Norske nationality at which Birger laughed heartily). “As for boat furniture, we have everything you can possibly want, in the shop; you have but to choose. And as for provisions, we may trust Madame Ullitz for that.”

“Yes,” said the Parson, “I know Madame Ullitz and her provision-baskets of old.”

Madame smiled, and looked pleased; making a guess that something was said about her, and that that something must be complimentary.

“Then, as for attendants, I made bold to detain this most excellent and well-born Gothenburger, Herr Jacob Carlblom”—(with[58] a polite bow to Mr. Jacob, returned by a still more polite bow from that illustrious and well-born individual). “Herr Jacob is a traveller of some celebrity by sea and land”—(the Parson afterwards found out that he was a Gothenborg smuggler)—“and would be happy to attend the gentlemen in the capacity of courier, cook, interpreter, and commissary, for the remuneration of a specie-daler per diem, with his food and travelling expenses.”

“Very well,” said the Parson; “I suppose we must have a cook, so we will try your friend Mr. Jacob in our expedition up the Torjedahl, and see how we like him. And what says Torkel? are we to have the benefit of his experience?”

Torkel looked as if earth could afford no higher pleasure, for, in his way, he was a mighty hunter—he was not only great at the Långref,[2] and skilled in circumventing the Tjäder[3] in his lek, but he had followed the Fjeld Ripa[4] to the very tops of the snowy mountains, had prepared many a pitfall for the wolf and fox, and had been more than once in personal conflict with the great Bruin himself.

“Torkel shall be my man, then,” said the Parson, who had a pretty good eye to his own interest.

“And English Tom, who speaks the language so well, will be just the man for the highborn Captain,” said Ullitz.

“Very good,” said the Parson, “so be it; and whenever we have to do with lakes and sailing, Tom shall be our admiral, and shall put in practice all the science he has learned in the British navy.”

“Tom is as proud of belonging to the English navy, as if it were the Legion of Honour,” said Ullitz, whose father had belonged to the French faction, and who was rather suspected of holding French politics himself.

“It is the Legion of Honour,” said Birger, “and I give[59] Mr. Tom great credit for his sentiments. Well, you must look me out a man, too. This will not be so very difficult, as I speak the language pretty well for a foreigner.”

In fact, Birger had been practising the language a good deal already, and not a little to the Captain’s envy, by making fierce love to the daughter of the house; an amusement with which guardsmen, Swedish as well as English, do occasionally beguile their leisure moments; and, to the Captain’s infinite disgust, Marie did not seem to lend by any means an unfavourable ear to his soft speeches.

“Oh,” said Ullitz, “we shall have no difficulty whatever in finding a man; if there is anything these people love better than gain, it is pleasure, and here we have both combined. My only difficulty lies in making the selection. I have reckoned that each of the highborn gentlemen will want a boatman besides his own man; but I have engaged these only for the trip to Wigeland, as you will no doubt like to change them there for men who are acquainted with the upper river; but you can keep them if you like, they will be but too happy to go.”

“All right, then, we will start to-morrow afternoon, and get as far as Oxea before we sleep. The morning, I suppose, must be devoted to hearing Tom’s report from the Custom-house, making our selections for the trip, arranging our heavy baggage that we are to leave here, and seeing that our outfit is all right. I like to make a short journey the first day, in order that if anything is forgotten, it may be sent back for.”

“Not at all a bad general maxim,” said the Captain: “and now to bed; for the broad daylight is already putting out the blaze even of Madame Ullitz’s candles.”

“With all my heart,” said the Parson, “it is high time;” and rising from his seat and going round to where Madame Ullitz sat, he took her hand, and bowing low, said, “Tak for mad”—thanks for the meal.

“Vel de bekomme,” said the lady,—well may it agree with you.

In this ceremony he was followed by the whole party,[60] who, shortly after separating, sought their respective sleeping-places.

The beds were queer concerns, certainly: beautifully clean, and fragrant with all manner of wild herbs; but as unlike the English notion of a bed (which in that country is always associated with ideas of a recumbent position), as is well possible. A thick, straw mattress, shaped like a wedge, occupied the upper half. Upon this were placed two enormous pillows, fringed with lace. The rest of the bed was simply a feather-bed placed on the ticking, and so much lower, that the sleeper takes his rest almost in a sitting position. The whole, including the quilt, was stuffed luxuriously, not with feathers, but with the very best eider-down; for Madame Ullitz, in her maiden days, had been at least as celebrated a beauty as her daughter was now, and unnumbered had been the offerings of eider-down made by her hosts of admirers, who had braved wind and wave to procure for her that most acceptable of all presents to a Norwegian girl—at once the record of her past triumphs, and the glory of her future home. The prudent traveller in Norwegian territories will always do well, if he has the chance, to choose for his residence the house of a ci-devant beauty.

Little, however, did the travellers reck of mattress or feather-bed, Madame Ullitz’s past conquests, or her daughter’s present bright eyes—a sea-voyage, four or five restless nights, a long day’s work, and a plentiful supper at the end of it, equalize all those things; and, though the sun was shining brightly through the shutterless and curtainless windows, five minutes had not elapsed before it was indifferent to them whether they had sunk to rest on eider-down or poplar leaves; or whether their beds had been strewed for them by the fair hands of the bright-eyed Marie, or by those of the two lumps of girls who had assisted at the grand supper.



“Foresight is needful
To the far traveller:
Each place seems home to him:
Least errs the cautious.”

“And now for work,” said the Parson, as, somewhat late on the following morning they rose from a breakfast as substantial and plentiful as had been the supper of the night before. The ordinary meals of a Norwegian are, in fact, three good substantial dinners per diem, with their proportionate quantity of strong drink: one at nine or ten, which they call “Frökost”; one at two or three, which is termed “Middagsmad”; and one in the evening, called “Afton.” But, whatever they call them, the fare is precisely the same in all; the same preliminary glass of brandy, the same very substantial hot joints, the same quantity of sweetmeats, and, at Christiansand at all events, the same liberal supply of fish. Tea and coffee are not seen at any of them, but generally form an excuse for supernumerary meals an hour or so after the grand ones.

The strangers were not yet acclimated; they lounged over their morning’s meal as if the recollections of their yesterday’s supper were yet green in their memories. Not so the natives. No one would suppose that they had supped at all—they ate as if they had been fasting for a week.

All things, however, come to an end,—even a Norwegian’s breakfast; and the Parson stood in the porch receiving English Tom’s report from the custom-house, and cataloguing the packages as they arrived. These included two dogs; one[62] a very handsome brindled bay retriever, called “Grog,” belonging to the Captain; the other an extremely accomplished poaching setter, his own friend and constant companion. These, wild with joy at their newly regained liberty and restoration to their respective masters, from whose society they had been separated during the whole voyage, were grievously discomposing the economy of Madame Ullitz’s well-ordered house.

A small assortment of necessaries was packed in deal covered baskets or boxes,—for they looked as much like the one as the other. This manufacture is peculiar to the country, and is equally cheap and convenient. These, with the rods, guns, ammunition, and boat furniture, including the sails which were to form tents on the occasion, together with Madame Ullitz’s liberal supply of provisions (among which the rö kovringer were not forgotten), were arranged in the porch, and one by one were transferred by the boatmen to the bridge quay, where the boats were lying. The weightier articles were consigned to the keeping of Ullitz, and were lodged in his ample store rooms.

“Now, Captain,” said the Parson, as they stood on the bank of the noble river, “do you take a spare boat and a couple of hands, and pull as far as the first rapids; let Torkel be one of them, and he will show you the place. There is on the left bank of the river, a sort of rude boat canal, which is not always passable. If we can contrive to get through it, we will sleep at Oxea to-night: but, if the boats require to be hauled over land, we must be satisfied with that for one day’s work, return here to sleep, and carry our things over land to-morrow morning. It will take me a couple of hours, at the least, to fit these things, but I shall be ready for you by the time you return. And, to tell you the truth,” he added, in a whisper, “I wish you could take Birger with you. He is doing nothing but laugh and joke; and he makes the men so idle, that I shall get on twice as well without him. Set him to harl for salmon—anything, to get rid of him. It will be of use, too; for if he meet with anything down here we may be sure that Wigeland is alive with fish. You will see a reef of rocks on the right bank, a[63] quarter of a mile above the town: it is not a bad throw—set him to work there.”

Birger was delighted at the idea, and, as the Parson would spare none of the boats or boatmen, he took a small praam that belonged to one of the men, and prepared to accompany the Captain on his expedition.

Birger certainly was no fisherman: he could but just throw a clumsy fly, and had never caught a salmon in his life, or seen one, except at table: but harling is a science open to the meanest capacity. It is the manner in which cockney sportsmen catch their salmon in the Tweed, and consists of traversing and re-traversing the width of the river, with a rod and twenty yards of line hanging out of the stern of the boat. The fly thus quarters the water backwards and forwards without any exertion of the fisherman, and even the salmon that seizes it effectually hooks itself before the rod can be taken in hand. On the Tweed, the fisherman has actually nothing to do, but to pay his boatmen, who, by choosing their own course, perform the very little science which this operation requires. In the present case, Birger, having to manage his own boat, was far more the artificer of his own fortune; but his success depended on his skill, not as a fisherman, but as a boatman—an accomplishment in which no Northman is deficient,—rather than on his science and dexterity as a fisherman.

As soon as the exploring party had left, the Parson, with his lieutenant and interpreter, Tom, and the remaining three boatmen, addressed himself seriously to work. Every Norseman is a carpenter; indeed, every Norseman may be set down as a Jack-of-all-trades; and under Tom’s interpretership they very soon began to understand what was wanted.

Under the starboard gunnel of each boat, and close to the right-hand of the sitter, were screwed two copper brackets for the gun, protected by a short curtain of waterproof. On the opposite side was a sort of shelf or ledge for the spare rods; and in the stern-sheets a locker for books, reels, powder-flasks, odds and ends, and, above all, any little store of brandy that they had,—an article which it was very dangerous indeed to have loose in the boat.


Norwegian boats are built like whale boats, with both ends alike, which is not altogether a convenient build for harling—a mode of fishing, which, however much to be deprecated in known rivers, is very useful, indeed almost indispensable, to explorers. To remedy this, a ring and socket was fixed on each quarter of the boat, in order to receive the butt of the rod, and to hold it in an upright position when the fishermen should be otherwise engaged. Under the thwarts of each boat were strapped an axe, a handbill, a hammer, and a bag of nails; and several coils of birch rope were stowed forward. Birch rope, which is a Swedish manufacture from the tough roots of the birch tree, is peculiarly adapted to these purposes, since it has the property of floating on the water, which hempen ropes have not.

Upon the principle of “business first and pleasure afterwards,” so long as anything remained to be done, the Parson had scarcely raised his eyes from his work, or thought of anything else; and so well and so ably had he been seconded, that everything was completely fitted, provisions brought down and stowed, and all ready for starting, a full half-hour before the time specified. His friends were, however, still absent; and thus, having nothing to do, he left the men to take care of the boats, and lounged across the beautiful bridge that connects the town with the opposite shore.

The bridge of Christiansand may well be called beautiful; not, indeed, as a piece of architecture, for it is built, like almost everything in the country, of wood, though with a solidity that would put to shame many of our buildings of far more durable materials. Its beauty lies in its situation, spanning as it does with its eleven broad flat arches, the clear swift stream of the Torjedahl. The depth was such that ships of some burthen were lying on each side of the bridge, the centre compartment of which was moveable; but so clear was the water, that the very foundations of the piers could be seen as the Parson looked over the parapet; and among them a beautiful school of white trout, as clearly defined as if they had been swimming in air, which, much to his satisfaction, he discerned working their way up from the sea. This sight was doubly satisfactory, for he had been[65] ominously shaking his head at the peculiar ultra-marine tint of the waters,—a sight in itself abundantly beautiful, as any one who has seen the Rhone at Geneva can testify, but far from welcome to the eyes of a fisherman, as indicating, beyond a doubt, the presence of melted snow.

The Parson had reached the last arch, and was sitting on the parapet, on the look-out for the returning boats; admiring in the meanwhile the quiet little amphitheatre which forms the last reach of the Torjedahl after its exit from its mountain gorge, and scanning the quaint, old-fashioned town, with its dark-red wooden houses, overtopped by its heavy cathedral, on the tower of which the Lion of Norway, and the Axe of St. Olaf, were glittering in the sun; and occasionally peering into the gabled sheds of its dockyard, from each of which peeped out the bows of a gun-boat,—that formidable flotilla which, during the late wars, had hung on our Baltic trade like a swarm of musquitos, perpetually dispersed by our cruisers, and as perpetually re-united on some different and unexpected point. Beyond this was the island citadel, a place of no strength, indeed, for the strength of Norway does not lie in its fortifications, but a point of considerable beauty in the eye of an artist. The whole of this picture to seaward as well as to landward, was set in by a frame of miniature mountains—not hills, nor anything like hills, but real fantastically shaped mountains, with peaked heads, some of them showing their bare rocks, with little splashes of mica slate sparkling like diamonds, but most of them covered with dark fir to their very summits, only shooting out occasionally a bare cliff, so arid and so perpendicular that no tree could find root on it.

So intently was the Parson gazing on the scene, that it was some time before he caught sight of Birger’s praam, which was rapidly approaching the place where he was sitting, and some time longer before he made out the very uncomfortable position in which his friend was placed. Birger, dexterous enough in the management of a boat, even that most ticklish of boats, the Norwegian praam—a dexterity which any one will appreciate who has ever attempted the navigation of a Welsh coracle, or can picture to himself what[66] it is to be at sea in a washing-tub—had proved an apt scholar in the science of harling; and the Captain, having seen him make two or three traverses without upsetting his boat or entangling his flies, had proceeded on his mission and left him to his own devices. The boat was hardly out of sight when a heavy fish rose at the fly. Birger seized his rod, as he had been directed, but in his agitation forgot to secure his paddles, both of which dropped overboard, and, unseen and unheeded, set out on an independent cruise of their own,—and thus the salmon, of course, had it all his own way. It so happened that he headed to seaward, and the light praam offering very little resistance, and the stream, which was sweeping stilly and steadily at the rate of three or four miles an hour, forwarding him on his way, there was every probability of his reaching it.

No sooner had the Parson realised the true state of things, than he rushed across the bridge for his boat; but the bridge was by no means a short one, and the Parson was at the farthest end; and long before he reached it, salmon, Birger, praam, and all had disappeared under one of the centre arches.

The boatmen had, of course, lounged away from the quay, probably to the nearest brandy shop; but the Parson sprang into a boat, cut the painter, seized the paddles, and shoved off furiously into the stream.

Fortunately, this had been seen by the Captain, who was at that moment returning; and he, though of course perfectly unaware what was the matter, changed his course, and dashed through the nearest arch, in pursuit.

By this time the praam was fairly at sea; but the boats were nearing her fast, and the Captain, having the advantage of oars, passed the Parson’s boat, and then, checking his speed, lest he should capsize the friend he meant to aid, grappled the praam with his boat-hook, and, winding his own boat at the same time, towed her quietly and steadily to a little sandy beach. Upon this, both he and Birger landed. The latter, whose arms were aching as only a salmon-fisher’s arms can ache, was glad enough to transfer his rod to the Captain.


The Parson calling in vain for a gaff, which implement in the hurry had been left in one of the other boats, threw himself into the water, which there was not much over his knees. But the salmon, seeing his enemies on every side, collected his energies afresh, as that gallant fish will do, and rattled off fifty yards of line into the deep blue sea before the Captain could turn him. He had, however, a practised hand to deal with. Slowly and carefully did the Captain reel him up, guiding him to the spot a little above where the Parson was standing as still and motionless as the rocks around him. There was as yet a considerable current, arising from the flow of the river, and the Captain, taking advantage of this, let the fish tail down quietly and inch by inch, to where the Parson was standing motionless and stooping so that his hands were already under water. Slowly, and without effort, the fish came nearer and nearer, till at last, gripping firmly with both hands the thin part just above the insertion of the tail, the Parson, half-lifting the fish from the water, dragged him to land, and, despite his struggles, threw him gasping on the snow-white beach.

“Well done, Birger!” said the Captain, laying his rod against a rock, and running down, steelyard in hand; “there is the first fish of the season, and you are the prize-man.”

“Hurrah,” said Birger, admiring his own handiwork,—for the steelyard had given a full two-and-twenty pounds,—“this is the first salmon I ever caught in my life; and upon my word, when I had him, I thought I had got hold of Loki himself.”

“And upon my word,” said the Parson, “it looked as if Loki had got hold of you; I thought he was taking you off to his own realms. If we had not come up, you would have been by this time half way to the Midgard Serpent!”[5]


“Well,” said Birger, “it took all the Œsir together to land the aboriginal salmon; and, I must say, Thor himself could not have handled him better than you did.”

“What is your story?” said the Captain; “sit down there and tell it us. You will lose no time,” he added—for Birger, having once tasted blood, looked very much as if he wished to be at work again—“you will lose no time, I tell you, for I must crimp this fish for our dinners. Who can tell if we are to catch another to-day? Parson, lend me your crimping-knife; I left mine in the boat.”

The Parson produced from his slip-pocket that formidable weapon, called by our transatlantic brethren a bowie knife; and the Captain, having first put the fish out of his misery, proceeded to prepare him scientifically for the toasting-skewers.

“Now, Birger, for the story. So much I know, that it is something about diabolical agency. Loki, I believe, is the Devil of Scandinavian mythology.”

“Not exactly,” said Birger; “though we must admit that he and his progeny, the Wolf Fenrir and the Midgard Serpent, are the origin of evil, and will eventually cause the destruction of the world. But Loki really was one of the Œsir, or gods, and had sworn brotherhood with Odin himself; and thus, though he often played them mischievous tricks, they seem to have associated with him, as one is in the habit of doing with a disreputable brother-officer—not exactly liking him, far less approving of his ways, but still consorting with him, and permitting him to be a participator of their exploits. At last, however, when he had gone so far as to misguide poor blind Hodur, so as to make him kill Baldur, they determined that this really was too bad. Baldur was a general favourite; everything good or beautiful, either in this world or in Asgard, was called after him; and the unanimous vote was, that Loki should be brought to justice, and made to suffer for this. Loki, however, who rather suspected that he had gone too far, himself, was no where to be found. He had quitted Asgard in the form of a mist,—whence, I presume, we derive the expression ‘to mizzle,’—and had betaken himself to the great fall called[69] Fränängars Foss, where he lived by catching salmon;—for Loki, it is said, was the first inventor of nets.”

“I have not a doubt of it,” said the Captain. “I always did think that those stake nets must have been invented by the Principle of Evil himself.”

“Well, so it was, at all events,” said Birger. “Odin, however, one day, while sitting upon his Throne of Air, Hlidsjälf, happened to fix his eye upon him—I say eye, for you know Odin had but one, having left the other in pledge at the Mimir Fountain. No sooner did he see him, than he called to Heimdall, the celestial warder, to blow his horn, and summon the gods to council at the Well of Urdar.

“Loki, perceiving that something was suspected, burnt his nets, and, changing himself into a salmon, took refuge under the fall; so that, when the gods arrived at Fränägngar, they found nothing but the ashes of the nets. It so happened, however, that the shape of the meshes was left perfect in the white ash to which it was burnt, and the god Kvasir, who, I presume, must be the god who presides over the detective police of Heaven, saw what had happened, and set the gods weaving nets after the pattern of the ashes.[6]

“When all was ready, they dragged the river; but Loki placed his head under a stone—as that clever fish, the salmon, will do,—and the net slipped over his smooth, scaly back. The Œsir felt him shoot through, and tried another cast, weighting the net with a spare heap of new shields, which the Valkyrir had brought the day before from a battle-field,[70] in order to mend the roof of Valhalla. Loki, however, leaped the net this time gallantly, and again took refuge under the foss.

“This time the gods dragged down stream; Thor wading in the river behind the net. Thor did not mind wading; he was obliged to do that every day that he went to council, for the bridge of Bifrost would not bear him. In the meanwhile Vidar, the God of Silence, in the form of a seal, cruised about at the river’s mouth.

“Loki had thought to go to sea and take refuge with his daughter, Jörmungard the Serpent, but, in assuming the form of a salmon, he had assumed also, of necessity, the natural antipathies and fears of the fish. He turned at a sight so terrible to a salmon, and again sprang over the net. But Thor was ready for him, and while he was in the air, caught him in his hand, just above the insertion of the tail; and you may observe that salmon have never yet recovered from that tremendous squeeze, but are finer and thinner at the root of the tail than any fish that swims.”

“Well,” said the Captain, “that is quite true; it is a fact that every salmon-fisher knows; and he knows also that the root of the tail is the only part of the salmon by which it is possible to hold him, and that it is possible to hold him by that the Parson showed you just now practically. But it is very satisfactory to find out the reason of such things, particularly when the reason is such a very good one. What did the gods do with Mr. Loki when they had got him; crimp him, and eat him?”

“They could not kill him,” said Birger, “because of the oath of brotherhood which Odin had one day incautiously sworn with him (I presume, when they were both drunk); so they laid him on his back on three pointed rocks in a cave, and bound him with three cords which they afterwards transformed into iron bars; and there he will lie, shifting himself, every now and then, from side to side, and producing what mortals call earthquakes, until that day, known only to the Nornir, when the twilight shall fall upon Asgard, and the conflagration of the world is at hand.”


“Serve him right, too,” said the Captain; “I am delighted to hear that the inventor of salmon-nets perished—like Perillus and other rascals—by his own invention. I hope the gods will keep him purgatory, or whatever they call it, as long as rivers run toward the sea. However, here is our Loki (holding up, by the tail, the scored salmon), and, as we have not been geese enough to swear brotherhood with him, he will do for our dinner. What shall we do, in the meanwhile, to crimp him?”

“Make him fast to the boat, and tow him a-stern for ten minutes,” said the Parson; “the water of the Torjedahl is cold enough to crimp a live fish, let alone a dead one. And, I will tell you what: let Torkel go with the praam for the other boats, and meet us on the left bank, just above the bridge. I want to show you a view of our route to-day that is worth seeing.”

So saying, he led the way up a steep, rugged path, just discernible among the rocks of the rugged ridge which divides the amphitheatre in which Christiansand is situated from the wild coasts of the Fjord; and, passing through a sort of natural opening cut in the summit ridge, pointed to the scene before them. “There,” said he, “what do you think of that?”

Birger was an artist; and, anxious as he was to begin his career as a fisherman, his ever-ready sketchbook was drawn out of his pocket; nor did he express a wish to move till the rugged foreground upon which they stood, the luxuriant park-like middle distance, with its clumps of trees, and dark-red houses, and neat English-looking church, and the background of fir-clad mountains, range beyond range, and the deep narrow gorge through which their journey lay, which the blue lake-like river seemed to fill from side to side, were transferred to the paper.

A few minutes’ walk brought them to where the boats were waiting, with the whole house of Ullitz, handmaidens and all, who had come to see them off. Hand-shaking all round—the fishermen took their places—the boats shoved off—Marie threw after them her kid slipper, for luck, (for that custom is of Scandinavian origin)—English[72] Tom gave three cheers, after the manner of her Britannic Majesty’s navy—and the expedition started on its voyage up the Torjedahl.

The Parson, who was anxious to reach the proposed encampment at Oxea, while there was yet light to pitch the tents, would suffer no harling, notwithstanding Birger’s remonstrances, until the first rapids had been safely passed; and, indeed, with the exception of the single throw where the Lieutenant had hooked his fish that morning, that part of the river was scarcely worth the trouble.

The rapids, however, which had been surveyed beforehand by the Captain, were passed, under his skilful pilotage, in much less time than had been allotted for the operation, and then, with one consent, the flies were thrown upon the water.

Above the rapids, the river forms what is technically called a “flat;” a spot carefully to be sought out by the exploring fisherman, as the likeliest to reward his search. A flat is where the water rolls on with its acquired velocity and the pressure of that which is behind it, rather than on account of any declivity in the bed through which it flows. In the present instance, indeed, the bed of the river actually rose instead of sinking, for the ridge of rocks which form the head of the rapids, had retained the stones and loose earth washed down in the winter floods. This gradually shallowed the whole river, spreading it out, at the same time, like a lake, so as to fill the level of the valley from mountain to mountain. These rose abruptly on either hand, in bare, inaccessible cliffs, as if they had been forced asunder by some convulsion of Nature, to make room for the rush of waters, and exhibited a bare splintered face of rock.

At the end of an hour—for the Parson would allow no more—all fears were at an end for that night’s supper; no other salmon, indeed, had risen, but trout after trout had been handed into the boats, some of them, too, of a very respectable size: even Birger had not been without his share of success.

But the stream was strong, the day was waning, many miles intervened between them and their camping-ground,[73] the Parson was inexorable; so the casting-lines were exchanged for harling-tackle, and the squadron formed in order of sailing.

The difference between a common casting-line and the harling-tackle which one rod in each boat should carry in every exploring expedition, consists principally in the length of the gut. The harling line carries five or six flies, in order to show, at once, as great a variety as possible of size and colour, and is joined to the reel-line by a swivel, in order to prevent it from kinking—while two, or, at the most, three, flies will be found quite sufficient for casting.

The order of march was this:—Birger led, with his gun in his hand, ready for a stray duck or teal, many of which would whistle over their heads, as evening drew on. He was directed to keep, as near as possible, to the middle of the stream; while, on either flank, and about twenty yards behind him, came his two friends, with one rod in each boat for harling, while, with the other, they whipped into the likely ripples. Shooting and fishing, however, were made altogether a secondary condition to progress: they might catch what they could, and shoot what they could, but the rowers were to pull steadily forward.

And thus they opened reach after reach of the beautiful river, for the most part pent in by inaccessible cliffs, on which the birch trees seemed to grow on each other’s heads, and to support above them all a serrated crest of spruce and fir. But, now and then, they would come to little semicircular coombs, where the mountain wall would recede for a space, leaving flats of twenty or thirty acres, which were carefully cultivated to the very water’s brink, and planted at the roots of the mountains with white poplar, the dried leaves of which were to serve for beds in the summer and hay in the winter. Here would be dark-red wooden houses with overhanging eaves, and tidy, compact, little farmsteadings, with their granaries, and store-rooms, and cattle-sheds, all complete in themselves: and they had need be, for they were completely isolated from the rest of the world. There was no road, not even a footpath; no possibility of ingress or egress, except that which the river afforded. The mountains,[74] except here and there, were inaccessible; and at every turn of the river, seemed to beetle over it, shutting out each little amphitheatre from its neighbour. The winter is the Torjedahler’s time of liberty: then it is that their vehicles are put into requisition; then it is that their corn and cattle, if they produce any beyond their own consumption, are brought to market; for the river, which has hitherto been their boundary, forms now their railroad and frost-constructed channel of communication.

The shadows were darkening on the clear river, and the arms of even Norwegian rowers were beginning to ache, when the last point was rounded; and the Parson’s joyous shout gave notice that their camping-ground was at last reached; and at the welcome signal, the lines were reeled up with alacrity, and the boats’ heads were directed to the shore.

The spot had been selected by him and Ullitz the year before, partly as lying conveniently near to Mosse Eurd, their proposed head-quarters, which it was considered expedient to reach before noon on the morrow, in order to afford time for their men hutting themselves and foraging out the resources of the place; but principally from its own beauty and convenience.

So precious is level land by the banks of the river, that it is rare to find any portion of it uncultivated of sufficient extent for such an encampment as they required. But here, at the foot of a winter torrent, whose dry bed gave access to the uplands in summer, and brought down rocks and uprooted trees in the winter, was a rough plain, formed, no doubt, originally from the debris brought down by the torrent, but now covered with short turf and cranberry-bushes, with a few thick, bushy, white poplars, the leaves of which had not yet been stripped for hay; while here and there a graceful birch-tree formed a natural tent with its weeping branches.

“Tom, bring the sails with you,” said the Captain, who had leaped ashore to reconnoitre the ground; “we will have our tent under this rock.”

“Capital place!” said Birger; “and bring the axe with[75] you, Tom, as well: that fir will make a first-rate ridge-pole, and it blocks up the place where it stands.”

The Captain, not accustomed yet to the trifling value put upon timber, hesitated to chop up a very promising young tree,—which, indeed, was unnecessarily large for the purpose, and which stood but very little in the way, after all.

“Why,” said Birger, “the very best fir-tree that ever grew is not worth a specie daler here; and as for that stick——” substituting the action for the word, he struck deep into its side, and in a dozen strokes or so it came crashing down among the under-stuff.

There was no lack of fuel: there never is in Norway, where outsides of timber float down the rivers unheeded; and trees, uprooted by the winter storms and land-slips, rot where they fall. Before half the things were out of the boats, three or four fires were throwing round their cheerful light, some for cooking, some for wantonness, for the evening was anything but cold. Birger, however, who, as a Swedish soldier, had had a good deal of experience in bivouacking,—an exercise to which they are all regularly drilled,—set his own two men to gather and pile fuel enough to last through the night; observing that they would all find it cold enough before morning, when those scamps had burned up the fuel at hand.

The Captain and the Parson were occupied in collecting and weighing the fish, and apportioning them and the other provisions among the men, while Jacob, the courier, seated on a stone, apart, was plucking and preparing half-a-dozen teal that Birger had shot during the passage. These, to the Parson’s surprise, he deliberately cut in pieces, and consigned to the great soup-kettle, along with a piece of salt-beef from the harness cask, and various condiments which he made a great secret of.

It may be observed that in Norway fresh meat is seldom eaten, unless it be on grand occasions, or by those who are well to do in the world. October is called in the north the Slaughtering Month, and every family there is occupied in salting, not only for winter, but for the rest of the year. A harness cask, therefore,—that is to say, a small cask with a[76] moveable head, containing salt-beef or pork in pickle,—is a very common thing to meet with, and in fact had formed the pièce de resistance of Madame Ullitz’s stores.

“Look here, Jacob, my man,” said the Captain; “I will show you a trick in cookery that has never reached Gottenborg yet, nor London neither, for that matter; it is worth a hogshead of your teal-soup.”

He called to Tom, who had been preparing under his superintendence certain square sods of turf, and some long white skewers; which, in the absence of arbutus—in Ireland considered indispensable on such occasions,—he had been directed to cut from the juniper.

Birger’s salmon, the flakes of which had actually curled under the cold of the waters, preserving all their curd between them, was cut into what he technically termed fids; each one of these was spread open by the skewers and fixed upon the turfs. These the Captain ranged round a great heap of hot embers, which he had raked from the fire, and set English Tom to turn as they required, basting them pretty freely with salt and water.

The remaining fish had been given to the men, by whom they were subjected to a variety of culinary operations; one of which was making soup of them; and the fires began to grow bright and cheery in the increasing darkness, when Jacob paraded his kettle of teal-soup, and Tom set before each of the fishermen a turf of toasted salmon.

In return, they received the men’s rations of brandy, the only part of the provisions on which any limitation was affixed. This in Norway, perhaps, was considered but a small modicum: it would have been, however, quite enough to make twice the number of Englishmen roaring drunk.

The men collected round their fires, looking like so many gipsies; provisions were dispatched in enormous quantities, pipes were lighted, horns produced and filled with pure brandy, in which each man drank “du” with his neighbour,—an ancient Scandinavian ceremony, which entitles the drinkers henceforward to address one another in the second person singular, and to consider themselves on terms of intimacy.

In the meanwhile, the principal personages of the expedition[77] sat at the door of their tent, for which the Captain received his due meed of praise, he having brought the canvas. They tempered their brandy with a little water, after the custom of their country, and they smoked somewhat better tobacco than the Norwegians; but after their kind, they indulged in very nearly the same relaxations as their attendants.

And thus fell the shades of night upon the first day of the expedition.



“Our good house is there,
Though it be humble:
Each man is master at home.”

“Rouse out, Birger, my boy,” said the Captain; “recollect we have got the Rapids of Oxea to pass before we get any breakfast, and that we have our breakfast to catch into the bargain. Come, come,” continued he, as Birger stretched himself on his Astrakan cloak, as if he was thinking of another spell of sleep, “‘shake off dull sloth, and early rise,’ as Dr. Watts says—see me rouse out those lazy hounds down there!” And that he did, in good earnest, by firing off both barrels within a foot of their ears; a salutation responded to by a chorus of yelping from the dogs, who imagined, of course, that shooting was begun already.

This had the effect of speedily setting the whole party in motion; and Jacob, who, with provident care, had prepared, over-night, a kettle of coffee, raked together the embers of the still burning fires, presented each with a full horn of it, a very welcome introduction to the day’s labour; and then, as wood was plentiful, threw on some logs for a parting blaze.

The river itself formed the fishermen’s washing-basin, and the boat’s thwarts their toilet-tables. Bitter cold, indeed, was the water; whatever the air may be, there is seldom much caloric to spare in the water till autumn is pretty well advanced; but, at least, it had the effect of thoroughly waking them, and causing them fully to appreciate the luxury of the now blazing fires to dress by.


p. 78.


No one who has any regard for his health should think of going on a fishing expedition, however short, without a complete change of clothes,—one set for work, and one for dining and sleeping in. No man has any business, indeed, on such an expedition at all, who is afraid of water; but whether he is afraid or not, he will be sure to be wet, at one time or other, during the day. This, while the limbs are in exercise and the sun above the horizon, is all well enough; but let no man, however hardy he may think himself, sleep habitually in wet clothes, or in clothes hastily and imperfectly dried by the camp fire. The very bracing of the nerves during the day, which prevents the fisherman from taking injury by what would be called imprudence by his stay-at-home friends, makes the relaxation and reaction during the night more complete; and during that time he is exposed to a host of dangers which vanish before the face of the sun. With all his precautions, no man gets up from his night’s sleep in the open air without a little stiffness in the limbs for the first minute or so, though it may vanish at the first plunge into the water of his morning’s ablutions. But without these precautions, he is not unlikely to cut short his own expedition by any one of a dozen diseases which no amount of animal courage will enable him to bear up against, and thus he will be defeating his own object. It is very well to bear hardships cheerily when they are unavoidable—cheerfulness itself is a preservative. But it is only very young sportsmen indeed, who will seek out hardships for the pleasure of undergoing them.

Our fishermen were not young sportsmen, they were men of experience. The Parson and the Captain had both of them learned their lesson in Ireland, where people soon begin to understand what wet means; and Birger was a Swedish soldier, and had learnt these matters professionally. Before they started, they had settled the invariable rule of a complete dress for dinner, under any circumstances whatever, which implied, of course, as complete a dress in the morning: it is necessary almost to bind oneself to some such vow, there are so many temptations to break it; in Norway especially, where, though the summer days are hot—hotter by many[80] degrees than they are in England, and the evenings in the highest degree enjoyable, the morning air is generally sharp and bracing, and the water which comes down from the snowy ranges bitterly cold.

Jacob, in the meanwhile, whose toilet did not take very long, and who rarely occupied himself in any work which did not especially belong to his own department, had been parleying with a young fellow, who, roused by the Captain’s gun, had pulled across in his boat from the opposite side, while the rest of the men were occupied in preparing the boats and re-arranging the articles that had been taken on shore the preceding evening.

They came up together to where the Parson was standing by the fire, busily engaged in exchanging his salmon casting-line for one better adapted for trout.

“The young man says that the river is dangy,” said he; for though he spoke English well enough, he has his own particular words, which it was necessary to make out.

“Dingy,” said the Parson, without any very clear comprehension of what was meant, but rather reverting in his mind to the azure transparency of the waters; which, in truth, he would gladly have seen a little stained by mud. “Well, that is a good job. But I fear he will find himself a little mistaken.”

Jacob evidently had not conveyed his meaning: he looked round for Tom or Torkel to assist him, but they were both in the boats, working busily under the Captain’s orders; so Jacob tried his hand again.

“The young man says that there is a great deal of water in the river from the snow. He says that boats are very often sunk at Oxea.”

“Humph!” said the Parson, who began to suspect something.

Here the young man himself broke in with a long story in Norske.

“He says,” interpreted Jacob, “only last week, one boat was upset, and two men were drowned.”

“Aye? aye?” said the Parson; “what! sober men?”

Jacob did not see the inference, or would not. “This[81] young man is a river-pilot,” said he; “he will take you up for two mark each boat.”

“I tell you what it is, Mr. Jacob,” said the Parson; “I will teach you a lesson. When you engaged as our courier, you meant to fleece us all pretty handsomely. Well, I have nothing to say against this. As courier, it is your undoubted privilege so to do. But remember this, it is equally your duty, as courier, to prevent any one else from fleecing us. And if I find you only once again failing in that respect, off you go at a minute’s notice. Now send your friend home again.”

Without looking behind him, the Parson, who had now finished fitting his flies, took his place in his own boat, and, directing Torkel to shove off to the other bank, threw his line across the mouth of a small tributary to the great river, which he had marked the year before as abounding with trout. Jacob looked for a moment inclined to rebel, but no man was more alive to his own interests than the ex-smuggler. He had engaged in the trip, not like Tom and Torkel, from sheer love of sport and adventure, but as a profitable speculation. So, pocketing the affront, much as “ancient Pistol” did his leek, he crept down to Birger’s boat, which was his place in the line of march, where he sat sulky, but utterly wasting his sulkiness; for Birger, anxious to keep up his yesterday’s character of a fisherman, was much too intent upon the—to him—difficult manœuvre of keeping his flies clear of the oars, to observe whether he was pleased or not.

The Captain took the inner line skirting the shore on the right bank, for it had been agreed that the flat below the Oxea rapids should be well tried, in hopes of getting some fresh fish for breakfast.

Though last in the field, he drew the first blood, hooking and, in a few minutes, landing a small salmon, and thus securing a breakfast. And by the time the boats came together again, the Parson had brought to bag a very fair supply of fjeld öret, or brook trout, from the little streamlet he had been trying. And now began the serious business of the day.

Notwithstanding Mr. Jacob’s information, the rapids of[82] Oxea are perfectly safe to sober men. It is impossible that an accident can happen in them, except from carelessness; for the water, though swift, is everywhere deep. The stream falls with some force over a slanting ledge of smooth, slaty rock, some three or four hundred yards long or perhaps more, and acquires in its slide considerable velocity; but the bottom is smooth, and the surface nowhere broken by sunken rocks. The stream, therefore, is a steady current, surging up against the numerous islands which dot the river, as if they had been pieces of a ruined bridge. Each of these was crested with its half-dozen or so of ash or birch, which looked as if it was they that were in motion, and not the clear stream that was racing past them.

The passage was a sheer trial of strength, requiring no great amount of pilotage, or local experience, or even skill. The ropes were got out and made fast to two or three thwarts, to take off the strain; the boats were lightened of their living incumbrances—except so far as the steersmen were concerned,—and were then tracked by main force one by one, every one of the party lending a hand, except, indeed, Jacob, who considered it his duty, having once said the rapids were dangerous, to act as if he thought so, and who had, therefore, been despatched by land to the head of the rapid, with orders to light the fires and get the breakfast ready, as nothing else could be done with him.

The principal difficulty arose from the uncertainty of the footing among the crags, and the gnarled ash-trees that every here and there shot almost horizontally from between the fissures of the rock, dipping their branches into the stream. These rendered it necessary, every now and then, to make fast the boat to the tree itself, and then to float down a line to it from some point above the obstacle, for the river fortunately ran in a curve at that place. Thus, by giving a broad sheer into the stream, while the rest of the party hauled upon the rope, the boat would swing clear of the impediment.

But all this was very hard work, and, as the sun was now high in heaven, very hot work; and, moreover, it had to be repeated three times before all the boats were in safety.[83] Fully as much justice was done to Jacob’s breakfast as had been done to his supper on the preceding evening; and most luxurious was the hour’s rest which succeeded it.

The remaining part of the voyage was easy: there was a sharp current, no doubt, too sharp for anything to speak of to be done with the flies; but it was all plain travelling, and, with an occasional help from the ropes, before noon their destination had been reached. This was the foot of a low fall, or something between a fall and a rapid, called “The Aal Foss,” in the middle of which was a picturesque rocky island, covered with trees, and on the left bank an equally picturesque peninsula, which was destined to be the head-quarters of the expedition, and the basis of subsequent operations.

“There,” said the Parson, fixing his rod in the stern-rings, and springing on shore as the boat’s keel touched a sandy, slaty beach in the isthmus of the peninsula—

“Thus far into the bowels of the land
Have we marched on without impediment.

Here is the limit of my survey. Thus far have I borne the baton of command; and I beg you to observe that we have reached the appointed spot twenty minutes before the appointed time.” And he held out his watch in proof of it. “I have, as you see, performed my promise; and thus I resign the leadership of the expedition.”

“With universal thanks and approbation,” said the Captain; “and I propose that now the leadership devolve upon Birger; he is the man of camps and bivouacs, for he has experienced what we have only read about.”

“Well,” said Birger, “I will not affect modesty. Like others, I have passed my degrees, and it would be a great shame if bearing his Majesty’s commission, I did not understand what every soldier is taught.” Then, suddenly recollecting that the Captain was a military man as well as himself, he steered adroitly out of his scrape, continuing, as if his concluding paragraph had been part of his original speech—“You have only to wait for a war, Captain, and you will be in a situation to give us all a lesson. No one understood[84] these things better than your old Peninsula men; but Sweden thinks her soldiers ought to learn their business before we are called out to fight, and not afterwards.”

To pass the degrees—“gradar,” or rather “gradarne,” for no one ever thinks of speaking of them without the definite article “ne,” as if there were no other degrees in the world—is anything but a joke in Sweden. Military service, so far, at least, as the Guards and the Indelta[7] are concerned, is extremely popular. There is ample choice in candidates; and very good care is taken that the officers shall be men who know their business, and shall not be at a loss in what situation soever they may be placed. The “gradar” consists of a series of lectures and extremely strict examinations, in everything connected with the service, both intellectual or physical, from the construction of an equilateral triangle up to the sketch of a campaign, and from the musket drill to a year of sea service. Passing out in seamanship is indispensable; for Sweden, reversing our principle of hatching ducklings under hens, hatches her young death-or-glory cornets and ensigns on board her ships. Properly speaking, the Swedish navy has no midshipmen. The cadets, who fill pretty numerously the midshipman’s berth, may possibly enter the navy, if they are so inclined; but nine-tenths of them are candidates for commissions in the army, and are thus learning a lesson which may be of use to them hereafter, when they have troops of their own to embark or manage on ship-board.

Birger had passed his degrees with credit, or he would not have been selected as a travelling student; and his companions were now likely to profit by this circumstance, for one of those degrees comprehends all these mysteries of camping, and hunting, and cooking, and provisioning, and, if scandal may be trusted, a sort of Spartan stealing, which[85] goes under the euphemism of “availing one’s self of the resources of the country;” these little matters being taught by a three weeks’ actual practice in the field every summer.

Birger was altogether in his element. “Now,” said he, “the first thing I must do is to borrow all your boatmen, for I shall want every man I can lay my hands upon; some for the camps, and some for cutting and drawing fuel; I can find something to do for them all, and for more too if I had them. And here, you Jacob, take a basket with you, and see what you can forage out from the cottages and woods about, in the way of milk, bread, butter, berries, and so forth; and hark you, Jacob, no brandy, if you please; that is the first thing those scamps always put their hands upon.”

“You have not reckoned us,” said the Captain, “among your effective strength; we shall not be of much use in foraging, as we cannot speak Norske, but we have hands and heads too.”

“Do not forget how scantily the camp is provisioned,” said Birger; “we have not had time or opportunity to catch or shoot anything since we left Oxea, where, I am sure, we ate up most of our fresh fish. It will not do to be drawing too largely from our supplies.”

“I have no objection, I am sure,” said the Parson; “but you must let us have one boat, Birger; even if we are to fish this river from the shore, there is half a mile of open space, certainly, between this and the great falls of Wigeland; but best throws lie on the right bank, and we really must have the power of crossing.”

“Well,” said Birger, “I cannot spare you Torkel, that is certain—he is much too valuable; take your own boatman; you may halloo out ‘Kom öfver elven,[8]’ if you want him, and happen to be on the wrong side; and if he cannot hear you, say ‘Skynda paa mid baaten sáa skall du faa drikspengar,’[9] and I will warrant he hears fast enough, deaf as he may be to the first call. We must have one of the boats[86] above this fall,” he continued, musing; “and we may as well do it at once. We will set all hands to launch it over this isthmus, before we do anything else, and then you can use it for your passage-boat. And now for the camp. Tom, Torkel, my own man Peter, my boatman and the Captain’s will be little enough for what I have to do, though there are some good hands among them, as I saw last night and this morning too at Oxea.”

“We must fish, then,” said the Captain; “for there is no use going about after grouse, in this thick forest, without Torkel, or some one that knows the place; we should be but wasting our time, poking about these trees at hap-hazard.”

“And, I am half-afraid that we shall not do much in fishing either,” said the Parson, as they got a sight of the upper reach of the river, which lay calm and shining before them. “The sun is as bright as if Odin[10] had got his other eye out of pledge, and were shining on us with both at once.”

The Captain whistled a few bars of the Canadian Boat Song.

“Yes,” said the Parson, “it is very true, as you whistle, but, though the sun be bright, and, though ‘there be not a breath the blue wave to curl,’ we must try what we can do. It adds considerably to the interest of fishing, when we know that our supper depends upon it.”


“If this were the old Erne,” said the Captain, “we might whistle for our supper, in good earnest; but, it must be confessed, that the fish here are very innocent; we may deceive one; it is not impossible; for, as Pat Gallagher used to say, ‘there are fools everywhere.’ But—look here,” he said, as he cast across the stream, “positively, you may see the shadow of the line on the bottom, deep as the water is.”

“Let us cross,” said the Parson. “‘Gaa öfver elven,’ as Birger says, for I see they have got the boat up: near the great fall there are some strong streams that will defy the sun and the calm together.”

Thanks to the innocence of the salmon, which the Captain had hinted at, their pot-fishing was not entirely without success: the upper part of the reach, where the waters had not yet recovered their serenity after undergoing the roar and fury of the great fall, did actually furnish them with a graul or two; but the salmon that had arrived at years of discretion were very much too cautious to be taken. They had never, it is true, been fished for in their lives with anything more delicate than a piece of whipcord and a bunch of lobworms, as big as a cricket-ball; but, for all that, they were quite old enough to draw an inference, and were perfectly aware that natural grasshoppers were not in the habit of swimming about with lines tied to their noses.

Towards evening there sprang up a light air of wind, and the rises began to be more frequent. The Captain, by making use of Birger’s prescribed form of words, had got the boatman to land him on the rocky island which divides the Aal Foss into two branches. There, concealed by a stubby fir, not quite so high as himself, he was sending out twenty yards of line that fell so lightly that it never seemed to touch the water at all.

There is no doubt that, of all the Erne fishermen, it was the Captain who threw the longest and the lightest line, and well was the Captain aware of that fact: but there is an axiom which “far and fine” fishers would do well to bear in mind, and which, though apparently evident to the meanest capacity, is very seldom borne in mind by any one; and that is, that it is of very little use to fish “far and fine,” when the fish[88] themselves are lying, all the while, in the water close under your feet. This was precisely the Captain’s position; the waters, divided by the rock on which he was standing, were naturally deepest close to the rock itself, and, as naturally, the best fish lay in the deepest water. The Captain understood this well, but he could not deny himself his length of line, and, therefore, contrived to fish the water close to him by raising his arms, bringing the point of his rod over his right shoulder, and then whisking his flies out for a fresh cast with a dextrous turn of the wrist which no man in England but himself could have performed.

“I will tell you what,” said the Parson—who, not having met with much success, had stuck up his rod, and had got himself ferried over to the island—“it is not very likely that a fish of any size will rise this evening, but if such a thing should happen I would not give much for your rod.”

“I wish the biggest fish in the river——”

The sentence was never finished, for, at the word, the wish was granted; and, if not the biggest fish in the river, certainly the biggest fish they had yet seen, rose at the fly when it was not a foot from the rock.

The rod never stood a chance. Raised at a sharp angle over the Captain’s shoulder, the whole strain came upon the top-piece, which, as he struck, snapped like a flower-stalk, without effort or resistance; and away rushed the fish forty or fifty yards up-stream with the top-piece, which had run down upon the fly, bobbing against his nose.

The Captain did all that man could do. Carefully did he watch his fish, anticipating every movement; instantly did he dip his rod, as the salmon sprang madly into air—instantly did he recover it; promptly was the line reeled in at the turn; tenderly was it given out at the rush; but it was of no avail—the rod had lost its delicate spring; and, despite the Captain’s care, every now and then the fish would get a stiff pull against the stump, thus gradually enlarging the hold which the hook had taken in the skin of the jaw, till, at last, just as the Parson, who had been hoping against hope, was taking the cork off the point of his gaff and clearing away the brambles to get a good standing[89] place for using it, the line came up slack; the hold had given way.

The Parson had the generosity to be silent about his warning that had received so immediate a fulfilment.

“Well,” he said, “you have recovered your top; that is something, so many miles from Bell Yard; and as for the fish, depend upon it that there are more where he came from.”

The Captain mused a little. With the exception of Birger’s chance-medley, they had not seen a full-grown salmon[11] since they had come upon the river, and the loss was no light one. “I suppose,” he said, interrogatively, “it would be hardly worth while to fetch another top from the camp?”

“Not at all worth while,” said the Parson; “the wonder is, that you rose one full-mouthed fish on such a day as this. You are not going to rise another. Besides,” he added, “look at the sun! It is time for us to think of cooking, rather than catching. Birger will be wondering what is become of us.”

They were at no great distance from the camp, which, to their surprise, they found tenanted by Jacob alone, who, having got over his morning sulks, was busy in what he called a Långref, a miniature variety of which is not altogether unknown to our Hampshire poachers; but Jacob’s was a tremendous affair, more like what in sea-fishing is called a spillet or bolter, consisting of three or four hundred yards of water cord, and half as many hooks.

“Halloo,” said the Captain; “what has become of them all? Why, Jacob, where is Lieutenant Birger?”

“He is gone with the men to make an offering to Nyssen,” said Jacob.

“Who the devil is Nyssen?” said the Captain.

Jacob looked distressed. It is not lucky to mention the mundane spirits and those of hell in the same sentence; in[90] fact, the less people talk about either of them the better, so, at least, the Swedes think, and therefore imprecate their curses by saying, “The Thousand take you,” leaving it for your own conscience to determine whether they are consigning you to saints or devils.

“There they are, you may see them yourself,” replied he, evading the question, and pointing to a bare rounded rock which rose above the wooded summits about a mile down the river.

The Parson’s telescope was in his hand in a moment; but all he could make out was, that they put something on the ground which they left there, and immediately entered the thick wood, which hid them from his sight. Jacob could not, or at all events would not, satisfy their curiosity, and they had nothing for it but to amuse themselves with admiring Birger’s handy-work, till that individual on his return should make his own report of himself.

And really the Lieutenant would have extorted praise from the head of the Kong’s-öfver-commandant’s-Expedition himself, so well and so orderly was the encampment made.

The sails were formed into three several tents, not very large ones, certainly, and scarcely admitting of the inmates sitting upright, except in the centre, but quite sufficient to shelter a man lying at full length. At the back of these, where the ground rose a little, a neat trench was cut, in order to carry off the drainings of any unforeseen shower. These were the sleeping tents; and in front of them were spread out a quantity of poplar leaves, which were eventually to form the beds, and which were then pretty rapidly undergoing the process of desiccation in the hot and bright sunshine which had hitherto been so unfriendly. A birch trimmed in its weeping branches, and thickened above with a few supplementary boughs of spruce-fir, was evidently arranged for the dining-room, and several of the stores were gathered round its trunk and thatched with fir-branches, while at some distance below, and not far from the sandy beach, stood three or four neat green huts, built with a framework of fir-poles, and thatched closely, both in roof and walls, with the upper branches of the trees that had been cut down[91] for the frame. Not far from where Jacob was sitting over his långref, there was an elaborate kitchen, built of rough stones against a natural rock, with a cross-beam on the top to swing the kettle from, and beside it rose a goodly pile of fuel, cut into lengths, and stacked into what is called in the country fathoms, that is to say, square piles, six feet long and three high. This had evidently been their last work, for the axes and saws were still lying on the unfinished pile. By the river’s bank at the edge of the peninsula was a curious erection, which Jacob called the smoking-house. It was a pyramid constructed of outsides of deals, hundreds of which, rejected from the saw-mills, were floating about unheeded in the river, and drifting into every corner that was sheltered from the current. This was by no means a place constructed for the luxury of smoking tobacco, an amusement in which every individual of the party indulged in every possible place and in all places alike. It was erected for hanging up superfluous salmon which had previously been slightly salted, in order, with the help of smoke from the green juniper, to convert them into what in London is called “kipper.”

There was little use for it that evening, however, for the grauls brought in by the fishermen would have been but scanty allowance, even for the present supper, had they not been helped out by other provisions. But Jacob had by no means been idle in his vocation. On a shelf of rock not very far from the kitchen, and shaded by a friendly tree, stood gallons of milk and piles of flad bröd, with a few raspberries, which were just then ripening, and an actual little mountain of strawberries, for the woods were carpetted with their bright green leaves and scarlet berries.

Jacob, as was his duty, rolled up his långref as quickly as such a combination of tackle could be stowed away, and commenced preparing the fish for dinner, while the fishermen changed their clothes, and hung them to dry round a supplementary fire which had been lighted for the purpose.



“Ale’s not so good
For the children of men
As people have boasted;
For less and less,
As more he drinketh,
Knows man himself.
The kern of forgetfulness
Sits on the drunken
And steals the man’s senses,—
By the bird’s pinions
Fettered I lay
In Gunlada’s dwelling.
Drunken I lay,
Lay thoroughly drunken,
With Fjalar the wise.
This is the best of drink,
That every one afterwards
Comes to his senses.”
High Song of Odin the Old.

Many minutes had not expired, during which brief space the fishermen had been luxuriating in their dry clothes, when the boats were seen working their way back across the tail of the Aal Foss rapid, as they returned with the party from the right bank, which, after bobbing about on the ripples and cross currents, shot into their little harbour beneath the encampment.

Birger came up the bank, half-laughing, yet looking as if he had been doing something he was ashamed of.

“Where the deuce have you been, Birger?” said the Captain, as that worthy threw himself on the turf under the birch-tree: “Jacob says you have been sacrificing to Nyssen, whoever he is.”


“So I have,” said Birger; “but don’t speak so loud. I will tell you all about it.”

“Not speak so loud,” said the Captain; “why not?”

“Well,” said Birger, rather hesitatingly, “Nyssen does not like to be spoken of. That is to say, the men don’t exactly like to hear people speaking of him, at least by name, if it is above the breath.”

“Come, come, Birger, be honest,” said the Parson.

“Well, if you must have it, I do not quite like it myself. I do not believe in such things, of course; but there is no good in doing what everybody thinks unlucky.”

“Well, well,” said the Captain, “but tell us what you have been about. I am quite in the dark as yet about this mysterious gentleman or lady.”

“Why, the Nyss,” said Birger, sinking his voice at the word to a whisper, “is a spirit of the air, just as the Neck (a similar whisper) is a spirit of the water.”

“The very familiars of the Lady of Branksome,” said the Parson:—

It was the Spirit of the Flood,
And he spoke to the Spirit of the Fell.

“Very likely, but our spirits, like our people, are not indifferent to the pleasures of eating and drinking; and therefore, whenever we start on an expedition, we propitiate them with an offering.”

“And the offering consists of——?”

“What we like best ourselves, cakes and ale.”

“But what had you to do with it,” said the Captain; “I suppose you do not believe in spirits?”

“The men asked leave to go, when they had done their work, and wanted me to go with them, to that high rock you see down there,—for they always choose out some bare and elevated locality, as best adapted to a spirit of the air; and so—well, I went with them; don’t laugh at me.”

“That will I not,” said the Parson; “you could not have done a wiser thing. Always fall in with men’s superstitions; there is nothing that attaches them so much as humouring[94] their little illegitimate beliefs; to say nothing,” he added slily, “of believing a little in them yourself.”

“How is this offering made?” said the Captain: “what are the rites belonging to the worship of a spirit of the air?”

“They are simple enough,” said Birger, “and not at all like those you would see on the stage of London,—no blue fires or poetical incantations: they consist in simply placing the cake on the most exposed pinnacle you can find, pouring the ale into the nearest hollow that will hold it, and then retreating in silence, and without looking behind you.”

“While some thirsty soul, after the manner of Bel in the Apocrypha, plays Nyssen and accepts the offering,” said the Captain.

“What! eat Nyssen’s offering! Tom, what do you say to that?”—for the men were still fidgetting about the fire,—“what do you say to that? The Captain thinks that one of you will eat up Nyssen’s cake; what do you say about it?”

“Well,” said Tom, “we have bold men in Norway, as all our histories will tell you; but bold as we are, I do not think you will get a man in the whole country to do that.”

“There was a young fellow once who did it in my country though,” said Jacob, “and dearly he paid for it. The family used to place the yearly gifts to Nyssen under the sails of their windmill every Christmas Eve;—you Norwegians do not know what windmills are; you grind all your corn by water, poor devils!”

Here Tom and Torkel, both Tellemarken men, broke in simultaneously; the one swearing that, in the Tellemark, windmills were as plenty as fir trees; the other vociferating, somewhat incongruously, that no nation two degrees from actual barbarism could ever think of such a piece of machinery at all.

Birger stilled their national animosities by wishing “The Thousand” would take them all three, and their windmills into the bargain, and Jacob went on with his story.


“The eldest son,” he said, “was a sad unbeliever; he had been a very good boy as long as he had lived with his father and mother at Lerum, but when he grew up he had gone to Copenhagen and got corrupted; for, as his honour Lieutenant Birger knows, they are all sad infidels at Copenhagen.” Here was likely to be another outbreak; for the Danes, though it is quite true that a great many of them are not only sceptics in fairy mythology but in religion also, are yet vehemently regretted by the Norwegians, who were in no ways pleased with that act of the Congress of Vienna which separated them from Denmark; a fact which our friend Jacob was perfectly aware of.

Peace was again effected by a vigorous kick from his fellow-countrymen, together with some observations respecting a donkey in a state of eternal condemnation; and Jacob went on as if nothing particular had happened.

“Well,” said he, “the young man found that the best ale and sweetest cake were always given to Nyssen, so he slipped out and gobbled them up himself. During the whole year that followed that Christmas, no great harm came of it, only there was always something wrong about the windmill; now a sail blown away, now a cog broken; there was plenty of grist, trade was lively enough, it was always something to do with the wind, and, as far as that was concerned, nothing went right. Still no one suspected the reason, till Christmas Eve came round again, and another sweet cake and another bottle of strong ale were placed under the mill for Nyssen. The night was as still and as quiet as this evening is,—quieter if possible; there was not a breath of wind, and the snow looked like a winding-sheet in the moonlight. Well, the young man slipped out again; but scarcely had he stooped to pick up the bottle, when a furious gust of wind arose, scattering the snow like flour out of a sack; the sails flew round as if they were mad; it was said that a figure in a pointed cap and a red jacket sat astride on the axle, and one of the sails taking the young man on the side of the head, threw him as far as I could fling a stone. He sank into the snow, which closed over him, and no one knew what had become of him till the thaw came on. It was very late that year, for the ground was not clear till Walpurgis’ Night,[96] and then they found him, and Nyssen’s broken bottle still in his hand. It was by that they found out how it had happened. I would not be the man to touch anything belonging to Nyssen.”

“Nor I neither,” chimed in the two Norsemen.

“Johnstone and Maxwell both agree for once,” said the Parson, laughing; “and I will tell you another thing, neither would I. But now, Mr. Jacob, that we have done everything that can be expected of us by the spirits of the air, who, I hope, in common gratitude, will give us fishermen a cloudy sky and a little bit of a breeze to-morrow, I must say I should like to take my turn at the cakes and ale; so let us have whatever you have got in your big pot there, and bring us a bucket of strawberries and cream for dessert.”

The dinner was by no means so elaborate an affair as that of yesterday; this was occasioned, in some measure, by their want of sport, but, principally, because all had been far too much engaged in the necessary business of the camp to think much of eating. The solids, such as they were, that is to say, beef and pork, out of the harness cask, were soon despatched, and the huge camp kettle, one of the old-fashioned ante-Wellingtonian affairs, as big as a mortar, and nearly as heavy, was sent down to the men, while the fishermen lounged at full length on the turf, enjoying their rest over Jacob’s plentiful provision of strawberries and cream.

Fénélon has, somewhere or other, a fable about a man who had the power of procuring, “pour son argent,” as the good Bishop says, half-a-dozen men’s appetites and digestions. The man does not seem, in the fable, to have made a very good use of his extraordinary powers, or to have derived any extraordinary pleasure from them. If he had only come out campaigning in Norway, he might have had his five appetites for nothing, and been much the better for them all.

Meanwhile, the lower table did not at all seem to be in want of an appetite; the kettle was emptied, and whole heaps of flad-bröd, sour as verdjuice, and pots of butter, such as no nose or stomach, out of Norway, could tolerate, were fast[97] disappearing beneath the unceasing attacks of seven gluttonous Scandinavians—while, as the twilight darkened, and diminished the restraint they might possibly have felt at the presence of their superiors, the noise grew louder and louder. Jacob began some interminable ballad about the sorrows and trials of little Kirstin, a very beautiful lady, who went through all sorts of misfortunes, and did not seem a “bit better than she should be;” but that goes for nothing at all in Swedish song, and very little in Swedish life. This he sang, chorus and all, to his own share. It seemed to affect the worthy man very little, that he was almost his own audience; no one seemed to attend him, but his song went on, stanza after stanza, uninterruptedly, forming a sort of running accompaniment to the shouts and screams of “Gammle Norgé,” “Wackere Lota, or, Kari,” which startled the echoes alternately, according as love, or patriotism, was the prevailing sentiment.

At last, they began drinking healths—“Skaal Herr Carblom,” “Skaal for the well-born singer;” for, like the old Spanish nobility, though they addressed one another as Tom, Piersen, and so forth, they always gave the interloper his full title.

“Jeg takker de,” said Jacob, solemnly, without, however, pausing for one moment in his song.

“Little Kirstin, she came to the bridal hall,—
We will begin with the wooing,—
And a little page answered to her call,
My best beloved, I ne’er can forget you”—

Here broke in Tom, beating time to his music with a horn which he had replenished to the very brim, and of which he was imparting the contents very liberally to the turf round him—

“Wet your clay, Andy!
Out with the brandy!
We live in jolly way,—
Here’s to you, night or day!
Look at sister Kajsa Stina,
See her bottles bright and clear-ah!
Take the horn, good fellow! grin-ah!
Grin and swill and drink like me!”


Jacob’s voice was again audible—

“She tied her horse in the garden there:
We will begin with the wooing”—

“Skaal Thorsen! skaal Tom Engelsk! skaal for the British navy!”

“Rule, Britannia!” shouted Tom. Jacob went on—

“We will begin with the wooing:
She brushed and—”

Here a general chorus—

“To the brim, young men! fill it up! fill again!
Drain! drain, young men!—’tis to Norway you drain.
Your fathers have sown it,
Your fields they have grown it;
Then quaff it, young men! for he’ll be the strongest
Who drinks of it deepest and sits at it longest.”

Jacob’s voice became audible, like a symphony, between the verses—

“She brushed and combed her golden hair,”—

when again rose up the wild chorus, overwhelming it under the volume of sound:

“To the brim, old men! fill it up! fill again!
Drain! drain, old men!—’tis to Norway you drain.
There’s health in the cup,—
Fill it up! fill it up!
And quaff it, old men! for he’ll live the longest
Who drinks of it deepest and likes it the strongest.”

“By the Harp of Bragi,” said Birger, “I’ll back old Jacob against the field,—that fellow has such bottom!” for the honest toper’s voice came again dreamily up the hill where they were sitting, during the pause that followed this outburst.

“Little Kirstin then passed out from the door,—
We had best begin with the wooing:
She said, I shall hither come no more,—
My best beloved! I never will forget thee.
Forth she went to the garden there,—
We had best begin with the wooing:
She hung herself with her golden hair,—
My best beloved! I never can forget thee.”


“Skaal for Birger! skaal for the brave Lieutenant! skaal for the royal guard!” shouted one, waxing more bold as the night drew on.

“Gammle Norgé!” screamed back an opponent, and immediately Torkel burst out, with his fine bass voice, into the national song, drowning entirely poor Jacob’s melancholy ditty, which never got much beyond the wooing after all.

“The hardy Norseman’s house of yore
Was on the foaming wave,
And there he gathered bright renown—
The bravest of the brave.
O, ne’er should we forget our sires,
Wherever we may be;
For they did win a gallant name,
And ruled the stormy sea.
What though our hands be weaker now
Than they were wont to be
When boldly forth our fathers sailed
And conquered Normandy?
We still may sing their deeds of fame,
In thrilling harmony;
They won for us that gallant name,
Ruling the stormy sea!”—

Enthusiasm was at its height, as the full chorus thundered forth from all the voices—

“Never will we forget our sires,
Wherever we may be;
They won for us that gallant name,
Ruling the stormy sea!”

Whether Jacob joined in it, or persevered in the sorrows of little Kirstin, it is impossible to say; but the loud-ringing alto of Birger came in tellingly from the house of the Nobles, accompanied by the bass of his two friends. The compliment was taken at once, “Skaal for the high-born Fishermen!” “Skaal for the noble gentlemen!” “Skaal for Victouria!” “Skaal for Carl Johann!” “Skaal for England!”

“Skaal for Sweden,” shouted Jacob at last.

“Gammle Norgé! Gammle Norgé! Sweden and Norway!—Sweden and Norway for ever! Skaal! Skaal!”


“Upon my word,” said the Parson, “some one must have been shelling out in good earnest. There goes something stronger than water to all that noise.”

“Well,” said Birger, “it is very true: they did their work this afternoon like men, and then, instead of going and buying brandy, and making beasts of themselves, they very properly sent Torkel as spokesman to me, and asked my permission to get drunk, which, as they had behaved so well, of course I granted them, and gave them five or six orts to buy brandy with.”

The Parson burst out laughing: “Well, Birger, it is very kind of you, to save them from making beasts of themselves: rather a novel way of doing it, though.”

“O, it is all right,” said Birger; “that is the way we always do in my country, we get it over at once: they will be as sober as judges after this—if we had not indulged them when they knew they had deserved it, they would always have been hankering after brandy, and dropping off drunk when they were most wanted: they will be as sober as judges after this, I tell you,” he reiterated, observing a slight smile of incredulity on the faces of both his companions.

“I do not feel quite so confident of their being as sober as judges to-morrow, as I do about their being as drunk as pigs to-night,” said the Captain; “though, to be sure, I do not know what judges are in Norway; but it does seem to me that five or six orts[12] are rather a liberal allowance, in a country where one can get roaring drunk for half-a-dozen skillings.”

“That is just the very thing I do not want them to do,” said Birger. “Whenever a Norseman gets roaring drunk, he is sure to kick up a row: it is very much better that they should get beastly drunk at once; then they go to sleep and sleep it off, and no one the wiser.”


“I should have thought, though,” said the Captain, “that you gave them quite enough for that, and a good remainder for another day into the bargain.”

“It is little you know of the Norwegian, then,” said Birger, “or, for the matter of that, of the Swede either: he is not the man to make two bites of a cherry, or to leave his brandy in the bottom of the keg. Besides, they will consider themselves upon honour. They asked my leave to get drunk on this particular night, and I gave them the money to do it with; it would be absolute swindling, to get drunk with my money on any other occasion.”

“Upon my word,” said the Captain, “this a terrible drawback to your beautiful country. Our fellows in Ireland used to get drunk now and then, to be sure, but they had always the grace to be ashamed of it. These scoundrels do it in such a business-like way.”

“Your countryman, Laing, sets that down to the score of our virtues,” said Birger. “He considers it much better to act upon principle, like our people, than to yield to temptation, as your English and Irish sots do. I must say, though, that he is not half so indulgent to us poor Swedes.”

“My countryman, Laing,” said the Parson, “though a very observant traveller, is, also, a very extreme republican and a very prejudiced writer. He gives us facts in monarchical Sweden, as well as in republican Norway, and he gives them as he sees them, no doubt; but, he looks at the two countries through glasses of different tints. Now, my idea is, that, in point of drunkenness, there is not a pin to choose.”

“Yes, but there is, though,” said Birger. “The Norwegian is quarrelsome in his cups; and you will seldom find that in any part of Sweden, unless in Scånia, and the Scånians are half Danes yet. I had the precaution to take away those gentlemen’s knives when I gave them the money for their brandy (and, I must admit, they gave them up with very good grace), or, the chances are, that we should have lost the services of that ass Jacob, and given a job for the Landamptman to-morrow. Why, half the party-coloured gentlemen in the castle at[102] Christiania have earned their iron decorations in some drunken brawl or other.”[13]

“Well, that may be,” said the Parson. “I have not experienced enough to gainsay you; but you must admit that as far as simple drinking goes, the two nations have the organ of drunkenness pretty equally developed.”

“I should think it must be a barrel organ, then,” said the Captain, “if we are to judge by the quantity it contains.”

“Thank your stars it has got a good many stops in it. The Scandinavian does not drink irregularly, like your people whom you can never reckon upon for two days together. He has his days of solemn drunkenness—some of them political, such as the coronation; or the king’s name day; or, here, in Norway, the signing of their cursed constitution. Some of them, again, are religious—such as Christmas, and Easter, and Whitsuntide: these are days in which all Scandinavia gets drunk as one man. And there are a few little domestic anniversaries besides—such as christenings and weddings; but, this is all, except a chance affair, like this; so that, by a glance at the calendar, and a little inquiry into a man’s private history, you may always know when to find him sober, and fit for work.”

“Sober, meaning three or four glasses of brandy?” said the Parson.

“Yes,” said Birger. “He seldom goes beyond that, on ordinary days; and, therefore, on festivals like this, I think him very well entitled to make up for it.”


“I think, though,” said the Parson, “when I was in Sweden, last year, I did see such things as stocks for drunkards, at some of the church doors.”

“Yes, you did, at all of them; but, you never saw any one in them. How is a mayor to order a man into the stocks, for drunkenness, when the chances are, that he was just as drunk himself on the very same occasion?”

“How do you account for this universal system of drinking spirits?” said the Captain.

“It is easy enough to account for it,” said the Parson; for Birger rather shirked the question. “Every landed proprietor has a right to a private still; the duty is a farthing a gallon, carriage is difficult, and brandy is much more portable than corn. Will not this account for some of it? I do not happen to know what may be the return for Sweden; but, for Norway, it is somewhat over five million gallons a-year, in a country which does not grow nearly enough of corn to support itself; and this, as the population does not come up to a million and a-half, gives three and a-half gallons per Christian, to every man, woman, and child, in the country.”

“Come, come,” said Birger, “if you go to statistics, look at home. Your Mr. Hume moved, last session, for a return of all the men that had been picked up, drunk, in the course of the preceding year; and, in Glasgow alone, there were nearly fifteen thousand—that is to say, one out of every twenty-two of the whole population. Do not talk to us of drunkenness. Did you ever hear of the controversy between the pot and the kettle?”

“The Scotch are no more our countrymen, than the Norwegians are yours,” said the Parson; “and, if I recollect right, that very return gave no more than one in every six hundred, picked up, drunk, in our Manchester; and Manchester is not what we call a moral place, either.”[14]


“In that very place, Glasgow,” said the Captain, “where, for my sins, I was quartered last year, I was actually taken up before the magistrates, and fined five shillings, for what the hypocritical sinners call ‘whustling on the Saubboth,’ and it was only Saturday night, either—the rascally Jews! They are fellows to

Compound for sins they are inclined to
By damning those they have no mind to.

The scoundrels couldn’t whistle a tune themselves on any day of the week, ‘were it their neck verse at Hairibee;’ they have no notion of music, beyond the bagpipe and the Scotch fiddle.”

“Five shillings?” said the Parson, musingly; “that is just the sum they fine people, in London, for being drunk and disorderly.”

“Then, in all human probability, the Captain made one individual item in Mr. Hume’s fifteen thousand himself.”

“Very possibly,” said the Captain. “It was Saturday night, and I will not say I might not have been a little screwed. When one is in Turkey one must live as turkeys live.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “I believe all northern nations have a natural turn for drunkenness, but laws and regulations may increase or diminish the amount of it; and the laws of both these countries tend most particularly to increase it. With you it is a regular case of ‘Drunkenness made easy.’ Besides, public opinion sets that way too. If I were suspected of anything approaching to the state of our friends down below, I never could face my parish again. Your parish priest might be carried home and tucked into bed by a dozen of his faithful and hard-headed parishioners on Saturday night, and if the thing did not come round too often,[105] would get up not a pin the worse on Sunday morning, either in health or in reputation.”

“I think,” said the Captain, “public presents are a very fair test of public propensities. In the snuffy days of the last century and the beginning of this, every public character, from the Duke of Wellington down to William Cobbett, had the freedoms of all sorts of things given them in golden snuff-boxes. Now, look at your people. When your king paid a visit to the University of Upsala, the most appropriate present he could think of making to that learned body, was an ancient drinking-horn,—of course, by way of encouraging the national tastes. And when he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Odin and Freya, the most appropriate present which that learned body could make to him in their turn, was another ancient drinking-horn, which had the additional value of having once been the property of those heroic, but, if there is any truth in Sagas, exceedingly drunken divinities.”

“Well, well,” said Birger, good-humouredly (and it must be said that his was a case of good-humour under difficulties), “every nation has its own national sins to answer for, and it is no use for me to deny that ours is drunkenness. But what else can you expect from a people whose ideal of the joys of heaven used to be fighting all day, and after a huge dinner of boiled pork, getting beastly drunk upon beer? Gangler, in the prose Edda, asks Har, ‘How do your Heroes pass their time in Valhalla when they are not drinking?’ And Har replies, ‘Every day, as soon as they have dressed themselves, they ride out into the court, and fight till they cut each other in pieces. This is their pastime; but when meal-time approaches, they return to drink in Valhalla.’ Or, if you will have the same in verse, this is what the Vafthrudnis Mal says:—

The Einherjir all,
On Odin’s plain,
Hew daily each other
While chosen the slain are;
From the fray they then ride,
And drink ale with the Œsir.”


“After all,” said the Parson, “this is nothing more than a ghostly tournament; and I have no doubt but that the haughty tournaments of the middle ages, if deprived of their mediæval gilding, would be very like the hewings, ale swillings, and pork banquetings of the Einherjir. I hope, though, that they brewed good ale in Asgard.”

“I dare say,” said the Captain, “that, after their carousal, they wanted a little sleep to fit them for the toils of the next day; I am sure I do, and I vote we try what sort of couches Birger has prepared for us. Our once merry friends below seem to be as fast asleep as swine now, and as quiet. To tell you the truth, I am a little tired with our day’s work, and we certainly have another good day’s work cut out for us to-morrow.”

“With all my heart,” said Birger, finishing off what, from its colour, might have been a glass of water, but was not. As Odin says—

“No one will charge thee
With evil, if early
Thou goest to slumber.”

“Come along, then,” said the Captain, “turn in; and may the Nyss to whom we have sacrificed send us to-morrow ‘a southerly wind and a cloudy sky.’”

There are several national songs in Norway. That which Torkel sings is an ancient song, and has been adapted and arranged as a chorus, by Hullah; but it is not that which is generally known as “Gammle Norgé.” This, though eminently popular, is but a modern composition. Its author is Bjerregaard, a Norse poet of some eminence. It has been thus rendered into English by Mr. Latham:—

Minstrel, awaken the harp from its slumbers!
Strike for old Norway, the land of the free!
High and heroic in soul-stirring numbers,
Clime of our fathers, we strike it for thee!
Old recollections
Awake our affections,—
They hallow the name of the land of our birth;
Each heart beats its loudest,
Each cheek glows its proudest,
For Norway the Ancient, the Throne of the Earth!
Spirit! look back on her far-flashing glory,
The far-flashing meteor that bursts on thy glance,
On chieftain and hero immortal in story,
They press to the battle like maids to the dance.
The blood flows before them,
The wave dashes o’er them,
They reap with the sword what they plough with the keel;
Enough that they leave
To the country that bore them
Bosoms to bleed for her freedom and weal.
The Shrine of the Northman, the Temple of Freedom,
Stands like a rock where the stormy wind breaks;
The tempests howl round it, but little he’ll heed them,—
Freely he thinks, and as freely he speaks.
The bird in its motion,
The wave in its ocean,
Scarcely can rival his liberty’s voice;
Yet he obeys,
With a willing devotion
Laws of his making and kings of his choice.
Land of the forest, the fell, and the fountain,—
Blest with the wealth of the field and the flood,—
Steady and truthful, the sons of thy mountain,
Pay the glad price of thy rights with their blood.
Ocean hath bound thee,
Freedom hath found thee,—
Flourish, old Norway, thy flag be unfurled!
Free as the breezes
And breakers around thee—
The pride of thy children, the Throne of the World!



“If thou hadst not been leading a life of sin—
The sun shines over Enen—
Thou wouldst have given me water thy bare hand within—
Under the linden green.
Now, this is the penance that on thee I lay:
Eight years in the wood shalt thou live from this day,
And no food shall pass thy lips between,
Save only the leaves of the linden green;
And no other drink shalt thou have at all,
Save the dew on the linden leaves so small;
And no other bed shall be pressed by thee,
Save only the roots of the linden tree.
When eight long years were gone and spent,
Jesus the Lord to Magdalene went—
Now shall Heaven’s mercy thee restore—
The sun shines over Enen—
Go, Magdalena, and sin no more
Under the linden green.”
Svenska Folk-visor.

Whether the Spirits of the Flood and Fell considered themselves complimented by the homage which had been paid to them, or whether things would have turned out exactly the same had there been no offering at all, is a mystery of mythology which we will not take upon ourselves to determine. Certain it is, that when the next morning was ushered in with a soft westerly breeze and a dull cloudy sky, interspersed with bright transient gleams of joyous sunshine, such as salmon love, the Nyssar got the credit of it all. Not that the Norwegians were at first aware of the extent of their blessings, for the barbarians are all unversed in the mysteries of fly-fishing, but they were not long in finding it out, from the smiling looks and congratulatory expressions of their employers.


Englishmen might have felt dull and heavy after the consumption of such enormous quantities of brandy: English heads might have ached, and English hands might have felt shaky during the operation of getting sober. Thor himself could not have risen from the challenge cup, set before him by Loki Utgard, with more complete self-possession than did Tom and Torkel, and the mighty Jacob. Sleep and drink had fled with the shades of night, and it was a steady hand that served out the coffee that morning.

The party had long separated to their respective pursuits, for the impatience of the fishermen and the actual dearth of provisions in the camp did not allow of idling.

Towards noon the breeze had entirely sunk, and the sun, having succeeded in dispelling the clouds, was shining in its summer strength into the confined valley, concentrating its rays from the encircling rocks upon the channel of the river, and pouring them on the encampment as on the focus of a burning-glass.

It was not, however, a depressing, moist, stewing heat; there was a lightness and elasticity in the air unknown in southern climes, or if known at all, known only on the higher Alps, and in the middle of the summer. Men felt the heat, no doubt, and the thermometer indicated a high degree of temperature; but there was nothing in it enervating, nothing predisposing to slothfulness or inaction; on the contrary, the nerves seemed braced under it, and the spirits buoyant. Work and exercise were a pleasure, not a toil; and if the Parson did stretch himself out under the shade of the great birch tree, it was the natural result of a well-spent morning of downright hard work. Wielding a flail is a trifle compared to wielding a salmon rod; and he and the Captain had, both of them, wielded it that morning to some purpose, for the salmon had not been unmindful of the soft breeze and the cloudy skies, but had risen to the fly with appetites truly Norwegian.

Jacob and Torkel, with one of the boatmen in the distance, were up to their eyes in salt and blood, cleaning, splitting, salting, and otherwise preparing the spare fish for a three days’ sojourn in the smoking-house; while three or four[110] bright-looking fresh run salmon, selected from the heap, and ready crimped for the kettle or toasting skewers, were glittering from under the green and constantly-wetted branches, with which they were protected from the heat of the day.

Birger, who was much more at home with his gun than with his fishing-rod, had gone out that morning early, attended by his two men, in order to reconnoitre the country, and see what its capabilities were; for the Parson’s report had been confined to its excellencies as a fishing station. The Captain was still on the river; every now and then distant glimpses of his boat could be seen as he shifted from throw to throw, and occasionally condescended even to harl the river, by way of resting his arms. Such a fishing morning as they had enjoyed, is not often to be met with, and the Captain would not take the hint which the cloudless sun had been giving him for the last half-hour.

The Parson, whose rod was pitched in a neighbouring juniper, and whose fly, a sober dark-green, as big as a bird, floated out faintly in the expiring breeze, was stretched at full length on the turf, occupied, so far as a tired man who is resting himself can be said to be occupied at all, in watching the motions of a little red-headed woodpecker, that was darting from branch to branch and from tree to tree, making the forest ring again with its sharp succession of taps, as it drove the insects out of their hiding-places beneath the outside bark. Taps they were, no doubt, and given by the bird’s beak, too, but by no means like the distinct and deliberate tap of the yellow woodpecker, every one of which may be counted: so rapid were they, that they sounded more like the scrooping of a branch torn violently from the tree, and so loud, that it was difficult to conceive that such a sound could be caused by a bird comparatively so diminutive.

The woodpecker, which seemed almost tame and by no means disconcerted by the presence of strangers, pursued its occupation with the utmost confidence, though quite within reach of the Parson’s rod.

“Take care,” said the Parson, as Torkel approached, “do not disturb it.”

“Disturb what?” said Torkel.


The Parson pointed to the woodpecker, which was not a dozen yards from them. The bird paused a moment, and looked at them, but evinced no symptoms of timidity.

“What, the Gertrude-bird?” said Torkel; “no one would disturb her while working out her penance, poor thing! She knows that well enough; look at her.” And, in truth, the bird did seem to know it, for another loud rattle of taps formed an appropriate accompaniment to Torkel’s speech; though Birger and the Captain at that moment came up, the one with his last fish, the other with a couple of ducks, a tjäder, and two brace of grouse, of one sort or another, which he had met with during his morning’s exploration.

The Parson nodded to the Captain, congratulated Birger, but, ever ready for a legend, turned round to Torkel.

“What do you mean by a Gertrude-bird, and what is her penance?” said he.

Birger smiled—not unbelievingly, though; for the legend is as well known in Sweden as it is in Norway; and few people, in either of these countries, who believe in anything at all, are altogether sceptical on matters of popular superstition.

“That bird,” said Torkel, “or at least her ancestors, was once a woman; and it is a good lesson that she reads us every time we see her. God grant that we may all be the better for it,” he added, reverentially.

“One day she was kneading bread, in her trough, under the eaves of her house, when our Lord passed by, leaning on St. Peter. She did not know that it was the Lord and his Apostle, for they looked like two poor men, who were travelling past her cottage door.”

“‘Give us of your dough, for the love of God,’ said the Lord Christ; ‘we have come far across the fjeld, and have fasted long!’

“Gertrude pinched off a small piece for them, but on rolling it on her trough to get it into shape, it grew and grew, and filled up the trough completely. She looked at it in wonder. ‘No,’ said she, ‘that is more than you want;’ so she pinched off a smaller piece, and rolled it out as before; but the smaller piece filled up the trough, just as the[112] other had done, and Gertrude put it aside, too, and pinched a smaller bit still. But the miracle was just the same; the smaller bit filled up the trough as full as the largest-sized kneading that she had ever put in it.

“Gertrude’s heart was hardened still more; she put that aside too, resolving, so soon as the strangers had left her, to divide all her dough into little bits, and to roll it out into great loaves. ‘I cannot give you any to-day,’ said she; ‘go on your journey, and the Lord prosper you, but you must not stop at my house.’

“Then the Lord Christ was angry; and her eyes were opened, and she saw whom she had forbidden to come into her house, and she fell down on her knees; but the Lord said, ‘I gave you plenty, but that hardened your heart, so plenty was not a blessing to you; I will try you now with the blessing of poverty; you shall from henceforth seek your food day by day, and always between the wood and the bark.[15] But forasmuch as I see your penitence to be sincere, this shall not be for ever: as soon as your back is entirely clothed in mourning this shall cease, for by that time you will have learned to use your gifts rightly.’

“Gertrude flew from the presence of the Lord, for she was already a bird, but her feathers were blackened already, from her mourning; and from that time forward she and her descendants have, all the year round, sought their food between the wood and the bark; but the feathers of their back and wings get more mottled with black as they grow older; and when the white is quite covered the Lord Christ takes them for his own again. No Norwegian will ever hurt a Gertrude-bird, for she is always under the Lord’s protection, though he is punishing her for the time.”

“Bravo, Torkel,” said the Parson. “I could not preach a better sermon than that myself, or give you sounder theology.”

“You seem always on the look-out for a superstition,” said the Captain.

“So I am,” said the Parson. “There is nothing that[113] displays the character of a people so well as their national legends.”

“But do you not consider that in lending your countenance to them, and looking as if you believed them, you are lending your countenance to superstition itself?”

“Well,” said the Parson, “what would you have me do? laugh them out of it, like Miss Martineau? And if I succeeded in that, which I should not, what should I have done then? Why, opened a fallow for scepticism. Superstition is the natural evidence of the Unseen in the minds of the ignorant; to be superstitious, is to believe in a Being superior to ourselves; and this is in itself the first step to spiritual advancement. Inform the mind, teaching it to distinguish the true from the false, and superstition—that is to say, the reverence for the unseen—brightens into true religion. Take it away by force, or quench it by ridicule, and you have an unoccupied corner of the soul for every bad passion to take root in. Superstition is the religion of the ignorant.”

“Well, there is truth in that,” said the Captain. “When a boy becomes a man, he will not play prison-base, or go a bird’s-nesting; but prison-base and bird’s-nesting are no bad preparation for manly daring and gallant enterprise.”

“Very true; and when the boy is capable of the latter he will leave off his prison-base and bird’s-nesting without any trouble on your part.”

“There are good superstitions as well as bad,” said Birger. “To be afraid of thinning down a noxious bird, like the magpie, as our people are, because the devil has them under his protection, is a bad superstition. It is a distrust in the power and providence of God; but, though it is equally a superstition to imagine that one bird is more a favourite with God than another, yet the boy who, in your country, in the ardour of his first shooting expedition, turns aside his gun because

Cock-robins and kitty-wrens
Are God Almighty’s cocks and hens;

or, in our country, from the Gertrude-bird, because she is working out the penance which Christ has imposed upon her,[114] has, in so doing, exercised self-denial, has acknowledged the existence of a God, and has admitted the sanctity of His protection. Many a superstition has as good a moral as a parable, and this is one of them.”

The approach of dinner at once scared away the Gertrude-bird, and put an end to Birger’s moralising; and as they discussed the pink curdy salmon, the produce of the morning’s sport, and revelled in the anticipation of strawberry and raspberry jam, the fumes of which every now and then were wafted to them from the kitchen, and in the certainty of roast game and smoked fish for future consumption, they laid their plans for the afternoon’s sport.

The sun was still shining in its strength and cloudlessness, and bade fair so to shine for the rest of the day; and the breeze, which had been for some time failing, had now sunk into a perfect calm. No salmon or trout were to be caught by the usual means—that was clear enough. Jacob, however, who had procured what might be called with great propriety a kettle of fish, for he had borrowed from a neighbouring farm-house one of the kettles in which they simmer their milk, and had got it full of minnows and other small fry—proposed setting his långref. This was unanimously assented to, for occupation is pleasing, and so is variety; and eels, pike, and flounders, which were likely to be its produce, were no bad additions to a larder less remarkable for the variety of its provisions than for their abundance.

But the grand scheme was one proposed by the Captain, who had been reconnoitring the higher parts of the river, and had discovered a very likely place for a bright day, but one which could not be reached from the shore, or by any of the ordinary means of propelling a boat. It was a fall terminating, not as falls generally do, in a huge basin, but in a shoot or rapid of considerable length, like a gigantic mill race, which, after a straight but turbulent course of a couple of hundred yards, shot all at once into the middle of a round and eddying pool. It was called the Hell Fall, probably from its fury, for the word is Norske; but possibly also, from Hela’s Fall, Hela being the Goddess of Darkness;[115] and well did the yawning chasm, through which the waters rushed, deserve that name, overshadowed as it was by its black walls of rock. It was upon this that the Captain had reckoned; whatever were the case with the rest of the world, sunshine or storm must be alike to it, and to the tenants of its gloomy recesses.

The Captain was confident the thing could be done, and the Parson was as confident that if it could be done, and the fly introduced into the numerous turn-holes round which the water boiled and bubbled, the rapid would require neither cloud nor wind to make it practicable. And Birger, who was a great man at contrivances, asseverated strongly that it should be done.

The first job, however, was to set the långref, and that was a mode of poaching with which they were all familiar. The långref, a line of two or three hundred fathoms in length, with a snood and a hook at each fathom, was baited from the minnow kettle, and coiled, so that the baited hooks lay together on a board; and one end having been made fast to a stump on the landing place, the boat was pulled diagonally down and across the stream, and the line gradually paid out in such a manner that the hooks were carried by the current, so as to hang free of the back line; the other end, which came within a few yards of the farther bank, was anchored by a heavy stone, backed by a smaller one, and the whole affair left to fish for itself.

In the meanwhile, some of the men had been sent forward with ropes, and with the boat-hooks and oars belonging to the expedition; for, though boats are always procurable in a place where the river forms the usual means of communication, their gear is not always to be relied on in cases of difficulty.

The fishermen selected their short lake rods, as better adapted to the work they were going about than the great two-handed salmon rods with which they had been fishing that morning; and having fitted fresh casting lines, which, in consideration of the work they were going about, were of the strongest twisted gut they could find, they took the path up the river.


“I wonder what are the proper flies of this river,” said the Captain. “In Scotland every place has its own set of flies, and you are always told that you will do nothing at all, unless you get the very colours and the very flies peculiar to the river.”

“You seem to have done pretty well on this river, at all events,” said Birger, “without any such information.”

“No information is to be despised,” said the Parson. “The oldest fisherman will always find something to be learnt from men who have passed their lives on a particular stream, and have studied it from their boyhood. There is, however, only one general principle, and that will always hold good. By this the experienced fisherman will never be at a loss about suiting his fly to the water. Here is the Captain now; we have had no consultation, and yet I will venture to say that we are both fishing with flies of a similar character. What fly did you catch your fish with, this morning, Captain?”

“I have been using my old Scotch flies,” said the Captain, “such as they tie on the Tay and Spey,[16] and the largest of the sort I could find.”

“To be sure you did; and tell Birger why you did not use your Irish flies.”

“They were too gaudy for the water,” said the Captain.


“That, Birger, will give you the principle,” said the Parson. “The Captain has been very successful with flies belonging to another river; now, look at mine, which I tied last night, while I was waiting till you came home from sacrificing to Nyssen. Except in size, this is as different as possible from the Captain’s; and yet its principle is precisely the same; mine is a green silk body, black hackle, blackcock wing, no tinsel, and nothing bright about it, except this single golden pheasant topping for a tail. Now, the Tay flies are quite different to look at; they are mostly brown or dun pig’s wool bodies, with natural red or brown hackles and mallard wings; but the principle of both is the same; they are sober, quiet flies, with no glitter or gaudiness about them; and the Captain shall tell you what induced him to select such as these.”

“I chose the largest fly I could find,” said the Captain; “because the water here is very deep and strong; and as the salmon lies near the bottom, I must have a large fly to attract his attention; but I must not have a gaudy fly, because the water is so clear that the sparkle of the tinsel would be more glittering than anything in nature; and the fish, when he had risen and come near enough to distinguish it, would be very apt to turn short.”

“You have it now, precisely,” said the Parson; “the depth of the water regulates the size of the fly, and the clearness of the water its colours. This rule, of course, is not without exceptions; if it were, there would be no science in fishing. The sun, the wind, the season, the state of the atmosphere must also be taken into consideration; for instance, this rapid we are going to fish now, is the very same water we have been fishing in below, and therefore just as clear, but it is rough, and overhung by rocks and trees. I mean, therefore, to put on a gayer fly than anything we have used hitherto. But here we are,” he said, as they looked down upon the rush of waters, “and upon my word, an ugly place it is.”

The Parson might well say that, for the waters were rushing below with frightful rapidity. Above them was the fall, where the river, compressed into a narrow fissure, shot[118] through it like an enormous spout, into a channel, wider certainly than the spout itself, but still very narrow; while the perpendicular walls reminded the spectators of an artificial lock right in the middle of the stream; at the very foot of the fall, was a solid rock, on the back of which the waters heaped themselves up, and found their way into the straight channel by rushing round it. In fact, without this check, their rapidity would have been too great for anything to swim in them; and as it was they looked anything but inviting.

“A very awkward place!” said the Parson! “and how do you mean to fish this?”

“Come away a little from the roar of the waters,” said the Captain, “and I will explain my plans. You see that flat ledge of rock below us, just above the rush of the water; that spot we can reach by means of the rope. Make it fast to that tree, Tom: you learned knotting in the English navy, you know.”

Tom grinned, and did as he was told, and the Captain ascertained the strength of his work practically, by climbing down the face of the rock, and reconnoitring personally the ledge he had pointed out.

“Now,” said he, when he had returned, “we will get the boat as near as we can to this rush of water, and then veer out a rope to her from this rock: birch ropes will float, and the stream is quite sufficient to carry it down. If we make the boat fast to this, we may command every inch of the rapid, and you see yourself, how many turn-holes are made by the points of the rock which project from either side. You may depend upon it, every one of these contains a salmon, and the water is so troubled and covered with foam, that not one of these fish will know or care whether the sun is shining or not.”

“I think your reasoning is sound enough,” said the Parson; “but if the boat capsizes, the best swimmer in Norway would be drowned, or knocked to pieces against these rocky points.”


p. 119.

“But what is to capsize the boat? I am not going to take young hands with me; we all know our work; at all[119] events, I mean to make the first trial of my own plan myself, you have nothing to do but to stand on the rock, and haul up the boat.”

The Parson looked at Birger.

“I do not think there is much danger,” said he; “and if the Captain will manage the rod, I will see to the boat. Tom shall take the other oar.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “you have left me the safest job; but I do not quite like to see you do it. However, I suppose you will; so here goes to see that you run no more danger than is absolutely necessary.” So saying, he eased himself down the rope to the flat rock, followed by Torkel and Pierson, who had previously thrown down a coil of birch rope; while the Captain, Birger, and Tom went down to the place below the rapid, where the boat was moored to a stump of a tree that grew over the river.

The birch rope floated on the top of the racing water, and soon reached the great turn-hole below the rapid, where the current was not so furious but that the boat could easily be managed. After one or two misses, Birger caught the end of it with his boat-hook, and, passing it round all the thwarts, secured it to the aftermost one; placing an axe in the stern sheets, in which the Captain had seated himself with his short lake-rod in his hand, Tom sat amidships with the paddles, while Birger himself stood forward with the boat-hook, to fend off from any point of rock that the eddies might sheer the boat against.

When all was ready, he waved his cap—for no voice could be heard amid the roar of water—and the Parson and his party began steadily hauling on the rope. The boat entered the dark cleft, and, though her progress was very slow, cut a feather through the water, as if she were racing over it.

Tom, by dipping one or other paddle, steered from side to side, as he was bid; and the Captain threw his fly into the wreaths of foam which gathered in the dark corners; for in the most furious of rapids, there will always be spots of water perfectly stationary, where the eddies, that have[120] been turned off by projecting rocks, meet again the main current; and, in those places, the salmon will invariably rest themselves, accomplishing their passage, as it were, by stages.

From side to side swung the boat—now at rest, now hauled upon by the line, according to the messages which Birger telegraphed with his cap; but, for some time, without any result, except that of convincing the Parson that the dangers he apprehended, were more in appearance than in reality; so that they were beginning to think that their ingenuity would be the sole reward of their pains. At length, there was a sudden tug at the line, the water was far too agitated to permit the rise to be seen, and the Captain’s rod bent like a bow.

“Haul up, a few fathoms,” said he, raising his rod so as to get his line, as much as possible, out of the action of the water, which was forcing it into a bight. “Now, steer across, Tom, to the opposite side. We must try the strength of the tackle—‘Pull for the half,’ as we say in Ireland.”

The fish had not attempted to run, knowing that its best chance of safety was in the hole in which it lay, but had sunk sulkily to the bottom. No sooner, however, did the boat feel the current on her bow, than she sheered across to the opposite side; and the Captain, stopping his line from running out, drew the salmon by main force from its shelter, who, feeling the strength of the current, for a moment attempted to stem it; but soon, the Captain, adroitly dropping his hand, turned tail and raced away, downward, with the combined velocity of the stream, and its own efforts.

The Captain paused a moment, to make sure that the fish was in earnest, and then cut the rope; and boat, fish, and all, came tumbling down the rapid into the turn-hole below.

Once there, it became an ordinary trial of skill between man and fish—such as always occurs whenever a salmon is hooked in rough water—and that the Captain was well up to. It was impossible for it again to head up the dangerous ground of the rapid, or to face the rush of the waters with[121] the strain of the line upon it; so it raced backwards and forwards, and up and down in the deep pool, while Tom took advantage of every turn to paddle his boat quietly into still water. At last, the Captain succeeded in turning his fish under a projecting tree, upon which the Parson, who, as soon as he had seen the turn matters were likely to take, had shinned up the rope, and hurried to the scene of action, was standing gaff in hand to receive it.

“Well done, all hands!” said the Captain, as the Parson freed his gaff from the back fin of a twenty-pound salmon, and Birger hooked on to the tree, and brought his boat to shore. “Well done, all hands! it was no easy matter to invade such territories as that; but one wants a little additional excitement after such a fishing morning as we have had.”

“I think we may set you down as bene meritus de patriâ,” said the Parson; “it is just as well to have a fresh resource on a bright afternoon like this; the time may come when we may want it.”

“Now, then, for another fish,” said the Captain; “Birger shall try his hand at the rod this time.”

Birger would have excused himself on account of his want of skill, but was very easily persuaded, and, thus they took turns, now securing a fish, now cutting a line against an unseen rock, now losing one by downright hard pulling, till, when the light began to fail, and the dangers to grow more real from the darkness, they made fast their boat to the stump, and returned victorious to the camp, having added three or four fish to their store, and those the finest they had caught that day.[17]



“Og Trolde, Hexer, Nysser i hver Vraae.”
Finn Magnussen.
And Witches, Trolls, and Nysses in each nook.

“Hallo! what is the matter now?” said the Captain, who had been out with his gun that morning, and on his return caught sight of the Parson sitting disconsolate on the river’s bank. By the waters of Torjedahl we sat down and wept. “What has gone wrong?”

“Why, everything has gone wrong,” said the Parson peevishly; “look at my line.”

“You do seem to have lost your casting line, certainly.”

“Yes, I have, and half my reel line beside.”

“Very tinkerish, I dare say, but do not grieve over it; put on a new one and hold your tongue about it; no one saw you, and I promise not to tell.”

“How can you be so absurd?” said the Parson, “look at the river, and tell me how we are to fish that; just look at those baulks of timber floating all over it. I had on as fine a fish as ever I saw in my life,—five-and-twenty pounds if he was an ounce, when down came these logs, and one of them takes my reel line, with sixty yards out, and cuts it right in the middle.”

“Well, that is provoking,” said the Captain, “enough to make a saint swear, let alone a parson; but, hang it, man, it is only once in the way. Come along, do not look behind you; I am in a hurry to be at it myself, I came home on purpose, I was ashamed to waste so glorious a fishing day as this in the fjeld.”

“That is just the thing that annoys me,” said the Parson;[123] “it is, as you say, a most lovely fishing day,—I never saw a more promising one; and I have just heard that these logs will take three days floating by at the very least, and while they are on the river I defy the best fisherman in all England to land anything bigger than a graul.”

“Why,” said the Captain, “have the scoundrels been cutting a whole forest?”

“This is what Torkel tells me,” said the Parson; “he says that in the winter they cut their confounded firs, and when the snow is on the ground they just square them, haul them down to the river or its tributaries, where they leave them to take care of themselves, and when the ice melts in the spring, down come the trees with it. But there are three or four lakes, it seems, through which this river passes—that, by-the-by, is the reason why it is so clear; and, as the baulks would be drifting all manner of ways when they got into these lakes, and would get stranded on the shores instead of going down the stream, they make what they call a boom at or near the mouth of the river, that is to say, they chain together a number of baulks, end-ways, and moor them in a bight across the river, so that they catch everything that floats. Here they get hold of the loose baulks, make them into rafts, and navigate them along the lakes, launching them again into the river at the other end, and catching them again at the next boom in the same way. They have, it seems, just broken up the contents of one of these booms above us. It will take three days to clear it out, and another day for the straggling pieces.”

“Whew!” said the Captain, “three blessed days taken from the sum of our lives; what on earth is to be done?”

“Well,” said the Parson, “that is exactly what we must see about, for it is quite certain that there is nothing to be done on the water. Before I began grumbling I sent off Torkel to look for Birger—for we must hold a council of war upon it. O! there is Birger,” said he, as they crossed the little rise which forms the head of the Aal Foss and came in sight of the camp and the river below it; “Torkel must have missed him.”

“Hallo!” said Birger, who was with Piersen in one of[124] the boats, fishing up with his boat-hook the back line of the långref, and apparently he had made an awkward mess of it—“hallo there! get another boat and come and help me, these baulks have played Old Scratch with the långref; it has made a goodly catch, too, last night, as far as I can see, but we want more help to get it in.”

The Parson had the discretion to keep his own counsel, but the fact was, it was he who was the cause both of the abundant catch and of the present trouble. The small eels had been plaguing them, for some nights successively, by sucking off and nibbling to pieces baits which they were too small to swallow, and thus preventing the larger fish from getting at them. The Parson had seen this, and had set his wits to work to circumvent them. By attaching corks to the back line, he had floated the hooks above the reach of the eels, which he knew would never venture far from the bottom, while pike, gös, id, perch, the larger eels, and occasionally even trout, would take the floating bait more readily when they found it in mid-water.

This would have done exceedingly well, had he looked at it early in the morning; that, however, he had not exactly forgotten, but had neglected to do. Time was precious, and he was unwilling to waste it on hauling the långref. Jacob, whose business it was to haul it, had been sent down to Christiansand on the preceding day, with two of the boatmen, for supplies, and had not yet returned; and the Parson, holding his tongue about his experiment, and proposing to himself the pleasure of hauling the långref when the mid-day sun should be too hot for salmon-fishing, had gone out early with his two-handed rod. In the meanwhile the baulks had come down, and the very first of them, catching the centre of the floating bight, had cut it in two, and had thus permitted the whole of the Parson’s great catch of fish to entangle themselves at their pleasure.

p. 124.

It was these disjecta membra that Birger was busying himself about; the task was not an easy one; and if it were, the guardsman was not altogether a proficient. But, even when the reinforcement arrived, there was nothing to be done beyond lifting the whole tangle bodily into the boat, releasing[125] the fish from the hooks, and then, partly by patience, partly by a liberal use of the knife, to get out the tangle on shore. The further half gave them the most trouble to find; it had been moored to a stone, and the back line had been strong enough to drag it some way down the river before it broke. It was, however, at last discovered and secured, and the catch was of sufficient magnitude to ensure a supply of fish, notwithstanding the logs.

“Stop a minute,” said the Captain, as the boats’ heads were put up the stream on their return; “we have not got all the långref yet, I am sure; I see another fish; just pull across that ripple, Parson, a few yards below the end of that stranded log. Yes, to be sure it is, and a salmon, too, and as dead as Harry the Eighth. Steady there! hold water!” and he made a rake for the line with his boat-hook. “Why, what have we got here? it is much too fine for the långref. As I live, it is your own line. To be sure; here it runs. Steady! Let me get a hold of it with my hand, it may not be hitched in the wood firmly, and if it slips we shall lose it entirely. That will do: all right. That must be the log that broke you; it must have stranded here after coming down the Aal Foss, with the fish still on it—and—hurrah! here is the fish all safe—and, I say, Parson, remarkably fine fish it is, certainly! not quite twenty-five pounds, though,”—holding up the fish by the tail, and measuring it against his own leg; for his trousers were marked with inches, from the pocket-button downwards,—a yard measure having been stitched on the seam. “You have not such a thing as a steelyard, have you?”

The Parson, laughing—rather confusedly, though,—produced from his slip pocket the required instrument.

“Ah! I thought so, ten pounds and a half; the biggest fish always do get away, that is certain, especially if they are not caught again; it is a thousand pities I put my eye on this one. I have spoilt your story?”

“Well, well,” said the Parson, “if you have spoilt my story, you have made a good one for yourself, so take the other oar and let us pull for the camp.”


“Birger,” said the Captain, when the boats had been made fast, and the spoils left in the charge of Piersen, “Torkel has been telling the Parson that we are to have three days of these logs. If the rascal speaks the truth, what is to be done by us fishermen?”

“The rascal does speak the truth in this instance, I will be bound for it,” said Birger; “he knows the river well, and besides, it is what they do on every river in Norway that is deep enough to float a baulk.”

“What is to be done, then? there is no fishing on the river while this is going on.”

“I will tell you what we can do,” said Birger; “two or three days ago—that day when I returned to the camp so late—if you remember, I told you that I had fallen in with a lonely lake in the course of my rambles. There was a boat there belonging to a sœter in the neighbourhood, which Piersen knew of, and I missed a beautiful chance at a flight of ducks. However, that is neither here nor there; the people at the sœter told me that the great lake-char was to be found there; so the next day I sent Piersen, who understands laying lines if he does not understand fly-fishing, to set some trimmers for them. I vote we shoot our way to the lake, look at these lines, get another crack at the ducks, and make our way to the Toftdahl (which, if the map is to be trusted, must be somewhere within reach), fish there for a day, shoot our way back again, and by that time the wooden flood will be over.”

“Bravo, Birger,” said the Captain, “a very promising plan, and here, in good time, comes Commissary-General Jacob with the supplies. I see his boat just over that point, entangled among a lump of logs. I vote we take him with us; no man makes such coffee. I have not had a cup worth drinking since you sent him down the river.”

“You cannot take the poor fellow a long march to-day,” said the Parson, considerately, “he has just been pulling up the stream from Christiansand.”

“He pull! is that all you know of Jacob? I will venture to say he has not pulled a stroke since he started;[127] look at the rascal, how he lolls at his ease, with his legs over the hamper, while the men are half in the water, struggling their way through the obstacles.”

“I see the scamp,” said the Parson; “upon my word, he puts me in mind of what the nigger observed on landing in England; man work, horse work, ox work, everything work, pig the only gentleman; Jacob is the only gentleman in our expedition.”

“I admire that man,” said Birger; “that is the true practical philosophy, never to do anything for yourself if you can get other people to do it for you. But I think those fellows had better make haste about it. I have known such a hitch of timber as that bridge the whole river, from side to side, in ten minutes; they accumulate very rapidly when they once take ground—ah! there goes the boat free; all right; but I certainly began to tremble for my provisions.”

“Well, then, we will take gentleman Jacob,” said the Captain, “I cannot give up my coffee.”

“I think so,” said Birger; “we will leave our three boatmen here in charge of the camp; Tom, Torkel, and Piersen can carry the fishing-rods and our knapsacks, which we must pack in light marching order. Jacob shall provide for the kitchen, and we will each of us take a day’s provisions in our havresacs, and our guns on our shoulders; the odds are, we knock over grouse and wild fowl, by the way, enough to supply us nobly. And even if we do not meet with sport, we shall at all events have a pleasant pic-nicking trip, and see something of the country, while the Parson, who is so fond of open air, may indulge himself with sleeping under a tree, and contemplating the moon at his ease.”

Torkel, who had come up while they were watching Jacob’s progress, and had learnt their plans, informed them of a sœter which lay nearly in their proposed course, and in which he had himself often received hospitality.

“Well, then,” said the Captain, “that will do for us, and we will leave the Parson, if he prefers it,

“His hollow tree,
His crust of bread and liberty.”

“You may laugh,” said the Parson, “but the time will[128] come when you will find out certain disagreeables in a Norwegian dwelling, which may make you think with less contempt on the hollow tree.”

“The Parson is of the same mind as the Douglas,” said the Captain, “he likes better to hear the lark sing, than the mouse squeak.”

“I like clean heather better than dirty sheep-skin,” said the Parson.

“And musquitoes better than fleas,” added the Captain.

“Bother the musquitoes: I did not think of them.”[18]

“They will soon remind you,” said Birger, “if we happen to encamp near standing water.” And he went on packing his knapsack to the tune of “Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot,” which he whistled with considerable taste and skill.[19]

Arrangements, such as these, are soon made; the three boatmen were left in charge of the camp, with full permission to get as drunk as they pleased; and, before Jacob had well stretched his legs, which had been cramped in the boat, he was stretching them on the mountain-side, marching a good way in the rear of the party, and grumbling as he marched.

The mountains, which, all the way from Christiansand, hem in the river, so that not even a goat can travel along its banks, at Mosse Eurd and Wigeland recede on both sides, forming a sort of basin; and here, in a great measure, they lose their abrupt and perpendicular character. Close by the[129] water-side, there are a hundred, or two, of acres of inclosed ground comparatively flat, and either arable or meadow; not by any means in a ring fence, but spots cribbed here and there from the fjeld, which looks more like a gentleman’s park than anything else, with these little paddocks fenced out of it. The houses, too, are quite the picturesque houses that gentlemen in England ornament their estates with, so that the untidy plank fences seemed altogether out of character with the scenery. What one would look for here, is the neat park palings of England, or its trim quickset hedges.

Beyond this, the ground becomes more broken and wooded, but without losing its parkish character; it is something like the forest grounds of the South Downs in England, only broken into detached hills and deep rises, with, occasionally, a bare ridge of rock forcing its way through the short green turf. The forest was mostly birch, with a few maples and sycamores, and, here and there, a fir; but every tree big enough for a timber stick, had long ago been floated down to the boom at Christiansand. The character of the whole scene was prettiness rather than beauty. The mountains, however, were no lower than they had been further down the river; it was as if their perpendicular sides had, in some antediluvian age, given way, and that, in the course of centuries, the fragments had become covered with trees and verdure.

Among these broken pieces of mountain it was extremely easy for the traveller to lose his way; there was not the vestige of a path, that is to say, a path leading to any place to which he could possibly want to go. The grass was particularly good and sweet there, and sheep and cows are intensely conservative in their idiosyncracy; so stoutly had they kept up the principle of stare super antiquas vias, that the appearance was as if the whole region was thickly inhabited and intersected with foot-paths in every direction, while every animal that helps to make them rings its own individual bell, and carries its own individual brand, but pastures in uncontrolled liberty. A cow is a very good guide to a lost man, for, if he has patience to wait till evening,[130] she is sure to feed her way to the sœter to be milked; but woe to the man who puts his trust in bullocks or in sheep; they feed at ease, and roam at pleasure, till the frosts and snows of approaching winter bring them home to the fold, the stall, and the salting-tub.

Much of the shrubbery appearance of the scene is produced by the numerous plants of the vaccinium tribe, the bright glossy leaves of which look like myrtle; and the blue aconite, and the gentian, and the lily of the valley, flowers which we seldom meet with in England, absolutely wild, and the familiar leaves of the raspberry, and black currant, suggest ideas of home, while the turf on which the traveller treads, looks as if it had been mown by the gardener that very morning.

The course, though varied by quite as many ups and downs as there were ins and outs, was, upon the whole, continually ascending; and, as the higher regions were attained, and the facilities of transport diminished, the tall stately fir began to assert its natural supremacy among the northern sylva. Still, however, there was enough of birch, and even of the softer woods, to diversify the foliage, and preserve the park-like aspect. Heather, of which the Parson had anticipated making his couch, there was none; but, on the other hand, there was no furze to irritate the shins, or brambles to tear the clothes. The latter does grow in Norway, and is much more prized for its fruit than either raspberry or strawberry, but the former cannot stand the winters. Linnæus is said to have sat for hours in delighted contemplation of an English field of furze in full bloom, and the plant is generally seen in Swedish conservatories to this day, or set out in pots as oranges and myrtles are with us.

The mid-day sun had scattered the clouds of the morning, as, in truth, it very generally does on a Norway summer day, and, shining down in patches of brilliant light through the openings, added to the beauty of the scene, and diminished in an equal proportion all regrets at leaving the Torjedahl behind; for it was quite evident that, except[131] in the Hell Fall, or the pools, little or nothing could be done on so bright a day, had the baulks been entirely out of the question.

It was an hour or two past noon when they arrived at the ridge which divides the valley of the Torjedahl from that of the Aalfjer—not that ridge is the proper expression, for the ground had, for some miles, become so nearly level that, were it not for a little rill, whose line of rushes had been for some time their guide, they would not have known whether they were ascending or descending. The country still preserved its character of beauty, but its features had gradually become more tame, so that the inequalities which, in the beginning of their journey had looked like fragments of mountains, were now rounded and regular, like so many gigantic mole-hills.

Between two of these, the turf of which was green and unbroken to the summit, and shorter and more velvety, if that were possible, than any they had passed over, was the source of the rill, a black, boggy, rushy, uninviting bit of ground, but covered with myrica bushes, which diffused through the still air their peculiarly aromatic and refreshing scent; in the centre of this was a deep still hole—it could be called nothing else—it certainly was not a spring head, for there was not a bubble of springing water; it was perfectly still and motionless, and looked absolutely black in its clearness.

It was a welcome halt to all, for the sun was hot and the way was long. The well-head was a noted haunt of the dwarfs or Trolls, indeed it was said to penetrate to the centre of the earth, and to be the passage through which they emerged to upper air.

This was the reason why, though everything around was scorching and dropping in the withering heat, and though the unshaded sun fell full upon the unprotected surface, the water was at all times very cold, and yet in the hardest winter no ice ever formed upon it—its cold was that of the well of Urdar which waters the roots of Yggdrassil, the tree of life; no frost can bind these waters, neither can they be polluted with leaves or sticks, for a dwarf[132] sits continually on guard there, to keep open the passage for his brethren.

“Well,” said Birger, “I can readily believe that these are the waters of life, I never met with anything so refreshing, it beats all the brandy in the universe.”

Jacob put in no protest to this heresy, but expressed a practical dissent by applying his mouth to a private bottle and passing it to Tom.

The Captain was proceeding to wash his face and hands in the well-head, but the men begged him not to pollute it; the rill below, they said, did not so much signify.

The place had been noted by Birger for a halt, and right glad were they all to disembarrass themselves of their respective loads, and to stretch themselves in various attitudes of repose picturesque enough upon the whole, under the great white poplars whose restless leaves fluttered over head though no one could feel the breeze that stirred them, and shaded the fairy precincts of the haunted well.

The Parson threw himself on his back upon the turf with his jacket, waistcoat, and shirt-collar wide open, his arms extended, and his neckerchief, which he had removed, spread over his face and bare neck to keep off the musquitoes. He was not asleep exactly, nor, strictly speaking, could it be said that he was awake; he was enjoying that quiet dreamy sort of repose, that a man thoroughly appreciates after walking for five or six hours on a burning hot summer’s day. His blood was still galloping through his veins, and he was listening to the beat of his own pulses.

“This is very delightful, very,” he said, in a drowsy drawling voice, speaking rather to himself than to Torkel. “A very curious sound, one, two, three, it sounds like distant hammers.”

“Oh, the Thousand!” said Torkel, “where are we lying?”

The Parson, when he threw himself down on the hill side, had been a great deal too hot and tired to pay much attention to his couch, beyond the evident fact that the turf[133] was very green and inviting, and that it contained no young juniper or other uncomfortable bedding: roused by Torkel’s observation, he sat upright, and seeing nothing very remarkable except a good rood of lilies of the valley at his feet, the scent of which he had been unconsciously enjoying, and which did not look at all terrible, stared at him. “Well,” said he, “what is the matter? where should we be lying?”

“I do not know,” said Torkel, “that is, I do not know for certain; but did you not say you heard hammers? Stay,” he said, looking as if he had resolved to do some desperate deed—“yes, I will, I am determined,” and he took a piece of clay that was sticking on his right boot, and having patted it into the size of a half-crown, put it on his head and dashed his hat on over it. Then shading his eyes with his hand, he looked fixedly at the hill, as if he were trying to look through it. “No,” said he, “I do not see anything, I hope and trust you are mistaken.”

“What can you be about?” said the Parson impatiently, “have you found a brandy shop in the forest?”

“I thought it must be the Bjergfolk,” he said, “when you heard the hammers. I never can hear them myself, because I was not born on a Saturday, and I thought perhaps you might have been. It is a very round hill too, just the sort of place they would choose, and they have not a great deal of choice nowadays, there are so many bells in the churches, and the Trolls cannot live within the sound of bells.”

“No?” said the Parson, “why not?”

“None of the spirits of the middle earth like bells,” said Torkel, “neither Alfs, nor Nisses, nor Nechs, nor Trolls, they do not like to think of man’s salvation. Bells call people to church, and that is where neither Troll nor Alf may go. They are sometimes very spiteful about it, too.”

“In the good old times, when it was Norway and Denmark, and we were not tied to those hogs of Swedes as we are now” (sinking his voice, out of respect to Birger, but by[134] no means so much so that Birger could not hear him), “they were building a church at Knud. They pitched upon a highish mound near the river, on which to build it, because they wanted the people to see their new church, little thinking that the mound was the house of a Troll, and that on St. John’s eve, it would stand open supported on real pillars. Well, the Troll, who must have been very young and green, could not make out what they were going to do with his hill, and he had no objection whatever to a house being built upon it, because he reckoned upon a good supply of gröd and milk from the dairy. He could have seen but very little of the world above the turf not to know a church from a house. However, he had no suspicions, and the bells were put up, and the Pröbst came to consecrate. The poor Troll could not bear to see it, so he rushed out into the wide world, and left his goods and his gold and his silver behind him.

“The next day a peasant going home from the consecration saw him weeping and wringing his hands beyond the hearing of the bells, which was as near as he could venture to come. And the Troll told him that he was obliged to leave his country, and could never come back, and asked him to take a letter to his friends.

“I suppose the man’s senses were rather muzzy yet—he could hardly have had time to get sober so soon after the ceremony; but somehow or another he did not see that the speaker was a Troll, but took him for some poor fellow who had had a misfortune, and had killed some one, and fancied he was afraid of the Landamptman, particularly as he had told him not to give the letter to any one (indeed it had no direction), but to leave it in the churchyard of the new church, where the owner would find it.

“One would naturally wish to befriend a poor fellow in such a strait; so the man took the letter, put it into his pocket, and turned back.

“He had not gone far before he felt hungry, so he took out a bit of flad bröd and some dried cod that he had put into his pocket. They were all wet. He did not know[135] how that could be; but he took out the letter for fear it should be spoiled, and then found that there was wet oozing out from under the seal. He wiped it; but the more he wiped it, the wetter it was. At last, in rubbing, he broke the seal, and he was glad enough to run for it then, for the water came roaring out of the letter like the Wigelands Foss, and all he could do he could only just keep before it till it had filled up the valley. And there it is to this day. I have seen it myself—a large lake as big as our Forres Vand. The fact was, the Troll had packed up a lake in the letter, and would have drowned church, bells, and all, if he had only sealed it up a little more carefully.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “this beats our penny-post; we send queer things by that ourselves, but I do not think anybody has ever yet thought of sending a lake through the General Post Office.”

“Is there not some story about Hercules cleaning out the Admiralty, or some such place, in a very similar way?” said the Captain.

“No,” said the Parson, “I never heard that the Admiralty has ever been cleaned out at all since the days of Pepys. If ever it is done, though, it must be in some such wholesale way as this—I do not know anything else that will do it.”

“The hill-men are not such bad fellows, though,” said Tom, on whom all this by-play about the Admiralty was quite lost, British seaman as he was; “and, by the way, Torkel, I wish you would not call them by their names, you know they do not like it, and may very well do us a mischief before we get clear of this fjeld. Many people say that there is no certainty of their being damned after all—our schoolmaster thinks they certainly will not, for he says he cannot find anything about damning Trolls in the Bible, and I am sure I hope it will not be found necessary to damn them, for they often do us a good turn. There was a Huusbonde in the Tellemark who had one of their hills on his farm that no one had ever made any use of, and he made up his mind to speak to the Troll about it. So he waited till St. John’s eve came round and the hill was open, and then he[136] went, and sure enough he found the Bjergman. He seemed a good-humoured fellow enough, but he was not so rich as most of them; he had only a very few copper vessels in his hill and hardly any silver.

“‘Herr Bjergman,’ said the Huusbonde, ‘you do not seem to be in a very good case, neither am I, but I think we may make something of this hill of yours between us—I say between us, for, you know, the top of the soil belongs to me, just as the under soil belongs to you.’

“‘Aye, aye!’ said the Bjergman, ‘I should like that very well. What do you propose?’

“‘Why, I propose to dig it up and sow it, and as we have both of us a right to the ground, I think in common fairness we ought both of us to labour at it, and then we will take the produce year and year about. The first year I will have all that is above ground and you shall have all below; and the next year we will change over, and then you shall have all that is above and I will have all that is below.”

“‘Well,’ said the Troll, greatly pleased, ‘that is fair; I like dealing with an honest man. When shall we begin?’

“‘Why, next spring, I think; suppose we say after Walpurgis night,[20] we cannot get at the ground much before.’

“‘With all my heart,’ said the Bjergman—and so they did. They worked very well together, but the Bjergman did twice as much work as his friend; they always do when they are pleased; and they sowed oats and rye and bear; and when harvest came the Huusbonde took that which was above the ground, the grain and the straw which came to his share, while the Bjergman was very well contented with his share of roots.

“‘When next Walpurgis night came round they dug up the ground again; and this time the Bjergman was to have all that was above ground, so they manured it well, and sowed turnips and carrots; and by and by, when the harvest came, the Huusbonde had a fine heap of roots, and the Bjergman was delighted with his share of greens. There[137] never came any harm of this that I know, each was pleased with his bargain, and the Huusbonde came to be the richest man in the Tellemark. You know the family, Torkel, old Nils of Bygland, it was his grandfather Lars, to whom it happened.”

“Well,” said Torkel, “it is quite true, then, I can testify, I only wish I had a tenth part so many specie-dalers in the Trondhjem Bank as old Nils has.”

“And our Norfolk squires,” said the Captain, “fancy it was their sagacity that discovered the four-course system of agriculture! The Trolls were before them, it seems.”

“The system seems to answer quite as well in Norway as ever it did in England,” said the Parson, “If all that Tom tells us about Nils of Bygland be true.”

“There is not a doubt of that,” said Torkel, “all Tellemarken knows Nils of Bygland, and it is a great pity, when we were crossing the lake the other day, that we did not stop at his house; he was never known to let a stranger go to bed sober yet.”

“I should think he was seldom without company, then,” said Birger.

“It seems to have answered very well in this particular case,” said Jacob, “but I do not think you can trust beings without souls, after all. It is best just to make your offering to Nyssen, and to the Lady of the Lake, and two or three others, and then to have nothing more to do with them.”

“You certainly had better keep a sharp look-out,” said Torkel, “But I think we Norwegians know how to handle them, and so do our gallant friends the Danes. Did you ever hear how Kallendborg Church was built?”

The Englishmen, at all events, had not, and Torkel went on.

“Esberne Snorre was building that church, and his means began to run short, when a Troll came up to him and offered to finish it off himself, upon one condition, and that was, that if Snorre could not find out his name he should forfeit his heart and his eyes.

“Snorre was very anxious to finish his church, and he consented, though he was not without misgivings either; and the[138] Troll set about his work in earnest. Kallendborg Church is the finest church in the whole country, and the roof of its nave was to stand on four pillars, for the Troll drew out the plan himself. It was all finished except half a pillar, and poor Snorre was in a great fright about his heart and his eyes, when one evening as he came home late from the market at Roeskilde he heard a Troll woman singing under a hill—

“Tie stille, barn min,
Imorgen kommer Fin
Fa’er din,
Og gi’er dig Esberne Snorre’s öine og hjerte at lege mid.”[21]

“Snorre said nothing; but the next morning out he goes to his church, and there he meets the Troll bringing in the last half pillar.

“‘Good morning, my friend Fin,’ said he, ‘you have got a heavy weight to carry.’

“The Troll stopped, looking at him fiercely, gnashed his teeth, stamped on the ground for rage, flew off with the half pillar he was carrying; and so Snorre built his church and kept his heart and eyes.”

“Do not believe a word of that,” said Jacob, “there is not a word of truth in the story; and as for Esberne Snorre building a church, everybody knows he was no better than he should be at any time of his life.[22] He was not the man to build a church, much less to give his eyes for it.”


“It is true,” said Torkel, “I have been at Kallendborg Church myself; and have seen the half pillar with my own eyes. The roof of the nave stands on three pillars and a half to this day.”

“More shame to the Kallendborgers, who never had religion enough to finish it,” said Jacob, “nor ever will. Do you mean to deny that the Devil carried off Esberne Snorre bodily? I think all the world knows that pretty well.”

“That shows that he thought him worth the trouble of carrying,” said Torkel, “he would never put himself out about carrying off you, because he knows you will go to him of your own accord.”

“Come, come, Torkel,” said the Parson, “do not be personal, and take your fingers off your knife handle; we cannot spare our cook yet, and you seem to like Jacob’s gröd yourself, too, judging by the quantity you eat of it; and now, Jacob, do not grind your teeth, but let us hear why you do not believe Torkel’s story, which certainly is very circumstantial, not to say probable.”

“Because every one knows that it was Lund Cathedral that was built by the Trolls, at the desire of the blessed Saint Laurentius,” said Jacob; “it was he who promised his eyes for it, and had them preserved by a miracle, not by a trumpery trick. Esberne Snorre, indeed; or any Dane, for matter of that! A set of infidels! It is only a Swede who would give his eyes for the church.”

“I should like to know who Scånia belonged to at the time when Lund Cathedral was built,” said Tom, “I do not think it was to the Swedes; and I should like to know who took away its archbishopric when they did get it, and made the great metropolis of all Scandinavia a trumpery little bishopric under the see of Upsala?”

“And I should like to know,” said Torkel, “who made bishops ride upon asses, and drink ‘du’ with the hangman. The Swedes give their eyes for the church, indeed! That for the Swedes!” snapping his fingers, and spitting on the ground.

This was a poser. Jacob was not only in the minority, but clearly wrong in matter of fact. At the dissolution of[140] the union of Kalmar, Scånia, though situated in Sweden, was a Danish province, and its archbishop was, as he always had been, the metropolitan.

At the present time it is quite true that Scånia is a Swedish province; but this is a comparatively modern arrangement. In the days when the cathedral was built, though geographically a portion of Sweden, it was politically a province of Denmark; nor was it till its union with the former state that its capital, Lund, was deprived of its ecclesiastical primacy. And the treacherous conduct of Gustavus Vasa towards Canute, Archbishop of Upsala, and Peter, Bishop of Westeras, and the contumelies to which they were exposed, previous to their most unjust execution, are a blot even in that blood-stained reign, which Geijer himself, with all his ingenuity, cannot vindicate, and which the Norwegians, from whose protection the bishops were lured, are continually throwing in the teeth of their more powerful neighbours.

Birger himself was a little taken aback, not exactly liking that the weak points in his country’s history should be thus exposed to strangers.

“Never mind them, Jacob,” said he, forcing a laugh, “they are only Tellemarkers, and know no better. You and I shall see them, some of these days, climbing the trees of Goth’s garden themselves.”[23]

This bit of national slang, which fortunately was lost on the Norwegians, had the effect of soothing the ire of the sulky Jacob, who drew near to his countryman with a happy feeling of partisanship.

“The sooner the better,” said he, bitterly.



“Onward amid the copse ’gan peep,
A narrow inlet still and deep,
Affording scarce such breadth of brim
As served the wild duck’s brood to swim;
Lost for a space through thickets veering,
But broader when again appearing,—
Tall rocks and tufted knolls their face
Could in the dark-blue mirror trace;
And farther as the hunter strayed,
Still broader sweep its channels made.”
Lady of the Lake.

“How shall it be? Will you look your lay-lines to-day or to-morrow?” said the Parson, who, though not a little amused at the tilting between the rival champions, and by the manner in which Birger had suffered himself to be drawn into the squabble, began to think it had gone quite far enough for the future peace and unanimity of the expedition. “Come, Jacob, shoulder your knapsack, and march like a sensible Swede.”

“There never was but one sensible Swede,” said Torkel, in a grumbling aside, “and that was Queen Kerstin, when she jumped over the boundary, and thanked God that Sweden could not jump after her.”[24]

Jacob had sense enough not to hear this laudatory remark on his late sovereign’s discrimination, but, with his ordinary phlegm, resumed his load and his place in the line of march.


“By the way,” said the Parson, as they resumed their journey, “what was it, Torkel, that made you scrape the mud from your right foot and put it on your head in that insane manner, just now?”

“I can answer that,” said Birger; “you know that the whole tribe of Alfs, white, brown, and black, and the Trolls, and in fact the whole class that go under the generic name of Bjerg-folk, or Hill-men, live under the earth. To see them, therefore, on ordinary occasions, you must put yourself—at least, typically—in a similar condition. That upon which you have trod must cover your head; and you take it from the right foot rather than the left, partly as being more lucky, and partly because the left being a mark of disrespect, would incense the dwarfs, who would be sure to make you pay for it sooner or later; in fact they are a dangerous race to meddle with at all, they take offence so very easily. I believe, however, this is the safest plan, for they are not aware, unless you betray yourself, that the veil is removed from your sight. Did you never hear the story of the Ferryman of Sund?”

The Englishman, of course, had not heard it, neither had any of the men, for the legend is Danish and local; and though anything Danish is much better known in Norway than stories or legends relating to Sweden, it so happened that it was new to them all, and they closed up to listen to it.

“One evening, between the two lights,[25] a strange man came to the ferry at Sund and engaged all the boats: no sooner had the bargain been made, than they began to sink deeper and deeper into the water, as if some heavy cargo had been put into them, though the astonished boatmen could see nothing, and the boats looked quite empty.

“‘Shove off,’ said the stranger, ‘you have got quite load enough for one trip;’ and so they had, for the gunwales were not a couple of inches from the water, and the boats pulled[143] so heavily, that it was as much as the men could do to get to the Vandsyssel side; if the water had not been wonderfully calm, they could not have done it at all—but it was calm; and all under the wake of the moon it looked as if it was covered with a network of silver filigree, to chain down the ripples.

“As soon as the boats touched the Vandsyssel shore, they began rising in the water again, as if their freight had been taken out of them, and then the stranger sent them back again; and so it went on throughout the whole night, and very hard work the ferrymen had, bringing over cargoes of emptiness.

“Then the day began to break, and the eastern sky to whiten; and just as the coming sun shot up his seven lances to show the world that King Day was at hand, the stranger, who had arranged all this, paid the ferrymen, not counting the coins, but filling their hats with them with both hands, as a boy shovels out his nuts.

“‘What had they been bringing over?’ asked one of them. ‘Cannot you be quiet, and know when you are well off,’ said the stranger; ‘you need not be afraid of the custom-house dues; they will have sharp eyes to see anything contraband in what you have carried over last night; put your money in your pockets and be thankful—you will not earn so much in the next three years.’

“But in the mean while one of the ferrymen, a sharper fellow than his neighbours, jumped on shore, and did just exactly what Torkel did just now—put a piece of clay from the sole of his shoe on the crown of his head. His eyes were opened at once; all the sandhills about Aalberg were alive with little people, every one of them carrying on his back gold and silver pots, and jugs, and vessels of every description—the whole place looked like one gigantic anthill.

“‘O-ho,’ said he, ‘that’s what you are about; well, joy go with you, we shall not be plagued with you any more on our side of the water; that’s one good job, anyhow.’

“But it was not a good job for him; it is very possible to be too sharp for one’s own good. All his gold money turned[144] to yellow queens,[26] and his silver money to chipped oyster-shells, and he never got rich, or anything more than a poor ferryman of Sund, while his companions had their hats full of ancient Danish gold and silver coins, and bought ships of their own, and went trading to Holland and the free towns, and became great men.”

“Upon my word, Torkel,” said the Parson, “you are too venturesome; it is just as well that there were no Trolls to be seen just now at the well; but you must not try it again, or you will never become a great man, or command a ship—not that this would suit you very well, I suppose.”

“Torkel would undertake the command of the Haabet, just now, I’ll engage, little as he knows about seamanship, if he could only get young Svensen out of her,” said Mr Tom, with a knowing grin; to which innuendo, whatever it might mean, Torkel playfully replied by kicking out behind at him with one foot, after the manner of a donkey. He missed Tom, however, to his and Piersen’s intense mirth; but what was the precise nature of the joke, there was now no opportunity of explaining, as the descent had become so steep that the assistance of the hand was necessary, in order to keep their footing.

At a few hundred yards from the dwarf’s well, they had fallen in with a little streamlet, running eastward, on a pretty rapid descent, even from the first, but which now began to form a series of diminutive cascades, leaping in so many spouts from rock to rock, while the ground, over which it ran, seemed as if it was fast changing from the horizontal to the perpendicular; indeed, had there not been plenty of rocks jutting out, and a good crop of twisted and gnarled trunks and roots, many portions of the journey might have been accomplished with more speed than pleasure.

The rapidity of the descent soon brought them to the bottom of a deep hollow valley, far above the level of the sea, indeed, but low compared with the abrupt heights that surrounded it. It was one of those singular features in[145] Norwegian scenery, a valley without an outlet; its bottom occupied by a deep, black, still lake, whose only drain—if it had any drain at all except the porous nature of the soil—was under the surface. As the ground rose rapidly on every side, it did not answer to cut timber which could never be carried, and the forest here was left in the wildest state of desolation. Solid, substantial firs, of ancient growth, were the predominant tree; but the soil was rich and the valley sheltered, and there was a plentiful sprinkling of birch and wych-elm, interspersed with a much rarer tree, the stubborn old oak himself.

Beneath this mingled canopy was a plentiful undergrowth of juniper, and enormous ferns. There was a still, calm desolateness about the whole scene, for many of the trees were dead, not by accident or disease, but from pure old age, and stood where they had withered, or reclined against the younger brethren of the forest, exhibiting their torn and ragged bark, and stretching forth their bare and leafless arms: the very rill—their lively and noisy companion hitherto—seemed to be sobered down, and to partake here of the general sadness, as it soaked its still way among the rushes and weeds that encumbered its course.

Where it ran, or rather crept, into the lake, a small marshy delta was formed of the sand carried down in its course; and here was moored an old crazy boat, half full of water, with a couple of old primitive oars; the whole had a bleached and weather-stained appearance, well in keeping with the general character of the scene. The boat belonged to a sœter some three or four miles off, on the western slope of the mountains, and was used occasionally by the inhabitants, when, at rare intervals, they amused themselves by setting lay lines for the char, for which the lake had a local celebrity. The sœter belonged to Piersen’s brother, and it was he who had induced Birger to visit the spot.

Having baled out the boat with their mess tins, they pulled out into the lake, which turned out to be very much larger than they expected to find it. The spot where the boat was moored, and which indeed looked like a small, deep, still tarn, was in fact only a bay, or inlet, and[146] the whole lake was a body with numerous arms, none of them very large in themselves, but making a very large piece of water when taken together.

Of course it had a name; every rock, and stream, and splash of water in Norway, has a name of one sort or other; but whatever it might have been, it was unknown to the fishermen, and this dark pool was entered into their diaries by the appropriate appellation of the “Lake of the Woods.” Mountains surrounded it on every side, steep, abrupt, plunging into the deep dark water, and wooded from base to summit with a dense black mass of wood wherever tree could stand on rock. There was not beach or shore of any kind; the mountain rose from the water itself, so steep as to be scarcely accessible, and, in many places, not accessible at all. As for a bird, Avernus itself could not be more destitute of them. Not a sound was heard, except the splash of the cumbersome oar, and the creaking of the rowlock, and that sounded so loud, and so out of place in the universal stillness, that the rowers tried to dip them quietly, as if they feared to awaken the desolate echoes.

“Ah,” said Birger, in a whisper, “this is just the place for the ‘Lady of the Lake;’ I hope she will do us no harm for trespassing on her territories.”

The men looked uneasy, and a little whispering went on between Tom and Piersen, who were pulling, they resting on their oars the while, from which the drops trickled off and dripped into the silent water. Tom brightened up. “I do not think she will hurt us,” he said; “she had a very fine cake from Piersen’s family last Christmas, and she will not hurt any one while he is with us.”

“What a confounded set of gluttonous sprites you have in your country,” said the Captain; “mercenary devils they are too.”

“Hush, hush, don’t abuse them, at all events while you are on their territories. The fact is, the ‘Lady of the Lake’ is the easiest propitiated of all the sprites: she is an epicure, too, and not a glutton; she likes her cake good, but she does not care how small it is. On Christmas Eve you pick a very small hole in the ice, and put a cake by the side of it, only[147] just big enough to go through it; and if you watch, which is not a safe thing to do if you have any sins unconfessed,[27] you may see, not the lady herself, for she is never seen, but her small white hand and arm, as she takes the offering and draws it down through the hole in the ice. Those see her best who are born on the eves of the holiest festivals.”

“That is all nonsense,” said Jacob, “I never could see her at all, often as I have looked, and I was born on Easter Eve.”

“Why you precious rascal,” said the Captain, “how could you expect it? When were your sins shriven, I should like to know?”

The men were not by any means displeased at Jacob’s rebuff, who seemed much more disconcerted by it than the occasion at all required; when Birger took up the conversation. “There is danger in that,” said he, “not that you should miss seeing the Lady, but that you should suffer for your rashness. The fact is,” he continued, turning to his friends, “the Lady of the Lake is the impersonation of the sudden squalls which fall unexpectedly on open spaces of any kind in mountainous countries, and her small white hand and arm are the dangerous little white breakers that are stirred up by the gusts, which, though diminutive when compared with the mighty rollers of the ocean, very often do draw men down, just as the hand draws Torkel’s cake. There is a similar spirit for the rivers, called the Black Horse, and another for the sea. This latter is called King Tolf, and is represented as driving furiously across the Sound, his chariot drawn by water-horses, and cutting right through any ship or boat that may lie in his path. But they all signify the same thing, in different situations to which their several attributes are very well adapted.”


“And that thing is?”

“Death, by drowning.”

“Here are the corks,” broke in Piersen in very indifferent English; “we shall have gjep for supper to-day, I see the floats bobbing.”

The corks which he had pointed out were, in reality, a string of birch-bark floats, which on being examined, were found attached to lines anchored in the very deepest spot of the whole lake; for the gjep, or great lake char, unlike any of its congeners, and indeed unlike any fresh-water fish whatever, except the common char, the eel, and the fictitious mal,[28] is never found but in the deepest waters.

Birger, who was the hero of this fishing, caught the nearest float in the crook of his gaff, and began hauling in—evidently there was something, for at first the line twitched and twitched and was nearly jerked out of his hand; but as he hauled on (and in good truth the line seemed as long as if some one, as Paddy says, had cut off the other end of it), it came lighter and lighter, and before he had got it in, a large ugly fish, three or four pounds weight, with an enormous protuberant belly, lay helpless on the surface.

“That’s the fellow,” said Piersen, pouncing on him,—but the fish made little effort to get away; it was almost dead before he got hold of it. The gjep, though classed as a char by the learned, is as little like the bright crimson char of our own lakes or of the mountain lakes of Norway as can well be imagined; never met with except in water of immense depth, never found out of his hole, never caught except with a still and (so the Swedes assert) a stinking bait, he bears the colours and character of his local habitation, a sober dark[149] olive brown back, a dark grey side shot with purple, which turns black when the fish is dead; no red spots or very minute ones, no splashes of red or anything red about it, except one bright line along the edge of the fins. The most remarkable point about it, its enormous belly, from which it derives its name, Salvelinus ventricosus, is really no distinguishing mark at all, except of its habitat. The fact is, drawn suddenly and against its will from the depths of the lake, its air-bladder swells so enormously as to kill the fish, and give it that peculiarly inelegant appearance.

Inelegant as it looks, and disagreeable as it is to catch, it is by far the best eating of any Swedish fish, and, from its rarity, and from the difficulty of catching it, bears, when it is to be had at all, which is very seldom, by far the highest price of any fish in the market. In fact, to eat it at all in perfection, a man must go after it; it will never answer to catch it for amusement; but the men may easily be set to lay lines for it while other sports are going forward.

Four or five of these highly prized fish were hauled in one after another by Birger, who looked as proud of his exploit as if he had landed a schoolmaster.[29] When the lines had been all coiled up and deposited in the boat, Birger proposed visiting some rushes that he remembered, in a hope of meeting with wild fowl; a hope in which he was disappointed, not at all to the surprise of his brother fishermen, for the whole lake looked so black and gloomy that no duck of ordinary taste would think of pitching there; it was, however, an interesting voyage among the sad and silent intricacies of the lake; but it so happened, that in returning they took a turn short of their point and wandered into another deep and narrow inlet, very like that from which they had started, but still not the same.

So like was one spot to another that they had pulled some[150] considerable distance before the mistake was found out, and when it was, so much time had been lost that they were unwilling to pull back.

“Piú noja un miglio in dietro che dieci in avanti,” said the Captain; “let us pull on and see what luck will send us.”

Piersen, on being consulted, as best acquainted with the country, did not seem to know a great deal about it, but imagined that if once on shore he could cut into the right track; and the fishermen having taken a look at their compasses, and the sun, and the wind, what little there was of it, decided that at all events the adventure should be tried.

Hardly had this conclusion been arrived at, when the boat grounded on a bed of spongy rushes, so like that from which they had embarked, that it was with difficulty they could persuade themselves that it was not the very same—there was the same little soaking rill, the same mossy, soppy turf, and when they had gone on a little further, there was the same leaping, sparkling brooklet, bounding from rock to rock, just like that by which they had descended.

A good stiff pull it took them to reach the top, and then it was evident enough that the spot they had attained was not the same as that from which they had descended. There was no hill on the other side, properly so called, but a wide smooth plain of light sand, shelving, certainly, towards the east, but shelving so gradually, that the declivity was scarcely perceptible; it was completely overshadowed by large massive well-grown pines, not growing together closely but in patches (as is generally the case both in Norway and Sweden), so as to leave grassy glades and featherly copse-wood between the groups, but regularly and evenly, as if they had all been planted at measured distances. The branches formed a complete canopy over head, shutting out both air and sunshine, and effectually destroying everything like verdure beneath: the tall straight monotonous trunks with a purplish crimson tint on their bark, effectually walled in the view on every side, and the whole ground was carpeted with a slippery covering of dead pine-leaves.


“I hope this will not last long,” said the Captain, “the place is so dark and the air so close and stifling, that it seems like walking through turpentine vaults. However, our road lies this way, that is certain,” putting his compass on the ground so that it could traverse easily, “and at all events we must come to a water-course sooner or later.”

But they did not come to a water-course; whether there were none, the sand being sufficiently permeable to sop up the rain, or whether they were travelling on the rise between two parallel brooks, did not appear; but mile after mile was skated and slid over with considerable fatigue and exertion, and the same scene lay before them, and around them, and above them. Tall clear branchless stems, with long vistas between them opening and closing as they went on, vistas which led to nothing and terminated in nothing but the same bare, branchless, dead-looking poles. Their compasses and a slight declivity told them that they were not travelling in a circle, and their reason enlightened them as to the fact that everything except a circle must have an end; but after three hours’ very hard work and some dozen of tumbles a piece, that end seemed as far off as ever.

The only variety was a dead tree, and the only apparent difference between the living and the dead was, that in this case the straight perpendicular lines were crossed by lines as straight, which were diagonal; for the dead trees for the most part reclined against their living neighbours, very much to the detriment of the latter. As for a bird, it did not seem as if birds could live there; nor could they in the close space beneath that dark-green canopy; but every now and then there was a tantalizing whirr of wings, as a black-cock threw himself out from the topmost branches, and, far above their heads, skimmed along in that bright sunshine which could not penetrate to them. This is a favourite haunt of the black-cock, for the pine-tops and their young buds are its most welcome food, and often render its flesh absolutely uneatable from the strong turpentiny flavour they impart to it.

At last, and after they had well-nigh begun to despair, the trees began to be thinner. Here and there a patch of sky[152] relieved the monotonous black, here and there a sunbeam would struggle down; then a little grass, weak and pale, would cast a shade of sickly green over the ashy brown of the dead fir leaves, and afford a somewhat steadier footing; a patch of birch was hailed with the joy with which one meets a welcome friend; cattle paths, deceptive as they are, afforded at least a token of civilization: and now the whort and the cranberry began to show themselves, and the hospitable juniper too, the remembrancer of bright crackling fires and aromatic floors, and—

“Oh, positively we must have a halt now, for the difficulties are over,” said Birger, and, though he had plenty of tobacco in his havresac, out of sheer sentiment he stuffed his pipe with the dead strippy bark of that useful shrub, which is generally its mountain substitute.

A few minutes were sufficient for their rest; breathing the fresh air again was in itself a luxury, and treading the firm elastic turf a refreshment. As they went on, the landscape began to resume its park-like character, glades to open, trees to feather down, gentians to embroider the green with their blue flower work, and lilies of the valley to perfume the air. They were as much lost as ever, but the country looked so like the beautiful banks of the Torjedahl, that they could not but think themselves at home.

“This will do,” said Torkel, at last, who apparently had recognised some well-known landmark, “we shall soon find a night’s lodging now, and a kind welcome into the bargain.”

The track into which he had struck, did not at first appear more inviting than any of the numerous cattle-paths which they hitherto passed on their way; but Torkel followed it with a confidence which, as it turned out, was not misplaced; for it soon widened out into a broad green glade, at the further end of which stood a sœter of no mean pretensions.

The portions of cultivated and inhabited land in Norway are almost always mere strips, the immediate banks of rivers or of lakes—most of them are actually bounded by the forest; and in no case is the wild unenclosed country at any[153] great distance from them. Every farm, therefore, has, as a necessary portion of its establishment, its sœter, or mountain pasture, to which every head of cattle is driven as soon as the grass has sprung, in order to allow the meadows of the lower farms to be laid up for hay. At these it is often a very difficult thing to get a mess of milk in the summer, for almost all the cheese and butter of the kingdom is made at the sœters. They are generally abundantly stocked with dairy furniture, but, as they are abandoned in the winter, they seldom exhibit any great amount of luxury. They consist generally of rude log-huts, of sufficient solidity, no doubt, for these logs are whole trunks of pines roughly squared and laid upon one another, morticed firmly at the corners, but of very little comfort indeed, notwithstanding. They contain generally a single room, a chimneyless fire-place, and a mud floor, in most places sufficiently dirty, with a few sheds and pens surrounding the main hut.

The present sœter, however, was one of far greater pretensions, it was built of sawn timber, and boasted of an upper floor, implying, of necessity, a separation between human beings who could climb a ladder, and cows and pigs who could not. This projected some two or three feet on every side beyond the lower storey, forming at once a shade and a shelter for the cattle, according as the weather required one or the other, and, in its turn, was crowned with a low-pitched shingled roof, whose eaves had another projection of two or three feet, so that, seen end on end, it had the appearance of a gigantic mushroom standing on its stalk. The dairymen had been men of taste as well as of leisure, for the barge-boards which protected its gables were ingeniously carved and painted with texts from Scripture, and the heavy corners of the projecting upper storey terminated in pendants no less grotesque than elaborate. There was one window in each gable and two in the side, the sills of which had been planed and painted with some date, text, or motto, like the barge-boards.

Round these sœters there are generally some patches of enclosed ground where hay is made, or where the more tender of the herds or flocks are protected, but here there seemed[154] to be a complete farm; full forty acres had been redeemed from the forest, and enclosed by the peculiar fence of the country; which, except that it is straight, is in its general appearance not unlike the snake fences of America. It is formed by planting posts in the ground by pairs at small distances between pair and pair, and then heaping a quantity of loose planks and stems, and any other refuse timber which comes to hand, between them, the tops being kept firm by a ligature of birch-bark or some such material. These fences, when they begin to rot, which they do very soon, are the harbour of all sorts of small vermin, and are, in fact, the great eye-sores of Swedish scenery.

In the present instance, this was pre-eminently the case; not only the fences, but everything else, was in a terrible state of disrepair—in many places the posts were gone, in others the birch ropes had rotted through, and the miscellaneous timber which had formed the fence was lying about entwined with a spiry growth of creepers and brambles, a mass of rottenness. The house itself was in a more promising state; it was evident that it had been partially repaired and put in order, and that very recently, for many of the timbers showed by their white gashes, the recent marks of the axe, and the axe which had made them was lying across the door sill.

Torkel lifted the latch—that was easy, for there was no bolt or lock to prevent him—but the place was evidently uninhabited—he looked on Tom with a face of disappointment.

“Faith!” said he, “this is too bad. Torgenson told me that the Soberud party were to drive their cattle to the fjeld on Thursday last, and the weather has been as fine as fine can be. Well! there is no trusting people.”

“There is no trusting Torgenson’s daughter, at all events,” said Tom, “for I suspect it was from her that you had the information; Lota is much too pretty to be trusted further than you can see her; and I have no doubt she made some excuse herself for not coming last Thursday. It was natural enough too; of course she would not like to come to the sœter before young Svensen sailed.”


“The Thousand take young Svensen, and you too!” said Torkel, turning round as sharply as if Tom had bitten him in earnest, but catching a grin upon the latter’s countenance which he had not time to dismiss, looked very much as if he meditated making him pay for his ill-timed joke, when a loud, clear voice was heard in the glade below, making the leafy arches of the old forest ring with the ballad of master Olaf—

“Master Olaf rode forth ere the dawn of day,
And came where the elf folk were dancing away,
The dances so merry,
So merry in the green-wood.”

Torkel stopped to listen, and Tom laughed.

“The elf father put forth his white hand, and quoth he,
Master Olaf stand forth, dance a measure with me,
The dances so merry,
So merry in the green-wood.”

“Here they come at last,” said Tom; “pretty Lota is not half so false as you thought her, Torkel. The Haabet has sailed, I suppose,” added he, in a stage whisper. Torkel, however was much too happy to pay the smallest attention to his malicious insinuations, but took up the song for himself. Whether Lota put any particular meaning on the words of it, we will not take upon ourselves to say—

“And neither I will, and neither I may,
For to-morrow it is my own wedding-day,”

shouted he, at the full pitch of his voice, while the whole party took up the chorus—

“The dances so merry,
So merry in the green-wood.”

By this time the approaching party had emerged from the forest, and came along the glade in an irregular procession, putting one in mind of the Nemorins and Estelles of ancient pastorals, and all the more so from their picturesque costumes. The men wore certainly absurdly short round jackets, but they had rows of silver buttons on them, and brown short trousers worked with red tape, very high in the waistband,[156] to match the jacket, but coming down no further than the calf of the leg, which was ornamented with bright blue stockings, with crimson clocks.

The women had all of them red kerchiefs on their heads, the ends of which hung down their backs, and red or yellow bodices with great silver brooches on them, and blue petticoats trimmed with red or yellow. Both sexes adorn themselves with all the silver they can collect; the men’s shirt buttons are sometimes as big as a walnut, and on gala days they will wear three or four of them strung one under another.

All the party were loaded with the utensils necessary for following their occupations in the fjeld; the women were carrying the pails, while the men’s loads, which consisted of all sorts of heterogeneous articles, were topped with the great iron kettles in which they simmer their milk, after the Devonshire fashion, in order to collect the whole of the cream.

There were little carts, too, that is to say, baskets placed upon two wheels and an axle, and drawn by little cream-coloured ponies; stout, stubby little beasts, very high crested, and with black manes and tails—the former hogged, the latter peculiarly full and flowing. A Swede generally values his horse according to the quantity of hair on his tail. These were loaded—it did not take much to load them—with meal for the summer’s gröd, and strings of flad bröd, a few sheep skins, particularly dirty, though in very close proximity to the provisions,—and now and then the black kettle, which its owner was too lazy to carry. Then came the goats and sheep, and the little cows following like dogs, now and then stopping to take a bite, when the turf looked particularly sweet and tempting—little fairy cows were they, much smaller than our Alderneys, finer in the bone, and more active on their legs; they looked as if they had a cross of the deer in them. They were all of one colour—probably that of the original wild cattle—a sort of dirty cream colour, approaching to dun, and almost black on the legs and muzzle.

The party was a combined one, and was bound eventually to several other sœters besides this, but they had agreed to make their first night’s halt in Torgenson’s pasture, and beside[157] the regular herdsmen and dairymaids, as many supernumeraries as can possibly find excuse for going, accompany the first setting out of the expedition, which is always looked upon in the light of a holiday and a merry-making.

And a holiday and a merry-making it seemed to be, judging by the shouts, and screams, and laughter, and rude love-making that was going on among the gentle shepherds and shepherdesses of the north; but, for all that, there was a good deal of real work too. Sœter-life may be a life of pleasure, but it certainly is anything but a life of ease.

The Soberud division, bestial as well as human, evidently seemed to consider themselves quite at home; and the cows belonging to it, which looked as if they recognised the old localities, roamed at liberty; but the parties bound to the more distant mountains were occupied in hobbling, and tethering, and knee-haltering their respective charges, mindful of their morrow’s march and of the difficulty of collecting cattle and even sheep, which, except that they keep together, are just as bad, from among the intricacies of a strange forest. Some were forming temporary pounds, by effecting rude repairs in the dilapidated fences, chopping and hewing, for that purpose, great limbs of trees and trees themselves, with as little concern as, in England, men might cut thistles.

Streams of blue smoke began now to steal up through the trees, and fires began to glimmer in the evening twilight, while the girls brought in pail after pail of fresh milk, and swung their kettles, gipsy fashion, and, opening their packages, measured out, with careful and parsimonious foresight, the rye-meal that was to thicken it into gröd. Meal is precious in the mountains, though milk is not.

Whether the Haabet had sailed, or what had become of poor Svensen, did not transpire; but certain it was that the damsels from Soberud, after looking in vain for their mistress, were obliged, that evening, to act on their own discretion—and equally certain it was that the Parson, whose knife had been inconsiderately lent to Torkel on the preceding day, was obliged to eat his broiled gjep with two sticks, the knife and the fortunate individual in whose pocket it was, being, for the time, invisible.



“’Tis a homestead that scarce has an equal,
Plenteous in wood and corn-fields, with rich grassy meadow and moorland—
This won my father, long since, in wedding the farmer’s fair daughter;
Here, at length he grew old, like a summer’s eve calmly declining,
Here he spent the best years of his life, and dwelt like a king, amid plenty.
Servants he had by the score—men servants to plough with the oxen,
And maids in the house besides, and children, the joy of their mother—
Thus sowing and reaping, in comfort, from season to season, abode he,
Envied by all around—but having the good will of all men.”—
The Elk Hunters—Runeberg.

Sunrise found the whole bivouac in a stir; the habits of the Norwegian are always early—at least in the summer time—and many of the parties had to travel to the yet distant sœters and wilder uplands: cows are not very fast travellers, and the load which a dairyman carries on his back when he is bound to those fjelds, which are inaccessible to carts, is by no means a light one: ponies sometimes carry the heavier loads, but this is not often, as they are useless in the fjeld life, and in the summer are generally wanted for posting, as well as for agricultural purposes; the loads are generally carried by the men—sometimes by the women even,—and the milk-kettle which crowns the pack is alone a weight which few would like to carry far, even on level ground.

The white smoke was already curling about the trees in long thin columns, and the girls were already bringing in their pails of new milk, a very fair proportion of which would be consumed with the morning’s gröd, which was already bubbling in the kettles.

Gröd, in high life, means all sorts of eatables that are semi-liquid; but in the fjeld it is invariably made thus: the[159] water is heated in the great milk-kettle to a galloping boil, and its temperature is raised to a still higher point by the addition of salt; meal, generally rye-meal, is then thinly sprinkled into it, the great art being to separate the particles, so as to prevent them from forming lumps. As soon as the contents of the kettle are thick enough for the bubbles to make little pops, the gröd is taken off the fire and served up with milk. When that milk is fresh, no one need desire a better breakfast; but when, as is generally the case, they mix it with milk that has been purposely kept till it is curdled over with incipient corruption, in which state they prefer it, it is as disgusting a mess as ever attained the dignity of a popular dish.

In the present instance they were obliged to put up with fresh milk, no other being procurable; and the fishermen, having grilled the remains of their gjep (an especial delicacy), and added to it some of the contents of their havresacs, sent a deputation, headed by Birger, to invite Miss Lota and her hand-maidens to partake of their breakfast. This was a proceeding which Torkel regarded with very questionable pleasure. He was flattered, no doubt, at the attentions paid to his lady-love by the fishermen, who could not speak Norske; but, at the same time, was rather jealous of those of Birger, who could.

Lota, however, was in no way disconcerted; she came smiling and blushing, indeed, but without any sort of affectation or bashfulness, and listened graciously, and without laughing, to the blundering compliments paid her by the Englishmen; and without any great amount of coquetry, considering the rarity of guardsmen in the Tellemark, to the tender elegance of the Swede. Torkel had very good reason to be proud of her, and none at all to be jealous, particularly as the knapsacks were already packed up for the march.

The fishermen were in no particular hurry: the track to Soberud was perfectly known; even if the droves of cows and the flocks of sheep that had come up it the day before had not already marked it very sufficiently. The way was not long either, for it was but a day’s journey to the herds; the breaking up of the bivouac was very picturesque; Lota[160] was very pretty, and Birger found her very entertaining. It is no wonder that they lingered.

However, the shadows of the trees began to shorten. Party after party came up with their merry “farvels;” the songs and the laughter, and the tinkling of the bells, sounded fainter and fainter from under the arches of the forest; and, last of all, the fishermen, reluctantly shouldering their knapsacks, took their journey down the glade; with the exception of Torkel, who, having something to adjust about his straps, was not exactly ready, and in fact was not seen for a couple of hours afterwards. He did not join them, indeed, till the party had made their first halt near the banks of a mountain lake.

The halt was called somewhat sooner than usual, for the Captain, who, with his gun in his hand and old Grog at his heels, was a little in advance, and had first caught sight of the lake, had caught sight also of an object floating quietly along in the middle of it, which his practised eye at once assured him was that very rare and beautiful bird, the northern diver.

He threw himself flat on the ground, an action in which he was implicitly imitated by the rest of the party, who, though they had not seen the bird, were quite aware that there was some good reason for the caution.

In truth, there are few birds more difficult to kill than the northern diver; to the greatest watchfulness he unites the most wonderful quickness of eye and motion, and, large as he is, he is fully able to duck the flash, as it is called,—that is to say, to dive between the time of seeing the flash and feeling the shot.

They retired a hundred yards or so and smoked the pipe of council, thus giving Torkel the opportunity of coming up with them.

Torkel was well acquainted with the ground, as was natural, not only because the lake was celebrated for ducks and the country round it for tjäder, but also because it happened to lie on the mountain track between his own home and Torgenson’s farm, a road which business (he did not state of what nature) required him to travel very often.


His plan was founded on a well-known characteristic in the nature of diving birds: during their dive they cannot breathe, and therefore on rising to the surface for a moment or so, they cannot make any immediate effort either to dive or to fly. He proposed, therefore, that the Captain should conceal himself among the understuff, and that the rest, taking different positions about the lake, which was not large, should break twigs and slightly alarm the bird, who would naturally edge away toward the point occupied by the Captain, and the object being a valuable prize, an hour or so was not grudged, as there was plenty of time to spare. The party having first reconnoitred their ground, marked the position to be occupied by the Captain on the lee side of the lake, and ascertained that the bird was still resting on the water, separated, taking a wide circuit, lest they should alarm it prematurely.

The Captain, with his gun ready cocked, lay at full length on the top of a little ledge of rock about six feet high, which sloped away from the water, forming a sort of miniature cliff. It afforded very little cover apparently—there was nothing between it and the water but a light fringe of cranberry bushes—but the cover was perfect to a man in a recumbent position, and the Captain being dressed entirely, cap and all, in Lowland plaid, the most invisible colour in the world, looked, even if he had been seen, like a piece of the rock on which he lay. This place had been selected with forethought, for the bird is wonderfully suspicious, and will not approach any strong cover at all.

For half an hour after the Captain had wormed himself to the edge of the rock, the bird lay as still as if it had been asleep, which it certainly was not; at the end of that time there was a quick turn of its neck, and its eye was evidently glancing round the margin, but the body remained as quiet and motionless as before; there was not a ripple on the water, and it was only by observing the diminishing distance between it and a lily leaf that happened to be lying on the surface, that even the practised eye of the Captain could tell that it was in motion, and was nearing him imperceptibly. There had been no sound, nor had the bird caught sight of[162] anything; but the Parson had come between it and the wind, and the light air, that was not sufficient even to move the surface, had carried down the scent.

The Parson had caught sight of the lily, as well as the Captain, and, seeing the bird in motion, had halted, leaving it to the scent alone to effect his purpose. But in a few minutes it was evident that the bird had become stationary, having either drifted out of the stream of scent, or, possibly, having imagined that it was now far enough from the suspected shore.

A slight snapping of dry wood just broke the stillness; again that sharp, anxious glance, and the imperceptible motion, was renewed; another and another snap, and now the water seemed to rise against the bird’s breast, and a slight wake to be left behind him,—but it was still that same gliding motion, as if it were slipping through the water: at last, when the distance was sufficiently great to secure against flying, a cap was raised, and responded to by two or three hats at different places; the bird had disappeared, while the calm, quiet water showed no trace of anything having broken its surface. Half-a-dozen pair of eyes were anxiously on the look-out, and long and long was it before the smallest sign rewarded their vigilance. At last, and many hundred yards from the point at which they had lost sight of it, a black spot was seen floating on the water, as quietly and unconcernedly as if it had never been disturbed. It was, however, a good way to the right of the line in which they were endeavouring to drive it; the hats had disappeared, and for ten minutes the lake was as quiet as if the eye of man had never rested upon it. Then came again the glance, the move, the dive,—then an anxious moment of watchfulness,—then a white puff of smoke and a stream of hopping shot playing ducks and drakes across the water,—then the sharp, ringing report, caught up and repeated by echo after echo,—and there lay the bird, faintly stirring the surface, in the last struggles of death,—and there was gallant old Grog, plunging into the lake, and making the water foam before him in his eagerness. Four or five ducks, which had hitherto been basking unseen among the stones, sprang into air; and a flight of teal[163] appeared suddenly whistling over the water, and, turning closely and together as they came unawares within a dozen yards of the Parson, received his right and left shots among them, and, with the loss of three or four of their company, scattered hither and thither among the trees.

“Hurrah, Grog!—bring him along, boy! bring him along!” shouted the Captain; and on every side, instead of the quiet, gliding, creeping figures, just peering about the understuff, were seen forms bounding and tearing through the cover.

The prize was one which the Captain, a taxidermist and a veteran collector, had long desired to possess, and great was the care with which it was secured on the top of Jacob’s knapsack; it being entrusted to him, as the most phlegmatic of the party and the least likely to be led away by any excitement of sport,—for at last they had arrived into something like shooting country: the character of the ground was more open and free from timber than anything they had seen, and the understuff of whort and cranberry was proportionally thicker and more luxuriant; it was ground which a dog could quarter without any very great amount of difficulty, particularly as it was absolutely free from brambles, and that furze was unknown in those latitudes anywhere outside of a greenhouse.

It was more for the amusement of the thing, and for the sake of ascertaining the resources of the country, that the party extended themselves into a line and beat their way onwards, for it was too early in the year for shooting anything but wild ducks. Game laws in Norway exist, certainly, but are utterly disregarded; still the broods of grouse were, as yet, too young to take care of themselves, and it would have been sheer murdering the innocents to injure the grey hens, which, into the bargain, are at this time not fit for eating. This proceeding seemed very absurd to Torkel and to Tom, for a Norwegian has no idea of preserving the game—in reality, he can eat and relish much that most civilized people cannot; but, besides that, he is a selfish animal, and the poor lean bird that he secures for himself in spring, is better than the fine, fat, plump, autumnal one that he has left for his neighbour.


Hen after hen got up and tumbled away before the dogs, who were too well broke to disturb her, had they even been deceived by her antics, but no shot was fired to convert her pretence into reality. Now and then, it must be confessed, when an old, selfish, solitary cock, as black as a hat, and as glossy as a whole morning’s dressing could make him, whirred off as if he cared for no one but himself and had not a wife or family in the world, he paid the penalty of his selfishness, and fell fluttering on the cranberries—deservedly, perhaps; at all events, he left no one behind him to lament his fate, for the black-cock is a roving bird, and never pairs: but no exclamations of Torkel’s could induce the English sportsmen to sever the loves of the smaller description of grouse, and Birger, though a Swede—for very shame—was obliged to imitate their forbearance. But, every now and then, a blue Alpine hare was knocked over without mercy; once an unlucky badger came to an untimely end, and, upon the whole, the bags were getting quite as heavy as the men approved of, when a light, graceful, elegant roe, for once in its life was caught napping, though there had been noise enough, not only from shots, but from talking also, along the whole line, to have awakened a far less watchful animal. It sprang from a thicker piece of covering than common, which probably had been the means of deluding it into staying, in the false hope that it could possibly escape the keen scent of old Grog, whose flourishing tail said as plainly as tail could speak (and dogs’ tails are very eloquent), “look out, boys; I have got something here for you, this time, that is worth having.”

Jacob was pretty well strung with hares, and remonstrated against the additional load, which was finally slung around Torkel’s body like a shoulder-belt, and he was dismissed at once with directions to follow the path to Soberud, a place where he was well known, and to prepare, as well as he could, for the reception of the party, and their provisioning.

Torkel undertook the mission readily enough, and went off gaily under a load of game that would have been quite enough for a pony, casting back a knowing look to Tom,[165] who seemed perfectly to understand him, implying that he had some project in his head by which he intended to astonish the strangers.

The day wore on in this pleasant exercise—perhaps the halt for Middagsmad might have been a long one, and the pipe after luxurious; in fact, there is not so luxurious a couch in this sublunary world as a heap of heather, and no sensation so luxuriously happy as that of basking, half-tired, in the warm, pleasant sunshine, after a well-spent morning of honest exercise, with our gun beside us, and our dogs half sleeping, like ourselves, around us; but the sun was not a very great way from the horizon when the party gained the first view of the village which was to be their resting-place for the night.

The fjeld was not high, for it had been sloping away gradually to the eastward ever since they left the high mountains which surround the Lake of the Woods, but, as it almost always does, it terminated abruptly in a sort of cliff, portions of which were precipitous, and the rest extremely steep. The path which Torkel had taken, following the course of a largish brook, had found an easy access to the valley, practicable even for the carts of the country; but at the point at which they had struck the valley, there was nothing for it but a stiff scramble down the face of the hill, a proceeding which their loads rendered anything but pleasant and easy. It was a beautiful scene that lay before them, and perfectly different from anything they had seen before, though they had been passing through scenery of wood and lake ever since they left the Torjedahl.

In the present instance the broad, still lake, broad as it was, filled up but half the amphitheatre of the wooded mountains. There was an ample margin of cultivated land round it, fields rich with the promise of autumn, and green quiet meadows; here and there a wooded spur shot out from the frame of highlands, forming sometimes a cape or promontory in the water, while, in return, narrow secluded valleys would wind back into the recesses of the mountains, each with its own little brook and its own secluded pastures. Besides the village, there were several detached[166] farmsteadings and scattered cottages, all looking trim and tidy and well to do in the world, and through the middle of them ran a well-kept but very winding road, with a broad margin of turf on each side. The fences might have been a dissight a little nearer, for they were the post and slab fence so common in the north, but, at the distance, they looked like park paling; and the swing poles for opening the gates across the road, formed a picturesque feature in the landscape.

Close by the lake-side was the church, a grey and weather-stained building, which looked like one solid mass of timber, supporting on its steeply-pitched and shingled roof, three round towers of different heights, each surmounted with its cross. Dominating over the whole sat a huge golden cock, which, newly gilded, glowed in the light of the setting sun as if it were a supplementary sun itself. The houses of the village were a good deal scattered, but, with the exception of the Præstgaard, or parsonage, did not hold out any very magnificent hopes of accommodation for the night.

This, however, was of little importance to men whose last night’s abode had been the shelter of the thickest tree; and they proceeded, with very contented minds, to descend the steep hill-side, in order to reach the path they ought to have taken, which they now discovered, far below them, winding along the edge of the cultivated ground.

“And now,” said the Captain, as they reached it and rallied their forces, which had been a good deal scattered during the sharp descent, “where to bestow ourselves for the night? I should like to sleep in a bed, if it were only for the novelty of the thing; and here, in good time, comes Torkel, who looks as if he had made himself pretty well at home already.”

Torkel, considerably smartened up—however he had contrived it—and sporting a clean white shirt-front, like a pouter pigeon, with his silver shirt buttons newly polished, came up the church path in close conversation with a respectable, fatherly, well-to-do-in-the-world sort of farmer, or huusbonde as he was called, in whom, as he introduced him by the name of Torgensen, the fishermen recognized the[167] father of the pretty hostess of the sœter. Not one word of English could the good-man speak, though he looked as like an honest rough-handed English farmer as one man could look to another; but he wrung their hands, as if, like Holger, he meant to test their manhood by their powers of endurance, and smiled, and looked pleasant, which Torkel interpreted to mean that he heartily desired to see the whole party under his hospitable roof that night, and would be right glad to make them all drunk in honour of his roof-tree. And poor Torkel looked so excessively happy, that it was easy to see that, in spite of the Haabet and her skipper, he had not only sped in his wooing at the sœter, but had contrived to ingratiate himself with the elders of the household.

A grand place was that homestead, which, hidden by a projecting point, and occupying a secluded valley of its own, had hitherto escaped their observation,—a good, snug, wealthy farm it really was, even as compared to others in the country; but in Norway, so much cover is always wanted; and building—at least timber building—is so cheap, that moderate-sized farm-houses, with their appurtenances, are little villages; and the house itself looks always larger than it is, as an habitation, because the whole upper storey, frequently called the rigging loft, is invariably used as a store-room for their provisions, and hides, and wool, and flax, and apples, and sometimes corn, in the winter, and not unfrequently as a ball-room, when they have eaten out sufficient space in it.

The house, like all the rest, a wooden building with a planked roof and gabled ends, was unusually painted. Torgensen, in his youth, had himself commanded the Haabet, and had traded in her for provisions and corn along the coast of Scånia, and from it had imported Scånian fashions. Instead of the deep, dull red, which harmonizes so well with the tints of the country, he had painted his house in figures, blue, and yellow, and white, and black, which had a singular, but, upon the whole, a not unpleasant effect. Texts of Scripture in rough black letter, and dates, and monograms of himself, and wife, and children, were written under every window and every gable; and the barge-boards and ridge[168] timber-ends, were carved as elaborately and grotesquely as those of the church.

There was but little delicacy in accepting Torgensen’s hospitality; his house was large enough for a barrack, and its doors were as wide open as those of an inn. A large room, that could not exactly be called kitchen, hall, workshop, or dining-room, but served equally for any one of these offices (and occasionally for a ball-room also, when the store-room was too full to be used in that capacity), was open to all comers; half-a-dozen boards, as thick almost as baulks of timber, and placed upon trestles that might have supported the house, formed the principal table; two great chairs, like thrones, elaborately carved, and looking as if they required a steam-engine to move them, stood on a sort of dais;—these are not uncommon pieces of furniture in old houses; they are called grandfather and grandmother chairs, and are the seats of honour, though very seldom occupied at all, unless the master and mistress of the house are old enough to have lost their active habits. The more ordinary seats were substantial benches, with or without backs, and three-legged stools. Here and there was a great chest, a sort of expense magazine for stowing away the wool, and the flax, and the skins, which were in process of being converted into linen, wadmaal, or shoes, by the farm servants. Over these a series of shelves, like an ancient buffet, containing pewter drinking-vessels, large brass embossed plates with the bunch of grapes from the promised land or the expulsion of Adam and Eve glittering upon them in all the brightness of constant polish. Over these, again, were slung a row of copper cauldrons and pots; and on the opposite side a chest of drawers, carved and painted with grotesque figures, was ornamented with heaps of blue and white dishes, and pewter dinner-plates, and rows of brass candlesticks.

All this was beautifully clean and tidy, for the Norse men and women keep all their cleanliness for their ships and houses, and waste none of it on their persons.

A strong aromatic smell pervaded the whole room, from the fresh sprigs of fir and juniper with which it was strewn every morning, as old English halls were with rushes; it[169] might indeed have well passed muster for an English hall in the olden times, but for the absence of the great gaping fire-place with its cozy chimney-corner and fire-side benches; the place of all this was ill supplied by the pride of Torgensen’s heart, which he pointed out before they had been in the room for five minutes, and called his “pot-kakoluvne”—a great pyramidal heap of glazed tiles, portraying Scripture subjects in Dutch costumes, and doing duty as a stove. This being an importation from foreign parts was of course of additional value; its pyramidal shape indicated Denmark as the country of its manufacture, for in Sweden the corresponding piece of furniture is cubical; and both are great improvements on the cast-iron stoves of Norway, which get nearly red hot, dry and parch the skin, crack the furniture, and fill the rooms with a description of gas, which, whatever it may do to a native, ensures to the stranger a perpetual headache.

It is rare to find in Norway a farm, and consequently an establishment of the size of Torgensen’s, though in Sweden it is common enough. The Odal law, which enforces equal division of property among the children, prevents any accumulation of territorial property, and will ultimately reduce Norway to a population of agricultural peasants with a commercial aristocracy. The homesteads of the old Norwegian nobility are deserted and decaying, like their families, but Torgensen had been educated as a merchant and shipowner, as elder sons frequently are, and having been fortunate in his speculations, had been able to buy out his brothers, and to keep up unimpaired the old hospitalities of his father’s mansion; and thus fourteen or sixteen farm-servants, and as many girls, with, it must be confessed, an indefinite number of children that had found themselves by chance in the establishment without any fathers at all, sat daily round that mass of timber which was called the meal-board (mad borden), and supped their daily gröd and drank their daily brandy.

Although the head of so great an establishment, Frue[30][170] Kerstin—as Madame Torgensen was usually called, though in truth she had no great right to the title—did not consider herself exempt from household duties; in fact she was but the principal housekeeper of the establishment, and wore a bunch of keys big enough for an ordinary jail as a badge of this distinction. It was not a very easy matter to catch her unprepared, for frugality was by no means the order of the house; but this day was really an exception to the general rule, and she saw with some dismay the party which her husband was bringing home with him. Lota was at the sœter, and with her were most of the young girls and, of course, their admirers. There had been hay-making at the Præstgaard during the past week, and, it being Saturday night, two-thirds of the remainder were dancing and drinking there, and thus the party at the homestead being a small one, the supper was none of the best. Good humour and real welcome, however, supplied all deficiencies, which after all, were more in Frue Kerstin’s imagination than in reality. The evening passed off admirably in songs and conversation; Torkel was an evident favourite,—and indeed his manly character, his ready stories and songs, his fine voice and constant and cheerful good humour well entitled him to the distinction, to say nothing of a broad strath in the higher Tellemark, and a lake, and a stream, and a saw-mill, and a “hammer” as it was called, that is to say, a smelting furnace for iron, to which, being the only son, he was undoubted heir, a qualification which prudent parents are not apt to overlook; but he had evidently risen in their esteem from the fact of his having brought such popular characters as English gentlemen to the homestead, and from the consideration with which those gentlemen treated him.

Torgensen might have been better pleased had more[171] justice been done to his brandy, which was real Cognac and admirable, and might have been a little scandalized at the admixture of water, but his broad, jolly face never lost that glow of good humour which made his guests feel they were doing him a pleasure by drinking his brandy and eating his good cheer. A lively conversation was kept up through Birger and Torkel till late at night, and when the fishermen, having duly thanked their hostess, after the customs of the country, retired to rest in the great square boxes of fragrant poplar leaves, they sank into such a mass of eider down, that told well for the ci-devant attractions of the Lady Christina.



“Mighty stands the cross of God,
Smiling homeward to the soul.”

One reason why the fishermen were so anxious to reach Soberud was, that the next day was Sunday, and they wanted a day of rest, and a church to go to; and that was not to be met with, on the Torjedahl, nearer than Christiansand itself. Hitherto their church had been a remarkably tall fir-tree, which had, somehow or other, been overlooked by the wood-cutters, and stood some little way within the forest. It had been chosen on account of its fancied resemblance to a church spire, as it towered above the rest of the foliage; and the lower branches having been cut away, and the space round its trunk enclosed and decorated with green boughs—as all Swedish churches used to be decorated on high days before a royal ordinance was passed which forbade it,—and the ground strewed with fresh juniper and marsh-marigolds—as church floors are to this day,—it did make a very fair forest church for fine weather; and as all the party could sing, more or less, the service was performed a good deal more ecclesiastically than it is in some of our English cathedrals.

Norway is not in communion with England; indeed, strictly speaking, neither Norway nor Denmark are churches at all,—they are merely establishments. Sweden may, by some stretch of imagination and a little implicit faith in its history, be considered a church, and is so considered by the Bishop of London, who has authorised the Bishop of Gothenborg to confirm for him. But though neither the Englishmen, nor even the Swedes, considered themselves at liberty[173] to communicate in the church of Soberud, there was no reason whatever against their joining in either the ottesång or the aftensång (morning or evening service), or even against their being present at the högmässe, or communion itself. The men, who had no very accurate ideas of theology, had joined in the English service very readily, and, indeed, had taken a good deal of pains in decorating the forest church, for both Tom and Torkel could read English as well as they could speak it; and Jacob pretended to do so. They were, however, all of them, extremely pleased at having the opportunity of going to a consecrated church.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable features of the country is the respect and reverence which all classes pay to their churches, combined with the very little effect which religion has on their conduct. Norwegians will face all sorts of weather, in order to be present at the högmässe of Sunday. Large sums of money—that is to say, large in comparison with the wealth of the parishes—are spent upon their churches, which are always in perfect repair, and always most carefully swept, and trimmed with rushes or green sprigs. A man would lose his character at once, and would be shunned by his acquaintance as a hopeless reprobate, if he neglected confirmation, or the Lord’s supper. Nothing, indeed, is more common than to see, as an advertisement—“Wanted, a confirmed cook or housemaid;” which advertisement in no ways relates to the capacities of the servant, but simply to her age, it being taken for granted that a person of a certain age must have been confirmed. Indeed, the legislature interferes with this: few offices can be held by unconfirmed people, or by those who are not communicants; and the legislature is only the interpreter of public opinion. No man is at present molested for any religious opinions he may please to hold; he simply loses his civil rights by seceding from the national religion. In fact, Norway is the most complete illustration of the establishment principle which exists in the world.

At the same time, education, as it is popularly called—that is to say, secular instruction—is almost universal. No one ever meets with a Norwegian unable to read and write.[174] It may fairly be said that there is no country in the world in which the standard of popular education is so high, and the standard of popular morality so low,—where the respect for religion is so very great, and the ignorance of religion so very profound,—as it is in Norway. Sweden may be second in this paradox, but Norway is by far the first.

It is not difficult to account for both these phenomena. Few countries suffered more extensive church spoliation in the good old Reformation times than Norway and Sweden; and when, after that convulsion, men began to gather up the fragments, they had to choose between an ill-paid clergy whose social position would be inferior to that of almost all their parishioners, and a sufficiently paid clergy with enormous and unmanageable parishes. They chose the latter, perhaps wisely, as more likely to preserve the character and influence of the church till better times should come. They, therefore, grouped the parishes into districts, few of which were under ten or twelve miles long, and wide in proportion, some very much larger, and one more than a hundred miles in length. These districts are a collected group of parishes, whose churches are still kept up under the name of Annexkyrker, and service is occasionally performed in them, as a sort of protest of their right.

Over these districts they placed rectors (Pfarrherrer), whose revenue, though not what we should call large in our country, is, nevertheless, greater than that of most of their parishioners; they gave them good parsonage houses (præstgaards), and, in almost every case, provided a dowager house and farm for their widows. And, while they rendered their position an object of competition, they provided that it should be adequately filled, by establishing the most searching examinations and the most careful provisions. The consequence of this is, that the Norwegian clergy are almost invariably very superior people, and, in a country where the election is absolutely free, they are very generally chosen members of the Storthing; while, in Sweden, they form an integral estate of the realm, and possess their own independent house of parliament.

In a country where there is so much ceremonial, so much[175] that speaks to the understanding of the uneducated by speaking to their eye, it is impossible but that the externals of religion should be respected—the position of its ministers being such as is calculated to add to that respect, and not, as is too frequently the case in Roman Catholic countries, such as to diminish from it.

But, from the enormous size of the parishes, the externals are all that can possibly come to the majority of the people. The Scandinavian Church, learned as its individual ministers may be, is not the teacher of the people, nor can it be—no man can teach over fifty miles of country. Education, on the other hand, there is plenty of, such as it is; for, not only do the frost-bound winters give plenty of opportunity, but the Church is the establishment, and the laws of the land are such as to make reading and writing necessary to all. At the same time, this education is absolutely secular, it has nothing to do with the doctrines of religion, and, consequently, nothing with the morals of the people, except to increase their power of doing anything. Knowledge with them, as with all others, is power: but, disjoined from religion, this is generally the power of doing wrong. Whether this be, or be not, a correct solution of the paradox, at all events, the fact remains, and it has never been accounted for: Norway is pre-eminent in the education of its people, and is also pre-eminent in the statistics of crime.

But this is not the external view of the case: the mere visitor in Norway would speak of the very religious habits of the people. They certainly are a people of religious habits, and will continue to be so as long as the externals of religion are preserved with a magnificence and ceremonial sufficient to keep up their reverence. But they are, merely, a people of religious habits—they are not a people of religious feelings. The marriage between faith and works with them has been “dissolved by Act of Parliament, and neither their faith nor their works are the better for it.”

Nothing of this, however, was visible on that Sunday morning, as the Parson, when the hospitable and substantial breakfast of the farm-house had at last come to an end, walked quietly and musingly along the broad natural terrace[176] which led to the church, and commanded a beautiful view over the wide valley and its quiet lake.

The church was a good-sized building, with nave, and aisles, and transepts, and chancel. It was handsome and striking, but very quaint and singular; every part of it was of wood—not planks, but great solid beams of absolute timber; centuries had passed over them, and there was no perceptible decay,—they were merely weather-stained, and harmonised in their colouring; and the whole edifice looked as if the day of judgment would find it as firm and as eternal as the Church it was built to represent. The whole was a confused collection of acute gables and high-pointed roofs, covered with diamond-shaped pine shingles. The windows were small, square-headed, and few in number, barely enough, indeed, to give light to the interior, and in no way contributing to the architectural beauty of the church. No Norwegian ever breathes more fresh air than he can help, or thinks of opening his church windows; it is not very often that he opens even the windows of his house.[31]

The sharp roofs, which are almost universal in the Norwegian churches, though extremely ornamental, especially where, as in the present case, they are shingled, are erected not for ornament but for use. It is absolutely necessary, in a land where snow falls so abundantly, to have such a slope that will not permit it to lodge in any quantities in a building which is not inhabited and constantly cleared. Were the roof no steeper than those of most of our English churches, the weight of lodged snow would soon become sufficient to bear down any strength of timbers they could put into it.

Although there was but little of ornament about the windows and doors—those more ordinary objects of ecclesiastical decoration—this evidently did not arise from want of respect or care for their church; for every gable—and there were thirty or forty of them, great and small—was decorated with elaborately-carved barge-boards, the ridge timber of every one of them projected three or four feet beyond the face of the building, and terminated in the head of some nondescript[177] animal, particularly ugly, but still the record and evidence of infinite pains and labour. The chancel, the nave, and the belfry, constituted three separate pyramids, rising one above the other, consisting of from three to five stages each, and terminating in round towers, roofed with short shingled spires, like so many extinguishers. Each of these carried its huge cross, for neither Norwegian nor Swede is afraid of that holy emblem; and high on the top of all was the typical cock—and if it did not warn all sinners to repent, it certainly was not for want of being seen, for its size was colossal, and in its new gilding it glittered in the air for miles on every side. At the entrance of the churchyard, on the side facing the lake, was a lych-gate, also of solid timber, with a roof broad enough to shelter a whole funeral. The gate itself, which, when shut, formed a stile, was shod with iron spikes, to prevent the pigs from burrowing under. By the side of it was that satire upon Norway, the evidence of Karl Johann’s fruitless attempts to stem the tide of national habits—the stocks—of course unemployed—at least, so far as their legal purpose went;—they formed, however, a very comfortable seat, upon which Birger was balancing himself backwards and forwards, and trying to cross one foot over the other. The other fishermen, as decent as they could make themselves up for Sunday—which was rather dingy, after all, compared with the bright colours of the peasants’ dresses—lounged about, watching the assembling congregation.

It wanted some time to service, but there were scattered here and there about the churchyard several parties, who had already been for some time on the ground. Sunday as it was, they had brought with them their garden tools, and their waterpots, and their baskets of plants, or papers of seeds, and had tucked up their smart embroidered petticoats, or turned back their shirt-sleeves, according to their sex, and were busily employed about the graves.

These were not oblong mounds of turf, like the graves in our English churchyards, but raised borders with iron edging, and were, for the most part, pictures of neat and tidy gardening; wild flowers very often were all that grew there, little blue gentianellas, or lilies of the valley, such as[178] might be met with anywhere in the open fjeld; more often than all, that innocent little white trailer, the anthemis cotula, which they call Balder’s eyebrow, and to which they attach a peculiar sanctity; but, even if they were wild, they always bore the traces of care and cultivation. Now and then a rose would be woven into the semblance of a cradle, or an edging of convolvolus major, twining round its supports, would form a pyramid or a canopy, with its fragile blue flowers already fading, though so early in the day, perhaps an apt type of those who lay below them.

In no place does the Norwegian appear to so great advantage as when busied about the graves of his family; these are cared for by all who cherish the memory of the dead, as their occupants would be were they still on earth. Appointments are often made among distant members of a family, and little parties are arranged to meet at the grave of a common relative; the first object of all these is invariably to trim its flowers. These are not sad or solemn meetings; they are rather joyful reunions, much as if the families were visiting the house of their relation, instead of his grave. They are not even dressed in mourning, for their meetings are continued long after the time of mourning is passed: it is a sort of sober festivity. Much of the good that exists in the Norwegian character—their family affection, their patriotism, their attachment to their native country throughout all their wanderings,—may be traced to their graves.

Suddenly, the bells struck up, and every man removed his hat, bowing to the church as if returning its salutation. Other people, besides the funeral parties, now began to collect from different quarters; here and there a stray cariole rattled up to the churchyard gate, and an old grandmother or two was brought along in one of the queer-looking little carts of the country; but the people of Norway are anything but vehicular in their habits; indeed, except the main roads—and these are very few indeed—the country is in no ways calculated for wheeled carriages.

Boats were a much more fashionable mode of progression; several of these were already seen approaching from different[179] quarters of the lake, pulled by two or four oars, and containing a cargo of many-coloured petticoats, which looked, in the distance, like bunches of variegated tulips. Every Norwegian, man or woman, learns to row almost as soon as he learns to walk, and every Norwegian knows something of the principles of boat-building; and very elegant little craft, of the whale-boat build, they frequently turn out.

“Hallo!” said Birger; “we are in luck. I knew it was Communion Sunday, but we are to have a lot of christenings besides. Look at the little white bundles in their chrism-cloths, and the elegant white satin bows. I do believe they would none of them consider their children baptized without those white bows.”

“Have you Christening Sundays, then?” said the Parson.

“Not always: in many places the clergy set their faces against them. But the Norwegian is a gregarious animal: he dearly loves a set feast, and hospitably considers the more the merrier. In these country-places you will often find not only Communion Sundays, but Christening Sundays, and Wedding Sundays, and—”

“And funeral Sundays?” suggested the Captain.

“And funeral Sundays—you need not laugh, I mean what I say; in the winter we have a little frost here, hot as it is now,—and frost, compared to which your English frost is but a summer’s day. They cannot very well bury their dead in the winter, so they very frequently freeze them, and keep them till the frost breaks up. Whenever that happens it is of course necessary to bury immediately all that have died since the beginning of the winter, and thus—though I suspect you asked that question in pure joke—it really does happen, that besides gregarious communions, christenings, and weddings, they have gregarious funerals also.”

The bells now began to “ring in,” and that portion of the congregation who were not related to any of the little white bundles in satin bows, or were not destined to be godfathers or godmothers to them, came stumbling into the church, and arranging themselves as best they could on the benches.

To those coming in from the blaze of day outside, the interior appeared perfectly dark, so that the people were[180] actually feeling for their places. The little square windows looked like dots of light against the black walls, but as the eye accustomed itself to the darkness, the scene came out by degrees: the tracery of the chancel screen—the great crucifix seen over it—the altar beyond, heavy with carving and gilding—the font just within the screen—the pulpit just without it—then the congregation themselves became visible—the men on one side of the nave, the women on the other. It was high mass; for though the Scandinavian Church be reformed, she still retains the ancient expressions.

The short hymn which begins the service had closed, and the priest in his wide-sleeved surplice—mäss skjorta—was standing by the altar, while the Candidatus marshalled in the porch a little procession of the christening parties. When all was ready they entered the church, the congregation singing, as they advanced towards the chancel, one of the numerous hymns from the Bede Psalmer—to which little book, unpretending as it is, the people owe nearly all the very small acquaintance with the doctrines of their Church, which they possess.

In our service we recognise but two parties, the priest and the people—the English choir being, theoretically, at all events, merely the leaders of the people’s responses; whereas, in Scandinavia there are three distinct divisions of the service—the prayers of the priest, the responses of the choir, and the hymns of the people; which last are collected and arranged for seasons and occasions, in their Bede Psalmer, a book which, as they all sing more or less, most of them have at their fingers’ ends.

While this was proceeding, the Candidatus threw open the richly-carved doors of the chancel screen and admitted the christening party into the choir, arranging them round the font which stood at its entrance. The whole service was very like our own, except that, after the exhortation, the priest proclaimed his own commission to baptize, in the words of the three last verses in St. Matthew’s gospel, before reading the gospel from St. Mark which is used in the English Church; and afterwards announced the value of the Sacrament itself in the words of St. John—(chap. 3. v. 5, 6).[181] Before the act of baptism, the priest laid his hand on the head of each child, severally, and blessed it; then, after sprinkling it three several times as he pronounced the name of each of the three Persons in the Trinity, he stepped forward to the doors of the choir, and presented the new Christian to the congregation, saying, “In the name of the Holy Trinity, this child is now, through holy baptism, received as a member of the Christian Church, and hath right given him to all the privileges joined therewith: God give His grace, that he, all the days of his life, may fulfil this his baptismal covenant.”

After a general thanksgiving for the new birth of the children, and a general exhortation to the sponsors on the subject of their duties, the congregation struck up another hymn from the Bede Psalmer, while the children were carried round the altar, which does not stand, as in our churches, close to the well, but has a passage left behind it, possibly for this purpose, the sponsors depositing on it their offerings as they passed.

In the meanwhile the priest, kneeling on the altar steps, was invested by the Candidatus and Kyrke Sånger (precentor) with the mässe hacke, a crimson velvet chasuble, embroidered in front with a gold glory surrounding the Holy Name, and behind with a gold floriated cross. He remained kneeling, while the Candidatus, paper in hand, went down the nave, noting those who intended to present themselves at the communion, in order to be certain that none should partake of it who had not previously given their names to the priest for approbation, and attended the early service of confession—called communions-skrift. This was not so very difficult to do, though none of the congregation had left the church; for each intended communicant wore something black or grey about him, in memory of the Lord’s death. When this survey had been completed, the priest rose, and facing the people, intoned the general thanksgiving, and then turning again to the altar, made his confession alone, in the name of his flock, the congregation itself being silent, though the choir, at the occasional pauses, chanted the Kyrie Eleeson. He then placed on the altar the “Oblaten Schalten,” or wafer basket, the silver flagon, and lastly the chalice and[182] patin, which were brought to him with great ceremony, the Candidatus and Kyrke Sånger, who carried them, being attended by the whole choir.

The outer doors of the church were then shut, and the Candidatus in his black gown and cassock having taken his place on the lower step, the priest chanted the Gloria in Excelsis, the choir taking it up after the first sentence.

After the consecration, the communicants were arranged in four divisions; the married men, and the married women, the single men and the single women; these knelt in the centre, while the non-communicants stood round them chanting softly the Agnus Dei, and bowing their heads as the elements were administered to each communicant, which was done individually, as with us.

There was then a general thanksgiving and a Hallelujah by the choir; after which the priest dismissed the congregation with his benediction, making the sign of the cross towards them in the air. This form, which was universal throughout three kingdoms scarcely more than a hundred years ago, has almost entirely disappeared from the Swedish Church, disused rather than forbidden; but many of the old customs which in Sweden have become obsolete, in Norway are religiously kept up. And besides this, politics have something to do with the matter; there is always a great affectation of Danish peculiarities, such as dressing the church with green boughs on Whitsuntide, among those who are not over well affected to Sweden. These and many similar ceremonials retained in Norwegian churches are punishable by fine or deprivation; but the people will have it so, and the priests are very willing to indulge them,—members of Storthing and law-makers as many of them are.

As for theology, the people are profoundly ignorant of that, while the priests themselves, who, nine out of ten, are learned divines,—thanks to the severe examination at Christiania which generally weeds out one half of the candidates every year,—are almost always politicians enough to borrow their churchmanship from Denmark, are just as much Grundtvigites, or Mynsterites, according as their bias is high or low, as if they lived in Copenhagen itself.


After the conclusion of the service the fishermen were lounging homewards, taking their time, and enjoying the weather, and the views, and the sunshine, and the Sunday quiet, and upon the whole, though all of then ardent sportsmen, by no means sorry for a day of regular rest, when the Pfarrherr himself, accompanied by his Candidatus overtook them. The Candidatus was a long, tall youth, fresh from college, conceited and shy at the same time, who looked, as Birger afterwards observed, as if he smelt of the midnight oil; but the Pfarrherr was a gentleman-like man, with a broad, good-humoured, fresh-coloured face, looking more like an English old-fashioned squire than anything else. He had been priest of Soberud for many years, and being a regular anti-Swede, was very popular. He had represented the district in several Storthings, and was likely to do so in many more, though he did belong to the commercial party, which in Norway, as in America, is aristocratic and tory, in opposition to the country party, who in those nations are the radicals.

In addition to this, he was the probst, or rural dean, which was a fortunate circumstance for him—for being an enthusiastic admirer of Grundtvig, he was a great deal too much of a ritualist and antiquarian for the continually receding Swedish Church, and, under other circumstances, could hardly have failed in being brought up before the Church Committee at Christiania, for his little peculiarities; though it is a fact that most of the ecclesiastical members of Storthing, who composed it, thought, felt, and, if they dared, would act, precisely as he did.

He spoke English readily enough—indeed, English is to the educated Norwegians what French is to us,—and, as a matter of course, invited the fishermen to share the hospitalities of the præstgaard. This, however, would have been a mortal offence to poor Torgenson, who, though he could not speak to his guests one single word except through an interpreter, would have been deeply scandalized, and, indeed, would have felt lowered in the eyes of his countrymen, had they deserted him. The Parson, however, being a professional man, was an exception, and Pfarrherr Nordlingen[184] carried him off in triumph, Torkel promising to bring over his knapsack to the præstgaard.

The præstgaard was not so large and rambling a building as the hall, but was infinitely more comfortable; highly-polished birchen furniture, and well-stored bookcases, gave it an air of habitableness. The room into which they entered was the summer parlour, whose French windows, shaded by gauze curtains, were wide open, looking on a broad lawn and a sparkling little stream beyond it; a good sprinkling of juniper twigs took off, in a great measure, from the bare look of the carpetless floors which always strikes an English eye. It is a great absurdity, in a country which is not favourable for sheep, and whose woollen manufactures seldom go higher than the wadmaal, that the duty upon English woollens should be so absurdly high. But the fact is, the Storthing is so entirely in the hands of the democratic, or country party, that anything beyond a class legislation is hopeless. The idea is not that all the people should have warm blankets, but that the democratic and agricultural majorities should work up inferior wool. Weaving by hand is an agriculturist’s winter work.

The Priestess Nordlingen, as she was called, a smiling, pretty-looking woman, much younger than her husband, was occupied in laying the cloth for aftonsmad, assisted by the dowager priestess, who lived now on the other side of the little stream, but being on excellent terms with her late husband’s successor, spent a good deal more of her time in her old home than she did in her new one.[32] Servants they had, both of them, in plenty, for the præster are among the richest in the land; but no Norwegian wife is above acting as butler and housekeeper, and no Norwegian damsel, fröken though she be, is above waiting at table. It does not seem quite the thing to an English gentleman, to have the ladies waiting upon him; but certainly in the Norwegian grammar, if they have one, the masculine is more worthy than the feminine.


Forest life is pleasant, but a contrast is pleasant also, and the Parson, as he lay back in a peculiarly easy chair, sipping leisurely the dram which invariably precedes a Norwegian meal, and which, in the present case, was true cognac of unquestionable genuineness and undeniable antiquity, considered himself in very great luck indeed; in fact, much as he admired the rude abundance of the hall, he infinitely preferred the quiet elegances of the præstgaard. He made some such observation to Nordlingen.

“Yes,” replied he, “the Reformation has injured the Church cruelly, as an endowment, and has cut off five-sixths of its clergy; but we individual præster have not much to complain of as regards ourselves.”

“You must have pretty severe duties, though.”

“Well, they are not severe, because they cannot be done. My parish was originally six; these have been thrown together under one. If I had half-a-dozen curates, the parish could not be visited, nor the annex kyrker properly served; for in former times it supported six priests and six deacons; so what one cannot do at all, one soon ceases to distress one’s self about. The work is not done, cannot be done, and no one expects it to be done. We have work enough—especially those who, like me, are elevated to the Storthing,—but it is not ecclesiastical work.”

“Do you know,” said the Parson, “I wonder that, under such circumstances, you have no dissenters in Norway; our Wesleyans arose from precisely the same cause. The spoliation of our Church having diminished our number of priests, and very seriously impaired the discipline which might, in some measure, have kept the remainder to their work, the people in many districts became heathens, much like your own people, in fact; and when teachers rose up among them, men followed them not because they were orthodox, but because they were the only teachers to be had. But you have some sort of dissenters, too, have you not?”

“O, the Haugerites. Yes—they are not dissenters, either. Hauger held a good many doctrines of that arch-heretic, Calvin: New Birth, as distinct from Baptism; Predestination, Election, and so forth; but neither he nor his followers separated[186] from the Church. In truth, religion is at too low an ebb among us for dissent; we have no more strength to throw up dissenters, than an exhausted field has to throw up weeds. Hauger succeeded, because he was not only a pious, but a practical man; he was rich, too; he set up saw-mills and iron-works, and advanced the money;—it is no wonder he set up a religious party. But they are going down now.”

“Ah, I understand—what we call in Ireland, soup Christians; and now Hauger is dead, the spring has run dry?”

“No not at all—I do not mean to say that the practical turn of his mind was not a recommendation to his theology; but though he preached and did good, his good offices were not confined to his own followers; his sect is subsiding because it has no distinctive tenets, any more than that of your Wesleyans. You made a great blunder; by turning Wesley out of the Church, you forced him to set up a Church government of his own; it is that government, and not his doctrines, which keeps his followers in a state of antagonism to a Church with which they have no real doctrinal difference. We were not such fools with Hauger; he met with a little persecution himself—for we Norwegians are not tolerant,—but we were wise enough to leave his people alone, so they did not think it worth while to differ, and in fact never did.”

“I think there may be another reason,” said the Parson: “with you a sectarian loses his rights of citizenship, by the fact of his being a sectarian.”

“Well, and why should he not? by leaving the national Church he makes himself a foreigner; we do not persecute him any more than we persecute any other foreigners, but we do not allow foreigners to legislate for us, neither will we let him, or any man choose which of our national institutions he will adhere to and which he will not—and our Church is one of our national institutions;—we say to him, and to you alike—you are strangers, both of you, you are both very welcome to stay here, and to live under the protection of our laws; moreover, we are very ready to naturalize either of you, and to receive you as citizens of our country if you[187] like, but choose for yourselves; you cannot be Norwegians and not Norwegians at the same time. These are the laws, religious and political, of Norway, take them or leave them, just as you like, but we cannot let you divide them. Now where is the injustice of this?”

“I am sure I will not take upon myself to say,” said the Parson, laughing; “supposing always, the State meddles with Church affairs at all; and I, as an Englishman, have no right to find fault with you for that. But what does your Church itself say to all this; you called Calvin, just now, an arch-heretic, what do you say about his followers? Besides, it strikes me that there is a little difference of opinion between your friend Hauger and St. Paul, on the subject of female preachers, to say nothing of his unordained preachers, which all of his people were; but that I suppose does not greatly disturb you, as you attach so little value to Apostolical Succession.”

This was a hard hit upon poor Nordlingen, who was a most patriotic Norwegian, but yet, as a Grundtvigite, was painfully aware of the want of divine commission in his Church. It was, however, a random shot of the Parson’s, who, speaking of the Norwegian Church as it then was, certainly was not aware that the reforms which Grundtvig and Mynster had effected in Denmark, had already penetrated to a Church politically divided from them. He took the opportunity of the bustle, caused by the servants bringing in the aftonsmad, to turn the conversation to less dangerous subjects, and occupied the rest of the evening, if not more profitably, at least more to the amusement of the ladies of the family, in drawing out the solemn Candidatus, who, fresh from his examinations, was brimful of theology, which, when once cheated out of his shyness, he was spilling over on every opportunity, and mixing, most absurdly, with the ordinary subjects of conversation.

The Church of Norway—if Church it can be called—is in a very anomalous state. Intensely Erastian, it is dominated over by the Storthing, and swayed by the political feelings of the country. These, which are called Norwegian and patriotic, are really Danish. Norway has never been strong enough, or rich enough, since the times of barbarism,[188] to form an independent nation of itself: feeling its weakness, it acquiesced readily in the dominant position assumed by Denmark, during the Union of Kalmar, which grated so much against the feeling of the Swedes only because Sweden was conscious of its own innate strength and real superiority. When that union was dissolved, it left very bitter animosities between the two principal nations, which was participated in by Norway, whose feeling was with Denmark. These the lapse of time has mitigated, so far as the Danes and Swedes are concerned. They have been renewed, however, in Norway, by the forcible annexation of that country to Sweden, by the Congress of Vienna, in compensation for the loss of Finland; and thus the Norwegian Church, politically allied to that of Sweden, is affected by that of Denmark.

The original Reformation in Denmark, which involved that of Norway also, was exclusively a political movement; that of Sweden was political also, but grander interests were connected with it. Sweden was a country shaking off a foreign yoke, and the Reformation succeeded because the Reformers were patriots also. If reformation in religion is to be mixed with earthly motives at all, it could not have had a grander alliance; but the Reformation of Norway was a mere change of politics. It was forced on by the Court against the will of both clergy and people—the king, at that time, being nearly despotic. It was not resisted; there was too little religion—Romanist, or anything else—in the country for the people to feel any sort of excitement in the matter. After the fall of Christiern, a new religion was thought to be the most effectual mode of depressing the remains of his party. A certain German, of the name of Buggenhausen, was constituted the leading reformer; and, in fact, the Church of Denmark was not reformed, but destroyed, and Lutheranism imported in its place, and forced upon the nation by an arbitrary sovereign. The consequences were precisely similar to those which followed upon many of the Reformations in Germany. The Church remained in form, but the vital energy had gone from it. Many godly persons it had from time to time in its communion, but fewer and fewer as the time went on, and the traces it has still left of its vitality are few in number.

“Towards the close of the last century,” says Hamilton, “the progress of stupor was complete, and vital Christianity seemed to have departed from the land; formalism was at its height, and, oddly enough, bigotry appeared to accompany it. An attempt at revival has been made during the present century, by Dr. Mynster, now Bishop of Copenhagen, and by Grundtvig, who may to a certain extent be considered as the leaders of the high and low Church parties; Mynster taking his stand on the doctrines connected with the Atonement; Grundtvig, on the faith once delivered to the saints. There does not appear to be any opposition between them, any more than there is opposition in the doctrines upon which they take their respective stand against Indifferentism and Rationalism; but this is the bent of their minds and the direction of their teaching.”

Mynster says, in a letter to Oechlenschlager, “I design, God willing, to open my mouth, and that in divers ways, certainly first to try what[189] echo will answer my voice; but it shall not be quite in vain, for I know that I am among the called, and I muse day and night in watching and praying that I may be also among the chosen.”

“This object,” says Hamilton (Sixteen Months in the Danish Isles), “he speedily obtained; and from that time till the present, there has been no cessation of that gentle, but loud and solemn voice, persuading men everywhere to repent. In speaking and writing, Christ crucified has been the beginning and end, the first and the last.”

Grundtvig, who, like our Keble, was a poet before he was a preacher, and who has taught by his poems, no less than by his sermons ever since he brought the great powers of his mind to bear against Rationalism, some few years after Dr. Mynster began to be celebrated. “It seemed to him a sin,” he said, “that he should be taken up with Mythology, while the pastors of God’s flock were neglecting their duty;” so he stepped forward, asserting the Faith against human might and reason. His leading text, upon which all his preaching hinges, is the Faith once delivered to the saints,—pure and complete from the beginning, and incapable of change. “Every change,” he argues, “is a corruption, and the office of the Church is simply to restore, either by supplying or by lopping off what has been superadded to the original Revelation, and to preserve the faith in its purity.” His style of teaching, therefore, is necessarily traditional. Grundtvig, himself a most powerful preacher, has naturally a somewhat exaggerated idea of the importance of preaching, as opposed to reading. Preaching, he calls the living word. There is a curious mixture of truth and fallacy in his idea of never putting the Bible into the hands of an unconverted person, because there is no hope that such a person can understand it. “It was written for the Church,” he says truly; and he infers from this, that it must be expounded orally by a Churchman, because “faith cometh by hearing:” and from this text he argues, that the Spirit of God does not instruct in the reading of the Word. Grundtvig, from the first, has been the most uncompromising opponent of Rationalism, and his line of argument much more telling and difficult to withstand than that of his fellow-worker, Mynster; and, accordingly, though now popular, he has not passed through his course without getting into difficulties of a personal nature, from the opposition of the Rationalist party. He resigned his living at one time, and for many years was not a pastor of the Danish National Church at all.

These great leaders have their followers and their respective schools; but it is much to be feared that the revival which they have produced is merely the effect of their own personal influence and talent, for there is nothing in the system of the Danish Church which can perpetuate it,—that this Church, itself severed from the universal Church of Christ, has no inherent vitality,—and that, as the influence and name of even Calvin could not prevent even his own Geneva from becoming Unitarian when other teachers had arisen and his memory had faded from the recollections of his people, so the teaching of Grundtvig and Mynster is but a temporary revival of Evangelical teaching,—the produce of the individual, not of the Church.


The Swedish Church, as distinguished from the Danish and Norwegian, has far more pretensions to Churchmanship than either of these, though it may have lost more of the externals and ceremonial. Its Apostolic Succession has been doubted, and certainly the question is not entirely clear. At the time of the Reformation, Matthias, Bishop of Strengnäs, and Vincent, Bishop of Skara, had been beheaded by Christiern; and on the other side, Canute, the Archbishop, and Peter, Bishop of Westeras, had been beheaded by his rival, Gustavus,—so that, at the final Diet of Westeras, at which the Reformation was determined upon, Sweden could muster but four bishops, of whom it is said that Bishop Brask only had been duly consecrated; two others, Haraldsen and Sommar, were only bishops elect. The results of that Diet caused Brask to go into voluntary exile, and as all communion with Rome was thereby broken off, the question of the Succession hinges on the fact, that Gustavus had previously sent the fourth Bishop, Magnussen, elect of Skara, to be consecrated at Rome. This fact, which is distinctly affirmed by Gejer, has been questioned, though on no very good grounds.

The weakness of the Swedish Church, however, does not lie here, but in its peculiar connection with the State, which is perpetually involving it in secular politics, and as perpetually taking from its spiritual character. This defect existed before the Reformation just as it does now, and then, as now, formed its element of weakness: then, the bishops were treated with by contending sovereigns as the most influential barons—now, they are tampered with as the most influential politicians. Sweden is governed by a king and four houses of parliament—the Nobles, the Clergy, the Burghers, and the Peasants; and a bill passing any three of these houses becomes the law of the land. But, though the houses are of equal authority, the value of individual votes must vary inversely as the numbers of which those houses are composed: for instance, the house of the Nobles contains about 1500 members, and the house of the Clergy 80; the value of any single ecclesiastic’s vote is, therefore, eighteen times greater than that of any nobleman’s vote. The effect of this has been precisely the same as the more arbitrary nature of the Norwegian Reformation: the Church of Sweden has become—first political, then worldly, then Erastian; and, at the same time, the enormous size of the parishes operates precisely as it does in Norway,—the majority of the people are estranged from their Church through sheer ignorance of its doctrines,—the prescribed forms of Confirmation, Communion, and so forth, being gone through as essentials rather of civil promotion than of eternal Salvation.

It is not a matter of surprise, therefore, that, year after year, the Swedish Church is losing some portion of her Churchmanship, and degenerating more and more every day into a mere establishment. At this point it would have arrived long ago, had it not been for Archbishop Wallin, who, not only a sound divine, which most of the educated clergy are, but by far the greatest poet modern Sweden has produced, has embodied the doctrines of the Church in a series of hymns, which now form part of the Church service, under the name of “Bede Psalmer.”


Sweden is a musical nation, and these hymns are extremely popular. So far as the author can find out, they are the only means by which ninety-nine Swedes out of every hundred have any knowledge whatever of the Christian doctrine, or in any way differ from their Heathen ancestors—the worshippers of Odin and the mythology of Asgard.

As a specimen of Wallin’s poetry, we will take his hymn on the Creation—a paraphrase of the 104th Psalm,—perhaps as fine a specimen of rhythmic illustration as any that exists. We give it from Howitt’s translation:—

“Sing, my soul,
The Eternal’s praise,—
God of all worlds!
In glorious light, all star-bestrewed,
Thou dost Thy majesty invest,—
The Heaven of heavens is Thine abode,
And worlds revolve at Thy behest.
God of all worlds!
Thy chariot on the winds doth go;
The thunder follows Thy career;
Flowers are Thy ministers below,
And storms Thy messengers of fear.
O Thou, our God!
“The earth sang not Thy peerless might
Amid the heavenly hosts of old,—
Thou spakest, and from empty night
She issued forth, and on her flight
Of countless ages proudly rolled,—
Darkness wrapped her, and the ocean
Wildly weltering on her lay;
Thou spakest, and, with glad devotion,
Up she rose with queenly motion,
And pursued her radiant way.
“High soared the mountains,
Glittering and steep,—
Forth burst the fountains,
And through the air flashing—
From rock to rock dashing—
’Mid the wild tempest crashing—
Took their dread leap.
“Then opened out the quiet dale,
With all its grass and flowers;
Then gushed the spring, so clear and pale,
Beneath the forest bowers;
Then ran the brooks from moorlands brown,
Along the verdant lea,
And the fleet fowls of heaven shot down
Into a leafy sea;—
’Mid the wild herd’s rejoicing throng,
The nightingales accord—
All nature raised its matin song,
And praised Thee—Nature’s Lord:
O Thou, who wast, and art, and e’er shall be!
Eternal One! all earth adoring stands,
And through the works of Thy Almighty Hands
Feels grace and wisdom infinite in Thee!
“And answer gives the sea,—
The fathomless ocean—
The waste without end—
Where, in ceaseless commotion,
Winds and billows contend;—
Where myriads that live without count, without name—
Crawling or swimming in strange meander—
Fill the deep as it were with a quivering flame;
Where the heavy whale doth wander
Through the dumb night’s hidden reign,
And man unwearied with earth’s wide strife
Still hunts around death’s grim domain—
The over-flood of life.
“To Thee! to Thee! Thou Sire of all,
Our prayers in faith ascend,—
All things that breathe, both great and small,
On Thee alone depend.
Thy bounteous hand Thou dost unclose,
And happiness unstinted flows
In streams that know no end.”



“To-day shall be spent in drinking,—
We need not spare the ale,—
And we will set sail on the morrow,
Nor will our good luck fail.”
Svenska Folk-visor.

The whole party found their quarters in the Soberud valley so extremely comfortable, and the game so very abundant, that they were readily induced to prolong their stay; and the Parson struck up quite a friendship with the worthy Pfarrherr, and talked theology with the Candidatus. Torkel, who had had long, and, apparently, very interesting conversations with old Torgenson, the import of which did not transpire, had asked a temporary leave of absence, which was readily granted—the Parson having, no doubt, his own suspicions from what he saw at the sœter, but prudently holding his tongue about them. Indeed, he was no loser; for Torkel’s place, in every respect, except as an interpreter, was amply supplied by Karl Torgenson, who, having served his time of drill, had been just discharged from the corvette Freya, and had arrived, somewhat unexpectedly, on the Sunday evening. Karl spoke a little English, though not enough for conversation; but, on the other hand, he was as good a sportsman as Torkel himself, and much better acquainted with the localities of his own home.

Under his guidance, the Parson’s flies lured many a trout from the blue waters of the lake; but the best fish—such fish, indeed, as he had never before seen—were caught by a discovery of his own.

The lake lying in a broad valley, many of its shores were shelving and sandy, or slightly muddy, instead of plumping[194] down in rocky sublacustrine precipices, and all these shallows were fringed with weeds. Coming home late in the evening, he saw a number of children in the water, ladling out, with tins and buckets, and vessels of every description, hundreds and thousands of little white glittering fish, which were feeding on the weed. These were the young of the fresh-water herring, which, whenever they can get them, which is not often, the Norwegians make into soup. The full-grown fish are not taken till later in the year, and this is never done except by nets, for they will rise at no bait of any kind big enough to put on a hook.

The Parson was looking at the little glittering things as they sparkled in the moonlight,—and no fish is so brilliantly white as the fresh-water herring,—when, amid the shouts and screams of the children, a huge trout was tumbled on shore out of one of the buckets. “O! by George!” said the Parson to Karl Torgenson, who smiled as if he understood every word, “that is worth noting; that fellow came to make his supper off the herrings, and having ventured in too far, has got entangled in the weeds. There will be some of his great relations come to supper, also, for certain. Let us try.”

A light fly-rod, such as the Parson carried, was not the weapon best adapted for the purpose; but he forthwith unlooped his casting-line, and taking a trace out of his fly-book—for he was never without trolling materials—fitted one of the little glittering gwineads on the litch; and wading quite as deep as was prudent, and a good deal deeper than was pleasant, considering the time of night and the coldness of Norwegian waters, he cast beyond the edge of the weeds; the bait had hardly began to spin, when a fish took him, such as required all his skill to master with his fly-rod, and long and arduous was the struggle before he succeeded in leading him captive through an opening in the weeds, and drawing him quietly into shoal water.

The fact was, that the whole coast, like that of France during the late war, was in a state of strict blockade; the little gwineads, like the chasse-marées, were dodging about in-shore, while the great trout, unable, from their draught of[195] water, to pursue them into the shallows, were grimly cruising about and snapping up any adventurous little youngster that showed his nose outside. The fly-rod was too feeble to do much execution that evening, for it took half an hour to master a fish with it; but the discovery was not lost on the Parson, and the next evening saw him with a twenty-two foot cane trolling-rod, commanding, at easy cast, the whole fishable water, and supplying the præstgaard, as well as the hall, with such trout as they had never dreamt of.

The Captain and Birger were no less assiduous in their own particular calling, and from the quantity of game, including deer, which they brought in, might very fairly be said to have paid for their keep. The fjeld of Soberud was much more open, and better adapted for game, than the valley of the Torjedahl and its surrounding mountains, and also, as there were fewer thick trees, better adapted for getting at it.

Pleasant as all this was, time wore on, and it became necessary for the party to resume their knapsacks and retrace their steps, Torgensen having first exacted a promise that they would visit Soberud once more before their departure. “Perhaps,” said he, mysteriously, “I may have occasion to muster all the friends of my house before the winter comes on, and whenever that occasion happens, I hope the present party will honour my roof-tree.”

Tom, who interpreted this speech, could not conceive what it alluded to, though it seemed to make him very merry; but the mystery, if ever there was one, was soon explained by Lota’s blushes, when the Captain, on seeing her and the missing Torkel together, as the party arrived at the Aalfjer sœter that evening, shook his head at them with a knowing smile. In fact, Torkel had made such excellent use of his time, that while the party were occupied with the fish and game of the Soberud valley, he had contrived to settle, and definitely arrange, with the full approbation of Torgensen, that his marriage should take place in the autumn. No Norwegian ever thinks of marrying till the work-day summer is past; besides, Torkel was making a very good thing of it with his present employers, and if he were not, it is not[196] altogether certain that even Lota’s attractions would have been sufficient to draw him away from the sports in which he was engaged. Apparently, he did not find those things which he had to settle with Lota herself, so easy of arrangement as those which had been the subject of his discussions with her father; for though the first Sunday evening was quite long enough to settle everything with him, it took him three or four whole days at the sœter to arrange matters with her; indeed, there the party found him when they encamped there on their return, and, notwithstanding this, he had so much more to say on the last morning, that the fishermen had arrived for some hours at their old encampment on the Torjedahl, and had had time entirely to change the whole plan of the campaign before they saw anything of him.

During their absence the post had arrived, bringing letters for them all; these Ullitz had forwarded, and their first occupation, while their attendants were preparing the supper and exchanging news with those who had been left behind, was to read their respective letters. Birger had a whole heap—which he did not deserve—from a host of relations and friends, whom, in his ardour for sport, he had grievously neglected; all of these he postponed for a great, square, official looking document, with “Kongs ofwer Commandant’s Expedition” written in the corner: this he did deserve, for it contained, along with an acknowledgement for his valuable portfolio of military drawings, an extension of leave, which the dutiful lieutenant had asked for on the plea so well known in the British army, “family arrangements.”

“Hurrah,” said the Captain, “here’s a letter from Moodie; he wants us to meet him at Gotheborg, where he is bringing down a cargo of elks and reindeer, and Northern wild beasts, for the Zoological Gardens; and then we are to go back with him, he says, to some place which I can neither spell nor pronounce, where, the chances are, we shall get a crack at a bear.”

“You have always had a weakness that way,” said the Parson, “I believe getting a crack at a bear, as you call it, was your principal reason for coming here at all.”


“Well, but Moodie says there is capital fishing on the Gotha; the salmo ferox, my boy! what do you think of that? and you know the fish are beginning to run small here, there was not a full-mouthed salmon caught the last day we fished here, nothing but miserable grauls.”

“Grauls give very pretty sport, though, and as for the salmo ferox, it is nothing but an ill-conditioned, over-grown trout, that has got a cross of the pike in it, and consequently will take nothing but the spinning bait. But I must say I should like to see old Moodie again.”

“Will you go then?”

“Ask Birger.”

“Hey! what?” said Birger, looking up from his letters, which, after all, seemed to be more interesting than he had expected. “Moodie? ah! yes! that’s the fellow my friend Bjornstjerna mentions; a terrible fellow he says, a very Hercules against the wild beasts—there is never a skal without him; Bjornstjerna says he had rather have him than a hundred men, any day.”

“And who is Bjornstjerna?”

“One of the Ofwer Jagmästerer, the officers, that is, whose business it is to call out the peasantry to keep down the wild beasts; he is very good authority on such matters, and I vote we accept your friend Moodie’s invitation, it is much the best chance we have of seeing sport.”

The Captain looked a little puzzled; he was anxious enough to go, but the invitation had been to him and the Parson, and of course had not included Birger, whose existence was necessarily unknown to Moodie; in fact, the Captain had not thought of that difficulty. Birger, who had spent a good part of his leave in England, where he had some friends, burst out laughing.

“Ah, that is just your English way, you think you cannot take me, because your friend has not sent me a written invitation in due form—that is not the way we go on here; my friend’s friend is my friend, and if your countryman has not learnt that in the four years during which, Bjornstjerna tells me, he has been living in the country, it is high time he[198] should learn. When does he drive his flocks and herds to Gotheborg?”

“Why, if we would meet him, we must start directly, for he comes next week.”

“Well, why not start directly? come Parson! one river is as good as another.”

“Scarcely that,” said the Parson, laughing; “but I do want to see how Moodie carries on the war in your barbarous country; so let us go—Tom,” raising his voice so as to be heard from below, “when does the next steamer sail for Valö?”

“The day after to-morrow, at day-break,” said Tom, whose head was a perfect register of naval events.

“That will never do,” said the Parson, who contemplated a farewell visit to the Torjedahl salmon.

“Not do!” said Birger, “why it is the very thing. Strike the tents to-morrow, early,—down the river without stopping at Christiansand Bridge,—run alongside the steamer, take our berths,—stow our goods,—and then we shall have half the day to land and visit our stores at Ullitz’s, kiss Marie, and make what changes we want in the baggage department. I must take my uniform for Gotheborg; we are not ashamed of our uniform in our country,” he added, significantly nodding at the Captain, who, like most English soldiers, was rather addicted to mufti; “and you too will want more baggage, now that you are going into a civilized country.”

“Do not let Torkel hear you say that. He considers Christiansand the emporium of fashion and the centre of civilization. By-the-bye, what are we to do with our men? I will not leave Torkel behind,—I have quite an affection for the fellow.”

“Leave Torkel behind!” said Birger; “why should you? you do not think the Swedes will eat him, do you? I mean to take Piersen myself; these Norwegians, rascals as they are, all of them, are a great deal smarter and handier in forest work than our Swedes; their education fits them for Jacks-of-all-trades; they get kicked out of doors, with a pack on their back, at ten years of age, to earn their livelihood,[199] and learn smartness and knowledge of the world,—and they do learn it, and precious scoundrels they grow up:—however, they answer our purpose, for they can turn their hands to anything.”

At that moment Torkel came up, looking a little confused and ashamed of himself, and not the less so that the Parson asked significantly for the latest news from the sœter of Aalfjer.

His love, however, did not prevent him from being wild to go, as soon as he heard of the change of plans—a sentiment in which the rest fully participated; indeed there was not a dissentient voice in the camp, except that of the boatmen, who were to be discharged at Christiansand, and whose fun was thus prematurely cut short. A small pecuniary gratification set matters right in that quarter also, and when the evening closed on the last day of the encampment, the hopes and eager anticipations of a brilliant future had already effaced all regrets for a happy past.

The sun was hardly above the horizon, when the whole camp was astir, and active preparations for departure were begun. These did not occupy any very great deal of time; they had not come up the river in very heavy marching order, and there were a good many hands at the work. The principal part of it was securing the smoked salmon, of which they had now a very fair cargo. This is a very acceptable present everywhere; for though salmon are plenty in Norway, the means of catching them are very imperfectly understood. There was also a goodly array of forest preserves, which, being too heavy for transport, and subject to a heavy duty into the bargain from jealous Sweden, were destined to swell the ample stores of Madame Ullitz.

While all this was going on, the Parson, rod in hand, took a melancholy farewell of his favourite throws, in the course of which he caught two fish—both grauls, though, as the Captain took care to remark. By ten o’clock everything was ready, and the boats shoved off on their downward voyage.

“Well, certainly it is much pleasanter to go with the stream than against it, in all the affairs of this life,” said the[200] Captain, as the boats closed again, after racing down the upper rapids which had cost them so much time and so much trouble to ascend. “Here we have undone in half an hour and at our ease, what it took us half a day to do, and with harder work than I wish to meet with very often.”

“Not an uncommon thing in this wicked world of ours,” said the Parson. “Facilis descensus;—you know the rest. However, that which is pleasant is not always safe,—so look out. Here we are, at the head of the Oxea rapid, and a touch of these rocks, going down stream, you will find a very different thing from a touch going up. Give way, boys! let me have good steerage-way through the water.”

And he dashed into the very midst of the racing current—rocks, trees, and banks flying past him, till, before they seemed to be well in it, the three boats were floating side by side in the broad flat below, at the lower end of which the encampment had been made on the first night of the expedition. A short halt here, which they made, more for the pot than for sport, secured them a good catch of trout and a graul or two; and their rapid course down the deep, full-flowing stream was resumed, leisurely indeed—but so swift was the current under the deceitful show of its calm and quiet surface, that notwithstanding a little difficulty at the lower rapids, where there was not water enough in the boat canal to float them, the sun was still high when they rounded the dockyard point, and opened the harbour of Christiansand.

“Hullo, Tom, where is the steamer?”

Tom rubbed his eyes, for he could not believe them, but no amount of rubbing will produce a vision of that which is not, and the fact became indisputable as they pulled on—there was no steamer in the harbour. The Parson, who after all, had left very unwillingly, and rather in compliance with the wishes of his companions than in accordance with his own fancy or judgment, began to feel sulky; the Captain, who had proposed the change, began to feel anxious, and to labour under the weight of his responsibility; and even Birger, who had nothing to reproach himself for, was not entirely at his ease.


Things however, were not so bad as they had anticipated; there was no steamer certainly, but Ullitz, who was lounging on the quay—where indeed the good man spent the greater part of his summer hours, looking out for travellers and seeking whom he might entertain, and who certainly did not approve of a change of plans which deprived him of a very profitable commissariat,—informed them that the day had been changed, and that the steamer would not arrive till the following evening, nor sail till the day after.

“Never mind,” said Birger, “let us have one good supper, and one comfortable night’s rest more than we expected; I will be bound we strike out something for to-morrow, and after all we shall lose nothing, we may as well be at Christiansand as at Gotheborg.”

Ullitz did not say, but looked as if he thought they had much better.

“The sea is as calm as glass,” said Torkel to Tom. “Would not this do for eider duck-hunting.”

“It is a great pity that Fröken Lota has to make up her stores of eider down now,” said Tom, “and she to be married in the autumn.”

Torkel could afford to laugh, for he knew very well—indeed, none had cause to know it better, he having supplied a good half of them—the extent of Miss Lota’s eider stores. All this was an aside, and Tom resumed aloud, “To be sure, there could not be better weather, we shall not have ripple out in the haaf[33] any more than in the fjord; and besides, we can take some cod-lines, and when we have killed or driven off the ducks we can fill our boats with rock cod.”

“What is all that?” said the Captain.

Tom explained.

“Upon my word I think it will do very well; what say you, Birger?”

“Nothing better, I have never been duck-hunting myself, but they say it is capital fun; there are three or four fellows of ‘ours’ who always get leave in the duck season, and pass[202] a month or two on the islands of the Baltic; they say it is first-rate sport—I vote we go.”

And so it was settled, and the details of the expedition were arranged as they walked up those sandy deserts of streets which they had traversed on the first night of their landing.

Marie received them with smiles, and when she learnt the object of their sport, so worked on the Captain’s susceptible heart, that he vowed she should have every feather that fell to his gun. The Parson was rather affected to Lota, but Torkel, who had been a little stung by Tom’s joke, magnanimously transferred the offer to Marie, who, “poor thing, might perhaps want the down, and Lota would not know what to do with it, she had a great deal more than she could make up already;” which, considering his own fame as a hunter, as well as that of young Svensen, between whom Miss Lota had been coquetting (so Tom averred) till she ought to have been ashamed of herself, was not unlikely to be literally true.

It must be remarked that this is the sporting way of collecting eider down. The business way is robbing the nests, which is done in spring, and is very slow work—though sufficiently dangerous.



“For now in our trim boats of Norroway deal
We must dance on the waves with the porpoise and seal;—
The breeze it shall pipe, so it pipe not too high,
And the gull be our songstress whene’er she flits by;—
We’ll sing while we bait, and we’ll sing while we haul,
For the deeps of the Haaf have enough for us all.”
Norway Fishing Song.

The dawn was yet grey upon the mountains, and the light steaming mist was still resting on the glassy surface of the harbour, when the three boats slipped off noiselessly from the dockyard point. The fishing rods, now useless, had been landed, and the guns and rifles had taken their places, while the after-lockers were stored with cod lines and their gear, to say nothing of the långref that had done such good service at Mosse Eurd, and which was now converted into a spillet. The boats were well provisioned—that is almost an invariable rule in Norway, so far as quantity goes, but on this occasion, they were provisioned with all the delicacies the fair Marie could lay her hands upon; nay, so interested was she in the subject, that she came down with the party, in the grey of the morning, to superintend the packing herself; and, after carrying on a lively conversation with Birger, on the road, endeavoured, in vain, to make the Captain understand something or other; her anxiety to convey her meaning brought her cheek very much closer to his lips than perhaps she intended—how close it was impossible to say, for the morning light was still very faint,—in all probability, Birger might have come in for a share of the secret, whatever it was, but he was rude enough to burst out laughing, and to add something in Swedish, about bribery and corruption, which put the young lady to immediate flight.


“You need not look so conceited,” said he, (possibly the grapes were sour); “it was not you, it was the eider down she was thinking of.”

No one knows what silence is, who has not been in the North—what we call silence, is a perpetual recurrence of a thousand familiar sounds, so familiar that the ear does not notice them; the chirp of hundreds of birds, and millions of insects go to make up English silence;—perhaps within the Arctic circle it may be deeper than that which, at that early hour, brooded over the harbour of Christiansand; but even that was a silence which made itself to be felt; and the regular and steady roll of the oars in the rowlocks, as the boats shot out into the fjord, fairly echoed among the cliffs like grumbling thunder. Nothing could be more calm and unbroken than the water, which seemed to be hot, for a slight steam kept slowly rising from the whole surface, and hung upon it like a veil which now began to whiten in the increasing light; every here and there a seal would put up his head, like a black oily bead, take a steady view of the boats, and then dip under, without a ripple to show where the surface had been broken.

“Oars!” said the Captain, in a whisper, as one of these sheep of Proteus evinced a little more indiscreet curiosity than his neighbours, and as his boat, which had been leading, lost her way, he rose quietly, and his rifle thundered through the still air of the morning, as if it had been a six-pounder, while its echoes were caught and repeated, crack after crack, by a dozen sharp cliffs and wooded islands.

The surface was sufficiently disturbed this time—for the Captain’s rifle seldom spoke in vain,—and the seal was struggling in the agonies of death; the men stretched out on their oars as if they were racing, but before the boat could reach the spot, all was quiet again, and a slight red stain in the water was all that remained to tell of the Captain’s accuracy of aim. The Captain gazed on the deep blue below.

“It is of no use,” said the Parson, “they always sink, and it is a great shame to be firing at that which you cannot get when you have killed it.”


“You used to shoot them, yourself, in Sligo Bay.”

“Yes, I did, but there was a tide there, and we shot them at high water, and picked them up when the sands were bare—even then, though, we lost a good many, but here there is not a chance; that fellow is food for lobsters.”

“Well, I hope the cockneys will profit by it when the next batch goes to the London market,” said the Captain, loading his rifle, “but have we no tide here?”

“We have no sands that we can make available; but a tide there is, though a faint one. Did you ever hear how there came to be a tide in Norway—for originally there certainly was nothing of the kind? Thor was on a visit to Loki Uttgard, who, in all love, challenged him to drink his great horn out, and to turn it over to show there were no heeltaps, as is the custom in Norway. Thor had never been conquered yet in drinking, or in anything else; in fact, he had the hardest head, inside and out, of any god in Norway. He drank, and he drank, but there was no bottom to be found to the horn, and Thor put it down with shame, and acknowledged himself at last vanquished; but the Uttgarders, who were all giants of a very ferocious stamp, stood round, in speechless admiration. Loki had made a communication between the bottom of the horn and the sea itself, and what Thor had drunk was the ebb.”

“H’m! Hence the fine of a glass of salt and water,” said the Captain, “I have often inflicted it, but I never knew the high authority I had for so doing. Come, boys, give way for the Haaf.”

But before so doing they had to stop at a shoal, well known to Tom, who now began to take the command, while Torkel sank into comparative insignificance. It was necessary to lay in a supply of cod-bait, which was not to be had in deep water. This was a species of large limpet, that clung to the rocks by thousands, and was dislodged by the boat-hooks, and stowed away in the balers. At length the swell of the open sea made itself to be felt, for ever heaving and setting and rolling along in vast mountains, and flashing in spray against the black rocks, though the surface was as glassy and unbroken as that of the harbour. The whole[206] swell of the North Sea, and of the Atlantic beyond it heaves against these coasts, and is never quiet in the calmest weather. The sun, which had now risen, gleamed against the white tower of the light-house, and flashed back in blinding rays from its lantern, as the boats pulled past it into the Haaf.

They had now formed line abreast, at five or six hundred yards distance, and were pulling leisurely along, keeping a bright look out on every side. Calm as it was, the swells were quite heavy enough to conceal the boats entirely from each other as, from time to time, the huge mountains rolled between them.

They had proceeded in this manner for about half an hour, without seeing anything, except gulls and cormorants—which latter, sitting in the water, and rising and falling on the swells, had more than once deceived them,—when, suddenly, Birger, who was on the extreme right, pointed with his hand to the westward of their course: all eyes were turned in that direction, and the line wheeled on Birger, as a pivot, when a dozen or so, of black spots were seen on the side of the swell, in the rare intervals when the boats and they were both rising.

The centre boat, which was the Parson’s, pulled right on the objects, while the flankers having increased their distance to half a mile, pulled on some hundred yards in advance of her.

Onward as they came, the black spots grew larger and larger, and the distinct outlines of the ducks began to be distinguishable; still they sat on the water, rising and falling to the swell as unconcernedly as ever.

The flanking boats were already ahead of them, and the Parson, with his long gun in his hand, had begun to calculate his distance—which, out at sea, is particularly deceptive,—when, with one accord, the dozen tails began to wriggle, and at once the whole flock were under water, disappearing simultaneously, and as if by signal.


The men, who, much to the Parson’s impatience, had been pulling very leisurely indeed, now stretched out with all their might, and as they shot across the spot lately occupied[207] by the ducks, marked the chain of air-bubbles, which tended out to seaward. A signal conveyed this information to the Captain’s boat, which pulled into the line to intercept them; Birger, who was thus thrown out, closing in with all his might, and the Parson following up the track—each stood up as well as he could in the roll of the sea, and looked out with all his eyes. Six, eight, ten minutes elapsed, and nothing to be seen: it was impossible that the birds could be under so long. At last, far to the rear of even Birger’s boat, twelve black spots were seen rising and falling on the swell as unconcernedly as they were at first. The ducks had headed back under water, and the boats had pulled over them.

The same manœuvre was repeated, and with the same result; the centre boat approached almost within firing distance, when the twelve tails again wriggled simultaneously, and the twelve bodies went under at once. This time, however, they rose within shot of Birger’s boat, but before he could get his gun to bear on them, they were under again.

This was precisely what was wanted; the only chance of getting a shot, at this season of the year, is to make the birds dive till they are exhausted: they are said not to duck the flash like the divers—perhaps they do not, but, at all events, they are generally under water long before the quickest gunner can get a shot at them, and that, practically, comes to the same thing.

The dive this time was a short one, though it carried them out of shot, for the Captain, catching the line of their chain, had pulled on their track, and headed them back to his friends. This time they rose among the boats, and one or two attempted a heavy lumbering flight, which was speedily put a stop to by the fowling-pieces. The rest dispersed, diving each his own way, and pursued by the boats independently.

The object of approaching in a crescent, is to prevent the birds from doing this before they are too much exhausted to dive far. A separated flock can seldom be marked, inasmuch as it is more difficult to catch sight of one black spot than a dozen; and besides, under such circumstances, the boats can no longer act in concert. If a flock disperses early in the[208] chase, the chances are that not above one or two birds will be secured; if kept pretty well together, not above as many will escape.

It is a singular thing that eider ducks should be so unwilling to take the wing in summer, for, though they rise heavily, they are by no means bad flyers; but so long as they have breath to dive, nothing will get them into the air; and this peculiarity, which in ordinary weather is their preservation, during the calms is their destruction.

The chase was now an ordinary affair, very like rat hunting: the birds, confused and dispersed, kept poking their heads up in all sorts of unexpected directions, and, as their dives were now short, one or other of the quick and experienced eyes was sure to detect them. As for missing, when they were once within shot, it was impossible to miss a bird nearly as big as a goose, and almost as heavy on the wing. Ten out of the twelve were bagged, and two only were unaccounted for, they having slipped away during the heat of the chase. The boats then formed line-of-battle again, and cruised on in search of other adventures.

Various little episodes occurred, in which one or two rare sea-gulls and other birds were brought down, as they hovered round the boats or crossed their course. Most gulls, indeed, evince a great deal of curiosity in their disposition, and a very dangerous quality this sometimes proves; but in this case the murders were committed exclusively for the sake of Science (who, by the way, must be a very cruel goddess), for the fishermen were a great deal too much of sportsmen to indulge in the vulgar gull-murder without object, which is called sport by maritime cockneys. Three or four other flocks of eider duck were sighted, and chased with various success; some, taking the alarm in time, contrived to dive and swim ahead of the boats, so as to elude them altogether; some, startled by too rapid approach, dived before they had time to draw together, and, breaking their order, appeared so many scattered black spots in different directions, most of which were necessarily lost while pursuing the others. But these mishaps were not of frequent occurrence, and a good heap of great ugly birds had already been collected, when, about[209] noon, a light cat’s-paw ruffled the surface, frosting it over with little wavelets. At the time when this occurred it was quite unexpected; the boats were following a chain of bubbles, and all available eyes being fixed on them, no one was looking out into the offing.

In a moment the trace was lost; the birds might have risen, but the eye could no longer mark the clear, well-defined, black dot. Ten minutes afterwards all was calm again, but the flock were already safe.

“It is all over for to-day,” said Tom, looking anxiously into the offing, where a narrow line of darker blue had already begun to mark the hitherto undistinguishable boundary of sea and sky; “here comes the breeze already.”

And slowly but surely the line crept down, first widening, then throwing out ramifications before it; and then the sleepy surface of the sea seemed to shudder, as if touched by a cold breath; little wavelets began to ripple on the backs of the long swells,—then light airs fanned the boats uncertainly, and, at last, a steady breeze set in from the southward and westward.

“Up stick, for the cod ground!” said Tom; “we are only wasting time here.” And in a couple of minutes the three boats were running away to the eastward, under their English lugs, which, having hitherto served as tents, were now for the first time applied to their legitimate use.

The end of the chase had left them five or six miles to westward of the fjord’s mouth, and as far to seaward, while the fishing-ground was a sunken island or shoal, a couple of miles or so from the lighthouse near the outer range of islands;—it is called a shoal, and possibly, for Norway, it is a shoal; but there is not less than twenty fathoms on any part of it.

The boats were slipping along through the smooth water, as if they were going up and down the hills of an undulating road; the breeze, though very light, was steady, and already the features of the outer islands were growing distinct; and Tom was looking out for the bearings of the shoal.

“This is all very well,” said the Captain, steering his boat close to that of the Parson, “but I have had no breakfast.”


“Then why don’t you set about it; I am sure Marie has not forgotten you.”

“Oh! I will not stand that; why should we make a toil of pleasure? I mean to have a regular breakfast, and a pot of hot coffee—why not? we have the whole day before us.”

“Well, I do not mind; hail Birger—there is a dissolute island, as Jacob calls it, before us; we will boil your pot there.”

Birger was always ready for his grub, or, indeed, for anything else that was proposed; and the boats were made fast to some rocky prominences on the lea of the island, with a boat-keeper in each, to prevent them from grinding one another to pieces.

Strange to say, many of these islets, which are mere rocks, contain fresh water, some of them in pools in the rocks, but many in regular springs, and in this particular case a very respectable little streamlet trickled down a crevice of the rock.

Every beach, rock, and islet on the Norwegian coast is fringed with a layer of drift-wood, in pieces of every size, from the great baulk which in England would be worth five or six pounds down to the smallest splinters. The reason of this is, that each river is continually floating down its yearly freight of pines to the sea; these are caught by a boom at the mouth,—that is to say, by a floating chain of squared pine-stems,—but many dip under this and escape, many escape when it is opened to let boats pass, and occasionally a freshet breaks a link or draws a staple, in which case the whole boom-full of timber floats out to sea at once. All this is irrecoverably lost, for it is illegal to pick up timber floating; and a very necessary law this is, or the booms would find themselves broken much oftener than they are. Nevertheless, the quantity of timber lost annually in that way would pretty nearly supply all the wants of all the English dockyards put together. But “it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good;”—the wanderer on the sea coast need never be without a fire to warm himself by.

“I like this,” said the Captain, as he lay on his back[211] looking up to the sky, watching the blue smoke as it came in wreaths above his head. “I should like to be a Robinson Crusoe now, with a desolate island of my own, like this, where the foot of man has never trod, and—Holloa! What the devil have we got now?” he said, jumping up;—“how came these little animals here?”

The little animals referred to were half a dozen children, with rakes and hay-forks in their hands, who, attracted by the smoke and possibly by the smell of the fried ham, were peering over the edge of the cliff like so many sea-gulls.

“These are the savages, Mr. Crusoe,” said the Parson, quietly; “but it really is a curious thing, so let us climb up the cliff and see what they are about.”

The cliff was not difficult to scale, for the edges of the rocks were like steps; and at the top a very unexpected scene met their eye: a regular hay-field, with the hay in cocks, and five or six men and women at work at it; they were carrying their cocks on a sort of handbier down to their boats,—great, broad, heavy affairs these were, borrowed from the horse-ferry,—and upon these they were building hay-stacks, intending to take them in tow of their whale-boats, during the calm, and to bring them to the main land.

The form of the island was a sort of cup, of which the cliffs round the edge were the highest parts, and the centre, from having no drain, had formed a fresh-water lake with a spongy, mossy border,—and this it was which supplied the streamlet. The outer rim was bare rock, but between these two extremes there was a boggy, black ring of vegetable mould, which produced in great abundance a coarse, rank, wiry grass, which the people were storing up for the winter, in order to deceive the poor beasts into the idea that they were eating hay. Poor as it was, they had come out a dozen miles to sea to get it: their boats, four in number, including the floating hay-stack, lay snugly in a little bay or inlet, on the shoreward side, where the water was comparatively quiet. They had evidently taken up their quarters on the island, and established a regular bivouac till the work should be finished, for there was a cooking place built up with stones, and two or three of the girls were spreading[212] out to dry, in the hot sun, the clothes they had been washing in the lake.

“Who would have expected such a marine pastoral,” said Birger.

“Här Necken sin harssa in glasborgen slaar,
Och Haafsfruar kamma sitt grönskende haar,
Och bleka den skinande drägten.”[34]

“Heaven forefend,” said the Parson, hastily, “we are mad enough, some of us already; and Torkel is in love, which is worse; we do not want to see Haafsfruer. Remember Duke Magnus.”

“It was not the Haafsfru that took away the senses of Duke Magnus,” said Torkel, “it was the curse of good Bishop Brask, that rested on the family of Gustavus from the day when he killed the two bishops and deceived our Bishop of Trondhjem, who had given them sanctuary; the whole royal family of Sweden have been crazy, more or less ever since, till they turned them all out and put our good father Karl Johann in their place.”

Birger shook his head sadly; he was too highly born himself, and too aristocratic, not to feel a little shame at the idea of a French common soldier superseding the old family of Vasa, sprung, like himself, from Jarl Birger; but, for all that, he could not help admiring the worthy old king who, by his downright honesty and sincerity and his strict sense of duty, had painfully worked his way against all prejudices of rank and nationality, and had wound himself into the affections of the people who had chosen him. Still he had a kindly feeling for the old and glorious race, and though he could neither deny the fact of the sacrilege and breach of faith of Gustavus Vasa,—to which all the Norwegians, and many of the Swedes also, attribute the hereditary madness of his family,—nor indeed, the fact of the insanity itself, which was notorious in Eric his successor, in Charles XII., and Gustavus IV., as well as the present exiled representative of the family,[213] yet he did not above half like Torkel’s allusion to it. The Duke Magnus, whom they were speaking of, was the youngest son of Gustavus Vasa, and was the first in whom the symptoms of that disease about to be hereditary, had manifested themselves.

The Parson, rather sympathising in his discomfiture, gave a turn to the subject by quoting the Swedish version of the Duke’s madness, to which he had himself alluded; for the Swedes ascribe it to the love of a mermaid, the sight of whom is invariably unlucky and is generally supposed to produce insanity.

“Duke Magnus! Duke Magnus! bethink thee well,—
Answer me not so haughtily;
For if thou wilt not plight thee to me,
Thou shalt ever crazy be.
Duke Magnus! Duke Magnus! plight thee to me,
I pray you still so freely,—
Say me not nay, but yes, yes!”

“There is no harm in these mermaids,” said Tom, “for they are as good and hard-working a set of girls as any in Christiansand, but I trust we shall never meet with the real ones; at least, not just before a voyage.”

“Why not,” said the Captain, “my principal reason for coming here was the chance of seeing a mermaid in the only country in which they are still to be met with. Have you never seen one yourself, Tom?”

“No, and God grant I never may; they are not seen so often now-a-days as they used to be, that is truth. If they are to be seen at all,” he said, after a pause, “I must say this is just the time and the weather for them; a calm, still, sunny day, with a mist on the water; through this they used often and often to be seen in old times, combing their hair, or driving their milk-white cattle to feed on the rock weed; sometimes, though not so often, they are seen at night, coming and shivering round the fishermen’s fires, and trying to entice away the young men and to get them to go with them to their deep sea-caves; and those that they carry[214] off are never seen again in the upper world.[35] But mermaids are never seen except in a still that comes before a storm, and no one ever catches a fish for the first voyage after they have seen them.”

“It is just the same with the Skogsfrue,” (the Lady of the Forest,) said Torkel; “she is just as unlucky for us hunters, and when she can get any young men to go with her, she never lets them come back again. I have fancied more than once that I have seen her through the smoke of my fire in the wild fjeld, but she was not likely to catch me.”[36]

“Ah! there spoke the bridegroom elect,” said Tom, “but I am not so sure of that either: I think, Torkel, I could tell Fröken Lota more than you would like her to hear.”

“If you do, Tom, you deserve to be ducked,” said the Captain, “and I will help to duck you with my own hands.”

“He may tell what he likes, and what he can,” said Torkel; “but it is quite true about the ill-luck in hunting and fishing, which follow the sight of the Skogsfruer and Haafsfruer both.”

“Well, we will prove that, after Middagsmad, and there, in good time, goes Jacob’s shot, to let us know that all is ready.”

The afternoon was spent in a lazy, lounging way; the shoal, if shoal it can be called, where the bottom was evidently jagged rock and the depth never less than twenty fathoms, lay just off the island where they were, and the boats had but to pull out a cable’s length to be in the very best of the ground; but it is not a very exciting amusement to be continually hauling in little fish about the size of whiting, as fast as the lines could run down. It did not take long to half fill the boats with that staple of Norwegian[215] life, rock cod: the hands of the fishermen, hardened with forest work as they were, and tanned with the sun, were scarcely calculated to stand the salt water and the constant friction; the pleasure soon became a toil, and one by one the boats sought the shore of the island.

The mermaids were soon characteristically employed in splitting and laying out in the hot sun the baby cod, which proved a very acceptable present; for this little fish, which swarms in every Norwegian fjord, is among the poorer families, the principal winter store, and in nine cases out of ten the only sea stock besides rö kovringer (or rye biscuits) which a vessel carries. A present, in the strict sense of the word, it could hardly be called, for Tom fairly sold his fish, and gravely bargained for them with the young ladies, at so many kisses the hundred, excluding Torkel from all competition, much to his disgust, by explaining to them that as an engaged man he was entirely shut out from the market.

The Parson and Birger were in the meanwhile seated in a niche of the rock which formed a natural chaise-longue, sedately smoking their pipes and watching the picturesque-looking galliasses, which had endeavoured to work out against the mid-day’s spurt of breeze that had by this time entirely died away, and which now, with their great sails hanging idly, like so many curtains from their yards and gaffs, seemed, as well as the fishermen, to be basking and enjoying themselves in the evening sun.

There was no sort of hurry to return. Christiansand had few attractions, and excepting Marie (and no one besides Birger could profit by that), Ullitz’s house had still fewer. The luggage was all packed, and probably by this time on board, their places taken, and their passage paid. Their intention was, not to land again but to go along side at once. In the meanwhile, a little tired with their morning’s work, they watched with half-closed eyes the beautiful and peaceful sunset and the glorious rising of the round full moon that threw a path of light across the glassy waters.

“How beautiful!” said the Parson, who had just opened his eyes.


“Yes, that is the work of the Ljus Alfar—Lys Alfir they call them here,—the Elves of Light. All elves work in metals, and these make a silver filagree so fine that it can only be seen by moonlight on a background of water. It is the floor of their ball-room, and if we were either of us good enough, which it seems we are not, we should see the little fairy beings dancing on it. When they are tired, they will go to sleep under the leaves of the limes, which tree belongs to them especially; the little spots of light which you see in its foliage on a moonshiny night are their bright eyes, which they have not yet closed in sleep.”

“Really,” said the Parson, “Prospero’s Isle ought to have been placed on the coasts of Norway; it would seem that the more scarce the visible inhabitants, the more numerous the invisible.”

“O, yes, nature, nature abhors a vacuum, and these Alfar are by far the most numerous of all the supernatural beings. The White Elves, or Elves of Light, are seldom found out of Norway and Sweden, but the Brown Elf you have in Scotland as well. He works in metals of all sorts, though he delights most in silver and gold. It is the Brown Elf that is the fitful capricious being, which gives their meaning to the words elf and elvish: these are the creatures which pinch untidy maids, and drink up the milk, and light up their evening candles as Wills’-o’-the-Wisp, and lead men into bogs and marshes. When seen, they are dressed in brown jackets with crimson binding, and wear brown caps on their heads, whereas the Ljus Alfar wear always the helmet of the foxglove, and are dressed in white. It is the Black Elves that are malicious, though they often do good service to men; they, too, work in metals, but it is generally in iron and copper; they make arms and armour too, and sometimes filagree work, like the Ljus Alfar, but theirs is always black.”

“Berlin iron?” suggested the Parson.

“Perhaps so; at all events the chain armour that they make is a most valuable present, for, though no heavier than filagree-work, or, as you say, Berlin iron, it will turn a sword or a shot.”

“The disposition of the elf, then, varies with its colour.”


“Yes, but one characteristic runs through all—all are capricious. All may benefit you, some may hurt you, but none can be reckoned upon, and that peculiarity, together with their universal horror of daylight, gives a key to their allegorical origin.[37] These elves, or dwarfs, are the incarnation of mining speculations, a very general form of gambling both in Norway and Sweden. Mines are proverbially capricious; it is impossible to tell how they may turn out. Occasionally these spirits are beneficent in the highest degree, and their protégés become suddenly rich, but this is never to be relied on; the best are capricious, and the greater number are tricksy; while some—though even these are now and then capricious benefactors—are positively wicked and malicious. There, now you have my theory of the alfs and alfheim.

“And there is another allegory about them, with a good Christian moral to it,” continued Birger, after a pause spent in cherishing the fading embers of his pipe; “these alfs are not baptised and have no part in salvation, but they are capable of baptism under certain circumstances; they are always anxious for it for themselves in their good moments, but invariably so for their children, though those instances in which they succeed are rare. The Icelandic family of Gudmund are cursed with a disease peculiar to their race, which originated—so the family tradition goes—in the curse of an alf frue, whom one of their ancestors had deceived in this particular. Andreas Gudmund had a child by an alf frue: at her earnest request, he promised that it should be taken in the church; and when the child was old enough, she duly brought it to the churchyard wall, which was as far as she might go herself, for no alf may enter consecrated ground. The sound of the bells was torture to her, but she bore it, and laid her child on the wall, with a golden cup as an offering. But Gudmund, fearing the censures of the[218] Church and the reproaches of his friends, would not fulfil his promise. The alf frue waited and waited, but the service was over, and the parting bells began to ring again. So she snatched up the child and vanished into her hill, and neither she nor it were ever seen again under the light of day. But from that time forward, the right hand of every Gudmund is leprous, in token that their ancestor was forsworn.

“Now all this must be allegory; what should you say was the meaning of the spirits of the mine being capable of salvation, and being occasionally, though rarely, seen admitted into the Church?”

“I suppose,” said the Parson, “it must be that wealth, though a temptation to evil, may be used in God’s service, and that it occasionally, though rarely, is so used. ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.’”

“I think we may as well top our booms,” said the Captain, whose cigar was finished; “the people will be all asleep on board the steamer, and, besides—”

“Besides what?”

“Why we promised to let Marie have the eider down, and Ullitz’s people will be in bed, too. You know we sail at daybreak?”

“O-ho, that’s the business is it? Well, then, call the men together, and see that they leave nothing behind them.”

That was soon done, for nothing had been landed beyond the cooking and dining apparatus, and the boats dashed along the still fjord, leaving behind them three rippling lines of sparkling light, as if the Ljus Alfar were dancing in their wakes.

In little more than an hour they were alongside the steamer, where their whole travelling paraphernalia had been stowed in their respective berths. Of these, the Parson and Birger, tired with their long day’s work, were very shortly the occupants; the Captain, more energetic, collected the ducks, and, accompanied by Tom and Torkel, landed at the wharf; but what Marie said, on receiving so large an accession to her stores, and what the Captain said to her, and[219] how he contrived to say it, are points upon which history is silent. Certain it is, that when the Parson awoke from his first sleep, which was not till the steamer began to tumble about on the swell outside, the Captain was snoring loudly in the next berth, while the three attendants were equally fast asleep on the cabin deck.

While this book was in the press, the author met with “Lloyd’s Scandinavian Adventures,” in which there is not only a description, but a print of eider duck shooting under sail. It would be presumptuous in him to go against the experience of a sportsman who has resided in these countries for more years than the author has months. Possibly in the north, where the birds are less hunted, they may be less cautious, and may allow a boat to approach them in a breeze. The author can, however, write only from personal experience. The foregoing chapter, so far as the facts are concerned, is merely a transcript from his journal; and as far as his own experience goes, he would say, that the setting in of a breeze sufficient to enable the lightest boat to carry sail, would utterly preclude all chance of success in eider duck hunting.



“Now launched once more, the inland sea
They furrow with fair augury.
“So brilliant was the landward view,
The ocean so serene;
Each puny wave in diamonds rolled
O’er the calm deep, where hues of gold
With azure strove, and green.
The hill, the vale, the tree, the tower,
Glowed with the tints of evening hour,
The beach was silver sheen.
“The wind breathed soft as lover’s sigh,
And, oft renewed, seemed oft to die,
With breathless pause between.
“O, who with speech of war and woes
Would wish to break the soft repose
Of such enchanting scene.”
Lord of the Isles.

If an Englishman can ever enter into the feelings of a Neapolitan, and in any way connect the ideas of the dolce far niente with those of enjoyment, if he can ever bend that active, energetic mind of his, and that restless and industrious Anglo-Saxon body, to realize the faintest conception of the “paradise of rest,” in which the Buddhist places the sum of his felicity, it will be on board ship, after breakfast, on a calm, warm forenoon, and beyond the influence of the Post Office.


p. 220.

That these words actually passed through the lips of the Captain, and escaped, what Homer calls, the protection of his teeth, we will not take upon ourselves to affirm—as indolently he reclined on the paddle-box of the Gefjon steamer, with his eyes shut, his muscles relaxed, his arms and legs sprawling about in all directions, while the indolent[221] smoke of his cigar, that from time to time floated out lazily from between his lips, afforded the only sign of life about him; he seemed as if he was totally incapable of making any such exertion—but certainly, these ideas passed through his mind, and pictured themselves on the light grey clouds that proceeded from his mouth.

Breakfast, so far as the English portion of the guests was concerned, had long been over, and though some hardy Norseman or persevering Swede was still lingering over the scenes of his departed joys, and dallying with tempting morsels of raw smoked salmon, or appetizing caviare, the first great act of Northern daily life might be looked upon as completed.

“You an artist,” said Birger, whose sketching tablet was already slung round his neck, and who was looking round him from the bridge, unable to choose, in such a panorama of beauty, which of all the lovely views he should attempt to transfer to his paper—“You an artist, and asleep among scenes like these? you are not worthy of them; as if you could not smoke your cigar while the rain was falling, and sleep in the night-time.”

“I was not asleep,” said the Captain, lazily, “I was thinking.”

“Thinking,” said Birger, “look round you, and you may think that you are in fairy land, if fairy land, itself, has anything half so lovely. Look at that beautiful lake, which we are just opening, on the north—see how those wooded capes partly intercept the view, with their soft outline of birch, and that long reach of blue water dancing in the sunlight, and that little island, a single spot of shade, with its three picturesque fir trees, and that dark red rock that overhangs it, with its iron stains of brown and yellow starting up from among the bright green foliage; and look how the ash fringes the edge of that precipice: get up, and if you are too lazy to work, at least admire.”

Really, the scene was a scene of fairy land, such as, in our most poetical of moments, we picture fairy land to be. The steamer’s course lay among the groups of islands that fringe the southern shore of Norway, and these, in that portion of[222] the chain, at least, which lies between Hellesund and Lyngör, are, for the most part, bold rocks, clothed with every variety of foliage which Norway produces, and, being sheltered from the sweep of the sea breezes by the outer chain exhibit that foliage in its fullest perfection. The idea usually connected in our minds with Norwegian scenery, is that of wild and desolate grandeur; and fully is that idea realized in the mountains of the Hardanger and the Alpine deserts of the Fille Fjeld—wild, rugged, treeless scenes of utter desolation, almost beyond the limits of vegetable life. But it is far otherwise with the coasts—nowhere is seen a colouring half so vivid as among the sheltered islets of the southern shores; the turf with which their glades are clothed is more brilliantly green than anything that we have in England, where the grass is invariably interspersed with weeds. Take a square yard of any English turf whatever, and you will find in it, from ten to twenty different sorts of plants, all of which are, more or less, glaucous in their colouring, and these, though at a little distance undistinguishable in their forms, yet, blend their hues with the emerald green of the grass, and present what, side by side with Norwegian turf, would be but a soiled and faded picture. The foliage, too, is far more bright and luxuriant than anything in England, even in the interior of the country, but as different from our wind-worn and frost-nipt sea-side greenery as can well be conceived.

There is no such thing as early spring in those latitudes, or those warm, sunny, deceitful days, which tempt forth the young bud and leaflet, only to be pinched and shrivelled by the April frosts. Week after week does stern winter bind up all nature in its iron fetters; all is still, and cold, and dead; and though the sun rises higher and higher, he seems to shine without power; and though the days lengthen, and the empire of night be invaded, winter still holds on, and the snows look even whiter in the stronger light—the Norway of April, is but the Norway of December: more bright and more chilly—When all at once, and without preparation, the scene is changed—the snows are gone, the ice is broken, the leaves are already green, and the country is in the garb[223] of full-blown summer. Spring is a season unknown in Norway.

The consequence of this is, that the leaf, which has not begun to spring at all till the frost is thoroughly out of the ground and the air free from chill, is never blackened, or nipped, or dwarfed in its proportions, as it is in England, and therefore preserves, through the short summer, a greenness and depth of colouring which with us is unknown.

“There is a beautiful legend about this,” said Birger, as he pointed out this peculiarity, “I do not believe in it myself, altogether,” added he, smiling, as the recollection of the Tellemarken legends and the sacrifice to Nyssen came across his mind; “I will not vouch, myself, for more than the allegory, but if we may trust to the fires of Walpurgis Night, my countrymen believe it implicitly: ‘Iduna, the goddess of youth, is among the Æsir, the guardian of the apples of immortality—gods, like men, are subject to decay; but whenever they feel any symptoms of it, they renovate their existence by the apples of Iduna. The possession of these apples was, as might be supposed, earnestly coveted by the Hrimthursar, or Frost Giants, whose territories, called Uttgard, surrounded on every side the sea that encompasses the earth. Time was when the earth enjoyed a perpetual spring, but Loki, who had not then forfeited his place among the gods, attacking, one day, the giant Thjassi, the chief of the Hrimthursar, whom he had taken for an eagle, found his hands frozen to his plumage.

“‘Thjassi demanded as the price of his liberty that Iduna should be betrayed into his hands: this Loki agreed to do, and notwithstanding some secret misgivings, contrived to perform his promise; and thus it was that the goddess of youth, seduced beyond the influence of Asgard, was seized upon by the eagle giant and imprisoned in his castle among the rocks of eternal frost.

“‘The gods, who had lost their renovating principle, were growing grey and wrinkled; the might of the Thunderer was paralysed, and the wisdom of Odin himself, the father of gods and men, was waning; the whole world was pining for want of that principle of life which continually restored[224] the inevitable decay of nature; Loki himself felt the universal loss which the world had sustained, and being as yet not entirely lost to shame or callous to rebuke, set himself in earnest to effect the deliverance of Iduna.

“‘This—having borrowed from Freya her falcon plumage—he managed to effect, and was bringing back the goddess to Asgard, under the guise of a swallow, the bird of spring, when the eagle wings of Thjassi, who was rushing in pursuit, darkened the air and blotted out half the sky. The gods lighted fires round all the walls of Asgard to scare away the pursuer, who fell exhausted in the flames and perished under their vengeance.

“‘But Skadi, his daughter, determined to revenge her father’s death, declared war on Asgard, and carried it on with such success that the gods were fain to come to a compromise with her, and she consented to peace on condition that she should take for her husband any one of the gods she should choose, and should be admitted into Asgard as an equal. From that time forward the earth has felt the influence of the Hrimthursar for a portion of the year; but their power is at an end[38] on the anniversary of that day, when Iduna is delivered from her captivity; and men kindle their fires on Walpurgis Night, the 30th of April, in memory of those which, kindled on the walls of Asgard, had baffled and destroyed the chief of the Hrimthursar.’”[39]

“Ah! by the way, I saw them building up a great bonfire[225] as we rounded that point of land, coming out of Hellesund,” said the Captain; “there was a heap a dozen feet high, and they had put a whole boat upon the top of it.”

“Well, but this is not Walpurgis Night,” said the Parson; “this is St. John’s Eve.”

“We do not know much about St. John’s Eve in these parts,” said Birger, laughing. “I am afraid our legends are a good deal more Pagan than Christian. That which you saw was the ‘Bale-Fire,’ by which our people commemorate the death of Baldur, and the boat was his ship, the Hringhorn. You will see plenty more of them when the night draws on;—every town and every village, and almost every hut will have its bale-fire, and many of them its boat too. It is a singular thing that Pagan legends should have so much more hold on the minds of the people than anything derived from their Christian history, but so it is.”

“Not at all singular,” said the Parson; “properly speaking, Norway was never converted; it was conquered by a Christian faction, and again it was conquered by a court party. The people succumbed to force; but in their thoughts and feelings—and therefore in their manners and customs—they were what they had been in the days of the sea-kings; and now their minds naturally revert to the time when their country was most powerful.”

“I will give you a Christian legend, then,” said Captain Hjelmar, the Swedish commander of the steamer, who had been for some time talking with Birger on the bridge, and now came forward with his hat in his hand, after the manner of his country, and told his tale, very fluently, in a queer sort of French. This was also after the manner of his country, for, though that language is abominated in[226] Norway, in Sweden it is much affected by those who would wish it to be supposed that they are habitués of the court; and thus it was that though—as it afterwards turned out—Captain Hjelmar could speak remarkably good English, he preferred addressing Englishmen in remarkably bad French, in order to show his court breeding.

“You see that tall rock,” said he, “that looks so black and distant, in front of that green island?—that rock really is one of the Hrimthursar of whom Lieutenant Birger has been telling you; and when St. Olaf came to convert the Norwegians, the giant, who had been bribed by Hakon the Jarl, at the price of his young son Erling, whom he sacrificed to him, waded into the sea, and put forth his hand to stay the ship, that the saint should not approach the shore: but the saint served a higher Power than the gods of Asgard, and even as he stood, the giant froze into stone; and there he stands to this day, as you see him, with one arm advanced,—and there he will stand till the day of Ragnarök, except that once in a hundred years, on Christmas Eve, he is restored to life, in order to declare to the Hrimthursar that on that day their power was broken for ever.”

“Well done, St. Olaf,” said the Captain; “I thought that all his conversions were effected by the weight of his battle-axe.”

“Why, you Englishmen acknowledge him as a saint as well as we,” said Captain Hjelmar. “Have you not, in your great City of London, a church dedicated to him? and is there not also a place called Cripplegate?”

“There certainly are such places,” said the Parson, “but what they have to do with one another, or with Norway, is more than I can see.”

“There was a man in Walland, so great a cripple that he was obliged to go on his hands and knees, and it was revealed to him that if he should go to St. Olaf’s Church, in London, he should be healed. How he got there, I cannot tell you; but he did, and he was crawling along, and the boys were laughing at him, as he asked them which was St. Olaf’s Church, when a man, dressed in blue and carrying an axe on his shoulder, said, ‘Come with me, for I have become[227] a countryman of yours.’ So he took up the cripple and carried him through the streets, and placed him on the steps of the church. Much difficulty had the poor man to crawl up the steps; but when he arrived at the top he rose up straight and whole, and walked to the altar to give thanks; but the man with the battle-axe had vanished, and was never seen more; and the people thought it was the blessed St. Olaf himself, and they called the place where the cripple was found ‘Cripplegate,’ and so they tell me it is called to this day.”[40]

“Faith! I can answer for that part of the story myself,” said the Captain; “the place is called Cripplegate, sure enough, but I am afraid St. Olaf has long since ceased to frequent it, for we have not heard of any miracles done lately in those parts. But what is your story about the ‘bale-fires,’ Birger, for I see another in process of erection on that cape?—that looks like a remarkably good boat they are going to burn in it.”

“That legend, like most of those from the Eddas, is purely allegorical, and, unlike most of them, is very intelligible. Baldur, among the Æsir, is the Principle of Good, and everything that is bright, or beautiful, or innocent, is dedicated to him, and among other things, that part of the year which begins at Walpurgis Night, when the reign of the frost ceases, and ends at this day, the summer’s solstice—that is to say, the whole of that time in which light and warmth are getting the mastery over cold and darkness. These commemorate the happy days of Asgard, before the Principle of Evil had crept in; and had they only continued, the whole world would have been by this time glowing in perpetual light, and spring, and happiness.

“But Loki himself, one of the twelve of the principal Æsir, became envious of this, and was jealous that all the good in the world should be ascribed to Baldur; so he resolved to kill him. This the Nornir revealed to Baldur in a vision,[228] and the goddess Freya took an oath of everything that walked on the earth, or swam the waters, or flew in the air, or grew from the ground, or was under it, that they would not hurt Baldur; and then the gods would laugh at the revelation of the Nornir, and would shoot at Baldur with stones, and masses of iron, and thrust at him with their spears, and cut at him with their swords and axes; but they all passed him by for the oath’s sake, which all nature had given.

“So Loki said to the mistletoe, ‘Thou dost neither run, nor fly, nor swim, nor grow from the ground, nor lie under it; there is no oath for thee.’ So he gathered the stem of the mistletoe, and placed it in the hand of Hodur, the god of Blindness, and said, ‘shoot, like the other gods, and I will direct thy hand:’ and he shot, and Baldur fell dead in the midst of the gods, and innocence departed from the earth; and then the days which had hitherto been getting brighter and brighter, so that darkness had began to fly from the face of the earth, now began to close in again, and darkness began to increase.

“In vain did Hermod, the brother of Baldur,[41] undertake the journey to the realms of Hela. So much was accorded, that if all nature would agree to mourn for the death of Baldur, he should be restored to earth; but though everything did so, as the Edda has it, ‘Men and animals, and earth, and stones, and trees, and all metals, even as thou hast seen everything weep when it comes forth from the frost into the warm air, yet the giantess, Thaukt, who it is said was but Loki in disguise, refused to weep.’

“‘Neither in life, nor yet in death,
Gave he me gladness.
Let Hell keep her prey!’

and Hell will keep her prey, as the Norna revealed to Odin, till the day of restitution of all things; and then, when the new sun shall enlighten the new earth, Baldur, restored from[229] Hell, and Hodur, no longer blind, shall reign for ever and ever.[42]

“But in the mean time it was necessary to prepare the funeral pyre of the god: his body was placed in his ship, the Hringhorn, and the pile was built round it, and his wife, Nanna, and his dwarf, Litur, and his father’s magic ring, Dropsnir, and his horse, and all his accoutrements, were placed on it, and amid a weeping concourse of gods and men, and Hrimthursar, and dwarfs, and witches, the fire was placed to it, and all nature mourned the departure of innocence.

“And in memory of this, so soon as the days cease to lengthen, and nature feels the loss of its original innocence, and darkness begins to threaten the earth, men kindle their fires in memory of the death of Baldur.”[43]

“Hallo! the Thousand take you! look where you are steering,” shouted out Hjelmar, in Swedish, to the helmsman, “are you going to run down the island?” And in truth it did seem something like it, for the branches of the overhanging trees rattled against the fore-topsail-yard, bringing down a shower of leaves and twigs; and a projecting ash so nearly brushed the paddle-box on which they were sitting, that the Parson broke off a branch as they passed.

“Confound those fellows! they know the water is deep here, and think they cannot shave the point too closely, I[230] suspect they wanted to astonish the passengers, and did not see me among them.”

The point which they had rounded was just to the east, from off Osterisö, at which place they had just touched; and immediately afterwards they plunged into a deep, dark chasm of a passage between the two islands, which looked as if they had been split asunder by some sudden convulsion of nature, so evidently the projections and indentations of the opposite walls of rock seemed to fit into each other; while far overhead the trees looked as if they were overarching the chasm, and shutting out the light of day from its recesses. The churning sound of the paddles, and the hissing of the sea beneath their stroke sounded unnaturally loud, and the two little pop-guns which the Gefjon carried on her forecastle and took that opportunity for discharging, rolled and echoed like a peal of thunder.

“There!” said Captain Hjelmar, as the steamer pushed her way into daylight, and opened out a wide expanse no less beautiful than those they had been passing through all the morning; “there lies the strength of our coast; the Norwegian navy consists principally of gun-boats, and these dodge in and out among these islets, just as difficult to catch as rabbits in a warren; the great lumbering cruiser of the enemy watches in vain on the outside, like a terrier at the rabbit’s hole, while the rabbit, meanwhile, has passed out by a back door, and is taking his pleasure elsewhere.[44]


“In the days of the last war, I was a cadet on board the Najaden frigate, the commodore on these coasts: I used to be lent to the gun-boats, and capital fun we had with your merchantmen; pretty profitable fun too, for we brought them in by dozens. There were your big cruisers, every now and then getting a crack at us, and picking off here and there a clumsy fellow who let himself get caught outside, but never doing us much harm. It was glorious fun, certainly,—at first, I must say, I did not like firing at the old English flag, that so many of our people had sailed under, but after exchanging a few shots, and seeing a few of one’s people knocked over, one soon learns to forget all that; and I blazed away at the old red rag after a bit, just as readily as I would at a rascally Russ.

“Your Captain Stuart put an end to all that, though, for one while; and before we had recovered from the drubbing he gave us, there was peace again, and no revenge to be had for it. I was not sorry for the peace, though; it is not natural to be fighting the English.”

“Aye,” said the Parson, “I have heard something about Captain Stuart, of the Dictator; he got some credit for his services in these waters.”

“And well he deserved it,” said Hjelmar; “he was a thorough sailor, he knew what his ship could do, and he made her do it. As for fighting, anybody will fight; but to run such a chase as he did, requiring skill, and science, and nerve, and firmness, as well as brute courage, which every man has, and most beasts besides, is what very few men would have moral courage to attempt, or seamanship enough to bring to a successful termination.

“We used to laugh at the old Dictator; if a corvette could not catch our gun-boats, it was not very likely a line-of-battle ship would do the trick; for this water, for all it is so deep and looks so open, is studded all over with pointed rocks at a fathom or so under the surface; and some of these, not a yard square at the top, any one of which would bring up a gun brig, let alone a liner. Well, there was the Dictator cruising about and doing nothing, as we thought; we did not know that he was improving his charts, and getting bearings[232] and soundings; still less did we suspect that one of his quartermasters had been the mate of a coasting jagt, and knew the coast as well as we did. I have met the fellow since; he got a boatswain’s rating for his services, and I think he should have got something better.

“At that time I was on board the frigate. Old Hulm, our commodore, said I was too wild to be trusted with a separate command, and one morning we were dodging about where we are now, with a steady breeze from the westward that looked as if it would stand. There were the old Dictator’s mast-heads, just where we had seen them twenty times before, over the trees of Laxö,—that is, the island we are just opening, where those salmon nets are hanging up to dry.

“‘By the keel of Skidbladner, that sailed over dry land,’ says Hulm, ‘what is the fellow at now?’ as we opened the point of the island, and the line-of-battle ship, that had been lying with her main-topsail aback, squared away her yards and dashed in after us. ‘O, by Thor and by Mjölner! if that is your fun I will see what Norwegian rocks are made of. Keep her away a couple of points, quartermaster; and Mr. Sinklar (to the first lieutenant), turn the hands up.’ By this time we were running away dead before it; the enemy, who was all ready, had her studding-sails set on both sides,—it was beautiful to see how smartly they went up, it was like a bird unfolding her wings. ‘That’s a fine fellow,’ said Hulm; ‘it’s a pity, too, to sink him, but we must, so here goes.’

“Old Hulm, who was full of fight, all this time dodged along under plain sail, just as if he did not care for that the big fellow, and it is my opinion he would not have set his studding-sails had the distance been less. You see that green point just on the port bow, that one with the black stone lying off it:—by the way, I do not see why we should not run the very course ourselves. I have a passenger to Lyngör, and we may just as well go that course as any other. Starboard your helm, my man! that will do! meet her! keep her as she goes.

“There, now, you begin to see that there is an opening to the eastward and northward of that point. As soon as we[233] brought it abeam, down went our helm, and everything was braced as sharp up as it would draw; for the channel winds, as you see, to the southward of east. We thought to bother her, but those fifties on two decks are so short, they come round like tops. We were running free again to the eastward, outside the channel. When she came abreast of the opening, in came her studding-sails all at once, and there were her sails standing like boards, and her yards braced up as sharp as ours had been, and so much had he gained upon us, that as her port broadside came to bear, three or four shots, just to try the distance, came across the end of the island after us, skipping and dancing over the seas.

“‘We must get Mjölner to speak to them,’ said old Hulm, rubbing his hands and looking delighted. ‘I think she will pitch her shot home now.’ Mjölner was a long French eighteen, a very handsome brass gun, ornamented with fleurs-de-lis, and all sorts of jigmarees; the private property of the captain. Where he had picked it up, no one knew;—people said it had been the Long Tom of a French pirate. Old Hulm had called it Mjölner, which I suppose you know is the name of Thor’s hammer; he was as fond of it as he was of his wife, and always kept it on the quarter-deck, under a tarpaulin, which he never took off except on Sundays.

“It took some time to train the gun aft, and by this time the line-of-battle ship had cleared the channel, and was putting up her helm to follow us. The old skipper laid his pet gun himself, and squinted, and squinted over her breech, and elevated, and depressed, and trained to the right, and trained to the left, till we thought he never meant to twitch the lanyard at all. Crack went Mjölner. By this time we had pretty nearly got the line-of-battle ship’s three masts in one, and the shot striking just under the fore top-mast cross-trees, cut the topsail tie and the jib halyards at once; down rattled the yard, snapping the fore top gallant sheets, out flew the top gallant sail, and away went the jib dragging under her fore-foot; and up flew the ship herself into the wind again, letting drive her broadside at us, as if she had done it on purpose.


“The old skipper sent his steward for some bottles of true Cognac, and gave the men a tot all round, to drink Mjölner’s health.

“The enemy had brailed up her driver, and braced by her after-sails, and got before the wind again in no time; and was not much longer in bending on a new tie and splicing her halyards; but we had got pretty well out of range now, and were bobbing in and out among a cluster of rocks as thick as porpoises. We had a man at the flying jib-boom as a look-out, and a couple more on the spritsail yardarms (for our ships had not whiskers in those days), and it was nothing but ‘Breakers ahead!’ ‘Rock on the port bow!’ ‘A reef to starboard!’ for the next quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, enough to make one’s hair stand on end. A-ha! thought I, when the last of them showed clear on the quarter, this is the skipper’s trap; here’s where the old Dictator is going to lay her bones! But she did not. She dodged through every one of them every bit as well as we had done, and there certainly was no doubt but that the distance between us was a good deal decreased. These tubs of fifties sail like a haystack on a wind, but before it they go like Skidbladner herself.

“Old Hulm began to look grave; he had never dreamt of her following him within the islands like that, and he began to ‘smell a rat.’ The frigate had been caught on her very worst point of sailing. We might easily have worked to windward at first, but now she had got us fairly under her lee, and if we tried to tack under her guns, she would have stripped us of every rag of canvas we could show. Mjölner came into play again, as well as the stern chasers on the main deck, and to good purpose, too; but, on the other hand, the English shot were flying like peas about us—and they did not always fall short, either. Now and then there was a rope shot away, or a man knocked over, or a gun capsized,—for, at that distance, every shot that hit us pitched in upon the deck and trundled forwards, hopping here and there off the bulwarks without going through them, like so many billiard balls.

“‘I will tell you what,’ says Hulm, ‘I will shove her[235] through the Lyngör Channel, there is a rock in the middle that it will be as much as we can do to shave ourselves, and if we do get past it, the chances are, that it will bring up the liner; it is a desperate chance, but we must try it, and if the Englishman does get through after us (which she will not), we will reach out into the offing as close to the wind as we can lie. Port your helm at once, Mr. Sinklar—drop your main course, and haul out the driver.’

“Up she came to the wind again, but the main-sail, which had been clewed up while we were running, had got a shot through it, exactly where the bunt-line gathered it into a bundle. The shot had gone through fold after fold of the canvas, cutting the foot-rope also, and before the tack was well hauled down, the sail had split from top to bottom; and then, just as she drew in under cover of the land, the mizen top-mast came clattering about our ears.

“It was all up for beating to windward, unless we could shift our top-mast in time, and this the enemy was too close upon us to allow us do; everything lay on the rock bringing her up, and as I looked over the side as we passed, the rugged points looked so close to our own bends, that I thought they must have gone through; and the liner drew more water than we did.

“All eyes were turned on the English ship, at least, on her sails, for a point of land concealed her hull, and prevented our firing; every moment we expected to see her sheets let fly;—not a bit of it,—on she came as steadily as ever.

“Just at the village of Lyngör the channel turns at right angles, and the islands that form it, being high, took the wind out of our courses; while we had been running it had drawn a little to the southward of west,—which, as we had been off the wind all day, we had not taken notice of—as we turned the angle it headed us. Whether, under any circumstances, we could have fetched clear of the northern cape is doubtful; without our mizen top-sail it was impossible, for as the courses were becalmed, we really carried nothing but head sail that would draw; and in fact, we could scarcely look up for the cape, much less weather it.

“Down with the anchor! out boats, to lay out a warp[236] to spring her! we will fight it out here!’ said old Hulm. But the Englishman had seen us over the land from his mast-heads, and anchored by the stern, clewing up or letting fly everything, and passing out his cable from his stern-port, so as to check her way by degrees; when she came into sight round the point, at not a cable’s length from us, she had a cluster of men on her bowsprit with a hawser. On she came, as if she was going to leap over the town, and dropped her men on the houses, who, sliding down by the dolphin-striker, leaped on shore and made fast with her hawser forward, while her anchor brought her up abaft. And there she lay, as steady as a land battery, and opened her fire. The first broadside, loaded with grape, came rattling among the boats that were laying out the warp; what became of them I never heard; but the warp lay slack, and the current drifted us end-on to the line-of-battle ship’s broadside, and I felt our decks crumbling and splintering under me as her shot tore them up.

“The next thing after that that I recollect, is a great rough hand pulling me out of the water by my collar, and a kindly English voice asking me if I was hurt. The smoke was still lying on the water, and hanging in little clouds upon the trees; but all that was to be seen of the old Najaden, was the main and fore-top gallant and royal masts, which, with their sails set, were still above water, and the blue and yellow pennant over all. We had gone down with our colours flying, and Captain Stuart would not have the pennant struck,—‘we had fought gallantly for it,’ he said, ‘and we should keep it still.’

“Poor old Hulm, he was a fine fellow: there now! that is the very spot of the action,” for by this time they had opened the point of Lyngör, and had come in sight of the beautiful little village. “Do you see that iron pillar on the point? that is Captain Hulm’s monument.”

“He went down with his ship, then?”

“No, he did not; how he was saved I do not remember, but he was saved, and rewarded too for his standing up to the line-of-battle ship; for Father Karl is an old soldier, and knows that a man often deserves as much praise for[237] being beat as for beating. The old fellow lived to a good old age; that was his house, that white fronted one on the hill, for Lyngör was his native place. It is not two years ago that he was capsized in his little schooner and drowned. There’s his monument, any how; and I always salute it, whenever I pass this way:” and as they came abreast of the point, the Gefjon’s swallow-tailed ensign dipped from her peak, and her little pop-guns again testified their respect to the old sailor’s memory.



“A cautious guest,
When he comes to his hostel,
Speaketh but little;
With his ears he listeneth,
With his eyes he looketh,—
Thus the wise learneth.
“No better burthen
Bears a man on his journey
Than observation:—
No worse provision
Bears a man on his journey
Than frequent drunkenness.”
High Song of Odin the Old.

Early rising is not pleasant at sea. Captain Basil Hall may talk of the joyous morning watch if he likes,—but there is nothing joyous in washing decks, and that is what most ships are occupied with at that hour. The Parson did not make his appearance on deck till after breakfast, and he was the first of the party.

The steamer was now approaching the end of her voyage, for the land, closing on both sides, showed the estuary of the Gotha. Most of the party were not sorry for the conclusion of the voyage, enjoyable as the earlier part of it had been; for the steamer,—after coasting all the way to Christiania, where the party had supplied themselves with carioles for their land journey, which, with their wheels unshipped, were stowed away snugly forward,—had taken her course, southward, over the tumbling Skagarack—a part of the world notorious for sea-sickness.

All the morning long, preparations had been going forward for making a creditable appearance on arriving in port, and[239] the discomforts of the early-risers had been considerably increased by a very liberal use of the holy-stone,—an amusement which, as the men were still employed in blacking the rigging, gave promise of an early repetition.

Slung from a block at the mainmast head was a small triangular stage, made of three battens, on which sat a very dirty individual with a pot of slush before him and a tarring-brush in his hand, with which he was polishing off his morning’s work on the shining mast.

Seated on the bitts below was a sturdy Norwegian, who, as if disdaining the compromise usually adopted by the coasting inhabitants, appeared in the caricature of a full-dressed Tellemarker, with a strip of jacket like a child’s spencer, of orange tawny wadmaal, great loose blue trousers with a waistband over his shoulder blades, crimson braces, and two strings of silver bullets dependent from the collars of a very dirty shirt. He was caressing a particularly ugly dog, which he called Garm,—an appellation which proved him to be what in England would be called a fast man; it is much as if an English young gentleman were to call his dog Satan. He was haranguing, of course, on the vast superiority of Norway to Sweden, and the infinite degradation which the former country had received from the union of the crowns,—that being not only the most favourite topic of Norwegian declamation, but, in the present instance, at all events, the most injudicious and unsuitable subject in which to exhibit before so mixed an audience.

They behaved, however, exceedingly well, and rather trotted him out, much to the disgust of Torkel, who had sense enough to perceive what was going on, and would have infinitely preferred their beating him: after vainly endeavouring to draw his countrymen away, he had walked forward, and was looking moodily over the bows.

“As for the Swedes,” said our judicious friend, “they are nothing better than swindlers. I have, for my sins, to go to Gotheborg every year, to lay in stores for the winter, and I am sure to be cheated. We don’t let Jews land on our shores, and I must go to Gotheborg to find them.”


“Well, but we have no Jews either.” said a bye-stander; “they do not come to us, they go to the Free Towns.”

“You are all Jews; the real Jews don’t go to you, that is very true, but it is because they know that the Gotheborgers are hogs, and their law does not allow them to have anything to do with unclean animals. Yes, you are all swine together. Why, I tell you a Norwegian dog would not touch anything Swedish. Come here, Garm!”—and he pulled out of his pocket a bit of ham, evidently filched from the breakfast table.

Here the Parson thought he detected a glance of intelligence between Captain Hjelmar and the man at the mast-head, who, much amused, had left off his work to listen.

“Come here, Garm!”—placing the tempting morsel on the deck.

The dog wagged his tail, evidently preparing to seize it.

“Svenske!” said the man. The dog, who had been well trained in this common trick, turned up his nose with apparent disgust, and refused the meat.

“There!” said he, “I defy any Swede among you all to make a true Norwegian dog eat a bit of it. Garm knows what you all are, don’t you, Garm?”

Just then, by the merest accident in the world, the slush-kettle got unhitched from the stage above his head, and came tumbling over on the deck, and in its descent, taking the unfortunate Norwegian on the nape of his neck as he was leaning forward to caress his dog, pitched the whole of its contents between his jacket collar and his back.

Captain Hjelmar rated the man severely for his carelessness in spoiling his decks, and, ordering him off the stage, directed the boatswain to put his name into the black list. The man, however, did not seem much cast down about it, but slid down the greasy mast with a broad grin on his countenance, while the Norwegians carried their discomfited companion forward to purify him; and Garm, profiting by the confusion, proved a traitor to his country, by not only swallowing down the Swedish ham, but also by licking up as much as he could of the Swedish slush that had poured[241] from the head and shoulders of his master on the Swedish deck.

The coast of Sweden and the banks of the Gotha below the town, offer a striking contrast to the lovely scenery they had left. There are the rocks and the fringing islets, as in Norway, but here they are all flat, and most of them absolutely bare. The coasts, too, where they could be seen, exhibited ledges of rock and wastes of sand, with just enough cultivation to make the desolateness painful, by connecting it with the idea of people living there. Eider ducks would dive before them, and wild-fowl in little knots would cross their course, and hoopers would go trumpeting over their heads, with their white wings reflecting the sun like silver, and dippers of all sorts would play at hide-and-seek with the waves, and seals would put up their bullet-heads to gaze at them as they passed. The water is always beautiful when the sun shines directly upon it; but the eye must not range so far as the shore, for no sunshine could gild that.

There was a good deal of life, and traffic too, upon the waters, for Gotheborg, the nearest port to the Free Towns and to all foreign trade whatever, as well as the outlet of the river navigation, may be considered the Liverpool of Sweden.

As they proceeded the scenery slightly improved: the right bank began to be dotted with houses and small villages, wretched enough compared with the picturesque places on the other end of the Skaggerack, but at all events showing signs of life. At length they became continuous, and at a couple of miles distance, the three churches of Gotheborg, with the close cluster of houses, came into view. The anchor was dropped opposite to the fishing suburb of Gammle Hafvet, and a shore-going steamer came alongside to receive the passengers; which steamer, much to the fishermen’s delight, contained their old friend Moodie, who, on hearing that the Norway packet had been signalized, had gone to meet her on the chance of seeing them.

Moodie was a singular character,—a cadet of good family, and brought up to no profession; he had been from his childhood passionately fond of field sports, in all of which he[242] excelled. At an early age he had become his own master, with a good education, some usage of the world, a handsome person, a peculiarly active frame and sound constitution, and two hundred a year, pour tout potage. Rightly judging that England afforded no fitting scope for his peculiar talents, without the imminent danger of a committal for poaching, he had expatriated himself to Ireland; which country, he had, in a sporting point of view, thoroughly studied, and made himself completely master of its resources; he knew when every river in the whole island came into season and went out, and the best and cheapest way of transferring self and encumbrances from one point to another. He knew the times at which the woodcocks and the snipes would arrive, and the out-of-the-way places at which they may be safely shot; he could give a catalogue raisonnée of all the wayside public-houses in sporting localities, and was hand-in-glove with half the disreputable squireens of Ireland. Certainly, he bagged more grouse annually than many a man who pays a rent of five or six hundred a year for the privilege of supplying the London markets.

It was on the Erne that the fishermen had met him, and Moodie being an extremely well-informed and gentleman-like man, besides being a thorough sportsman, they had struck up with him what might be called an intimate acquaintance, which, now that they met as Englishmen on a foreign land, might be considered an intimate friendship.

It was the railroads, and the consequent invasion of the cockneys, which had expatriated Moodie from his adopted country; people began to preserve, too, and to let their fishing and shooting-grounds; even the Erne was not what it had been, and Moodie, whose whole belongings, besides his live stock in the shape of dogs, were contained in two portmanteaus and as many gun-cases, packed them, and one morning found himself standing on the quay of Gotheborg.

If, instead of the coast of Sweden, it had been the coast of the Cannibal Islands, Moodie would soon have found himself at home; but here he had letters of introduction, and Karl Johann, who had a high opinion of the English, was[243] very anxious to get an infusion of English blood among his Swedes. Moodie’s peculiar talents, too, which in England might have consigned him to the county jail, in Sweden found their legitimate outlet; he soon found a beautiful little country house on the banks of the Gotha; had no difficulty in renting the exclusive right of fishing for some miles above and below it; paid the rent and all expenses of boats and boatmen, and put a handsome sum into his pocket besides, by supplying Gotheborg with lake salmon (salmo ferox). He then got the rangership of a royal forest, by which he kept his numerous hangers-on in what he called butcher’s meat, and traded with the Zoological Gardens and private collections in the wild beasts and birds of the country, by means of which traffic, he had furnished himself with the choicest collection of sporting fire-arms and fishing tackle to be found in the north. Besides which, Moodie had become a public character. Sweden has its wild beasts as well as its ordinary game,—he who destroys a wolf or a bear is a public benefactor, and Moodie had a peculiar talent for tracking them. Every farmer within a hundred miles of Gäddebäck would pull off his hat to him; but that is not saying much, for a Swede is always pulling off his hat, and if he had nothing else to pull it off to he would be making his salaams to the cows and sheep.

It was not a great deal of Gotheborg the fishermen saw that evening; their experience of the country was confined to a march by the shortest road from the landing place to Todd’s Hotel, and their subsequent view to a sort of Dutch interior, of which pipes, tobacco, bottles, glasses, juniper beer of native manufacture, and thin vinous importations from Bordeaux, made up the accessories; but the fishermen had much to inquire after, and Moodie had much to tell.

Breakfast, always a luxurious meal in the north, at least, in summer time, on account of the quantities of berries and the abundant supply of cream, brought a visitor,—a young artillery officer, a friend of Birger, by name Dahlgren, and by rank Count, who had his quarters in the inn,—for the Swedish officers have no mess like ours, but lodge permanently in the hotels, paying a fixed sum per week, and[244] dining at the table d’hôte. Like Birger, he was a painter, but whereas the guardsman exercised his art simply as an amateur, or at most, in the public service of his country, his friend, Count as he was, exercised his as a profession, and as a means of eking out his scanty pay.

There would be a grand review that afternoon, he said, and it would be well worth seeing, for Gotheborg is the great artillery station of Sweden, and the Commander-in-Chief, with his staff, who were on a tour of inspection, had arrived by the canal steamer from the new fortress of Wanås, on the Wetter.

This piece of information, which the artilleryman detailed with great glee, was received by Birger with a wry countenance, as certain to detain him within doors as long as the General remained at Gotheborg,—for it will be remembered he was at that very time unable to join his regiment on account of pressing family affairs.

This did not affect the others, so, leaving their friend to amuse himself as best he might, by improving his sketches or watching the magpies from the window, they started, under the pilotage of their new ally, for a tour of observation.

Whatever else Gotheborg is famous for, certainly the most remarkable thing in it is its flocks of magpies,—birds which, in our country, are extremely wild, and by no means fond of town life. Gregarious, in the proper sense of the term, they are not, but they are as numerous as sparrows in London, very nearly as tame, and much more impudent. This by no means arises from any affection which the inhabitants have for the bird—for magpies are ugly and mischievous all the world over, and quite as mischievous in Gotheborg as anywhere else,—but from a popular superstition they are under the especial protection of the devil—and truly the devil cares for his own: they build their nests and bring up their young under the very noses of the schoolboys; they feed them with stolen goods, filched from every kitchen,—and often and often, among the delicacies of the season, they regale them with spring chicken of their own killing. But no one molests a magpie; Heaven only knows what would be[245] the consequences of killing one; and, though Government has set a price on their heads, they sleep in safety, under the protection of their great master.

The town ought to be handsome, but it is not; the description would look well on paper. A great broad canal through the centre, with quays all the way on both sides, as at Dublin, only twice as broad, forming a very wide street; and from this five or six similar canals, similarly furnished with quays and streets, branch off at right angles. The banks of all these canals are planted with trees, and arranged as shaded footways. All this sounds as if the place ought to be pretty, but, though every word of this is true, the reality falls far short of the ideas it conveys. The houses are mean and low, and, the windows being flush with the sides, the whole appearance is pasteboard-like and unsubstantial, which the reality is not. The Swedes build their wooden houses in very good taste, and they harmonise very well with the scenery, but they should stick to that—ne sutor ultra crepidam: let not the carpenter aspire to be a mason. Every house, large or small, in town or in country, has very large panes of glass,—the very cabins have them; the glass is as bad as bad can be, full of flaws and waves, and very thin besides; even this produces a bad effect; besides, it is impossible to admire the finest of towns, when walking over streets so roughly paved that eyes and thoughts must be continually directed towards the footing.

There is a capital market, and the canals bring the hay, and the fuel, and all other heavy articles from the interior, to the very doors of the houses. It was singular to see floating haystacks and faggot piles—for so they looked, the hulls of the boats being completely hidden by their freight,—towed up in strings by the little steam-tugs, and moored to the quays. If Gotheborg is not a prosperous town, Sweden will not support one at all, for it is impossible for any situation to be more favourable for trade. The river itself forms a secure harbour, its only fault being that vessels of heavy draught cannot anchor within a mile of the town. The interior water communications comprehend all the midland provinces, and the landing and shipping of goods is as[246] easy as art can make it; besides, it is the outermost port of the whole country.

The markets, certainly, are well supplied, especially that of fish, both salt and fresh-water. Beef and mutton are among its articles of export to the southern coasts of Norway, and there is not a bad display of vegetables for so northern a country. The quantities of spinach which are seen everywhere, and which mingle with every dish, rather surprise the traveller, till he finds out that the sandhills which he has seen on each side of him all the way up the river, are covered with it, growing wild—wild as it is, English garden spinach is not at all better flavoured. Singularly enough, melons are plentiful; one would almost as soon expect to meet with pines in these latitudes,—but the short summer of Sweden is peculiarly favourable for them.

The trade of the place does not look very lively, and the bustle in the streets is nothing at all like that of Bristol or Liverpool. What little stir there was just then, seemed to be rather military than mercantile. Dirty, slovenly-looking artillerymen, with ugly blue and yellow uniforms, putting one disagreeably in mind of the Edinburgh Review; overalls patched extensively with leather that terribly wanted the blacking-brush; and dingy steel scabbards, that did not know what emery-stone was, were clanking about the streets, followed by little crowds; and groups of officers were standing at the doors of the hotels and lodging-houses. Evidently a review was not an everyday business.

The Parson and Captain were soon deserted by their military cicerone, who left them, to prepare for his part in the military display, having directed them into the street that leads to the scene of action. This was a large meadow, or small park, to the east of the town, rather a pretty promenade, enclosed with trees, which was now crowded with people. Towns, especially trading towns, are not remarkable for costume. The people, seeing such a variety of foreigners, get to be citizens of the world themselves, and so lose their nationalities. But there were a few fancy dresses, too, from the country round; short round corduroy jackets, sometimes a sort of tartan, too, but which invariably had rows of buttons[247] sewed as thick together as they could stand. Among the women, a handkerchief was frequently tied round the head instead of a bonnet; but every one, almost, carried his or her bunch of flowers, an article which abounded in the markets; these were very often carried in the hats, or stuck through the knots of the kerchiefs.

And now the bugles of the artillery were heard, and the rumbling of wheels, and the trampling of horses, as battery after battery rolled into the park. The Swedes call them horse artillery, but they are, in reality, only field batteries; for of horse artillery, properly so called, that most beautiful of military toys, they have none. Their guns, twelve pounders, are drawn by six horses, each of which carries a man. In bringing the guns into action, the off-man of each pair dismounted, and these were joined by three others, whose seat was on the limbers. These are hardly men enough to work so heavy a gun, allowing for the casualties of action, but on emergencies the driver of the middle pair also lends his services.

There was nothing showy in the review, the manœuvres of which were confined to advancing and retreating in line, and forming column, and deploying into line again; but all at a foot’s pace, or at a very slow trot. They had no idea of changing front, or retreating in echéllon, or any of those showy manœuvres in which the prolong is used. In fact, so far as display went, it was a very slow affair indeed; the men, however, seemed to know their work pretty well, and though individually dirty and slovenly and without the well set up carriage of our own soldiers, they bore, as a body, rather a soldier-like appearance. They ride very forward, absolutely on the horse’s withers—this is said to give the horse greater facility of draught; and it may, but at all events, it gives a most awkward and unsoldier-like appearance to the men, which is in no way improved by the manner in which they carry their swords—the elbows sticking out at right angles to the body, and their knuckles thrust into their sides, as if they had a pain in their ribs.

The guns seemed to be very much under-horsed, but perhaps this is more apparent than real; for the Swedish[248] horses, though small, are strong and wiry, and their enclosed country is not only not calculated for horse artillery manœuvres, but does not admit of them. The chances are, that a whole campaign might be fought in Sweden without the artillery being required to move faster than at a foot-pace. So far as numbers went, they mustered at least three times as many guns as can be got together at Woolwich for love or money at the best of times.

The army of Sweden is very curiously constituted, and it is not easy to reckon up its effective strength. The regular army does not consist of above 10,000 men; the guards—than which no finer body of men is to be seen in Europe,—the artillery, and three or four garrison regiments, who are stationed at Wanås, in the interior, and Carlscrona, and one or two other fortresses on the coast.

The militia, which is called Beväring, consists of every man in the country between the ages of twenty and twenty-five; these have regular days of exercise, generally Sunday evenings in the summer, which is with them by no means a popular arrangement, for those are the hours which the ingenuous youths of Sweden devote to dancing, an amusement of which they are passionately fond. This really is a much more effective force than it seems, for the Swedes are natural soldiers; besides which, it gives them all a habit of drill, which might be rendered serviceable in case of invasion; for, as every man in the country has been drilled in his youth, they are all capable of immediately taking their places in the ranks of the regular regiments. It would be a very great improvement if they were drilled to ball practice, like the Swiss and Tyrolese, for a Swede is terribly clumsy with fire-arms, and on a skal, is just as likely to shoot himself or his comrade, as a bear or a wolf.

But the strength of the Swedish army lies in its Indelta, a description of force peculiar to that country—unless the military colonies of Russia be considered a parallel case.

The crown possesses large estates, and these are leased out, like the knight’s fees in old times, on man service, and for that purpose are divided into hemmans, each hemman furnishing a man, who has a portion of it by way of pay—the[249] hemman is not a measure of size, but of produce. Fertile hemmans are small, waste or barren hemmans are large; and thus it often happens, when a crown estate has been cleared and brought into cultivation, though quite as productive as some other estate, it furnishes a much smaller quota.

The holder of such a property, is then bound to serve himself, if capable, and to furnish a certain number of efficient soldiers, horse or foot, according to the size of his estate. The whole country is divided into military provinces, under colonels; these are subdivided into districts, under captains, with their proper complement of subaltern and non-commissioned officers, who are paid by the tenure of certain reserved farms, which they hold in virtue of their commissions.

Whenever the Indelta is called out—and a third of them assemble in camp every summer,—the crown tenants of the estates that furnished it are bound, at their own expense, to cultivate the farms which the soldiers hold, and to return to them their lands, when they are dismissed from active service, in the same condition in which they took charge of them, accounting for any sale of produce which they may have made.

The service of the Indelta is very popular, and for every vacancy there are at least half a dozen candidates. No application is ever received without written testimonials from the clergyman of the applicant’s parish, and no man is ever admitted who has been convicted of any crime. Many of these crown holdings have been purchased and re-purchased, and transferred from hand to hand so often, that they are regarded as a sort of private property, and their tenants very often complain of being burthened to a greater extent than their countrymen. This, however, is as unreasonable as that a tenant should complain that in paying rent he is not on an equality with the proprietor in fee. The sale of crown lands is merely the transference of a beneficial lease.

So far as the morals of the people are concerned, the patronage of the Indelta, and the reward it holds to good conduct, act very beneficially; as to the efficacy of the force, the wars of Gustavus Adolphus and of Charles XII., may[250] form a pretty fair criterion. The strength of this contingent to the Swedish army, may be reckoned at 20,000 infantry, and 5,000 cavalry, and has the advantage of being always available.

“You may come out of your hole now, Birger,” said his friend, the artilleryman, who, arriving hot and dusty from the barracks, was lounging down the streets, with his jacket open and his stiff military stock in his hand, a free and easy style of dress, in which an English officer would think it just impossible to put his nose beyond the barrack gates. “The General and all his staff are gone in a body to Arfwedsen’s Villa, so you are safe for to-day.”

“And for to-morrow, too,” said Birger, “for the steamer starts for Stockholm to-morrow morning early; while you were amusing yourselves, I have been doing business. As soon as I heard from the sound of your guns that the General was safe, I stepped down to the quay, went on board the Daniel Thunberg, and engaged two cabins—we will toss up who is to have the cabin to himself.”

“Why, where’s Moodie?”

“Moodie!” said Birger, taking out his watch, “why, by this time Moodie is at Agnesberg.”

“And where is Agnesberg?”

“The first stage to Trollhättan. He had transacted his business, and transferred his herd of deer to the Zoological men before we came, so he said he would start at once for Gäddebäck, and prepare to receive us. I rather think there is some bear hunting afoot, for the Stockholm post came in while you were at the review, and I am sure I recognised Bjornstjerna’s great splash of a seal, and his scratchy hand. At all events, off started Moodie.”

“Why! is it not necessary to lay a forebud.”

“Not on the main road; there is traffic enough between this and Wenersburg to keep holl-horses (retained horses) always at the stations. He will be at Gäddebäck, I will venture to say, before daybreak.”

“And when do we sail?”

“At ten to-morrow; we can see the falls and the canal before nightfall, and sleep at Trollhättan to-morrow night; and on the following morning Moodie is to send his boat for us. And now for dinner, I have ordered it at the Prinds Karl; Todd’s is a very good house to sleep at, and not bad for breakfast, but I want to shew you what Swedish cookery is, as far as you can get any worth eating in the provinces.”

p. 251.


“Ah! there spoke the guardsman.”

“Well, it is very true, as you will confess, if ever I get you to Stockholm; is it not, Count Dahlgren?” addressing the artillery officer. “You dine with us, of course; in with you, and wash off the stains of war, which are pretty visible at present. You have not more time than you know what to do with. If we do sail to-morrow, we will make a night of it to-night.”

“Like our first night at Mosse Eurd?”

“No, hang it, no; not so bad as that;—that was all very well for the men, but we do not make such beasts of ourselves in this country. I have told them, though, to put plenty of champagne in ice, and to provide the best claret they have got; we will be merry—and wise, if possible.”

“And if not possible?”

“Why, then, the merry without the wise.”

Whether mirth, or wisdom, or a judicious mixture of the two prevailed that evening at the Prinds Karl, need not be related; but the next morning saw the party on the clean white deck of the elegant little river steamer Daniel Thunberg, dashing along its broad, still stream, between rows of feathering rushes, sometimes so tall as to eclipse the still flat and uninteresting country beyond them. Ducks there were, in such numbers, that the fishermen half repented their engagement with Moodie; and Jacob, to whom every spot was familiar, kept up an incessant chorus of regrets, pointing out here a spot where he had made a fortune with the långref, having hauled up a three-pound eel on every hook,—there a corner where he had caught a pike so big he could not lift it into the boat, but was obliged to tow it astern all the way to Gotheborg,—and there a bay in the rushes in which he had bagged five swans, eight geese, and more ducks than he could count, at a single shot,—with as many more[252] stories, equally veracious, as he could get people to listen to; and in fact, could be stopped by nothing short of that grand event in a Swedish day, dinner, which, announced by the steamer’s bell, was served with great magnificence in the saloon.

These little steamers form as luxurious a conveyance as can be imagined; they are galley-built, that is to say, the quarter deck is two or three feet higher than the waist; the after part is divided into ten or twelve little private cabins, each possessing its own port, and each furnished with its two sofas and its table; the fore part contains the saloon, or common cabin. They do not carry very powerful engines, but they burn wood, and are as clean and as free from disagreeable smells as if they were sailing vessels.

At the locks of Lilla Edet, where a reef comes across the river, forming a low but very picturesque fall, the fine scenery commences. The fall itself is singular. The water of the Gotha, fresh from the great lake of Wenern, which acts as an enormous cesspool, is as clear and bright as that of the Torjedahl, but with ten times its volume; it slips off the smooth ledge of rocks as if it were falling over a step; the ledge off which it slips is seen through it as distinctly as if it were enclosed in a glass case, for the water preserves its unbroken transparency till it reaches the bottom, and then spreads out into a broad border of foam, like a fan with swansdown fringe.

From this point, a very perceptible difference was remarkable in the run of the current, which retarded considerably the way of the steamer through the belt of highlands which separates the low tract bordering the sea-coast from the higher level of Wenersborglan; and it was not till past five, that the low rumbling, earth-shaking sound of the great falls began to tremble on the ear.



“Gefjon drew from Gylfi
Rich stored-up treasure,—
The land she joined to Denmark.
Four heads and eight eyes bearing,
While hot sweat trickled down them,
The oxen dragged the reft mass
Which forms this winsome island.”
Skald Bragi the Old.
“It was a wondrous sight to see
Topmast and pennon glitter free,
High raised above the greenwood tree—
As on dry land the galley moves,
By cliff and copse and alder groves.”
Lord of the Isles.

“Birger, what is the Swedish for ‘Go to the devil?’ I cannot make these little brutes of boys understand me,” shouted the Captain, who was not in the best of humours, having already made half a dozen slips on very dangerous ground. In all Sweden, there is not a more slippery bit of turf than that which clothes the cliffs and highlands of Trollhättan. The bank along which he was scrambling to get a good view of the falls rounded itself off gradually, getting more and more out of the horizontal and into the vertical at every step, till at last it plunged sheer into the foaming turn-hole of the middle fall, in which the very best of swimmers would have had no more advantage over the very worst than that of keeping his head above water till he went down the third leap, and got knocked to pieces on the rocks below. There was not a root to hold on by stronger than those of the dwarf cranberries, whose smooth[254] leaves only aided the natural slipperiness. Heather is not common anywhere in Sweden; but here there was quite enough not only to give a purple brown hue to the scenery, but also to add to the difficulty of keeping one’s feet, in a way which any one who has walked the side of a highland hill in very dry weather will fully be able to appreciate. It was very irritating when one at last had attained a point of view—after traversing what to a leather-shod stranger was really a dangerous path—to have the current of one’s thoughts interrupted by a parcel of bare-footed urchins, who came frolicking over the very same ground, and insisting that the visitor should see everything, from the orthodox point of view set down by Murray, and from no other whatever, and moreover should pay for being tormented and unpoeticised, the regulated number of skillings.

The rush of waters was certainly very grand and very magnificent. Much has been written about it in books of travels, and much more in the album kept at the inn for the purpose of enshrining and transmitting to posterity the extasies of successive generations of travellers; but the Parson, who ought to have been lost in admiration—to his shame be it spoken—appeared chiefly solicitous to procure bait, which he and Torkel had been diligently hunting for in the shallows. It was not without considerable difficulty that a trout sufficiently small to fit the snap-hooks of the trolling-litch could be found, and when it was found, we are happy to say, it met with no more success than it deserved; for though at very considerable personal risk he tried as much of the rushing water as his longest trolling-rod would command, he was not rewarded with a single run.

But for all that, there certainly are fish in all the pools about these tremendous falls, and that he had the opportunity of satisfying himself about before he left off; for just as he was giving it up for a bad job, Torkel, who had an eye for a fish like that of a sea-eagle, caught sight of something alive that had poked itself into one of the runs from the saw-mills, a place not three feet across; and unscrewing the gaff which he was carrying, and substituting for it the five-pronged spear, he plunged it into the water[255] and brought out a black trout (salmo ferox) of ten pounds weight at the end of it. From the nature of the water it is impossible that trout can abound at Trollhättan in any great numbers. The river has scarcely any tributaries below the falls; and as it is absolutely impossible for a fish to surmount them, the breeding ground is very limited; but, on the other hand, the clearness of the water is precisely that which best suits the constitution of a trout; bleak and gwinead, which form their principal food, are very plentiful, and from the depth of the water, there is scarcely any limit to the growth of the fish; a man, who is satisfied to catch now and then a monster, will do very well at Trollhättan, and in the course of the season will have a few stories to tell, which in England will be set down as altogether fabulous,—but it does not answer for a day’s fishing. The traveller may as well make up his mind to admire the scenery at his leisure,—it will not answer his purpose to wet a line there.

The Parson having convinced himself of this, and, moreover, having had one or two very narrow escapes, reeled up his line and contentedly sought out his friends, who, by this time, had succeeded in explaining to the swarms of guides that their services were not required, and were sitting on a heathery bank feathered with birch, exactly in front of the middle falls, comfortably eating gooseberries, which grow there in such plenty that, though the place swarms with children—a whole regiment of soldiers with their wives and families being hutted in the vicinity,—the bushes were still full of them.

“That is a curious cave,” said the Captain, pointing to a hole which seemed to enter the face of the precipitous rock by the side of the great fall, and to penetrate it for some distance; at least, the depth was sufficiently great to be lost in darkness; the bottom of it was on a level with the water, and was not accessible without a boat.

“That!” said Birger, “that is Polheim’s grave.”

“Do you mean to say that any man was buried there?”

“Not the man himself, only the best part of a man—his reputation. Polheim was an engineer, and when the first idea of making a practicable communication between the[256] Wener and the sea was entertained, he attempted to carry it into effect by burrowing out that hole. If he had succeeded in boring through the rock, he would have accomplished the largest jet d’eau in the world. However, Government were wise enough to put a stop to it, and to employ a cleverer man. Polheim died—it is said of grief,—his body buried at Wenersborg; what became of his soul, I will not take upon me to say; but as for his reputation, there is no doubt about that—that lies buried there.”

“That canal certainly is a wonderful work for a country like yours, where the extent of land is so great, and the produce from it so small.”

“It would have been more wonderful still,” said Birger, “for it would have been done when the country was still poorer, had it not been for the Reformation.”

“The Reformation!” said the Captain. “What, in the name of Tenterden Steeple and the Goodwin Sands, has the Reformation to do with the Gotha Canal?”

“Not much with the canal, but a good deal with Bishop Brask who planned it—the man whom Geijer calls, and very deservedly, ‘the friend of liberty, and the upright friend of his country.’ The present canal, nearly as you see it now, was sketched out in a letter still preserved, which was written in the year 1526, by the Bishop, to stout old Thurè Jensen, whom men called King of East Gothland—that gallant old fellow, who, when he saw how the Diet of Westeras was going, struck up his drums and marched forth, swearing that no man in Sweden should make him heathen, Lutheran, or heretic. Before the Bishop’s scheme could be converted into a reality, stout old Thurè was a headless corpse, and Brask a voluntary exile. But the good which men do, lives after them. Gustavus, who had always respected Brask, and would fain have retained him in his See of Linköping, carried out many of his plans—and in the course of time this, as you see, was carried out too, though it was not for a hundred years or more after the successful king and the deprived bishop had gone to their respective accounts.”

“Jacob has just been giving us another version of the[257] story,” said the Captain, “something about Gefjon and Gylfi.”

“O, the Gylfa-Ginning. Stupid old fool!—that did not happen here, but down in the south, between Sweden and Denmark. So far, however, he is quite right,—at least, if you believe the Prose Edda; the Goddess Gefjon was the first canal maker in Sweden, and the event happened in the reign of King Gylfi.

“Thus it was:—

“King Gylfi ruled over the land of Svithiod (Sweden), and at that uncertain date which is generally known as ‘once upon a time,’ he recompensed a strange woman, for some service she had done him, with as much land as she could plough round with four oxen in a day and a night; but he did not know, till the share struck deep into the earth and tore asunder hills and rocks, that it was the Goddess Gefjon that he was dealing with. So deep were the furrows, that the place where the land had been became water, for the oxen, which had come from Jötenheim (the land of the Goths), were really her sons, whom she had yoked to her plough.”

“Phew-w-w,” whistled the Parson.

“What is the matter?” said Birger.

“Only that as Gefjon is the northern Diana, I thought you might have made a mistake; her nephews, possibly, not her sons?”

“O, that goes for nothing in Sweden,” said the Captain, laughing; “there are plenty of cases in point. I have no doubt Birger is quite right.”

“Well, if you come to scandalising national divinities,” retorted Birger, “I am sure that story about Endymion was never cleared up very satisfactorily.”

“Clear up your own story, at all events, and place the oxen in any relationship to the maiden goddess which you may think best suited to her fair fame.”

“Then I will call them what the Edda calls them,” said Birger, gallantly, “her sons, and never sully the fair fame of the maiden Gefjon either. The whole is an allegory. Sweden achieved the sea-path, or inland navigation by the labour of[258] her own sons, and that is what the old Skald Bragi means when he likens them to oxen, and says—

“‘Four heads and eight eyes bearing,
While hot sweat trickled down them,
The oxen dragged the reft mass
That formed this winsome island.’

And now Gefjon and her sturdy sons have been at work again. The whole south of Sweden is an island now, and it is this canal from the Cattegat to the Baltic that makes it so.”

“Well, so it is; and though it is a long while since the days of the Goddess Gefjon, or even of good Bishop Brask, the work is complete at last, and a very creditable work it is. I think, by-the-way, that we English had something to do with it.”

“England had a hand, and a very considerable one, in the other end of it,” said Birger, “but these locks are home manufacture, and the thing really has answered very well. See what a trade it has opened with the Wener only, which was the original plan; the communication with the Baltic being a sort of after-thought of the Ostergöthlanders, carried out by Count Platen. This part of the canal, which was opened in 1800, has made four of our inland counties, Wenersborglan, Mariestadslan, Carlstadslan, and Orebrö, into so many maritime states; and now the other end has done the same for Jonköping and Linköping. In national wealth, it has paid a dozen times over. There is no one who has ever lived, since the days of Oxenstjerna, to whom we owe so much as we do to Count Platen. In the very heat of the war—that is to say, in 1808—he conceived the idea of prolonging the water communication to the Baltic. He went over to England to inspect, with his own eyes, the Caledonian canal. He engaged Telford, returned to Sweden, and, within two months, sent in his plans, with their specification and estimates, which, strange to say, have not been exceeded in the execution. It is this old part of the canal, however, which is, at all events, the most showy job; here are two miles of solid rock cut through, and, as you see, these falls are pretty high—not less than a hundred and twenty feet[259] of them, besides the rapids,—they require, therefore, a good many locks; in fact, as you see, it looks more like a staircase than anything else.”

“It certainly was a singular sight,” said the Captain, “to see our steamer high above our heads, and the masts of the brigs sticking out from the tops of the rocks, and far above the highest trees.”

“This part of the canal is the most showy,” said Birger; “no doubt but Platen’s work was not altogether so easy as it looks. Any one can appreciate the skill of an engineer, who sees a great body of water surmounting a steep wall of rock; but a still greater amount of skill is evidenced in laying out a plan; so as to render such tedious and expensive works unnecessary. When I was a youngster, I was sent by the Kongs-Ofwer-Commandant’s Expedition, to survey, by way of practice, the two lines from our fortress of Wanås-on-Wettern to the two seas, and I really do not know which is the most wonderful conception. The original plan was only eight feet deep, but they are deepening it two feet more, and making the width of the locks twenty-two feet throughout. We shall see the Linköping battalion at work on this to-morrow. I must go and pay them a visit while we are staying at Gäddebäck. I know a good many of the officers.”

“It is a military work, then?”

“Not exactly, though, like most other large undertakings, it is done by soldiers. It is a speculation, something like those in your own country, which is taken in hand by shareholders, with a board of directors, though I believe Government gives them a lift of some sort or other; but in this country, in time of peace, you can always get as many soldiers as you want for labourers, from a corporal’s party up to a battalion, or a brigade, for matter of that. You lodge so much money in the hands of the Government officer appointed for that purpose, and a regiment, or a company, or a detachment, receives orders to march and hut themselves in such a place. Your engineer, or foreman, or bailiff, as the case may be, gives his orders to the officer in command, who sees them carried into effect. It costs more in hard money—and, what is a worse thing for us Swedes, ready money—than any other[260] sort of labour, but it answers exceedingly well for those who can afford the first outlay, for the men are under military discipline, and Government are responsible, not only that you shall have so many men to work, but so many sober men, fit to work, which, in this country, as you know, is not exactly the same thing.”

“And how do the soldiers like it?” said the Captain, who, though he did not say so, certainly was thinking that it was not precisely the situation of an officer and a gentleman, to do duty as foreman of the works for some speculating farmer, or builder, or engineer.

The idea never seemed to strike Birger, who, by-the-way, belonging to the Royal Guards, was himself exempt from such service. “It is rather popular,” said he, “with all classes; the men like it because they have a considerable increase of pay, and as for the officers, except one or two who are on duty for the day, they have but a short morning and evening parade, just to see that their men are all right, and then they may do what they please. They lose nothing, either, for all places are equally dull in the summer, when everybody is at work; there can be no festivities going on anywhere, and so they shoot, or fish, or lounge, or make love, at their leisure. But here we are at the parade-ground,” he continued, as they came upon a cleared space in the forest, surrounded by very neat and compactly-built huts, some of considerable pretensions, framed with trunks of pines, and walled and roofed with outsides from the saw-mills, arranged as weather-boards; others, more humble, were constructed of pine-branches and heather; but all alike compact, neat, firm, tidy-looking, and arranged in military order, in straight lines, with their officers’ huts in front.

The sun was not far from its setting, and the soldiers having put aside their tools, were throwing on their belts in a way that certainly would not have satisfied an English adjutant, and were hurrying, with their muskets in their hands, to their respective posts. There was a short private inspection by the non-commissioned officers, while the band, a pretty good one, were tuning their instruments; after which the companies formed into line, faced to the west, and[261] as the lower limb of the sun touched the horizon, the officers saluted with their swords, the men presented arms, and accompanied by the band, sang in chorus, every man of them joining in and taking his part in it, the beginning of Grundtvig’s glorious hymn to the Trinity.

“O mighty God! we Thee adore,
From our hearts’ depths, for evermore;—
None is in glory like to Thee
Through time and through eternity.
Thy Name is blessed by Cherubim—
Thy Name is blessed by Seraphim—
And songs of praise from earth ascend,
With thine angelic choirs to blend.
Holy art Thou, our God!
Holy art Thou, our God!
Holy art Thou, our God!
Lord of Sabaoth.”

The air was simple enough, though beautifully harmonized; but there is nothing in the whole compass of music so magnificent as the combination of some hundreds of human voices trained to sing in harmony; the band would have injured the effect, but in truth it was hardly heard, overwhelmed as it was by that volume of sound,—except, indeed, the roll of drums which accompanied the final “Amen,” swelling and prolonging the notes, and then dying away like a receding peal of thunder. The men recovered arms, were dismissed, and in ten minutes were dispersed over the parade ground, playing leap-frog, fencing, wrestling, foot-ball; while not a few were lighting fires, and boiling water for their evening gröd.

Birger stepped on, to see if he could meet with his friend, while the other two, thinking that they should most likely be in the way among people who, if they spoke English or French at all, spoke it with difficulty; turned into the well-beaten track that led to the inn and landing place of Trollhättan.

Before they arrived there the night had already closed in; that is to say, it had faded into twilight, for that is the nearest approach which a northern summer’s night makes to darkness. All that the travellers then saw of the inn was the light which, glancing from every window, beamed forth[262] a welcome which it had evidently been beaming forth to others before them; judging from the din which arose from the evening relaxations of a dozen or so of jolly subalterns. These, who had money enough, or who fancied they had money enough to spend in luxury, had fixed their quarters at the inn, instead of the pretty looking green huts which their less wealthy or more prudent comrades had run up in the camp.

In fact, the sitting rooms of the inn offered at that time fewer temptations than the very clean, bare bed-rooms, with their very white sheets, and very warm down coverlets. Winter and summer alike, the feather bed is uppermost, and here it was still; though the only reason why the windows were not left wide open all night, was the clouds of musquitos which, entering by them, menaced the repose of the sleepers.

Jacob, whom the party had somewhat inconsiderately left in charge of the baggage, had, much to their surprise, deceived them all in making no mistake, and leaving nothing behind; the carioles had been landed, and were ready packed for their journey on the morrow, as duly as if the fishermen had seen to them themselves; but in his own country Jacob had become quite a different character, and piqued himself in showing to the Norwegians in his own person how vast was the superiority of the Swedes.

Birger was not seen again till the party was collected at a sufficiently early hour of the morning round a magnificent breakfast of fruit and fish, which had been laid out under the verandah of the inn,—a narrow esplanade which looked out upon the yet quiet waters of the brimming Gotha, at the very point where they were gathering their strength for their first furious plunge.

Most cataracts commence with a rapid: so still and calm was the Gotha at this point, that the esplanade in question was the general landing place from Wenersborg, and was furnished with iron rings for the purpose of mooring the boats, several of which, very fair specimens of Swedish boat-building, were hanging on to them, scarcely stretching out their respective painters, so gentle was the current. Among[263] them lay a very handsome gig with bright sides, well scraped oars, and a white English ensign fluttering in the morning breeze; from which Moodie, who had come in state with four rowers, had just landed, and by means of which, the travellers were to complete their journey.

In truth, Gäddebäck was not very accessible in any other way; it had been originally built as a pic-nic house by the Mayor of Wenersborg, who, when he had been half-ruined by the great fire that had taken place there the year before, was glad enough to contract his expenses, and to find a person to take it off his hands. It suited Moodie well enough, and its low rent suited him also, but there were not many men whom it would suit at all. It had been built exclusively for pleasure parties, and these were expected to arrive there either by boat or by sledge, according as the surface of the river was, water or ice. No one had ever troubled themselves with any other entrance, and it was no sort of drawback to the place in its original state, that communication with the main land was entirely cut off. The still, deep brook which gave to the place its name (pike brook), had spread out behind the house into a broad reedy morass, which in spring, during the floods, was a broad reedy lake, but in summer a sort of neutral ground, between land and water, through which was led a precarious track, which might be passed on wheel, or indeed on foot, provided the traveller did not object to very clear water, not much above his knees. The actual spot on which the house was situated in the middle of all this, was a patch of parky ground, abounding in beautiful timber, which was five or six feet above the general level; that part of it which lay next the river was firm, and hard, and covered with short green turf, but this subsided to landward, first into wet sponge, secondly into bog, and lastly into reedy water, in proportion as it receded from the river. The brook, divided by this patch of dry land, soaked into the main stream, on either end of it, completely insulating the domain.

This suited Moodie exactly, for the little park was full of all sorts of grouse and other birds, which looked as if they were at perfect liberty, as indeed they were, only that[264] having had their pinions cut, and not being able to swim, they could not pass the girdle of water—herons, and cranes, and bitterns, were stalking about, or watching for fish in the shallows, like their wild brethren, for though excellent waders, and quite in their element on the soppy shores to landward, they could not swim any more than the grouse. There were some deer, also, of various kinds, but as these had no sort of objection to take the water, they were confined in little paddocks, those being classed together who would keep the peace.

On the esplanade, between the house and the river, lay a dozen dogs, mostly English, on excellent terms with the great brown bear, who, though perfectly tame, was secured from paying any inquisitive visits to the deer paddocks by a collar and chain, with which he was made fast to a substantial post at the door.

The whole front of the house had been occupied by a ball-room, with windows opening into a verandah. This verandah had become a general marine store—oars, boat-hooks, masts, sails, were arranged along it on hooks; but so tidily and regularly were they disposed, that they looked as if they had been placed there for ornament;—fishing rods of all lengths were there, and a large assortment of eel-lines and night-lines, and trimmers, and gaffs, and pike-wires, and spears, and other poaching implements, together with a goodly assortment of drags and flues in the back ground; while a full-sized casting net, hung up to dry, displayed its leaded semi-circle to the sun: for be it remembered, Moodie made a profit of his pleasure, and not only kept his own establishment in fish, but very seldom allowed the Gotheborg steamer to pass without dispatching in her a heavy birchen basket, consigned to Jacob Lindegren, the fishmonger.

Neither was the interior at all out of character: the ball-room had been divided by wooden partitions into three very tolerable apartments—an ante-room or broad passage in the middle, and on either side his dining room and what he called his study, that is to say, the place where he made his flies. The passage, which was sufficiently littered, contained[265] little other furniture than a turning-lathe and a carpenter’s bench, with shelves and pigeon-holes round the sides for the necessary tools; but both rooms were pictures of tidiness; the furniture was plain enough, certainly, but the walls were covered with sketches, of Moodie’s own drawing, and with sporting trophies of every kind: huge bear skins and wolf skins occupied whole panels, surmounted, perhaps, by the grinning skull of a lynx, or a huge antlered head with the skin on; between these were cases containing most of the wild birds found in the country, all stuffed by his own hands; together with specimens of eggs, hung up in a pattern, but each labelled with the name of the bird it belonged to. Between the windows was a formidable armoury, while over one door was a stuffed otter, and over the other a wild cat, and the rug itself was formed of badgers’ skins bordered with fox; for Moodie had imported an English grate and had built a fire-place, besides the invariable stove.

Such was the sportsman’s paradise, into which Moodie welcomed his guests. There was accommodation, such as it was, for an unlimited number of them; for there were several empty rooms of one sort or another; and a rough box, hastily run up with planks from the saw mills, filled with dry poplar leaves and covered with a bear skin, was a bed much better than any of them had been accustomed to. As for washing, their toilet apparatus was laid out every morning on the stage to which the boats were moored, and a dive into the river was the very best way of washing the face after shaving,—at least, so Moodie seemed to think, for though his room was pretty well fitted up, inasmuch as such toilet would be difficult in the winter, when the river was as hard as a stone, in summer he always chose the boat stage for his own dressing room, as well as for that of his guests.

No one was sorry for a rest; journals had to be written up, notes had to be compared; there was something, too, in lounging lazily in the sun, or smoking a peaceful cigar under the shade of the awning, or teasing the bear, or feeding the grouse, and knowing all the while that there was no duty neglected, and no opportunity lost. Not but that excursions[266] in a quiet way were made—now upon the water with the trolling tackle, now on the high grounds of the royal forest, now on neither land nor water, but on the marshy debateable land, astonishing the ducks that swarmed among the reed beds which divide the left bank of the river from the sound land; but nothing very particular was done, beyond existing in a very high state of quiet enjoyment.



“I hung fine garments
On two wooden men
Who stand on the wall;
Heroes they seemed to be
When they were clothed;
The unclad are despisèd.”

The day had been oppressively hot, more actual heat, perhaps—reckoning by the degrees of Reaumur or Farenheit—than had been experienced on the fjeld of the Tellemark;—but that was dry, bracing, exhilarating heat, such as is felt on the mountain side; this was the moist, feverish warmth, caused by the sun’s rays acting on the wide expanse of the Wener Sjön and its marshy shores, and secretly and imperceptibly drawing up vapours, which would eventually fall in rain,—not, perhaps, on the spot from which they had been raised, but on the cold distant mountains of Fille Fjeld, which at once attracted and condensed them. There was not a cloud in the sky, but the sun would not shine brightly or cheerily either.

The long summer’s day was, however, drawing to a close, and the party were sitting at the extreme end of a little jetty which Moodie had built out into the river on piles of solid fir. This was covered with an awning of striped duck,—of little use as an awning so late in the day, for the sun was low enough to peep under it, but still kept up, partly to tempt the air of wind, which every now and then fluttered its vandyked border, and partly as a preservative against the dews, which would be sure to fall as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon.


From a flag-staff, stepped on the outermost pile, hung a huge red English ensign, every now and then stirring in the breeze, half unrolling its lazy folds and then dropping motionless against its staff. Moodie was very particular about this flag, and hoisted it every morning with his own hands,—for ever since he had fairly turned his back upon his native land, he had become intensely national.

In the front and beneath them the broad, clear, deep, still, brimming river, full four hundred yards from bank to bank, glided quietly along with a calm unbroken surface, and a motion hardly sufficient to bring a strain upon the chain cable of the little cutter that was moored some twenty yards off the head of the pier, with her triangular burgee fluttering out in the breeze that was not strong enough to move the heavier ensign, and displaying the red cross and the golden R.Y.S. so well known in every port in Europe. It was a singular thing to see it here though, a hundred miles in the heart of Sweden, with the tremendous Falls of Trollhättan between it and the sea.

Made fast to the rails of the jetty were half a dozen boats, of all shapes and sizes—from the long narrow galley with its four well-scraped ashen oars, to the little white flat-bottomed duck-punt,—for Gäddebäck, though not, strictly speaking, an island, except during the freshets of early summer, was so perfectly insulated by the sluggish brook and the marshy ground through which it flowed, as to make all communication with the main land, except by boat, extremely precarious.

Dinner had been over for some time, and the party had adjourned to the jetty, as the coolest place they could find. They were sitting with their wine glasses before them, while two or three bottles of light claret were towing overboard, suspended in the cool water of the river by as many night-lines.

“Upon my word,” said the Captain, throwing open his waistcoat, “the West Indies is a fool to this; and it is not unlike a tropical climate either,—moist, damp, and hot,—stewing rather than broiling.”


“To tell you the truth,” said the Parson, “I am surprised at your selecting this spot for your residence, beautiful as it certainly is; with all this marsh land about it, it cannot fail to be unhealthy.”

“Well, I do not know,” said Moodie, “they do talk of agues, certainly, but these things never hurt me, and the place suits me well enough; there is plenty of shooting—ducks and snipes without end; and on the other side of that range of heights, not three miles from us, is a royal forest, well preserved, in which I have full permission to kill anything I like, except stags, elks, and perhaps peasants, though they do not make much fuss about a man or two either; and, besides, the Ofwer Jagmästere is a particular friend of mine. And as for fishing, it is not altogether such as I should choose, no doubt, for it is mostly trolling,—but there is some capital fishing, such as it is. I will show you what we can do to-morrow at the upper rapids,—we have not been there yet. It is a singular sort of sport, certainly; but if you are half the poacher you used to be, you will like it for its novelty. However, the greatest attraction that the place has in my eyes, lies in its situation: this river is the high road from Gotheborg to Stockholm, and steamers pass it every day. Living on this Robinson Crusoe island of mine, I can command the best market in the country, and in fact, I do realize a very fair income by my fish and my game. Look at my yacht, too, where else could I put it to so great use. A short canal and a single lock passes me into the great lake Wener, where I command some of the best rivers and some of the best bear-country in Sweden. If I want to smell salt water again, I have but to put my cutter in tow of the market-tug, and to steam away to Gotheborg; and when I want to be sulky, here I am, looking after my menagerie of Scandinavian birds and beasts, and adding odds and ends to my museum. I dare say people wonder at the old flag ‘that braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze,’ as they pass backward and forward in the steamers; but no one stops here, and you may be sure no one would find me out by land. This is just the place for me; besides, it is not always[270] so hot as it is now,—I have driven my cariole across this river, many a time.”

“By the way, what do you do with yourself in the winter?” said the Captain; “you were never very much given to reading, and your shooting and fishing must fail you then.”

“Fishing, yes; shooting, no,” said Moodie; “the finest bear shooting is in the winter.”

“What! do you meet with bears in the forest?”

“Pooh, nonsense! you Englishmen are always fancying that we kick bears out of every bush in Sweden.”

“You Englishmen!” said Birger, glancing at the flag.

“Well, well,—you Johnny Raws, I should say,—you freshmen—you griffins. I was just as bad myself, though: I remember the day I landed at Gotheborg, marching off with my gun over my shoulder to a little wooded valley at the back of the town where the Gotheborg cockneys have their villas, and attacking a Swede, dictionary in hand, with ‘Hvar er Bjornerne’—how the scoundrel laughed.”

“Well, but what do you mean by bear shooting then,—where do you meet with it?”

“Why, you travel a hundred miles to get a shot at a bear, and think little of it too. The bear hunter must keep up a correspondence with the Ofwer Jagmästerer of the different provinces, and get information whenever the peasants have ringed a bear as they call it—that is to say, ascertained that he is within a certain circle, and then out with the sledge and the dogs, and the rifles, and away up the river, or across the lake, as it may be. You do not meet with a bear at every turning, I can assure you. I have killed a pretty many though, one way or other, since I have been here.”

“That you have,” said the Captain,—“at least, if all those trophies that ornament your walls are honestly come by; but by your own showing, you cannot be hunting every day in the week; what do you do on the off-days?”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I was dull enough the first winter; you will hardly believe it, but I took to reading—I did indeed; you may laugh, but it is quite true. I got up the natural history of the country thoroughly, and[271] crammed Linnæus. But I soon found something better to do, when I began to get acquainted with the people, worthy souls that they are. I had invitations without end, and got on capitally with them,—quite a popular character I am.”

“The English are popular,” said the Parson, certainly; “high and low we have found that, wherever we have been. What we English have done to deserve it is more than I can say; but Norway and Sweden, agreeing in nothing else, agree at all events in doing honour to the English traveller.”

“Do not be taking the conceit out of Moodie”, said Birger; “it is evident that he would have you to understand that it is he, the individual,—not he, the Englishman, who is thus honoured and caressed.”

“You need not be afraid of doing that,” said the Captain; “ever since I have known him, Moodie has been a very great man,—in his own eyes, at all events.”

“Why, you must know I am a great man here,” said Moodie, “whatever I was in my own country. I am a kammerjunker—no less.”

“A what?” said the Captain.

“A kammerjunker; and, in virtue of it, I have a right to go before every one of you.”

“Well, but how came you to be a what-do-you-call-him? ‘Who gave you that name?’ as the Catechism says.”

“Not ‘my godfathers and godmothers,’ certainly,” said Moodie, “and I hadn’t it ‘in my baptism;’ but I will tell you how it was. Sweden, in the winter, is as different from the same country in the summer as Connaught from Paradise. In the winter, they are fiddling, and dancing, and singing, from night to morn, and from morn to snowy eve. There is not much else to do, as you say, that is the truth of it, unless one happens to hear of a bear; so when I came to understand a little of their lingo, I was very glad to go to their jollifications. The people were always very civil in asking me, wherever I was—that I must say for them. Now we, in England, don’t care much about precedence, as you know. Most of us do not know who is first and who is last, and the rest do not care; and those who feel most secure of their[272] rank, are generally too proud to take the trouble of asserting it. But it is not so here; they all know their places, like schoolboys, and fight for them like dogs at a feeding-trough if you happen to make a mistake about them—a thing which the natives never do. I did not care much about this at first, no Englishman would,—in fact, I did not understand it; but after a bit it got to be very unpleasant—it made me a marked man. Here was I, an English gentleman, as noble as the king—and a little more so than that Brummagem article of theirs,—shoved down, not only by counts and barons, which I did not like over and above; for half the people you meet with here are counts and barons,—and precious queer ones, some of them; but, besides this, there were their confounded orders of knighthood: there are knights of the Cherubim and Seraphim[45], and knights of the Elephant and Castle, and knights of the Goose and Gridiron, and Heaven knows what besides. Then came the officials, from the prime minister down to the post-master, and their sons and grandsons. Why, there was not a tradesman I dealt with, hardly a beggar I gave a shilling to, who had not a clear right to go before me—aye, and showed every disposition to exercise it, too!

“One day I was ass enough to be vexed because my tailor, who was knight of the Shears and Cabbage, or something of the sort, elbowed his way before me; and one of my friends, I think it was this very Bjornstjerna, the Ofwer Jagmästere, offered to get me a settled precedence. ‘Yours is not a new family,’ says he.—Of course it was not, everybody knew the Moodies, of Hampshire.—Well, that was all right; I had only to get my sixteen quarters blazoned, and he would see that I was made a kammerjunker. Sixteen quarters! thought I. I had had a great grandfather, that is certain, for there he lies in Havant Church, with a ton of marble over him, and his arms on the top of that, a chevron ermine between three mermaids ppr. to cheer him up on his road to Paradise. He was a great man, too, and looked as if he was the son of[273] somebody, as the Spaniards say, to judge by the picture of his coach-and-six, and outriders with French-horns, which is hanging up in our hall, at Havant Manor. But he had played ‘ducks and drakes’ with his guineas, and as for his quarters, you know we don’t greatly trouble ourselves with such matters.

“Well, I told my difficulty to one of my friends in Stockholm—an idle young scamp of an attaché. ‘Why the devil don’t you write to the Herald’s College,’ said he, ‘they will trace your descent from the Preadamite Grants,[46] if you pay for it. Tell them to make you up a pedigree for Sweden, and, my life for it, they will get it up well.’

“I could not lose by it, you know, so I wrote, and, sure enough, they found out that the old family had come over with Duke Rollo, and had a hand in that conquest of ‘Normandie,’ which your fellow Torkel is continually dinning into our ears. They found out, too, that our name originally was spelt ‘Modige,’ which, in old Swedish, means ‘dashing,’ and that it was a title of honour, given to us for our gallantry in the said conquest. And, what was pat to the present purpose, Duke Rollo had conferred on us the honour of hereditary chamberlains, as soon as ever he had a court to appoint us to. How we came to England I forget—I suppose, though, it was with Duke William,—and what we did there I do not know, unless it was plundering the Saxons, like the rest; but, at all events, I got a string of shields, fit to roof Valhalla, and a beautiful tree—rather an expensive plant it was, though, for I paid sixty pounds for it. However, Bjornstjerna and my friend the attaché marched off with the chevron ermine and the three mermaids to the Hof-Ofwer-Something-or-other, and brought me back a sheet of parchment with a big seal hanging from it, giving me the privilege of pulling off the inexpressibles of the third prince of the blood royal—whenever it should please Providence to bless his Majesty with one,—and in virtue of that office to style myself kammerjunker.”


“So you are a greater man than your tailor, now?”

“O yes,” said Moodie, “I take precedence of all manner of people, and moreover wear, whenever I please—which is not very often, you may be sure,—a concern in my button-hole, something like what I used to wear when I was Noble Grand of the Julius Cæsar Lodge of Oddfellows, at South Marden. You may depend upon it I am something very great indeed, though I must admit I do not know exactly what.”

“Very great indeed!” said Birger, who, as may be supposed, did not feel his country particularly flattered by Moodie’s absurd—not to say ungrateful—description of his honours, and retorted with a bit of Swedish slang: “I am sure you are something ending in ‘ral,’ as the Karing’s wife said to her husband; it certainly is not admiral—perhaps it is corporal?”

“Upon my word, Birger, I beg your pardon,” said Moodie, in some confusion. “You speak English so perfectly, and look so like an Englishman, that I forgot we are not all countrymen together.”

“Well, well,” said Birger, good humouredly, “I must confess there is a great deal too much of truth in your satire, and that is what makes the sting of it.”

“Never mind him, Birger,” said the Parson; “you Swedes are uncommon fine fellows, and carry your honours in your history; I should like to know what Europe would have done in the thirty years war, if it had not been for Gustaf Adolph and Oxenstjerna? Why, it was you who thrashed Czar Peter and all the Russias into something like civilization, and were the making of his armies by licking them. Gallantly, too, did you hold your own, under the other Gustaf, against the giant you had made; and I have no doubt but that you would have thrashed the French giant Nap., as well as the Russian giant Peter, if you had only made up your minds in time which side you meant to fight on. But for all that, it is a fact, as Moodie says, that, like the girls, you are a little too fond of ribbons.”

“It is very true,” said Birger; “we depreciate our own honours by our over-lavish distribution of them. That which[275] is plentiful, is cheap—that which is little, valued. It is the law of nature, and as true of stars and ribbons as it is of green peas and early potatoes.”

“To be sure it is,” said the Captain; “what regiment in our service cares a button for the distinction of ‘Royal,’ which it shares with the Royal African condemned corps? Who prizes the Waterloo medal, which places in the same category the Englishman who fought and the Belgian who ran?”

“Yes,” said Moodie, who had by this time done blushing at his blunder, “at the Congress of Vienna, Lord Castlereagh sat among the starry host of plenipotentiaries in a plain blue coat, without one solitary decoration. ‘Ma foi! c’est bien distingué,’ said good Bishop Talleyrand, who himself had a star for every oath he had broken, and whose tailor could not find room on his coat for all of them!”

“It was ‘distingué,’” said the Captain; “he belonged to a country whose citizens do their duty for their duty’s sake. That is distinction enough for any man.”

“Yes,” said Birger, “if they do—but a good deal depends on that little particle;—however, even if citizens could be got, whenever wanted, to do their duty for their duty’s sake, which I doubt; distinctions, which of course involve precedence, are useful in themselves. In your country, people are always jealously guarding their position in society; you are always on the look out, lest some interloper should thrust you out, or refuse you the honour you consider your due. This is what makes you Englishmen so unsociable and exclusive; you are always on guard, walking sentry over your own honour. Now look at our people—our barons and our tradesmen, our princes and our farmers, all meet together without fear of losing caste, because every one has his position secured to him, beyond the possibility of invasion. You dare not do this.”

“Do not say, ‘you,’” broke in the Captain, “I, thank God! am a gentleman born, and have not to work for my daily dignity.”

“That is only another instance of what I assert—‘a gentleman born!’ you can afford to do what we all do, because, by birth or by accident, you find yourself in the very[276] position in which we Swedes are all placed by the customs of our country.”

“That is all very true,” said the Parson; “for the amenities of life, I grant your system is by far the best; men live happier and more contentedly under it; and it certainly does produce a much more genial and social intercourse among all classes, that men are dependent for their dignity on something else than their wine merchant and their pastry-cook. Still, yours is not the condition of progress; your people live content, perhaps happy, in their fixed position; but every man of ours, who is working for his daily dignity, as the Captain calls it, is, in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable manner, pressing onward and improving his own condition. Now, that nation in which every man is continually excited to improve his condition, is nationally progressive; that, in which every man is content in his own place, is nationally stationary. I do not say which is the best principle, only, there is something to be said on the other side. One thing is certain, our principle is not the same as yours; and it is excusable, when we do borrow from the continent, if we make a generous blunder in a science which we do not understand, and in the largeness of our heart, give medals to runaway Belgians, without remembering that the honour of the medal lies not in the silver, but in the action which the silver commemorates, and that, in truth, what we have given to the cowards who ran, we must have filched from the brave fellows who had earned for that medal its value.”

“So far, at all events, you are right,” said Birger, “that your nation does not understand the science of decorations any more than ours. You helped to spoil your own Waterloo medal much more than ever the Belgians spoiled it, and that not altogether from your largeness of heart. If I had been a pink-faced ensign of that day, I should have been ashamed to wear my medal in the presence of a Peninsular veteran, who had done five hundred times as much as I. It was a better feeling than that of being ranked with the Belgians that made your people shy of their Waterloo medals. And now that you begin to distribute your decorations, you do not know how to do it: first of all you give it[277] for any little trumpery affair, like sticking those Chinese pigs, and then you give it to all who have seen the smoke of the gunpowder.”

“We presume that every one present does his duty, and that none can do more,” said the Captain.

“A very pretty poetical fiction,” said Birger, “pity that it is a fiction. However, one thing is certain—that will never be prized that is shared by all alike; you see that at once in our case—it is equally true in you own.”

Just then the Stockholm steamer, Daniel Thunberg, hove in sight, with her light blue pennant of smoke, so unlike the black volumes that roll from the chimneys of coal-burning Englishmen.

“They have got something on board for us,” said Moodie; “that calico concern on her foremast is their best Swedish imitation of our English jack, and they always hoist it whenever they have got a letter or parcel for me. There goes a gun; those rascals are always glad of any opportunity for making a bang. Hallo, there! Nils!” continued he, in Swedish, to the master of his yacht, who had gone to sleep against the heel of the bowsprit, with his pipe in his mouth; “answer that signal, and send a boat on board the steamer.”

He spoke as if he had a frigate’s crew at his command. Nils started up, and as he happened, at that moment at least, to be the captain and the whole ship’s company in his own person, he proceeded to obey both orders personally—in a few minutes was alongside the gay little craft, and returned with a letter, the writer of which, to judge from the superscription he placed upon it, must have considered Moodie a very great man indeed, so many titles did he prefix to his name—High-born and Illustrious were the very least of them.

Moodie, a little afraid of the Captain’s satire—though the direction, after all, was nothing more than the ordinary Swedish form in which one gentleman addresses another, and quite as appropriate as our much mis-used esquire,—crumpled up the envelope in great haste.

“Hurrah!” said he, flourishing the letter over his head,[278] “this is the very thing for us—you are in high luck; look here.”

“What is it?” said the Captain, for the letter, which was in Swedish and written in the Swedish character, might as well have been Cyrillic or Uncial, for anything he could make out of it.

“Why, there is to be a skal in Wermeland, next Tuesday; a grand bear hunt, in which they drive twenty or thirty miles of country; this letter is from the very man I have been speaking of—Bjornstjerna, the Ofwer Jagmästere, and my own particular friend. Some half dozen respectable farmers have made oath to him that they have been annoyed by bears, and he tells me he has written to the præster of the neighbourhood, to give notice from their pulpits, and to turn out the whole country. That is the legal form on such occasions, and there is a heavy fine for any man who does not obey it.”

“Hurrah!” said the Captain, in his turn, “then we shall kill a bear at last.”

“That you will,” said Moodie; “Bjornstjerna knows his business as well as any man in Sweden; there are people who fancy his patronymic a nick-name[47] of his own earning. He would not be turning out the country for nothing, you may depend on it.”

“Where is this to take place?”

“Why, in Upper Wermeland, as I told you, near Lysvic, not very far from the banks of the Klara, a river I know well, as full of grayling as it can hold; not that that has much to do with bear hunting. It is not above a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles from this.”

“Quite in the neighbourhood,” said the Captain, laughing.

“O that is nothing, we never mind a hundred miles or so. If we get anything like a breeze, we will run across the Wener, in the yacht, we can send the carioles on by land to Amal, and we will pick up a waggon, or something, for the men, at there or at Carlstad; and then you will see how[279] we will rattle up the country. We must send a boat, though, to Wenersborg this very night, and tell the post-master to make out a forbud for us; it will not do to trust to chance on such an occasion as this, for we shall have to collect a good many horses at every station. Let me see, we shall want one for each of us, and three for the waggon, that will make seven; and I suppose they will charge half a horse more besides the forbud; for we shall have four men with us, and we must take things enough to make us comfortable, for I dare say we shall have a week in the forest, one way or the other. Come, finish that bottle, and we will go in and have some coffee; it is not so well to stay out here at night when that blue mist is hanging on the swamp; besides, these rascally musquitoes are anything but pleasant.”



“The Night has covered her beauty. Her hair sighs on Ocean’s wind. Her robe streams in dusky wreaths. She is like the fair Spirit of heaven in the midst of its shadowy mist.

“From the wood-skirted waters of Lago ascend at times grey-bosomed mists, when the gates of the West are closed on the Sun’s eagle eye. Wide over Lara’s stream is poured the vapour dark and deep. The Moon, like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds.

“‘Spread the sail,’ said the King; ‘seize the winds as they pour from Lena.’ We rose on the wave with songs,—we rushed with joy through the foam of the deep.”


“So peaceful, calm, and leaden grey,
Beneath our keel the waters lay,
Parting around the vessel’s prow
With rippling murmur, sweet and low,—
And rising slowly from the lake,
The wreathing mists asunder break—
Revealing all concealed before
Of forest, hill, and rocky shore.”

There was no great stir next morning at Gäddebäck, considering the importance of the expedition; as for preparations, no more preparation was necessary than is necessary for a detachment of soldiers that has received its route; the guns and ammunition were paraded, and the knapsacks were packed in light marching order; the carioles had been despatched over night to the post-master at Wenersborg, under the charge of Piersen and one of Moodie’s people, with directions to send on a forebud, and then to proceed by land to Amal; and the cutter having received her freight, had, on the preceding evening, hauled out into the stream in order to be taken in tow by the night steamer, for Wenersborg. Moodie had determined that there was no need of disappointing[281] himself or his friends of their day’s fishing at the upper rapids, seeing that they might easily be taken on the road. He proposed, therefore, joining the cutter at Wenersborg in the evening, and making the passage to Amal by night, observing, that by getting what sleep they could while at sea, they would lose no time, and might start immediately on landing.

“This is rather close shaving, Moodie,” said the Captain, as they sat at breakfast the following morning,—rather an early breakfast, for Moodie meant to give the fishing-ground what he called a full due.—“You have made the evening breeze an element in your calculation; we shall be in a mess if this night is anything like the last.”

“O, but it will not be, ‘you see ghosts by daylight,’ as our people say; there is always a breeze on the open lake, it is not like this valley; besides, if it does fail us, we have only to post; there is a regular posting track across the lake, with stations on the islands, where they keep boats in the summer and horses in the winter. If the breeze does fail us, which I tell you it will not, we have only to send the dingy to Leckö or Lurön, whichever we may be nearest to, and get boats enough to carry us all.”

The Parson made no opposition, though in his heart he agreed with the Captain that the experiment might very possibly involve the loss of their ultimate object, the skål; the salmo ferox was, however, a new fish to him, and notwithstanding all he had said in its disparagement on the banks of the Torjedahl, he would not much have liked to lose his chance of landing one. By his advice a light rod or two were added to the baggage,—for the rivers north of the Wener abound in grayling, though, strange to say, these delicate fish are never found south of it.

The four-oared gig being the fastest pulling boat, carried them up the stream to the point at which the great canal leaves the river; beyond this it ceases to be navigable on account of its rocks and rapids, but for this very reason becomes much more valuable as a fishing preserve. At these rapids, which was the crack station of all Moodie’s fishery, was a sort of out-post, where he had a keeper’s house, with a separate establishment of boats. The Captain turned up his[282] eyes a little at hearing of this fresh proof of his friend’s magnificence; but it sounds grander to English ears than it is in fact, for Moodie made money by his fishery, and of course required men, not only to preserve it, but to catch the fish while he was absent on any roving expedition like the present; and as for boats, where planks may be had at the saw-mills for almost nothing, and where every man is more or less of a carpenter, rough fishing punts are articles of very small expense indeed, and are generally built at home.

It is said that the great lake, Wener, even now the largest in Europe, was once much larger; that it once extended to the falls of Trollhättan; that all the low-lying and marshy shores, which are now the delight of ducks and the glory of musquitoes, were once under water, but that the stream having gradually worked its way over the falls, like a saw, continually wearing away the rock from which it fell, and carrying it off, portion by portion, opened a deeper passage, and that the lake has gradually receded to its present limits.

This of course, happened in Preadamite times, or, to use the language of the allegorical history of creation supplied by the prose Edda—in those days, “before the sons of Bör had slain the giant Ymir.”[48] And certainly the formation of the valley afforded some grounds for the conjecture: two low lines of hills, steep and cliff-shaped, suggested readily the idea of Preadamite banks; while the flat bottom of the valley, in many places irrecoverably marshy, in all liable to be covered with water whenever the river is in flood, looked quite as much like the bottom of a drained pond as it did like the real land. It was not without its beauty, either; if ever it had been a lake, it must have been a lake studded with low islands, and these, as well as much of the marshy ground, were covered with forests, hiding, by the luxuriance of their growth, the numerous cultivated spots which intervened.

It was a very different description of scenery to that of[283] Norway certainly, for the hills of Hunneberg and Halleberg, which bound the view to the east and contain some very valuable limestone quarries, are, what limestone soil invariably is, tame and monotonous. They, however, abound in oak—a very rare tree in the north,—and also in deer and roe-bucks, which are not common either, but this being a royal forest, they were probably better looked after than they are in private lands, and Moodie, who, practically, had the rangership, as he was the only man allowed to shoot there, was scrupulously particular, and would as soon have thought of shooting a keeper as of shooting a deer.

The rapids are formed by a ridge of rock which crosses the river, over which it pours down one or two steps leaving deep broad pools of eddying water between them. The whole of this part of the river is overhung with trees of the largest growth which Sweden affords, and is as beautiful a spot as any they had seen. As the rocks are extremely rugged, the river is of very unequal breadth,—the banks, at one place, approaching so near to each other, that an Alpine bridge is formed of pine trees thrown across it. Four of the longest firs that could be found, with their stems resting on the rocks, are tied together in pairs, at their upper ends, by means of two iron bands, forming a broad Gothic arch. This is the skeleton of the bridge; the horizontal timbers, which were laid for the footways, passed them at about a third of their height, like the cross-bar of the letter A, and formed ties to steady them as well as to support the rest of the structure. It was an exceedingly picturesque affair, and told well for the ingenuity of the architect.

This bridge was their first stage. The keeper’s hut commanded the pools both above and below the bridge, and had establishments of boats for both divisions of the river—for there was considerable difficulty in getting a boat from one to the other.

The salmo ferox, when small, is often caught with a fly, and may be so caught when fourteen or sixteen pounds weight, but this is not a very common occurrence. The usual way of fishing for him is with a large litch of six pairs of hooks and a lip-hook, very heavily loaded and baited with[284] a bleak or a gwinead, of which there are plenty in the river. A boat is absolutely necessary. The fisherman stands in the stern, and runs out some thirty yards of the line heavily loaded, with a short stiff pike-rod; the boat must be kept continually traversing the stream, beginning at the head of it and quartering it down to the foot, while the troller at the stern, with the point of his rod low, keeps his bait spinning in jerks,—the object being to imitate a sick or wounded fish. At each turn of the boat, the line must be gathered in by the hand, or the edges of the rapids, which indeed are the most likely parts, would be untried; four out of five fish are caught while the boats are in the act of turning.

This rather monotonous description of sport had gone on for some time, when the Parson felt the rod nearly taken out of his hand by the rush of a fish. The battle was furious, for the salmo ferox does not belie his name, but it was a mere trial of tackle, without any opportunity for the exercise of skill,—carried on, too, at the bottom of water twenty feet deep; and when, after a quarter of an hour’s boring against the bottom, the Parson succeeded in bringing to the gaff his huge capture, he declared he had done enough for fame, struck up his rod, sought the lower pool in pursuit of gös and id, with which, as well as with trout, it was said to abound.

The Swedes say that gös is a fish very difficult to catch; to an Englishman, by far the most difficult part of the business is to name the fish when he has caught it. Certainly, no one is qualified to do so who speaks of Göthe under his English appellations of Goth and Goaty: the dotted o affects and softens the preceding consonant as well as the vowel, and the name of this fish is pronounced much as if it was spelt “yeus,” in French letters. The difficulty experienced by the Swedes in catching it, arises from the fact of its requiring fine tackle in the clear waters which it frequents, instead of the coarse gimp or wire which is sufficient for the rash and headlong pike; in all other respects the habits of the two fish are very similar, except that the gös is a much smaller fish, and very much more prized. For him, the Parson was content with setting lay-lines with live baits and considerable[285] length of fine gut, while he directed his personal attention to the id.

In every particular, except one, the id is a chub; his haunts, his habits, his food are those of a chub; in looks, too—though certainly not altogether so clumsy, and, so to speak, chubby,—he reminds one forcibly of the chub family. He is something like the half-polished parvenu in his transition state of existence, just admitted into aristocratic circles, but, as yet, unable entirely to lay aside his brandy-and-water habits and feelings. In every particular, except one, the id is a chub, and that is, that he is by far the best eating of any of the cyprinæ; in fact, so far as the pot goes, he is a very respectable prize. The Parson, who, in his youth, had caught many a chub, and was fully aware of the zoological affinity of the two fish, was by no means at a loss for subjects of mutual interest between himself and his new introduction; a fly, resembling, as near as it could be made on the spur of the moment, a humble-bee, was tied on his finest gut, and the boat, anchored in the stern, was by slow degrees permitted to descend within long-cast of a still, over-shaded pool: the fly, thrown from as great a distance as he could command, fell as lightly as so clumsy a combination of fur and feathers could be expected to fall, and was moved very slowly and regularly over, or rather through, the water; for, as it may be supposed, the length of line caused it to sink a few inches below the surface.

His science was not unrewarded, for, before long, a sluggish roll in the waters, and a strong, obstinate, pig-headed pull at his line announced a capture. This was quickly followed by others, for id, though gregarious, are quite as indifferent to the troubles of their neighbours as if they were human creatures; provided you do not show yourself and alarm them for their individual safety, their friend may kick and struggle before their eyes, without causing a single wag of their selfish tails.

It was not bad fun upon the whole, for the id, though not possessing a tithe of the life and activity of the salmo genus, pull like donkeys, and might have lasted some time longer, for the Parson was getting interested, when Jacob was seen[286] making his leisurely way along the bank, for the purpose of announcing “mid-dag’s mad.” The ground was sufficiently tangled, and Torkel, who was managing the boat and landing the fish, was extremely amused at the air of vexation and annoyance with which he dipped under a low-spreading fir branch, or put aside a too affectionate bramble. About a hundred yards above the id pool was a little beach of the whitest and smoothest sand that ever fairy danced upon. From the point where the boat was anchored, it was evident that this was caused by a little dull-looking stream, which had brought the white particles from the hills during the floods; but which then, very suspiciously, did not run into the river, but lost itself behind the white beach. All this was lost upon Jacob, who was in the wood, and who, not liking the tangled ground, made a valorous jump on to the white beach.

“Der var et spring af en Leerovn!” shouted Torkel, quoting a Danish proverb (“there was a jump for a tile-stove!”)—as poor Jacob flopped through the thin crust of white sand into a bed of black, tenacious clay, in which he seemed planted up to his middle, with his long flowing coat-tails spread out upon the unbroken sand.

The more he screamed with fear, the more they screamed with laughter. There was not the slightest danger, for he had evidently got as far as he meant to sink; but as for getting out without a purchase from something solid, the thing was impossible.

“We must have another fish,” said Torkel, to make up the dozen; “and it will be impossible to get Jacob out without spoiling the pool by pulling the boat across it.”

The Parson coolly took another cast,—Jacob screamed louder than ever.

“Bother that fellow,—I have missed him,” said the Parson, meaning not Jacob, but the fish.

“Try again,” said Torkel, coolly, “you will get him next time.”

A despairing shriek from Jacob.

“Ah! that is in him!—this is the biggest we have had yet! mind what you are about with the landing-net,—do[287] not let him run under the boat! Well, really, we must pull out poor Jacob, or he will poison us with bad cookery, out of revenge. Up killick! or whatever you call it in your language, and shove across to him.”

But when they landed, they seemed as far from the rescue as ever. Jacob had jumped vigorously, and the bank from which he had jumped was high. To reach him was impossible, and to get out on the sand would be to share his fate. While Torkel was trying to slip down the bank, the Parson took out his knife to cut a branch.

“Stop! stop!” said Torkel, who, unsuccessful, had scrambled back. “What are you doing?—we shall all suffer for this; it is elder that you are cutting.”

“Well! what then?”

“Why, if we take it without asking for it, the elves will have power over us for nine days, and the chances are, some of us will die suddenly.”

The Parson was inclined to laugh, but he did not, and turned to look for a branch of less dangerous wood; but Torkel, placing himself before it, taking off his hat and bowing three times to the tree, said, “Elf-mother! elf-mother! let me have some of thy elder, and I will give thee something of mine.”

The elf-mother certainly did not refuse, and Torkel took silence for consent, which it proverbially is, and cut away at the bough, which, stripped of its side branches, formed a communication with the imbedded Jacob, who, black without and sulky within, and, as Torkel said, looking more like a pig than ever, was dragged floundering to the shore,—not at all the more pleased when Torkel reminded him that, as they were in light marching order, he would have to wash his shirt, trousers, and stockings, and to sit without them till they were dry.

When the party met at their mid-dag’s mad, which was not till long after the Swedish time for mid-dag’s mad had passed, there was a very respectable show of fish—not only enough for the cutter, but also a very handsome basket for the Gotheborg steamer that evening, which was duly packed and forwarded in a light cart to the locks; while the party,[288] shouldering their weapons and that part of their prize which they had reserved for themselves, took the forest path to Wenersborg. Before sundown they were safely established on board the little cutter, who immediately tripped her anchor, hoisted jib and foresail—for the mainsail was already set,—payed off slowly before it, and stood out into the lake, which was glowingly reflecting the red beams of the setting sun, but still faintly rippling under the easterly breeze.

“Did not I tell you so?” said Moodie, who, seating himself with his legs dangling down the well, had assumed the tiller just as a gentleman drives his own carriage; “we have had a capital day’s sport, and got a glorious breakfast for to-morrow. I have turned a few bancos, which will help to pay for the trip, and here we are, resting from our labours while the wind is carrying us on our journey.”

“I hope it will stand,” said old Nils, “but it is easterly, you see, and the sun is setting; the wind does not like to blow in the face of the sun.”

“Go to the—Strömkarl—your old croaker, and check the main-sheet; you have got the sail a fathom too flat. The wind is drawing round to the southward, as any one may see; ease off the jib and foresail too, while you are about it.”

The fact was, that the wind had stood steady enough, but Moodie, in his anxiety, had let her fall off a couple of points, which Nils saw, but was too sulky to mention, and which the rest of the party did not see, because, as strangers, they were ignorant of the true course, and there was no binnacle, or, so far as they could see, compass of any kind, besides those they had in their pockets.

The cutter was half-decked, with a tidy little cabin forward, and a couple of bunks for sleeping—one on each side of the well; in these the party very shortly disposed themselves, for they knew that a pretty stiff day’s work lay before them; and having established the best defence in their power against the musquitoes, slept as campaigners sleep, in right down earnest.

“Hallo, Nils! where are we?” asked a sleepy voice next morning.


The Captain, who had curled himself into the opposite bunk, was not quite certain whether it was not still a part of his dreams.

The next call was quite enough to settle this fact.

“Nils!” roared Moodie, “why Nils! confound the fellow, I believe he is asleep.”

And so, sure enough, he was, with his head on the rudder-case, as fast as any one of the seven sleepers of Ephesus; and poor Nils was by no means singular in this respect—passengers were asleep, attendants were asleep, dogs were asleep, Jacob was asleep and snoring, the winds were asleep, everything was asleep but the sails, and they were waving to and fro with the knittles pattering against their surfaces, and shaking the night dew on the deck like rain, while over all, like an eider-down coverlet, had sunk on them all a steaming white fog, so thick that the sharpest eyes could not see the little burgee at the mast-head, or the out-haul block at the bowsprit end. It was not dark, it never is in summer, but no one could tell whether the sun had risen or not.

“Here’s a go!” said the Captain.

“Faith! I wish it was a go,” said the Parson, putting his head out of the cabin door; “it seems to me just the reverse.”

Moodie, whose clever plan seemed to promise anything but success, was as sulky as Nils had been overnight, and rated the poor fellow soundly for going to sleep.

Nils represented, not altogether unreasonably, that the wind had gone to sleep first.

“What is to be done now?” said Moodie, breaking off a discontented and reflective whistle, the last notes of which had been singularly out of tune; “I cannot send this sleepy old fool to Leckö, or anywhere else, for I do not know where Leckö is, or where we are, or anything about it in this fog; who was to have thought of this?”

“Never mind,” said the Parson—

“The wisest schemes of mice and men
Gang aft ajee;”—

“I suppose this fog will clear off some time or other, and we are well provisioned, at all events.”


“Yes,” said Moodie, “but we have sent on a forebud, and we shall have to pay for the horses all the way up.”

“Well, that is a bad job,” said the Parson, “as far as it goes; but the worst that can come of it is to pay double,—once for the failure, and once for the real journey.”

“No, that is not the worst, by any means; we have not only lost our money, but our forebud; we shall be kept waiting for an hour or two at every station, and shall most probably arrive when the fun is over. At such out-of-the-way places there is not a chance of holl-horses, that is to say, horses which the post-master keeps himself on speculation, and we shall have to send to the farms, whose turn it is to furnish them. I have been kept waiting that way for four hours at a single station.”

Here Nils, who had been up to the mast-head to see if he could make out anything (for these fogs very often lie on the surface, not a dozen feet thick, looking from above like so much cotton wool in a box, while the sun is shining brightly above them), slid down the back-stay, and declared he could feel a light air aloft on the starboard beam; “his cheek felt quite cold,” he said, “though the heavy main-sail, dripping with dew, did not acknowledge the breeze at all.”

“How is her head; why, confound you, you have forgotten the compass” (not at all an unlikely piece of forgetfulness in a river yacht.) This was soon remedied, for the Parson put his own little pocket affair on the deck, which, as it was a calm, did quite as well as her own.

She was looking a little southward of east, having probably turned round and round a dozen times during the night.

“That would do, the wind was southerly then; but where were they?”

The day was now getting bright, and the fog was looking like a silver veil; the tiresome pattering of the knittles had ceased, or was renewed only at intervals; she was evidently gliding through the water,—but which way were they to steer? Amal certainly must be somewhere to the northward,[291] but within six or eight points it was impossible to tell where after such a sleepy watch as had been kept during the past night. Reluctantly, Moodie brought her to the wind, and hauled his foresheet to windward.

But the breeze increased, and the fog began to lift now and then; it could be seen under, as it were, and though just as thick about the mast-head as ever, a hundred yards or so of the surface could be seen plainly on either side.

Nils rubbed his hands at this infallible sign of the rising of the fog, and Moodie, somewhat easier in his mind, ordered coffee.

“There’s land on the port-beam,” said the Captain, during one of these lifts. “I am sure I saw land, whatever it is.”

“There ought to be no land there,” said Moodie; for, lying as she did now, close to the wind, she had brought the east, that is to say, the great expanse of the lake, to her port-side, and was looking exactly on the opposite direction to her course; “get a cast of the lead, and keep a bright look out for rocks.”

Just then the curtain of the fog rose in earnest, and disclosed a cluster of rocks and islets, among which they had got themselves completely entangled. “Why, what is this?—it is! no, it can’t be! yet it is—”

“It is Lurön,” said Nils.

“Lurön,” said Moodie, “why, that is miles to the eastward of our course! Where have you been steering to during the night?”

“You told me to ‘keep her as she goes,’ and so I did.”

And so he had; the fault lay with Moodie himself, who from the first starting had steered two points to the eastward of his course; the fog and the current—for the Wener is big enough for current—had done the rest.

It did not however signify, the breeze blew merrily and promised to stand; the fog now lay in light fleecy clouds far above their heads; the sun, not far from the horizon, began to smile upon them and to chase away the dangers of the night, and with them the ill-humour they had engendered; the fore-sheet was let draw, and as she gathered way she[292] tacked, fell off on the port-tack, and with a jolly breeze on her quarter, buzzed away through the water to the northwest.

Soon a line of trees appeared on the horizon, as if they were dancing in the air, or floating in the water; then the trunks began to form and unite with something below them; then the line of land, real firm land, began to manifest itself; then red, and white, and black, and brown, and striped cottages began to show out; and before ten the anchor was let go before the little town of Amal.

The horses were still awaiting them, for the allotted three hours, during which they are bound to remain, had not yet elapsed and they escaped on payment of the regulated fine for being after time. The men were sent on immediately in the waggon which Moodie had spoken of, and which he had written to his friend the farmer to borrow, sending his note by the forebud. In half-an-hour the carioles were harnessed, and as they plunged into the forests at the back of Amal, the last thing they saw was the pretty cutter, close hauled, lying as near to her course to Wenersborg as the wind would let her look.

The trees of Western Carlstadtlan, which they were now traversing, are said to be the finest in Sweden; this is due partly to the depth and goodness of the soil—a circumstance which will eventually secure their destruction, by offering a temptation to convert the fjeld into arable land; that they stood, even yet, was principally on account of the absence of any great rivers, which afford the only means of conveying timber to the coast. The land is quite as good on the banks of the Klara and Swedish Glommen, the latter of which runs into the lake a few miles eastward of Amal, but there is a sensible difference in the growth of the timber. There was fir, no doubt, in plenty—there is no Swedish forest without fir,—but there were also huge beech trees, and a sprinkling of not very happy-looking oak, that put one in mind of the English in India: they lived in the country, but they did not enjoy it.

The whole country looked like an enormous park—rather too thickly planted, to be sure,—one kept looking, at every[293] turn of the road, for the mansion; and the road, too, though not one of very great traffic, was very good, winding along with a great border of short turf on each side, comparatively level on the whole, but occasionally interrupted by a descent so sharp that it seemed as if the carioles were going to cut a summerset over the horses’ ears,—more particularly as the horses invariably chose those portions of the road for going as hard as they could lay legs to ground, a peculiarity sufficiently trying to the nerves; and as those portions of the road were invariably cut to pieces by the rush of the water, and were full of rocks besides, sufficiently trying to the bodily feelings.

On the opposite sides of these ravines, the horses would creep at the rate of about a mile an hour, the passenger being so absolutely expected to walk up them, that many of the horses came to a dead halt at the bottom, and refused to proceed at all till disencumbered of their weight.

“It is not without reason,” said Birger, as they sat on the roadside, at the top of one of these descents, watching the slow progress of their carioles, under the care of their respective schutzebonder—little boys or girls, as the case may be, who sit on the foot-boards, and bring the horses back after they have done their stage;—“it is not without reason that the ancient Swedes have invented the legend that in certain places the elves and the trees are identical; that these forest elves are intensely patriotic, and that in times of invasion they assemble their bands and fight by the side of their human countrymen, in defence of their common country. Many of the trees in Carlstadtlan, as well as in other places, are trees only by day, but are armed soldiers by night. Of course the idea is that the forests fight for the country in case of invasion, and add to the numbers of its defenders; and so they do. Russia might pour her thousands upon us, and sweep us off the face of the earth, by mere force of numbers, in an open field; but how would she ever force her passage through a forest like this, filled with a few thousand riflemen? The trees would fight for us even by day; but by night our numbers, counting the elves, would be irresistible.

“The slight variety that there is in the legend in Denmark,[294] bears this out there also; where the deep Sound and fjords intersect the kingdom, the stony promontories are its best defence, and the elf kings are called Klintekonger, or Promontory Kings. There are several stories about their parading their elf soldiers, with fife and drum, on the breaking out of a war, and driving over the sea, with snorting horses, in clouds and blackness, from one promontory to another. The elf king of Bornholm will not allow any earthly prince to sleep more than three nights within his dominions, nor will King Tolv permit any king besides himself to pass the bridge of Skjelskör. This is all part of the same allegory; the elves are the spirits of the woods, and the Grims of the cataracts, and the Haaf manner of the sea, and the Strömkarls of the rivers. They all bear the same character; they are capricious as the elements are over which they preside, and often injure most those who are most accustomed to them, but in case of an invasion become rivers, and lakes, and fjords, and forests, and unite to repel the invader. Bother that little schutzebonde of mine; I wish she were a boy, that I might whip her instead of the horse;” and Birger strode down the hill to infuse fresh spirit into the post-horse and post-girl.

Thus they travelled on, at the rate of five or six miles an hour on the average, bowling along through the forest, but interrupted, whenever they came near cultivation, by timber fences and swing gates across the road, living mostly on their own provisions, with the help of a little gröd which they got from the post-houses, sleeping when they would in the haylofts, sometimes in the open air, and occasionally on peculiarly dirty sheepskins in the post-houses. Oh those sheepskins—

“Ye gentlemen of England,
Who live at home at ease,
How little do you think upon
The dangers of the fleas!”



“A various scene the clansmen made—
Some sate, some stood, some slowly strayed,—
But most, with mantles folded round,
Were couched to rest upon the ground—
Scarce to be known by curious eye
From the deep heather where they lie;
But when, advancing through the gloom,
They saw their chieftain’s eagle plume,
Their shout of welcome, shrill and wide,
Shook the steep mountain’s steady side,—
Thrice it arose, and lake and fell
Three times returned the martial yell.
It died upon Rochastle’s plain,
And silence claimed her evening reign.”
Lady of the Lake.

Evening had already begun to close in, and the dark branches of the firs, which for the last five or six miles had canopied the road, were beginning to grow darker still, when the carioles emerged from the great forest into a green park-like glade, studded with feathering clumps of birch and spruce; and rattled up to the door of the little inn that stood on the borders of it, which was the place appointed for the meet.

The inn, which, after all, was little better than a post-house, was evidently not large enough to contain a tenth part of the crowd collected in front of it; nor did the half dozen wooden houses, which formed the village, afford much more extensive accommodation.

Few, however, of those there assembled seemed to care much about the matter; the evening was warm, the sky was clear, and the stars were beginning to twinkle merrily[296] through the calm blue sky; the good green wood was shelter enough for the hardy peasants and their equally hardy landlords, and would have been shelter enough though the ground had been white with snow.

Fires were beginning to rise here and there, bringing into view the gipsy-like groups collected round them, as they sat, stood, or lay at full-length upon the turf—some busied about the little tin kettles, in which they were mixing their rye gröd, some bringing in fuel, some returning from the inn and the temporary stalls that had been established round it for the sale of bread, cheese, butter, brandy, and other necessaries; though most of the party had brought good store of provision in their own bags. Some—and they mostly the elders of the parish—were quietly smoking their pipes, and discussing the events of former skals, and prophesying good or bad of the present one, according as their dispositions were sanguine or the reverse; but all were talking, laughing, hand-shaking, imparting or listening to little pieces of domestic news, or parish scandal—for, in the forest parishes, (and in Sweden most parishes are of that character), a skal brings together men who have but few other opportunities of meeting.

A few old stagers, indeed, were trying to get one good night’s sleep, in order to prepare themselves for the fatigues of which the morrow was but the beginning, and were stretching themselves on the turf, with their feet towards their fires; but new arrivals were continually rousing them up, and some fresh Calle Jonsen, or Swen Larssen, or Nils Ericsen, would be continually dropping in with fresh inquiries, fresh news, and fresh greetings.

From the windows of the inn, which were wide open, a broad, bright glare of light was streaming across the glade, obscured now and then by the shadow of some great head and shoulders—for the room was full of people,—but strong enough, notwithstanding, to light up the boughs of the old lime trees that shaded the porch, glittering among their soft green leaves, as if they really were what the Swedes suppose them to be, the roosting places of the Spirits of Light.

This was evidently the head quarters of the skal, where[297] the generals and field officers were holding high council, receiving information, arranging plans, and issuing orders; and Birger, springing from his cariole and throwing the reins of his horse to his schutzebond, or post-boy, and committing, with utter recklessness of consequences, the whole department of quartermaster-general, and commissary-general to boot, into the hands of Jacob, rushed into the room, followed by his three friends.

This opportune reinforcement was greeted with shouts of welcome: Birger himself was an old friend of the Ofwer Jagmästere, and had, before this, signalized himself as a hunter. Englishmen are invariably popular both in Norway and Sweden; and besides, the value of English rifles, and English sportsmen to carry them, was universally acknowledged. Moodie, however, was the great prize; he had been now, for four years in the country, and had been there quite long enough to be known and appreciated as the best shot and the most sagacious and inventive leader in the province. With a natural turn for the chase in all its varieties, he had thrown himself, heart and soul, into the business of bear hunting, had studied it theoretically and had worked out his theories practically, till he was universally acknowledged to be a fair match for the “gentleman in the fur cloak, who has the wisdom of ten and the strength of twenty,” as the Swedes periphrastically term their great enemy, the bear.

He had remained in the porch for a minute or two, giving some directions to his followers, so that the greetings, and introductions, and first inquiries had a little subsided when he entered; but the moment his well-known green cap was seen in the doorway, there arose such a shout of welcome, that it made the flitches of bacon and strings of onions tremble from the rafters.

“Modige! Modige!”[49] for so they had naturalized his name into a word which, in their language, signifies courageous.


The well-known cry was caught up among the parties out of doors, and echoed back again from tree to tree, while the glare of the camp-fires shewed dark shadows of insane figures, waving arms and hats, aye, and handkerchiefs, too, for every woman who can possibly slip away from home, turns out on a skal.

“Modige! Modige!” again came thundering and screaming back in all sorts of voice, old and young, male and female; now dying away, then bursting forth, as some distant post took it up again.

“Upon my word,” said the Ofwer Jagmästere Bjornstjerna, speaking in French, out of compliment to the strangers—for this language, though utterly despised in Norway, is pretty generally spoken among the Swedish aristocracy; “upon my word, the people have decided the matter for us; I wanted some one to take charge of the hållet, and was going to offer you the command the moment I saw you, but the people seem to have taken the matter into their own hands now; you cannot possibly refuse, you are elected by acclamation.”

“I am delighted to be of any use,” said Moodie,—in fact, he did look delighted in good earnest,—“and will do my best; but you are aware that I am not very familiar with the ground here.”

“Never mind that,” said Bjornstjerna; “we will soon find some one to be your quartermaster-general; what we want is, a man that the people look up to, who knows his business, and is accustomed to command.”

“How many shall I have under me in the hållet?”

“We cannot spare you above five hundred,” said Bjornstjerna; “but the ground is easy enough, at least so far as the hållet is concerned. See here,” and he produced a rough but well-executed military sketch of the ground, which he had surveyed and mapped that morning; “this plain is the country we mean to drive,—there is about three miles of it in length, that is to say,” he added, parenthetically, nodding to the Englishmen, “what you would call in your country, one or two-and-twenty. On the west, as you see, it is bounded by the river which I have marked here in blue; this, in its course, expands into these two lakes, and[299] just by the water-side the country is comparatively open, with a few farm houses and hamlets about it; the forest, however, closes it all round, getting thicker as you approach the mountains. On the east is this range of heights which, as luck will have it, I find are scarped by nature into cliffs, so that nothing but a bird can get up them—except at these passes, which I have marked on the map with a cross. These are mostly the dry or half-dry beds of torrents, and by the side of almost all of them there is a passage into the upper fjeld, practicable for men, and, consequently, for beasts also, when they are frightened. At this point, where we intend stationing our dref, the range of hills is about six of your miles distant from the line of the river, but it gradually approaches it; and at this point, where there are some falls and rapids, the distance is very trifling—not above a thousand eller—somewhere about half an English mile; and, besides, there is a spur of rock here which causes the falls of the river, and upon this the forest is very thin and open. Here I propose placing you with the hållet. You will establish yourself on the reverse slope of the spur, so that our shot will pass over your heads; you will then only have to clear away sufficient of the under-stuff from the front of your position to give you a fair shot at anything that attempts to cross.

“About a thousand or fifteen hundred eller in front of your position, and parallel to it, runs a cow-track to the upper säters, which, upon the whole, is pretty open, and upon which you may as well set a hundred or two of your men, to improve to-morrow into a shooting line. Here we shall take our stand after we have driven the country. There is a thickish bit between this path and your position; the game will not object to enter it, and if they do, we ought to get every one of them, for to the left the rock is absolutely perpendicular, and on the right the rapids are such that nothing can cross them.”

“You have no skal-plats?” said Moodie.

“Why this is a skal-plats,” said Bjornstjerna, “rather a large one, to be sure; but we shall not run much risk of getting our men shot in driving it, because you will be on[300] the reverse slope; and, by the way, you must be very particular in cautioning all your skalfogdar to keep their men from showing themselves on the crest of the hill. I did at one time think of making a skal-plats here, on the banks of this lower lake, and driving from both ends at the same time; but the ground is not favourable; a good deal of it is cleared, and every bear will make for the roots of the mountains, where the under-stuff is thickest; they cannot get up the perpendicular cliffs, to be sure, but we should have them creeping up a little way by the branches, and then stealing back as soon as the dref has passed the place,—upon the whole, though, I think my present plan is the best.”

“I really think it is,” said Moodie, “as far as I can judge from seeing it on paper; but you seem to have a pretty large country to drive, not less than twenty miles English in length. What number do you muster?”

“Not above fifteen hundred or two thousand at the most,” said Bjornstjerna, “though I have called out five parishes; but look at the place, it seems cut out for a skal,—half-a-dozen boats will guard the river, which is navigable in its whole length till you come to the rapids which flank your position, and not a bear will go near the houses, as you know, or face the open ground, if he can possibly help it,—so much for our right flank; while for the other, a small picket at each of the water-courses, will be quite sufficient to guard them till the dref has passed, and then the picket can either strengthen the other guards farther on, or reinforce our line, or join you at the hållet, according as they are wanted. Then, since the cliffs keep approaching the river, in proportion as we drive forward so our line will be strengthened by the men closing on each other, till, in the end, when the beasts begin to break out, we shall be able to send you a reinforcement of two or three hundred men, for we shall have more than we want.”

“That will do,” said Moodie; “we shall have a glorious skal, I see, and I give you great credit for making the most of your men.”

“The truth is, I have quite as many men as I want—I have never been at a loss for them; what I have been at a[301] loss for, hitherto, is officers, for the Indelta has been unexpectedly summoned to Stockholm, and with them I have lost almost every man who knows how to command.”

“Why not wait till they come back?” said Birger; “they never keep the Indelta out for more than three weeks, and I am sure the ‘Fur-clothed Disturbers’ would wait for you:” (no Swede ever mentions the bear’s name, if he can possibly help it).

“Yes,” said Bjornstjerna, “but after that the militia is to be called out, and if I get my officers I should lose my men—aye, and two-thirds of the women, too. How many women do you think would turn out, if you took away all the men between the ages of twenty and twenty-five? And let me tell you that the women, though the law does not allow us to press them into the service, are just as useful as the men,—and in the dref, where all you want is to drive the game forward, a great deal more so, for they talk twice as much, and their screams, and squalls, and laughter, are heard as far again as the men’s shouts. O, by the Thousand! I had rather lose my men than my women. But you gentlemen are a perfect Godsend; I shall do very well for officers now. Herr Modige is kind enough to take the hållet, and, whether you like it or no, Master Lieutenant, you will have the charge of that skal-arm which furnishes the pickets.”

“Well, I suppose I must obey my superior officer; I wish they treated us Lieutenants of the Guards as well as they do those of England, and then I should be Captain as well as you—commanding you, perhaps, if I happened to be senior.”

“Would you, my boy? I would have you to know that I rank a Colonel now,—I write ‘Hof’ before my name.”

“Upon my soul, old fellow, I congratulate you; I do not know any one who deserves it better.”

“No more do I,” said Bjornstjerna, “and I must say that it is not often that the Förste Hof Jagmästere shows such a specimen of discrimination. However, to business. Along the left flank of the dref, you will see that in the course of our beat there are some fifteen or twenty places[302] where game can escape by climbing up the water courses. At each of these you will post a picket, strong or weak, according to the nature of the ground. Herr Länsman, can you furnish the Lieutenant with a man who knows the country?”

The Länsman, or tax-gatherer, who in these remote districts acts as police officer, and is, in fact, the sole representative of majesty, offered his own services in that capacity.

“Very good,” said the Ofwer Jagmästere, “then you will point out the particulars; but, to help you, I have marked all the more practicable passages with red crosses. Here, however, is your principal danger—in fact, it is that which made me hesitate about establishing the hållet where it is. You see where this cow-path leads to the hills—the path, I mean, which I have just pointed out to Herr Modige as the place where I wish him to arrange the shooting line; carry your eye onward to where it ascends the hills; that is an easy pass, such as you can ride up, and it is so close to the hållet that any beast that turns at the line, would naturally dash at the opening. Here you must post a very strong force.”

“I cannot do better than put my English friends there,” said Birger, who saw at a glance that this was the very crack post of the whole line; “I will venture to say that their rifles will not allow anything to pass alive through that opening, from an elk to a rabbit.”

“Hush, not a word about elks,” said Bjornstjerna; “neither they nor stags must be touched—the new law is very strict about that.”

“It is very difficult to tell one beast from another, in the thick juniper,” said Birger; “I never could myself.”

The Ofwer Jagmästere laughed, but put on an official frown.

“Do you know, Birger,” said the Parson, “I should like to be your aide-de-camp better than to hold any definite post; I could carry your orders, you know.”

“And deliver them in English or French,” said Birger; “I shall have a very effective aide-de-camp indeed. However, if you like it, I will give you the post, and I think you are right; you will see more in that way than in any other, and you can reinforce the post of danger whenever you are[303] tired. Indeed, you may as well consider it your home during the skal. Would the Captain, then, take charge of that point?”

The Captain was quite willing, and promised to give a good account of it.

“Well, then,” said Birger, “I shall not want Piersen to-morrow, so you may have him, and your own man Tom, and Jacob for cook. The Parson will probably take Torkel, but I dare say the Länsman can find you an intelligent Swede, who knows the ground and can understand a few words of English, and three or four fellows for sentries; that will be quite enough for you, for the Parson and Torkel will join you, and be under your orders before there is anything serious.”

Here the Ofwer Jagmästere spoke a few words in Swedish to Birger, who laughed and replied—“No, no, certainly not; I am confident he would consider it an honour of no small magnitude to bear a commission in our service. The fact is,” continued he, addressing the Captain, “everything in these skaller is arranged according to military discipline, and everyone here has military rank. And as you have to command a picket, you would not object to hold a temporary commission, not quite equal to your own in the English service.”

“Object!” said the Captain, “O, no—delighted, of course!”

“Then give me your cap,” said Birger. “Hand me over that chalk, Bjornstjerna;” and he wrote upon its peak the mystic letters, “S.F.,” being the initials of Skal Fogde; and accordingly the Captain took rank as full sergeant in the Swedish army.

“Now, then,” said the Jagmästere, “as I have arranged matters so satisfactorily here, I will start at once for Lysvik, where I have ordered the dref to assemble. I shall have enough to do to-morrow morning, as you may imagine,—what with numbering the men, and appointing their skalfogdar, and seeing them at their stations, the commander has no easy life of it. As for you, Moodie, I need not tell you your business—you know it as well as I do myself,—but begin appointing your skalfogdar the first thing to-morrow. You need not wait for your full complement of men, they[304] will drop in in the course of the day; but as your best men are sure to be the first, appoint at once; at twelve precisely write the numbers in their hats, as they stand, and we will fine all that come later than that. That, Mr. Länsman, must be your business; but first of all look out for Lieutenant Birger fifty of your best men. That,” turning to Moodie, “will leave you nearly five hundred, which is quite as much as you can want, as the boats will be manned from my party. You, Birger, will march at daybreak, for I must have every picket posted by twelve, at which time we move forward with the dref. Now, Lönner, my horse, as quick as you please, for we have seven quarters to go before we sleep.”

The Ofwer Jagmästere might almost be said to “exit speaking,” for he continued his speech into the porch, and the last words were lost in the canter of his little hog-maned pony, as he floundered off, followed by Lönner and a couple of orderlies, together with the Länsmen of the two other parishes, who had met him by appointment at Ostmarkand, and now formed his personal staff.

Moodie, who was now in command, hesitated for a moment whether he should exercise it by clearing the inn for the sleeping accommodation of himself and friends, but, on turning the matter over in his mind, the interior looked so dirty and stuffy, and was withal so redolent of tobacco, brandy, and aniseed, while the exterior was so fresh and green, and the moon was shining down so softly, and the air was so still, and the camp fires so bright and inviting, that, with universal consent and approbation, he adjourned the divisional head-quarters to a spreading fir-tree, whose branches were illuminated by a fire worthy of a General; while the provident Jacob, who had tilted the carioles on end, to form a sort of screen, spread out before them the contents of his ambulatory larder.

This was soon discussed, and then a quiet pipe, a moderate horn of brandy and water, a hopeful good night, a roll in their cloaks, and before their heads were well on their knapsacks, the whole four were in the fairy land of sleep and forgetfulness.



“When shaws beene sheene and shrads full fayre,
And leaves both large and long,
’Tis merry walking in the fayre forest,
To hear the small birde’s song.”
Robin Hood.
“These mounds I yet may clamber,
And look on the rocks so grey,—
On these huge stones on the summits
I can lie, as oft I lay.
“And if it soughs in the forest,
In the beechwood’s native land,—
And if the wave roars deeply,
I nod to sea and strand.
“O, never my heart forgetteth
The cairn, the wood, and the strand,—
For my heart is only at home in
The warrior’s fatherland.”
Holger Danske-Ingemann.

The sun had not yet lighted up the spires of the fir-trees, when a buzz of voices and a shuffling of feet broke the slumbers of the head-quarters party. Länsman Matthiesen, true to his word, had not slept before he had picked out his fifty mountaineers, chalking their hats at the back with the letters “H.F.,” standing for hög fjeld, or the high forest, indicating the position they were to occupy.

While Birger was still rubbing his eyes and kicking up Jacob to boil the morning’s coffee, Matthiesen was numbering them from 1 to 50, with chalk, in the front of their hats, and selecting their skalfogdar, who were marked, as the Captain had been on the preceding evening, with the letters “S.F.” It is usual to appoint a skalfogde to every ten men; but, as these were to be divided into small parties, it was thought[306] expedient to appoint one to every five, it being understood that, whenever any of these parties were united, the skalfogde whose number was lowest should reckon as senior, and command the whole.

Fire-arms are not very plentiful in any part of Sweden, but Matthiesen had so picked his men, that about one-fifth of them had something of the sort,—most of these weapons looking very much more formidable to the sportsmen who carried them than to the game at which they were pointed. The rest were armed with poles, many of which had spikes at the end. Here and there was an old sword or a pistol that had seen service in the Thirty years’ War; but most of the men carried very efficient axes,—an excellent weapon against a tree, and not a bad one with a bear in close conflict, if such a thing ever does take place in a skal; but the fact is, the beasts on these occasions are so completely cowed, that they rarely, if ever, show fight.

The men had been searched that morning, and all their brandy taken from them, and the rest of their provisions examined, to see if there was enough to last out the number of days for which they had been summoned. But, before starting, Birger served out to each a horn of hot coffee from Jacob’s soup kettle, with a double allowance of sugar in it; for if there is anything that comes near to brandy in the estimation of a Swede, it is sugar, which he eats and drinks whenever he can get it, like a very child.

Birger then, having first taken a careful survey of the whole plan of the skal, a copy of which Matthiesen had placed in his hand, summoned the Parson and Torkel, and, placing himself at the head of his party, gave the word to march. This was obeyed in a very military fashion,—for every Swede is or has been a militia-man, and is very proud of his soldiering,—and the party was soon lost among the green shades of the forest.

Moodie watched them very composedly, and then quietly set himself down to breakfast, not a little to the discomposure of the Captain, who, if he had had his will, would have been walking sentry on his post with his rifle in his hand, looking out fiercely for the bears,—a proceeding which, as the dref[307] or driving party was not to move till noon, and then would be twenty miles from the scene of action, evinced, to say the least of it, more zeal than discretion.

The Captain need not, however, have disquieted himself, for the preparations all that time were going steadily forward. Moodie, having selected six of the most experienced hunters as Adjutanter or lieutenants, left them to nominate and chalk off the fifty Skalfogdar which his party required, and to distribute the men into tens in such a way that every part of the line should be equally provided with fire-arms. The farmer who owned the land had offered his services as personal attendant, or what the Jagmästere had called Quartermaster-General; and Moodie, quite aware that the authorities of the place, who knew the characters and capabilities of the men, would set in order these details much better than he could, permitted them to manage things their own way, and interfered but little with their arrangements.

It was not before ten that everything was put into proper order, and the little flags prepared which were to mark out the ground; but then Moodie readily enough got his men into marching order, and proceeded to take up the position. This was distant about four miles (English) from the place of meeting; the road to it leading down the glade, and at right angles to the direction taken by Birger and his party that morning.

If Moodie had seemed apathetic and dilatory while others were capable of doing the work, there was no want of energy in him when the party had arrived at the ground. His orders were given with that distinctness and decision which evinces an intimate acquaintance with the business in hand, and ensures the prompt obedience of all engaged in it.

Two of the Adjutanter, with three men from each skalfogde’s command were detached to establish the line which the hållet was finally to occupy, and to mark out with little flags of white calico, on which were painted their numbers, the post of each subdivision. In the meanwhile the main strength of his party were engaged in preparing the mountain road which the Jagmästere had pointed out for what is termed the shooting line,—that is to say, the line on which[308] the dref or driving division was finally to halt, having thus enclosed the game in the patch of wood between it and the hållet, which is called the skalplats.

The shooting line was formed, by cutting down the junipers and lower branches of the trees for about twenty yards on each side of a mountain road which ran parallel to the front of the position; but the great labour was to remove everything that had been cut, for, had such evident traces of man’s work been left, not one single head of game would have ventured across the clearing. For this reason, also, Moodie began his work in this place, leaving the clearing of his own line for future operations, in order that he might give time for the scent to clear away,—and therefore it is, that when the shooting line is once formed, no one is ever permitted to cross till the dref arrives, driving the game before them.

The peculiar kind of the ground had, in this instance, caused the skalplats to be made very much larger than is usual; in fact, it was nearly half a mile deep, and very much more than half a mile in front width—and from this it would be difficult to dislodge game which had been thoroughly frightened. But Moodie’s English education had suggested a remedy: besides the main shooting line, the axe-men were instructed to subdivide the skalplats by parallel “rides,” as they are called in an English cover, running from front to rear, so that a marksman placed at the end of any of these would have a fair shot, as the game moved from one block of forest to another.

All this, however, was a work of time as well as labour, and though four hundred men were employed about it, and though they worked as men work who combine pleasure with duty, the day was far advanced, and the skal had begun for some hours before Moodie took his final survey, and, dispatching the Captain and his party to their post in the mountains, withdrew his workmen to their own position on the reverse slope of the spur. Having posted his sentries on the crest of the hill, he dismissed the remainder to procure their suppers, and to make themselves as comfortable as was consistent with extreme watchfulness.


Long before any serious impression had been made by Moodie, on the shooting line, Birger and the remains of his party had reached his farthest post, having taken his route along the crest of the heights. Calculating his time with military precision, he had visited the heads of all the different passes, stationing at each a picket, the strength of which was in proportion to its ascertained importance, or blocking it up with an abattis of trees—a very easy thing to do, for the bear, when his suspicions are fairly roused, turns readily at the slightest appearance of a trap. And now, as the minute hand of his watch indicated twelve, a fact which he took care to point out to the Parson, Matthiesen was in the act of displaying from the branch of a dead fir tree which overhung the precipice, the long fluttering slip of white calico, which not only marked out the position of the pass to those below, but was the agreed signal that it was occupied.

The day was bright and hot, as a northern summer’s day generally is, and within the cover of the woods not a breath of wind had been felt; but on the exposed cliff, where they then stood, or rather lay—for the recumbent was decidedly the favourite position;—a light and refreshing air was just creeping up the sides of the cliffs, stirring the feathery leaves of the birches, but leaving the heavier foliage at rest.

It was a joyous scene, as the eye traversed the tops of the great forest stretched out like a map below, and traced the different colours of the foliage—here was a thick, close array of firs, forming a solid column, of miles in extent—there were the serried ranks of the spiry spruce,—here, again, where the axe had been at work selecting the best trees and leaving the rest to succeed as chance had planted, there was a broad, park-like expanse full of juniper underwood, bordered, it may be, by a belt of birch, the consequences of some forgotten fire, or a patch of white poplars, indicating a marshy bit, or a dozen or so of restless aspens, balancing their leaves when all around was still;—here, again, was a svedgefall, as they term the places where the wind gets under the branches of the firs, and levels acres of them together. Sometimes these[310] form parks of exceeding beauty, as the young trees grow up sparsely; but here and there, where they are too small to be worth removing, they lie, entangled with weeds and undergrowth, a mass of rottenness and a stronghold of Bruin, out of which it will sometimes take hours to drive him.

Here and there, too, was a sœter, or, as we are now in Sweden, a satterval, or mountain pasture farm, with its low roof of pine-branches and its meadow of rough hay, which generally stood in large cocks, ready to be removed as soon as the snow should form a road; round most of these, groups of cattle might be seen; but there was no smoke from their chimneys, for every human being was at the skal.

Far in the distance, indeed too far to be seen, except where the sun lighted up its waters and returned a dazzling reflection, was the river, already guarded by its fleet of boats, though these were entirely invisible from the cliffs.

To the southward, the range of heights sank gradually into the plain, which here was traversed by the main road, cutting both the ridge and the river at right angles.

Beyond this, all was one black, dreary, desolate wilderness, without a shrub, or a bush, or a blade of grass; nothing but bare, grey, ghost-like trunks of dead trees, stretching forth their charred and blackened branches, and looking as if a curse was resting on them. Three years ago that blackened track had been a flourishing pine forest, but the fire had passed over it, and it was gone. According to a generally received Swedish superstition, though the birch might succeed it, no pine could grow there again for ever: the burnt tree had been cursed in itself and in its seed.

This superstition is actually borne out by fact: cut a pine-forest, and a pine-forest succeeds it; burn a pine-forest, and the succeeding trees, when they do again clothe the ground, are invariably birch. In reality, this is not so strange as it seems at first sight; the fir is the natural seed of the country, and the young fir is the hardiest tree,—wherever that tree will grow no other can compete with it; but its seed is heavy, and cannot fall far from the parent tree, when once vegetation is destroyed,—the fir-seed can never travel[311] into the wasted land; but the birch-seed flies in the wind, and its young seedlings are invariably the first green which succeeds a fire.

This black wilderness was one cause among many which had induced the Jagmästere to select this particular spot for his skal; no game would willingly break through his line when they knew that miles of uncovered country must be traversed before they could again find shelter. He had, therefore, that morning marshalled his dref along the high road, by placing them in position there, and numbering their hats as they stood, from the centre to each flank; but, true to his word, no sooner had the white flag fluttered from Birger’s post, than his bugle sounded the advance along his whole line, and the skal was already begun.

The Parson and Birger, whose work for that morning was done, were seated on the outer ridge, with their feet fairly overhanging the precipice, reconnoitring with their glasses the progress of the dref, as here and there the men emerged into a more open space, which the skalfogdar were taking advantage of, in order to reform or repair their line, and re-establish their communications with the parties right and left of them.

Every now and then a sudden shout, followed by half-a-dozen shots, marking the place by a light puff of smoke, (Swedish powder makes plenty of that), would point the glasses to some particular spot,—but on no occasion was any game visible from above.

According to law, all shouting is strictly forbidden in skals, and so is firing at small game, and so is the presence of women or boys, upon the express count that they are too noisy; but these laws seem to have been made for no other purpose except that the people might enjoy the pleasure of hunting and breaking the law at the same time, for no one ever thinks of keeping them; shouting is incessant, women are plentiful, and, as for shooting at small game, the best chance a cock-robin stands of his life consists in the very great probability of a Swedish piece missing fire, or a Swedish marksman missing his aim.

And, indeed, it is universally admitted by the moderns[312] that their forefathers were in error; that not only shouts and musketry are useful in keeping up the men’s pluck and pointing out to each other their whereabouts, but they are positively of advantage in driving the game. When the ring is once completed, either by artificial or natural means, and the game is fairly surrounded, it is far better that it should be aroused by distant shouts, and should be suffered to slink off quietly and unseen, approaching by degrees the hållet, where, after all, it must be brought up by the standing line, than that it should be surprised by the dref advancing in silence. A startled bear is just as likely to bolt backwards as forwards, and, if he does, the chances are that he gets off scot free. He must be an unlucky bear, indeed, who, at the earlier part of a skal, and before the men have closed in, charges the line and gets more than one shot at him; and a most particularly unlucky bear must he be if that shot takes effect, whereas it is just as likely to take effect on some Jan or Karl, who stands with his eyes and mouth open as the “Disturber” rushes by,—and thus affords, in his own person, the only chance of a sitting shot, which Swedes delight in;—indeed, this is almost the only way in which accidents do happen in skals; the bear very seldom revenges himself, but he now and then gets people to do it for him.

The Parson sat reclining against a rock, very much at his ease, sometimes watching the progress of the skal, sometimes picking off the stalks from a quantity of ground-mulberries[50] which he had gathered during that morning’s march. Indeed, the Parson, in the course of that march, had succeeded in making a very pretty figure of himself: his knowledge of botany amounted simply to a desire of appropriating to himself every unusual flower he came across; so that by the end of the day his hat, which was of that description popularly known as a wide-awake, was generally surrounded by a garland fit for a May-queen.

In the present instance, the front of his hat exhibited a purple plume of the “laf-reseda,” which perfumed the air[313] around him with an odour like that of the night-scented stock. He had placed it there not so much for that or for its beauty, as because, like the ground-mulberry, it is never seen south of the latitude in which they then were—not even in the south of Sweden. Twining round the hat-band was a wreath of “Baldur’s brow,” a beautiful white flower, dedicated in heathen times to the god of Innocence, and still bearing his name, and retaining a portion of its ancient sanctity.[51] The lily of the valley, which in Sweden signifies much the same as it does in England, formed its appropriate companion; and so might the heart’s-ease, which fairly tinged the hill sides with blue and yellow, had it retained any equivalent to its English appellation; but in Sweden it is called “skart-blom,” and is appropriated to the Devil. It is the flower the witches decorate themselves with when they ride by night to the Satanic rendezvous, and dance infernal polkas in the wilds of Blaakulla.

“See!” said Birger, “look at that white flag! there it is, glancing against the corner of those firs in the svedgefall; now you see another in a line with it,—that is the Ordningsman and his party; he marks the centre of the advancing line. Before they started, the Jagmästere will have given him his precise bearing from the centre of the hållet, and his business is to attend neither to the bears nor to the beating, but to advance steadily on his own line; for that purpose he has those three flagsmen allotted to him. There, you see that fellow on the farther edge of the svedgefall, showing his flag from that black-looking fir?—look through your glass, and you will easily make out the Ordningsman himself; there he is, with his compass in his hand, close by the farthest flag; he is taking the bearings of the first man that we made out; and there is the third now advancing to take up a new position. What he has to do is to keep those flags always in the straight line, and all the rest dress from him.”

Just then, the Jagmästere rode, or rather clambered, into the svedgefall on his little cream-coloured pony, which,[314] accustomed to the work, scrambled about the fallen trees more like a dog than a horse. He was attended by a large party on foot; one of these, who might be termed his orderly, had to lead his horse round by the forest cattle tracks, whenever it happened, as it very frequently did happen, that the under-stuff was too thick for a horseman to traverse.

His right wing, which had been beating the easier and more open country towards the river, had got some distance in advance, and he was evidently directing the Ordningsman to halt in the svedgefall till the left had time to come up. Messengers were dispatched right and left; the bugles began to sound, some the “advance” and some the “halt,” and those parts of the line which had begun to emerge from the trees, were seen collecting in little groups in different attitudes of rest, lighting their pipes, or visiting their havresacs for their mid-dag’s mad of black bread and hard white cheese.

Before long the left wing, the advanced flank of which was under their feet, made itself to be both heard and seen. The ground here was much more difficult, because at the immediate foot of the cliff the debris of ages had formed themselves into a very steep slope. This part, rugged and uneven with fallen blocks of stone, was covered with a close brake of underwood, not only of juniper, but of hazels and rowan bushes, all matted together by brambles,—as well as birch and ash, the last of which, winding its long roots among the stones, had in most places attained the dignity of timber trees.

Well aware that every head of game disturbed along the whole line would, if possible, seek refuge here, the Jagmästere had intended that his left wing should be thrown forward, and had allotted a hundred men, under the most experienced of his Adjutanter, to search the ground well, keeping a mile or so in advance of the line. The eagerness of the men on first starting had somewhat disturbed this arrangement, for at the beginning the cover, along the greater part of the line, had consisted of firs, which not only screened the men from the eyes of their officers, but, by destroying the under-stuff, permitted them to get forwards without any great exertion. It was to rectify this that the halt had been called.


“What is that?” said the Parson, jumping up and scattering half his mulberries down the precipice, as a rush of wings came sharp round the corner of the rock, and a great cock-tjäder, as big as a turkey, came close over his head, and dashed into the firs that crested the hill.

“That,” said Birger, unslinging his rifle, “that is a hint that we ought to keep a better look-out;—not that we should have had that fellow though, for, awkward and heavy as they seem, they rush along like a round shot, when once they get into their flight. But never mind, we shall have more of them presently—mind where you shoot, though, if you use your rifle,—there will be a peasant or two knocked over before we have done, most likely. We do not think much of that, but you would not like to be playing Archbishop Abbott[52] yourself, would you?”

The Parson laughed, as he examined and poised his double-barrelled gun—for the rifle was in the charge of Torkel,—and made a successful right and left shot among a covey of orre grouse that were skimming over the tree-tops at his feet.

“Oh, if you stick to small shot,” said Birger, who had despatched a human retriever down the watercourse to pick up the birds, “you may fire away in the men’s faces if you like; there is not a Swede who would not stand the chance of a peppered jacket, to be able to pick up an article of game,”—a sentiment fully confirmed by the grinning faces of the picket, for whose benefit he had translated his words.

“But we are not likely to have bears coming up to us, if we keep up such a popping as this,” said the Parson.


“‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush;’ if there are bears within the skal, depend upon it we shall get them, sooner or later. Fire away! most of us like a broiled grouse for supper.”

“Here goes for the bird of Yggdrasil,” as a magnificent peregrine falcon came floating through the air, as if by the mere act of volition; “he shall never sit again between the eyes of the eagle.”[53]

Birger had, however, miscalculated his distance, for the bird, taking no more notice of his shot than if they had been hailstones, sailed quietly on his course, without turning to the right or left.

“The bird of the gods bears a charmed life,” said the Parson, “it is no use firing at him. Come, load away! look sharp, or you will lose your next chance.”

Game, however, is nowhere very plentiful, either in Norway or in Sweden; and though every eye in the picket was on the look-out, nothing more was seen, except a blue Alpine hare, that came quietly lopping up the watercourse, and sat on its hind legs, innocently looking Matthiesen in the face during the minute and half in which he was taking aim; the shot, however, was successful at last, and puss was destined to supply the evening kettle.

“If you want a chance at big game,” said Birger, “I will tell you what you should do; it is altogether against the law, no doubt—and that is one of the few laws relating to skals that ought to be observed;—but if you were to slip down one of these watercourses with Torkel, and take your course quietly and silently through the fjeld, keeping four or five miles ahead of the dref, more unlikely things have happened than that you should set your eyes upon some beast or other stealing off. You have got your compass, and you cannot be lost in a little strip of a forest like this, not half a dozen miles across. Besides, every stream you come to runs[317] from our pickets, which you may always reach by following it. You can always distinguish them in the day-time by their flags, and if you should be overtaken by night—”

“If I should,” said the Parson, “there is nothing I should like better. Torkel will soon get up a fire. I have plenty of provisions in my havresac, and a little of the contraband, too,” he added, shaking his bottle; “they forgot to search me; so that if we should be out at night, we will try if we cannot make a night of it.”

“So be it, then,” said Birger; “be early at the Captain’s post, that is all, for you may depend upon it, if I know anything of the lie of the country, there will be sport there long before the dref comes up. You will probably find me there before you.”

“Au revoir, then,” said the Parson, as he swung himself off the cliff on which he had been sitting, into the boughs of an ash, and thus dropped into the watercourse; down this he disappeared, with Torkel after him, floundering, crashing, and rolling the stones before him.



“’Tis merry, ’tis merry, in good greenwood,
Though the birds have stilled their singing;
The evening blaze doth Alice raise,
And Richard is faggots bringing.”
Alice Brand.

Avoiding the advanced column of the dref, which had halted just short of the watercourse, the Parson and his follower took a line nearly parallel to that of the hills. It is no easy thing to beat a Swedish forest, for there are every now and then thick-tangled brakes, and grass-grown svedgefalls, and occasionally, it may be, a little lake to break the line, causing perpetual halts, since one part must necessarily wait for another. But simply making a passage through a Swedish forest is almost as easy as walking on plain turf:—here there will be a wide patch of high pines, under which nothing will grow,—then there will be actual green glades of considerable length, with short mountain turf, broken only by tufts of lilies of the valley, or, perhaps, whortleberry or cranberry plants; and everywhere, when the trees are young, or have been cut, and the understuff has been permitted to come up thick, the whole space is intersected by cattle paths,—for all the fjeld is divided into sœters belonging to the lowland farms, forming the summer runs for their cattle.

The Parson and his follower, therefore, had no difficulty in leaving the whole line behind them, so that first their shouts and then the reports of their firearms were lost in the distance, and the forest, soon to be so busy with life, looked as quiet and lonely as if it never could echo sounds louder than the coo of the wood-pigeon.


After five or six miles’ walking, the closeness of the air under the trees began to tell upon them—more especially as this afternoon’s excursion had been preceded by a morning’s walk of sixteen or seventeen miles, and neither of them felt at all sorry when, in a natural opening of the forest, the rough enclosures of a sœter came into view.

“Come,” said Torkel, “we shall get some brandy here, anyhow.” He was mistaken, however, for no living thing was to be found there, except a dog tied to a stump (for dogs are strictly forbidden in skals), that at first made the forest ring with its barking, but soon became reconciled to the intruders by that sort of free-masonry, whatever be the cause of it, which always exist between a dog and a sportsman.

“At all events, they must have milk here,” he said, “and I am not sure whether, just now, I had not rather find milk than brandy.”

The Parson laughed at Torkel’s unusual feelings of sobriety, but quite participated in his longing for milk. This they found, and plenty of it, for the single room of the cabin was full of vessels, shoved in anywhere, as if the milkers had been in such a hurry to complete a task which they could not have neglected without spoiling their cows, that they had not given themselves time to put their milk away.

Torkel went down on his hands and knees, put his mouth into a bucket that stood near the door, and drank away as if—like Odin, when he wheedled Gunlauth into letting him take a sip from the cup of poetic inspiration—he meant to drain it to the very bottom, and then set to upon a sort of cake that he found strung upon a cord between two of the rafters, which looked something like a number of round, thin discs, of semi-transparent paste, with holes punched out of the centre to hang them up by.[54]


The Parson, who was not less thirsty and exhausted, evinced a little more moderation than this “hog of the flock of Epicurus;” he was content with filling his horn occasionally at the milkpail, and floating in it a handful of cranberries, bushels of which were growing wherever a glimpse of sunshine could penetrate the canopy of foliage, “incarnading” with their red berries the turf of the whole forest, “and making the green one red.”

The refreshment was, as Torkel had observed, better than brandy, and both felt quite sufficiently invigorated for a fresh journey; but their present quarters looked very comfortable,—the shadows of the evening were fast lengthening, and they had already advanced far beyond any point which the skal could be expected to reach that day. They remained, therefore, comfortably sitting on the rail fence, and looking down the grassy glade, without any intention of going farther that night. Since diving into the forest they had not seen a head of game of any kind, except a flock (for it hardly deserved a more sportsman-like appellation) of the smaller description of grouse, which Torkel, whose eyes were everywhere, had detected on the higher branches of one of the trees. Three of these the Parson had brought down in the most pot-hunting and unsportsman-like fashion, by getting them into a line as they sat, and bringing them down as a boy massacres fieldfares. These Torkel was indolently[321] picking, and preparing for the frying-pan, an article which is generally to be found in a sœter, while, at the same time, he kept a professional eye on the glade. The Parson, sitting beside him, was as indolently pulling off the fruit of the hägg, a sort of wild cherry, a clump of which overshadowed the fence on which they were sitting, and afforded them a partial cover from any quick-sighted animal coming up from the forest.

“I do not like these great summer skals,” said he. “If you really want to see sport you should come here in the winter, when the snow is on the ground,—that is the time for a man to set his wits against ‘old Fur Jacket,’—to ring him in the snow—to look out for his den—to turn him out—to dash after him through the snow on our skier—to follow him day after day—to camp on his track—and after him again as soon as day breaks, and at last, after a week’s hunting, perhaps, to run in upon him and put a rifle-ball upon his head. All this too is done quietly,—a party of two or three at the most,—not mobbing the poor devil to death in this fashion,—that is the thing that tries a man’s talents as a hunter. In such a skal as this, one of those squalling women could knock over a bear as well as the best of us, if she happened to meet with him; he very seldom shows fight, either, in the summer time,—he sees he is overmatched, and gives it up as a bad job; but in the winter, you may as well have a firm heart and a steady hand before you bring your rifle to bear, and you would be none the worse for a stout comrade to stand beside you, with pike and knife.”

“The bear does charge them sometimes?” said the Parson.

“Yes, if hit,” said Torkel, “or if he thinks you have got him into a corner, otherwise he would always rather run than fight. I remember one journey I had with two young Englishmen a few years ago; we went to shoot in Nordre Trondhjemsampt;—ah! you should go there if you want shooting. I never saw such a place for grouse of all kinds,—aye, and for deer too. Well, these Englishmen were always wanting to find a bear,—they would not be satisfied with the very best of sport, they kept saying that it would[322] never do to come from Norway without having a bearskin to show their friends,—for all these Englishmen seem to think that bears are the common game of the country.”

“We shot deer and grouse as many as we pleased, but we did not so much as hear of a bear till we had given up shooting altogether, and were travelling home, which we did by the road through Ostersund, Hernösand, and Gefle. When we got to the post-house at Skalstuga, the first on the Swedish side of the mountains; early in the morning, long before it was light, the cow-boy came in crying, and said that a bear had just killed one of the cows. Off goes one of our Englishmen, half naked, with his gun in his hand, just as if he had nothing bigger to shoot than a hare. I caught up an axe that was lying there and ran after him. Up he comes, and stands right in the bear’s path, just as if he cared no more for him than for a big dog, and fires away two barrels right in his face. Lord! it was nothing but small shot, such as he had been shooting grouse with, and the bear came at him like Thor’s hammer. Just in the way, as luck would have it, stood a sapling fir-tree; and I never could tell whether the bear was blinded by the smoke, or whether some of the small shot had taken him about the eyes, but he seemed to take the tree for that which had hurt him, and he reared himself up against it, and shook it, and fixed his teeth in it, and shook it again, and seemed to mind nothing else, till I stole up quietly behind him and drove the axe into his skull. The Englishman never seemed to care a bit about the danger he had escaped; all he said was, ‘Got him at last!’ ‘That’s the ticket!’ and shoved into my hand more yellow and green notes than ever I saw there before or since; and, for all he was so free with his money, he went to the Länsman at Ostersund and got the bear’s nose sealed, and touched the Government reward for it, just like one of us, and then he tossed the money to me, and told me to get drunk upon it.”

“Which you did, I’ll be sworn,” said the Parson.

“I believe I did!” said Torkel; “I was not fairly sober for a good three days after it.”

“Hist! what is that,” said he, dropping, as he spoke, on[323] the inside of the fence, and motioning the Parson to do so likewise.

A wolf came lolloping along with the slovenly gallop in which that disreputable beast usually travels, looking as if it had sat up all night drinking and was not quite sober yet. The Parson laid down his gun, and quietly taking his rifle from Torkel, cocked it, and lodged it upon an opening between the planks. The wolf had not seen them, but came shambling on, when, either scenting his enemies, or knowing by experience the ineligibility of a path near fences, he edged away towards the close covert, showing a portion of his ungainly side at a long shot, and though looking as if he were lame of all four legs at the same time, clearing the ground with his immense and untiring strides faster than any dog could have followed him.

Crack went the Parson’s rifle; but whether the wolf was hit, or whether he knew what a rifle-shot meant, or whether he so much as heard it, or saw the smoke, it was all the same; his course was not altered, his pace was neither relaxed nor quickened, he went lolloping on, just as when he was first seen, and, as much at his ease as ever, disappeared in the forest not a hundred yards from them.

“Missed him, by all that is unlucky!” said the Parson, jumping up.

“There is no knowing,” said Torkel; “if you had hit him it would have been all the same. Unless the shot strikes a part immediately vital they take no notice of it.”

There was evidently nothing to be done; and, indeed, the probabilities were that the Parson really had missed, for there was not a vestige of blood to be seen on the turf; and as the shades were closing in and the woods were getting too dark to see anything, they returned to their comfortable quarters, and, by bringing in one of the cocks of rushy hay, they succeeded in making up on the floor of the hut two couches, much more luxurious than anything they had enjoyed since leaving Gäddebäck.

“That will do,” said Torkel; “it is a great piece of luck that we happened upon this sœter. We shall make a much better cookery of our grouse here than we should have[324] done under a tree in the fjeld. There must be a frying-pan here somewhere, if we had only light to find it by.”

“Why do you not light the fire?” said the Parson; “that will give you light enough, for this fuel is as dry as tinder, and good honest birch, too, with some heart in it. You must have a fire for cooking, whether you want it for light or not, so heap up the hearth-stone at once.”

This was done as soon as said; and to the cheerful blaze of dry and crackling fir succeeded the steady, candle-like flame of the birch, lighting up the remotest corners, and glancing on that indispensable requisite of mountain life which Torkel had been seeking. Fresh butter, just from the churn, is not altogether uneatable even in Sweden, and besides, hunger is not nice; the Parson consumed, with considerable relish, his own share of the grouse, and only wished they had been as big as black game, or tjäder. Brandy there certainly must have been somewhere in the hut, for there never was a Swedish hut without; but so well was it hidden, that all Torkel’s experience failed to bring it to light, and, very much to the Parson’s delight, they were reduced to milk, of which there was enough to supply the whole skal.

“Well,” said the Parson, who had succeeded in twisting up his hay into a sort of chaise-longue, with a well-formed cushion for his back, “I did not expect to have a roof over my head; I must say this is a real piece of luxury. Why we are better off than the Captain with his tents; everything we want to our hands, and no host to ask for a reckoning.”

“That would not be over safe in the Hardanger-fjeld,” said Torkel; “but I suppose Sweden is another thing: indeed, in Norway it is only on the Hardanger that the thing is permitted.”

“What is permitted?” said the Parson.

“Why the ghosts of the damned,” said Torkel, “are permitted to wander about the Hardanger as they please. No great favour after all, as you would say if you had ever seen the place; and when they see travellers coming they build comfortable huts by the wayside, with fires burning, and dry clothes, and plenty of brandy and good provisions, and everything a man wants in order to make himself comfortable.[325] It would be pretty much of a temptation anywhere, and you may fancy what it is on that exposed and treeless waste, where, whenever it is not raining it is snowing, and if it is not snowing it is raining. But if a man once enters and accepts the hospitality, he is lost,—the rushing wind carries away the house and all that is in it, and the travellers are never heard of more.”

“You never happened upon a ghost-house yourself, did you?” said the Parson.

“I never did,” said Torkel, “though I have been a good deal on the Hardanger-fjeld in my day; it is a capital place for ripar. But the truth is, these things are not so frequent as they used to be. My father, though, once passed a very uncomfortable night on the fjeld, and he never could make out, to his dying day, whether the ghosts had or had not anything to do with it.”

“How was that?” said the Parson, as he threw another log on the fire, and stirred the embers into a good ghost-story-telling blaze.

“In those days,” said Torkel, “we lived near Bykle, on the upper Torjedahl, and grew a good deal of barley which we could not very well consume ourselves, and had no means to transport to Christiansand, where generally there is a pretty good market for it. So my father set up a still, and drove a good thriving trade with the country about Jordbrakke and Skore, exchanging our brandy for their salt fish, an article which is scarce enough in the Tellemark. My father used generally to meet a trader, of the name of Nilssen, at what is called a post-house, situated on a ridge that divides the Torjedahl from the waters that flow into Wester Hafvet (the North Sea). Why they called it a post-house I am sure I do not know, for there is not a horse within a day’s journey of it, nor a post-master neither, nor, indeed, any one else. It was built by Government, no doubt, but you seldom saw anything so bad at a common sœter. One miserable room of ten feet square, the walls built of dry stones, with the wind whistling in at one side and out at the other, which was the only means of carrying off the smoke. Fuel there was, and straw there was, for Government provides that,[326] and the post-master of the next station is responsible that there shall always be a store of both; but Government says nothing about the quality, and we used generally to find the green bog myrtle which grows there, bad as it is, better fuel and better bedding than either of them.

“One evening, about eight o’clock, my father arrived at the usual place, having appointed a meeting with Nilssen, but when he came there he could nowhere find the hut. He recognised the place well enough, there was no missing that; there was the deep still lake, the waters of which contained no living thing,—there it was, as black as ever; there, too, was that old mass of whinstone, which used to form the back of the hut, and always had a stream of moisture trickling down it, but no house was to be seen, and, what made matters worse was, that a thick mountain mist had come on, with driving rain, which felt as if every spiteful little drop was a needle. My father looked disconsolately along the track, and fancied he saw, through the blinding fog, the gleam of a fire; he went on some fifty yards, and there, sure enough, was a nice comfortable hut, water-tight and weather-tight, with the door wide open, a bright fire on the hearth, and two or three rounds of flad bröd and a Dutch cheese on the great stone in the middle which did duty for a table,—but not a soul was there.

“My father was not easily frightened; he was an old sailor, and had helped to catch many of your English traders during the last war. He could have looked down the throat of a cannon, and did pretty near, for he was on board the Najaden when the Dictator sank her; but he did not much fancy being damned, for all that. So he looked and looked at the merry blaze that smiled its welcome through the door, and watched the cheese and the flad bröd which seemed to be dancing in its light, but for all that he laid himself down under the lee of a rock, and cold, and wet, and miserable, wished for morning, for the wind blew, and the rain kept pelting away all night, till he thought it would have floated him, rock and all, into the Normand’s Laagen; and there, all the time, was the fire blazing away, till it subsided into a glowing heap of red-hot embers.


“Towards morning he fell into a miserable sleep, and when he woke up the mist was gone, the sun was shining brightly, and there was not a shred of cloud to be seen. The first thing he put his eyes upon was Nilssen, coming up from the shores of the lake, and looking as wet, and as cold, and as wretched as he was.

“‘Ah,’ said Nilssen, ‘so you have been lost in the fog, like me. My misfortune was all my own fault, too. I got here yesterday in very good time, and lighted the fire, and made all comfortable, and then I must needs be fool enough to start after a covey of ripar, that I did not get a shot at after all; and then the mist came on, and I could not find my way back. A wretched night I have passed, I can tell you.’

“‘What,’ said my father, ‘was it you who lighted that fire?’

“‘To be sure I did,’ said Nilssen, ‘who else should? Men are not so plentiful in this cursed place.’

“‘And you are not damned, after all?’

“‘Not that I know of,’ said Nilssen.

“‘That is not the old hut, though, I will take my oath.’

“‘No,’ said Nilssen, ‘it is not; the other was very nearly to pieces, as you may recollect, when we were last here. The roof fell in not a month after that, and then the authorities of the three Ampts contrived to settle their differences, and do what they ought to have done years ago—build a new one at their joint expense. They have not made a bad job of it. Come in, you are cold enough.’

“‘And I have been lying out in this cursed rain and wind all night,’ said my father, ‘with a good fire before my eyes, and a warm roof within fifty yards of me, fancying all the while that you were damned, and that you wanted to take me off to the Devil along with you! What a confounded fool I have been!’

“But I am not sure that my father was such a fool either,” continued Torkel, “for Nilssen died very soon after that; in fact, he had caught a bad cold during that night, and as he had sold us a lot of bad fish, I have no doubt he was damned; at all events, it is quite true that from that day forward my father was never entirely free from the rheumatism, and this[328] in his latter days, when he began to get religious, he always attributed to the sight of the fire in the post-house; for he never was without his misgivings that Nilssen had been damned before he met him. He once went as far as Hardnæs to ask the priest about it, and he said that the idea was new to him, certainly, but that he would not take upon himself to pronounce it impossible. To the very end of his life, my father used to congratulate himself upon the fortitude and self-denial he had evinced during that terrible night, ‘because,’ said he, ‘if the bare sight of that fire through the mist was visited so severely, no one can say what would have been the consequence had I sat by it all night.’”

“No,” said the Parson, solemnly, “no one can.”

“You see,” said Torkel, “the whole question hinges on the fact whether Nilssen was damned or not; now he certainly did take us in about the fish—we were obliged to throw away half of it. I should like very much to have your opinion on the subject.”

“Why,” said the Parson, gravely, “will you take upon yourself to say, on your conscience, as a Christian man, that there was no potato-haulm in the wash from which your brandy was distilled?”

Torkel laughed, and rubbed his hands at the recollection. “No,” said he, “that I will not; I do not think the old scoundrel made much by us, after all.”

“Well, if that is the case, I do not think, if I were you, I would be too hard upon poor Nilssen about the next world. But you ought to be able to judge for yourself whether the laager was a ghost-house or not; what became of it?”

“O, there it is still,” said Torkel. “I have slept in it often myself since, and no harm has happened from it. But all that hill-country is a terrible place. Do you know, the Evil One once leaped over the Tind Sö, where it is four miles across? He did, indeed; I have seen the prints of his footsteps with my own eyes—and a very curious thing it is, that one foot is bigger than the other. Our Kyrkesonger says it is to mark the difference between mortal and venial sins.”

“I am afraid your Kyrkesonger will never rise to the rank of Candidatus,” said the Parson, “if he does not get up his[329] theology a little better. Is not this the place where your witches meet?”

“It is not far from it; and it is generally supposed that it was in hurrying away from one of these meetings, which was suddenly dispersed by some one having accidentally named a holy name, that the Devil left the mark of his feet on the shores of the Tind Sö; but the actual place of meeting is the top of Gousta Fjeld. The ridge of the mountain is so narrow that you may sit astride on it, with a leg on each side in the air, and no resting-place under either foot for a thousand fathoms. On this ridge the Devil sits playing on the bagpipe, while the witches dance the polska round him in the air. They come from all parts of the country, riding upon the skyts-horse, which looks like a flying cow, and carrying with them all the children they can catch, in order to enlist them in the Devil’s service; for each witch has a needle, by which she unlocks the sides of the houses, and makes an opening, if she likes, big enough for a carriage and horses to pass through; and after she has passed, she locks them up so that no one can know where she has been. When she arrives at the convent—so the assembly is called,—she presents to the Devil all those children whom she has brought with her: she cannot force the children to take service with him,—some refuse, and the witches are obliged to carry them back again. These are good and holy people ever afterwards; but most of them do enter the Devil’s service, for though he is bound down with a chain, which he has always worn ever since our Lord came upon earth, yet he can make himself look so fine and so glorious that very few of them like to say ‘no,’ and to go back to their homes through the dark night. If they once say ‘yes,’ he gives them a silver dollar each, and marks them, by biting the crown of their heads; and then they are taught to curse all that is holy—the Heaven, and the earth, and the fruits of the field, and the birds of the air,—all except the magpie, for that is the Devil’s own peculiar favourite. And then the witches make them a mess of rö-gröd, with corn that has been stolen. They have a way of their own for stealing corn:[330] they put a sack to the roof of the granary as they fly past, and say ‘Corn draw corn, and straw draw straw,’ and then all the corn flies up into their sacks, and the straw remains behind. I know this to be true, for I have lost lispund after lispund myself that way. I had a girl in my service once, who was a witch, and I lost as much as three tonne of corn, and a great many things besides, while she was with me. But she vanished one night and has never been heard of since, and with her a great scoundrel, who had lately come into our parts, whom she called her lover,—but the people said he was the Devil in disguise.”

“Very likely,” said the Parson, “lovers very often are; but what about your witch children?”

“When they have done all this, the Devil gives notice of the next convent, and the witches take the children, and they grow up with their brothers and sisters just like any of the others, only that they are cross-grained children from that time forward, and are always getting into one mischief or another, and quarrelling, and fighting, and stealing, and lying, and doing the Devil’s work on earth; for they have all had new names given them at the convent, and whenever the Devil calls them by those names, they must go and do whatever work he sets them at, for they have taken his wages, and, having once engaged to be his servants, they cannot help themselves now.”

The Parson felt by no means inclined to laugh at Torkel’s demonology, every bit of which may be found gravely and solemnly recorded in the State papers of Sweden, for it once formed the grounds of accusation upon which men and women were executed by the dozen; for with the exception of the material and tangible facts, the cow-like horse, and the silver dollar, and the ridge of Gousta, and the bagpipes, the whole of Torkel’s story was but an over-true allegory, the antitype of which may be found everywhere in real life; and the fact of the Superior Power compelling the restoration of all who do not willingly engage in the Devil’s service, is a very sound piece of theology. So he very readily joined in the prayer of the Evening Hymn, a very ancient composition,[331] dating from centuries before the Reformation, which Torkel sang as well and as heartily as if he had been kyrkesonger himself. A portion of it has been thus translated:—

“Ere thy head, at close of day,
On thy lowly couch thou lay,
On thy forehead and thy breast
Be the Cross of Christ impressed.
“Sin and shame, like shades of night,
Fade before the Cross’s light,—
Hallowed thus, the wavering will
And the troubled heart are still.
“Far, far hence, dark phantoms fly,—
Haunting demons come not nigh,—
Ever waiting to betray,
Arch Deceiver, hence!—away!
“Serpent! with thy thousand coils,
With thy many winding wiles,
With thy deep, meandering arts,
Ruffling calm and quiet hearts;
“Hence!—for Christ, yea, Christ is here,—
At His token disappear;
Lo! the sign thou well hast known
Bids thy cursed crew begone!”

It is a fact that the Gousta Fjeld and the Tind Sö, a very large and lonely lake at its foot, are popularly supposed to be the resort of the Devil and his adherents. The author, however, has not been able to meet with any authentic accounts of the diabolical convents in Norway. He has, therefore, substituted those of Sweden, the locality of which is Blaakulla, in Dalecarlia. These are quoted by Frederika Bremer from the manuscript of Kronigsward, which details the judicial murders which took place under Councillor Lawrence Kreutz, in 1671,—were continued for three years, and were suppressed at last by the exertions of Countess Catharine de la Gardie. But, though the executions for witchcraft were put an end to, the belief in it is as rife as ever. The same book contains a laughable story of a supposed witch residing in the island of Söllezo, in the Silya Sjön, and of her recovery; which proves that the clergy of Sweden have not lost their power as exorcists. Not many years ago, a young girl of that island asserted positively that she was conveyed every evening to Blaakulla. Her parents, who were honest but simple folks, were much disturbed about it. They closely[332] watched their daughter by night,—bound her fast in bed with cords,—but nothing would avail; for, in the morning, weeping bitterly, she still maintained she had been at Blaakulla. At last, her unhappy parents took her to the clergyman upon the island, and begged him, with earnest tears, to save their child from the claws of Satan. After having had several interviews with the maiden, the clergyman one day said to her, “I know a remedy,—a certain remedy to cure you! but it will give me much trouble. Yet, as nothing else appears to be of any avail, we will have recourse to it.” With much solemnity, he caused the girl to seat herself upon a commodious chair in the centre of the apartment, took up a “Cornelius Nepos,” and began reading one of the lives. Before he had finished, she fell fast asleep; and when she awoke, the clergyman told her she was cured—and she was so!



“Unstable are autumn nights,—
The weather changes
Much in five days—
Still more in a month.”
“Praise the day at eventide,
The wife when she is dead,
The sword when thou hast proved it,
The maid when she is married,
Ice when thou hast crossed it,
Ale when thou hast drunken it.”

Probably their couches were softer than usual,—probably the fact of their being under a roof where the sun could not shine on their faces, might have prolonged their slumbers; but the fact is, the cock, had there been one at the sœter, which there was not, would have “had his boots on”[55] a very long while before either the Parson or his follower had opened their eyes; and when they did open them, it was some time before either of them could recollect where they were. Swedes are not over fond of open air, and though their glazed windows in the towns are large enough and numerous enough to prove that no ingenious chancellor of the exchequer had ever devised a tax upon their light, yet in the fjeld, where glass is scarce, windows are scarce too, and the few that there are, are generally stuffed with hay. In the present case, though the sun was well above the trees, there was not light enough to see the smoky rafters over head, or the scarcely less dirty strings of flad bröd which were[334] dangling from them; but all round the building there was a perpetual ringing of bells, from the great cracked bass to the little tinkling treble; the sheep, scared by the noises and the fires, had wandered home during the night, and the cows were collecting round the door of the sœter in hopes of being milked, which hopes, for one or two of them, at least, were speedily realized,—for Torkel, taking the bucket that had been well-nigh drained over night, proceeded very composedly to milk them, just as if he were in his own sœter in the Tellemark, observing quietly that new milk was better than old.

In Sweden, as well as in Norway, every animal turned out on a mountain pasture has a bell round its neck; certain esprits forts (all of whom do it, notwithstanding, as well as their more credulous neighbours) assert stoutly that it is to enable the girls to find them among the trees; but as cows generally keep together, and sheep do so, invariably, one bell would be quite sufficient for the purpose. The more probable solution is that given honestly in the Tellemark: that the bells are tied on to prevent the Trolls from milking them in the night,—for no Troll, as is well known, can abide a bell.

While Torkel was in the midst of his operations as deputy dairyman, and the Parson was looking on, half doubting the propriety of the thing, and half inclined to put a stop to it, a sound of laughing and talking was heard behind the fence, and three girls, none of them more than eighteen or twenty, came clambering over it. Torkel did not seem the least in the world disconcerted, nor did they on their part testify the smallest surprise or displeasure, though one of them was the proprietor’s daughter, and temporary mistress of the hut, and the others were her servants; but after exchanging a few joking observations relative to their respective modes of passing the preceding night, and the young ladies’ taste for field sports, they all set to work milking in earnest, and provided for the sportsmen a better breakfast than they were likely to have achieved by their own unassisted efforts; nor could they be prevailed upon to accept any payment, beyond laughingly insisting upon the intruders carrying out every bit of hay, rebuilding the hay-cock, sweeping out the room,[335] and putting everything tidily into its place; till the Parson detected Miss Lilla eyeing, with evident admiration, a pair of Tellemarken shirt-buttons,—round hollow silver balls, about the size of a grape-shot, with which he had decorated his broad-flapped hat. These, after a good deal of pressing, she permitted the “Herr Englesk” to fasten on the red silk handkerchief which formed her very becoming head-dress, and they parted mutually pleased, Lilla remarking politely—as the Parson, shouldering his gun and taking off his hat after the manner of the natives, bade her farvel (for the word is Swedish no less than English)—“Jeg er ret lykkelig ved at kunne berede dem denne lille Tjeneste,” which, as Lilla was a pretty girl, Torkel condescended to understand and interpret,—a thing which he had often professed himself utterly unable to do when the speaker was a bearded man, and informed the Parson that she was very happy in finding such an opportunity of rendering this trifling service.

The Parson’s Swedish was at an end with his “farvel;” all he could do in return was to bow and smile, and wave his hand, as he vaulted over the rail and left the hospitable sœter behind him.

Their journey through the forest was little more than a counterpart of that of yesterday,—now traversing spaces roofed with gloomy fir, and beech not less gloomy when you see their undersides only and breathe nothing but the confined air below them,—now breathing freely in a glade or svedgefall, and gathering a handful of whorts or cranberries by the way,—now pushing through a belt of under-stuff, thick enough to conceal an elephant, but all the time meeting with very little game. Indeed, skals are not by any means the likeliest times to find the smaller game, and even the larger lurk unseen till the very end of them. Torkel had cracked off the Parson’s rifle at a Lo, as he called it—that is to say, a lynx,—that jumped up from under his feet and dashed into a thicket, but with very little effect beyond frightening it, though the beast was twice as large as a fox and twice as red. The parson had brought down a hen “capercailzie,”—but that was the whole of their morning’s sport.

For some time the under-stuff had been unusually thick,[336] and had formed a considerable impediment to their progress; they had persevered through it for about half a mile, and the wood gave no signs of becoming more open, when Torkel stopped, and looked right and left of him through the stuff, as if to find an opening.

“We must be skirting the border of a svedgefall,” said he, “where the air comes in freely; these hazels would never grow in the close forest,—let us edge a little to the right, we are taking the belt end-ways.”

“The right!” said the Parson; “that seems even thicker than where we are now.”

“That is the very reason,” said Torkel; “the nearer the svedgefall, the more air,—the more air the closer the understuff.”

The Parson thought this remarkably good reasoning, and set himself boldly to face the difficulty, instead of shrinking from it,—a proceeding which, were it generally followed in our course through life, would seldom fail to meet with its reward.

It did not on this occasion, at all events, for after a hundred yards or so of hard struggle, they suddenly emerged into an open plain of some miles in length, and a good half mile across. It was not a svedgefall, as Torkel had imagined, but the clearing formed by an old fire, the effects of which nature had already, in a great measure, succeeded in repairing; for a coarse grass, gemmed with all manner of flowers, covered the greater part of it, through which the spiræa raised its feathery head; large tracts were vividly green with young birches, as yet hardly higher than the grass, but closely set, as if planted in a nursery;—here and there the cranberry threw a gleam of crimson into nature’s carpeting, while the epilobium—an absolute tree compared to the dwarf plants around it—showed, with its thickly set flowers, a mass of lilac; and the fox-glove (in Sweden a holy flower), bent its head and rang its fairy bells, inaudible by mortal ears, whenever a good angel passed it by on his errand of mercy. A few great mournful dead trees were still stretching out their helpless and blackened branches, like the old and ruined families after a revolution, sorrowful remembrances of the[337] glories which had passed away; but most of these had dropped where they had stood, and were already concealed by the vigorous young undergrowth, which was springing up all the more vigorously because the soil had been for ages fertilized by the leaves of their predecessors.

The Parson sat down exhausted on one of these remains of fallen majesty, and fanned himself with his broad-leafed hat, while Torkel, standing on the highest point he could find, cast a look up and down the opening, which seemed as silent and as destitute of animal life as any part they had hitherto traversed.

“There is something,” said he; “I see it move—I am sure there is something alive there.”

The Parson was up in an instant, with his telescope in his hand.

“There it is,” said Torkel, “on the farther edge, just under the high trees—that tall dead trunk with a forked head is exactly in the line; look there, I see it move now as plainly as possible.”

“I have got it now,” said the Parson, “and it is a bear, too, if ever I saw one in the Zoological Gardens.”

“Hush!” said Torkel; “do not say that, or we shall never get a shot at it.”

“Why?” said the Parson; “it is almost out of sight, let alone out of hearing.”

“That does not signify,” said Torkel, “that animal is wiser than any of us; whether it has a fylgia, or guardian[56] spirit, like us, is more than I can say, but it is the truth, that if ever you name its name you will get no shot at it, and fortunate for you if you do not meet with some piece of ill luck into the bargain.”

“Well, well,” said the Parson, “I will take care in future; but what am I to call him?”

“Call him Old Fur Jacket! or call him The Disturber! or call him The Wise One! anything you like, only do not call[338] him what you have done just now. I hope no mischief will come of it.”

“There are two,” said the Parson; “there is a little one—I see it plainly enough, now that they have got clear from that patch of epilobium. What on earth is the old—pshaw!—the Old Wise One about? she seems to be administering a little wholesome discipline to young Fur Jacket;”—and he handed the glass to Torkel.

“She has been frightened,” said he, “she has been roused out by the dref, and she is making her cub get up into the tree; they very frequently do that when they suspect they will have to run or fight for it. Young Wilful does not seem to know what is good for him, and must be flogged into it. Just like our own younkers,” said Torkel, philosophically, taking another look through the glass.

“It is not very good for him just now,” said the Parson, “with our eyes upon him. If he once gets up he is a lost Fur Jacket.”

“And up he gets,” said Torkel, “and receives a parting benediction from his mother’s paw across his stern, just to freshen his way, as Tom says. And now how to get a crack at the Old Lady? if we were on the other side we might do it easily enough, but the stuff here is not high enough to hide us; those brutes have eyes sharp enough to see through a mill-stone.”

“Had we better not watch her? perhaps she will think that which is good for young Hopeful will be good for her; we shall have her climbing, herself, next.”

“Not she, she knows better; the branch that is very good protection to a little lump of brown fur, she knows well enough, would not do for a beast almost as big as a cow,—you will not catch her up a tree, and you need not expect it.”

“What is to be done then? there she is still.”

“I do not know anything better than to keep along this edge, till we put a mile or so of ground between us and her, and then to cross; and the sooner we start the better, for she will not stay long after she has disposed of her young one.”


“Good!” said the Parson, “and now for finding the place again;”—and he took out his compass and placed it on the fallen trunk. “That forked tree bears to us exactly E. by N.; when we come down the other side and bring it W. by S., we shall not be very far from the place; and then the northern edge of that large clump of epilobium will give us the exact mark. And now to get there as quick as we may.”

They had not proceeded a couple of hundred yards when they met with a brook which intersected the opening nearly at right angles.

“This will do,” said Torkel, jumping into it, for it was not much more than knee deep, and clear as crystal. “The fall of the ground, the bed of the stream, and the stuff that always grows on the banks, will be quite sufficient cover for us.”

On they went, stooping, sometimes splashing through the water itself, sometimes creeping on hands and knees under the bank, resting for a while behind some friendly rock or stump, then creeping on again, till at last they neared the opposite side; and then, seeking the shelter of the trees, they took a few minutes’ rest—for going on all-fours is anything but a comfortable mode of progression. Slowly and warily they advanced, peering about, moving from tree to tree, and looking closely into every bush before they showed themselves. There was the place evidently enough; the north corner of the epilobium was near enough to the forked tree to make a capital mark—there could be no mistake as to the locality; besides, the bear’s tracks were evident enough on some soft ground; but no living creature was to be seen. The bear had either heard them, or smelt them, or, having provided for her young one, and being restless and anxious on account of the noises that had roused her at first, had gone on to some thicker cover.

“That comes of calling the beast by his name,” said Torkel, half sulkily; “never do that again, at least not in the fjeld. Well, never mind, we will have young Innocence, at all events; the reward is half as much for a cub as it is for an old one.”


“That is all you think about,” said the Parson.

“No it is not,” said Torkel; “I like the sport itself as well as any man living—I love it for its own sake; but I should not mind a few of their yellow notes, either, to be turned into honest, hard Norwegian specie-dalers, and laid up for the winter,—at least, just now, for Lota’s sake. Fancy what a set of scoundrels these Swedes must be, when they have to print on all their notes, ‘Whoso forges this shall be hanged’—we do not do that in Norway.”

“No,” said the Parson, “you are none of you clever enough to forge—the Norges Bank’s Representativ is quite safe in such clumsy hands as yours.”

“There he sits, just in that fork close to the trunk,” said Torkel, who, if he had not, as the Parson insinuated, skill enough in his fingers to forge a note, had quickness enough in his eyes to see through a log of timber, if a bear had been hiding behind it. “There is young Innocence! Oh! do not spoil his skin with that small shot. Here is the rifle. Put the ball in under his ear,—that will not hurt him.”

It did not seem to hurt him, in good truth, for he never moved an inch on receiving the shot, though the blood dripping down the tree showed that the ball had reached its mark. The cub remained perfectly dead, but supported by the fork in which he was sitting.

“What is to be done now?” said the Parson; “I do not see how to get him down, for the trunk is too big to swarm up, and we have not a branch for twenty feet; but it will never do to leave him there.”

“Leave him!” said Torkel; “O no! that would never do. I think we may get up into that tree, though, with a little management.”

There was growing, within a few yards of the great tree which the bear had selected, a small thin weed of a fir, which, coming up in the shade, had stretched itself out into a long branchless pole with a bunch of green at the top, in its legitimate aspirations after light and air. Torkel, disengaging the axe which he usually carried at his back, notched it on the nearer side, and then, seeing its inclination would carry it to the great tree on which the cub was hanging, cut vigorously.[341] In a minute or two the little fir sank quietly into the yielding arms of his great neighbour, and formed with its trunk a rough ladder. Up this Torkel, having paused for a moment to see if it had finally settled, climbed as readily as any bear in the forest. He was soon seen worming himself through the spreading branches, and slipping down to the fork; and the little lump of bear’s fat, about the size of a two-year-old hog, came squashing down upon the turf.

Small as it was for a bear, it was impossible to carry it; so they tied its hind legs together, and hung it upon one of the dead trees in the open, the Parson having first pinned upon its snout a leaf which he had torn out of his note-book, and had written Torkel’s name upon it.

Torkel, however, was mistaken about his share of the yellow notes, though the Parson did not suffer him to lose by it. Every bear killed in a skal is the property of the Ofwer Jagmästere; a regulation which is found to be absolutely necessary, in order to prevent men from breaking their ranks and hunting the likely places independently,—a proceeding which would ensure the loss of every bear except the particular animal which was the object of immediate pursuit. Of this Torkel was not aware, because in Norway skals such as this seldom or never take place, not only because the ground is generally too difficult, but principally because the inhabitants are too widely scattered to be easily collected in sufficient numbers, and a great deal too lawless to be managed if they could.

With all the complacency which the consciousness of having done a good action confers, they proceeded on their journey, which, as their course happened to lie lengthways of the opening, was easy enough. Hot, and the least little bit in the world fatigued, they sauntered along on the shady side of the glade, till they began to discover that the whole country had become shady, and that a little sun, if it was to be had, would be just as pleasant. In fact, it had become extremely chilly.

“There goes Thor’s hammer,” said Torkel, as a crash of thunder burst over their heads, echoing from tree to tree;[342] “we need not fear the Trolls now, every one of them is half-way to the centre of the earth by this time.”

“I wish we had nothing worse to fear,” said the Parson; “but this gradual darkening looks a great deal more like a spell of bad weather than a sudden storm. I wish we knew where the Captain’s post is.”

“We cannot be within seven or eight miles of that,” said Torkel; “and I really do think that we are going to have a wet night, and plenty of mist into the bargain. It will be perfectly impossible for us to find the post, knowing so little of the country as we do. We had better hut ourselves at once. If we had been on the hill we might have seen this coming, but down here it was impossible, with no sky visible, except that which is right over our heads.”

“Well,” said the Parson, “if it is to be, we may as well halt at once. So off with your havresac, and turn to. This spreading fir will do as well as any for our canopy.”

Torkel was a man of deeds, and his assent and approbation were demonstrated by his throwing down his havresac and forthwith selecting and cutting down a young fir for his ridge-pole; and,—while the Parson was securing the locks of the guns with handkerchiefs, and such like extemporaneous expedients,—for the gun covers had, of course, been left with the baggage,—he had already cut down two pair of cross timbers to lay it on. The Parson, with his hand-bill, aided him vigorously, and the more so that the rain had now begun to patter sharply from leaf to leaf, and it was very evident that no long time would elapse before it found its way to their localities below. The frame-work of the hut was arranged, and branches of the fir and beech, and coarse grass and juniper,—in fact anything that could be collected on the spur of the moment,—was laid on as thatch, while Torkel hastily drew together and chopped up the driest stuff he could find for the fire.

The rain was now coming on in right earnest, and the night was prematurely setting in. The drops came through thicker and thicker, each one as big as a marble; and the sportsmen, with jackets more than half wet through, crept[343] disconsolately into the unfinished hut, in order, as Torkel said, to make themselves comfortable.

The first piece of comfort which was discovered was that the havresacs, which had been thrown off at the beginning of the hutting operations, had been left where they were thrown, and were by this time wet through and through, together with every morsel of bread that they contained. The supper was not luxurious, and, as neither was greatly disposed for conversation, they laid themselves up in the warmest corner they could find, and courted forgetfulness, as well as rest and refreshment, in sleep.

The Parson, as an old fisherman, had been pretty well accustomed to a minor description of roughing it. The boxes of dried poplar leaves of a Norwegian cottage, or the heaps of hay of a sœter-farm were to him as feather beds. A rainy day, too, he had often hailed as remarkably good fishing weather, but a night’s bivouac, sub-Jove, and that Jove pluviali, was rather a new thing to him; and his cloak, too, miles off, under the charge of the faithful Jacob. One habit, however, he had picked up in his travels, which stood him in good stead now, and that was the habit of “making the best of it.”

Bad was the best; the fuel was wet and scanty, and the fire soon went out; and Torkel’s house, run up hastily and after dark, was as little water-tight as if it had been built by contract. Before midnight the Parson was roused up, first by detached drops and then by little streamlets falling on his face and person, and wet and chilled, he lay counting the hours, and envying Torkel, who snored comfortably through it all.

Morning came at last—it always does come if we wait long enough for it,—and a dull and misty light began to struggle in through the opening of the hut, and through several other openings also, which, during the past night had officiated, though uncalled for, as spouts for the water.

Still the rain fell, not in showers, not violently, for there was not a breath of wind, but evenly, quickly, steadily, as if, conscious of its resources, it meant to rain for ever; while the big drops from the fir branches kept patter, patter, on[344] the soppy ground, and the mist hung so low that you could scarcely see the branches they fell from.

“Hang that fellow, he will sleep for ever,” said the Parson; “come, rouse out Torkel, ‘show a leg,’ as Tom says, it is broad daylight now, and high time for us to be moving.”

Torkel stretched himself and rubbed his eyes, and looked stupid; his thoughts had not returned from his native Tellemark, and his prospects of a “home and pleasing wife,” on the banks of the Torjedahl, of which, in all probability, he had been dreaming.

“Come, Torkel, rouse up my boy,” said the Parson, kicking him; “here is the tail end of the brandy-flask for you, and when that is gone, we must find our way to where more is to be had.” The hint of brandy had the desired effect of waking up the old hunter; for even his iron frame was none the better for the night’s soaking. The brandy, however, put them both in good-humour, and having extracted from their havresacs that which had once been excellent kahyt scorpor, but which now were black soppy lumps of dough, they made an extempore breakfast, seasoned by some chips of Fortnum and Mason’s portable soup, a piece of which the Parson invariably carried with him, but which, as there was now no possibility of lighting a fire, they were obliged to suck or eat as they could.

“Now Mister Torkel, en route! hvar er väga til hållet? we must get there before we taste brandy again, that is certain; pray Heaven they have not broken up the skal, and left us alone in our glory. That is our direction,” continued he, looking at his pocket-compass, “but the thing is to keep it, in this thick wood and thick weather, when no one can see a dozen yards before his nose.”

Every one who has been out in a fog knows the propensity the traveller invariably has to work round in a circle, and to return to the spot from which he started. True, in the present case, the compass was a safeguard against this, but to consult the compass when walking or riding requires time, the needle does not settle itself to the north without a good deal of vacillation; and here the lie of the country[345] gave no assistance whatever; it was not a plain, certainly, for it was very uneven, and occasionally rocky, but there was nothing like hill, or any continuous direction of declivities, which could form a guide. Here and there were dense brakes, every leaf and twig of which, overcharged with moisture, showered down its stores upon them, and there was no possibility of picking the ground, where the only chance of finding the track lay in keeping the compass course. No brook had been met with of sufficient volume to render it probable that it had come from behind the hills; and besides, it was more than probable that the watercourses, which formed the only communications with the pickets above, were much too full now to be practicable.

As hour after hour wore on, and the forest seemed always like that through which they had started in the morning, the Parson was more than once tempted to follow the course of the running water, and to make his way down to the river, upon the chance of at least a shelter and a meal at one of the farm-houses; but the hopes of effecting a junction with his friends, and still more with his baggage, kept him to his course, though the hållet—as Virgil’s Italy served poor Æneas—seemed to be continually going backwards as he approached it.

“Hallo!” said Torkel at last, who was then a little in advance, “what have we got to now, a svedgefall, or a sœter? the fjeld is much clearer here. Oho, I see! this will do; look here, this juniper was cut only lately, and here is another stump, and the branches all carried away, too, and there is a tree that has got its lower boughs trimmed; we have got to the shooting line at last.”

“Upon my word, I think we have,” said the Parson; “and if so, we must turn short up to the left, and the Captain’s post cannot be far from us.”

“Unless they have broken up the skal,” said Torkel.

“If they have, I am sure we shall find some one here, left to guide us; Lieutenant Birger knows that we are to make for this spot. Here is something, at all events,” as they came in sight of a line of peeled saplings, right across the path, which had for some time begun to ascend rather rapidly.[346] “This will do, I am sure;” for now a peasant, who had been sitting cowering under the rock, with a soldier’s musket in his hand, the lock of which he had covered with a sack that had evidently done duty with the carioles, came forward to meet them.

He was not very communicative, however, for he could not speak English, and would not understand Norwegian; but, at all events, they learnt to their comfort that the post was there still, and, after ten minutes sharp pull up a steep but very open and practicable pass, they came in sight of the Captain’s watch-fires, situated in the gorge of it.

“Home at last!” said the Parson.

“And high time, too,” said the Captain. “There, pick those wretched flowers out of that hat of yours, and let us see whether we cannot make you look less like a drowned rat.”

“You have not broken up the skal, then?” said the Parson.

“Oh, no! nothing like it; the rain came on late in the evening, and they could not have broken it up then if they wished, for the men would not have had time to go home, and might just as well make themselves comfortable where they were.”

Comfortable! thought the Parson, shrugging his wet shoulders, and thinking of his own comforts during the night past.

“And this morning,” continued the Captain, “the weather-wise say that the rain will not last; and as they have driven so much of the country, and fairly disturbed the game, the Ofwer Jagmästere sent for some brandy—not enough to make the men drunk, but as much as is good for them,—and they are to keep their fires burning and make all the noise they can, and so keep the game within the ring till the weather clears.”

“And where did you hear all this?” said the Parson.

“Oh, Birger is here,” said the Captain; “he came in about two hours ago, as wet as you are; he is asleep in the other tent. Did you not see a row of barked bushes as you came up?”

“Yes,” said the Parson, “that I did, and I hailed them as[347] the traveller did the gibbet,—the first mark of civilisation I had seen; but I cannot say that I understand what they mean.”

“It was Birger’s plan,” said the Captain, “they have done it pretty continuously along the line of the dref; it is intended to look like a trap, and to prevent the game from coming up the pass during the rain, when we cannot trust to our rifles. We have had half-a-dozen wolves here last night; there is one of them,” pointing to a carcase which two of the men were skinning. “I was not ready for them, that is the truth, for I was eating my supper. I ought, certainly, to have had a brace of them, but this gentleman was a little in the rear of his party, and the Devil took the hindermost,—at least my little pea-rifle did. And there are a couple of foxes; Tom says their skins are valuable. I picked them off during the night. I am pretty sure we had a bear, too, early this morning; but he turned, whatever he was, before I could get a sight of him.”

“No wonder, with that fire,” said the Parson.

“Why, we do want to keep them in,” said the Captain; “besides, who is to do without a fire in such weather as this? There—had you not better go and make yourself comfortable. Jacob has brought your knapsack and cloak: you will find them there in the tent—(by-the-bye, what do you think of the use of tents now?) After that I suppose you will be ready for dinner?”

“You may say that,” said the Parson; “it is little beside biscuit sopped in rain that we have had this day. Tom,” he shouted, “mind you take care of Torkel there; going without his grub is a serious thing to one of your country, and a still more serious thing going without his brandy.”

“As for your wet clothes,” continued the Captain, “there is no help for that. Birger’s are much in the same mess, but we have a fire big enough to dry anything, if the rain would only hold off. In the meanwhile you must keep under canvas; those lug-sails of yours keep the wet out capitally. You see, I have used them for roof, and have built up walls to them with fir-branches and junipers.”

“Upon my word,” said the Parson, “it is quite luxurious,[348] and so is this dry flannel shirt—Heaven bless the man who invented flannel shirts,—I should have been dead with cold by this time, if I had been wearing a linen one. Hallo, Jacob! you look rather moist; what is the state of the larder?”

Whatever the state of the larder was, the Captain had determined it should be a mystery, for he knew well that nothing unfits a man for subsequent work so much as a hearty meal after great fatigue upon little sustenance. As soon, therefore, as he heard that they had eaten little or nothing since their breakfast at the sœter on the preceding day, he gave a private sign to Jacob, and nothing whatever was forthcoming but a good strong basin of portable soup, smoking hot, with a couple of kahyt scorpor bobbing about in it; and, early as it was in the day—for it was not more than four in the afternoon,—the Parson was well satisfied to scoop out a bed in the dry moss of the tent, to draw his fur cloak over him, and to seek in sleep the rest which he needed quite as much as he did the food.



“Fire will be needful
For him who enters
With his knees frozen.
Of meat and clothing
Stands he in need
Who journeys o’er mountains.
“Water is needful,—
A towel and kindness,
For the guest’s welcome.
Kind inclinations
Let him experience;—
Answer his questions.”

Sound and deep were the Parson’s slumbers, complete and absolute was his state of unconsciousness. Noises there were in the camp, no doubt, noises of every description: eight or ten people without any particular occupation, without any reason whatever for keeping silence—rather the reverse,—are apt to be noisy. But it was all one to him, the Seven Sleepers themselves could not have slept more soundly; and the next four or five hours were to him as though they had not been. His first perception of sublunary matters was awakened by the words of a well known air, which at first mingled with his dreams, and then presented themselves to his waking senses:—

“O, never fear though rain be falling,—
O, never fear the thunder dire,—
O, never heed the wild wind’s calling,
But gather closer round the fire.
For thus it is, through storm and rain,
The weary midnight hours must wane,
Ere joyous morning comes again,
And bids the gloom retire.”


The Parson unrolled himself from his cloak and looked out; the night had fallen dark enough, and the rain, though it gave evident symptoms of having exhausted itself, was still falling, but scantily and sparingly. The mist was thicker and darker and blacker than ever; all, however, was bright light in the camp, for the bale-fires of Baldur could not have burnt more brightly than the watch-fires of the picket. The Captain had had plenty of spare hands and plenty of spare time, and had kept his men in work by collecting stores of fuel; besides which he had made use of an expedient which, common enough in winter camps, is seldom resorted to in summer. A full-grown pine, which seemed to have died of old age, and had dried up where it stood, was cut down; the head, already deprived of its branches by Time, was chopped off and laid alongside the butt, end for end, and the fires had been lighted on the top of these two pieces of timber. The interstice between them admitting the air from below, roared like a furnace, and blew up the bright flames on high; whilst the trunks themselves, which had speedily become ignited, contributed their own share to the general light and heat. There were several supplementary fires, for the great furnace was much too fierce for culinary operations; and the smoke from all these, pressed down, as it were, by the superincumbent mist, formed, by the reflection of the flames, a sort of luminous halo, beyond which it was impossible for eye to penetrate. Here and there fir branches were stuck into the ground to dry the clothes upon, for though the drizzle had not exactly ceased, the heat dried much faster than the rain moistened.

Full in the blaze of light, and as near as he could approach to it without burning himself, stood Birger; his neat little figure just as tidy, and just as carefully dressed, as if there had been no such thing as falling rain, or wet juniper, or prickly brambles in the world. He was standing with his back to the fire, and his hands in the pockets of his shooting-jacket, watching the preparations for a late supper, and singing, at the full pitch of a very powerful voice, the magic words which had recalled the Parson to a state of consciousness. The Captain, who had evidently been furbishing up with[351] fresh chalk the “S. F.” on his cap, which looked quite white and new, notwithstanding the rain, had just returned from visiting his sentries, and was examining the lock of his American rifle, which he had carried with him, to see if it had sustained any damage from the wet. Jacob, and his attendant imps, were emerging from behind the flames with the everlasting black kettle, which was accompanied this time by a pile of steaks, cut from some mysterious animal, and served up on the splash-board of one of the carioles, by way of dish.

“Halloo! Birger,” said the Parson; “you here! Rather a change in the general aspect of affairs since we parted last!”

“You may well say that; I never saw such a determined day’s rain; I thought the twilight of the gods was come in real earnest.”

“To judge from the fire that you have got up,” said the Parson, emerging from the tent, “you seem inclined to realize the old prophecy, that that twilight is to finish off by a general conflagration.”

“You need not cast inquiring glances at me,” said Birger to the Captain, who, having satisfied himself about the state of his weapons, was trying to make out the allusion. “I am not going to tell you that long story now. The gods themselves, if we may trust the high song of Odin, used to take off the edge of their hunger, and thirst, too,—for they were thirsty souls,—before they called on Bragi, the god of minstrelsy, to sing even their own deeds. And, to tell you the truth, to say nothing of my being as hungry as a hunter, these steaks are most magnificent, and this kettle unusually savoury.”

“What have you got in it?” said the Parson.

“Andhrimnir cooks Sahrimnir in Eldhrimnir,” replied Birger, quoting from the cookery of the prose Edda. “Do you not see Odin has sent us a present of heavenly meat from Valhalla?”

“Nonsense! what is the meat of Valhalla called here on earth?”

“Goat’s flesh,” said Birger, demurely.


“Humph!” said the Parson, turning over, with his crimping knife, a bone almost big enough to have belonged to a small ox; “and this is a goat’s rib, is it?”

“Valhalla was always remarkable for its breed of goats,” said Birger: “but never you mind what rib it is, there’s a biscuit to eat with it, that is all you need care about, just now. I am afraid our host, the Skalfogdar” (bowing to the Captain), “cannot find you any currant jelly to eat with it.”

“I can find you some cranberry jelly, though,” said the Captain, “which is a much better thing, and much more characteristic of the country. Here, Jacob, hand me that mess-tin, will you. The very first thing I did, after reconnoitring my post, was to lay in a store of these cranberries, and to make them into jelly. I had not to go far for them. You would not like them in the Swedish fashion—pickled,—would you? I think the men have got some which they have made for themselves.”

“Thank you, yes; and a little of the forbidden stuff, too, to wash it down with. Never mind the water, Piersen, I have taken my share of that already.”

Here Jacob made his appearance, with four or five orre grouse, spitted upon a strip of fir;—Jacob piqued himself on his fjeld cuisine, and really did serve up his dinners admirably. The whole was concluded with split grayling, by way of cheese, for being north of the Wener Sjön, they were in the grayling country,—a circumstance which the Captain, whose post was not a mile from the river, had not been slow to profit by;—on the sunny morning of the preceding day, he had caught them by dozens. The grayling, which are seldom caught in Norway, where the rivers are mostly too rough for such tender fish, abound throughout the whole north of Sweden, and are worth anything to the fisherman; they render his chances of sport, as well as of provisions, very much less precarious, because they do everything which trout do not; they are stationary when—in Sweden, at all events—the trout is migratory; they come into high season when the trout are going out; they will not rise in a stormy day, which the trout loves; but, when the sun is bright and[353] the wind is low, and not a ripple curls the surface, and not a trout stirs beneath it, the swift, shadow-like grayling dot it with their rises like so many hail-stones. They are very good eating, too, when dressed in any way man can devise; but a very excellent method, and a very common method in Sweden, is to split them down the back, pepper them well, and dry them in the hot sun before broiling them, or making them into plok-fiske. This Jacob was unable to do on the present occasion, for the rain had been falling from the time of the Captain’s return from the river; so he had substituted for the sun that which was scarcely less hot—the Captain’s blazing fire; and his imitation was unanimously pronounced to have exceeded the original.

“I do not think I should have fared like this at any of the farm houses,” said the Parson, stretching himself at full length on his cloak and basking at the fire, for the rain had now entirely ceased, and the bivouac began to look home-like and comfortable. “I must say it required a pretty firm determination to keep steadily onward, with soaked clothes and chilled bones and empty stomachs, such as we had this morning. I was sorely tempted to make for shelter; but I set before me the comforts of persevering, and I am very glad I did so. To say nothing of your company and Jacob’s dinner, this glorious blaze is far better than a farm-house stove, and my old cloak than a dirty sheep-skin. Well, virtue is its own reward. Jacob, fill the pot with hot water, and let us have a few embers here to keep it warm. Have you got any sugar?”

“There is nothing your countrymen are so remarkable for,” said Birger, “as a steady, resolute perseverance against difficulties and discouragements.”

“Pluck?” suggested the Captain.

“Yes, Pluck! you did not know when you were beaten at Waterloo, and so you won the battle; Wellington would have got an army of Englishmen out of the scrape of Moscow, if he had ever been ass enough to get them into it.”

“I think,” said the Parson, “that this may be traced to a national peculiarity of ours—love of adventure. Other men will undergo hardships and incur dangers, in search of gain,[354] or even in the pursuit of some definite object, but the Englishman seeks his hardships for the pleasure of undergoing them,—courts his dangers for the pleasure of surmounting them, and follows out his adventure for adventure’s sake.”

“In fact,” said the Captain, “he does just what we are all doing now.”

“Well,” said Birger, “and let no one say—what is the use of it?—what is the Englishman the better for diving into mines, and scaling mountains, and crossing deserts?—what has he to show for it? He has this to show for it,—a manliness of character,—a spirit to encounter the dangers of life, and a heart to overcome its difficulties. Depend upon it, while your aristocracy—men brought up and nourished in the very lap of luxury and ease—seek their pleasures in the dangers of the wild ocean, or the hardships of the stormy mountain-side, you will see no symptoms of degeneracy in the hardihood and manliness of your national character. Pluck is a genuine English word, slang though it be.”

“I think you may translate it into Swedish,” said the Captain, “for our English blood has a cross of Scandinavian in it, and there really is as great a similarity in our national characteristics as there is in the structure of our languages.”

“I think,” said the Parson, “your word ‘Mod’ implies pluck, with a dash of fierceness in it. When it is said of some grand berserkar, ‘har oprist syn mod,’ it means that he has summoned his pluck, with the full intention of making his enemies aware of that fact. Still, however, it is a fair rendering of our more peaceable word, and you have a right to it; but I am quite sure you cannot translate that expression into any other language under the sun, without losing some part of its force.”

“Whether any foreigners can translate the word into their own language,” said the Captain, “is more than I will undertake to say, but they perfectly understand and appreciate this peculiarity of our English character. Last year I was arranging with one of the Chamouny guides an expedition into the higher Alps; I had with me a jolly talking little French marquis, whom I had picked up at St. Gervais. He was an ambitious little fellow, and volunteered—Heaven[355] help him!—to be my companion. My guide—(you recollect old Couttet, Parson?)—looked rather blank at this, and taking me aside, said in a low voice, ‘absolument je n’irais pas avec ce Monsieur lá.’ ‘Why?’ said I, rather astonished at the man refusing that which would certainly have put some additional francs into his pocket. ‘Je connais bien ces Francais,’ said he—‘an Englishman is fearful enough in the valleys, always saying he will not do this, and he cannot do that, because in truth he is so proud that he does not like to take anything in hand and be beat in it; but once get him on the mountain, and fairly in for it, and be the danger what it may, he faces it, and be the fatigue what it may, he keeps up a good heart, and in the end gets through it all as well as we do ourselves. Your Frenchman is as bold as brass in the valleys, and does not do badly for a spurt if he thinks people are admiring him, but he gets cowed when danger comes and no one to see him, and sits down and dies when he is tired.’”

“Mr. Couttet was a sensible fellow, and knew his man,” said Birger, who, descended from the old aristocracy of Sweden, hated and despised the French party most cordially; “and how did you get rid of your travelling companion?”

“O! Couttet took the management of that upon his own hands; he made the poor little marquis’s hair stand on end, with all sorts of stories about snow storms, and whirlwinds, and frozen travellers; which no doubt were true enough, for there is not a pass in the High Alps without its well-authenticated tale of death; so the little fellow came to me heartily ashamed of himself, and looking like a dog that was going to be whipped, with his ‘mille excuses,’ and so forth, and in fact, we then and there parted company, and I have not seen him from that time to this. He certainly was rather an ambitious Tom Thumb for the Col du Géant.—Hallo! there is something on foot there,” said he, interrupting himself, “hark to that! there goes another.” And in fact, three or four shots not very distant from them were distinctly heard, though they came, not sharp and ringing as such sounds generally strike upon the ear through the clear air of[356] the north, but deadened by the mist, as if, so to speak, the sound had been smothered by a feather-bed. “There goes another! and another!” then came a whole platoon—“O, by George! I must go and visit my sentries.”

“All nonsense,” said Birger, “one fellow fires at a rustling leaf, and then all the rest crack off their pieces, by the way of follow-the-leader; you may just as well make yourself comfortable,” drawing his cloak round him by way of suiting the action to the word. “Hand me over the bottle, Jacob! some more hot water in the pot!”

“I shall go, however,” said the Captain, who was young at picket work, and proportionably anxious; so shouldering his rifle, and calling to Tom, his corporal and interpreter, he disappeared into the outer darkness, while his friends settled themselves more comfortably in their cloaks, and threw half a dozen additional, not to say superfluous, logs into the glorious blaze.

The dispositions at the foot of the pass had been made with great judgment; the object was, if possible, to prevent anything from passing during the night, but at any rate to arrange matters so that nothing should pass without being seen.

For this purpose a pretty large fire was lighted so near to the perpendicular part of the rock that nothing would be likely to go behind it, the shrubs of course being cleared away from its vicinity; and on the opposite side of the passage was a little sentry-box of fir branches, under which sat two Swedes, with directions to let fly at anything that crossed between them and the fire; so that if they missed, as most likely they would, the picket above might at least be prepared.

The men, who had been excited by the firing, were sharp as needles, and indeed, were not very far from letting fly at their own commander, but they had seen nothing that they could be very certain about, though of course their imaginations were full of half the beasts in Noah’s Ark; and so, after straining his eyes into the thick darkness for half an hour or more, the Captain heaped fresh fuel on the fire, recommended a sharp look-out, returned slowly up the pass,[357] and was well laughed at for his pains as he resumed his seat by the blazing tree.

“By the way, Birger, what is that story that you and the Parson were alluding to just before dinner, I hope you have eaten and drank enough by this time to qualify you for relating it.”

“What, the twilight of the gods? the Ragnarök, as the Edda calls it; that is not a story, it is a bit of heathenism.”

“It seems to me,” said the Captain, “that you Swedes keep your heathenism a great deal better than you do your Christianity.”

“The Norwegians do, certainly,” said Birger, “the fact is, their conversion was effected by force of arms, rather than by force of argument; the party of Olaf the Christian was stronger than the party of Hakon the heathen, so they killed and converted, and the people became Christians, and very appropriately adopted the saint’s battle-axe for their national emblem. As for their Reformation, that was simply an order from a despotic court, not resisted, only because the people did not care much about the matter. ‘It will not make herrings dear,’ was the popular remark on the subject. The creed of Odin was the only religion that they were in earnest about, and that is why the legends that they cling to, are, nine times in ten, heathen rather than Christian.”

“I think I have read that story about the herrings in Geijer, but applied to a different nation,” said the Parson; “it will not do for you Swedes to be throwing stones at Norway, in the matter of that Reformation; your original conversion by St. Ansgar, was a good deal more creditable than theirs, but your Reformation was simply the party of Gustaf stronger than the party of Christiern—you reformed your Church because you wanted to dissolve the union of Kalmar.”

“What do you say about your own Reformation?” said Birger.

“That it has nothing to do with the twilight of the gods, which the Captain wants to hear about—tell us what you Swedes believe about that.”

“Why, we Swedes do not believe in it at all; it is not[358] like the legends of the Walpurgis Night, or the death of Baldur, which are annually kept alive by the change of seasons which they commemorate. This legend has lost its hold on the popular mind; but it is a curious theory, notwithstanding, because it contains evident traces of a revelation corrupted, because disjoined from that people to whose guardianship had been committed the oracles of Divine Truth. In the twilight of the gods may be clearly traced a representation of the end of the world, such as is revealed to us:—a fierce winter, the most terrible natural affliction to the northern mind, is to usher it in; then comes the general falling away, which we are ourselves taught to expect.[57]

“The sun and the moon are to be devoured by the wolves, that have been continually pursuing them ever since creation, and every now and then, by seizing them, have caused eclipses; the stars fall, the earth quakes so that the trees are shaken from their roots, and the mountains totter;—then the Midgard Serpent turns on its ocean bed, and an immense wave rushes over the land, upon which floats the phantom ship, Naglfar, which is built of the nails of dead men—the wolf, Fenrir, together with the midgard serpent,—both of them the offspring of Loki, the Principle of Evil,—which hitherto have been chained down by the Æsir, are now permitted to break loose; the heavens are cleft in twain, and the sons of Muspell, the Band of Brightness, headed by Surtur the Avenger, ride through the breach, and advance by the bridge of Bifrost which bursts asunder beneath them. For the time the Avengers join their[359] bright bands with Loki and the Children of Darkness, and advance to the battle-field of Vigrid, where the destinies of the world are to be decided.

“In the mean while the gods are fully prepared; Heimdall, the Warder of Heaven, has sounded the Horn Gjallar, and the gods assemble in council;—Valhalla pours out from its five hundred and forty gates its hosts of heroes; these, which are the men who have been slain in battle from the beginning of the world, and ever since have been trained by daily tournaments for this very purpose, are eager for the combat; and Odin, having previously ridden over for the last time to the Well of Mimir, and consulted the Norna, marshalls his hosts on the field of Vigrid; loud and desperate is the battle, the Powers of Evil fall one by one before the gods, but very few of these survive the conflict. Thor, having killed the Midgard Serpent, falls exhausted with his efforts and dies; Frey, who has parted with the sword of victory, falls before the avenger, Surtur; Loki and Heimdall engage in battle and mortally wound each other; Odin himself is swallowed up by the wolf Fenrir, which is instantly destroyed by Vidar; and last of all, Tyr, the God of Victory, falls in the very act of overcoming the dog Garm.

“Surtur the Avenger, having now no opponent, sets the earth and the heavens on fire with his excessive brightness, and the whole race of men is consumed, with the exception of certain chosen individuals who lie hid and protected in the forest of Hodmimir. Then Surtur himself retires before Vidar, the God of Silence, who, calling to him Modi and Magni (Courage and Might) the sons of Thor (Violence), and summoning Baldur (Innocence) from the realms of Hela (Night or Invisibility), founds a new heaven and a new earth, and a new race of inhabitants, and they dwell on the plains of Ida (perpetual youth), where Asgard formerly stood, and their descendants shall spread over the new earth, which shall be lighted by a new sun.

“‘The radiant sun
A daughter bears
Ere Fenrir takes her;—
On her mother’s course
Shall ride that maid
When the gods have perished.’


“And now, to quote the conclusion of the Prose Edda, ‘If thou hast any further questions to ask, I know not who can answer thee, for I never heard tell of any one who could relate what will happen in the other ages of the world. Make, therefore, the best use thou canst of what has been imparted to thee.’”

“Why,” said the Captain, “this is Revelation!”

“To be sure it is,” said the Parson; “and my wonder is not that so much of revealed truth should have been corrupted, but that so much should have been preserved. There is no occasion for the sneers of those who say that in the conversion of Scandinavia, St. Ansgar merely substituted Valentine for Vali, St. Philip for Iduna, and our Lord for Baldur. He had, in truth, little to teach his converts beyond explaining allegories, and shewing them that their religion was only a mild, yet tolerably faithful type of that which was actually true,—that Thor and Odin were attributes, not persons, and that Asgard and Gimli, and Hela and Nifleheim, were states and conditions, not places.”

It must not be supposed that this conversation had been continued altogether without interruption. Shots had from time to time rung through the night-air; some faintly and from great distances; some, as it would seem, within a few hundred yards of them; there was evidently something restless in the circle of the skal, but their own sentries gave no notice, and the ear becoming accustomed to such noises, the shots had of late been little regarded.

One moment, however, changed the whole aspect of affairs, and recalled the thoughts of the party from the heights of Asgard to the affairs of middle earth.

A shot from the foot of the pass; then another! “Hjortarne! hjortarne!” (the stags! the stags!) roared out the sentries.

The Captain sprang into a dark corner, bringing the whole blaze before him, and cocked his rifle. Then came a sound like a troop of horse at full gallop—a rush!—a charge! Jacob flying into the arms of the sportsmen, his coffee pot scattering around its fragrant contents,—dark forms bounding across the bright spot of light, scattering the men, and the wet clothes, and the cookery, and the crockery! A[361] crack from the Captain’s rifle! a crash! and the whole scene passed away like an illusion, leaving the circle tenantless, in the midst of which the great fire was blazing away as quietly and peaceably as if nothing unusual had ever been illumined by its light.

“By the Thousand! that shot told somewhere,” said Birger, picking himself up. “By George, it is Jacob! poor devil! Well, I am sorry for him, the old scoundrel.”

But Jacob, when he could be brought to his senses, could not find out that he had been wounded at all, though his great unwieldy frock-coat was split up the back, and the tails rolled in some unaccountable way round his head. His ideas, which were never peculiarly bright, had got completely bewildered, and nothing could convince him that a legion of Trolls had not been making a ball-room of his ample back.

“It was not Jacob I fired at,” said the Captain, quietly reloading his rifle; “take a pine knot, and look a little further up the pass; I suspect you will find something more valuable than our fat friend. Oh, that’s it!” as a loud shout was heard; “I thought it could not be far off,—bring him into the light.”

Birger repeated the command in Swedish, and presently three or four of the men emerged from the outer darkness, bearing, with some difficulty, an enormous elk, the patriarch of the forest.

“Well done,” said Birger; “capital shot! Here! Tom, Torkel, out with your knives, and off with the skin; do not think twice about it. Ten to one we shall have Moodie here; he will not mind his own people much, but he knows that we are not in the habit of firing into the air, and he will be coming to see what has been disturbing the camp all night. There, look sharp! never mind a tear or two; make that beast into goat’s flesh as soon as you can. Cut off the head at once, you cannot disguise the horns!”

“Well, but what if Moodie does see it?” said the Parson.

“Why,” said the Captain, “Birger is quite right. Moodie is in command, and he would consider it his duty to report us; and besides, I will answer for it he would jump at the chance of playing Brutus, and delating his own friends.[362] There was a good deal of significance in the way he cautioned us that elks and red-deer were strictly preserved. It is a fact, too, that with all that immense range of royal forest at his undivided command, he has never shot a stag or an elk yet. He considers himself on honour, and behaves like a gentleman and a kammerjunker, as he is.”[58]

“He is the only man in Sweden who does, then,” said Birger. “I will engage for it. Bjornstjerna, Hof Ofwer Jagmästere, as he writes himself, never loses a chance if he can get one on the sly. By the way, how nicely the mist has cleared off, without any one seeing it. Positively I can see the stars again. I told you it would be so:—

“Through storm and rain,
The weary midnight hours must wane,
Ere joyous morning come again,
And bid the gloom retire.”

“I wish I could take you up to our day look-out place,” said the Captain; “we should have a good view of the watch-fires from it now. I stood there for an hour together on the first night, looking at the fires of the hållet; and by this time the dref must have come quite near enough for us to see them too.”

“Well,” said Birger, “come along! I think I know the way,—it is the path I came down by this morning, is it not?”

“Yes it is, but it will never do on a dark night like this; it is not over-safe by day, and there are shreds of the mist hanging about us still. We want light for that path.”

“And light you shall have,” said Birger. “Here, Tom, split me this fir-root, it is as full of turpentine as it can hold.[363] There,” continued he, thrusting the end of one of the slips into the blaze, and striking up the song of the Dalecarlian miners:—

“‘Brother, kindle thy bright light,
For here below ’tis dark as night;
Gloomy may be on earth thy way,
But light and good shall make it day.’

“Now then, I think we start by this ledge; light another of these pine-slips, Tom, and bring the whole bundle with you.”

The path was not altogether a safe one, certainly, for it was a narrow ledge, winding round the face of the cliff that formed the northern side of the pass, and leading to a sort of promontory which jutted forward somewhat in advance of the range; but there were plenty of branches to hold on by, and there was no real danger as long as there was light enough to see where to place the feet; and when they had got fairly out of the range of their own enormous fire, the stars were glimmering, and the night was not, after all, so very dark. A withered ash, the bare trunk of which stretched out horizontally, like a finger-post, from the extreme point, was their look-out, and bore the strip of calico, once white, but now sullied and dishonoured by twenty-four hours of continuous rain, which marked the position of their picket.

The look-out commanded completely the position of the hållet, the encampment of which was placed among some straggling copse that feathered the reverse slope of the spur of rock which connected the range of hills with the rapids and falls of the river. Among this bushwood were scattered, irregularly, the cooking and sleeping fires, glancing every now and then on the huts of boughs and other temporary shelter which had been run up to protect the men from the wet, while, on the bare crest of the spur, which had been entirely denuded of what little timber it possessed, was a line of fifty watch-fires, one to each skalfogde’s command; each of these had its stoker, who from time to time replenished its blaze with fresh logs,—and its sentry, who, sitting or lying in some dark recess, was to fire at everything that came within the circle of the light. Everything betokened[364] extreme watchfulness; not a fire burnt dim,—black figures were continually passing and repassing before them,—and every now and then a straggling shot waked up the echoes, and kept the whole line in a state of continual agitation.

The dref, which had advanced a little during the day, was still five or six miles off, and their fires, which formed a vast semicircle, were, for the most part, hidden by the trees; but a hazy and continuous line of misty light defined the whole position, tinging the very sky with redness, so that the receding skirts of the mist looked luminous, like a terrestrial aurora borealis.

While they yet gazed, the tree tops, which, beyond the reflection of the fires, had hitherto been one unbroken sea of blackness, came gradually into view: first the spiry tops of the firs, then the rounder and softer outlines of the birch and ash, grew more and more defined; then the character of the foliage became distinguishable,—the glaucous white of the poplar and the fringiness of the ash and rowan: then a soft pale light, interspersed with deep broad shadows, was cast over the scene, slightly dimming the glow of the watch-fires, and contrasting strangely with their yellow light; and then the half moon rose up from the cliffs behind them, illuminating the distant landscape, but bringing that immediately beneath their feet into blacker and darker shade.

“Your friend Bjornstjerna is a plucky fellow,—that I will say for him; most men would have turned tail at such a drench of rain as we have had; and now virtue promises to be its own reward—we shall have a glorious day to-morrow.”

“I think we shall,” said Birger,—“indeed, I am sure we shall, as far as the weather is concerned; but I am afraid that will not prevent us from suffering some loss by what we have had already. You may depend on it every beast within our circle has gone the rounds and tried the weak points of it,—some have escaped, at all events. The wolves last night, and the stags just now, have forced the passage with very little loss; and certainly ours is not the most unguarded spot in the line.”

“By George! Birger! that shot is from our post!”


“Not a doubt of that;—and there’s another! Wait a bit, it may be nothing after all.”

“O! but it is something!” said the Captain, in an agony, as three or four more shots rang from the out-post itself, followed by confused cries and shouts, as if men were engaged in mortal conflict.

The Captain threw himself on the steep descent, the whole of which he would have accomplished very much quicker than was at all salutary for his bones, had not Birger caught him by the collar as he was disappearing.

“For God’s sake, mind what you are about! Take a torch in your hand, if you must go; or, better still, let Tom go first. Whatever it is, the thing must be over long before you can get there. All you will do at that headlong speed will be to break your neck down the precipice!”

Tom, much more cool, had already taken the lead, and was throwing a light on the narrow and broken pathway for the Captain to see where to place his footsteps. Birger’s selection of Tom for a leader was a good one, for it was absolutely impossible for one man to pass another during the descent, and no threats or entreaties from the Captain could urge the phlegmatic Norwegian beyond the bounds of strict prudence. The last ten feet of the rock the Captain leaped, and pounced down from above into the midst of the picket.

Before the great fire lay a full-grown bear, dead, and bleeding from a dozen wounds, and round him were grouped the whole picket—including the sentries, who had deserted their posts,—whooping, and hallooing, and screaming, and making all sorts of unintelligible noises.

The story was soon told, when the men had been reduced to something like order. The bear had been attempting to steal past the first fire, and, sidling away from it, had almost run over the two sentries, who were much too frightened to fire with any aim or effect. The bear, almost as frightened as they, had rushed forward, but, startled at the great blaze upon which he came suddenly at the turn of the pass, hesitated a moment, and received Torkel’s spear in his breast. The rifles and guns, which were lying about, were caught up and discharged indiscriminately, and, as luck would have[366] it, without taking effect on any of the party. Some rushed on with their axes, some with knives, some with blazing brands; and the bear dropped down among them, mobbed to death, every individual of the party being firmly convinced that it was he, and none but he, who had struck the victor stroke.

“Well!” said Birger, “there is the bear, at all events; and a good thing for us that he is there; we should not have heard the last of it from Moodie for some time, if he had slipped off. Hang him up, my men; we will skin him when we have time and daylight; we do not want to make goat’s meat of that fellow, at all events. Hang him up openly, by the side of the wolf.”

“Bother that moon,” said the Captain, sulkily, for he did not enter into the spirit of ‘quod facit per alium facit per se.’ “What a set of lunatics we were to go staring after the picturesque instead of minding our business; all of us together, too!”

“It was very poetical,” said the Parson.

“Yes, that is the very thing. Birger, you do not take in the allusion, I can see—a ‘grāte powut,’ as they pronounce it, is, in Ireland, slang for an irrecoverable fool.”

“Well! well!” said Birger, laughing,—for, being an old bear-hunter, he was not jealous, and could afford to laugh,—“we have not got to the higher flights of poetry yet, and we will take good care not to leave our posts again. As for you, Captain, pends-toi, brave Crillon, nous nous sommes combattus à Arcques et tu n’y étais pas. However, I think we had better get a little sleep, those who can, for the chances are we shall want steady nerves to-morrow.”

So, sending back the sentries to their posts, the whole party, with their weapons by their sides, and everything ready for a sudden emergency, rolled themselves up in their cloaks, with their feet to the fire, one of them (taking it by turns of an hour each) walking up and down, rifle in hand, within the circle of its light.



“Now the hunting train is ready. Hark, away! By dale and height
Horns are sounding,—hawks ascending up to Odin’s halls of light.
Terror-struck, the wild-wood creatures seek their dens ’mid woods and reeds;
While, with spear advanced pursuing, she, the air Valkyria speeds.”
Frithi of Tegner.

“Hillo, Moodie! what news?” said the Captain; “have a cup of coffee and a—a—chop,” as that individual strode down the pass from the side farthest removed from the skal looking—as, indeed, was very nearly the case—as if he had neither trimmed his beard nor washed his face since the beginning of the campaign.

“Why, the news is, that you had better look out sharp, if you mean to do credit to my recommendation. I had a message from Bjornstjerna last night, that he meant to get the dref in motion an hour before sunrise, so as to beat out, and give the men time to get home before evening; they must have been advancing for these two hours; our people have heard their shouts distinctly enough, and I only wonder we have had no game yet. Capital mutton chops, these,” he added; “who is your butcher?”

“O, we are pretty good foragers,” said the Captain, carelessly, but at the same time casting an anxious glance round the encampment, to see whether there were any tell-tale horns or hoofs lurking about. “Terrible weather yesterday, was not it?”

“Upon my word, it was as much as I could do to keep the men at their posts; I have got one or two skulkers down[368] in the Länsman’s books, but I do not think I can have the conscience to inflict the fine; I had half a mind to skulk myself;—we must do it, though, in justice to the honest fellows who braved the weather. I think the best man I have is a woman; she did more service in shaming the men and keeping them to their duty than a dozen of us. I had occasion to degrade a skalfogde for drunkenness, and I promoted her into the vacancy on the spot. How the men laughed: they call her some Swedish equivalent to the ‘Dashing White Serjeant,’—and I only wish I had a dozen white serjeants instead of one. But what have you done here in the shooting way? I heard a good deal of firing last night from your post; you have made yourselves pretty comfortable, at all events.”

“It is a way we have in the army,” said the Parson. “There is our spoliarium, however,” pointing to a group of carcasses that were hanging to the lower branches of a fir,—“one bear, two wolves, five foxes, a lot of hares, and”—here the Captain plucked his sleeve,—“and—that is all, besides a young bear which I killed in the fjeld as I came along.”

“Oh come! that is not so bad; and that bear is a glorious fellow! who killed him?”

“Why, we cannot justly say,” replied the Captain, sheepishly: “the fact is, he made a charge upon the picket, and it took a good many hands to quiet him,—you may see that by the gashes; I am afraid the skin is terribly injured.”

“What a mercenary dog you are; these are honourable scars, which, while they impair the beauty, only enhance the value;—every cut is the memorial of a gallant deed.”

Whether the Captain,—who was vehemently anxious to kill a bear to his own hand, and whose conscience upbraided him bitterly for his last night’s dereliction of duty,—coincided in this sentiment, might be doubted; at all events, he made no attempt to remove the doubt by indiscreet confessions, and was only too glad to shift the subject, lest any untimely observation from his companions or attendants might reveal the true state of the case.

“What have you done yourself?” said he; “I am sure[369] your people must have fired twenty shots for our one; I thought you were having a mock skirmish, at one time.”

“O, those people fire at anything or nothing, just for the sake of making a noise. We have got a good many wolves and foxes, though, and a rascally lynx or two; but we have not been so fortunate as you with the bears; though I am clear we saw two or three during the night. I am sorry to say that there were three or four stags killed, and I do not know what to do about it. There was a herd last night very restless; it had tried our line at several points. I had given strict orders to let them pass, but they always got headed back, somehow,—in fact, the men fired at them, that is the truth of it, and the skalfogdar say they could not prevent them. This morning, as many as three were brought in dead, and I am sure I do not see how I am to identify the men who fired; they were firing all night, and every skalfogde stoutly denies that his party had anything to do with it.”

“Oh! how were the people to distinguish one beast from another in the dark?” said the Captain; “you may be thankful they have not shot one another, and that you have not had three or four peasants brought in this morning, instead of three or four deer.”

“Upon my word, there would have been less said if it had been so. However, I must report it to Bjornstjerna, and leave him to do what he pleases. I strongly suspect my dashing white serjeant of being one of the murderers. Give me another chop,—that mutton of yours is the very best thing I have eaten since we left Gäddebäck,—and then you really must get to your posts; we shall have the dref down upon us before we know where we are. Several hares had been showing themselves, and trying to pass the line before I came up, and they will not do that by daytime, unless they are driven. You had better break up the encampment as soon as you have done breakfast: let Jacob stow everything ready for moving, and then send him off to have the carioles harnessed. The skal will break up before noon, and then there will be such a rush of fellows wanting to get home, that the chances are we shall have a Flemish account of our horses, if[370] we do not look sharp after them now. People are in no ways particular on these occasions; there are so many of them, that it is difficult to fix the blame anywhere, and all roguery goes down to the account of mistake and confusion.”

“Very well,” said the Captain, jumping up and carefully loading the rifle which Tom had just been cleaning from the effects of the night’s dews and rain, while the shot-gun had been doing duty in its place by the Captain’s side,—“then here goes; I am going to the foot of the pass, and shall not want Tom this half hour, so he may help Jacob. Birger is going to the look-out place, and he will not want his man either. What will you do, Parson?”

“Why, I think I will take a turn with Moodie down the hållet, when he goes back to inspect his posts. I shall want Torkel to carry my rifle, as I may not come back here; but your two men will be enough to help Jacob. How are we to carry these great beasts?”

“Oh, that is Bjornstjerna’s business. I dare say he has given orders for a sufficient number of carts, or, at all events, we shall have men enough to carry them when the skal breaks up. These are public property,—you need not trouble yourselves about them; what we have to think about is our own little belongings.”

“Public property!” said the Captain; “I did not bargain for that; I want the skins to hang up in my paternal halls, as trophies of the battle.”

“Then you must buy them,” said Moodie; “there will be an auction up the village as soon as the skal breaks up, and by offering a little more than the market price, you may secure anything that you want. It really is a very fair regulation,” he added, observing a shade of discontent on the Captain’s brow. “You shot them, no doubt; but you could not have got a shot at them at all if it had not been for these people driving them. Properly speaking, they belong to Bjornstjerna, but I understand he has given up his right to the men, if so, they will all be converted into brandy before night-fall, you may be quite sure. However, come along,—that last volley was from the dref, and it sounded quite close.”


Moodie’s path was by no means either easy or safe, for he carefully avoided the straight road which would have led him across the shooting line, and contriving to make a circuit and scramble down the face of the cliff at a small fissure, which lay a quarter of a mile to the north of the pass, he attained the rear of the hållet without disturbing or tainting the ground. It may be observed, that there was no such extreme necessity for all this precaution; but Moodie was, after all, an Englishman, and a hunter of but four years’ standing, and, if he was the least bit in the world a martinet, he was not altogether without excuse,—and really his position was, it must be confessed, very scientifically occupied.

At the time that he and the Parson came on the ground, the hållet was just relieving guard, in order to give the morning watch an opportunity of breakfasting before the general turn out; and the scene was extremely picturesque.

The breakfast was an extempore affair enough, except among those parties who had been so fortunate as to knock a hare on the head, or to secure a joint of what Moodie turned his face away from, and the Captain persisted in calling mutton. A little rye meal, mixed up cold, or in special cases, when kettles could be had, made into stirabout, was very nearly the whole of it. An older commander would have closed his eyes to the sight of brandy, and his nose to the smell of aniseed, but Moodie was young, and faithful to his trust.

Groups of men and women were collected round the fires for cooking, some rubbing up firearms, some snapping and oiling obstinate locks and picking touchholes which the wet had damaged, and drying powder which either would not go off at all or else flashed in the eyes and singed the hair and eyebrows of the operators. Gradually, however, they all began to straggle into their line, for the sounds of the dref were more and more audible, and now and then some scared and crouching beast would show itself on the side of the hill, and after drawing upon itself the fire of all who were within a quarter of mile of it, would shrink timidly back into cover, nine times in ten absolutely unharmed. Now would come, high over head, and altogether free from[372] the chance of shot, a gallant blackcock or a tjäder, who, having run or flitted under cover for miles, had at last taken heart of grace, looked his danger in the face, and dashed across the line with that success which bravery deserves. Hares would from time to time race along the brow, unable to make up their mind which way they would head, and sometimes would draw a fruitless shot or two from a young and over-ardent sportsman, followed by the grave rebuke of his steadier skalfogde.

Meanwhile the Captain had advanced along into the shooting line, and building himself up a screen of branches, where he could fully command the passage, waited patiently for what luck would send him; absolutely despising the smaller game that occasionally stole across the line and sheltered themselves in fancied security in the skalplatz, and not greatly disturbed by the occasional double-shots from Birger’s look-out place on the cliff above, though this was not unfrequently followed by a rattle of the twigs, or a soft thud, as his victim came tumbling to the earth.

Birger’s post, indeed, had proved an excellent position for winged game, for the grouse, though by no means plentiful anywhere in Sweden, had been collected from twenty miles of country by the continued driving. Many, of course, had taken wing, and dashing over the heights, had found security in the higher fjeld, or across the river. But the grouse, especially the old cock, is a running bird, and numbers of them had continued toddling away by short and startled runs, a mile or so in advance of the dref, and now, hearing the noises in front as well as in the rear, and beginning to comprehend the precise dangers of their position, were, one after another, taking wing. Many of these followed the line of the cliffs, unwilling, perhaps unable to face them, but coasting their inequalities, and looking out for a lower point; these would come exactly on a level with Birger’s stand, and very seldom passed it unharmed.

All this the Captain left unheeded; his soul was above black game; and, burning to wash away the disgrace of the preceding night, he kept his eye resolutely fixed on the shooting line; something moves—it is a bear—no—a rascally[373] wolf, in that nonchalant style which no amount of danger will induce him to put off, slouches across—not across, for he is worthy of the Captain’s rifle; a shot reaches him, and he rolls over and over to the very foot of the shelter he had sought. Not a stir is heard from the Captain’s screen, and when the little puff of white smoke is dissipated into air, no one would have told where the fatal shot had come from. There goes a real full-grown bear, in downright earnest, and followed by two half-grown cubs, crouching and squatting, and making themselves as small as possible, like so many rabbits stealing out of cover; but confound them, they are three hundred yards down the line, the Captain will not risk wounding or missing them, and they disappear into the trees of the skalplatz to be headed back by the hållet when too late to return.

And now the shouts and cries began to come louder and louder; and the hares, which had lingered as long as possible on the edge of the wood, began to creep, or steal, or race, or bound across the line, and among them several specimens of better game; the men were actually beginning to show themselves here and there in what, from the closing in of the ranks, had now become close order, so that nothing could have passed their line, when a gallant bear, with head erect and mouth open, dashed into the opening at full gallop, and came straight upon the Captain’s hiding-place, as if he knew where his enemy was lying, and meant, at all events, not to die without vengeance.

The Captain fired deliberately,—paused for a moment to see the effect of his shot—then fired his second barrel; both took effect on the broad chest exposed to him, though without checking, for a moment, the rush of the bear. On he came!—the screen went down like reeds before him; but the Captain had thrown himself flat on the ground, and, covered by the branches, had escaped the view of his adversary, who plunged over them, dashed at the opposite cover, and disappeared from view.

“Upon my word, that was a near thing,” said Bjornstjerna, who cantered up to the spot on his pony; “but a miss is as[374] good as a mile,—not that you missed that rascal; I saw both shots strike as plainly as ever I saw anything in my life. Never mind, my boy, you have not lost him; he will not go far, for all his gallant bearing. Larssen!” he shouted, “Larssen! come here and take my pony. We must ride the Apostle’s horse[59] now;” and, leaping off, he proceeded to arrange his army, causing each skalfogde to muster his own men, as they came up, on the edge of the shooting line. Soiled, and wet, and dirty they looked: a Swede is rather a picturesque animal, when you are far enough off not to see his dirt, particularly when there is any general muster of them, for as each parish weaves its own wadmaal, or coarse cloth, and each wears it of a particular colour or pattern, the commencement of a skal looks, at a little distance, like a muster of regular troops, in regular, though rather eccentric uniforms: but the rains, and the dirt, and the mud-stains had reduced this to a very general average,—a sort of forest uniform of neutral tint.

Advantage was taken of the halt to clean and reload the fire-arms, most of which had been rendered useless in the morning’s beat; for though the sun was shining brightly, there had been no wind, and the rain-drops of yesterday were glittering like diamonds on the branches, and pattering down like a shower-bath on all who moved them.

In the mean time, the two chiefs having completed their junction, held a short consultation, and it was determined to advance a strong party from each side, close to the roots of the cliffs, sufficiently numerous to allow each man to touch his neighbour, and then to beat the skalplatz out to the river, which, not being quite so rapid or impassable as was expected, was guarded by the boats.

This involved the abandonment of the Captain’s picket, which reinforced the beating party, the materiel being conveyed, under the superintendence of Jacob, to the travelling-waggon which had been brought as near to the scene of action as the forest roads permitted.


And now began the real dangers of the skal,—the difficulty of restraining the men from firing indiscriminately into the skalplatz, and shooting everything alike,—wolf, hare, fox, or beater.

Fortunately the men were sober, and the officers well aware of the danger. Flags were sent into the forest to mark the advancing line; strict injunctions were given that none should be permitted to advance faster than his neighbours, and a trusty man on the outside of the cover carried a white flag about five yards before the main body of the beaters, followed by an extempore provost marshal, with a party of trusty men, who had orders to tie up and flog on the spot any man who fired at anything whatever in the rear of the flags.

All these arrangements were completed in little more than half-an-hour, and the bugles on both sides rang out the advance. The progress was very slow, not only on account of the necessity of preserving the accurate line, but because the beasts themselves required so much rousing; many of the smaller game, and, on one occasion, even a wolf, absolutely refused to move at all, and was knocked down or speared as it lay. In no case was resistance made by any of the wild beasts, with the single exception of the gallant fox, who, desperate but unsubdued, stood boldly at bay, and bit furiously at everything within its reach, but in vain,—for as the line soon became two or three deep, escape was next to an impossibility. One of the bear cubs, a three-parts grown animal, was dispatched by a blow of a hatchet, and the other was shot in the thick cover, by a man who had almost stepped upon it without seeing it. The Captain’s bear, a full-grown male, did not live ten minutes after it had gained the cover; there was no faltering in its gait or symptom of injury, for no muscle had been cut or bone broken by the shot, and its pluck and energy had carried it on till it fell suffocated by internal bleeding.

And now the shouts rang out from the river-side; the she-bear had taken the water, and was gallantly forcing her way across it at a point rather higher than the boats had expected her. The stream was strong; the boats were at[376] some distance; the Swedes, who were never good at moving-shots, had blazed away when she first dashed into the stream, and there was every chance of her escape, for they are terribly awkward in loading their terribly awkward firearms; the rowers were pulling away for life and death, and the heavy boats were forcing their slow progress against the stream, which was gradually bringing the bear down to them as she swam across it, when a long-shot from Bjornstjerna took effect, she rolled over, recovered herself, struck out again, but was carried down among the boats, secured, and brought to land.

The game was then mustered,—so far, indeed, as it could be recovered, for it was shrewdly suspected by some, that the whole was not forthcoming. There were four full-grown bears and three cubs, seven wolves, two lynxes, three or four badgers, and a queer nondescript animal of the genus canis, which they called a filfras; foxes there were in some numbers, and this a much more valuable description of animal than ours; hares were numberless, and also squirrels,—many of both these last species of game, too, had been stewed and eaten on the preceding days. Whether any other description of larger game had been shot, did not appear. Notwithstanding what Moodie had said about the herd of stags, none were paraded at the muster, and as he did not, after all, make any complaint to the Ofwer Jagmästere on the subject, it may be concluded that the whole was a mistake or a dream of his own, and that no such breach of forest law had been committed by any one,—a fact of which the Captain loudly declared his complete conviction.


p. 376.



“Truly my brethren—truly my dear sisters—do you know how it seems to me—why it seems to me that no one can get along till he has taken a draught—How so? Eh? Your health, dear soul—

Here’s to you day and night,
New raptures, new delight.

Strike up with the fiddles! beat the drums! a stout pull at the pot!

Here’s to ye as is fit,
The reckoning day endeth it.
The big bottle hail ye,
The drums beat reveiller,
At one draught down send it,
The reckoning will end it.
Kajsa Stina stands a drawing,
All my heart is clapper-clawing,
From the pot my fingers thawing—
Thus I sing my dying song.”

Fredman’s Epistle to Kajsa Stina, Karl Bellman.

Never had the arches of the old forest rung with such shouts and screams, and roaring songs, and bursts of laughter, as they did on the evening of the great skal. A few of the elderly people, but a very few, had had enough of it, and went off quietly to their homes as soon as they were released from duty; as for the rest, no one could have supposed that they had been worked off their legs, and kept from their natural sleep, and drenched to the skin for the last three or four days and nights; they were not over-clean, certainly, though some of the youngsters had contrived, somehow or other, to smarten themselves up for the occasion; but the rest made a great contrast to the women, those at least who had taken no active part in the skal,—their white woollen jackets, or scarlet or green spencers covered with embroidery and buttoned down the front with silver knobs, formed a pleasing relief to the dinginess and raggedness of active[378] service. As for the unfortunate buglers, who, most of them, were general musicians, and would play upon anything that was wanted, these, without the least regard to their previous fatigues, which had been even greater than those of the beaters, were placed upon barrels, or carts, or stumps of trees, fiddling and clarionetting for the bare life, while men and women tore in wild polska round them.

Some travellers have characterized the Swedish dances as indecent; whether they are so or not, English papas, and mamas, and maiden aunts are very competent judges, for they are precisely the English polka, as we call it (dropping the s for convenience of pronunciation); the English polka is, in reality, the national peasant dance of Sweden; and in their own country the Swedes dance it with all their hearts and souls as well as their limbs and bodies—not sliding and mincing as we do, but downright pounding, so as to leave the print of the foot, and especially the heel, on the yielding turf.

It might seem difficult to provide refreshments for such a ball-room in such a place, where the dancers mustered somewhere about two thousand strong—but in truth they were no way nice. The game, which Bjornstjerna had very liberally given up to them, formed a good part of these refreshments, a few sheep—“really sheep this time,” the Captain observed,—with a good supply of rye-meal made into stirabout, formed the solids, and these, though, with the exception of the game, they did not grow in the forest, were easily procurable, for the families of the combatants, knowing that a party of English gentlemen were engaged in the skal, and rightly conjecturing that their hearts would be open, had brought their stores to the meet, and all of these stores were not exactly solids; the barrels on which the fiddlers were standing were intended for something better than rye-meal: in fact, corn brandy, and a hot fiery liquor which they make out of potatoes—very beastly to the taste, but quite as efficacious in producing drunkenness as the very best Cognac—was in plenty, and, the restrictions of the skal being at an end, there was every prospect that the men would fully indemnify themselves for their previous abstinence.

Birger and Moodie were stamping, and polking, and[379] hurrahing, and kissing their partners with the best of them, and the Captain, also, was not altogether unsuccessful in his coup d’essai; as for the men, Tom and Piersen had altogether forgotten the inferiority of the Swedes to the true Norwegians, and Jacob’s long streaming coat tails had gone quite mad.

Torkel, alone, stung by some jest from his friend Tom, about the peculiar duties and system of self-denial proper for an engaged man, crept up rather discontentedly to the fire, at which the Parson was standing and talking over the events of the day with Bjornstjerna.

In Norway, which in reality is a republic, and not a monarchy, there is a great deal of independence and equality among all ranks, which is not by any means the case in Sweden; but even in Sweden, a skal is a time of saturnalia; and besides, Torkel, though in some measure acting in the capacity of a servant, was, in reality, the son and heir of a sufficiently wealthy proprietor; and the Englishmen, whom he ranked infinitely higher than he did the very first of Swedish nobility, having treated him all along more as a companion than anything else, he felt not the least shy of the Hof Ofwer Jagmästere, though he added the title of Count to his official honours,—and therefore entered very readily into conversation.

They were turning over the skins of those beasts the bodies of which were already undergoing a conversion into soup; most of these had been purchased by the party, and were laid aside for packing; but the lynxes and the filfras, and some others, which are not considered good for eating, were still hanging by their heels to the lower branches of the tree.

The filfras was a curious animal, about three feet long, but low in proportion to its length, with great splay feet, well calculated to form natural snow shoes—in fact, he leaves a track almost as large as that of a full-grown bear, and upon the whole, very like one, and climbs trees even better and quicker than his big brother. The present specimen had been detected on a tree, and being wounded while in the act of passing from one branch to the other, had come to the[380] ground; but, wounded as he was, he had fought gallantly for his life, and had bitten so severely the first man who attempted to handle him, that he was obliged to leave the skal and go home. The filfras is a harmless beast enough, so far as sheep and cattle are concerned, and lives chiefly upon hares and such game, which, though his eyesight be not very quick, a remarkably keen scent enables him to tire down—he himself, in return, is even detected by his own scent, which is perfectly perceptible to human nostrils, and extremely disagreeable,—few dogs can be got to run him.[60]

The lynx, though of the tiger race, is a very harmless beast unless attacked; he may carry off a young lamb now and then, but very seldom kills his own mutton—it is not for want of spirit, for he fights like any tiger when driven into a corner; throwing himself on his back, he polishes off the dogs as fast as they come near him. A pack of English fox-hounds might settle his business, as they probably would that of his Bengal cousin himself; but there is not a dog in Sweden that would look him in the face.

“It is a great pity,” said Torkel; who was examining the shot-holes in the bear-skins.

“What is a great pity?” said the Parson.

“Why, to mob to death all these fine beasts, that might have given people no end of sport in the winter.”

“And eaten up no end of sheep and oxen,” said Bjornstjerna.

“Ah! well!” that did not strike Torkel very forcibly; he had, it must be confessed, led hitherto a rather miscellaneous sort of life; he knew a great deal more about hunting than he did about farming, and regarded the depredations of the bear—though some of them had been made on his father’s[381] own farm—much in the light in which an English fox-hunter listens to tales of murdered geese and turkeys.

The matter which weighed upon his conscience just then was, that poor Nalle[61] had not received altogether fair play. This had not struck him during the heat of the chase so very much, but, now that the murder had been committed, and that he was regarding the result of it in cold blood, he evidently did not feel quite easy in his mind about it.

“Ah!” he said, “poor fellow,” turning over the skin of Bjornstjerna’s own bear, which was yet wet with the water of the river in which he had been killed; “well! we do not do such things in our country.”

“No!” said Bjornstjerna, “you could not get a couple of thousand people together in your country without knives drawn.”

“But how do you manage it in your country?” said the Parson, who was not a little afraid that his follower’s nationality would get the better of his politeness.

“Ah!” said Torkel, “you should see one of our Norwegian bear-hunts in the winter; it is not an easy thing to get Master Nalle on foot, and he takes a good deal of looking after; but, when you do get a chance, it is worth having.

“I remember my brother Nils one day, as he was coming home from church, took a short cut across the fjeld, and put his eye on a queer-looking heap in the snow, that he did not rightly know what to make of. While he was looking at it out came a great fellow—one of the biggest I ever followed,—as if he would eat him. Down tumbled Nils on his face, and the Wise One came ploutering through the snow right over him, but went on, minding his own business, as all wise ones do, and never stopped to look at Nils.

“It so happened that my brother Nils had nothing but a pair of skarbogar on his feet (a rough sort of snow-shoe, made of wood and rope), and, knowing he could not[382] get over the ground very well, never tried to follow him, but came home quietly and told me what he had seen. The weather looked fine, and there was neither snow likely to fall, nor wind likely to drift what was fallen already, so that we knew the tracks would lie; and the next morning, before it was well light, we had each of us our pair of skier on our feet, our rifles at our backs, a good iron-shod pole in our hands to shove along by, and a week’s provision in our havresacs. I took old Rig[62] with me, in case we should lose the tracks.

“We soon came up with them, and off we went, taking it leisurely—for we had a long run before us. It requires some little exertion to get up hill with these skier; they do better for such a country as this than they do for the rocky and tangled fjeld in Norway; but, on flat ground, you get along five or six miles an hour without feeling it, and as for down-hill, you may go just as fast as you like, only for standing still and keeping your feet.

“For four or five hours the track lay as straight and even in the snow as if we had been travelling the post road to Christiania. Old Nalle thought his winter quarters were not over safe, and meant evidently to make a passage of it, and had just been trotting along in the snow, not looking right or left of him.

“After that the track came doubled and crooked, as if the old gentleman had been taking a view of the country, to see whether it would suit his purpose, before lying down for another nap,—so we had to work it out painfully, step by step. This was a slow job, for he had taken a turn to every point of the compass, and had crossed and re-crossed his own tracks, and had changed his mind so often, that the short winter’s day began to close, and we feared the light would fail; so we started right and left of the spot, and succeeded in ringing him before we met again.”

“What do you mean by ringing a bear?” said the Parson.

“Making a circle round his tracks,” said Torkel, “so as to[383] be sure none lie beyond it; in that case you are independent of a thaw, for you know that the old gentleman must be within a certain space. When we met we agreed to leave our friend quiet, and to sleep till morning; so we cut down a tree or two, and got up a roaring fire in a little hollow to leeward, where we were sure the bear could not see our light or smell our smoke, and there we lay, snug and comfortable enough.

“No thaw or mischance of any kind had taken place during the night, and the next morning we were on the tracks again; for we had marked the place where we had left off, by setting up one of the poles in it.

“We soon got puzzled, however, and began to be very thankful that we had brought old Rig. Rig was a sharp fellow,—one of the quickest dogs I ever met with at picking up a scent, or taking a hint either; his namesake, when he watched at the gates of Asgard, could not have kept a brighter look-out. The ground soon got very tangled and sideling, so, as the ring was but a small one, we determined to give up the tracks, and to hunt for him with the dog.

“The old fellow was not long in getting a sniff at him, and made noise enough to wake up the Nornir in the cave of Hela. I pushed on, and before I could tell where I was, ran my skier one on each side a little hole in the snow, where the dog was baying,—a place that did not look big enough for a fox to get in. I could not very well turn, for the points of the skier were one on each side the trunk of a great twisted birch, at whose foot the hole was; and I could not see what was in the hole, the snow was so dazzling in the bright sunshine that everything else looked black. I began to think that Rig had got hold of nothing better than a fox, and was beginning to be angry with the dog for making such a row, and running the chance of giving our real game a hint to steal off. I was looking down between my skier, with my face as low as my knees, when all at once I felt the snow heaving up from under me, and over I rolled, head over heels, and old Fur Jacket with me, and Rig, who had pinned him as he bolted, on the top of us both.

“The old fellow was a great deal too much taken up with[384] the dog to mind me; but before Nils could come up, or I could get my legs again, he had shaken him off, and was dashing through the deep snow at a rate that kicked it up in a white mist behind him.

“I had kept fast hold of my rifle, all through, and the snow had not done it a bit of harm; in fact, the frost was so sharp that it came out of the barrel like so much flour; and besides, we always cover our locks with tallow after loading. He had got pretty well out of shot before we were in chase, but for his sins he had taken down-hill, and the ground was pretty clear, so we slid along after him like Fenrir after the Sun;[63] when all at once, Nils, who had a little the best of the race, touched a stump with the point of his skie, and flew up into the air, pitching head foremost into the snow. It was, luckily for him, deep enough to save him from a broken head or neck—at least, so I found afterwards, for I had not time to stop then. As for the dog, he was a mile behind.

“Just at the bottom of the slope, I ran in upon the chase, and he turned short round when I was not half-a-dozen yards from him. I could no more stop than I could stop the lightning; so, setting my pole in the snow, I swerved a little, and just missed going over him, as Nils had done with the stump.

“By the time I had curved round, I found he had taken advantage of his chance, and was going up again, travelling three times as fast as I could hope to do, for skier are desperate bad things up-hill. However, mine had seal-skin upon them, luckily, for in our mountainous country we are obliged to do something to prevent slipping back; but, for all that, he was getting much the best of it, so I took a cool shot at him, and heard the ball strike just as if I had thrown it into a piece of dough, but he never winced, or took the least notice.

“However, Nils had managed to pick himself up, and I saw him and Rig together a good way above us, so I[385] waved my cap and shouted: you can hear a shout in the winter half-a-dozen miles off. Nils changed his course, so as to cut us off. I followed, loading as I went. By-and-bye the old fellow seemed to find out that he had enemies on both sides of him, for he stopped, and growled, and looked back at me, and showed his teeth. Just then Nils made a noise above, by breaking through some understuff; and he turned, and came at me with his mouth open, charging down-hill as hard as he could lick. It was ‘neck or nothing’ with me now, I knew that, for there is no turning or dodging on skier, going up-hill, so I rested my rifle on the fork of a branch, and, waiting till he had come within a dozen yards of me, I shot into his mouth. Lord! it seemed as if somebody had given him a lift behind; his hind-quarters rose up, and his head went down, and he came sliding along the snow on his back, wrong-end foremost. I could not move right or left, hampered as I was, and he took me just across the shins with his huge carcass, breaking one of my skier, and carrying me with him as if I were riding in a sledge; but when we got to the bottom he never tried to hurt me, for he was as dead as Baldur.

“That was something like a chase, and we turned a pretty penny by it, too; we got four specie for sealing his nose, and fourteen for his skin, to a young Englishman who wanted to prove to his friends at home that he had killed a bear, and gave two specie over the market price for the shot-hole; and, for ourselves, we had lots of fat, most of which, by the way, had got melted in the race, and had to be frozen again before we could carry it; and, for solid meat, the scoundrel weighed hard upon four hundred pounds. We had pretty hard work in getting him home, for in those two days we had run on end more than thirty of your English miles, besides the turns. We had to go home and fetch a sledge for him, and my sisters had a pretty job of salting when we got him there; Kari said that our work was not half so hard as hers.”

“It is a curious thing, much as I have been in your country, I never saw a skie,” said the Parson; “I do not even know what sort of things they are.”


“It would be strange if you had,” said Torkel; “we never keep them at the sœters, for the plain reason that we do not use them in summer at all, nor inhabit the sœters in the winter. You have been very little in any of our permanent winter homesteads since you have been here, and if you had happened to put your eye upon half-a-dozen long pieces of wood, with leather straps to them, the chances are, you would never have thought of asking what such very ordinary-looking articles were. I will answer for it, Herr Moodie has plenty of them at Gäddebäck; but they are, most likely, stowed away at the top of the house, in the winter store-room, where you would never think of going. They are long, thin strips of wood, of a triangular form, about three or four inches broad, with their points curved up for a foot or so, to clear the obstacles. In this flat country they make the left-foot skie, which is of fir, ten or twelve feet long; the right one is generally of ash, and not above five or six feet in length, or they would never be able to turn in them. I, myself, like them best both of a size, and not above five or six feet long,—only then you must have them broader, to prevent sinking in the snow. This is a disadvantage, certainly, still they are much handier to dodge about the trees with, than those unwieldy concerns they have here. Mine are a pair of old military skier, and there are none better.”

“What! do the soldiers use them?” said the Parson.

“That they do,” said Torkel. “I was always a good runner on skier, but I learnt a good many clever tricks at drill, when I was serving my time of duty in the militia. Our rifle regiment have all two light companies of skielobere, and are drilled to light infantry movements on skates. I did not like much being called out in the depth of winter for drill, and not a little did I grumble at the hard work they put us to,—scaling mountains, which we are obliged to do in skier, like ships beating to windward; and then charging down them among trees and stumps,—swinging this way and that, to keep one’s rifle out of harm’s way, and then suddenly called upon to halt and fire,—and preciously punished are we if the piece is not ready for action. However, I did not know[387] what was good for me; I have been twice the man ever since after the bears and winter game.”

“I suspect,” said the Parson, “that is pretty nearly the whole use of your skate-drill; it must be a pretty thing to see in a review,—but he must be a gallant enemy who undertakes a winter campaign in Norway, unless he is descended from the Hrimthursar themselves.”

“Well! I cannot stand this any longer,” said Moodie, coming up; “half the party are drunk, and the rest are half-seas over; and there’s the Captain pounding away to his own whistling, for the last fiddler has just dropped off his empty barrel. It is time to go to bed.”

“Bed, yes! but where are we to find it: Jacob, I suppose, is by this time numbered with the dead drunk.”

“You may swear to that, and Tom also; I saw him very near his end an hour ago.”

“Well I do not care, for one,” said the Parson; “my bed is here,” and he pulled out of his cariole his trusty mackintosh, and folding one of the sails to his own length, he spread the mackintosh upon it. “I shall sleep here luxuriously; and Torkel, bring me the cushion of the cariole seat. I will not forget to tell Lota how faithful you have been to her this day. Good night, all of you; we have work before us to-morrow.”

And so they had,—for the sun was not yet far above the horizon, when the carioles were bumping along the forest roads to the southward.

At Amal, Torkel, with good wishes from all, and presents from some of the party, took his leave to prepare for what Tom called the amending of his life, and parted on his separate road through Fjall, and laid under contribution a market boat from Wagne to Frederickshald, where he hoped to find a vessel to Tonsberg, or Larvig, on the Norwegian coast. The party proceeded leisurely along the western coast of the lake, to enjoy for some time longer the hospitalities of Gäddebäck.

But the days began to shorten, and the joyous Scandinavian summer to come to its close. It was necessary to think of the homeward passage, in time to allow fine weather and[388] sunny days for a leisurely cariole journey along that most picturesque of countries, the southern coast of Norway. Torkel’s wedding day, too, was approaching, and the party were under a half engagement to old Torgensen, which tallied very well with the necessity of reaching Christiansand for their homeward passage. “Time and tide wait for no man,” and a forebud having been laid to Strömstad, the carioles, accompanied as far as Wenersborg by Moodie, rolled away on the road to Uddevalla.

One piece of luck attended them,—they were not yet to part from Birger, for it so happened that his royal highness the Crown Prince, was to pay his usual state visit to Christiania, on which occasion he was to be attended by Count Birger, our young scamp’s father, whose daughter, Birger’s sister, held also some appointment in the establishment of the Princess. Birger, therefore, was able to consult his pleasure and his duty at once, in going to Norway; to enjoy the coasting journey with his friends, and then to meet his family at Christiania after their departure.



When he came into the house at nightfall,
She was angry with him—his old mother—
“Son,” she said, “thou lay’st thy snares each morning,
And each day thou comest back empty handed!
Either thou lack’st skill, or thou art idle;
Others can take prey where thou’st taken none!”
Thus to her the gay young man made answer:
“Who need wonder that our luck is different,
When the same birds are not for our snaring?
At the little farm that lieth yonder,
Lives a wondrous bird, my good old mother;
Snares I laid to catch it all the autumn,
Now, this very winter have I caught it.
Marvellous is this bird! for it possesses
Not wings, but arms for tenderest embracing;
Not down, but locks of silky, sunny lustre;
No beak, but two fresh lips so warm and rosy!”
The Young Fowler.—Runnèberg.

It was the morning of the wedding-day, and that day, of course, Sunday. Autumn was a little advanced, but the sky was as serene, and the lake as still and as smiling as it was on that day on which the fishermen had last looked upon it.

The Parson had strolled out with Birger, after a very hurried and uncomfortable breakfast,—the only time such a thing had ever occurred under the hospitable roof of Torgensen; this was not so much for exercise as for the sake of being out of the way of the good lady Christina, who looked as if she considered the whole of her daughter’s earthly happiness to depend on the perfection of the wedding-dinner, which, even at that early hour of the morning, was in the course of preparation. Upstairs and downstairs was she, with[390] a face as red as her scarlet stomacher, her great bunch of keys jingling like a sheep-bell as she moved, and her embroidered skirt whisking round every corner. She was partially dressed for the grand occasion, though her head was as yet muffled in a rather dirty handkerchief, but the glories of her holiday gown were in a great measure obscured by an immense apron, which bore indisputable marks of something more than mere superintendence of her peculiar department. The whole district would be there, no doubt, for though there are generally appointed days for weddings, and several couples were usually married at the same time, and moreover, the beginning of winter is a very favourite time for such matters, yet the Torgensens were so indisputably the squires of the place, that besides their own party which had been collected from far and wide, and that of one or two of their dependants who were to be married on the same day, the chances were that they would have visitors enough from other and inferior bridals.

Come as many as there might, there were provisions enough for them all; there was brandy enough to float a barge; there were heaps of fish and game of all sorts; and—a much rarer thing at the beginning of autumn and before the cattle have returned from the sœters,—plenty of beef and mutton. Puddings, sweet soups, and all the infinite variety of gröds had been in preparation for days and nights; still the good house-mother distressed herself; and rendered uncomfortable everything around her, lest something should have been forgotten, and the credit of Torgensen’s hospitality should suffer in the eyes of the strangers.

The Captain, who had offered to officiate as bridesman, was taking lessons in his arduous duties from little Lilla, the præst’s daughter, who, proud of her English, and not at all unwilling to get up a flirtation with a good-looking foreigner, had neglected her own duties as bridesmaid, and enticed the Captain, nothing loth, to the præstgaard, where he was practising the required duties of his office; and, to judge from the time he took at his lessons, he must have been particularly slow and stupid in comprehending them.

What was the morning occupation of Lota and her other[391] bridesmaids was a mystery,—not one of them was visible; that it was something of an entertaining character was evident from the tittering, and gay laughter, and occasional little screams that proceeded from a large square-headed window wide open on the upper-floor, and on the farthest extremity of the building. The only anxious and unhappy-looking countenance was that of the happy bridegroom himself, who having nothing whatever to do, wandered up and down the terrace with his hands in his pockets, the only idle man, and consequently in the way of every one. Conscious that he was the object of every body’s attention, and the butt of those jokes which are common on such occasions, and no where more common or less delicate than in Norway, he laboured hard to be at his ease and succeeded but very ill. Indeed, his new jacket, which did not come down to his shoulder blades, and was a little too tight for him into the bargain, and his stiff glossy trousers would alone have been sufficient to disturb any man’s self-possession, to say nothing of the chain of filagree silver balls, each as large as a grape-shot, which were called shirt buttons, and hung down from his neck; while a stout broad hat twice as broad in the crown as in the rim, and stiffly turned up on each side, weighed on his brows like a helmet,—so very new that it still exhibited the creases of the paper in which it had been packed.

Jan Torgensen, Lota’s brother, who was his other bridesman, was doing his best to keep him in countenance, for they had always been great allies, and in fact, Torkel had been Jan’s preceptor in wood-craft, and, so Lota declared, in every sort of mischief besides. At this present moment any one who had seen them both, would have taken Jan for the preceptor and Torkel for the pupil; and Jan for the happy bridegroom, and Torkel for the disappointed swain,—so happy looked Jan and so sheepish looked Torkel. But, in truth, Jan had his own particular pride and happiness, connected, though in a remote manner, with that of his friend. He had just received his appointment as skipper of the Haabet, vice Svensen, superseded in Lota’s affections by Torkel, and in the command of the brig by Jan; for the poor fellow,[392] when he found how things were going with him, resigned the command, settled accounts with old Torgensen, and, much to the regret of the latter,—for Svensen was a first-rate sailor,—betook himself to Copenhagen, out of the sight of his rival’s happiness.

Jan, who was a thorough partizan, and had never liked poor Svensen, not so much on account of any of his demerits as out of affection for his friend Torkel (for Lota it is to be feared, had coquetted between her admirers much more than was altogether proper), was singing, or rather roaring, at the full pitch of a sailor’s voice, the popular ballad of Sir John and Sir Lavé:—

“To an island green Sir Lavé went;
He wooed a maiden with fair intent;—
‘I will ride with you,’ quoth John;
‘Put on helmets of gold, to follow Sir John.’
He wooed the maiden and took her home,
And knights and serving-men are come;—
‘Here am I!’ quoth John.
They set the bride on the bridal seat,—
Sir John, he bade them both drink and eat.
‘Drink, and drink deeply!’ quoth John.
They brought the bride to the bridal bed,—
They forgot to untie her laces red:
‘I can untie them!’ quoth John.
Sir John, he locked the door with speed;
‘Good night to you, Sir Lavé,’ he said.
‘I shall sleep here!’ quoth John.
Word was brought to Sir Lavé there—
‘Sir John is within, with thy bride so fair!’
‘That am I, in truth!’ quoth John.
At the door, Sir Lavé makes a loud din;—
‘Withdraw the bolts, and let us in!’
‘You had best keep out,’ quoth John.
He knocked at the door with shield and spear,—
‘Withdraw the bolts, and come out here!’
‘See if I do!’ quoth John.
‘If my bride may not in peace remain,
I will go and unto the king complain.’
‘Just as you like,’ quoth John.
Early next morn, when the birds ’gan to sing,
Sir Lavé is off to complain to the king;—
‘I will go, too!’ quoth John.
‘I was betrothed but yesterday,—
Sir John has taken my bride away!’
‘Yes, so I have!’ quoth John.
‘If that the maiden to both is dear,
It must be settled at point of spear.’
‘I’m very willing!’ quoth John.
As soon as the morrow’s sun was bright,
Came all the knights to see the fight;—
‘Here am I!’ quoth John.
The two were mounted, and at the first round
The knees of Sir John’s horse touched the ground.
‘Now help me, Heaven!’ quoth John.
Once more, and in the second round
Sir Lavé lies upon the ground;—
‘There let him lie,’ quoth John.
Sir John he rode to his hall in state,
And his maiden met him at the gate;—
‘Now thou art mine,’ quoth John.
Thus was Sir John made happy for life,
And the maiden became his wedded wife.
‘I knew I should have her,’ quoth John.
‘Put on helmets of gold, to follow Sir John.’”

“Come, come! Jan!” growled old Torgensen, “hold your saucy tongue; Svensen was a better man than you will ever be in a year of Sundays. And you, you grinning flirts,”—to the servant-girls, with whom Master Jan was an especial favourite, and upon whom the application was by no means lost—“get along with you, and mind your own business,—as if you had nothing to do, on such a morning as this, but to listen to such fooleries! Be off with you, I say!”

In the meanwhile the Parson and Birger,—who, by the way, hardly recognised each other in their gala habits, for the one was habited, in honour of the occasion, in the black dress of an English clergyman, while the other, with his sword clinking by his side, blazed in all the blue and yellow splendour of the Swedish guard,—took up their old position at the lich[394] gate of the church; one as before balancing on the stocks, the other astride on the dwarf wall, glad to be out of the din of preparation. It was not a happy day for any of them, for it was the last day of the expedition, which every member of it had enjoyed so thoroughly;—Birger’s leave of absence was running to an end, and the two Englishmen had taken passage with young Torgensen to the Haabet. They were to sail—so Torgensen said—that night; but, as it was quite certain that, before that time, the whole crew would be drunk, in honour of their young mistress, this probably meant to-morrow. Still, to-morrow was to be the final break-up of the party; and Tom had been philosophizing, with tears in his eyes, on the transitory nature of human pleasures; and Torkel, bridegroom as he was, would willingly have postponed his wedding if he could have prolonged the expedition,—at least, so Lota had told him the evening before, and he did not look as if he was speaking the truth when he denied it.

Neither of the friends felt much inclined for conversation. They were natives of different parts of the world; their courses from that point lay in opposite directions; the chances were very much against their meeting again, and, though their acquaintance had not been of very long duration, so far as time is concerned, one week’s campaign in the wild forest does more towards ripening an intimacy than a year of ordinary life.

In the meanwhile the time passed on, and the early peal rang out, and the groups began to collect as before in the church-yard, and the lake to be dotted with boats, all pulling or sailing from its remoter bays and islets to the church, as a common centre. Here and there a party, as before, was occupied round a grave, pulling up the overgrown convolvulus and trimming the withering leaves of the lilies. By and by a bugle sounded a call, and a couple of fiddles from one of the nearest boats struck up a polka.

“Here come some of the wedding parties,” said Birger; “there seem to be plenty of happy couples in Soberud this year. Well! there is nothing like fashion,—in this, as in other things, one fool makes many. Look at that leading[395] boat!—that one, I mean, just pulling round the point of the island!—there is a crowned bride in her! Holy Gefjon, Mother of Maids! such a sight as that is rare in Norway! I should think the chances were that she got some one to pull her crown off her head before the day was over. She does not seem much afraid, either, and an uncommonly pretty girl, too, which makes it all the more wonderful. Well! well! ‘a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband;’ I hope he will appreciate his blessings as he ought, such blessings as that do not fall to the lot of many in this country.”

“What do you mean by that, Birger?” said the Parson, getting up, and shading his eyes with his hands as he looked out on the lake.

“Ah, you may well shade your eyes before beauty and innocence,” said Birger; “you do not often see them combined, in this country.”

“Well, the fact is this,” said he, dropping his bantering tone, “what you commonly call virtue—that is to say, chastity,—is a very rare article indeed, I am sorry to say, either in Norway or Sweden; the manners of the people do not tend to foster it. Their promiscuous way of living in the winter, and the sœter life in summer, makes it absolutely necessary for a girl either to have a very great respect for herself, or to be forbiddingly ugly; and whatever the case may have been in earlier and better times, certain it is that beauty is now much more common among us than self-respect. Then, again, the laws which prevail in Sweden, and the customs, which the Udal tenures in Norway make as stringent as laws, forbid any to marry who are not householders (whence your word husband, which simply means huus bonde—a peasant with a house), and at the same time forbid the erection of more than a specified number of houses on any land. All this renders early marriages almost impossible. The result may easily be imagined. And to make this the more certain, our wise laws enact that a woman, having any number of children by any number of fathers, who at any time of her life shall marry any one whatever, by the simple act of marriage affiliates all the children she may ever have had on her unhappy husband; and wherever the Udal law[396] prevails, he is obliged to share his land equally among them. The consequence of this is, that unchastity is no sort of disgrace. It is the commonest thing in the world for a noble to live with a woman all his life, under promise of marriage to be performed on his death-bed, and the woman is all the while received much like the Morganatic bride of a German prince. Frederika Bremer, herself as exemplary a woman as ever lived, has made the plot of one of her novels to hinge on a man living in such a manner, and dying suddenly, without being able to perform his promise. She does not attach the shadow of disgrace to any one, except the relatives of the deceased, who refused to acknowledge the woman merely on account of this ‘unfortunate accident,’ as she calls it. And so it is. Had she written otherwise, she would have been out of costume; there is no disgrace in the matter. I do not mean to say that this girl is not proud of her crown—of course she is, just as I am proud of this blue and yellow ribbon of mine,” pointing to the Order of the Sword with which he had decorated his uniform-coat for the occasion; “but look how she is kissing that girl in green, who has just landed from that other boat,—that is another bride who cannot claim the distinction; she no more thinks her disgraced, than I should think a brother officer disgraced to whom his gracious Majesty had not been pleased to give the same distinction that he has to me.”

“There seem to be plenty of brides,” said the Parson, “for there is another green lady, of damaged fame; she seems to be a rich one, by the number of her fiddlers before, and followers after.”

“They generally have one wedding-day for the district,” said Birger, “and a good plan too; it diminishes the expense when they all have their festivities together, and diminishes the drunkenness very considerably, both on the day and on its anniversaries, for the whole district get drunk together at once, and get it over, instead of inviting one another to help them to on their several wedding-days.”

“But what are the ‘crowns?’” said the Parson.

“An ancient custom, by which they challenge any imputation on their fair fame; any one who has anything to say[397] against the chastity of the wearer, is privileged to pull off the crown and to drive the lady out of the church, only the accuser is bound to prove his allegations.”

“It seems a pretty expensive affair, at least, to judge of it at this distance.”

“O yes, far too expensive to be the property of any individual; they hire it for the occasion, and, I will be bound, pay five or six dollars for the pleasure of wearing that and the rest of the costume. Just look at her as she comes into the light; that dress of black bombazine, with the short sleeves and white mittens, is probably her own,—very likely it was her mother’s before her, only fresh dyed for the occasion; but that gay apron, with the ribbons, and beads, and the silver chains and necklaces, I should think were hired; the dollars round her neck are her dowry in all probability, and, consequently, her own; so is the muff, and the handkerchiefs of various colours that hang from it; and possibly, also, those yellow kid gloves. But look at the crown itself! why it is silver gilt!—and that scarf, which hangs down from the spray on the top of it, is covered with satin lappets, three-quarters long! now do you think a peasant would buy that? A green bridal, you see, is a much more modest affair; they wear their silver chains over their green bodices like the others, but on their heads, instead of the crown, they have the ordinary wimple of married women, made of fine white linen, and above it the triangular snood of unmarried girls.”

“Here come our party at last! What a host they have collected! the church will not hold them all. And there is pretty Lota, with her bridesmaids after her. Well, I hope no one will pull her crown off; how pretty she looks in it.”

“Not half so pretty as that little fresh-looking, innocent, Lilla Nordlingen,” said Birger. “Upon my word I am half inclined to make love to her myself.”

“You had better not, Mr. Guardsman, you do not stand the ghost of a chance; how she would turn up that innocent little Norwegian nose of hers at a brute of a Swede. Besides, do you not see how she is making love to the Captain, how uncommonly smart the Captain has turned out in his[398] red uniform! to which the moustache he has been growing ever since he has been here, forms so appropriate an appendage. Your blue and yellow would look dingy to eyes that have been dazzled with such scarlet magnificence.”

“Ah, well, we will see. The Captain looks as if he were saying to her, ‘Aimez moi vite, car je pars demain.’”

“That’s your best chance,” said the Parson, maliciously; “but come, the bells are ringing in, and we had better get into the ranks of the procession. Here comes Nordlingen, with his long-legged Candidatus at his heels.”

While the Pfarrherr went in to array himself in his robes, the different marriage parties, warned by the bells, had begun to arrange themselves into one grand procession; while their respective musicians, who together formed a pretty numerous band, laid their heads together about the tune to be played on this grand occasion, and tuned their fiddles into concord.

The party had by this time increased considerably, and when at last the band, having settled their harmonious differences, marched up the nave of the church playing, somewhat incongruously, a jolly polka, there marched after them no less than six happy couples, with their followers, each bride and each bridegroom having a silver ort (ninepence) tied up under their respective garters, for luck. Only two of the six were crowned brides, and that, Birger whispered, as they took their places, was a wonderfully large proportion.

First after the fiddlers came the Candidatus in his gown, who had gone out to marshal the procession; then came the married men related to the parties, in their short blue jackets and white-fronted shirts, some of which were clean; then came the bridegrooms with their bridesmen, dressed something in the same fashion, except that they affected buckskin breeches and white stockings: each bridegroom, by way of distinction, had a fine white handkerchief (cambric, if he could possibly come by it), tied round his right arm; then came the bridesmaids in green, (which there is not an unlucky colour as it is with us), with bare heads, and[399] their hair, which was plaited with many coloured ribands, hanging down their backs in two tails; then the bride-leaders, married women, who are supposed to encourage the brides during the ceremony, and lastly, the brides themselves, in all their splendour. The chancel was as full as it could hold, the principals disposing themselves round the altar, kneeling, while the bridesmaids held canopies of shawls and handkerchiefs over their heads, and the congregation craned in through the chancel rails, while the priest proceeded with the service.

Scarcely was the benediction pronounced, when the fiddlers again struck up their polka, and the happy couples, now arm-in-arm, marched down after them, (the wedding-party forming a sort of escort), and proceeded with great ceremony to the præstgaard meadow, where the marriage feast—an enormous pic-nic—was prepared for them, and where the wedding presents, many of them of considerable value, were set out for public inspection.

These were not exactly the expensive sort of trumpery which forms the staple of bridal presents in England,—silver vessels that no one ever drinks out of, and dressing cases far too expensive for ordinary use. The presents here were real honest implements of house-keeping or farming; pots and pans, and plates and dishes, and chairs and tables,—spades, pickaxes: a tonne of rye-meal was the offering of one,—a sack of potatoes of another; here was a pile of oderiferous salt-fish,—there a flitch of bacon, at which one of the Captain’s best jokes missed fire—bacon having no allegorical value whatever in Norway; here again was a good milch cow, tethered to a tree, or half-a-dozen sheep or pigs folded with hurdles, while the bride’s feather-beds would have borne a high value in England. Lota’s were something quite magnificent. With such hunters in her train, as Torkel and poor Svensen, and her own brother Jan, (who in his younger days and before he had found out some one to whom to transfer his youthful allegiance, had contributed largely to his sister’s stores), it was not to be wondered at if she easily eclipsed all the brides of the season.

At a comparatively early hour, Torkel and his wife took[400] their leave, as they had that evening to reach Lönvik, a pretty little farm in the interior, on the banks of a small lake of the same name, which Torkel’s father had given up to him on his marriage. But this by no means put a stop to the festivities, which were carried on to a late hour in the night, and at which, Sunday though it was, Nordlingen himself presided. Sunday in Norway begins at six o’clock on Saturday night, when invariably preparations are commenced for the next day, in the way of looking up Sunday clothes, and brushing up or washing out the house,—sometimes, in religious families, by special prayer, though that is not very common,—sometimes even by washing their own persons, though this, it must be confessed, is rarer still,—for all of them have a very great horror of the personal application of soap and water. Sunday, therefore, even as a day of worship, legitimately ceases at the same hour on the following day, and, as Nordlingen himself remarked,—what was a more fitting time for enjoyment than just after they had been admitted to their Lord’s presence, and had had their sins forgiven them. It was surely much more congruous than the English way of “making a Saturday night of it,” with all their sins yet upon their shoulders.

If, however, there was dancing, there was no visible drunkenness; the Pfarrherr was a man of sufficient influence to make a stand against the national vice, and if any of the guests did feel a little the worse for liquor, he quietly took himself, or was taken by his friends, beyond the glare of the great bonfire, where no one could see him,—for Nordlingen was wise enough not to look too closely into what was not intended for his inspection.

It was this idea, or perhaps the recollection that the Haabet was to sail the next day, that induced him to close his eyes to the fact that that innocent little Lilla had danced with no one but the Captain the whole evening, on the plea that no girl of the party, except herself, was able to talk to him in English. Whatever it was that they had to say to one another, there was a good deal of it, and it took a good while saying, and as Birger, who was outrageously jealous[401] remarked spitefully,—“they, as well as the drunkards, preferred evidently the light of the moon to that of the great wedding bonfire,” and thinking, probably, how he would make up for lost time after the Haabet had tripped her anchor, whistled pensively the Swedish song—

“Hence on the shallows our little boat leaving,
On to the Haaf where the green waves are heaving,
Causing to Thyrsis so much dismay.”



And, now, my good friends, I’ve a fine opportunity
To obfuscate you all by sea terms with impunity.
And talking of “caulking,”
And “quarter-deck walking,”
“Fore and aft,”
And “abaft,”
“Hookers,” “barkeys,” and “craft,”
(At which Mr. Poole has so wickedly laught);
Of “binnacles,” “bilboes,” the boom called the “spanker,”
The best “bower cable,” the “jib,” and “sheet anchor;”
Of “lower-deck guns,” and of “broadsides and chases;”
Of “taff-rails” and “top-sails,” and “splicing main braces,”
And “shiver my timbers,” and other odd phrases
Employed by old pilots with hard-featured faces;
Of the expletives sea-faring gentlemen use,—
The allusions they make to the eyes of their crews.

The Haabet did not sail that night, which indeed was hardly possible, her Captain being employed in dancing, and making love, and singing, in the words of Karl Bellman,—

“Awake, Amaryllis! my dearest, awaken,—
Let me not go to sea by my true love forsaken,—
Our course among dolphins and mermaids is taken:
Onwards shall paddle our boat to the sea.”

Neither did the Haabet sail on the morrow, for the wind had chopped round to the south-west; neither did she sail the next day, for there was a dead calm;—there was plenty of time for leave-taking, and a leisurely journey to Christiansand besides, which was accomplished in the carioles—their last journey, as Tom feelingly remarked. The Captain[403] arrived at Ullitz’s, a good hour behind the rest, who would not wait for the end of his last conference with Lilla Nordlingen.—They were, besides, a little anxious about the weather, for the season was somewhat advanced, and everything was so deadly calm, that it was quite evident a change of some sort was at hand.

What that change was, the next morning made manifest enough, for the wind was roaring round the house, and the rain pattering furiously against the windows long before the sun was up.

However, the old copper lion that surmounted the church had veered round again, and was turning his battle-axe towards England, and Jan Torgensen—Captain Torgensen we should call him now in virtue of his new command, and in truth he was not a little proud of the title himself,—came in just as a very sulky breakfast was completed, and announced, “that as the wind was fair, he did not care the scale of a herring how much there was of it, and that this night should be spent at sea.”

No one was sorry for this announcement, not even Birger, who was going back to Nordlingen’s, as he said, “in order to console Ariadne for the desertion of her faithless Theseus.” The pleasures of the summer had departed, and it was useless to linger over the scenes of past enjoyments. At Nordlingen’s perhaps the time might have passed pleasantly enough, notwithstanding the change of weather, but Christiansand has but few resources for a rainy day; and besides this, the very idea of a prolonged parting is depressing. Torkel was gone, and Tom was much too low for a story or a joke. There were, however, some marine difficulties—there always are; papers are never ready, and agents are always behind time, and thus, though every one was anxious to be off, and none less than Torgensen himself, who grudged every blast of the fair wind, it was full five o’clock before the anchor broke ground; and a cake, the last token of Marie’s affection, having been previously placed on the taffrail for Nyssen, the Haabet turned her stern to the blast, and set her fore-sail, and hoisted a couple of double reefed top-sails to receive it. The rain redoubled—certainly if Gammle Norgé[404] had received them with smiles, she honoured their departure with tears.

The first thing that met the Captain’s eye, as he turned from waving the last farewell to Birger’s receding boat, was the pilot, roaring drunk already, and the mate supplying him with no end of additional brandy. He went forward to draw Torgensen’s attention to this apparently dangerous breach of naval discipline.

“Be quiet,” said Torgensen, in broken English, “the mate knows very well what he is about, I supplied him with the brandy myself. That drunken rascal is sure to get us into a scrape, if he has sense enough left in his drunken body to fancy he can take charge of the ship; and I am obliged, by law, to take him drunk or sober. As soon as he gets too drunk to interfere, which I am happy to say will be the case very shortly, I shall pilot my own ship, and I should think I ought to know how to take her out of Christiansand by this time—we all do that; in fact, these drunken pilots are nothing but an incumbrance.” And an incumbrance in this instance he proved, for, Torgensen having safely carried his brig to the mouth of the fjord, they were obliged to heave to for the pilot’s boat, which kept them waiting for a good hour more. The Parson suggested taking him to sea; but Torgensen swore he had had too much of him already.

It was long after dark, therefore, when they passed the lighthouse, which they did in a furious squall of wind and rain, and stood out to sea under close reefed top-sails and reefed fore-sail, with two men at the helm, the brig steering as wild as if the Nyssen were blowing on both quarters at once, but dashing away through it for all that, and heaping up the sea under her bluff bows.

The whole surface was one vast blaze of phosphoric light—the ship’s ragged wake was a track of wavering flame, the water that broke from her bows was a cataract of fire, a rope that was towing under her counter (Torgensen was not at all particular about these little matters), was ten times more visible than it would have been by broad daylight, for every strand in it was clearly defined by lines of delicate blue flame, while each breaking wave was a flash of brightness. The[405] wind was as fair as it could be, and as they drew out from under the lee of the land, seemed enough to tear the sails from their bolt ropes.

“Hurrah for Nyssen!” shouted Torgensen; but he shouted a little too soon, for not an hour afterwards they were close hauled with a south-west wind, dead foul, dancing like a cork in a mill pond, on the top of a tumbling cross sea, and plodding along at barely three knots; not even looking up within four points of their course.

And the next day, and the next night, and the next, the same monotonous story; only as the wind settled to the south-west, the bubble went down, and it was not so difficult to walk the three steps and a half, which formed the Haabet’s quarter-deck.

Still the only answer to the anxiously repeated morning question of “How is her head,” was, when most favourable, “half a point southward of west,—think we shall weather the Naze, please God.”

Torgensen was always in high spirits, and was as proud of his new command, the Captain said, as a peacock with two tails; and she really had qualities of which a commander might well be proud, as a sea-boat,—but these did not comprehend either beauty, or comfort, or speed.

There is no between decks in a Norwegian timber brig, the whole space being occupied with its bulky cargo, much of which lumbers up the waist, and forecastle besides; the crew inhabited a small hurricane-house just abaft the mainmast; a very small slip of this was bulk-headed off for the mate,—while the remainder—and a very small remainder it was—served the crew for parlour, and kitchen and all, for there was no other cookery place in the ship; in one sense this was an advantage, for they could cook in the worst of weathers, and this is not always practicable in a merchant ship; but if they did get this advantage over the wind and rain, it was, as the Captain remarked, a very dirty advantage indeed. All that there was of cover below the deck, was a very small sail-room aft, also used as a bread-room; before this was the Captain’s cabin, measuring exactly eight feet by[406] six, which served for Torgensen and his two passengers, and for a purser’s store-room into the bargain, with all its indescribable stinks. After a very little practice, the Captain declared he could always tell the tack they were on, by the particular description of stink that was uppermost, and used to say that they had got their starboard or port stinks on board, as the case might be.

The bread alone of the ship’s provisions was under cover; the beef and pork was stored in harness casks, lashed to the bulwarks, thus diminishing still more the very diminutive quarter-deck. In fact, a quarter-deck walk was what none of them ever thought of.

Hurrah!—the Naze bearing N.N.E., and all dangers of a lee-shore past: a lee-shore in timber ships is no joke; they never sink—they cannot, for the Norwegian deals and baulks being of less specific gravity than water, the ship that carries them would be buoyed up even if water-logged, but their very want of specific gravity is the cause of their danger on a lee-shore; besides being full below, the whole deck is lumbered up for six feet or more, and the centre of gravity is so high that they are all crank to the most ticklish degree; and, though invariably carrying very low sail, require every attention to keep them on their legs; for this reason, if caught on a lee-shore in anything like a breeze, they can never claw off, for they can carry nothing without tumbling over on their beam ends. For this reason, every Norwegian is very careful of an offing, it is the only thing he seems to care much about. When the wind changed, every ship that the fair breeze had tempted out of Christiansand that day had put back, and Torgensen only had held on, partly because he knew the comparatively weatherly qualities of his brig, but principally because he was young and foolish.

Toward evening the wind drew round to the northward, and the brig was able, first to lie her course, then to shake out the reefs from her topsails, and lastly, having brailed up her fore and aft mainsail, to display a very ragged suit of studding-sails, which together got a fathom or two over six[407] knots out of her—the very top of her speed,—and the Naze slowly sank below the horizon, fading into blue as it sank.

But this good luck was not to hold; fine weather returned, but with it calm and light baffling breezes, with the ship’s head looking every way except that which she was wanted to go. Singular as anything of cleanliness seems among people who personally rejoice in dirt, there was more fuss in cleaning decks than is to be seen in many a man-of-war; the very cabin-deck was holy-stoned every morning, as well as the quarter-deck; though so far as the latter was concerned, this was rendered absolutely useless by the abominable habit of spitting, for which the Norwegians deserve as much notice as the Americans themselves, and which they do not yet only “quia carent vate sacro,” because they have not a Mrs. Trollope to write about them. In the present instance this was the more inexcusable, because the northern style of ship-building pinches in their ships so much aft, that a man with strong lungs might set on the weather bulwark, and with ease spit over the lee-quarter.

As for seamanship, there are no smarter seamen in the world than the Norwegians when there is need, or more slovenly when there is not; but how they contrive to navigate their ships is a mystery which none but a Norwegian can solve. The whole of it is done by dead reckoning, with, in the North Sea at least, a pretty liberal use of the lead: besides the deep-sea lead, their only nautical instruments are the log, and what they call the “pein-compassen.” This last is a compass-card made of wood, and marked with thirty-two lines corresponding to the points, and drawn from the centre to the circumference, on which centre revolves freely a brass needle of equal length with the lines.

On starting, the true bearing of the destined port, or of some remarkable point or headland which must be sighted during their voyage, is taken, and the “pein-compassen” is fixed to the binnacle, with that part set towards the head of the vessel. This, for that particular voyage, is called “the[408] steering line;” and so long as the true compass tallies with its wooden brother—that is to say, so long as the ship looks up for her port,—the whole run is given her at the end of each watch; but, in traverse sailing, the two compasses must of course point different ways. In this case, at the end of the watch if the wind has been steady, or whenever the ship, from tacking, or any other cause, alters her course or her rate of sailing, the brass needle on the “pein-compassen” is turned to that point of the compass to which the ship’s head has actually been lying, and a line is drawn from that point with chalk, intersecting the “steering line” at right angles. The part cut off between the centre of the compass and the point of intersection gives the actual gain in distance to the port towards which she is bound, and answers to the cosine of our more scientific nomenclature. This, with some corrections for lee-way, is given to her, while the chalk line drawn from the point of the moveable needle to the point of intersection, which answers to our sine, gives the number of miles which the adverse wind has compelled her to diverge from her course, and which must be compensated for by a corresponding deviation on the other tack.

Thus it is that, day after day, the ship’s reckoning is kept, not by calculation, but by actual measurement, performed by a pair of compasses on a graduated scale; and, clumsy as this contrivance may seem, they do navigate their ships with an accuracy that might put some of our merchant skippers to shame,—to say nothing of the masters in Her Majesty’s Navy.[64]

So far as the North Sea goes, which is the principal scene of Norwegian navigation, this mode of reckoning is considerably assisted by the lead,—indeed, it would be hardly too much to say that these timber ships are navigated by the lead alone. The soundings of the whole North Sea are accurately marked, and it so happens that there is considerable variety in the sand which the arming brings up; besides which there are a good many “pits,” as they are called—that[409] is to say, small spaces, some of them not a mile across, in which, for some unexplained reason, the depth is suddenly increased. Should the ship be so fortunate as to strike one of these, they are so accurately noted in the charts, that it is as good as a fresh departure.

It was about a week or ten days after the Naze—the last point of Norway—had faded from their sight, like a dim blue cloud, that the Parson was sitting or lying at the foot of the foremast in a soft niche, which he had arranged for himself among the deck timber, and had called his study. He was reading, for the books which they had brought with them, and which, hitherto, they had had neither time nor inclination to look into, were now very acceptable indeed. The Captain, sitting on the bulwark abreast of him, and steadying himself by the after-swifter, was watching the proceedings of some visitors who had come on board the preceding evening—a kestrel and half-a-dozen swallows. The swallows were so tired when they came on board, that they readily perched on the fingers that were held out to them, and one of them had passed the night on the battens in the mate’s cabin. The hawk did not seem a bit the worse for his journey; he was seated very composedly on the quarter of the top-gallant yard close to the mast, where he was pleasantly occupied in preparing his breakfast off one of the swallows, who had risen earlier than his companions, and who did not exactly realise the proverb about the “early bird finding the worm,”—on the contrary, he had been found himself, and was thus ministering to the wants of the hungry, while his brethren, having now recovered their strength by their night’s rest, were flitting unconcernedly about the masts and yards, just as on shore they had flitted round the church steeple, and were wondering, no doubt, what had become of all the flies.

“As this is only the middle of September,” said the Parson, looking up at the birds, “it is evident that the migration of swallows must begin in the North first, and that previous to their leaving our shores, the English swallows must receive a large addition to their numbers; a fact which, so far as I know, naturalists have not noticed.”

“Or else,” said the Captain, “that they shift their quarters,[410] like a regiment that has got its route, and march by detachments—one relieving the other. Ah!”—with a long sigh—“I wish I had wings like a swallow!”

“Pooh! nonsense!” said the Parson; “we shall get on shore some time or other; everyone does, except the ‘ancient mariner.’ ‘Good times, bad times, all times pass over.’”

“So they do; but all this is so much waste of life. Here am I, sitting dangling my legs over the sides of this cursed brig, knowing all the time that my friends are knocking the partridges about. Who can give me back my 1st of September? Besides,” he added, in a grumbling tone, “I want a clean dinner, if it is only by way of a novelty; I can rough it as well as anyone for the time, as you know, but a course of such living as this will poison a man.”

The Parson laughed.

“It does, I assure you! I have often seen it in the West Indies; when a nigger takes to eating dirt, he always dies, and I should think a little of that would go a great way with a white man.”

“Well, you know it is said that ‘every man must eat his peck of dirt in the course of his life.’”

“That’s exactly the thing; we are allowed a peck of dirt, as you say, to last our lives, but you see if we stay here much longer, we shall soon get to the end of our allowance. What do you think I saw yesterday? When I went below, I could smell the cook had been there; you say yourself that you are always obliged to open the skylight whenever he comes near the cabin. You know what a beastly miserable day it was, and as I had nothing to do, I thought I would turn in and try to sleep away a little time, and get a little warm. I felt the pillow rather too high, and, putting my hand under it, I found the dish of plok fiske we were to have for dinner stowed away there to keep it warm! Bother that skipper, he is going about again,” as the Norwegian equivalent for “raise tacks and sheets” came grumbling on his ear, and the men lounged lazily to their stations; “he’s as frightened at the shore as if it was Scylla and Charybdis, and the Mäelström into the bargain. If he would only hold on three or four hours more, we might sight Flamborough Head, and[411] get on board an English collier and enjoy a little cleanliness.”

“Ah! you will not enjoy that luxury for this voyage,” said the Parson; “the English ships always keep inside the line of sandbanks on the Norfolk coast; almost all we have met outside, as you may have remarked, are foreigners.”

“Outside barbarians!” said the Captain, who was not in a good humour.

By this time the clue-garnets had been leisurely manned, one at a time, and the mainsail was hanging in festoons from its yard; Torgensen himself steering, as, indeed, he had done for the last hour, and also giving the word of command. The wind was as light as could be, so that it really did not signify, except for fidgettiness, on which tack she was.

The helm had been a-lee for about a minute, and the men were at their stations for “mainsail haul,” while the brig went creeping and creeping into the wind. The men began sniggering and joking to one another, but their jokes being Norwegian, were for the most part lost on the passengers.

“What is that young fool about?” said the Parson, who had not risen from his recumbent posture; “he will have the brig in irons before he can look round. Jump up and see what is the matter.”

The Captain scrambled on to the forebitts, so as to look over the hurricane-house, and burst out laughing. “Bother the fellow! if he is not reading ‘Peter Simple,’[65] and jamming his helm hard a-lee with his hinder end. Why, Torgensen! Torgensen! what the Devil are you about? the brig has been in the wind this half-hour!”

Torgensen started up, flinging his book on the deck, righted his helm, and bellowed out his next command. It was loud enough to startle the mermaids in their coral caves; but noise will not compensate for slackness; the brig was already nearly head to wind, and there she hung—she would not go an inch farther for any one, and at last fell off again. Torgensen was obliged to wear her, after all.

He swore, however, he did it on purpose, in order to get[412] a cast of the lead, as he had not got one for the whole watch. This did not seem to the Parson so very indispensable, seeing that in the whole of that forenoon watch they had not shifted their position four miles; nevertheless, to suit the action to the word, Torgensen did lay his main top-sail aback, and armed his lead with as much gravity as if he really expected that the sand and shells brought up by this cast would be different from the sand and shells brought up by the last.

“I tell you what, though, ‘it is an ill wind that blows nobody good,’—we may get a cod while Torgensen is sending his note to the mermaids; jump below and get up the lines. The rind of that ham we had for breakfast will be a dainty such as Tom Cod is not likely to meet with often in the haaf, and it will be a pleasing variety to that eternal plok fiske, if we can get one. By the way, that salt fish has got desperately hard; I saw the carpenter pounding our dinner with the back of his axe yesterday, before the cook could do anything with it.”

Whether Tom Cod would have been duly sensible of the honour that was done him, and would have accepted the line of invitation which the Captain had sent him for the next day’s dinner, it is impossible to say, for, unfortunately, he never received it. The whole bank abounded with hungry dog fish, and the bait never got a dozen fathoms over the side before it was seized by them. However, it was all fish that came to net; dog fish are not esteemed on shore, but place the diner on board ship, give him three weeks of calms and foul winds, short provisions, and those provisions principally dried fish, with a piece of salt horse for a luxury on Sunday, and even dog fish will come to be appreciated at their just value.

It was about the middle of the dog watch in the same day—when, according to the theory of the Norwegian marine, everybody is supposed to be on deck for his own pleasure, and, according to matter of fact, everybody is below, sleeping, or talking, or cooking, or mending his clothes,—when the Parson, whose time began to hang a little weary on his hands, was yawning about the Haabet’s quarter-deck, with his hands in his pockets.


The Norwegian dog watch must not be confounded with the English watches of the same name. In the Swedish or Norwegian navy, the twenty-four hours are divided into five watches instead of seven, as with us. These, beginning at 8 p.m., are called the first watch, the night watch, the morning watch, the forenoon watch, and the dog watch, respectively, of which the first four consist of four hours each, and the last of eight. The dog watch comprehends the time from noon to 8 p.m. It is, of course, impossible for human strength and human endurance to keep it properly, but it is permitted to be kept in a slack sort of way by the whole ship’s company conjointly, one watch being indeed responsible for the duty, but not being forbidden to go below, provided their place, for the time, be taken by amateurs.[66] The natural effect of this is, that the whole watch is kept very slackly indeed, even in men-of-war; in fact, at the particular time specified, there was no one whatever on the deck of the Haabet, except Torgensen, who, as before, was steering, and the Parson, who had come on deck because the Captain was snoring so loud, and who, as luck would have it, was looking over the bulwarks to windward.

The day had continued calm and hot, as September days often are, and the ship was not many miles from the place in which she had missed stays in the morning. She was close hauled, but carrying everything that would draw.

“Torgensen,” said he, “I think you had better look out; there is something coming down upon us, that looks very[414] like an invitation from your friends the mermaids.[67] I should like to send an excuse.”

“O, The Thousand!” said Torgensen: “God forgive me for swearing, at such a time;” and shoving the helm into the Parson’s hands, he seized a handspike, and began to belabour the deck.

On all ordinary occasions there had been a good deal of republican slackness on board the Haabet, the men doing what they were told, but doing it leisurely, and in a nonchalant sort of way. It did not much signify, for in blue water and calm weather, it makes little difference whether the manœuvres are performed smartly or not.[68] But assuming the handspike was like taking up the dictatorship; there was no want of smartness now; the men buzzed out from their hurricane-house, like bees out of a hive, some half dressed, some stuffing a handful of plok fiske into their mouths, but all rushing to their stations, as if the very tautest-handed boatswain in the British service was at their heels.

It so happened that Torgensen had been fitting up a fore-sail of his own, which he called a fok; a stoutish spar held the place of foot rope, which, though it diminished the area of the sail, certainly had the effect of making it stand better when close hauled; but that which he prided himself most upon, was his substitute for clue-garnets, which consisted of two ropes, which, rove through blocks at the quarter of the yard, led before the sail through a block at the clue, then to the yard-arm, and then along the yard; thus, embracing the sail, acting as spilling-lines and clue-garnets at once, and hauling it up, as it were, like a curtain in a theatre.

The square main-sail was by this time clewed up, and, had[415] not Torgensen’s head been full of this invention, he probably would have seen the necessity of casting off the sheet of the fore and aft main-sail, as he passed, supposing he had not time or hands to man the brails; as it was, the fore-sail came in most sweetly, and Torgensen, forgetting his captainship, skipped up the rigging, and was out at the weather earring, like a monkey up a cocoa-nut tree.

Just then the squall struck her. Naturally the brig carried a lee helm, but at this moment, relieved of her fore-sail, and at the same time pressed upon by the whole force of the squall in her main-sail, she griped obstinately,—a propensity which the Parson had originated by steering as near as he could, in order to shake the wind out of the top-sails while the men were reefing. Things began to look serious; not a soul was on deck, every man being out on the yards, which, so soon as the sails began thrashing in the wind, jumped and jerked so furiously, that it was as much as any of them could do to hold on; the brig lay over, so that the water not only bubbled through her scuppers, but came pouring in over her bulwarks, and the Parson, with both hands clutching the bulwarks, was driving the helm a-weather with his stomach, while his feet were slipping one after the other on the wet and slanting deck.

Just at that moment the Captain—his coat and shoes off, his head tied up in a pocket handkerchief, and his eyes scarce opened, just as he had roused up from his slumbers,—showed an astonished face above the hatchway.

“Hallo! what’s the matter now? who spilt the milk?”

“Jump! and let go that main-sheet! cut it if you can’t get at it any other way! but take the sail off her at any rate, or in two minutes we shall be at Fiddler’s Green.”

The Captain was wide enough awake to see that things were rather too serious for a joke, and scrambled up to windward as well as he could. Round rattled the sheaves, as if they would set fire to their blocks; away flew the sheet through them, the slack of it whipping the deck right and left, and barely missing the Captain, while the end of the main boom plunged into the water, wetting the sail half way up. The brig, eased of the strain, slowly and reluctantly paid off,[416] while Torgensen, still seated at the weather yard-arm, with his legs twisted round it, holding on by the earring with both hands, with his breast straining against the lift to which he seemed to be holding on with his chin, and his hat, the while, which had been secured round his neck by a lanyard, fluttering and dancing to leeward, just nodded down on deck, as if to say, “all right my boys, I knew you would do the needful,” and then went on with his work as if nothing particular had happened.

The squall, however, was only the prelude to a change of wind; in less than an hour’s time she was able, not only to shake out her reefs again, but to lie her course, and to jog along it merrily.

Towards the close of the next day they were looking out sharp for the Outer Garboard Buoy, which, out of sight of land, marks the mouth of the Thames, and, strange to say, after a cruise of three weeks’ traverse sailing, hit it to a nicety,[69] and on the following morning, when the fishermen came on deck, they had the satisfaction of seeing, for the first time since the Naze had sunk in the horizon, not only land, but land on both sides of them, of which that on their starboard beam bore a very strong resemblance to the old South Foreland.

“England again!” said the Captain. “Hurrah for England and partridges!—what the deuce are you squinting at on the French coast, Parson?”

“A very interesting sight for us,” said the Parson, putting the telescope into his hands, “though not on the[417] French coast; look at that sail, and tell me what you make of her.”

The Captain took a long view. “A lugger I think, coming down before the wind, wing-and-wing.”

“The very thing, and of course bound for England: if all goes right, we shall nearly cross her, and that in less than an hour.”

“Then hurrah for a leg of mutton!”—for it should be said the Haabet was bound for Bordeaux, to exchange her timber for the light St. Julien’s claret, of which so much is drunk in the north, and the fishermen had taken their passage in her on the chance, which amounted to almost a certainty, of meeting with an English coaster that would put them on shore somewhere. This they had not been able to meet with on the east coast, for foreigners are too much afraid of the shoals to allow themselves to go near a track which, by English vessels, is as well beaten as a turnpike road.

“A leg of mutton!” said the Parson; “you are as bad as a Swede,—always thinking of your dinner.”

“Upon my word, I have eaten such a lot of trash in that country that it is very excusable to long for the sweet simplicity of English roast and boiled; we have not had one single wholesome, unsophisticated meal since we got there; it was all grease, and sugar, and gravy, and preserves, except, indeed, where we boiled our own salmon on the Torjedahl, or toasted our own ‘mutton,’ as Moodie calls it, at the skal.”

“Ah, poor Moodie! I wonder whether he has found out yet that mutton is not made out of elk’s meat? But that lugger is nearing us fast; I think we had better talk to Torgensen about it, and get our traps on deck.”

Torgensen was sorry to part with his passengers, and they, though to a certain extent reciprocating his grief, were much more sorry to part from Torgensen than from the Haabet. But, sorry or glad, it was all the same, the brig and the lugger, on their respective courses, rapidly approached each other; a weft hoisted by the former was answered by the latter, and,[418] in a few minutes, her mast-heads were seen bobbing about over the brig’s lee quarter.

Less than half a minute sufficed to transfer the fishermen and their belongings from one deck to the other, and then, hands shaking,—caps waving,—hoist away the lugs,—and up-helm for merry England.

Away flew the lugger, “her white wings flying,”—it could not be added “never from her foes,” for she turned out afterwards to be a noted smuggler that no revenue cutter could ever catch. Up rose the white cliffs,—plainer and plainer grew the objects on shore: now the white houses of Dover came in view,—then the sheep on the downs, and the men on the piers,—then the rising sunbeams flashed back a merry welcome from the windows,—then the pier-heads opened, with the tide bubbling up against them like a river in flood, which, taking the lugger under the counter, gave her a final slew, as she rushed between them,—then through the inner harbour, and down sails, carrying on with the way already acquired,—then run up alongside the Custom-house quay.

“Home at last!” said the Captain, as he leaped on shore.

Hic longæ finis chartæque viæque.




[1] The families of Lejonhöved and Svinhöved were conspicuous in the wars of Gustavus Vasa, at which time Sweden threw off the yoke which Denmark, with the concurrence of Norway, had fixed on them, by taking undue advantage of the conditions stipulated in the Union of Calmar. The head of the former family perished in the treacherous massacre at Stockholm, generally spoken of by the name of the “Bloodbath.” Both families derive their names from their armorial bearings, as at that time there were no surnames in Sweden. These signify Lion-head and Boar-head, or Pig-head, respectively. Hence the Parson’s sarcasm.

[2] Långref—a poaching method of catching fish.

[3] Tjäder—the capercailzie. Taking him in his lek—that is to say, during his play, a very singular method which both the tjäder and the black-cock has of calling together the females of their respective species, is strictly contrary to law.

[4] Fjeld Ripa—The mountain grouse; a bird something like our ptarmigan, the pursuit of which is always attended with toil, and sometimes danger.

[5] According to ancient Scandinavian mythology, the earth, which is flat and surrounded by water, is continually guarded by Jörmungard the Sea Serpent, the daughter of Loki; who is so large that she encircles the whole earth, holding her tail in her mouth. She is sometimes called the Midgard Serpent;—Midgard meaning middle guard half way between the earth and the realms of the Hrimthursar, or Frost Giants, which is her post.

[6] The god Kvasir, or Unerring Wisdom, was the joint offspring of all the gods, and was created to aid their negociations with the Vanir. His blood, sweetened by mead, forms the drink of Poetic Inspiration, which was guarded by Gunlauth, the daughter of Thjassi, the chief of the Frost Giants. Odin, who was her lover, prevailed on her to give it up to him, and it is at present lodged in the heights of Asgard. That Poetic Inspiration should be wisdom, sweetened by honey and guarded by love, is in itself a beautiful allegory—and not less beautiful that it should be won by the gods and lodged in Heaven;—but the generation of Kvasir involves a most curious anomaly, and that is, that the gods should be able to create a being more intelligent than themselves,—unless, indeed, we interpret the allegory as implying that mutual council is more unerring than the unaided intelligence of any individual.

[7] The Indelta has very erroneously been stated, by one or two travellers in Sweden, to be the militia of the country. Sweden has a militia, and a very efficient force it is; but the Indelta is a feudal army raised and maintained by the holders of crown lands. The constitution of this force will be explained more fully hereafter; it is exclusively a Swedish institution, and does not exist in Norway.

[8] “Come over the river.”

[9] “Quick, here, with the boat! and so you shall have some money for drink.”

[10] One of the wild ideas of Scandinavian mythology is, that the sun is the eye of Odin, and that he once had two like other people; but, that coming one day to the well of Mimiver, the waters of which are pure wisdom, he bargained for a draught, and bought the horn gjoll full at the price of one of his eyes; no such great quantity either, if gjoll be the original of our English gill. However, this fully accounts for the fact that the moon is not now so bright as the sun, which it probably once was. It must be confessed that the whole of this story is entirely inconsistent with the theory of the sun and moon in the prose “Edda,” where these are represented as separate and independent divinities, the son and daughter of the giant Mundilfari,—the sun being feminine and the moon masculine; a tradition contrary to the notions of our poets, but fully borne out by our English peasants, who invariably speak of the moon as “he,” and the sun as “she.”

[11] Full-grown salmon have two or three ranges of very small teeth, whereas grauls (Scoticè, grilse) have only one. It is this distinction which, on the Erne, is technically termed “the mask,” and not the size, which determines the difference between a graul and a salmon.

[12] An ort, or mark, is the fifth part of a specie-daler, equivalent to ninepence or tenpence of our money. A skilling is about the same as an English halfpenny; the word, however, is pronounced exactly the same as our English word shilling, the k being soft before i; a circumstance which rather perplexes the stranger in his calculations.

[13] Since the abolition of capital punishment in Norway—a measure that does not seem to answer at all—murderers are confined, like other criminals, in the castle at Christiania. They may be seen in dresses of which each sleeve and leg has its own colour, sweeping the streets and doing other public work; and a very disgusting sight it is. The average of crime is very high in Norway—perhaps higher than in any country known, and particularly crimes of violence. This may be accounted for, partly by their wonderful drunkenness, and partly by the very inefficient state of the Church, and the almost total absence of the religious element in an education which is artificially forced by state enactments. In Norway there is a very great disproportion between intellect and religion.

[14] Manchester has its faults, and a good many of them, but among them all its Anglo-Saxon virtue of order and capacity for self-government come out in strong relief.

“Where are your policemen?” asked the Duke, as he glanced at the masses that thronged the streets during the Queen’s visit,—perhaps the largest crowd that had ever been collected in England. The streets of the Borough of Manchester were not staked and corded off, and guarded by men in blue; but thousands of strong, active warehousemen and mechanics formed, by joining hands, a novel barricade. And in the evening, when numbers beyond computation were assembled in the streets to witness the illumination, amidst all the confusion there was nothing but good-humour.—Fraser.

[15] Alluding to a custom in Norway, of mixing the inner rind of the birch tree with their rye meal, during times of scarcity.

[16] The fisherman is very much recommended to tie his own flies for the Tay, or to get them at Edmondson’s. The author bought a good many pretty-looking specimens in the country, by way of patterns, all of which whipped to pieces in half-an-hour’s fishing. The fact is, there is a cheap way of tying flies, which it is impossible to detect by the eye; and it is just as well that the young fisherman should ask the character of his tackle-maker before investing his money in such very ticklish wares; the worthlessness of which he will not find out till he reaches his fishing-ground. The author, a fisherman of some experience, has tied a good many flies in his time, and has had a good many tied for him by his attendants and other professionals on the river’s banks; but the only tradespeople he has ever found trustworthy, in all points, in such matters are, Chevalier, of Bell-yard, London, and Edmondson, of Church-street, Liverpool. Their flies have never failed him, whether in their hooks, their gut, or their tying. All that the fisherman will want in their shops will be a little science, to enable him to choose his colours, and a little money to enable him to pay his bills.

[17] The real scene of this piscatorial exploit is on the Mandahl river. There is a Hell Fall on the Torjedahl also; indeed, the name is common in Norway, and in Sweden too, so as to become almost generic for a dark, gloomy rush of waters; but the Hell Fall of the Torjedahl is inaccessible to salmon, which, notwithstanding all that Inglis says to the contrary, are unable to surmount the great falls of Wigeland about a mile below it. It is, therefore, worthless as a fishing-place; and, the author suspects, altogether too dangerous to be attempted without good reason. When the water is low, the fall of the Mandahl may be fished in the ordinary manner from a boat, and it is well worth the trial; but if the river be full, the birch rope will be found necessary.

[18] The lower part of the Torjedahl is perfectly free from musquitoes, which cannot be said of all the rivers in Norway; this probably is owing to its rapidity, and to the absence of all tributaries and still water.

[19] It is no inaccuracy to give Birger a Scotch song, for there is a considerable infusion of Scotch blood among the Swedes, and Scotch family names are by no means uncommon among the nobility. In fact, Scotch names are to be met with even in their national ballads: for instance—

It was young Folmer Skot
Who rode by dale and hill,
And after rides Morton of Fogelsang,
Who bids him hear his will.

[20] The thirtieth of April.


Lie still, my child;
In the morning comes Fin
Thy father,
And gives thee Esberne Snorre’s eyes and heart to play with.

[22] Esberne Snorre is the Danish Faust. In no country whatever was the reformation popular among the peasantry, and therefore the popular legends invariably assign the leaders and causes of it to the devil, as in the case of Faust himself, who, whatever Goëthe may say, really was a very respectable tradesman, and had no more to do with the devil than is involved in the invention of that art which became so powerful an instrument in the hands of reformers—printing. Esberne Snorre was what very few of the Danish Reformers were, a really good and conscientious man, who might well have built the Church of Kallendborg, or even have given his eyes for it. Nevertheless, pre-eminently before all the reformers, the devil carries him off bodily in every legend of the time, just as he did Faust.

[23] Equivalent to “spoiling a market” in Ireland, or “opening a Sheriff’s ball” in England,—“Goth’s garden” being the cant name for a place of execution in Stockholm, which is adorned with permanent gibbets, and is so called from the name of the first man who was hanged there. The saying is Swedish, not Norwegian, not only because it is local, but because there are no capital punishments at all in Norway.

[24] Christina, daughter of the great Gustavus Adolphus, a popular and able sovereign, abdicated voluntarily,—wearied of the toils of government,—and is said to have uttered some such speech as that attributed to her by Torkel on crossing the little stream which in those days separated her late dominions from those of Denmark.

[25] Between “the two lights,”—that is to say, twilight,—is always the time in which all spirits of the middle earth have the greatest power; of course the reason is, that seen indistinctly in the doubtful light of morning or evening, natural objects take strange forms, and exhibit appearances which are ascribed to the supernatural.

[26] A sort of scallop, of very beautiful colour.

[27] In the Swedish Church there used to be a regular private confession made to the priest before every Communion, on which occasion an offertory, called confession-money, was deposited on the altar. It is, indeed, the rule of the Church still, though, since a royal ordinance, in 1686, forbade penitents to select their own confessors, confining them to the priest of their parish, the custom has fallen into disuse; still the old expressions are frequently retained.

[28] The mal is said to be a great-headed, wide-mouthed monster, with a long beard, of the same colour as the eel; and, like the eel, slimy and without any perceptible scales. It is said to grow to the length of twelve or fourteen feet, to weigh three or four hundred pounds, and to carry on his back fin a strong, sharp lance, which it can elevate or depress at pleasure. It is supposed to lie seeking whom or what it may devour in the deepest and muddiest holes of rivers or lakes. The author has heard this fish talked of very often, but has never seen one, and believes fully that it may safely be classed with the Black Horse, the Mid-Gard Serpent, and Dr. Clarke’s Furia Infernalis.

[29] The leading fish of each shoal, or school, as it is called,—usually a salmon of considerable weight and experience—is so termed by the Irish fishermen.

[30] Frue is properly a title of nobility, and is of Danish origin. No Norwegian titles date earlier than the Union of Kalmar. These, however, have been all abolished by a Storthing, which, consisting mostly of peasants, set itself strongly against aristocratical distinctions; and, taking advantage of that clause in the constitution which provides, that if a bill be carried three times it overrides the king’s veto, have succeeded in abolishing them. Habit and custom, however, are stronger than parliaments; and the mistress of a wealthy establishment is frequently designated, not by her husband’s name, but as Lady Marie, Lady Brigetta, or, as in the present case, Lady Christina—for that is the meaning of the title Frue.

[31] Not many years ago, the “summer parlour” was the only room in any house that had windows that would open.

[32] All livings in Norway have a dowager-house and farm belonging to them, for the widow of the late incumbent. At her death, it passes back to the present possessor of the living.

[33] Deep water.


Here the Neck strikes his harp in his city of glass,
And the Mermaids comb out their bright hair, green as grass,
And bleach here their glittering clothes.

[35] Those who are drowned at sea, and whose bodies are never recovered, are said to have been enticed away to the mermaids’ caves beneath the deep water.

[36] Those who are lost and starved to death in the forest—a thing which is of perpetual occurrence,—are said to be detained through the love of the Skogsfrue.


“We fly from day’s dazzling light,
But we joy in the shades of night,—
Though we journey on earth, our home must be
Beneath the shell of the earth and the sea.”

[38] This legend is taken from the Brage Rädur, which, in the original, is obscure enough. Finn Magnussen, however, seems to have hit upon the right interpretation of it, which we have followed here. His explanation, as given in “Blackwell’s Northern Antiquities,” is this:—“Iduna, the ever-renovating Spring-being, in the possession of Thjasse, the desolating Winter,—all nature languishes until she is delivered from her captivity. On this being effected, her presence again diffuses joy and gladness, and all things revive; while her pursuer, Winter, with his icy breath, dissolves in the solar rays, indicated by the fires lighted on the walls of Asgard.”

[39] Niord and his wife, Skadi, had naturally some disputes about their future residence,—he preferring the brightness of his own palace, Noatun, she very naturally yearning after Thrymheim, the abode of her chilly father. The dispute was referred to Forseti, the son of Baldur, the heavenly attorney-general, who decided that they should alternately occupy Noatun for three months and Thrymheim for nine,—which is about the Norwegian proportion of summer and winter.

“Thrymheim, the land
Where Thjasse abode,
That mightiest of giants,—
But snow-skating Skadi
Now dwells there, I trow,
In her father’s old mansion.”
Elder Edda.

[40] A proof of the authenticity of this legend is to be found in the etymology of the word, “gate,” (gatin—the street), being a Norwegian word.

[41] Hermod and Baldur were both sons of Odin. That is to say, Courage and Innocence are both children of Heavenly Wisdom.

[42] The moral of this legend is admirable. The Principle of Evil is of itself powerless against the Principle of Good, until it is assisted by well-intentioned, but blind Prejudice; but that same Prejudice, after its enlightenment, becomes its partner and ally.

[43] An attentive reader, who is also a fisherman, will see, by reverting to the time which the adventures in the Torjedahl and Soberud-dahl must have taken, that this voyage must have taken place much later in the year than the 24th of June, and that consequently he could not have seen the bale-fires he describes. The fact is, the author made two visits to Christiansand; he arrived there in June, but, finding the snow-water still in the river, he made a voyage among the islands, to occupy the time, and visited the place again at the end of July. To prevent unnecessary confusion, the incidents of both these visits are told together; but the fisherman must not conclude from this, that anything is to be done in any of the Tellemarken rivers before the second week in July.

[44] The whole Norwegian navy consists of one frigate, two corvettes, two brigs, three schooners, and a hundred and forty of these gun-boats. The Swedes, who have upon the whole rather a powerful navy, considering the poverty of their country,—that is to say, thirteen line-of-battle ships, fourteen frigates, some of them very heavy ones, and twenty-two steamers—possess also three hundred of these gun-boats. They carry generally one long tomer forward, and sometimes a carronade, sometimes a smaller gun aft. They are quite open, except a couple of bunks for the officers’ sleeping places, pull from twenty to thirty oars, and are generally sent to sea in squadrons, with a frigate or corvette to take care of them,—like an old duck with a brood of ducklings. The frigate forms a rallying point and place of refuge, as well as a place of rest, for the crews are changed from time to time, and in their turns enjoy a week’s rest and cover on board of her.

[45] In Sweden there really is an order of the Seraphim, and in Denmark one of the Elephant,—for the Goose and Gridiron we will not vouch.

[46] That ancient and distinguished family are said to read Gen. vi. 4 thus: “And there were Grants in the earth in those days.” The word “giants” being, according to the best authorities in that family, a modern reading.

[47] Bjornstjerna, a not uncommon name in Sweden, signifies “bear’s star.”

[48] Bör, civilized man,—from beran, to bear; the same etymology as that of barn, a child. Ymir, Chaos,—literally, a confused noise; the meaning is, “before civilization had subdued Chaos.”

[49] It must be remembered that the letter o, in Swedish, is pronounced like our oo, and that the g before ä e i ö, as well as the final g, is pronounced like the English y; the word “Modige,” therefore, will be pronounced very like the English word “Moodie.”

[50] Rubus Chamœmorus; called in the country, Möltebär.

[51] Baldur’s Eye-brow—Anthemis Cotula.Linn.

[52] The Puritan Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury, got into great trouble from his sporting propensities. One day, as he was shooting with Lord de le Zouch, at Branshill Park, he shot a keeper. According to canon law, a clergyman killing a man becomes, from that time forward, incapable of performing any clerical function; and three Bishops elect refused consecration at his hand,—“Not,” as they said, “out of enmity or superstition, but to be wary that they might not be attainted with the contagion of his scandal and uncanonical condition.” He was re-instated by a committee of Bishops, appointed for the purpose, but never entirely recovered his position.

[53] According to Scandinavian mythology, the sacred ash of Yggdrasil, which typifies the Vital Principle of the world, has seated on its topmost boughs an eagle, bearing perched between his eyes a falcon,—emblematic of Energy and Activity.

[54] According to the Prose Edda, the gods had originally no poetry in their souls. The mead of Poetic Inspiration was in the keeping of the giant Suttung, who entrusted it to his daughter, Gunlauth. Odin made love to her,—obtained possession of the mead, and deserted her. He had, however, the grace to be ashamed of himself, for these are the words of the Hávamál, in which he evidently alludes to this not very creditable passage in his life:

“Gunlauth gave me,
On a golden chair seated,
A draught of mead delicious;
But the return was evil
Which she experienced,—
With all her faithfulness—
With all her deep love!
“A holy ring oath
I mind me gave Odin,—
Now, who can trust him?
Suttung is cheated—
His mead is stolen—
Gunlauth is weeping!”

[55] A Norwegian slang expression, for “early rising.”

[56] There is a beautiful superstition—if it is not a real religious truth—in Norway, that those we have loved best on earth become our unseen guardians, and follow us always, to warn us of danger.


“Then shall brethren be
Each other’s bane,
And sister’s children rend
The ties of kin.
“Hard will be the age,
And harlotry prevail,—
An axe-age, a sword-age—
Shields oft cleft in twain,—
A storm-age, a wolf-age,
Ere earth shall meet its doom.”
The Völuspà.

[58] Stags are not common so far north, but they are to be met with now and then. Elks are much more often seen, and are now pretty plentiful. In the days of which the author is writing, the Game Laws were, on paper at least, very strict about both elks and red-deer. Time was, when the former of these were classed with the bear and the lynx, and were absolutely outlawed as noxious beasts. At the time the author was in Sweden, the laws had gone to the other extreme, and they were absolutely protected,—everybody being forbidden to shoot them; a prohibition which, though it prevented men from going after them openly, was, in fact, as little regarded as most laws are in the fjeld. Now, they may be shot, only under certain restrictions.

[59] A cant phrase in Sweden, for “going on foot.”

[60] The only time the author ever did get a sight of one was in the fjeld on the right bank of the Gotha, near Trollhättan, when he was making his way through some tangled ground in search of a lake, which lies at no very great distance from the fall. On leaping down from a low ledge of rock, he very nearly pitched upon the top of a filfras, as much to his own surprise as that of the beast. He struck at him with his spiked fishing-rod—the only weapon he had with him. Fortunately for both parties, as he now thinks, he missed him; so they parted, much to their mutual satisfaction, and have not met since.

[61] Nalle is the cant name for the bear kind, as with us Reynard is the cant name for a fox.

[62] “Rig,” the earthly name of Heimdall, the watcher of Heaven’s gate, when he disguises himself to go skylarking on earth. Hence the slang expression, “Running a Rig.”

[63] The Sun and Moon are continually pursued by the wolf Fenrir and her progeny, who sometimes nearly catch her. Hence the eclipses.

[64] The author will not answer for his orthography in the word “pein-compassen.” He can work a reckoning by it, but has never seen it spelt.

[65] There is no book so popular in Sweden as what they call “Peter Simpel aff Kapten Marrjatt.”

[66] In Preadamite times—that is to say, the times of Drake and Raleigh—this was the custom of the English service also; but it having been discovered that “what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business,” and that accidents and negligences were continually happening during the dog watch, a regular afternoon watch was established, and the dog watch reduced to four hours, and divided into two; so that the whole ship’s company could relieve one another systematically, and not, as before, by private arrangement; and that the whole could have two uninterrupted hours below, between four and eight in the evening, for their evening meal, or any other occupation. The whole afternoon watch was called the dog watch, because in the full light,—and Norwegian ships did not go to sea in the winter because they were frozen up,—the work was supposed to be so easy that the dogs were sufficient to keep it.

[67] Those drowned at sea, whose bodies are never found, are supposed to have been invited by the mermaids to their caves, and to have been fascinated by the beauty of their entertainers. Homer’s story of the Syrens enticing the comrades of Ulysses, has some such foundation.

[68] The words “smart” and “smartly,” which, at sea, have a signification very different from their shore-going meaning, are pieces of mis-spelling. They are evidently derived from the Norwegian words “snart” and “snartlig,” which bear precisely the same nautical meaning as our English words.

[69] This is a literal fact. Three weeks after sailing from Christiansand, and seventeen days after losing sight of land of any kind,—during which time there had been but two days in which the brig could lie her course,—the author was in the fore-rigging, on the look-out for the Outer Garboard buoy. He had but small hopes of seeing it, he admits, for the brig had been navigated by log, lead, and compass alone; nevertheless it is true, that within half-an-hour of his taking up his look-out place, and precisely in the direction in which he was looking, there was the buoy,—a little black speck, like a dancing boat. This, considering that the steamer in which he had gone out—a vessel commanded by a lieutenant in her Majesty’s navy—was fifty miles out of her reckoning, after a straight course of four days, seemed, to say the least, remarkable.