Bergen Days

THE hardest way to go to Norway is by way of the North Sea. It is two days’ and two nights’ sail from Hull to Bergen ; and two days and two nights on the North Sea are nearly as bad as two days and two nights on the English Channel would be. But the hardest way is the best way, in this as in so many other things. No possible approach to Norway from the Continent can give one the sudden characteristic impression of Norway sea and shore which he gets as he sails up the Stavanger Fjord, and sees the town of Stavanger looking off from its hill-side over the fleets of island and rock that lie moored in its harbor.

At first sight it seems as if there were no Norway coast at all, only an endless series of islands beyond islands, never stayed by any barrier of main-land ; or as if the main-land itself must be being disintegrated from its very centre outwards, breaking up and crumbling into pieces. Surely, the waters, when they were commanded to stay from off the earth, yielded the command but a fragmentary obedience so far as this region was concerned.

The tradition of the creation of Norway seems a natural outgrowth of the place, — the only way, in fact, of accounting for the lay of the land. The legend declares that Norway was made last, and in this wise: On the seventh day, while God was resting from his labors, the devil, full of spite at seeing so fair a world, hurled into the ocean a gigantic rock, — a rock so large that it threatened to break the axis of the universe. But the Lord seized it, and fixed it firm in place, with its myriad jutting points just above the waters. Between these points he scattered all the earth he had left; nothing like enough to cover the rock, or to make a respectable continent, — only just enough to redeem spots here and there, and give man a foot-hold on it. The fact that forty per cent. of the whole surface of Norway is over three thousand feet above the sea is certainly a corroboration of this legend.

This island fringe gives to the coast of Norway an indefinable charm, — the charm of endless maze, vista, expectation, and surprise ; lure, also, suggestion, dim hint, and reticent revelation, like a character one cannot fathom, and behavior one can never reckon on. Though the ship sail in and out of the labyrinths never so safely and quickly, fancy is always busy at deep-sea soundings; bewildered by the myriad shapes, and half conscious of a sort of rhythm in their swift, perpetual change, as if they, and not the ship, were gliding. The vivid verdure on them in spots has more the expression of something momentarily donned and worn than of a growth. It seems accidental and decorative, flung on suddenly; then, again, soft, thick, inexhaustible, as if the islands might be the tops of drowned forests.

Stavanger is one of the most ancient towns in Norway. It looks as if it were one of the most ancient in the world ; its very brightness, with its faded red houses, open windows, and rugged pavements, being like the color and smile one sees sometimes on a cheerful, wrinkled old face. The houses are packed close together, going up-hill as hard as they can ; roofs red tiled; gable ends red tiled, also, which gives a droll eyebrow effect to the ends of the houses, and helps wonderfully to show off pretty faces just beneath them, looking out of windows. All the windows open in the middle, outwards, like shutters ; and it would not be much risk to say that there is not a window-sill in all Stavanger without flowers. Certainly, we did not see one in a three hours’ ramble. From an old watch-tower, which stands on the top of the first sharp hill above the harbor, is a sweeping offlook, seaward and coastward, to north and south : long promontories, green and curving, with low red roofs here and there, shot up into relief by the sharp contrast of color ; bays of blue water breaking in between ; distant ranges of mountains glittering white; thousands of islands in sight at once. Stavanger’s approach strikes Norway’s key-note with a bold hand, and old Norway and new Norway meet in Stavanger’s market-place. An old cathedral, the oldest but one in the country, looks down a little inner harbor, where lie sloops loaded with gay pottery of shapes and colors copied from the latest patterns out in Staffordshire. These are made by peasants many miles away, on the shores of the fjords : bowls, jars, flower-pots, jugs, and plates, brown, cream-colored, red, and white ; painted with flowers, and decorated with Grecian and Etruscan patterns in simple lines. The sloop decks are piled high with them, — a gay show, and an odd enough freight to be at sea in a storm. The sailors’ heads bob up and down among the pots and pans, and the salesman sits flat on the deck, lost from view, until a purchaser appears. Miraculously cheap this pottery is, as well as fantastic of shape and color ; one could fit out his table, off one of these crockery sloops, for next to nothing. Along the wharves were market-stands of all sorts: old women selling fuchsias, myrtles, carrots and cabbages, and blueberries, all together; piles of wooden shoes, too, — clumsy things, hollowed out of a single chunk of wood, shaped like a Chinese junk keel, and coarsely daubed with black paint on the outside ; no heel to hold them on, and but little toe. The racket made by shuffling along on pavements in them is amazing, and “ down at the heel ” becomes a phrase of new significance, after one has heard the thing done in Norway.

Just outside the market-place we came upon our first cariole ; it was going by like the wind, drawn by a little Norwegian pony, which seemed part pincushion, part spaniel, part fat snowbird, and the rest pony, with a shoebrush, bristles up, for a mane. Such goodwill in his trot, and such a sense of honor and independence in the wriggle of his head, and such affectionateness all over him, no wonder the Norwegians love such a species of grown-up useful pet dogs. Hardy they are, and, if they choose, swift; obey voices better than whips, and would rather have bread than hay to eat, at any time of day. The cariole is a kind of compressed sulky, open, without springs ; the narrow seat, narrow even for one person, set high up on elastic wooden shafts, which rest on the axle-tree at the back, and on a sort of saddle piece in front. The horse is harnessed very’ far forward in the low thills, and has the direct weight on his shoulders. A queerer sight than such a vehicle as this, coming at a Norwegian pony’s best rate towards you, with a pretty Norwegian girl driving, and standing up on the cross-piece behind her a handsome Norwegian officer, with his plumed head above hers, bent a little to the right or left, and very close, lovers of human nature in picturesque situations need not wish to see. Less picturesque, and no doubt less happy for the time being, but no less characteristic, was the first family we saw in Stavanger taking an airing; a square wooden box for a wagon, — nothing more than a vegetable bin on wheels. This held two large milk cans, several bushels of cabbages, four children, and their mother. The father walked sturdily beside the wagon, his head bent down, like his pony’s ; serious eyes, a resolute mouth, and a certain look of unjoyous content marked him as a good specimen of the best sort of Norwegian peasant. The woman and the children wore the same look of unjoyous and unmirthful content ; silent, serious, satisfied, they all sat still among the cabbages. So solemn a thing is it to be born in latitude north. Had those cabbages grown in the Campagna, the man would have been singing, the woman laughing, and the young ones rolling about in the cart like kittens.

From Stavanger to Bergen is a half day’s sail: in and out among islands, promontories, inlets, rocks; now wide sea on one hand, and rugged shore on the other ; now a very archipelago of bits of land and stone flung about in chaotic confusion, on all sides. Many of the islands are nothing but low beds of granite, looking as if it were in flaky slices like mica, or else minutely roughened and stippled, as if it had cooled suddenly from a tremendous boil. Some of these islands have oases of green in them ; tiny red farm-houses, sunk in hollows, with narrow settings of emerald around them; hand’s-breadth patches of grain here and there, left behind as from some harvest, which the hungry sea is following after to glean. No language can describe the fantastic, elusive charm of this islet and roCklet universe : half sadness, half cheer, half lonely, half teeming, altogether brilliant and brimming with beauty; green land, gray rock, and blue water, surging, swaying, blending, parting, dancing together, in stately and contagious pleasure. On the north horizon rise grand snow-topped peaks; broad blue bays make up into the land walled by mountains ; snow fjelds and glaciers glitter in the distance; and waterfalls, like silver threads, shine from afar on the misty clouds. At every new turn is a hamlet or house, looking as if it Had just, crept into shelter ; one solitary boat moored at the base of its rock, often the only token of a link kept with the outer world.

The half day’s sail from Stavanger to Bergen is all like this, except that after one turns southward into the Bergen Fjord the mysterious islanded shores press closer, and the hill shores back of them rise higher, so that expectancy and wonder deepen moment by moment, till the moment of landing on Bergen’s water rim. “Will there be carriages at the wharf ? ” we had asked of the terrible stewardess who had tyrannized over our ship for two days, like a French Revolution fishwoman. “ Carriages ! ” she cried, with her arms akimbo. “ The streets in Bergen are so steep carriages can’t drive down them. The horses would tumble back on the carriage,” — a purely gratuitous fiction on her part, for what motive it is hard to conceive. But it much enhanced the interest with which we gazed at the rounding hills, slowly hemming us in closer and closer, and looking quite steep enough to justify the stewardess’s assertion. By clocks, it was ten o’clock at night; by sky, about dawn, or just after sunset; by air, atmosphere, light, no time which any human being ever heard named or defined. There is nothing in any known calendar of daylight, twilight, or nightlight which is like this Norway interval between two lights. It is weird, bewildering, disconcerting. You don’t know whether you are glad or sorry, pleased or scared; whether you really can see or not ; whether you’d better begin another day’s work at once, or make believe it is time to go to bed.

If somebody would invent a word which should bear the same interesting, specific, and intelligible relation to light and dark that “ amphibious ” does to land and water, it would be, in describing Norway twilight, of more use than all the rest of the English language put together. Perhaps the Norwegians have such a word. I think it highly probable they have, and I wish I knew it.

In this strange illuminated twilight, we landed on the silent Bergen wharf. The quay was in shadow of high warehouses. A few nonchalant and leisurely men and boys were ambling about ; custom-house men, speaking the jargon of their race, went through the farce of appearing to ransack our luggage. Our party seemed instantaneously to have disintegrated, in the half darkness, into odds and ends of unassorted boxes and people, and it was with gratitude as for a succession of interpositions of a superior and invincible power that we finally found ourselves together again in one hotel, and decided that, on the whole, it was best to go to bed, in spite of the light, because, as it was already near midnight, it would very soon be still lighter, and there would be no going to bed at all.

The next day, we began Bergen by driving out of it (a good way always, to begin a place). No going out of Bergen eastward or westward except straight up skyward, so steep are the slopes. Southward the country opens by gentler ascents, and pretty country houses are built along the road for miles, — all of wood, and of light colors, with much fantastic carving about them ; summerhouses perched on the terraces, among lime, birch, and ash trees. One which we saw was in octagon shape, and had the roof thick sodded with grass, which waved in the wind. The eight open spaces of the sides were draped with bright scarlet curtains, drawn away tight on each side, making a Gothic arch line of red at each opening. It looked like somebody’s gay palanquin set down to wait.

Our driver’s name was Nils. He matched it: short, sturdy, and good-natured ; red cheeks and shining brown eyes. His ponies scrambled along splendidly, and stopped to rest whenever they felt like it, — not often, to be sure, but they Had their own way whenever they did, and were allowed to stand still. Generally they put their heads down and started off of their own accord in a few seconds; occasionally Nils reminded them by a chuckle to go on.

There is no need of any society for the prevention of cruelty to animals in Norway. The Norwegian seems to be instinctively kind to all beasts of bondage. At the foot of steep hills is to be seen everywhere the sign, " Do not forget to rest the horses.” The noise Nils made when he wished to stop his ponies gave us a fright, the first time we heard it. It is the drollest sound ever invented for such a use: a loud call of rolling r’s ; an ingenious human parody on a watchman’s rattle ; a cross between a bellow and a purr. It is universal in Norway, but one can never become accustomed to it unless he has heard it from infancy up.

The wild and wooded country through which we drove was like parts of the northern hill country of New England: steep, stony hills ; nooks full of ferns ; bits of meadow in sunlight and shadow, with clover, and buttercups, and bluebells, and great mossy bowlders ; farmhouses snugged down in hollows to escape the wind ; lovely dark tarns, with pond-lilies afloat, just too far from the shore for arms to reach them. Only when we met people, or when the great blue fjord gleamed through the trees below us, did we know we were away from home. It is a glory when an arm of the sea reaches up into the heart of a hill country, so that men may sail to and from mountain bases. No wonder that the Vikings went forth with the passion of conquering, and yet forever returned and returned, with the passion of loving their " gamle Norge.”

When we came back to the inn, we were invited into the landlady’s own parlor, and there were served to us wine and milk and sweet tarts, in a gracious and simple hospitality. The landlady and her sister were beautiful old ladies, well past sixty, with skins like peaches, and bright eyes and quick smiles. High caps of white lace, trimmed with skyblue ribbons, and blue ostrich feathers laid on them like wreaths above the forehead, gave to their expression a sort of infantile elegance which was bewitching in its unworldliness ; small white shawls thrown over their shoulders, and reaching only just below the belt, like those worn by old Quaker women, corroborated the simplicity of the blue ribbons, and added to the charm. They had all the freshness and spotlessness of Quakers, with color and plumes added ; a combination surely unique of its kind. One of these old ladies was as gay a chatterer as if she were only seventeen. She had not one tooth in her mouth ; but her mouth was no more made ugly by the absence of teeth, as are most old women’s mouths, than a baby’s mouth is made ugly by the same lack. The lips were full and soft and red; her face was not wrinkled; and when she talked and laughed and nodded, the blue ostrich feathers bobbing above, she looked like some sort of miraculous baby, that had learned to talk before “ teething.”

Her niece, who was our only interpreter, and was too shy to use quickly and fluently even the English she knew, was in despair at trying to translate her.

“ it is too much, too much,” she said. “ I cannot follow ; I am too far behind,” and she laughed as heartily as her aunt. The old lady was brimful of stories : she had known Bergen, in and out, for half a century, and forgotten nothing. It was a great pleasure to set her going, and get at her narrative by peeps, as one sees a landscape through chinks in a fence, when one is whirling by in a railway train. One of her best stories was of “ the man who was brought back from the dead by coffee.”

It seemed that when she was young there lived in Bergen three old women, past whose house an eccentric old bachelor used to walk every day at a certain hour. When he came back from his walk, he always stopped at their house and drank a cup of coffee. This he had done for a great many years. “ He was their watch to tell the time by,” and when he first passed the house they began to make the coffee, that it should be ready on his return. At last he fell ill and died, and two of these old women were hired to sit up one night and watch the corpse. It is the custom in Norway to keep all dead bodies one week before burial, if not in the house where they have died, then in the chapel at the grave-yard. “ When we do die on a Wednesday, we shall not be buried till another Wednesday have come,” said the niece, explaining this custom.

These old women were sitting in the room with the corpse, talking and sipping hot coffee together, and saying how they should miss him ; that never more would he go by their house and stop to get his coffee.

“ At any rate, he shall taste the coffee once more,” said one of them, and she put a spoonful of the hot coffee into the corpse’s lips, at which the old gentleman stirred, drew a long breath, and began to lift himself up, upon which the women uttered such shrieks that the city watchman, passing by, broke quickly into the house, to see what was the matter. Entering the room, he found the watchers senseless on the floor, and the corpse sitting bolt upright in his coffin, looking around him, much bewildered. “ And he did live many years after that time, — many, many years. My aunt did know him well,” said the niece.

Other of her stories were of the sort common to the whole world, — stories of the love, sorrow, tragedy, mystery, which are inwoven in the very warp and woof of human life ; the same on the bleak North Sea coast as on bright Southern shores. It seemed, however, a little more desolate to have lived in the sunless North seventy years of such life as had been dealt to one Bergen woman, who had but just passed away. Seventy years she had lived in Bergen, the last thirty alone, with one servant. In her youth she had been beautiful; and when she was still little more than a child had come to love very dearly the eldest son in a neighbor’s house. Their parents were friends; the young people saw each other without restraint, familiarly, fondly, and a great love grew up between them. They were suffered to become betrothed, but for some unassigned reason their marriage was forbidden. For years they bore with strange patience their parents’ apparently capricious decision. At last the blow fell. One of the fathers, lying at the point of death, revealed a terrible secret. This faithful betrothed man and woman were own brother and sister. The shame of two homes, the guilt of two unsuspected wrong-doers, was told ; the mystery was cleared up, and more than one heart broken. Bitter as was the grief of the two betrothed, who could now never wed, there must have been grief still more terrible in the hearts of those long ago wedded, and so long deceived. The father died as soon as he had confessed the guilty secret. The young man left Norway, and died in some far country. The girl lived on, — lived to be seventy, — alone with her sorrow and disgrace.

Two other Bergen lovers had had better fate. Spite of fathers and mothers who had forbidden them to meet, it fell out for them to be safely married, one night, in the very teeth of the closest watching. The girl was permitted to go, under the escort of a faithful manservant, to a wedding dance at a friend’s house. The man-servant was ordered to stand guard at the door, till the dance was over ; if the lover appeared, the girl was to be instantly taken home. Strange oversight, for parents so much in earnest as that, to forget that houses have more than one door ! When the mirth was at its height, the girl stole away by the back door, and fled to her lover. At length the dance was over, and the guests were leaving; anxiously the faithful servitor, who had never once left the doorstep, looked for his young mistress. The last guest departed ; his mistress did not appear. In great terror he entered ; the house was searched in vain ; no one knew when she had taken her leave. Trembling, he ran back to the father with the unwelcome news; and both going in hot haste to the lover’s house, there they found the two young people sitting gay and happy over cake and wine, with the excellent clergyman who had that very hour made them man and wife.

The old lady had a firm and unalterable belief in ghosts, as indeed she had some little right to have, one was forced to admit, after hearing her stories. “ And could you believe that after a man is dead he should be seen again as if he were alive ? ” said the niece. “ My aunt is so sure, so sure she have seen such ; also my aunt’s sister, they did both did see him.”

At one time the two sisters hired a house in Bergen, and lived together. In one of the upper halls stood a small trunk, which had been left there by a sailor, in payment of a debt he had owed to the owner of the house. One day, in broad daylight, there suddenly appeared, before the younger sister, the shape of a man in sailor’s dress. He walked toward her, holding out a paper. She spoke to him wonderingly, asking what he wanted. At the sound of her voice he vanished into thin air. She fainted, and was for some weeks seriously ill. A few months later, the same figure appeared in the bedroom of the elder sister (the old lady who told these stories). He came in the night, and approached her bed holding out a white paper in his hands. “ My aunt say she could cut the shape in paper like the hat he wore on his head ; she did see it so plain to-day as she have seen it then, and it shall be fifty years since he did come by her bed. She was so scared she would not have the trunk of the sailor to stand in the house longer ; and after the trunk had gone away he did come no more to their house.”

Another instance of this ghost-seeing was truly remarkable, and not so easily explained by any freak of imagination. Walking, one day, in a public garden, with a friend, she saw coming down the path toward them a singular old woman in a white night-cap and short white bed-gown, — both very dirty. The old woman was tossing her arms in the air, and behaving so strangely that she thought she must be drunk, and turned laughingly to her friend, about to say,

“ What can be the matter with this old woman ? ” when, to her surprise, she saw her friend pale, fainting, ready to fall to the ground. She seized her in her arms, called for help, and carried her to a seat. On returning to consciousness, her friend exclaimed, “ It was my mother ! It was my mother ! ” The mother had been dead some months, had always worn in her illness this white cotton night-cap and short bedgown, and had been, it seemed, notoriously untidy.

“ Now my aunt did never see that old woman in all her life,” continued the niece. “ So what think you it was, in that garden, that both them did see the same thing at one time ? And my aunt’s friend she get so very sick after that, she were sick in bed for a long time. My aunt will believe always she did see the mother’s ghost; and she says she have seen a great many more that she never tells to anybody.”

All this ghost-seeing has not sobered or saddened the old lady a whit, and she looks the last person in the world to whom sentimental or mischief-making spirits would be likely to address themselves : but there is certainly something uncanny, to say the least of it, in these experiences of hers.

One of the most novel pleasures in Bergen is old-silver hunting. There are shops where old silver is to be bought in abundance and at dear prices: old belts, rings, slides, buttons, brooches, spoons, of quaint and fantastic styles, some of them hundreds of years old. But the connoisseur in old-silver hunting will not confine his search for treasures to the large shops on the thoroughfares. He will roam the city, keeping a sharp eye for little boxes tucked up on walls of houses, far down narrow lanes and byways, — little boxes with glass sides, and a silver spoon or two, or an old buckle or brooch, shining through. This is the sign that somewhere in that house he will come on a family that has tucked away in some closet a little box of old silver that they will sell. Often they are workers in silver in a small way ; have a counter in the front parlor, and a tiny work-room opening out behind, where they make thin silver spoons with twisted handles, and brooches with dangling disks and crosses, such as all the peasant women wear to-day, and a hundred years hence their grandchildren will be selling to English and American travelers as “ old silver.” The next century, however, will not gather such treasures as this one; there is no modern silver to compare with the ancient. It is marvelous to see what a wealth of silver the old Norwegians wore: buckles and belts which are heavy, buttons which weigh down any cloak, and rings under which nineteenth - century fingers, and even thumbs, would ache. And the farther back we go the weightier become the ornaments. In the Museum of Northern Antiquities in Copenhagen are necklaces of solid gold, which it seems certain that noble Norwegian women wore in King Olaf’s time,—necklaces in shape of a single snake, coiled, so heavy that they are not easily lifted in one hand ; bracelets, also of the same snake shape, which a modern wrist could not wear half an hour without pain.

In these out-of-the-way houses where old silver is to be bought one sees often picturesque sights. Climbing up a narrow stairway, perhaps two, you find a door with the upper half glass, through which you look instantly into the bosom of the family, — children playing, old ladies knitting, women cooking; it seems the last place in the world to come shopping; but at the first glimpse of the foreign face and dress through the window, somebody springs to open the door. They know at once what it means. You want no interpreter to carry on your trade : the words “ old silver ” and “ how much? ” are all you need. They will not cheat you. As you enter the room, every member of the family who is sitting will rise and greet you. The youngest child will make its little bow or courtesy. The box of old silver will be brought out and emptied on a table, and you may examine its miscellany as long as you like. If an article pleases you, and you ask its price, it is taken into the work-room to be weighed; a few mysterious Norsk words come hack from the weigher, and the price is fixed. If you hesitate at the sum, they will lower it if they can; if not, they will await your departure quietly, with a dignity of hospitable instinct that would deem it an offense to betray any impatience. I had once the good luck to find in one of these places a young peasant woman, who had come with her lover to bargain for the silver-and-gilt crown without which no virtuous Bergen bride will wed. These crowns are dear, costing often from fifty to a hundred dollars. Sometimes they are hired for the occasion ; but well-to-do families have pride in possessing a crown which is handed down and worn by generation after generation. These lovers were evidently not of the rich class : they wore the plainest of clothes, and it was easy to see that the prices of the crowns disquieted them. I made signs to the girl to try one of them on. She laughed, blushed, and shook her head. I pressed my entreaties as well as I could, being dumb; but “Oh, do!” is intelligible in all languages, if it is enforced by gesture and appealing look. The old man who had the silver to sell also warmly seconded my request, lifted the crown himself, and set it on the girl’s head. Turning redder and redder, she cried, “ Ne, ne ! ” but did not resist ; and once the crown was on her head she could not leave off looking at herself in the glass. It was a very pretty bit of human nature. The lover stole up close behind her, shy, but glowing with emotion, reached up, and just touched the crown timidly with one finger : so alike are men in love all the world over and all time through. The look that man’s face wore has been seen by the eyes of every wife since the beginning of Eden, and it will last the world out. I slipped away, and left them standing before the glass, the whole family crowding around with a chorus of approving and flattering exclamations. Much I fear she could not afford to buy the crown, however. There was a hopeless regret in her pretty blue eyes. As I left the house I stepped on juniper twigs at the very next door; the sidewalk and the street were strewn thick with them, the symbol of death either in that home, or among its friends. This is one of the most simple and touching of the Norwegian customs : how much finer in instinct and significance than the gloomy streamer of black crape used by the civilization calling itself superior!

The street was full of men and women going to and from the market-place : women with big wooden firkins strapped on their backs, and a firkin under each arm (these firkins were full of milk, and the women think nothingof bringing them in that way five or six miles) ; men with big sacks of vegetables strapped on in the same way, one above another, almost as high as their heads. One little girl, not nine years old, bore a huge basket of green moss, bigger than herself, lashed on her fragile shoulders. The better class brought their things in little two-wheeled carts, they themselves mounted up on top of sacks, firkins, and all; or, if the cart were too full, plodding along on foot by its side, just as bent as those who were carrying loads on their back. A Bergen peasant man or woman who stands upright is a rare thing to see. The long habit of carrying burdens on the back has given them a chronic stoop, which makes them all look far older than they are.

The sidewalks were lined with gay displays of fruit, flowers, and wooden utensils. Prettiest among these last were the bright wooden trunks and boxes which no Norwegian peasant will be without. The trunks are painted bright scarlet, with bands and stripes of gay colors ; small boxes to be carried in the hand, called tines (pronounced teeners), are charming. They are oval, with a high perch at each end like a squirrel trap ; are painted bright red, with wreaths of gay flowers on them, and mottoes such as “ Not in every man’s garden can such flowers grow,” or, “ A basket filled by love is light to carry.” Bowls, wooden plates, and drinking-vessels, all of wood, are also painted in gay colors and designs, many of which seem to have come from Algiers.

Everybody who can sell anything, even the smallest thing, runs, or stands, or squats in the Bergen streets to sell it. Even spaces under high doorsteps are apparently rented for shops, rigged up with a sort of door, and old women sit crouching in them, selling blueberries and dark bread. One man, clad in sheepskin that looked a hundred years old, I saw trying to sell a bit of sheep-skin nearly as old as that he was wearing; another had a basket with three bunches of wild monkshood, pink spiræa, and blue larkspur, and one small saucer full of wild strawberries; boys carrying one pot with a plant growing in it, or a tub of sour milk, or a string of onions, or bunch of juniper boughs ; women sitting on a small butter-tub upside down, their butter waiting sale around them in tubs or bits of newspaper, they knitting for dear life, or sewing patches on ragged garments ; other groups of women sitting flat on the stones, surrounded by piles of juniper, moss, green heath, and wreaths made of kinni-Kinnick vines, green moss, and yellow flowers. These last were for graves. The whole expression of the scene was of dogged and indomitable thriftiness, put to its last wits to turn a penny and squeeze out a living. Yet nobody appeared discontented ; the women looked friendly, as I passed, and smiled as they saw me taking out my note-book to write them down.

The Bergen fish-market is something worth seeing. It isn’t a market at all ; or, rather, it is a hundred markets afloat and bobbing on water, a hundred or more little boats all crowded in together in an armlet of the sea breaking up between two quays. To see the best of it one must be there betimes in the morning, not later than seven. The quays will be lined with women, each woman carrying a tin coal-scuttle on her arm, to take home her fish in. From every direction women are coming running with tin scuttles swinging on their arms; in Bergen, fish is never carried in any other way. The narrow span of water between the quays is packed as close as it can be with little boats shooting among the sloops and jagts, all pushing up to the wharf. The steps leading down to the water are crowded with gesticulating women ; screaming and gesticulating women hang over the railings above, beckoning to the fishermen, calling to them, reaching over and dealing them sharp whacks with their tin scuttles, if they do not reply. “ Fisherman ! I say, fisherman ! Do you hear me or not ? ” they shout. Then they point to one particular fish, and insist on having it handed up to them to examine ; if it does not please them, they fling it down with a jerk, and ask for another. The boats were full of fish : silver-skinned herring, mackerel, salmon, eels, and a small fish like a perch, but of a gorgeous dark red color; others vermilion and white, or iridescent opal, blue, and black; many of them writhing in death, and changing color each second. Every few minutes a new’ boat would appear darting in, wriggling its way where it had seemed not one boat more could come; then a rush of the women to see what the new boat had brought, a fresh outburst of screams and gesticulations; then a lull and a sinking back to the noisy monotone of the previous chaffering. Some of the boats were rowed by women, — splendid creatures, in gay red bodices and white head-dresses, standing with one foot on the seat, and sculling their little craft in and out, dexterously shoving everybody to make way. On the wharf were a few dealers with stands and baskets of fish ; these were for the poorer people. “ Fish that have died do be to be bought there,” said my guide, with a shudder and an expressive grimace, “ for very little money ; it is the poor that take.” Here were also great tubs of squirming eels, alive in every inch from tip to tip. “ Too small to cook,” said one woman, eying them contemptuously ; and in a twinkling she thrust her arm into the squirming mass, grasped a dozen or more at once, lifted them out and flirted them into the seller’s face, then letting them fall back with a splash into the tub, “ H’m, pretty eels those are ! ” she said. “ Put them back into the water with their mothers:” at which a great laugh went up, and the seller muttered something angrily which my guide would not translate for me.

On our way home I stopped to look at a group of peasant women in gay costumes. Two of them were from the Hardanger country, and wore the beautiful white head-dress peculiar to that region : a large triangular piece of fine crimped dimity pinned as closely as a Quaker cap around the face ; the two corners then rolled under and carried back over a wooden frame projecting several inches on each side the head; the central point hanging down behind, over the shoulders, — by far the most picturesque of all the Norwegian headdresses. A gentleman passing by, seeing my interest in these peasant dresses, spoke to the friend who was with me, whom he knew slightly, and said that if the American lady would like to examine one of those peasant costumes he had one which he would be happy to show to me.

The incident is worth mentioning as a fair illustration of the quick, ready, and cordial good-will of which Norwegians are full. Is there any other country in the world where a man would take that sort and amount of trouble for a chance traveler, of whom he knew nothing ?

This Norwegian led us to his house, and opened two boxes in which were put away the clothes of his wife, who had been dead two years. This peasant costume which he showed to us she had had made to wear to the last ball she had attended. It was a beautiful costume ; strictly national and characteristic, and made of exquisite materials. The belt was of silver-gilded links, with jewels set in them; the buttons for wrists and throat of the white blouse were of solid silver, with gold Maltese crosses hanging from them; the brooches and vest ornaments the same ; the stomacher of velvet, embroidered thick with beads and gold ; the long white apron with broad lace let in. All were rich and beautiful. It was strange to see the dead woman’s adornments thus brought out for a stranger to admire; but it was done with such simplicity and kindliness that it was only touching, as no shadow of disrespect was in it. I felt instantly, like a friend, reverent toward the relics of the woman I had never seen.

One of our pleasantest Bergen days was a day that wound up with a sunset picnic on the banks of a stray bit of sea, which had gone so far on its narrow roadway east, among hill and meadow and rock, that it was like an inland lake; and the track by which its tides slipped back and forth looked at sunset like little more than a sunbeam, broader and brighter than the rest which were slanting across. We had come to it by several miles’ driving to the north and east, over steep and stony hills, up which the road wound in loops, zigzagging back and forth, with superb views out seaward at every turn ; at the top, another great sweep of view away from the sea, past a desolate lake and stony moor, to green hills and white mountains in the east. We seemed above everything except the snow-topped peaks. At our feet, to the west, lay the little sunny fjord; green meadows and trees and a handful of houses around it; daisies and clover and tangles of potentilla by (lie roadside; clumps of ragged robin also, which goes better named in Norway, being called “silken blossom;” mountain ash, larch, maple, and ash trees ; bowlders of granite covered with mosses and lichens, bedded on every side, — it was as winning a spot as sun and sea and summer could make anywhere. On the edge of the fjord, lifted a little above it, as on a terrace, was a small white cottage, with a bit of garden, inclosed by white palings, running close to the water. Roses, southernwood, currants, lilacs, cherry-trees, potatoes, and primroses filled it full. We leaned over the paling and looked. An old woman, with knitting in her hand, came quickly out, and begged us to come in and take some flowers. No sooner had we entered the garden than a second old woman came hurrying with scissors to cut the flowers ; and in a second more a third old woman with a basket to hold them. It was not easy to stay their hands. Then, nothing would do but we must go into the house and sit down, and see the brothers: two old men, one a clergyman, the other stone blind. “ I can English read in my New Testament,” said the clergyman, “ but I cannot understand.”“Yes, to be sure,” said the blind brother, echoing him. And it was soon evident to us that it was not only sight of which the old man had been bereft; his wits were gone too ; all that he could do now was to echo in gentle iteration every word that his brother or sisters said. “Yes, to be sure,” was his instantaneous comment on every word spoken. “ I think they are all just a little crazy. I am more happy now that we are away,” said my friend, as we departed with our roses. “I do know I have heard that to be crazy is in that family.” Crazy or not, they were a very happy family on that sunny terrace, and sane enough to have chosen the loveliest spot to live in within ten miles of Bergen.

Another of our memorable Bergen days was marked by a true Norwegian dinner in a simple Bergen home. “ The carriage that shall take you will come at six,”the hostess had said. Punctual to the hour it came ; red-cheeked Nils and the cheery little ponies. On the threshold we were met by the host and hostess, both saying, “ Welcome.” As soon as we took our seats at table a toast was offered : “ Welcome to the table ” ( Welkommen tilbords). The meal was, as we had requested, a simple Norwegian dinner. First, a soup, with balls made of chicken : the meat scraped fine while it is raw; then pounded to a paste with cream in a marble mortar, the cream added drop by drop, as oil is added to salad dressing ; this, delicately seasoned, made into small round balls and cooked in the boiling soup, had a delicious flavor, and a consistency which baffled all our conjecture. Next came salmon, garnished with shreds of cucumber, and with clear melted butter for sauce. Next, chickens stuffed tight with green parsley, and boiled; with these were brought vegetables, raspberry jam, and stewed plums, all delicious. Next, a light omelet, baked in a low oval tin pan, in which it was brought to the table, the pan concealed in a frame of stiff white dimity with a broad frill embroidered in red. Cheese and many other dishes are served in this way in Norway, adorned with petticoats, or frills of embroidered white stuffs. With this omelet were eaten cherry sweetmeats, with which had been cooked all the kernels from the cracked stones, giving a rare flavor and richness to the syrup. After this, nuts, coffee, and cordials. When the dinner was over, the host and the hostess stood in the doorway, one on either hand ; as we passed between them, they bowed to each one, saying, “ God be with you.” It is the custom of each guest to say, “ Tak fur maden ” (Thanks for the meal). After dinner our hostess played for us Norwegian airs, wild and tender, and at ten o’clock came Nils and the ponies to take us home.

The next day the jagts came in, a sight fine enough to stir one’s blood ; ten of them sailing into harbor in line, the same as they sailed in Olaf’s day, — their prows curling upward, as if they stepped high on the waters from pride, and their single great square sail set on their one mast doggedly across their decks, as if they could compel winds’ courses to suit them. They had been only four days running down from Heligoland, ahead of a fierce north wind, which had not so much as drawn breath even night or day, but blown them down flying. A rare piece of luck for the jagts to hit such a wind as that : when the wind faces them, they are sometimes four weeks on the way ; for their one great stolid sail amidships, which is all very well with the wind behind it, is no kind of a sail to tack with, or to make headway on a quartering wind. The Vikings must have had a hard time of it, often, manœuvring their stately craft in Mediterranean squalls, and in the Bay of Biscay. One of these jagts bore a fine scarlet silk flag with a yellow crown on it. It was called the king’s jagt, because, a year ago, the king had visited it, spent some time on board, and afterward sent this flag as a gift to the captain. We hired an old boatman to row us alongside, and clambered on board up a swinging ladder ; then up another ladder, still longer, to the top of the square mountain of salt cod-fish which filled three fourths of the deck. Most of it was to go to Spain, the skipper said, — to Spain and the Mediterranean. “ It was well for Norway that there were so many Roman Catholic countries : ” no danger of an overstock of the fish market in Europe so long as good Catholics keep Lent every spring and Fridays all the year round. If the Catholics were to be converted, Norway would be plunged into misery. One tenth of her.whole population live off, if not on, fish ; the value of the fisheries is reckoned at over ten millions of dollars a year. Not a fish goes free on the Norway coast. Even the shark has to give up his liver for oil, from which item alone the Norwegians get about a half million of dollars yearly. The herring, shining, silvery, slippery fellows that they are, are the aristocrats of the Norway waters ; the cod is stupid, stays quietly at home on his banks, breeds and multiplies, and waits to be caught year after year in the same places. But the herring shoals are off and on, at capricious pleasure, now here, now there, and to be watched for with unremitting vigilance. Kings’ squadrons might come to Norway with less attention than is given to them. Flash, flash, flash, by electric telegraph from point to point all along the Norway shore, is sent like lightning the news of the arrival of their majesties the herring.

Our boatman rowed us across the harbor to the landing at the foot of the market-place. Climbing the steep hill, so steep that the roadway for vehicles zigzags five times across it between bottom and top, we looked back. Four more of the jagts were coming in, — colors flying, sails taut; six more were in sight, it was said, farther out in the fjord. The harbor was crowded with masts; the gay-colored houses and red roofs and gables of the city on the east side of the harbor stood out in relief against the gray, stony background of the high hill to which they cling. The jagts seemed to change the atmosphere of the whole scene, and set it three centuries back. In the sunset light, they looked as fine and fierce as if they had just brought Sigurd home from Jerusalem.

Another memorable Bergen day was a day at Valestrand, on the island Osteroën. Valestrand is a farm which has been in the possession of Ole Bull’s family for several generations, and is still in the possession of Ole Bull’s eldest son. It lies two hours’ sail north from Bergen, — two hours, or four according to the number of lighters loaded with cotton bales, wood, etc., which the steamer picks up to draw. Steamers on Norway fjords are like country gentlemen who go into the ctiy every day and come out at night, always doing unexpected errands for people along the road. No steamer captain going out from Bergen may say how many times he will stop on his journey, or at what hour he will reach its end : all of which is clear profit for the steamboat company, no doubt, but is worrying to travelers ; especially to those who leave Bergen of a morning at seven, as we did, invited to breakfast at Valestrand at nine, and do not see Osteroën’s shore till near eleven. People who were not going to Valestrand to breakfast that day were eating breakfast on board, all around us : poor people eating cracknels and dry bread out of baskets; well-to-do people eating sausage, eggs, and coffee, neatly served at little tables on deck, and all prepared in a tiny coop below-stairs, hardly big enough for one person to turn around in. It is an enticing sight always for hungry people to see eating going on ; up to a certain point it whets appetite, but beyond that it is both insult and injury.

The harbor of Valestrand is a tiny amphitheatre of shallow water. No big craft can get to the shore. As the steamer comes to a stop opposite it, the old home of Ole Bull is seen on a slope at the head of the harbor, looking brightly out over a bower of foliage to the southern sun. It appears to be close to the water, but, on landing, one discovers that he is still a half hour’s walk away from it. A little pathway of mossy stones, past an old boat-house, on whose thatched roof flowering grasses and a young birch-tree were waving, leads up from the water to the one road on the island. Wild pansies, white clover and dandelions, tinkling water among ferns and mosses, along the roadsides, made the way beautiful; low hills rose on either side, softly wooded with firs and birches feathery as plumes ; in the meadows peasant men and women making bay, — the women in red jackets and white blouses, a delight to the eye. Just in front of the house is a small, darkly shaded lake, in which there is a mysterious floating island, which moves up and down at pleasure changing its moorings often.

The house is wooden, and painted of a pale flesh color. The architecture is of the light and fantastic order of which so much is to be seen in Norway, — the instinctive reaction of the Norwegian against the sharp, angular, severe lines of his rock-made, rock-bound country ; and it is vindicated by the fact that fantastic carvings, which would look trivial and impertinent on houses in countries where nature herself had done more decorating, seem here pleasing and in place. Before the house were clumps of rose-bushes in blossom, and great circles of blazing yellow eschscholtzias. In honor of our arrival, every room had been decorated with flowers and ferns ; and clumps of wild pansies in bloom had been set along the steps to the porch. Ole Bull’s own chamber and music-room are superb rooms, finished in yellow pine, with rows of twisted and carved pillars, and carved cornices and beams and panels, all done by Norwegian workmen.

Valestrand was his home for many years, abandoned only when he found one still more beautiful on the island of Lysoen, sixteen miles southwest of Bergen.

A Norwegian supper of trout freshly caught, and smothered in cream, croquettes, salad, strawberries, goat’s-milk cheese, with fine - flavored gooseberry wine, served by a Norwegian maid in a white-winged head-dress, scarlet jacket, and stomacher of gay beads, closed our day. As we walked back to the little moss-grown wharf, we found two peasants taking trout from the brook. Just where it dashed foaming under a little foot-bridge, a stake-lined box trap had been plunged deep in the water. As we were passing, the men lifted it out, dripping, ten superb trout dashing about wildly in it, in terror and pain ; the scarlet spots on their sides shone like garnet crystals in the sun, as the men emptied them on the ground, and killed them, one by one, by knocking their heads against a stone with a sharp, quick stroke, which could not have been so cruel as it looked.

On our way back to Bergen we passed several little row-boats, creeping slowly along, loaded high with juniper boughs. They looked like little green islands broken loose from their places, and drifting out to sea.

“For somebody’s sorrow!” we said thoughtfully, as we watched them slowly fading from sight in the distance ; but we did not dream that in so few days the green boughs would have been strewn for the burial of the beloved musician whose home we had just left.

The day of the burial of Ole Bull is a day that will never be forgotten in Bergen. From mothers to children and to children’s children will go down the story of the day when from every house in Bergen Norway’s flag floated at half-mast, because Ole Bull was dead, and the streets of Bergen for two miles — all the way from the quay to the cemetery — were strewn with green juniper boughs, for the passage of the procession bearing his body in sad triumph to the grave. It must have been a touching sight. Early in the morning a steamer had gone down to Lysoen to receive the body. This steamer on entering the Bergen Fjord was met by fifteen others, all draped in black, to act as its convoy. As the fleet approached the harbor, guns fired from the fort, and answered by the steamers, made peals of echoes rolling away gloriously among the hills. The harbor was crowded with shipping from all parts of the world; every vessel’s flag was at half-mast. The quay was covered thick with green juniper, and festoons of green draped its whole front to the very water’s edge. Every shop and place of business was shut; the whole population of the city stood waiting, silent, reverent, for the landing of the dead body of the artist who had loved Norway even as well as he loved the art to which his heart and life had been given. While the body was borne from the boat and placed in the high catafalque, a band played national airs of his arranging. Young girls dressed in black bore many of the trophies which had been given to him in foreign countries. His gold crown and orders were carried by distinguished gentlemen of Bergen. As the procession passed slowly along, flowers were showered on the coffin, and tears were seen on many faces, but the silence was unbroken.

At the grave, Norway’s greatest orator and poet, Björnstjerne Björnson, spoke a few words of eloquent love and admiration. The grave was made on a commanding spot in the centre of Bergen’s old cemetery, in which interments had been forbidden for many years. This spot, however, had been set apart more than thirty years ago, to be reserved for the interment of some great man. It had been refused to the father and framer of the Norwegian constitution, Christie, whose statue stands in Bergen, but it was offered for Ole Bull; so much more tenderly does the world love artists than statesmen ! The grave was lined with flowers and juniper, and juniper and flowers lay thick strewn on the ground for a great space about. After the coffin had been put in the grave, and the relatives had gone away, there was paid a last tribute to Ole Bull, — a tribute more touching and of more worth than the king’s letter, the gold crown, all the orders, and the flags of the world at half-mast; meaning more love than the pine-strewn streets of the silent city, and the tears on its people’s faces; a tribute from poor peasants, who had come in from the country far and near, men who knew Ole Bull’s music by heart, — who, in their lonely, poverty-stricken huts, had been proud of the man who had played their " Gamle Norge ” before the kings of the earth. These men were there by hundreds, each bringing a green bough, or a fern, or a flower ; they waited humbly till all others had left the grave, then crowded up, and threw in, each man, the only token he had been rich enough to bring. The grave was filled to the brim. And it is not irreverent to say, that to Ole Bull, in heaven, there could come no gladder memory of earth than that the last honors paid him there were wild leaves and flowers of Norway, laid on his body by the loving hands of Norway peasants.

H. H.