Four Days With Sanna

A PAIR of eyes too blue for gray, too gray for blue; brown hair as dark as hair can be, being brown and not black ; a face fine without beauty, gentle but firm ; a look appealing, and yet full of a certain steadfastness, which one can see would be changed to fortitude at once, if there were need; a voice soft, low, and of a rich fullness, in which even Norwegian “ sks ” flow melodiously and broken English becomes music, — this is a little, these are a few features, of the portrait of Sanna, all that can be told to any one not knowing Sanna herself. And to those who do know her it would not occur to speak of the eyes, or the hair, or the shy, brave look ; to speak of her in description would be lost time and a half-way impertinence ; she is simply “ Sanna.”

When she said she would go with me and show me two of the most beautiful fjords of her country, her beloved Norway, I found no words in which to convey my gladness. He who journeys in a foreign country whose language he does not know is in sorrier plight for the time being than one born a deaf-mute. Deprived all of a sudden of his two chief channels of communication with his fellows, cut off in an hour from all which he has been wont to gain through his ears and express by his tongue, there is no telling his abject sense of helplessness. The more he has been accustomed to free intercourse, exact replies, ready compliance, and full utterance among his own people, the worse off he feels himself now. It is ceaseless humiliation added to perpetual discomfort. And the more novel the country, and the greater his eagerness to understand all he sees, the greater is his misery; the very things which, if he were not this pitiful deaf-mute, would give him his best pleasures are turned into his chief torments ; even evident friendliness on the part of those he meets becomes as irritating a misery as the sound of waterfalls in the ears of Tantalus. Nowhere in the world can this misery of unwilling dumbness and deafness be greater, I think, than it is in Norway. The evident good-will and readiness to talk of the Norwegian people are as peculiarly their own as are their gay costumes and their flowerdecked houses. Their desire to meet you half way is so great that they talk on and on, in spite of the palpable fact that not one word of all they say conveys any idea to your mind; and at last, when your despair has become contagious, and they accept the situation as hopeless, they seize your hand in both of theirs, and pressing it warmly let it fall with a smile and a shake of the head, which speak volumes of regret both for their own loss and for yours.

It took much planning to contrive what we could best do in the four days which were all that we could have for our journey. The comings and goings of steamboats on the Norway fjords, their habits in the matter of arriving and departing, the possibilities and impossibilities of carioles, caleches, peasant carts and horses, the contingencies and

uncertainties of beds at inns, — all these things taken together, make any programme of journeying, in any direction in Norway, an aggregate of complications, risks, and hindrances enough to deter any but the most indomitable lovers of nature and adventure. Long before it was decided which routes promised us most between a Saturday afternoon and the next Wednesday night, I had abandoned all effort to grapple understandingly with the problems, and left the planning entirely to my wiser and more resolute companion. Each suggestion that I made seemed to involve us in deeper perplexities. One steamer would set off at three in the morning; another would arrive at the same hour ; a third would take us over the most beautiful parts of a fjord in the night; on a fourth route nothing in the way of vehicles could be procured, except the peasant’s cart, a thing in which no human being not born a Norwegian peasant can drive for half a day without being shaken to a jelly ; on a fifth we should have to wait three days for a return boat; on another it was unsafe to go without having received beforehand the promise of a bed, the accommodations for travelers being so scanty. The old puzzle of the fox and the goose and the corn is an a b c in comparison with the dilemma we were in. At last, when I thought I had finally arranged a scheme which would enable us to see two of the finest of the fjords within our prescribed time, a scheme which involved spending a day and a night in the little town of Gudvangen, in the valley of Nerodal, Sanna exclaimed, shuddering, “ We cannot! we cannot ! The mountains are over us. We can sleep at Gudvangen ; but a whole day ? No ! You shall not like a whole day at Gudvangen. The mountains are so” — and she finished her sentence by another shudder and a gesture of cowering, which were more eloquent than words. So the day at Gudvangen was given up, and it was arranged that we were to wait one day at some other point on the road, wherever it might seem good, and upon no account come to Gudvangen for anything more than to take the steamer away from it.

The heat of a Bergen noon is like a passing smile on a stern face. It was cold at ten, and it will be cold again long before sunset; you have your winter wrap on your arm, and you dare not be separated from it, but the midday glares at and down on you, and makes the wrap seem not only intolerable but incongruous. As we drove to the steamer at twelve o’clock, with furtrimmed wraps and heavy rugs filling the front seat of the carriage, and our faces flushed with heat, I said, “ What an absurd amount of wraps for a midsummer journey! I have a mind to let Nils carry back this heavy rug.”

“ I think you shall be very glad if you have it,” remarked Sanna. “ Oh !” she exclaimed with a groan, “ there is Bob ! ”

Bob is Sanna’s dog, — a small black spaniel, part setter, with a beautiful head and eye, and a devotion to his mistress which lovers might envy. Never, when in her presence, does he remove his eyes from her for many minutes. He either revolves restlessly about her like an alert scout, or lays himself down with a sentry-like expression at her feet.

“ Oh, what is to do with Bob? ” she continued, gazing helplessly at me. The rascal was bounding along the road, curveting, and wagging his tail, and looking up at us with an audacious leer on his handsome face. “He did understand perfectly that he should not come,” said Sanna; hearing which, Bob hung back, behind the carriage.

“ Nils must carry him back,” I said. Then, relenting, seeing the look of distress on Sanna’s face, I added, “ Could we not take him with us ? ”

“Oh, no, it must be impossible,” she replied. “ It is for the lambs. He does drive them and frighten them. He must stay, but we shall have trouble.”

Fast the little Norwegian ponies clattered down to the wharf. No Bob. As we went on board he was nowhere to be seen. Anxiously Sanna searched for him, to give him into Nils’s charge. He was not to be found. The boat began to move. Still no Bob. We settled ourselves comfortably ; already the burdensome rug was welcome. “ I really think Bob must have missed us in the crowd,” I said.

“ I do not know, I do not think,” replied Sanna, her face full of perplexity. “ Oh ! ” with a cry of dismay. “ He is here ! ”

There he was ! Abject, nearly dragging his body on the deck like a snake, his tail between his legs, fawning, cringing, his eyes fixed on Sanna, he crawled to her feet. Only his eyes told that he felt any emotion except remorse ; they betrayed him ; their expression was the drollest I ever saw on a dumb creature’s face. It was absurd ; it was impossible, incredible, if one had not seen it; as plainly as if words had been spoken, it avowed the whole plot, the distinct exultation in its success. “ Here I am,” it said, “ and I know very well that now the steamer has begun to move you are compelled to take me with you. My heart is nearly broken with terror and grief at the thought of your displeasure, but all the same I can hardly contain myself for delight at having outwitted you so completely.” All this while he was wriggling closer and closer to her feet, watching her eye, as a child watches its mother’s, for the first show of relenting. Of course we began to laugh. At the first beginning of a smile in Sanna’s eyes, he let his tail out from between his legs, and began to flap it on the deck ; as the smile broadened, he gradually rose to his feet; and by the time we had fairly burst into uncontrolled laughter, he was erect, gamboling around us like a kid, and joining in the chorus of our merriment by a series of short, sharp yelps of delight, which, being interpreted, would doubtless have been something like, “Ha, ha! Beat ’em, and they’re not going to thrash me, and I’m booked for the whole journey now, spite of fate ! Ha, ha ! ” Then he stretched himself at our feet, laid his nose out flat on the deck, and went to sleep as composedly as if he had been on the hearth rug at home ; far more composedly than he would had he dreamed of the experiences in store for him.

“ Poor Bob ! ” said Sanna. “ It must be that we shall send him back by the steamer.” Poor Bob, indeed ! Long before we reached our first landing, Bob was evidently sea-sick. The beautiful water of the great Hardanger Fjord was as smooth as an inland lake; changing from dark and translucent green in the narrowing channels, where the bold shores came so near together that we could count the trees, to brilliant and sparkling blue in the wider opens. But little cared Bob for the beauty of the water ; little did it comfort him that the boat glided as gently as is possible for a boat to move. He had never been on a boat before, and did not know it was smooth. Piteously he roamed about, from place to place, looking off; then he would come aud stand before Sanna, quivering in every fibre, and looking up at her with sorrowful appeal in his eyes. His thoughts were plainly written in his countenance now, as before; but nobody could have had the heart to laugh at him. Poor fellow ! He was not the first creature that has been bowed down by the curse of a granted prayer.

Presently there came a new trouble. All along the Hardanger Fjord are little hamlets and villages and clusters of houses, tucked in in nooks among rocks and on rims of shore at the base of the high, stony walls of mountains, and snugged away at the heads of inlets. Many of these are places of summer resort for the Bergen people, who go out of town into the country in summer, I fancy, somewhat as the San Francisco people do, not to find coolness, but to find warmth; for the air in these sheltered nooks and inlets of the fjords is far softer than it is in Bergen, which has the strong sea wind blowing in its teeth all the while. On Saturdays the steamers for the Hardanger country are crowded with Bergen men going out to spend the Sunday with their families or friends who are rusticating at these little villages. At many of these spots there is no landing except by small boats, and it was one of the pleasantest features of the sail, the frequent pausing of the steamer off some such nook, and the putting out of the rowboats to fetch or to carry passengers. They would row alongside, half a dozen at a time, bobbing like corks, and the agile Norwegians would skip in and out of and across them as deftly as if they were stepping on firm floor. The Norwegian peasant is as at home in a boat as a snail in his shell ; women as well as men, they row, stand, leap, gesticulate, lift burdens, with only a rocking plank between their feet and fathomless water, and never seem to know that they are not on solid ground. In fact, they are far more graceful afloat than on ground: on the land they shuffle and walk in a bent and toil-worn attitude, the result of perpetual carrying of loads on their backs ; but they bend to their oars with ease and freedom, and wheel, and turn, and shoot, and back their little skiffs with a dexterity which leaves no room for doubt that they can do anything they choose on water. It would not have astonished me, any day, to see a Norwegian coming towards me in two boats at once, one foot in each boat, walking on the water in them, as a man walks on snow in snow-shoes. I never did see it, but I am sure they could do it.

When these boats came alongside, Bob peered wistfully over the railings, but did not offer to stir. The connection between this new variety of watercraft and terra firma he did not comprehend. But at the first landing which we reached, he gazed for a moment intently, and then bounded forward like a shot, across the gangway, in among the crowd on the wharf, in a twinkling.

“ Oh ! ” shrieked Sanna, “ Bob is on shore ! ” and she rushed after him, and brought him back, crest-fallen. But he had learned the trick of it; and after that, his knack at disappearing some minutes before we came to a wharf — thereby luring us into a temporary forgetfulness of him — and then, when we went to seek him, making himself invisible among the people going on shore was something so uncanny that my respect for him fast deepened into an awe which made an odd undercurrent of anxiety, mingling with my enjoyment of the beauties of the fjord. It was strange, while looking at grand tiers of hills rising one behind the other, with precipitous fronts, the nearer ones wooded, the farther ones bare and stony, sometimes almost solid rock, walling the beautiful green and blue water as if it had been a way hewn for it to pass ; shining waterfalls pouring down from the highest summits, straight as a beam of light, into the fjord, sometimes in full torrents dazzling bright, sometimes in single threads as if of raveled cloud, sometimes in a broken line of round disks of glittering white on the dark green, the course of the water in the intervals between being marked only by a deeper green and a sunken line in the foliage,— it was strange, side by side with the wonder at all this beauty, to be wondering to one’s self also what Bob would do next. But so it was hour by hour, all of our way up the Hardanger Fjord, till we came, in the early twilight at half past ten o’clock, to Eide, our journey’s end. The sun had set — if in a Norway summer it can ever be truly said to set — two hours before, and in its slow sinking had turned the mountains, first pink, then red, then to an opaline tint, blending both pink and red with silver gray and white ; all shifting and changing so fast that the mountains themselves seemed to be quivering beneath. Then, of a sudden, they lost color and turned gray and dark blue. Belts and downstretching lines of snow shone out sternly on their darkened summits; a shadowy half moon rose above them in the southeast, and the strange luminous night lit up the little hamlet of Eide, almost light like day, as we landed.

At first sight Eide looked as if the houses, as well as the people, had just run down to the shore to meet the boat: from the front windows of the houses one might easily look into the cabin windows of the boat; so narrow strips of shore do the mountain walls leave sometimes along these fjords, and such marvelous depth of water do the fjords bring to the mountains’ feet.

“ Have you written for rooms? Where are you going ? There is n’t a bed in Eide,” were the first words that greeted us from some English people who had left Bergen days before, and whom we never expected to see again. The disappearing, reappearing, and turning up of one’s traveling acquaintances in Norway is one of the distinctive experiences of the country. The chief routes of tourist travel are so involved with each other, and so planned for exchange, interchange, and succession of goers and comers, that the perpetual rencontres of chance acquaintances are amusing. It is like a performance of the figures of a country dance on a colossal scale, so many miles to a figure; and if one sits down quietly at any one of the large inns, for a week, the great body of Norway tourists for that week will be pretty sure to pass under his inspection.

At Holt’s, in Bergen, one sees, say forty travelers, at breakfast, any morning. Before supper at eight in the evening these forty have gone their ways, and a second forty have arrived, and so on ; and wherever he goes during the following week he will meet detachments of these same bands : each man sure that he has just done the one thing best worth doing, and done it in the best way; each eloquent in praise or dispraise of the inns, the roads, and the people, and ready with his “ Oh, but you must be sure to see ” this, that, or the other.

There were those who sat up all night in Eide, that night, for want of a bed ; but Bob and we were well lodged in a pretty bedroom, with two windows white curtained and two beds white ruffled to the floor, on which were spread rugs of black-and-white goat skins edged with coarse home-made blue flannel. In the parlor and the dining-room of the little inn, carved book-cases, and pipe-cases hung on the walls ; ivies trained everywhere ; white curtains, a piano, blackworsted-covered high-backed chairs, spotless table linen, and old silver gave an air of old-fashioned refinement to the rooms, which was a surprise.

The landlady wore the peasant’s costume of the Hardanger country: the straight black skirt to the ankles, long white apron, sleeveless scarlet jacket, with a gay beaded stomacher over a full white blouse, shining silver ornaments at throat and wrists, and on her head the elegant and dignified head-dress of fine crimped white lawn, which makes the Hardanger wives by far the most picturesque women to be seen in all Norway.

At seven in the morning a young peasant girl opened our bedroom door cautiously to ask if we would have coffee in bed. Bob flew at her with a fierce yelp, which made her retreat hastily, and call for protection. Being sharply reproved by Sanna, Bob stood doggedly defiant in the middle of the floor, turning his reproachful eyes from her to the stranger, and back again, plainly saying, “ Ungrateful one ! How should I know she was not an enemy ? That is the way enemies approach.” The girl wore the peasant maiden’s dress : a short black skirt bound with scarlet braid, sewed to a short sleeveless green jacket, which was little wider than a pair of suspenders between the shoulders behind. Her full, long-sleeved white blouse came up high in the throat, and was fastened there by two silver buttons with Maltese crosses hanging from them by curiously twisted chains. Her yellow hair was braided in two thick braids, and wound tight round her head like a wreath. She had a fair skin, tender, honest blue eyes, and a face serious enough for a Madonna ; but she laughed when she brought us the eggs for our breakfast, kept warm in many folds of linen napkin held down by a great motherly hen of gray china with a red crest on its head.

The house was a small white cottage; at the front door a square porch, large enough to hold two tables and seats for a dozen people ; opposite this a vinewreathed arch and gate led into a garden, at the foot of which ran a noisy little river. An old bent peasant woman was always going back and forth between the house and the river, carrying water in two pails hung from a yoke on her shoulders. A bit of half-mowed meadow joined the garden. It had been mowed at intervals, a little piece at a time, so that the surface was a patchwork of different shades of green. The hay was hung out to dry on short lines of fence here and there. Grass is always dried in this way in Norway, and can hang on the fences for two weeks and not be hurt, even if it is repeatedly wet by rain. One narrow, straggling street led off up the hill-side, and suddenly disappeared as if the mountains had swallowed it. The houses were thatched, with layers of birch bark put under the boards ; sods of earth on top ; and flowers blooming on them as in a garden. One roof was a bed of wild pansies, and another of a tiny pink flower as fine as a grass ; and young shoots of birch waved on them both. The little river which ran past the inn garden had come down from the mountains through terraced meadows, which were about half and half meadow and terrace ; stony and swampy, and full of hillocks and hollows. New England has acres of fields like them: only here there were big blue harebells and pink heath, added to clover and buttercups, wild parsley and yarrow. On tiny pebbly bits of island here and there in the brook grew purple thistles, “snow flake,” and bushes of birch and ash.

Bob rollicked in the lush grass, as we picked our way among the moist hollows of this flowery meadow. In Sanna’s hand dangled a bit of rope, which he eyed suspiciously. She had brought it with her to tie him up, when the hour should come for him to be carried on board the steamer. He could not have known this, for he had never been tied up in his life. But new dangers had roused new wariness in his acute mind: he had distinctly heard the word “ steamer” several times that morning, and understood it. I said to him immediately after breakfast, “ Bob, you have to go home by the steamer this morning.” He instantly crept under the sofa, his tail between his legs, and cowered and crouched in the farthest corner; no persuasions could lure him out, and his eyes were piteous beyond description. Not until we had walked some distance from the house, in a direction opposite to the steamer wharf, did he follow us. Then he came bounding, relieved for the time being from anxiety. At last Sanna, in a feint of play, tied the rope around his neck. His bewilderment and terror were tragic. Setting all four feet firmly on the ground he refused to stir, except as he was dragged by main force. It was plain that he would be choked to death before he would obey. The rope project must be abandoned. Perhaps he could be lured on board, following Sanna. Vain hope! Long before we reached the wharf, the engine of the boat gave a shrill whistle. At the first sound of it Bob darted away like the wind, up the road, past the hotel, out of sight in a minute. We followed him a few rods, and then gave it up. Again he had outwitted us. We walked to the steamer, posted a letter, sat down, and waited. The steamer blew five successive signals, and then glided away from the wharf. In less than three minutes, before she was many rods off, lo, Bob! back again, prancing around us with glee, evidently keeping his eye on the retreating steamboat, and chuckling to himself at his escape.

“ O Bob, Bob ! ” groaned Sanna. “ What is to do with you ? ”

We were to set off for Vossevangen by carriage at three ; at half past two poor Bob was carried, struggling, into the wood-shed, and tied up. His cries were piteous, almost more than we could bear. I am sure he understood the whole plot; but the worst was to come. By somebody’s carelessness, the wood-shed door was opened just as we were driving away from the porch. With one convulsive leap and cry, Bob tore his rope from the log to which it was tied, and darted out. The stable boys caught him, and held him fast: his cries were human. Sanna buried her face in her hands, and exclaimed, “ Oh, say to the driver that he go so fast as he can!” And we drove away, leaving the poor faithful, loving creature behind, to be sent by express back to Bergen on the steamer the next day. It was like leaving a little child alone among strangers, heart-broken and terrified. When we returned to Bergen we learned that he had touched neither food nor drink till he reached home, late the next night.

To go from Eide to Vossevangen, one must begin by climbing up out of Eide. It is at the bottom of a well, walled by green hills and snow-topped mountains; at the top of the well the country spreads out for a little, only to meet higher hills, higher mountains. Here lies a great lake, rimmed by broad borders of reeds, which shook and glistened in the wind and sun like the spears of half-drowned armies as we passed. Clumps and groves of ash-trees on the shores of this lake looked like huge clumsy torches set in the ground ; their tops had been cut down again and again, till they had grown as broad as they were high. The leaves are used for the feed of sheep, and the boughs for fire-wood; and as in the frugal Norwegian living nothing that can be utilized is left to lie idle, never an ash-tree has the chance to shoot up, become tall and full of leaf. Magpies flitted in and out among them.

“ One is for sorrow, and two are for joy, three must be a marriage, and four do bring good fortune, we do say in Norway,” said Sanna. “ But I think we shall have all sorrow and joy, and to be married many times over, if it be true,” she added, as the noisy, showy creatures continued to cross our road by twos and threes.

High up on the hills, just in the edge of snow patches, sœters were to be seen, their brown roofs looking as much a part of the lonely nature as did the waterfalls and the pine-trees. On all sides shone the water,—trickling fosses down precipices, outbursting fosses from ravines and dells ; just before us rose a wall some three thousand feet high, over which leaped a foaming cataract.

We shall go there,” said Sanna, pointing up to it. Sure enough, we did. By loops so oval and narrow they seemed twisted as if to thread their way, as eyes of needles are threaded, the road wound and doubled, and doubled and wound, six times crossing the hill front in fifteen hundred feet. At each double, the valley sank below us ; the lake sank; the hills which walled the lake sank ; the road was only a broad rift among piled bowlders. In many places these bowlders were higher than our heads; but there was no sense of danger, for the road was a perfect road, smooth as a macadamized turnpike. Along its outer edge rows of thickly set rocks, several feet high, and so near each other that no carriage could possibly fall between ; in the most dangerous places stout iron bars were set from rock to rock; these loops of chain ladder up the precipice were as safe as a summer pathway in a green meadow. On a stone bridge of three arches we crossed the waterfall: basins of rocks above us, filled with spray ; basins and shelves and ledges of rocks below us, filled with spray; the bridge black and slippery wet, and the air thick with spray, like a snow-storm ; precipices of water on the right and the left. It was next to being an eagle on wing in a storm to cross that bridge in upper air. At the sixth turn we came out abreast of the top of the waterfall, and in a moment more had left all the stress and storm and tumult of waters behind us, and glided into a sombre, still roadway beside a calm little river deep in a fir forest. Only the linnæa had won bloom out of this darkness; its courageous little tendrils wreathed the tree trunks nestled among the savage rocks, and held up myriads of pink cups wet with the ceaseless spray. It was a dreary, lonely place ; miles of gaunt swamp, forest, and stony moor; here and there a farm-house, silent as if deserted.

“ Where are all the people ? Why do we not see any one moving about the houses ? ” I asked.

“ In the house, reading, every one,” replied Sanna. " On a Sunday afternoon, if there is no service in church, all Norwegian farm people do go into their houses, and spend all afternoon in reading and in religion.”

At last we reached a more open country : an off-look to the west; new ranges of snow-topped mountains came in sight. We began to descend ; another silent river slipping down by our side ; two more dark, shining lakes. On the shore of one, a peasant man — the first living creature we had seen for ten miles — was taking his cart out of a little shed by the roadside. This shed was the only sign of human habitation to be seen in the region. His horse stood near by, with a big barrel slung on each side : they were barrels of milk, which had just been brought down in this way from a sœter which we could see, well up in the cloud region, far above the woods on the left. Down the steep path from this sœter the man had walked, and the horse bearing the barrels of milk had followed. Now the barrels were to be put in the cart, and carried to Eide. Ten miles more that milk was to be carried before it reached its market; and yet, at the little inn in Eide, for a breakfast, at which one may drink all the milk he desires, he will be asked to pay only thirty-five cents. What else beside milk ? Fresh salmon, trout, two kinds of rye bread and two of white, good butter, six kinds of cheese, herrings done in oil and laurel leaves in tiny wooden barrels, cold sausage, ham, smoked salmon (raw), coffee and tea, and perhaps — wild strawberries : this will be the Eide summer-morning breakfast. The cheese feature in the Norwegian breakfast is startling at first: all colors, sizes, shapes, and smells known of cheese ; it must be owned they are not savory for breakfast, but the Norwegian eats them almost as a rite. He has a proverb in regard to cheese as we have of fruit: “ Gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night; ” and he lives up to it more implicitly than we do to ours.

As we neared Vossevangen, the silent river grew noisier and noisier, and at last let out all its reserves in a great torrent which leaped down into the valley with a roar. This torrent also was bridged at its leap ; and the bridge seemed to be in a perpetual quiver from the shock of it. The sides of the rocky gorge below glistened black like ebony; they had been worn into columnar grooves by the centuries of whirling waters; the knotted roots of a fir forest jutted out above them, and long spikes of a beautiful white flower hung out from their crevices in masses of waving snowy bloom. It looked like a variety of the houseleek, but no human hand could reach it to make sure.

Vossevangen is a little farming hamlet on the west shore of a beautiful lake. The region is one of the best agricultural districts in Western Norway; the “Vos” farmers are held to be fortunate and well to do, and their butter and cheese always bring high prices in market.

On the eastern shore of the lake is a chain of mountains, from two to four thousand feet high; to the south, west, and north rise the green hills on which the farms lie ; above these, again, rise other hills, higher and more distant, where in the edges of the snow tracts or buried in fir forests are the sœters, the farmers’ summer homes.

As we drove into the village we met the peasants going home from church: the women in short green or black gowns, with gay jackets and white handkerchiefs made into a flying-buttress sort of head-dress on their heads ; the men with knee-breeches, short vests, and jackets thick trimmed with silver buttons. Every man bowed, and every woman courtesied as we passed. To pass any human being on the highway without a sign or token of greeting would be considered in Norway the height of ill manners; any child seen to do it would be sharply reproved. Probably few things would astonish the rural Norwegian more than to be told that among the highly civilized it is considered a mark of good breeding, if you chance to meet a fellow-man on the highway, to go by him with no more recognition of his presence than you would give to a tree or a stone wall.

It is an odd thing that a man should be keeping the Vossevangen Hotel today who served in America’s civil war, was for two years in one of the New York regiments, and saw a good deal of active service. He was called back to Norway by the death of his father, which made it necessary for him to take charge of the family estate in Vossevangen. He has married a Vossevangen woman, and is likely to end his days there, but he hankers for Chicago, and always will. He keeps a fairly good little hotel, on the shores of the lake, with a row of willow-trees in front; dwarf apple-trees, gooseberry and currant bushes, and thickets of rhubarb in his front yard; roses, too, besides larkspur and phlox, but the rhubarb has the place of honor. The dining-room and the parlor were like those at Eide, adorned with ivies and flowering plants ; oleanders in the windows, and potted carnations on the table. In one corner of the diningroom was a large round table covered with old silver for sale : tankards, chains, belts, buttons, coins, rings, buckles, brooches, ornaments of all kinds,—hundreds of dollars’ worth of things. There they lay, day and night, open to all who came ; and they had done this, the landlady said, for years, and not a single article had ever been stolen : from which it is plain that not only is the Norwegian honest himself, there must be a contagion in his honesty, which spreads it to all travelers in his country.

The next morning, early, we set off in a peasant’s cart to visit some of the farm-houses.

“ Now you shall see,” said Sanna, " that it was not possible if you had all day to ride in this kind of wagon.”

It did not take long to prove the truth of her remark. A shallow wooden box set on two heavy wheels ; a wooden seat raised on two slanting wooden braces, so high that one’s feet but just reach the front edge of the box ; no dasher, no sides to seat, no anything, apparently, after you are up, except your hard wooden seat and two pounding wheels below, — this is the peasant wagon. The horse, low down between two heavy thills, is without traces, pulls by a breast collar, is guided by rope reins, and keeps his heels half the time under the front edge of the box. The driver stands up in the box behind you, and the rope reins are in your hair, or on your neck, shoulders, ears, as may be. The walloping motion of this kind of box, drawn by a frisky Norwegian horse over rough roads, is droll beyond description. But when it comes to going down hills in it, and down hills so steep that the box appears to be on the point of dumping you between the horse’s ears at each wallop, it ceases to be droll, and becomes horrible. Our driver was a splendid specimen of a man : six feet tall, strong built, and ruddy. When he found that I was an American, he glowed all over, and began to talk rapidly to Sanna. He had six brothers in America.

“ They do say that they all have it very good there,” interpreted Sanna; “ and he thinks to go there himself so soon as there is money to take all. It must be that America is the best country in the world, to have it so good there that every man can have it good.”

The roads up the hills were little more than paths. Often for many rods there was no trace of wheels on the stony ledges; again the track disappeared in a bit of soft meadow. As we climbed, the valley below us rounded and hollowed, and the lake grew smaller and smaller to the eye ; the surrounding hills opened up, showing countless valleys winding here and there among them. It was a surpassingly beautiful view. Vast tracts of firs, inky black in the distances, emphasized the glittering of the snow fields above them and the sunny green of the nearer foregrounds below.

The first farm which we visited lay about three miles north of the village, — three miles north and up. The buildings were huddled together, some half dozen of them, in a hap-hazard sort of way, with no attempt at order, no front, no back, and no particular reason for approaching one way rather than another. Walls of hewn logs, black with age ; roofs either thatched, or covered with huge slabs of slate, laid on irregularly and moss-grown; rough stones or logs for door-steps ; so little difference between the buildings that one was at a loss to know which were meant for dwellings and which for barns, — a more unsightly spot could hardly be imagined. But the owners had as quick an instinct of hospitality as if they dwelt in a palace. No sooner did Sanna mention that I was from America, and wished to see some of the Norwegian farmhouses, than their faces brightened with welcome and good will, and they were ready to throw open every room, and show me all their simple stores.

“ There is not a man in all Vos,” they said, “ who has not a relative in America ; ” and they asked eager question after question, in insatiable curiosity, about the unknown country whither their friends had gone.

The wives and daughters of the family were all away, up at the sœter with the cows ; only the men and the servant maids were left at home to make the hay. Would I not go up to the sœter ? The mistress would be distressed that an American lady had visited the farm in her absence. I could easily go to the sœter in a day. It was only five hours on horseback, and about a half hour’s walk, at the last, over a path too rough even for riding. Very warmly the men urged Sanna to induce me to take the trip. They themselves would leave the haying and go with me, if I would only go ; and I must never think I had seen Norwegian farming unless I had seen the sœter also, they said.

The maids were at dinner in the kitchen. It was a large room, with walls not more than eight feet high, black with smoke ; and in the centre a square stone trough, above which was built a funnel chimney. In this hollow trough a fire smouldered, and above it hung an enormous black caldron, full of beer, which was being brewed. One of the maids sprang from her dinner, lifted a trap door in the floor, disappeared in the cellar, and presently returned, bringing a curious wooden drinking-vessel shaped like a great bowl, with a prow at each side for handles, and painted in gay colors. This was brimming full of new beer, just brewed. Sanna whispered to me that it would be bad manners if we did not drink freely of it. It was passed in turn to each member of the party. The driver, eying me sharply as I forced down a few mouthfuls of the nauseous drink, said something to Sanna.

“ He asks if American ladies do not like beer,” said Sanna. “ He is mortified that you do not drink. It will be best that we drink all we can. It is all what they have. Only I do hope that they give us not brandy.”

There was no window in the kitchen, no ventilation except through the chimney and the door. A bare wooden table, wooden chairs, a few shelves, where were ranged some iron utensils, were all the furniture of the gloomy room. The maids’ dinner consisted of a huge plate of " fladbröd” and jugs of milk ; nothing else. They would live on that, Sanna said, for weeks, and work in the hay-fields from sunrise till midnight.

Opposite the kitchen was the livingroom : the same smoky log walls, bare floors, wooden chairs and benches. The expression of poverty was dismal.

“ I thought you said these people were well to do ! ” I exclaimed.

“ So they are,” replied Sanna. “ They are very well off; they do not know that it is not comfort to be like this. They shall have money in banks, these people. All the farmers in Vos are rich.”

Above the living-room were two bedrooms and clothes-rooms. Here, in gaypainted scarlet boxes and hanging from lines, were the clothes of the family and the bed linen of the house. Mistress and maid alike must keep their clothes in this common room. The trunks were ranged around the sides of the room, each locked with a key big enough to lock prison doors. On one side of one of the rooms were three bunk beds built in under the eaves. These were filled with loose straw, and had only blankets for covers. Into this straw the Norwegian burrows by night, rolled in his blankets. The beds can never be moved, for they are built in with the frame-work of the house. No wonder that the Norwegian flea has, by generations of such good lodging and food, become a triumphant Bedouin marauder, in comparison with whom the fleas of all other countries are too petty to deserve mention.

The good-natured farmer opened his mother’s box as well as his wife’s, and with awkward and unaccustomed hands shook out their Sunday costumes for us to see. From another box, filled with soft blankets and linen, he took out a bottle of brandy, and pouring some into a little silver bowl, with the same prowshaped handles as the wooden one we had seen in the kitchen, pressed us to drink. One drop of it was like liquid fire. He seemed hurt that we refused more, and poured it down his own throat at a gulp, without change of a muscle. Then he hid the brandy bottle again under the blankets, and the little silver cup in the till of his mother’s chest, and locked them both up with the huge keys.

Down-stairs we found an aged couple, who had come from another of the buildings, hearing of our presence. These were the grandparents. The old woman was eighty-four, and was knitting briskly without glasses. She took us into the store-rooms, where were bins of flour and grain ; hams of beef and pork hanging up ; wooden utensils of all sorts, curiously carved and stained wooden

spoons, among other things, — a cask full of them, put away to be used when they had a merry-making. Here also were stacks of fladbröd. This is the staple of the Norwegian’s living ; it is a coarse bread made of dark flour, in cakes as thin as a wafer and as big round as a barrel. This is baked once a year, in the spring, is piled up in stacks in the store-rooms, and keeps good till the spring baking comes round again. It is very sweet and nutritious : one might easily fare worse than to have to make a meal of it with milk. On one of the storeroom shelves I spied an old wooden drinking-bowl, set away with dried peas in it. It had been broken and riveted together in the bottom, but would no longer hold water, so had been degraded to this use. It had once been gayly painted, and had a motto in old Norwegian around the edge : “ Drink in goodwill, and give thanks to God.” I coveted the thing, and offered to buy it. It was a study to see the old people consult with each other if they should let it go. It seemed that when they first went to housekeeping it had been given to them by the woman’s mother, and was an old bowl even then. It was certainly over a hundred years old, and how much more there was no knowing. After long discussion they decided to sell it to me for four kroner (about one dollar), which the son thought (Sanna said), was a shameful price to ask for an old broken bowl. But he stood by in filial submission, and made no loud objection to the barter. The old woman also showed us a fine blanket, which had been spun and woven by her mother a hundred years ago. It was as gay of color and fantastic of design as if it had been made in Algiers. This too she was willing to sell for an absurdly small price, but it was too heavy to bring away. At weddings and other festivities these gay blankets are hung on the walls; and it is the custom for neighbors to lend all they can on such occasions. The next farm we visited belonged to the richest people in Vos. It lay a half mile still higher up, and the road leading to it seemed perilously steep. The higher we went, the greater the profusion of flowers : the stony way led us through tracts of bloom, in blue and gold ; tall spikes of mullein in clumps like hollyhocks, and “ shepherd’s bells ” in great purple patches.

The buildings of this farm were clustered around a sort of court-yard inclosure, roughly flagged by slate. Most of the roofs were also slated; one or two were thatched, and these thatched roofs were the only thing that redeemed the gloom of the spot, the sods on these being bright with pansies and grasses and waving raspberry bushes. Here also we found the men of the family alone at home, the women being gone on their summering at the sœter. The youngest son showed us freely from room to room, and displayed with some pride the trunks full of blankets and linen, and the rows of women’s dresses hanging in the chambers. On two sides of one large room these were hung thick one above another, no variety in them, and no finery ; merely a succession of strong, serviceable petticoats, of black, green, or gray woolen. The gay jackets and stomachers were packed away in trunks ; huge furlined coats, made of the same shape for men and for women, hung in the storeroom. Some of the trunks were red, painted in gay colors; some were of polished cedar, finished with fine brass mountings. As soon as a Norwegian girl approaches womanhood, one of these trunks is given her, set in its place in the clothes-room, and her accumulations begin. Clothes, bedding, and silver ornaments seem to be the only things for which the Norwegian peasant spends his money. In neither of these houses was there an article of superfluous furniture, not even of ordinary comfort. In both were the same bunk beds, built in under the eaves ; the same loose, tossed straw, with blankets for covering; and only the coarsest wooden chairs and benches for seats. The young man opened his mother’s trunk, and took from one corner a beautiful little silver beaker, with curling, prow-shaped handles. In this the old lady had packed away her silver brooches, buttons, and studs for the summer. Side by side with them, thrown in loosely among her white head-dresses and blouses, were half a dozen small twisted rolls of white bread. Sanna explained this by saying that the Norwegians never have this bread except at their most important festivals ; it is considered a great luxury, and these had no doubt been put away as a future treat, as we should put away a bit of wedding-cake to keep. Very irreverently the son tipped out all his mother’s ornaments into the bottom of the trunk, and proceeded to fill the little beaker with fiery brandy from a bottle which had been hid in another corner. From lip to lip it was passed, returning to him well-nigh untasted; but he poured the whole down at a draught, smacked his lips, and tossed the cup back into the trunk, dripping with the brandy. Very much that good old Norwegian dame, when she comes down in the autumn, will wonder, I fancy, what has happened to her nicely packed trunk of underclothes, dry bread, and old silver.

There were several store-rooms in these farm buildings, and they were well filled with food, grain, flour, dried meats, fish, and towers of fladbröd. Looms with partly finished webs of cloth in them were there set away till winter; baskets full of carved yellow spoons hung on the wall. In one of the rooms, standing on the sill of the open window, were two common black glass bottles, with a few pond-lilies in each, — the only bit of decoration or token of love of the beautiful we had found. Seeing that I looked at the lilies with admiration, the young man took them out, wiped their dripping stems on his coat sleeve, and presented them to me with a bow that a courtier might have envied. The grace, the courtesy, of the Norwegian peasant’s bow is something that must date centuries back. Surely there is nothing in his life and surroundings to-day to create or explain it. It must be a trace of something that Olaf Tryggveson — that “ magnificent, far-shining man ” — scattered abroad in his kingdom eight hundred years ago, with his “ bright, airy, wise way ” of speaking and behaving to women and men.

One of the buildings on this farm was known, the young man said, to be at least two hundred years old. The logs are moss-grown and black, but it is good for hundreds of years yet. The first story is used now for a store-room. From this a ladder led up to a half chamber overhead, the front railed by a low railing; here, in this strange sort of balcony bedroom, had slept the children of the family, under observation all the time of their elders below.

Thrust in among the rafters, dark, rusty, bent, was an ancient sword. Our guide took it out and handed it to us, with a look of awe on his face. No one knew, he said, how long that sword had been on the farm. In the earliest writings by which the estate had been transferred, that sword had been mentioned, and it was a clause in every lease since that it should never be taken away from the place. However many times the farm might change hands, the sword must go with it, for all time. Was there no legend, no tradition, with it? None that his father or his father’s father had ever heard ; only the mysterious entailed charge, from generation to generation, that the sword must never be removed. The blade was thin and the edge jagged, the handle plain and without ornament; evidently the sword had been for work, and not for show. There was something infinitely solemn in its inalienable estate of safe and reverent keeping at the hands of men all ignorant of its history. It is by no means impossible that it had journeyed in the company of that Sigurd who sailed with his splendid fleet of sixty ships for Palestine, early in the twelfth century. Sigurd Jorsalafarer, or Traveler to Jerusalem, he was called ; and no less an authority than Thomas Carlyle vouches for him as having been “ a wise, able, and prudent man,” reigning in a “ solid and successful way.” Through the Straits of Gibraltar to Jerusalem, home by way of Constantinople and Russia, “ shining with renown,” he sailed, and took a hand in any fighting he found going on by the way. Many of his men came from the region of the Sogne Fjord, and the more I thought of it the surer I felt that this old sword had many a time flashed on the deck of his ships.

Our second day opened rainy. The lake was blotted out by mist; on the fence under the willows sat half a dozen men, roosting as unconcernedly as if it were warm sunshine.

“ It does wonder me,” said Sanna, “ that I find here so many men standing idle.” When the railroad come, it shall be that the life must be different.”

A heroic English party, undeterred by weather, were setting off in carioles and on horseback. Delays after delays occurred to hinder them. At the last moment their angry courier was obliged to go and fetch the washing, which had not arrived. There is a proverb in Norway, “When the Norwegian says ‘immediately,’ look for him in half an hour.”

Finally, at noon, in despair of sunshine, we also set off : rugs, waterproofs ; the india-rubber boot of the carriage drawn tight up to the level of our eyes ; we set off in pouring sheets of rain for Gudvangen. For the first two hours the sole variation of the monotony of our journey was in emptying the boot of water once every five minutes, just in time to save a freshet in our laps. High mountain peaks, black with forests or icy white with snow, gleamed in and out of the clouds on either hand, as we toiled and splashed along. Occasional lightings up revealed stretches of barren country, here and there a cluster of farm-houses, or a lowly church. On the shores of a small lake we passed one of these lonely churches. Only two other buildings were in sight in the vast expanse : one, the wretched little inn where we were to rest our horses for half an hour ; the other, the parsonage. This last was a pretty little cottage, picturesquely built of yellow pine, half bowered in vines, looking in that lonely waste as if it had lost itself and strayed away from some civilized spot. The pastor and his sister, who kept house for him, were away; but his servant was so sure that they would like to have us see their home that we allowed her to show it to us. It was a tasteful and cozy little home : parlor, study, and dining-room, all prettily carpeted and furnished ; books, flowers, a sewing-machine, and a piano. It did one’s heart good to see such an oasis of a home in the wilderness. Drawn up on rests in a shed near the house, was an open boat, much like a wherry. The pastor spent hours every day, the maid said, in rowing on the lake. It was his great pleasure.

Up, up we climbed: past fir forests, swamps, foaming streams, — the wildest, weirdest road storm-driven people ever crossed. Spite of the rain, halfnaked children came flying out of hovels and cabins to open gates : sometimes there would be six in a row, their thin brown hands all stretched for alms, and their hollow eyes begging piteously; then they would race on ahead to open the next gate. The moors seemed but a succession of inclosed pasture lands. Now and then we passed a little knot of cabins close to the road, and men who looked kindly, but as wild as wild beasts, would come out and speak to the driver ; their poverty was direful to see. At last, at the top of a high hill, we halted; the storm stayed ; the clouds lifted and blew off. At our feet lay a black chasm ; it was like looking down into the bowels of the earth. This was the Nerodal Valley ; into it we were to descend. Its walls were three and four thousand feet high. It looked little more than a cleft. The road down this precipitous wall is a marvel of engineering. It is called the Stalheimscleft, and was built by a Norwegian officer, Captain Finne. It is made in a series of zigzagging loops, which are so long and so narrow that the descent at no point appears steep ; yet as one looks up from any loop to the loop next above, it seems directly over his head. Down this precipice into the Nerodal Valley leap two grand fosses, the Stalheimfos and the Salvklevfos ; roaring in ceaseless thunder, filling the air, and drenching the valley with spray. Tiny grass-grown spaces between the bowlders and the loops of the road had all been close mowed ; spaces which looked too small for the smallest reaping-hook to swing in were yet close shorn, and the little handfuls of hay hung up drying on hand’s-breadths of fence set up for the purpose. Even single blades of grass are too precious in Norway to be wasted.

As we walked slowly down this incredible road, we paused step by step to look first up, then down. The carriage waiting for us below on the bridge looked like a baby wagon. The river made by the meeting of these two great cataracts at the base of the precipice was only a little silver thread flowing down the valley. The cataracts seemed leaping from the sky, and the sky seemed resting on the hill-tops ; masses of whirling and floating clouds added to the awesome grandeur of the scene. The Stalheimfos fell into a deep, basin-shaped ravine, piled with great bowlders, and full of birch and ash shrubs: in the centre of this, by some strange play of the water, rose a distinct and beautifully shaped cone, thrown up closely in front of the fall, almost blending with it, and thick veiled in the tumultuous spray, — a fountain in a waterfall. It seemed the accident of a moment, but its shape did not alter so long as we watched it ; it is a part of the fall.

Five miles down this cleft, called valley, to Gudvangen run the road and the little river and the narrow strips of meadow, dark, thin, and ghastly; long months in utter darkness this Nerodal lies, and never, even at summer’s best and longest, has it more than a half day of sun. The mountains rise in sheer black walls on either hand, — bare rock in colossal shafts and peaks, three, four, and even five thousand feet high ; snow in the rifts at top ; patches of gaunt firs here and there; great spaces of tumbled rocks, where avalanches have slid ; pebbly and sandy channels worn from side to side of the valley, where torrents have rushed down and torn a way across ; white streams from top to bottom of the precipices, all foam and quiver, like threads spun out on the sward, more than can be counted ; they seem to swing down out of the sky as spider threads swing swift and countless in a dewy morning.

Sanna shuddered. “Now you see, one could not spend a whole day in Nerodal Valley,” she said. “ It does wonder me that any people will live here. Every spring the mountains do fall and people are killed.”

On a narrow rim of land at base of these walls, just where the fjord meets the river, is the village of Gudvangen, a desolate huddle of half a dozen poor houses. A chill as of death filled the air; foul odors arose at every turn. The two little inns were overcrowded with people, who roamed restlessly up and down, waiting for they knew not what. An indescribable gloom settles on Gudvangen with-nightfall. The black waters of the fjord chafing monotonously at the base of the black mountains; the sky black also, and looking farther off than sky ever looked before, walled into a strip, like the valley beneath it; hemmed in, forsaken, doomed, and left seems Gudvangen. What hold life can have on a human being kept in such a spot it is hard to imagine. Yet we found three very old women hobnobbing contentedly there in a cave of a hut. Ragged, dirty, hideous, hopeless one would have thought them, but they were all agog and cheery, and full of plans for repairing their house. They were in a little log stable, perhaps ten feet square, and hardly high enough to stand upright in: they were cowering round a bit of fire in the centre; their piles of straw and blankets laid in corners ; not a chair, not a table. Macbeth’s witches had seemed full-dressed society women by the side of these. We peered timidly in at the group, and they all came running towards us, chattering, glad to see strangers, and apologizing for their condition, because, as they said, they had just turned in there together for a few days, while their house across the way was being mended. Not a light of any description had they, except the fire. The oldest one hobbled away, and returned with a small tallow candle, which she lit and held in her hand, to show us how comfortable they were, after all ; plenty of room for three piles of straw on the rough log floor. Their “ house across the way ” was a little better than this ; not much. One of the poor old crones had “ five children in America.” “ They wanted her to come out to America and live with them, but she was too old to go away from home,” she said. " Home was the best place for old people,” to which the other two assented eagerly. “ Oh, yes, home was the best place. America was too far.”

It seemed a miracle to have comfort in an inn in so poverty-stricken a spot as this, but we did. We slept in strawfilled bunks, set tight into closets under the eaves; only a narrow door-way by which to get in and out of bed ; but there were two windows in the room, and no need to stifle. And for supper there was set before us a stew of lamb, delicately flavored with curry, and served with rice, of which no house need be ashamed. That so palatable a dish could have issued from the place which answered for kitchen in that poor little inn was a marvel ; it was little more than a small dark tomb. The dishes were all washed outof-doors in tubs set on planks laid across two broken chairs at the kitchen door ; and the food and milk were kept in an above-ground cellar not three steps from the same door. This had been made by an immense slab of rock which had crashed down from the mountain top, one day, and instead of tearing through the house and killing everybody had considerately lodged on top of two other bowlders, roofing the space in, and forming a huge stone refrigerator ready to hand for the innkeeper. The inclosed space was cold as ice, and high enough and large enough for one to walk about in it comfortably. I had the curiosity to ask this innkeeper how much he could make in a year off his inn. When he found that I had no sinister motive in the inquiry he was freely communicative. At first he feared, Sanna said, that it might become known in the town how much money he was making, and that demands might be made on him in consequence. If the season of summer travel were very good, he said he would clear two hundred dollars; but he did not always make so much as that. He earned a little also by keeping a small shop, and in the winter that was his only resource. He had a wife and two children, and his wife was not strong, which made it harder for them, as they were obliged always to keep a servant.

Even in full sunlight, at nine of the morning, Gudvangen looked grim and dangerous, and the Nerö Fjord water black. As we sailed out, the walls of the valley closed up suddenly behind us, as with a snap which might have craunched poor little Gudvangen to death. The fjord is as wild as the pass ; in fact, the same thing, only that it has water at bottom instead of land, and you can sail closer than you can drive at base of the rocky walls. Soon we came to the mouth of another great fjord, opening up another watery road into the mountains; this was the Aurland, and on its farther shore opened again the Sognedal Fjord, up which we went a little way, to leave somebody at a landing. Here were green hills and slopes and trees, and a bright yellow church, shaped like a blanc-mange mould in three pyramid-shaped cones, each smaller than the one below.

“ Here is the finest fruit orchard in all Scandinavia,” said Sanna, pointing to a pretty place just out of the town, where fields rose one above the other in terraces on south-facing slopes, covered thick with orchards. “ It belongs to an acquainted with me : but she must sell it. She is a widow, and she cannot take the care to herself.”

Back again across the mouth of the Aurland Fjord, and then out into the great Sogne Fjord, zigzagging from side to side of it, and up into numerous little fjords where the boat looked to be steering straight into hills, — we seemed to be adrift, without purpose, rather than on a definite voyage with a fixed aim of getting home. The magnificent labyrinths of walled waters were calm as the heavens they reflected; the clouds above and clouds below kept silent pace with each other, and we seemed gliding between two skies. Great snow fjelds came in sight, wheeled, rose, sank, and disappeared, as we passed; sometimes green meadows stretched on either side of us, then terrible gorges and pinnacles of towering rock. Picture after picture we saw, of gay-colored little villages, with rims of fields and rocky promontories ; snow fjelds above, and fir forests between; glittering waterfalls shooting from the sky line to the water, like white lightning down a black stone front, or leaping out in spaces of feathery snow, like one preternatural blooming of the forests all the way down the black walls rising perpendicularly thousands of feet; tiers of blue mountains in the distance, dark blue on the nearest, and shading off to palest blue at the sky line; the fjord dark purple in the narrows, shading to gray in the opens ; illuminated spaces of green, now at the shore, now half-way up, now two thirds way up to the sky ; tops of hills in sunlight; bars of sunlight streaming through dark clefts. Then a storm sweep across the fjord, far in our wake, — swooping and sweeping, and gone in a half hour; blotting out the mountains ; then turning them into a dark slate wall, on which white sails and cross-sunbeams made a superb shining. And so, between the sun and the storm, we came to Valestrand, and sent off and took on boat-loads of pleasuring people ; the boats with bright flags at prow and stern, and gay-dressed women with fantastic parasols like butterflies poised on their edges ; Valestrand, where, as some say, Frithiof was born ; and as all say, he burnt one of Balder’s great temples. Then, Ladvik, on a green slope turning to gold in the sun ; its white church with a gray stone spire relieved against a bank of purple gloom ; the lights sinking lower and the shadows stretching farther every minute ; shadows of hills behind which the sun had already gone thrown sharp and black on hills still glowing in full light; hills before us, shimmering in soft silver gray and pale purple against a clear golden west; hills behind us, folding and folded in masses of rosy vapor; shining fosses leaping down among them ; the colors changing like the colors of a prism minute by minute along the tops of the ranges, — this was the way our day on the Sogne Fjord drew near its ending. Industriously knitting, with eyes firm fastened on her needles, sat an English matron near us on the deck. Not one glance of her eye did she give to the splendors of sky and water and land about her.

“ I do think that lady must be in want of stockings very much,” remarked Sanna quietly, “ but she need not to come to Norway to knit.”

Far worse, however, than the woman who knitted were the women and the men who talked, loudly, stupidly, vulgarly, around us. It was mortifying that their talk was English, but they were not Americans. At last they drove us to another part of the deck, but not before a few phrases of their conversation had been indelibly stamped on my memory.

“ Well, we were in Dresden two days : there’s only the gallery there : that’s time enough for that.”

“ Raphaels, — lots of Raphaels.”

“ I don’t care for Raphaels, anyhow. I ’ll tell you who I like : I like Veronese.”

“ Well, I’m very fond of Tintoretto.”

“ I like Titians ; they ’re so delicate, don’t you know ? ”

“ Well, who’s that man that’s painted such dreadful things, — all mixed up, don’t you know ? In some places you see a good many of them.”

“ You don’t mean Rembrandt, do you? There are a lot of Rembrandts in Munich.”

“ There was one picture I liked. I think it was a Christ; but I ain’t sure. There were four children on the ground, I remember.”

When the real sunset came we were threading the rocky labyrinths of the Bergen Fjord. It is a field of bowlders, with an ocean let in ; nothing more. Why the bowlders are not submerged, since the water is deep enough for big ships to sail on, is the perpetual marvel ; but they are not. They are as firm in their places as continents, myriads of them only a few feet out of water; and when the sun as it sinks sends a flood of gold and red light athwart them they turn all colors, and glow on the water like great smoke crystals with fire shining through. To sail up this fjord in the sunset is to wind through devious lanes walled with these jewels, and to look off, over and above them, to fields of purple and gray and green, islands on islands on islands, to the right and to the left, with the same jewel-walled lanes running east and west and north and south among them ; the sky will stream with glowing colors from horizon to horizon, and the glorious silence will be broken by no harsher sound than the low lapsing of waters and the soft whirr of gray gulls’ wings.

And so we came to Bergen in the bright midnight of the last of our four days.

Months afterwards Sanna sent me a few extracts from descriptions given by a Norwegian writer of some of the spots we had seen in the dim upper distances along the fjords, — some of those illuminated spaces of green high up among the crags, which looked such sunny and peaceful homes.

Her English is so much more graphic than mine that I have begged her permission to give the extracts as she wrote them : —

“ Grand, glorious, and serious is the Sogne Fjord. Serious in itself, and still more serious we find it when we know where and how people do live there between mountains. And we must wonder or ask, Is there really none places left, or no kind of work for those people to get for the maintenance of the life, but to go to such desolate and rather impassable a place ? . . .

“ More than half of the year are the two families who live on the farm of Vetti separated from all other human beings. During the winter can the usual path in the grass not be passed in case of snow, ice, and perpetual slips, which leave behind trace long out in the summer, because the sun only for a short time came over this long enormous abyss, and does not linger there long, so that the snow which has been to ice do melt very slow, and seldom disappear earlier than in July. The short time in the winter when the river Utla is frozen may the bottom of the pass well be passed, though not without danger, on account of the mentioned slips, which, with the power of the hurricane, are whizzing down in the deep, and which merely pressure of the air is so strong that it throw all down.

“ Late in the autumn and in the spring is all approach to and from Vetti quite stopped ; and late in the autumn chiefly with ground and snow slips, which then get loosened by the frequent rain. The farm-houses is situate on a steep slope, so that the one end of the lowest beam is put on the mere ground, and the other end must be put on a wall almost three yards high. The fields are so steep, and so quite near the dreadful precipice, that none unaccustomed to it do venture one’s self thither; and when one from here look over the pass, and look the meadows which is more hanging than laying over the deep, and which have its grass mowed down with a short scythe, then one cannot comprehend the desperate courage which risk to set about and occupy one’s self here, while the abyss has opened its swallow for receiving the foolhardy.

“A little above the dwelling-houses is a quite tolerable plain, and when one ask the man why he has not built his houses there he answers that owing to the snow slips it is impossible to build there.

“ Through the valley-streams the Afdals River comes from the mountains, run in a distance of only twenty yards from the farm-houses, and about one hundred yards from the same pour out itself with crash of thunder in a mighty foss. The rumble of the same, and that with its hurling out caused pressure of the air, is in the summer so strong that the dwelling-houses seems to shiver, and all what fluids there in open vessels get placed on the table is on an incessant trembling, moving almost as on board a ship in a rough sea. The wall and windows which turns to the river are then always moistened of the whipped foam, which in small particles continually is thrown back from the foss.

“By the side of this foss, in the hard granite wall which it moisten, is a mined gut (the author says he can’t call it a road, though it is reckoned for that), broad enough that one man, and in the highest one small well - trained horse, however not by each other’s side, can walk therein. This gut, which vault is not so high that an full-grown man can walk upright, is the farm’s only road which rise to a considerable height.

“ But as this gut could not get lightened in a suitable height, one has filled up or finished the remaining gap with four timber beams, four or five yards long, which is close to the gut, and with its upper end leans on a higher small mountain peak, which beside this is the fastening for the bridge over the waterfall. In these beams is cut in flukes, just as the steps of a staircase, and when one walks up these flukes one looks between the beams the frothing foss beneath one’s self, while one get wrapped up of its exhalation clouds.

“ The man told me that the pass also is to be passed with horse, the time of the summer, and that all then is to be carried in a pack-saddle to the farm, of his own horse, which is accustomed to this trip. And when one know the small Lærdalske horses’ easiness, and the extraordinary security wherewith they can go upon the most narrow path on the edge of the most dreadful precipices, in that they place or cast the feet so in front of each other that no path is too narrow for them, then it seems a little less surprising.

“ From the Vetti farm continues the pass in a distance of about twenty-one English miles, so that the whole pass, then, is a little more than twenty-four miles, and shall on the other side of the farm be still more narrow, more difficult, and more dreadful. The farmer himself and his people must often go there to the woods, and for other things for his farm. There belongs to this farm most excellent sœtor and mountain fields, wherefore the cattle begetting is here of great importance; and also the most excellent tract of firs belong to this farm.

“ I was curious to know how one had to behave from here to get the dead buried, when it was impossible that two men could walk by the side of each other through the pass, and I did even not see how one could carry any coffin on horseback. I got the following information : The corpse is to be laid on a thin board, in which there is bored holes in both ends in which there is to be put handles of rope ; to this board is the corpse to be tied, wrapped up in its linen cloth. And now one man in the front and one behind carry it through the pass to the farm Gjelde, and here it is to be laid into the coffin, and in the common manner brought to the churchyard. If any one die in the winter, and the bottom of the pass must be impassable then as well as in the spring and in the autumn, one must try to keep the corpse in an hard frozen state, which is not difficult, till it can be brought down in the above-mentioned manner.

“ A still more strange and sad manner was used once at a cottager place called Vermelien. This place is lying in the little valley which border to the Vetti’s field. Its situation by the river deep down in the pass is exceedingly horrid, and it has none other road or path than a very steep and narrow footpath along the mountain wall side with the most dreadful precipice as by the Vetti.

“ Since the cottager people here generally had changed, no one had dead there. It happened, then, the first time a boy, on seventeen years old, died. One did not do one’s self any hesitation about the manner to bring him to his grave, and they made a coffin in the house. The corpse was put in the coffin, and then the coffin brought outside ; and first now one did see with consternation that it was not possible to carry the corpse with them in this manner. What was to do then ?

“ At last they resolved to let the coffin be left as a memento mori, and to place the dead upon a horse, his feet tied up under the belly of the horse; against the mane on the horse was fastened a well-stuffed fodder bag, that the corpse may lean to the same, to which again the corpse was tied. And so the dead must ride over the mountain to his resting-place by Fortun’s church in Lyster.”

H. H.