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The Baldwin Library
FEATS ON THE FIORD
AUTHOR OF "THE CROFTON BOYS;" THE PEASANT AND THE PRINCE;
"THE SETTLERS AT HOME," ETC.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
NEW YORK: 9, LAFAYETTE PLACE
BY HARRIET MARTINEAU.
THE HAMPDENS; An Historiette. With Illus-
trations by J. E. MILLAIS, R.A. Crown 8vo. Cloth.
In Cloth, with Coloured Frontispiece, Is. each,
or Cloti, gilt edges, Is. 6d.
THE PEASANT AND THE PRINCE.
THE CROFTON BOYS.
FEATS ON THE FIORD.
THE SETTLERS AT HOME.
THE BILLOW AND THE ROCK.
FEATS ON THE FIORD.
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME."
EVERY one who has looked at the map of Norway must have
been struck with the singular character of its coast. On the map
it looks so jagged, such a strange mixture of land and sea, that it
appears as if there must be a perpetual struggle between the two,
-the sea striving to inundate the land, and the land pushing
itself out into the sea, till it ends in their dividing the region
between them. On the spot, however, this coast is very sublime.
The long straggling promontories are mountainous, towering ridges
of rock, springing up in precipices from the water; while the bays
between them, instead of being rounded with shelving sandy
shores, on which the sea tumbles its waves, as in bays of our
coast, are, in fact, long narrow valleys, filled with sea, instead of
being laid out in fields and meadows. The high rocky banks
shelter these deep bays (called fiords) from almost every wind;
so that their waters are usually as still as those of a lake. For
days and weeks together, they reflect each separate tree-top of the
pine forests which clothe the mountain sides, the mirror being
broken only by the leap of some sportive fish, or the oars of the
boat-man as he goes to inspect the sea-fowl from islet to islet of
the fiord, or carries out his nets or his rod to catch the sea-trout or
char, or cod, or herrings, which abound, in their seasons, on the
coast of Norway.
It is difficult to say whether these fiords are the most beautiful
in summer or in winter. In summer, they glitter with golden sun-
shine; and purple and green shadows from the mountain and
forest lie on them; and these may be more lovely than the faint
light of the winter noons of those latitudes, and the snowy pic-
tures of frozen peaks which then show themselves on the surface :
but before the day is half over, out come the stars,-the glorious
stars which shine like nothing that we have ever seen. There,
4 Feats on the Fiord.
the planets cast a faint shadow, as the young moon does with us:
and these planets, and the constellations of the sky, as they
silently glide over from peak to peak of these rocky passes, are
imaged on the waters so clearly that the fisherman, as he unmoors
his boat for his evening task, feels as if he were about to shoot
forth his vessel into another heaven, and to cleave his way among
Still as everything is to the eye, sometimes for a hundred miles
together along these deep sea-valleys, there is rarely silence. The
ear is kept awake by a thousand voices. In the summer, there
are cataracts leaping from ledge to ledge of the rocks; and there
is the bleating of the kids that browse there, and the flap of the
great eagle's wings, as it dashes abroad from its eyrie, and the
cries of whole clouds of sea-birds which inhabit the islets; and all
these sounds are mingled and multiplied by the strong echoes, till
they become a din as loud as that of a city. Even at night, when
the flocks are in the fold, and the birds at roost, and the echoes
themselves seem to be asleep, there is occasionally a sweet music
heard, too soft for even the listening ear to catch by day. Every
breath of summer wind that steals through the pine forests wakes
this music as it goes. The stiff spiny leaves of the fir and pine
vibrate with the breeze, like the strings of a musical instrument,
so that every breath of the night-wind, in a Norwegian forest,
wakens a myriad of tiny harps; and this gentle and mournful
music may be heard in gushes the whole night through. This
music, of course, ceases when each tree becomes laden with
snow; but yet there is sound, in the midst of the longest winter
night. There is the rumble of some avalanche, as, after a drifting
storm, a mass of snow, too heavy to keep its place, slides and
tumbles from the mountain peak. There is also, now and then,
a loud crack of the ice in the nearest glacier; and, as many
declare, there is a crackling to be heard by those who listen when
the northern lights are shooting and blazing across the sky. Nor
is this all. Wherever there is a nook between the rocks on the
shore, where a man may build a house, and clear a field or two;
-wherever there is a platform beside the cataract where the
sawyer may plant his mill, and make a path from it to join some
great road, there is a human habitation, and the sounds that
belong to it. Thence, in winter nights, come music and laughter,
and the tread of dancers, and the hum of many voices. The
Norwegians are a social and hospitable people; and they hold
their gay meetings, in defiance of their arctic climate, through
every season of the year.
On a January night, a hundred years ago, there was great merri-
ment in the house of a farmer who had fixed his abode within the
Feats on the Fiord.
arctic circle, in Nordland, not far from the foot of Sulitelma, the
highest mountain in Norway. This dwelling, with its few fields
about it, was in a recess between the rocks, on the shore of the
fiord, about five miles from Saltdalen, and two miles from the
junction of the Salten's Elv.(river) with the fiord. It was but
little that Erlingsen's fields would produce, though they were
sheltered from the coldest winds, and the summer sunshine was
reflected from the rocks, so as to make this little farm much more
productive than any near which were in a more exposed situation.
A patch of rye was grown, and some beans and oats; and there
was a strip of pasture, and a garden in which might be seen
turnips, radishes, potatoes, lettuce and herbs, and even some
fruits,-a few raspberries, and a great many cherries. There were
three or four horses on the farm, five cows, and a small flock of
goats. In summer, the cattle and flock were driven up the moun-
tain, to feed on the pastures there; and during the seven months
of winter, they were housed and fed on the hay grown at home,
and that which was brought from the mountain, and on a food
which appears strange enough to us, but of which cows in Norway
are extremely fond :-fish-heads boiled into a thick soup with
horse-dung. At one extremity of the little beach of white sand
which extended before the farmer's door was his boat-house; and
on his boat he and his family depended, no less than his cows, for
a principal part of their winter subsistence. Except a kid or a calf
now and then, no meat was killed on the farm. Cod in winter,
herrings in spring, trout and salmon in summer, and salted fish in
winter, always abounded. Reindeer meat was regularly purchased
from the Lapps who travelled round among the settlements for
orders, or drove their fattened herds from farm to farm. Besides
this, there was the resource of game. Erlingsen and his house-
men brought home from their sporting rambles, sometimes a
young bear, sometimes wild ducks, or the noble cock-of-the.
woods, as big as a turkey, or a string of snipes, or golden plovers,
or ptarmigan. The eggs of sea-birds might be found in every
crevice of the islets in the fiord, in the right season; and they
are excellent food. Once a year, too, Erlingsen wrapped himself
in furs, and drove himself in his sledge, followed by one of his
housemen on another and a larger, to the great winter fair at
Tronyem, where the Lapps repaired to sell their frozen reindeer
meat, their skins, a few articles of manufacture, and where travel-
ling Russian merchants came with the productions of other
climates, and found eager customers in the inhabitants who
thronged to this fair to make their purchases. Here, in ex-
change for the salt-fish, feathers, and eider-down which had been
prepared by the industry of his family, Erlingsen obtained flag.
6 Feats on the Fiord.
and wool wherewith to make clothing for the household, and
those luxuries which no Norwegian thinks of going without,-
corn-brandy, coffee, tobacco, sugar, and spices. Large mould
candles were also sold so cheap by the Russians that it was worth
while to bring them home for the use of the whole family,-even
to burn in the stables and stalls, as the supply of bears' fat was
precarious, and the pine-tree was too precious, so far north, to be
split up into torches, while it even fell so short occasionally as to
compel the family to burn peat, which they did not like nearly so
well as pine-logs. It was Madame Erlingsen's business to calcu-
late how much of all these foreign articles would be required for
the use of her household for a whole year; and, trusting to her
calculations, which were never found to be wrong, her husband
came home from the winter fair heavily enough laden with good
Nor was it only what was required for his own every-day house-
hold that he brought. The quantity of provisions, especially
corn-brandy, tobacco, coffee, and sugar, consumed in hospitality
in Norway, is almost incredible; and retired as the Erlingsens
might appear to dwell, they were as hospitable, according to their
opportunities, as any inhabitant of Bergen or Christiana. They
gave feasts at Christmas, and on every occasion that they could
devise. The occasion, on the particular January day mentioned
above, was the betrothment of one of the house-maidens to a
young farm-servant of the establishment. I do not mean that
this festival was anything like a marriage. It was merely an
engagement to be married; but this engagement is a much more
formal and public affair in Norway (and indeed wherever the
people belong to the Lutheran church) than with us. According
to the rites of the Lutheran church, there are two ceremonies,-
one when a couple become engaged, and another when they are
married. In Norway, this betrothment gives the couple a certain
dignity beyond that of the unengaged, and more liberty of com-
panionship, together with certain rights in law. This makes up
to them for being obliged to wait so long as they often must
before they can marry. In a country, scattered over with
farmers, like Norway, where there are few money transactions,
because people provide for their own wants on their own little
estates, servants do not shift their places, and go from master to
master, as with us. A young man and woman have to wait long,
-probably till some houseman dies or removes, before they can
settle; and then they are settled for life,-provided for till death,
if they choose to be commonly industrious and honest. The
story of this betrothment at Erlingsen's will explain what I have
Feats on the Fiord. 7
As Madame Erlingsen had two daughters growing up, and
they were no less active than the girls of a Norwegian household
usually are, she had occasion for only two maidens to assist in
the business of the dwelling and the dairy.
Of these two, the younger, Erica, was the maiden betrothed to-
day. No one perhaps rejoiced so much at the event as her
mistress, both for Erica's sake, and on account of her two young
daughters. Erica was not the best companion for them; and the
servants of a Norwegian farmer are necessarily the companions of
the daughters of the house. There was nothing wrong in Erica's
conduct or temper towards the family. She had, when con-
firmed,* borne so high a character, that many places were offered
her, and Madame Erlingsen had thought herself very fortunate
in obtaining her services. But, since then, Erica had sustained a
shock which hurt her spirits, and increased a weakness which she
owed to her mother. Her mother, a widow, had brought up her
child in all the superstitions of the country, some of which remain
in full strength even to this day, and were then very powerful;
and the poor woman's death at last confirmed the lessons of her
life. She had stayed too long one autumn day at the Erling-
sen's; and, being benighted on her return, and suddenly seized
and bewildered by the cold, had wandered from the road, and
was found frozen to death in a recess of the forest which it was
surprising that she should have reached. Erica never believed
that she did reach this spot of her own accord. Having had
some fears before of the Wood Demon having been offended by
one of the family, Erica regarded this accident as a token of his
vengeance. She said this when she first heard of her mother's
death; and no reasoning from the zealous pastor of the district,
no soothing from her mistress, could shake her persuasion. She
listened with submission, wiping away her quiet tears as they
discoursed; but no one could ever get her to say that she
doubted whether there was a Wood Demon, or that she was not
afraid of what he would do if offended.
Erlingsen and his wife always treated her superstition as a
weakness; and when she was not present, they ridiculed it. Yet
The rite of confirmation is thought much more of in Norway than with us.
The preparation for it is longer and more strict; and the destiny of young
people for life depends much on how they pass through it. A person who has
not been confirmed is looked upon as one without a character and without
knowledge; while those who pass well stand high in credit; and if they have
to earn their living, are sure of good situations.-In the newspapers in Nor-
way you may see among the advertisements, "A confirmed shop-boy wants
a place." "Wanted a confirmed girl, who can cook;" which means that
their having been confirmed proves that they are considered respectable, and
not deficient in capacity or knowledge.
8 Feats on the Fiord.
they saw that it had its effect on their daughters. Erica most
strictly obeyed their wish that she should not talk about the
spirits of the region with Orga and Frolich; but the girls found
plenty of people to tell them what they could not learn from
Erica. Besides what everybody knows who lives in the rural
districts of Norway,-about Nipen, the spirit that is always so
busy after everybody's affairs,-about the Watersprite, an ac-
quaintance of every one who lives beside a river or lake,-and
about the Mountain Demon, familiar to all who lived so near
Sulitelma; besides these common spirits, the girls used to hear
of a multitude of others from old Peder, the blind houseman, and
from all the farm-people, down to Oddo, the herd-boy. Their
parents hoped that this taste of theirs might die away if once
Erica, with her sad, serious face and subdued voice, were removed
to a house of her own, where they would see her supported by
her husband's unfearing mind, and occupied with domestic busi-
ness more entirely than in her mistress's house. So Madame
Erlingsen was well pleased that Erica was betrothed; and she
could only have been better satisfied if she had been married at
For this marrying, however, the young people must wait. There
was no house, or houseman's place, vacant for them at present.
There was a prospect, however. The old houseman Peder, who
had served Erlingsen's father and Erlingsen himself for fifty-eight
years, could now no longer do the weekly work on the farm which
was his rent for his house, field, and cow. He was blind and old.
His aged wife, Ulla, could not leave the house; and it was the
most she could do to keep the dwelling in order, with occasional
help from one and another. Housemen who make this sort of con-
tract with farmers in Norway are never turned out. They have
their dwelling and field for their own life and that of their wives.
What they do, when disabled, is to take in a deserving young
man to do their work for the farmer, on the understanding that
he succeeds to the houseman's place on the death of the old
people. Peder and Ulla had made this agreement with Erica's
lover, Rolf; and it was understood that his marriage with Erica
should take place whenever the old people should die.
It was impossible for Erica herself to fear that Nipen was offended,
at the outset of this festival day. If he had chosen to send a wind,
the guests could not have come; for no human frame can endure
travelling in a wind in Nordland on a January day. Happily, the
air was so calm that a flake of snow, or a lock of eider-down, would
have fallen straight to the ground. At two o'clock, when the short
daylight was gone, the stars were shining so brightly, that the
company who came by the fiord would be sure to have an easy
Feats on the Fiord. 9
voyage. Almost all came by the fiord, for the only road from
Erlingsep's house led to so few habitations, and was so narrow,
steep, and rocky, that an arrival by that way was a rare event.
The path was now, however, so smooth with frozen snow, that
more than one sledge attempted and performed the descent.
Erlingsen and some of his servants went out to the porch, on
hearing music from the water, and stood with lighted pine-torches
to receive their guests, when, approaching from behind, they heard
the sound of the sleigh-bells, and found that company was arriving
both by sea and land.
It was a pretty sight,-such an arrival. In front, there was the
head of a boat driving up upon the white beach, and figure after
figure leaping out, and hastening to be welcomed in the porch;
while, in the midst of the greeting, the quick and regular beat of
a horse's feet was heard on the frozen ground, and the active little
animal rushed into the light, shaking his mane and jingling his
bells, till suddenly checked by the driver, who stood upright at
the back of the sledge, while the ladies reclined, so wrapped in
furs that nothing'could be seen of them till they had entered the
house, and issued forth from the room where they threw off their
pelisses and cloaks. Glad had the visitors been, whether they
came by land or water, to arrive in sight of the lighted dwelling,
whose windows looked like rows of yellow stars, contrasting with
the blue ones overhead; and more glad still were they to be
ushered into the great room, where all was so light, so warm, so
cheerful Warm it was, to the farthest corner; and too warm
near the roaring and crackling fires; for the fires were of pine-
wood. Rows upon rows of candles were fastened against the
walls, above the heads of the company; the floor was strewn with
juniper twigs; and the. spinning-wheels, the carding boards, every
token of household labour was removed, except a loom, which
remained in one corner. In another corner was a welcome sight-
a platform of rough boards, two feet from the floor, and on it two
stools. This was a token that there was to be dancing; and
indeed Oddo, the herd-boy, old Peder's grandson, was seen to
have his clarionet in his belt, as he ran in and out on the arrival
of fresh parties.
Before four o'clock, the whole company, consisting of about
forty, had arrived. They walked about the large room, sipping
their strong coffee, and helping one another to the good things on
the trays which were carried round,-the slices of bread-and-
butter, with anchovies, or shreds of reindeer ham or tongue, or
thin slices of salt cheese. When these trays disappeared, and the
young women who had served them returned into the room, Oddo
was seen to reach the platform with a hop, skip, and jump, fol-
Io Feats on the Fiord.
lowed by a dull-looking young man with a violin. The oldest
men lighted their pipes, and sat down to talk, two or three toge-
ther. Others withdrew to a smaller room, where card-tables were
set-out; while the younger men selected their partners, and
handed them forth for the gallopade. The dance was led by the
blushing Erica, whose master was her partner. It had never
occurred to her that she was not to take her usual place, and she
was greatly embarrassed, not the less so that she knew that her
mistress was immediately behind, with Rolf for her partner. Erica
might, however, have led the dance in any country in Europe.
All the women in Norway dance well, being practised in it from
their infancy, as an exercise for which the leisure of their long
winter, and the roominess of their houses, afford scope. Every
woman present danced well, but none better than Erica.
"Very well "very pretty very good !" observed the
pastor, M. Kollsen, as he sat, with his pipe in his mouth, looking
on. M. Kollsen was a very young man; but the men in Norway
smoke as invariably as the women dance. "Very pretty, indeed !
They only want double the number to make it as pretty a dance
as any in Tronyem."
"What would you have, sir?" asked old Peder, who sat
smoking at his elbow. "Are there not eleven couple ? Oddo
told me there were eleven couple; and I think I counted so many
pairs of feet as they passed."
Let me see:-yes, you are right, Peder; there are eleven
"And what would you have more, sir ? In this young man's
"No, sir,-Erlingsen's. Ah I forgot that Erlingsen may not
seem to you, or any stranger, to be young, but Ulla and I have
been used to call him so, and I fear I always shall, as I shall
never see the furrows in his face. It will be always smooth and
young to me. My Ulla says there is nothing to be sorry for in
that, and she does not object to my thinking so of her face. But,
as I was saying, in the elder Erlingsen's time we thought we did
well when we set up nine couples at Yule : and since then, the
Holbergs and Thores have each made out a new farm within ten
miles, and we are accustomed to be rather proud of our eleven
couples. Indeed, I once knew it twelve, when they got me to
stand up with little Henrica,-the pretty little girl whose grave
lies behind, just under the rock. But I suppose there is no question
but there are finer doings at Tronyem."
Of course-of course," said the young clergyman. "But
there are many youths in Tronyem that would be glad of so
Feats on the Fiord. II
pretty a partner as M. Erlingsen has, if she would not look so
"Pretty she is," said Peder. "As I remember her complexion,
it looks as if it was made by the reflection of our snows in its own
clearness. And when you do get a full look into her eyes, how
like the summer sky they are-as deep as the heavens in a mid-
summer noon! Did you say she looks frightened, sir ?"
"Yes. When does she not? Some ghost from the grave has
scared her, I suppose; or some spirit that has no grave to lie still
in, perhaps. It is a great fault in her that she has so little faith.
I never met with such a case. I hardly know how to conduct it.
I must begin with the people about her,-abolish their super-
stitions,-and then there may be a chance for her. Meanwhile
I have but a poor account to give to the bishop* of the religion
of the district."
Did you say, sir, that Erica wants faith ? It seems to me thar
I never knew any one who had so much."
"You think so because there is no idea in this region of what
faith is. A prodigious work indeed my bishop has given me to
do. He himself cannot be aware what it is, till I send him my
report. One might suppose that Christianity had never been
heard of here, by the absurd credulity one meets with in the best
houses,-the multitude of good and evil spirits one hears of at
every turn. I will blow them all to the winds presently. I will
root out every superstition in a circle of twenty miles."
"You will, sir ?"
I will. Such is my duty as a Christian pastor."
Do you suppose you can, sir ?"
Certainly. No doubt of that. What sort of a pastor must he
be who cannot vindicate his own religion ?"
"These beliefs, sir, were among us long before you were born;
and I fancy they will last till some time after you are dead.
And, what is more, I should not wonder if your bishop was to
tell you the same thing when you send him your report of us'"
I thought you had had more faith, Peder. I thought you had
been a better Christian."
However that may be," said Peder, I have some knowledge
of the people about us, having lived nearly fourscore years in the
parish; and perhaps, sir, as you are young, and from a distance,
you would allow me to say a word. May I ?"
But while M. Kollsen gave this permission, he took his pipe
from his mouth, and beat time with it upon his knee, and
A hundr.vd years ago Nordland was included in the diocese of Tron-
12 Feats on the Fiord.
with his foot upon the ground, to carry off his impatience at being
My advice would be, sir, with all respect to you," said Peder,
"that you should lead the people into everything that you think
true and good, and pass over quietly whatever old customs and
notions you do not understand or like. I have so much belief in
the religion you are to teach as to feel sure that whatever will not
agree with it will die out of its way if let alone. But if religion is
brought in to hurt the people's feelings and notions, that religion
will be the thing to suffer."
I must judge for myself about such matters, of course," said
M. Kollsen. He was meditating a change of place, to escape
further lecturing about his duty, when Peder saved him the trouble
of leaving his comfortable seat by rising and moving away towards
the fire. Peder's pipe was smoked out, and he was going for
more tobacco to the place where tobacco was always to be found
-in a little recess above the fireplace. He felt his way carefully,
that he might not interfere with the dancers, or be jostled by
them; but he had not far to go. One friend begged to be sent
for anything he wanted; another, with a quicker eye, brought him
tobacco; and a third led him to his seat again. All looked with
wonder at M. Kollsen, surprised that he, Peder's companion at
that moment, young and blessed with eyesight, could let the
blind old man leave his seat for such a reason. M. Kollsen
whiffed away, however, quite unconscious of what everybody was
This waltz," said Peder, when the dancers had begun again,
"does not seem to go easily. There is something amiss. I
think it is in the music that the fault lies. My boy's clarionet
goes well enough; no fear of Oddo's being out. Pray, sir, who
plays the violin at this moment ?"
"A fellow who looks as if he did not like his business. He
is frowning with his red brows as if he would frown out the
"His red brows! 0, then it is Hund. I was thinking it
would be hard upon him, poor fellow, if he had to play to-night;
yet, not so hard as if he had to dance. It is weary work dancing
with the heels when the heart is too heavy to move. You may
have heard, sir, for everyone knows it, that Hund wanted to have
young Rolf's place, and, some say, Erica herself. Is she dancing,
sir, if I may ask?"
"Yes, with Rolf. What sort of a man is Rolf-with regard to
these superstitions, I mean ? Is he as foolish as Erica-always
frightened about something?"
No, indeed. It is to be wished that Rolf was not so light as
Feats on the Fiord. 13
he is-so inconsiderate about these matters. Rolf has his troubles
and his faults; but they are not of that kind."
"Enough," said M. Kollsen, with a voice of authority. "I
rejoice to hear that he is superior to the popular delusions. As
to his troubles and his faults, they may be left for me to discover
all in good time."
With all my heart, sir. They are nobody's business but his
own, and, may be, Erica's. Rolf has a good heart, and I doubt
not Ulla and I shall have great comfort in him. He lives with
us, sir, from this night forwards. There is no fear that he will
wish us in our graves, though we stand between him and his
"That must be rather a painful consideration to you."
"Not at all, sir, at present. Ulla and I were all the happier,
we think, to this day, for having had four such years as these
young people have before them to know one another in, and
grow suitable in notions and habits, and study to please one
another. By the time Rolf and Erica are what we were, one or
both of us will be underground, and Rolf will have, I am certain,
the pleasant feeling of having done his duty by us. It is all as
it should be, sir; and I pray that they may live to say at our age
what Ulla and I can say at the same season of our lives."
The pastor made no answer. He had not heard the last few
words; for what Peder said of being underground had plunged
him into a reverie about Peder's funeral sermon, which he should,
of course, have to preach. He was pondering how he should at
once do justice to Peder's virtues and mark his own disapproba-
tion of the countenance Peder gave to the superstitions of the
region in which he lived. He must keep in view the love and
respect in which the old man was held by everybody, and yet he
must bear witness against the great fault above mentioned. He
composed two or three paragraphs in his imagination which he
thought would do, and then committed them to memory. He
was roused from this employment by a loud laugh from the man
whose funeral he was meditating, and saw that Peder was enjoying
life at present as much as the youngest, with a glass of punch in
his hand, and a group of old men and women round him recalling
the jests of fifty years ago.
How goes it, Rolf ?" said his master, who, having done his
duty in the dancing-room, was now making his way to the card-
tables, in another apartment, to see how his guests there were
entertained. Thinking that Rolf looked very absent, as he stood,
in the pause of the dance, in silence by Erica's side, Erlingsen
clapped him on the shoulder, and said, How goes it ? Make
your friends merry."
14 Feats on the Fiord.
Rolf bowed and smiled, and his master passed on.
How goes it?" repeated Rolf to Erica, as he looked earnestly
into her face. Is all going on well, Erica ?"
"Certainly. I suppose so. Why not? she replied. "If
you see anything wrong,-anything omitted, be sure and tell me.
Madame Erlingsen would be very sorry. Is there anything for-
"I think you have forgotten what the day is: that is all. No-
body that looked at you, love, would fancy it to be your own
day. You look anything but merry. Hardly a smile from you
to-night! And that is a great omission."
0, Rolf, there is something so much better than merriment !"
"Yes, love; but where is it? Not in your heart to-night,
"Yes, indeed, Rolf."
"You look as dull,-as sad,-you and Hund, as if- "
"Hund 1" repeated Erica, glancing around the room for Hund,
and not seeing him till her lover reminded her that Hund was the
musician. "Hund does seem dull enough to'be sure," said she,
smiling; "I hope I do not often look like that."
"I am more sorry for him than you are, I see," said Rolf,
brightening when he found how entirely Hund had been absent
from her thoughts. "I am more sorry for Hund than you are:
and with good reason, for I know what the happiness is that he
has missed, poor fellow But yet I think you might feel a little
more for him. It would show that you know how to value love."
Indeed I am very sorry for him; but more for his disappoint-
ment about the house than any other. To-day one ; over, he will
soon fix his love on somebody else. Perhaps we shall be dancing
on his betrothment-day before the year is out."
"Then I hope his girl will look merrier than you do to-night,"
muttered Rolf, with a sigh. O, Erica I wish you would trust
me. I could take care of you, and make you quite happy, if you
would only believe it. Ah I know what that look means. I
know you love me, and all that; but you are always tormenting
I think I know one who is cleverer still at tormenting him-
self," said Erica, with a smile. Come, Rolf, no more tormenting
of ourselves or one another No more of that after to-day i What
is to-day worth, if it is not to put an end to all doubts of one
"But where is the use of that, if you still will not believe that
I can keep off all trouble from you-that nothing in the universe
shall touch you to your hurt, while--"
"0, hush! hush! said Erica, turning pale and red at the
Feats on the Fiord. 15
presumption of this speech. "See, they are waiting for us. One
more round before supper."
And in the whirl of the waltz she tried to forget the last words
Rolf had spoken; but they rang in her ears; and before her eyes
were images of Nipen overhearing this defiance,-and the Water-
sprite planning vengeance in its palace under the ice,-and the
Mountain-Demon laughing in scorn, till the echoes shouted again,
-and the Wood-Demon waiting only for summer to see how he
could beguile the rash lover. Erica finished her dance; but when
the company and the men of the household were seated at the
supper-table, and she had to help her mistress and the young
ladies to wait upon them, she trembled so that she could scarcely
stand. It was so very wrong of Rolf to be always defying the
Long was the supper, and hearty was the mirth round the
table. People in Norway have universally a hearty appetite,-
such an appetite as we English have no idea of. Whether it is
owing to the sharp climate, or to the active life led by all,-
whatever may be the cause, such is the fact. This night, piles
of fish disappeared first; and then joint after joint of reindeer
venison. The fine game of the country was handed round, cut
up; and little but the bones was left of a score of birds. Then
there were preserved fruits, and berries, eaten with thick cream;
-almost every dish that could be thought of made of the rich
cream of the north. Erica recovered herself as the great busi-
ness went on, and while her proud lover watched her, forgetting
his supper, he thought to himself that no one of the fair attendants
trod so lightly as Erica-no one carved so neatly-no one handed
the dishes so gracefully, or was so quick at seeing to whom the
most respect and attention were owing. Perhaps this last thought
was suggested by Rolf's perceiving that, either by her own hand
or another's, the hottest dishes and the nicest bits were found, all
supper-time, close to his elbow. Madame Erlingsen, he decided,
with all her experience, did not do the duties of the table so well;
and the young ladies, kind and good-tempered as they were,
would never, by any experience, become so graceful as Erica.
At last appeared the final dish of the long feast-the sweet cake,
with which dinner and supper in Norway usually conclude. While
this was sliced and handed round, Rolf observed that Erica
looked anxiously towards him. He took no notice, hoping that
she would come and speak to him, and that he should thus be
the gainer of a few of her sweet words. She did come, and just
"The cake and ale are here, Rolf. Will you carry them ?"
16 Feats on the Fiord.
0, the treat for old Nipen. Yes, I will carry them," replied
Rolf, rising from his seat.
It is the custom in the country regions of Norway to give the
spirit Nipen a share at festival times. His Christmas cake is
richer than that prepared for the guests; and, before the feast is
finished, it is laid in some place out of doors, where, as might be
expected, it is never to be found in the morning. Everybody
knew therefore why Rolf rose from his seat, though some were
too far off to hear him say that he would carry out the treat for
Now, pray do not speak so,-do not call him those names,"
said Erica, anxiously. "It is quite as easy to speak so as not to
offend him. Pray, Rolf, to please me, do speak respectfully.
And promise me to play no tricks, but just set the things down,
and come straight in, and do not look behind you. Promise me,
Rolf did promise, but he was stopped by two voices, calling
upon him. Oddo, the herd-boy, came running to claim the office
of carrying out Nipen's cake; and M. Kollsen, from his seat,
declared that he could not countenance any superstitious ob-
servances,-would not indeed permit any so gross as this in his
presence. He requested that the company might have the benefit
of the cake, and made a speech in ridicule of all spirits and
fairies so very bold and contemptuous, that all present who had
to go home that night looked in consternation at their host. If
such language as M. Kollsen's were allowed, they looked for
nothing less than to have their way beset by offended spirits; so
that Erlingsen might hear in the morning of some being frozen,
some being lost in the fiord, and others tumbled from precipices.
M. Erlingsen made haste to speak. He did not use any scruples
with the young clergyman. He told him that every one present
would be happy at all times to hear" him speak on the matters
belonging to his office. He had discharged his office in the
morning, in betrothing Rolf and Erica; he was now resting from
his business as a guest at that table; and he would, of course,
allow that the direction of the festivity rested with the host and
hostess, whose desire it was that everything should be done which
was agreeable to the feelings and habits of the greater number of
It was settled in a moment that Nipen should have his cake;
which so shocked and annoyed M. Kollsen that he declared he
would not remain to sanction anything so impious, and requested
that his boatmen might be called from their suppers, and desired
to have his boat ready immediately. No entreaties would soften
him: go he would.
Feats on the Fiord. 17
It appeared, however, that he could not go. Not a man would
row him, after what he had just said of Nipen. All were sure that
a gust would blow the boat over, the minute she was out of reach
of land; or that a rock would spring up in deep water, where no
rock was before; or that some strong hand would grasp the boat
from below, and draw it down under the waters. A shudder went
round as these things were prophesied, and, of course, M. Kollsen's
return home that night was out of the question, unless be would
S row himself. At first, he declared he should do this; but he was
so earnestly entreated to attempt nothing so rash, that he yielded
the point, with a supercilious air which perhaps concealed more
satisfaction than he chose to avow to himself. He insisted on
retiring immediately, however, and was shown to his chamber at
once by Erlingsen himself, who found, on his return, that the
company were the better for the pastor's absence, though unable
to recover the mirth which he had put to flight. Erica had been
shedding a few tears, in spite of strong efforts to restrain them.
Here was a bad omen already,-on the very day of her betroth-
ment; and she saw that Hund thought so; for there was a
gloomy satisfaction in his eye, as he sat silently watching all that
She could not help being glad that Oddo renewed his request
to be allowed to carry out Nipen's cake and ale. She eagerly
put the ale-can into his hand, and the cake under his arm; and
Oddo was going out, when his blind grandfather, hearing that he
was to be the messenger, observed that he should be better
pleased if it were somebody else; for Oddo, though a good boy,
was inquisitive, and apt to get into mischief by looking too closely
into everything,-having never a thought of fear. Everybody
knew this to be true, though Oddo himself declared that he
was as frightened as anybody sometimes. Moreover, he asked
what there was to pry into, on the present occasion, in the middle
of the night, and appealed to the company whether Nipen was
not best pleased to be served by the youngest of a party. This
was allowed, and he was permitted to go, when Peder's consent
was obtained, his mistress going to the door with him, and seeing
him off, putting him in mind that the dancing could not begin
again till he returned to take up his clarionet.
18 Feats on the Fio'd.
THE place where Nipen liked to find his offerings was at the
end of the barn, below the gallery which ran round the outside of
the building. There, in the summer, lay a plot of green grass,
and in the winter a sheet of pure frozen snow. Thither Oddo
shuffled on, over the slippery surface of the yard, and across the
paddock, along the lane made by the snow-plough between high
banks of snow; and he took prodigious pains, between one slip
and another, not to spill the ale. He looked more like a prowl-
ing cub than a boy, wrapped as he was in his wolf-skin coat and
his fox-skin cap doubled down over his ears.
As may be supposed from Oddo's declaring that he was some-
times frightened, he was a brave boy. A cowardly boy would not
have said it; a cowardly boy would not have offered to go at all;
a cowardly boy would, if he had been sent, have wished that the
house-door might be left open, that he might see the cheerful
yellow light from within; whereas Oddo begged his mistress to
shut the door, that his grandfather might not be made to feel his
rheumatism by any draught, as he sat at table. A cowardly boy
would have run as fast as he could, perhaps slipping or falling,
and spilling the ale; and when his errand was done, he would
have fled home, without looking behind him, fancying everything
he saw and heard a spirit or a wild beast. Oddo did very differ-
ently from this. As usual, he was too busy finding out how
everything happened to feel afraid, as a less inquisitive boy
The cake steamed up in the frosty air under his nose, so warm,
and spicy, and rich, that Oddo began to wonder what so very
superior a cake could be like. He had never tasted any cake so
rich as this, nor had any one in the house tasted such: for Nipen
would be offended if his cake was not richer than anybody's else.
Oddo wondered more and more how this would taste, till, before
he had crossed the yard, he wondered no longer. He broke a
piece off, and ate it; and then wondered whether Nipen would
mind his cake being just a little smaller than usual. After a few
steps more, the wonder was how far Nipen's charity would go, for
the cake was now a great deal smaller, and Oddo next wondered
whether anybody could stop eating such a cake when it was once
tasted. He was surprised to see, when he came out into the star-
light, at the end of the barn, how small a piece was left. He
Feats on the Fiord. 19
stood listening whether Nipen was coming in a gust of wind, and
when he heard no breeze stirring, he looked about for a cloud
where Nipen might be. There was no cloud, as far as he could
see. The moon had set, but the stars were so bright as to throw
a faint shadow from Oddo's form upon the snow. There was no
sign of any spirit being angry at present: but Oddo thought
Nipen would certainly be angry at finding so very small a piece
of cake. It might be better to let the ale stand by itself, and
Nipen would perhaps suppose that Madame Erlingsen's stock of
groceries had fallen short; at least, that it was in some way incon-
venient to make the cake on the present occasion. So, putting
down his can upon the snow, and holding the last fragment of the
cake between his teeth, he seized a birch pole which hung down
from the gallery, and by its help climbed one of the posts, and got
over the rails into the gallery, whence he could watch what would
happen. To remain on the very spot where Nipen was expected
was a little more than he was equal to; but he thought he could
stand in the gallery, in the shadow of the broad eaves of the barn,
and wait for a little while. He was so very curious to see Nipen,
and to learn how it liked its ale !
There he stood in the shadow, hearing nothing but his own
munching; though there was not much of that: for as he came
near the end, he took only a little crumb at a time, to spin out
the treat; for never was anything so good! Then he had nothing
to do but listen: but the waterfall was frozen up; and the mill
stood as still as if it was not made to move. If the wheel should
creak, it would be a sign that Nipen was passing.
Presently he heard something.
"Music !" thought he. I never heard that it liked music;
and I don't think it can know much about music, for this is not
at all sweet. There again! That was a sort of screech. O, how
stupid I am thought he again. So much for my head being
full of Nipen It is only Hund, tuning his violin, because they
have all done supper. They will be waiting for me. I wish this
Nipen would make haste. It can't be very hungry;-that is
He grew more and more impatient as the minutes passed on,
and he was aware that he was wanted in the house. Once or
twice he walked slowly away, looking behind him, and then turned
again, unwilling to miss this opportunity of seeing Nipen. Then
he called the spirit,-actually begged it to appear. His first call
was almost a whisper; but he called louder and louder by degrees,
till he was suddenly stopped by hearing an answer.
The call he heard was soft and sweet. There was nothing
terrible in the sound itself; yet Oddo grasped the rail of the
20 Feats on the FPord.
gallery with all his strength, as he heard it. The strangest thing
was, it was not a single cry; others followed,-all soft and sweet;
but Oddo thought that Nipen must have many companions: and
he had not prepared himself to see more spirits than one. As
usual, however, his curiosity grew more intense, from the little he
had heard; and he presently called again. Again he was answered,
by four or five voices in succession.
Was ever anybody so stupid cried the boy, now stamping
with vexation. "It is the echo, after all As if there was not
always an echo here, opposite the rock It is not Nipen at all.
I will just wait another minute, however."
He leaned in silence on his folded arms ; and had not so waited
for many seconds before he saw something moving on the snow at
a little distance. It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up
to the can of ale.
I am glad I stayed," thought Oddo. "Now I can say I
have seen Nipen. It is much less terrible than I expected.
Grandfather told me that it sometimes came like an enormous ele-
phant or hippopotamus; and never smaller than a large bear.
But this is no bigger than-let me see-I think it is most like a
fox. I should like to make it speak to me. They would think so
much of me at home, if I had talked with Nipen."
So he began gently,
Is that Nipen?"
The thing moved its bushy tail, but did not answer.
There is no cake for you to-night, Nipen. I hope the ale will
do. Is the ale good, Nipen?"
Off went the dark creature, without a word, as quick as it
Is it offended?" thought Oddo : "or is it really what it looks
like,-a fox ? If it does not come back, I will go down presently,
and see whether it has drunk the ale. If not, I shall think it is
only a fox."
He presently let himself down to the ground by the way he had
come up, and eagerly laid hold of the ale-can. It would not stir.
It was as fast on the ground as if it was enchanted, which Oddo
did not doubt was the case; and he started back, with more fear
than he had yet had. The cold he felt on this exposed spot soon
reminded him, however, that the can was probably frozen to the
snow,-which it might well be, after being brought warm from the
fire-side. It was so. The vessel had sunk an inch into the snow,
and was there fixed by the frost.
None of the ale seemed to have been drunk; and so cold was
Oddo by this time, that he longed for a sup of it. He took first
a sup, and then a draught: and then he remembered that the rest
Feats on the Fiord. 21
would be entirely spoiled by the frost if it stood another hour.
This would be a pity, he thought; so he finished it, saying to him-
self that he did not believe Nipen would come that night.
At that very moment he heard a cry so dreadful that it shot,
like sudden pain, through every nerve of his body. It was not
a shout of anger: it was something between a shriek and a wail,
-like what he fancied would be the cry of a person in the act of
being murdered. That Nipen was here now, he could not doubt;
and at length Oddo fled. He fled the faster, at first, for hearing the
rustle of wings; but the curiosity of the boy even now got the
better of his terror, and he looked up at the barn where the wings
were rustling. There he saw, in the starlight, the glitter of two
enormous round eyes, shining down upon him from the ridge of
the roof. But it struck him at once that he had seen those eyes
before. He checked his speed, stopped, went back a little, sprang
up once more into the gallery, hissed, waved his cap, and clapped
his hands, till the echoes were all awake again; and, as he had
hoped, the great white owl spread its wings, sprang off from the
ridge, and sailed away over the fiord.
Oddo tossed up his cap, cold as the night was, so delighted was
he to have scared away the bird which had for a moment scared
him. He hushed his mirth, however, when he perceived that
lights were wandering in the yard, and that there were voices
approaching. He saw that the household were alarmed about
him, and were coming forth to search for him. Curious to see
what they would do, Oddo crouched down in the darkest corner of
the gallery to watch and listen.
First came Rolf and his master, carrying torches, with which
they lighted up the whole expanse of snow as they came. They
looked round them without any fear, and Oddo heard Rolf say-
If it were not for that cry, sir, I should think nothing of it.
But my fear is that some beast has got him."
Search first the place where the cake and ale ought to be,"
said Erlingsen. Till I see blood, I shall hope the best."
You will not see that," said Hund, who followed, his gloomy
countenance now distorted by fear, looking ghastly in the yellow
light of the torch he carried. You will see no blood. Nipen
does not draw blood."
Never tell me that any one that was not wounded and torn
could send out such a cry as that," said Rolf. Some wild brute
seized him, no doubt, at the very moment that Erica and I were
standing at the door listening."
Oddo repented his prank when he saw, in the flickering light
behind the crowd of guests, who seemed to hang together like a
bunch of grapes, the figures of his grandfather and Erica. The
22 Feats on the Fiord.
old man had come out in the cold for his sake; and Erica, who
looked as white as the snow, had no doubt come forth because the
old man wanted a guide. Oddo now wished himself out of the
scrape. Sorry as he was, he could not help being amused, and
keeping himself hidden a little longer, when he saw Rolf discover
the round hole in the snow where the can had sunk, and heard the
different opinions of the company as to what this portended.
Most were convinced that his curiosity had been his destruction,
as they had always prophesied. What could be clearer by this
hole than that the ale had stood there, and been carried off with
the cake, and Oddo with it, because he chose to stay and witness
what is forbidden to mortals?
I wonder where he is now?" said a shivering youth, the
gayest dancer of the evening.
0, there is no doubt about that; any one can tell you that,"
replied the elderly and experienced M. Holberg. He is chained
upon a wind, poor fellow, like all Nipen's victims. He will have
to be shut up in a cave all the hot summer, through, when it is
pleasantest to be abroad; and when the frost and snow come
again, he will be driven out with a lash of Nipen's whip, and he
must go flying wherever his wind flies without resting or stopping
to warm himself at any fire in the country. Every winter now,
when Erlingsen hears a moaning above his chimney, he may know
it is poor Oddo, foolish boy !"
Foolish boy but one can't help pitying him," said another.
Chained astride upon the wind, and never to be warm again !"
Oddo had thus far kept his laughter to himself, but now he
could contain himself no longer. He laughed aloud, and then
louder and louder as he heard the echoes all laughing with him.
The faces below, too, were so very ridiculous-some of the people
staring up in the air, and others at the rock where the echo came
from; some having their mouths wide open, others their eyes
starting, and all looking unlike themselves in the torchlight. His
mirth was stopped by his master.
Come down, sir," cried Erlingsen, looking up at the gallery.
Come down this moment. We shall make you remember this
night as well perhaps as Nipen could do. Come down, and bring
my can and the ale and the cake. The more pranks you play to-
night the more you will repent it."
Most of the company thought Erlingsen very bold to talk in
this way; but he was presently justified by Oddo's appearance on
the balustrade. His master seized him as he touched the ground,
while the others stood aloof.
Where is my ale-can ?" said Erlingsen.
Here, sir;" and Oddo held it up dangling by the handle,
Feats on the Fiord. 23
"And the cake? I bade you bring down the cake with
So I did, sir."
And to his master's look of inquiry the boy answered by
pointing down his throat with one finger, and laying the other
hand upon his stomach. It is all here, sir."
And the ale in the same place ?"
Oddo bowed, and Erlingsen turned away without speaking.
He could not have spoken without laughing.
Bring this gentleman home," said Erlingsen, presently to Rolf;
and do not let him out of your hands. Let no one ask him
any questions till he is in the house." Rolf grasped the boy's
arm, and Erlingsen went forward to relieve Peder, though it was
not very clear to him at the moment whether such a grandchild
was better safe or missing. The old man made no such question,
but hastened back to the house with many expressions of thanks-
As the search-party crowded in among the women, and pushed
all before them into the large warm room, M. Kollsen was seen
standing on the stair-head, wrapped in the bear-skin coverlid.
Is the boy there?" he inquired.
Oddo showed himself.
How much have you seen of Nipen, hey?"
Nobody ever had a better sight of it, sir. It was as plain as
I see you now, and no further off."
Nonsense,-it is a lie," said M. Kollsen.
Do not believe a word he says," advised the pastor, speaking
to the listeners. There is the folly of giving such an oppor-
tunity to a child of making himself important. If he had had his
share of the cake, with the rest of us at table, he would have
taken it quietly, and been thankful. As it is, it will be harder
work than ever to drive out these wicked superstitions. Go, get
along!" he cried to Oddo; "I do not want to hear a word you
have got to say."
Oddo bowed, and proceeded to the great room, where he took
up his clarionet, as if it was a matter of course that the dancing
was to begin again immediately. He blew upon his fingers, how-
ever, observing that they were too stiff with cold to do their duty
well. And when he turned towards the fire, everyone made way
for him, in a very different manner from what they would have
dreamed of three hours before. Oddo had his curiosity gratified
as to how they would regard one who was believed to have seen
Erlingsen saw that something must be done on the spot, to
clear up the affair. If his guests went home without having heard
24 Feats on the Fiord.
the mysteries of the night explained, the whole country would
presently be filled with wild and superstitious stories. He re-
quested Peder to examine the boy, as Oddo stood more in awe of
his grandfather than of anyone else; and also because Peder was
known to be so firm a believer in Nipen, that his judgment would
be more readily received than that of an unbeliever. When
seriously questioned, Oddo had no wish to say anything but the
truth; and he admitted the whole,-that he had eaten the entire
cake, drunk all the ale, seen a fox and an owl, and heard the
echoes in answer to himself. As he finished his story, Hund, who
was perhaps the most eager listener of all, leaped thrice upon the
floor, snapping his fingers, as if in a passion of delight. He met
Erlingsen's eye full of severity, and was quiet; but his countenance
still glowed with exultation.
The rest of the company was greatly shocked at these daring
insults to Nipen: and none more so than Peder. The old man's
features worked with emotion, as he said in a low voice that he
should be very thankful if all the mischief that might follow upon
this adventure might be borne by the kin of him who had pro-
voked it. If it should fall upon those who were innocent, never
surely had boy been so miserable as his poor lad would then be.
Oddo's eyes filled with tears, as he heard this; and he looked up
at his master and mistress, as if to ask whether they had no word
of comfort to say.
Neighbour," said Madame Erlingsen to Peder, "is there any
one here who does not believe that God is over all, and that he
protects the innocent ?"
"Is there any one who does not feel," added Erlingsen, "that
the innocent should be gay, safe as they are in the good-will of
God and man ? Come, neighbours,-to your dancing again!
You have lost too much time already. Now, Oddo, play your
best,-and you, Hund."
I hope," said Oddo, "that if any mischief is to come, it will
fall upon me. We'll see how I shall bear it."
"Mischief enough will befall you, boy,-never doubt it," said
his master, "as long as you trifle with people's feelings as you
have done to-night. Go. Make up for it all you can."
The dancing was spiritless, and there was little more of it. The
mirth of the meeting was destroyed. The party broke up at
three, instead of five or six; and it might have been earlier still,
but for the unwillingness of every family present to be the first to
go upon the lake, or to try the road. At last, all understood one
another's feelings by their own; and the whole company departed
at once in two bands,-one by water, and the other by land.
Those who went in sleighs took care that a heavy stone was
Feats on the Fiord. 25
fastened by a rope to the back of each carriage, that its bobbing
and dancing on the road might keep off the wolves. Glad would
they have been of any contrivance by which they might as cer-
tainly distance Nipen. Rolf then took a parting kiss from Erica
in the porch, pushed Oddo on before, and followed with Peder.
Erica watched them quite to the door of their own house, and
then came in, and busied herself in making a clearance of some of
the confusion which the guests had left behind.
Oddo could not get a word from you, Erica," observed her
mistress; not even a look in answer to his 'good night.' "
I could not, madam," answered Erica, tears and sobs break-
ing forth. "When I think of it all, I am so shocked,-so
"How ashamed ?"
Nipen has been so favourable to us to-day, madam! not a
breath of wind stirring all the morning, so that nobody was disap-
pointed of coming And then to serve it in this way To rob
it, and mock it, and brave it as we have done !-So ungrateful!-
so very wrong !"
"We are very sorry for Oddo's trick,-your master and I,"
said Madame Erlingsen; but we are not in the least afraid of
any further harm happening. You know we do not believe that
God permits his children to be at the mercy of evil or capricious
spirits. Indeed, Erica, we could not love God as we should wish to
love Him, if we could not trust in Him as a just and kind protector.
Go to rest now, Erica. You have done quite enough since you
left your bed. Go to rest now. Rest your heart upon Him who
has blessed you exceedingly this day. Whatever others do, do
not you be ungrateful to Him. Good sleep to you, Erica!
Sleep off your troubles, that Rolf may see nothing of them in the
Erica smiled; and when Orga and Frolich saw the effect of
what their mother had said, they too went to rest without trem-
bling at every one of the noises with which a house built of wood
is always resounding.,
OLAF AND HIS NEWS.
WHEN M. Kollsen appeared the next morning, the household
had so much of its usual air that no stranger would have imagined
how it had been occupied the day before. The large room was
26 Feats on the Fiord.
fresh strewn with evergreen sprigs; the breakfast-table stood at
one end, where each took breakfast, standing, immediately on
coming downstairs. At the bottom of the room was a busy group.
The shoemaker, who travelled this way twice a year, had appeared
this morning, and was already engaged upon the skins which had
been tanned on the farm, and kept in readiness for him. He
was instructing Oddo in the making of the tall boots of the
country; and Oddo was so eager to have a pair in which he might
walk knee-deep in the snow when the frosts should be over, that
he gave all his attention to the work. Peder was twisting strips
of leather, thin and narrow, into whips. Rolf and Hund were
silently intent upon a sort of work which the Norwegian peasant
delights in,-carving wood. They spoke only to answer Peder's
questions about the progress of the work. Peder loved to hear
about their carving, and to feel it; for he had been remarkable
for his skill in the art, as long as his sight lasted.
Erlingsen was reading the newspaper, which must go away in
the pastor's pocket. Madame was spinning; and her daughters
sat busily plying their needles with Erica, in a corner ot the apart-
ment. The three were putting the last stitches to the piece of
work which the pastor was also to carry away with him, as his fee
for his services of yesterday. It was an eider-down coverlid, of
which Rolf had procured the down, from the islets in the fiord
frequented by the eider-duck, and Erica had woven the cover and
quilted it, with the assistance of her young ladies, in an elegant
pattern. The other house-maiden was in the chambers, hanging
out the bedding in an upper gallery to air, as she did on all days
of fair weather.
The whole party rose when M. Kollsen entered the room, but
presently resumed their employment, except Madame Erlingsen,
who conducted the pastor to the breakfast-table, and helped him
plentifully to rein-deer ham, bread-and-butter, and corn-brandy,-
the usual breakfast. M. Kollsen carried his plate and ate, as he
went round to converse with each group. First, he talked politics
a little with his host, by the fire-side ; in the midst of which con-
versation Erlingsen managed to intimate that nothing would be
heard of Nipen to-day, if the subject was let alone by themselves:
a hint which the clergyman was willing to take, as he supposed it
meant in deference to his views. Then he complimented Madame
Erlingsen on the excellence of her ham, and helped himself
again; and next drew near the girls.
Erica blushed, and was thinking how she should explain that
she wished his acceptance of her work, when Frolich saved her
the awkwardness by saying,-
"We hope you will like this coverlid, for we have made an
Feats on the Fiord. 27
entirely new pattern on purpose for it. Orga, you have the
pattern. Do show M. Kollsen how pretty it looks on paper."
M. Kollsen did not know much about such things; but he
admired as much as he could.
"That lily of the valley, see, is mamma's idea; and the bar-
berry, answering to it, is mine. That tree in the middle is all
Erica's work-entirely; but the squirrel upon it, we never should
have thought of. It was papa who put that in our heads; and it
is the most original thing in the whole pattern. Erica has worked
it beautifully, to be sure.
I think we have said quite enough about it," observed Erica,
smiling and blushing. "I hope M. Kollsen will accept it. The
down is Rolf's present."
Rolf rose, and made his bow, and said he had had pleasure in
preparing his small offering.
"And I think," said Erlingsen, "it is pretty plain that my little
girls have had pleasure in their part of the work. It is my belief
that they are sorry it is so nearly done."
M. Kollsen graciously accepted the gift,-took up the coverlid
and weighed it in his hand, in order to admire its lightness, com-
pared with its handsome size; and then bent over the carvers, to
see what work was under their hands.
A bell-collar, sir," said Hund, showing his piece of wood. "I
am making a complete set for our cows, against they go to the
mountain, come summer."
"A pulpit, sir," explained Rolf, showing his work in his turn.
"A pulpit! Really And who is to preach in it?"
"You, sir, of course," replied Erlingsen. "Long before you
came,-from the time the new church was begun, we meant it
should have a handsome pulpit. Six of us, within a round of
twenty miles, undertook the six sides; and Rolf has great hopes
of having the basement allotted to him afterwards. The best work-
man is to do the basement, and I think Rolf bids fair to be the
one. This is good work, sir."
"Exquisite," said the pastor. "I question whether our native
carvers may not be found to be equal to any whose works we hear
so much of in Popish churches, in other countries. And there is
no doubt of the superiority of their subjects. Look at these
elegant twining flowers, and that fine brooding eagle How much
better to copy the beautiful works of God that are before our eyes,
than to make durable pictures of the Popish idolatries and super,
stations, which should all have been forgotten as soon as possible !
I hope that none of the impious idolatries which, I am ashamed
to say, still linger among us, will find their way into the arts by
which future generations will judge us."
28 Feats on the Fiord.
The pastor stopped, on seeing that his hearers looked at one
another, as if conscious. A few words, he judged, would be
better than more; and he went on to Peder, passing by Oddo
without a word of notice. The party had indeed glanced con-
sciously at each other; for it so happened that the very prettiest
piece Rolf had ever carved was a bowl on which he had shown
the water-sprite's hand (and never was hand so delicate as the
water-sprite's) beckoning the heron to come and fish when the
river begins to flow.
When Erica heard M. Kollsen inquiring of Peder about his old
wife, she started up from her work, and said she must run and
prepare Ulla for the pastor's visit. Poor Ulla would think herself
forgotten this morning, it was growing so late, and nobody had
been over to see her.
Ulla, however, was far from having any such thoughts. There
sat the old woman, propped up in bed, knitting as fast as fingers
could move, and singing, with her soul in her song, though her
voice was weak and unsteady. She was covered with an eider-
down quilt, like the first lady in the land; bit this luxury was a
consequence of her being old and ill, and having friends who
cared for her infirmities. There was no other luxury. Her
window was glazed with thick flaky glass, through which nothing
could be seen distinctly. The shelf, the table, the clothes-chest,
were all of rough fir-wood; and the walls of the house were of
logs, well stuffed with moss in all the crevices, to keep out the
cold. There are no dwellings so warm in winter and cool in
summer as well-built log-houses; and this house had everything
essential to health and comfort: but there was nothing more,
unless it was the green sprinkling of the floor, and the clean ap-
pearance of everything the room contained, from Ulla's cap to the
wooden platters on the shelf.
I thought you would come," said Ulla. I knew you would
come, and take my blessing on your betrothment, and my wishes
that you may soon be seen with the golden crown.* I must not
say that I hope to see you crowned, for we all know,-and no-
body so well as I,-that it is I that stand between you and your
crown. I often think of it, my dear "
"Then I wish you would not, Ulla : you know that."
"I do know it, my dear, and I would not be for hastening
God's appointments. Let all be in His own time. And I know,
by myself, how happy you may be,-you and Rolf,-while Peder
and I are failing and dying. I only say that none wish for your
Peasant brides in Norway wear, on their wedding-day, a coronet of paste-
board, covered with gilt paper.
Feats on the Fiord. 29
crowning more than we. O, Erica! you have a fine lot in having
"Indeed, I know it, Ulla."
"Do but look about you, dear, and see how he keeps the
house. And if you were to see him give me my cup of coffee,
and watch over Peder, you would consider what he is likely to be
to a pretty young thing like you, when he is what he is to two
worn-out old creatures like us."
Erica did not need convincing about these things, but she liked
to hear them.
"Where is he now?" asked Ulla. "I always ask where every-
body is, at this season; people go about staring at the snow, as if
they had no eyes to lose. That is the way my husband did. Do
make Rolf take care of his precious eyes, Erica. Is he abroad
to-day, my dear ?"
By this time he is," replied Erica, I left him at work at the
"Ay trying his eyes with fine carving, as Peder did !"
But," continued Erica, "there was news this morning of a
lodgment of logs at the top of the foss ;* and they were all going,
except Peder, to slide them down the gully to the fiord. The
gully is frozen so slippery, that the work will not take long. They
will make a raft of the logs in the fiord, and either Rolf or Hund
will carry them out to the islands when the tide ebbs."
"Will it be Rolf, do you think, or Hund, dear ?"
"I wish it may be Hund. If it be Rolf, I shall go with him.
O, Ulla I cannot lose sight of him, after what happened last
night. Did you hear ? I do wish Oddo would grow wiser."
Ulla shook her head, and then nodded, to intimate that they
would not talk of Nipen; and she began to speak of something
"How did Hund conduct himself yesterday? I heard my
husband's account : but you know Peder could say nothing of his
looks. Did you mark his countenance, dear?"
Indeed, there was no helping it, any more than one can help
watching a storm-cloud as it comes up."
"So it was dark and wrathful, was it,-that ugly face of his ?
Well it might be, dear; well it might be "
"The worst was,-worse than all his dark looks together,-O,
Ulla the worst was his leap and cry of joy when he heard what
Oddo had done, and that Nipen was made our enemy. He
Waterfall. Pine-trunks felled in the forest are drawn over the frozen snow
to the banks of a river, or to the top of a waterfall, whence they may be either
slid down over the ice, or left to be carried down by the floods, at the melting
of the snows in the spring.
30 Feats on the Fiord.
looked like an evil spirit when he fixed his eyes on me, and
snapped his fingers."
Ulla shook her head mournfully, and then asked Erica to put
another peat on the fire.
I really should like to know," said Erica, in a low voice, when
she resumed her seat on the bed, "I am sure you can tell me if
you would, what is the real truth about Hund, what it is that
weighs upon his heart."
"I will tell you," replied Ulla. You are not one that will go
babbling it, so that Hund shall meet with taunts, and have his
sore heart made sorer. I will tell you, my dear, though there is
no one else but our mistress that I would tell, and she, no doubt,
knows it already. Hund was born and reared a good way to the
south, not far from Bergen. In mid-winter four years since, his
master sent him on an errand of twenty miles, to carry some pro-
visions to a village in the upper country. He did his errand, and
so far all was well. The village people asked him for charity to
carry three orphan children on his sedge some miles on the way
to Bergen, and to leave them at a house he had to pass on his
road, where they would be taken care of till they could be fetched
from Bergen. Hund was an obliging young fellow then, and he
made no objection. He took the little things, and saw that the
two elder were well wrapped up from the cold. The third he
took within his arms and on his knee as he drove, clasping it
warm against his breast. So those say who saw them set off;
and it is confirmed by one who met the sledge on the road, and
heard the children prattling to Hund; and Hundi laughing merrily
at their little talk. Before they had got half-way, however, a
pack of hungry wolves burst out upon them from a hollow to the
right of the road. The brutes followed close at the back of the
stop !" cried Erica; "I know that story. Is it possible
that Hund is the man? No need to go on, Ulla."
But Ulla thought there was always need to finish a story that
she had begun, and she proceeded.
"Closer and closer the wolves pressed, and it is thought Hund
saw one about to spring at his throat. It was impossible for the
horse to go faster than it did, for it went like the wind; but so
did the-beasts. Hund snatched up one of the children behind
him, and threw it over the back of the sledge, and this stopped
the pack for a little. On galloped the horse, but the wolves were
soon crowding round again, with the blood freezing on their
muzzles. It was easier to throw the second child than the first,
and Hund did it. It was harder to give up the third-the dumb
infant that nestled to his breast, but Hund was in mortal terror;
Feats on the Fiord. 31
and a man beside himself with terror has all the cruelty of a pack
of wolves. Hund flung away the infant, and just saved himself.
Nobody at home questioned him, for nobody knew about the
orphans, and he did not tell. But he was unsettled and looked
wild; and his talk, whenever he did speak, night or day, was of
wolves, for the three days that he remained after his return. Then
there was a questioning along the road about the orphan children;
and Hund heard of it, and started off into the woods. By putting
things together-what Hund had dropped in his agony of mind,
and what had been seen and heard on the road, the whole was
made out, and the country rose to find Hund. He was hunted
like a bear in the forest and on the mountain; but he had got to
the coast in time, and was taken in a boat, it is thought, to Ham-
merfest. At any rate, he came here as from the north, and wishes
to pass for a northern man."
"And does Erlingsen know all this ?"
"Yes. The same person who told me told him. Erlingsen
thinks he must meet with mercy, for that none need mercy so
much as the weak; and Hund's act was an act of weakness."
"Weakness !" cried Erica, with disgust.
"He is a coward, my dear; and death stared him in the face."
"I have often wondered," said Erica, "where on the face of
the earth that wretch was wandering: and it is Hund! And he
wanted to live in this very house," she continued, looking round
"And to marry you, dear. Erlingsen would never have
allowed that. But the thought has plunged the poor fellow
deeper, instead of saving him, as he hoped. He now has envy
and jealousy at his heart, besides the remorse which he will carry
to his grave."
"And revenge !" said Erica, shuddering. "I tell you he
leaped for joy that Nipen was offended. Here is some one
coming," she exclaimed, starting from her seat, as a shadow flitted
over the thick window-pane, and a hasty knock was heard at the
You are a coward, if ever there was one," said Ulla, smiling.
Hund never comes here, so you need not look so frightened.
What is to be done if you look so at dinner, or the next time you
meet him ? It will be the ruin of some of us. Go,-open the
door, and do not keep the pastor waiting."
There was another knock before Erica could reach the door,
and Frolich burst in.
Such news !" she cried ; "you never heard such news."
"I wish there never was any news," exclaimed Erica, almost
32 Feats on the Fiord.
"Good or bad ?" inquired Ulla.
"0, bad,-very bad," declared Frolich, who yet looked as if
she would rather have it than none. Here is company. Olaf,
the drug-merchant, is come. Father did not expect him these
"This is not bad news, but good," said Ulla. "Who knows
but he may bring me a cure ?"
"We will all beg him to cure you, dear Ulla," said Frolich,
stroking the old woman's white hair smooth upon her forehead.
" But he tells us shocking things. There is a pirate vessel among
the islands. She was seen off Soroe, some time ago; but she is
much nearer to us now. There was a farm-house seen burning
on Alten fiord, last week; and as the family are all gone, and
nothing but ruins left, there is little doubt the pirates lit the torch
that did it. And the cod has been carried off from the beach, in
the few places where any has been caught yet."
"They have not found out our fiord yet ?" inquired Ulla.
", dear! I hope not. But they may, any day. And father
says, the coast must be raised, from Hammerfest to Tronyem,
and a watch set till this wicked vessel can be taken or driven
away. He was going to send a running message both ways; but
here is something else to be done first."
"Another misfortune?" asked Erica, faintly.
No: they say it is a piece of very good fortune;-at least, for
those who like bears' feet for dinner. Somebody or other has
lighted upon the great bear that got away in the summer, and
poked her out of her den, on the fjelde. She is certainly abroad,
with her two last year's cubs; and their traces have been found
just abdve, near the foss. Olaf had heard of her being roused;
and Rolf and Hund have found her traces. pddo has come
running home to tell us: and father says he must get up a hunt
before more snow falls, and we lose the tracks, or the family may
establish themselves among us, and make away with our first
"Does he expect to kill them all ?"
I tell you, we are all to grow stout on bears' feet. For my
part, I like bears' feet best on the other side of Tronyem."
"You will change your mind, Miss Frolich, when you see them
on the table," observed Ulla.
That is just what father said. And he asked how I thought
Erica and Stiorna would like to have a den in their neighbourhood
when they go up to the mountain for the summer. 0, it will be
all right when the hunt is well over, and all the bears dead.
Meantime, I thought they were at my heels as I crossed the
Feats on the Fiord. 33
"And that made you burst in as you did. Did Olaf say any-
thing about coming to see me? Has he plenty of medicines
with him ?"
0, certainly. That was the thing I came to say. He is
laying out his medicines, while he warms himself; and then he is
coming over, to see what he can do for your poor head. He
asked about you, directly; and he is frowning over his drugs, as
if he meant to let them know that they must not trifle with you."
Ulla was highly pleased, and gave her directions very briskly
about the arrangement of the room. If it had been the grandest
apartment of a palace, she could not have been more particular
as to where everything should stand. When all was to her mind,
she begged Erica to step over, and inform Olaf that she was
When Erica opened the door, she instantly drew back, and
shut it again.
"What now?" asked Frolich. "Are all the bears in the
Olaf is there," replied Erica, in a whisper, "talking with
"Hund wants a cure for the head-ache," Frolich whispered in
return; "or a charm to make some girl betroth herself to him ;-
a thing which no girl will do, but under a charm: for I don't
believe Stiorna would when it came to the point, though she likes
to be attended to."
When Olaf entered, and Hund walked away, Frolich ran home,
and Erica stood by the window, ready to receive the travelling
doctor's opinion and directions if he should vouchsafe any.
"So I am not the first to consult you to-day," said Ulla. "It
is rather hard that I should not have the best chance of luck,
having been so long ill."
Olaf assured her that he would hear no complaints from another
till he had given her the first-fruits of his wisdom in this district of
his rounds. Hund was only inquiring of him where the pirate-
schooner was, having slid down from the height, as fast as his
snow-skaits would carry him, on hearing the news from Oddo.
He was also eager to know whence these pirates came,-what
nation they were of, or .whether a crew gathered from many
nations. Olaf had advised Hund to go and ask the pirates them-
selves all that he wanted to know; for there was no one else who
could satisfy him. Whereupon Hund had smiled grimly, and
gone back to his work.
Erica observed that she had heard her master say that it was
foolish to boast that Norway need not mind when Denmark went
to war, because it would be carried on far out of sight and hearing.
34 Feats on the Fiord.
So far from this, Erlingsen had said, that Denmark never went to
war but pirates came to ravage the coast, from the North Cape to
the Naze. Was not this the case now ? Denmark had gone to
war; and here were the pirates come to make her poor partner
Olaf said this explained the matter: and he feared the business
of the coast would suffer till a time of peace. Meanwhile, he
must mind his business. When he had heard all Ulla's com-
plaints, and ordered exactly what she wished-large doses of
camphor and corn-brandy to keep off the night-fever and daily
cough, he was ready to hear whatever else Erica had to ask, for
Ulla had hinted that Erica wanted advice.
"I- do not mind Ulla hearing my words," said Erica. "She
knows my trouble."
It is of the mind," observed Olaf, solemnly, on discovering
that Erica did not desire to have her pulse felt.
"Yesterday was-- I was- Erica began.
"She was betrothed yesterday," said Ulla, to the man of her
heart. Rolf is such a young man--"
"Olaf knows Rolf," observed Erica. "An unfortunate thing
happened at the end of the day, Olaf. Nipen was insulted."
And she told the story of Oddo's prank, and implored the doctor
to say if anything could be done to avert bad consequences.
"No doubt," replied Olaf. "Look here! This will preserve
you from any particular evil that you dread." And he took from
the box he carried under his arm a round piece of white paper,
with a hole in the middle, through which a string was to be
passed, to tie the charm round the neck. Erica shook her head.
Such a charm would be of no use, as she did not know under
what particular shape of misfortune Nipen's displeasure would
show itself. Besides, she was certain that nothing would make
Rolf wear a charm; and she disdained to use any security which
he might not share. Olaf could not help her in any other way;
but inquired with sympathy when the next festival would take
place. Then, all might be repaired by handsome treatment of
Nipen. Till then, he advised Erica to wear his charm, as her
lover could not be the worse for her being so far safe. Erica
blushed: she knew, but did not say, that harm would be done
which no charm could repair if her lover saw her trying to save
herself from dangers to which he remained exposed : and she did
not know what their betrothment was worth, if it did not give
them the privilege of suffering together. So she put back the
charm into its place in the box, and, with a sigh, rose to return to
In the porch she found Oddo, eating something which caused
Feats on the Fiord. 35
him to make faces. Though it was in the open air, there was a
strong smell of camphor, and of something else less pleasant.
"What are you doing, Oddo ?" asked Erica: the question
which Oddo was asked every day of his life.
Oddo had observed Olaf's practice among his patients of the
household, and perceived that, for all complaints, of body
or mind, he gave the two things camphor and asafoetida,-some-
times together, and sometimes separately; and always in corn-
brandy. Oddo could not refrain from trying what these drugs
were like; so he helped himself to some of each; and, as he
could get no corn-brandy till dinner-time, he was eating the medi-
cines without. Such was the cause of his wry faces. If he had
been anything but a Norway boy, he would have been the invalid
of the house to-day, from the quantity of rich cake he had eaten:
but Oddo seemed to share the privilege, common to Norwegians,
of being able to eat anything, in any quantity, without injury.
His wry faces were from no indigestion, but from the savour of
asafoetida, unrelieved by brandy.
Wooden dwellings resound so much as to be inconvenient for
those who have secrets to tell. In the porch of Peder's house,
Oddo had heard all that passed within. It was good for him to
have done so. He became more sensible of the pain he had
given, and more anxious to repair it.
"Dear Erica," said he, I want you to do a very kind thing
for me. Do get leave for me to go with Rolf after the bears.
If I get one stroke at them,-if I can but wound one of them,
I shall have a paw for my share; and I will lay it out for Nipen.
You will, will you not ? "
"It must be as Erlingsen chooses, Oddo: but I fancy you will
not be allowed to go just now. The bears will think the doctor's
physic-sledge is coming through the woods, and they will be shy.
Do stand a little further off. I cannot think how it is that you
are not choked."
"Suppose you go for an airing," said the doctor, who now
joined them. If you must not go in the way of the bears, there
is a reindeer,--"
"0, where ?" cried Oddo.
I saw one,-all alone,-on the Salten heights. If you run
that way, with the wind behind you, the deer will give you a good
run;-up Sulitelma, if you like, and you will have got rid of the
camphor before you come back. And be sure you bring me some
Iceland moss, to pay me for what you have been helping your-
When Oddo had convinced himself that Olaf really had seen a
reindeer on the heights, three miles off, he said to himself, that if
36 Feats on the Fiord.'
deer do not like camphor, they are fond of salt; and he was
presently at the salt-box, and then quickly on his way to the hills
with his bait. He considered his chance of training home the
deer much more probable than that Erlingsen and his grandfather
would allow him to hunt the bears: and he doubtless judged
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE.
THE establishment was now in a great hurry and bustle for an
hour, after which time it promised to be unusually quiet.
M. Kollsen began to be anxious to be on the other side of the
fiord. It was rather inconvenient, as the two men were wanted to
go in different directions, while their master took a third, to rouse
the farmers for the bear-hunt. The hunters were all to arrive
before night within a certain distance of the thickets where the
bears were now believed to be. On calm nights it was no great
hardship to spend the dark hours in the bivouac of the country.
Each party was to shelter itself under a bank of snow, or in a pit
dug out of it, an enormous fire blazing in the midst, and brandy
and tobacco being plentifully distributed on such occasions.
Early in the morning the director of the hunt was to go his
rounds, and arrange the hunters in a ring enclosing the hiding-
place of the bears, so that all might be prepared, and no waste
made of the few hours of daylight which the season afforded.
As soon as it was light enough to see distinctly a ong the trees,
of bushes, or holes of the rocks where the bears mig t be couched,
they were to be driven from. their retreat, and disposed of as
quickly as possible. Such was the plan, well understood, in such
cases throughout the country. On the present occasion it might be
expected that the peasantry would be ready at the first summons,
as Olaf had told his story of the bears all along the road. Yet,
the more messengers and helpers the better; and Erlingsen was
rather vexed to see Hund go with alacrity to unmoor the boat,
and offer officiously to row the pastor across the fiord. His
daughters knew what he was thinking about, and after a moment's
consultation, Frolich asked whether she and the maid Stiorna
might not be the rowers.
Nobody would have objected if Hund had not. The girls
could row, though they could not hunt bears; and the weather
was fair enough; but Hund shook his head, and went on pre.
Feats on the Fiord. 37
paring the boat. His master spoke to him, but Hund was not
remarkable for giving up his own way. He would only say that
there would be plenty of time for both affairs, and that he could
follow the hunt when he returned, and across the lake he went.
Erlingsen and Rolf presently departed, accompanied by Olaf,
who was glad of an escort for a few miles, though nothing was
further from his intention than going near the bears. The women
and Peder were thus left behind.
They occupied themselves to keep away anxious thoughts. One
began some new nets, for the approaching fishing season; another
sat in the loom, and the girls appealed to their mother very fre-
quently, about the beauties of a new quilting pattern they were
drawing. Old Peder sang to them too; but Peder's songs were
rather melancholy, and they had not the effect of cheering the
party. Hour after hour they looked for Hund. His news of his
voyage, and the sending him after his master, would be something
to do and to think of; but Hund did not come. Stiorna at last
let fall that she did not think he would come yet, for that he
meant to catch some cod before his return; he had taken
tackle with him for that purpose, she knew, and she should not
wonder if he did not appear till the morning.
Every one was surprised, and Madame Erlingsen highly dis-
pleased. At the time when her husband would be wanting every
strong arm that could be mustered, his servant chose to be out
fishing, instead of obeying orders. The girls pronounced him a
coward, and Peder observed that to a coward, as well as a
sluggard, there was ever a lion in the path. Erica doubted
whether this act of disobedience arose from cowardice, for there
were dangers in the fiord, for such as went out as far as the cod.
She supposed Hund had heard--
She stopped short, as a sudden flash of suspicion crossed her
mind. She had seen Hund inquiring of Olaf about the pirates,
and his strange obstinacy about this day's boating looked much
as if he meant to learn more.
"Danger in the fiord !" repeated Orga. 0, you mean the
pirates; they are far enough from our fiord, I suppose. If ever
they do come, I wish they would catch Hund, and carry him
off. I am sure we could spare them nothing they would be so
Madame Erlingsen saw that Erica was turning red and white,
and resolved to ask, on the first good opportunity, what was in
her mind about Hund, for no one was more disposed to distrust
and watch him than the lady herself.
The first piece of amusement that occurred was the return of
Oddo, who passed the windows, followed at a short distance by a
38 Feats otn Ite Fiord.
wistful-looking deer, which seemed afraid to come quite up to
him, but kept its branched head outstretched towards the salt
which Oddo displayed, dropping a few grains from time to time.
At the sight all crowded to the windows but Frolich, who left the
room on the instant. Before the animal had passed the servants'
house (a separate dwelling in the yard), she appeared in the
gallery which ran round the outside of it, and showed to Oddo a
cord which she held; he nodded, and threw down some salt on
the snow immediately below where she stood. The reindeer
stooped its head, instead of looking out for enemies above, and
thus gave Frolich a good opportunity to throw her cord over its
antlers. She had previously wound one end round the balustrade
of the gallery, so that she had not with her single strength to
sustain the animal's struggles.
The poor animal struggled violently when it found its head no
longer at liberty, and, by throwing out its legs, gave Oddo an
opportunity to catch and fasten it by the hind leg, so as to decide
its fate completely. It could now only start from side to side,
and threaten with its head when the household gathered round to
congratulate Oddo and Frolich on the success of their hunting.
The women durst only hastily stroke the palpitating sides of the
poor beast; but, Peder, who had handled many scores in his life-
time, boldly seized its head, and felt its horns and the bones from
whence they grew, to ascertain its age.
Do you fancy you have made a prize of a wild deer, boy ?"
he asked of his grandson.
"To be sure," said Oddo.
I thought you had had more curiosity than to take such a
thing for granted, Oddo. See here Is not this ear slit ?"
Why, yes," Oddo admitted; but it is not a slit of this year
or last. It may have belonged to the Lapps oice upon a time;
but it has been wild for so long that it is all the same as if it had
never been in a fold. It will never be claimed."
I am of your opinion there, boy. I wish you joy of your
"You may: for I doubt whether anybody will do better to-
day. Hund will not, for one, if it is he who has gone out with
the boat; and I think I cannot be mistaken in the handling of
"Have you seen him? Where? What is he doing?" asked
one and another.
Before Oddo could answer, Madame Erlingsen desired that he
would go home with his grandfather, and tell Ulla about the deer,
while he warmed himself. She did not wish her daughters to
hear what he might have to tell of Hund. Stiora too was better s
Feats on the Fiord. 39
out of the way. Oddo had not half told the story of the deer to
his grandmother, when his mistress and Erica entered.
"Did you not see M. Kollsen in the boat with Hund?" she
No. Hund was quite alone, pulling with all his might down
the fiord. The tide was with him, so that he shot along like a
"How do you know that it was Hund you saw?"
"Don't I know our boat? And don't I know his pull? It is
no more like Rolf's than Rolf's is like master's."
"Perhaps he was making for the best fishing-ground as fast as
"We shall see that by the fish he brings home."
"True. By supper-time we shall know."
"Hund will not be home by supper-time," said Oddo, de-
Why not? Come, say out what you mean."
"Well, I will tell you what I saw. I watched him rowing as
fast as his arm and the tide would carry him. It was so plain
that there was a plan in his head, that I forgot the deer in watch-
ing him; and I followed on from point to point, catching a sight
now and then, till I had gone a good stretch beyond Salten
heights. I was just going to turn back when I took one more
look, and he was then pulling in for the land."
"On the north shore or south?" asked Peder.
"The north-just at the narrow part of the fiord, where one
can see into the holes of the rocks opposite."
"The fiord takes a wide sweep below there," observed
"Yes; and that was why he landed," replied Oddo. "He
was then but a little way from the fishing-ground, if he had wanted
fish. But he drove up the boat into a little cove, a narrow dark
creek, where it will lie safe enough, I have no doubt, till he
comes back: if he means to come back."
"Why, where should he go? What should he do but come
back?" asked Madame Erlingsen.
He is now gone over the ridge to the north. I saw him moor
the boat, and begin to climb; and I watched his dark figure on
the white snow, higher and higher, till it was a speck, and I could
not make it out."
"That is the way you will lose your eyes," exclaimed Ulla.
"How often have I warned you,-and many others as giddy as
you When you have lost your eyes, you will think you had better
have minded my advice, and not have stared at the snow after a
runaway that is better there than here."
40 Feats on the Fiord.
"What do you think of this story, Peder ?" asked his mistress.
"I think Hund has taken the short cut over the promontory, on
business of his own at the islands. He is not on any business of
yours, depend upon it, madam."
"And what business can he have among the islands ?"
"I could say that with more certainty if I knew exactly where the
pirate vessel is."
"That is your idea, Erica," said her mistress. "I saw what
your thoughts were, an hour ago, before we knew all this."
I was thinking then, madam, that if Hund was gone to join
the pirates, Nipen would be very ready to give them a wind just
now. A baffling wind would be our only defence; and we can-
not expect that much from Nipen t6-day."
I will do anything in the world," cried Oddo, eagerly. Send
me anywhere. Do think of something that I can do."
"What must be done, Peder?" asked his mistress. There is
quite enough to fear, Erica, without a word of Nipen. Pirates on
the coast, and one farm-house seen burning already !"
"I will tell you what you must let me do, madam," said Erica.
"Indeed you must not oppose me. My mind is quite set upon
going for the boat,-immediately-this very minute. That will
give us time-it will give us safety for this night. Hund might
bring seven or eight men upon us over the promontory: but if
they find no boat, I think they can hardly work up the windings
of the fiord in their own vessel to-night;-unless, indeed," she
added, with a sigh, they have a most favourable wind."
"All this is true enough," said her mistress; but how will you
go? Will you swim?"
"The raft, madam."
And there is the old skiff on Thor islet," said Oddo. "It is
a rickety little thing, hardly big enough for two; I but it will carry
down Erica and me, if we go before the tide turns."
But how will you get to Thor islet? inquired Madame Erling-
sen. I wish the scheme were not such a wild one."
A wild one must serve at such a time, madam," replied Erica.
"Rolf had lashed several logs before he went. I am sure we
can get over to the islet.. See, madam, the fiord is as smooth as
"Let her go," said Peder. "She will never repent."
Then come back, I charge you, if you find the least danger,"
said her mistress. No one is safer at the oar than you; btt if
there is a ripple in the water, or a gust on the heights, or a cloud
in the sky, come back. Such is my command, Erica."
Wife," said Peder, "give her your pelisse; that will save her
seeing the girls before she goes. And she shall have my cap, and
Feats on the Fiord. 41
then there is not an eye along the fiord that can tell whether she
is man or woman."
Ulla lent her deerskin pelisse willingly enough; but she en-
treated that Oddo might be kept at home. She folded her arms
about the boy with tears; but Peder decided the matter with the
words, Let him go ; it is the least he can do to make up for last
night. Equip, Oddo."
Oddo equipped willingly enough. In two minutes he and his
companion looked like two walking bundles of fur. Oddo carried
a frail-basket, containing rye-bread, salt fish, and a flask of corn-
brandy; for in Norway no one goes on the shortest expedition
without carrying provisions.
"Surely it must be dusk by this time," said Peder.
It was dusk; and this was well, as the pair could steal down to
the shore without being perceived from 'the house. Madame
Erlingsen gave them her blessing, saying that if the enterprise
saved them from nothing worse than Hund's company this night,
it would be a great good. There could be no more comfort in
having Hund for an inmate; for some improper secret he certainly
had. Her hope was that, finding the boat gone, he would never
show himself again.
One would think," continued the lady, when she returned
from watching Erica and Oddo disappear in the dusk-" one
would think Erica had never known fear. Her step is as firm
and her eye as clear as if she had never trembled in the course of
"She knows how to act to-night," said Peder; "and she is
going into danger for her lover, instead of waiting at home while
her lover goes into danger for her. A hundred pirates in the fiord
would not make her tremble as she trembled last night. Rather
a hundred pirates than Nipen angry, she would say."
"There is her weakness," observed her mistress.
"Can we speak of weakness after what we have just seen-if I
may say so, madam ? "
"I think so," replied Madame Erlingsen. I think it a weak-
ness in those who believe that a just and tender Providence
watches over us all, to fear what any power in the universe can
do to them."
"M. Kollsen does not make progress in teaching the people
what you say, madam. He only gets distrusted by it."
When M. Kollsen has had more experience, he will find that
this is not a matter for displeasure. He will not succeed while
he is displeased at what his people think sacred. When he is
an older man, he will pity the innocent for what they suffer from
superstition; and this pity will teach him how to speak of Provi.
42 Feats on the Fiord.
dence to such as our Erica. But here are my girls coming to
seek me. I must meet them, to prevent their missing Erica."
"Get them to rest early, madam."
"Certainly; and you will watch in this house, Peder, and I at
"Trust me for hearing the oar at a furlong off, madam."
"That is more than I can promise," said the lady; "but the
owl shall not be more awake than I."
THE WATER SPRITES' DOINGS.
ERICA now profited by her lover's industry in the morning. He
had so far advanced with the raft that, though no one would have
thought of taking it in its present state to the mouth of the fiord
for shipment, it would serve as a conveyance in still water for a
short distance safely enough.
And still, indeed, the waters were. As Erica and Oddo were
busily and silently employed in tying moss round their oars to
muffle their sound, the ripple of the tide upon the white sand
could scarcely be heard, and it appeared to the eye as if the
lingering remains of the daylight brooded on the fiord, unwilling
to depart. The stars had, however, been showing themselves for
some time; and they might now be seen twinkling below almost
as clearly and steadily as overhead. As Erica and Oddo put
their little raft off from the shore, and then waited, with their oars
suspended, to observe whether the tide carried them towards the
iLlet they must reach, it seemed as if some invisible hand was
pushing them forth to shiver the bright pavement of'constellations
as it lay. Star after star was shivered, and its bright fragments
danced in their wake; and those fragments reunited and became
a star again as the waters closed over the path of the raft, and
subsided into perfect stillness.
The tide favoured Erica's object. A few strokes of the oar
brought the raft to the right point for landing on the islet. They
stepped ashore, and towed the raft along till they came to the
skiff, and then they fastened the raft with the boat-hook which
had been fixed there for the skiff. This done, Oddo ran to turn
over the little boat, and examine its condition : but he found he
could not move it. It was frozen fast to the ground. It was
scarcely possible to get a firm hold of it, it was so slippery with
ice; and all pulling and pushing of the two together was in vain,
Feats on the Fiord. 43
though the boat was so light that either of them could have lifted
and carried it in a time of thaw.
This circumstance caused a good deal of delay : and, what was
worse, it obliged them to make some noise. They struck at the
ice with sharp stones; but it was long before they could make
vany visible impression; and Erica proposed, again and again,
that they should proceed on the raft. Oddo was unwilling. The
skiff would go so incomparably faster, that it was worth spending
some time upon it: and the fears he had had of its leaking were
removed, now that he found what a sheet of ice it was covered
with,-ice which would not melt to admit a drop of water while
they were in it. So he knocked and knocked away, wishing that
the echoes would be quiet for once, and then laughing as he
imagined the ghost-stories that would spring up all round the fiord
to-morrow, from the noise he was then making.
Erica worked hard too; and one advantage of their labour was
that they were well warmed before they put off again. The boat's
icy fastenings were all broken at last: and it was launched: but
all was not ready yet. The skiff had lain in a direction east and
west; and its north side had so much thicker a coating of ice
than the other, that its balance was destroyed. It hung so low
on one side as to promise to upset with a touch.
"We m:aust clear off more of the ice," said Erica. "But how
late it is growing !"
No more knocking, I say," replied Oddo. "There is a
quieter way of trimming the boat."
He fastened a few stones to the gunwale on the lighter side,
and took in a few more for the purpose of shifting the weight, if
necessary, while they were on their way.
They did not leave quiet behind them, when they departed.
They had roused the multitude of eider-ducks, and other sea-fowl,
which thronged the islet, and which now, being roused, began
their night-feeding and flying, though at an earlier hour than usual.
When their discordant cries were left so far behind as to be
softened by distance, the flapping of wings and swash of water,
as the fowl plunged in, still made the air busy all round.
The rowers were so occupied with the management of their
dangerous craft, that they had not spoken since they left the islet.
The skiff would have been unmanageable by any maiden and boy
in our country; but, on the coast of Norway, it is as natural to
persons of all ages and degrees to guide a boat as to walk.
Swiftly but cautiously they shot through the water, till, at length,
Oddo uttered a most hideous croak.
"What do you mean? asked Erica, hastily glancing round her.
Oddo laughed, and looked upwards as he croaked again. He
44 Feats on the Fiord.
was answered by a similar croak, and a large raven was seen
flying homewards over the fiord for the night. Then the echoes
all croaked, till the whole region seemed to be full of ravens.
Are you sure you know the cove ?" asked Erica, who wished
to put an end to this sound, unwelcome to the superstitious.
"Do not make that bird croak so; it will be quiet if you let it
alone. Are you sure you can find the cove again ?"
Quite sure. I wish I was as sure that Hund would not find
it again before me. Pull away."
"How much farther is it ? "
"Farther than I like to think of. I doubt your arm holding
out. I wish Rolf was here."
Erica did not wish the same thing. She thought that Rolf was,
on the whole, safer waging war with bears than with pirates;
especially if Hund was among them. She pulled her oar cheer-
fully, observing that there was no fatigue at present; and that
when they were once afloat in the heavier boat, and had cleared
the cove, there need be no hurry,-unless, indeed, they should
see something of the pirate-schooner on the way: and of this she
had no expectation, as the booty that might be had where the
fishery was beginning was worth more than anything that could
be found higher up the fiords:-to say nothing of the danger of
running up into the country, so far as that getting away again
depended upon one particular wind.
Yet Erica looked behind her after every few strokes of her oar;
and once, when she saw something, her start was felt like a start
of the skiff itself. There was a fire glancing and gleaming and
quivering over the water, some way down the fiord.
"Some people night-fishing," observed Oddo. "What sport
they will have! I wish I was with them. How fast we go! How
you can row when you choose! I can see the man that is hold-
ing the torch. Cannot you see his black figure? And the spear-
man,-see how he stands at the bow,-now going to cast his
spear I wish I was there."
"We must get farther away,-into the shadow somewhere,--or
wait," observed Erica. I had rather not wait,-it is growing so
late. We might creep along under that promontory, in the shadow,
if you would be quiet. I wonder whether you can be silent in
the sight of night-fishing."
"To be sure," said Oddo, disposed to be angry, and only kept
from it by the thought of last night. He helped to bring the skiff
into the shadow of the overhanging rocks, and only spoke once
more, to whisper that the fishing-boat was drifting down with the
tide, and that he thought their cove lay between them and the
Feats on the Fiord. 45
It was so. As the skiff rounded the point of the promontory,
Oddo pointed out what appeared like a mere dark chasm in the
high perpendicular wall of rock that bounded the waters. This
chasm still looked so narrow, on approaching it, that Erica hesi-
tated to push her skiff into it, till certain that there was no one
there. Oddo, however, was so clear, that she might safely do
this, so noiseless was their rowing, and it was so plain that there
was no footing on the rocks by which he might enter to explore,
that in a sort of desperation, and seeing nothing else to be done,
Erica agreed. She wished it had been summer, when either of
them might have learned what they wanted by swimming. This
was now out of the question; and stealthily therefore she pulled
her little craft into the deepest shadow, and crept into the cove.
At a little distance from the entrance it widened; but it was a
wonder to Erica that even Oddo's eyes should have seen I-und
moor his boat here from the other side of the fiord; though the
fiord was not more than a gunshot over in this part. Oddo him-
self wondered, till he recalled how the sun was shining down into
the chasm at the time. By starlight the outline of all that the
cove contained might be seen; the outline of the boat, among
other things. There she lay But there was something about
her which was unpleasant enough. There were three men-in her.
What was to be done now? Here was the very worst danger
that Erica had feared-worse than finding the boat gone-worse
than meeting it in the wide fiord. What was to be done ?
There was nothing for it but to do nothing-to lie perfectly
still in the shadow, ready, however, to push out on the first move-
ment of the boat to leave the cove; for, though the canoe might
remain unnoticed at present, it was impossible that anybody could
pass out of the cove without seeing her. In such a case, there
would be nothing for it but a race-a race for which Erica and
Oddo held themselves prepared, without any mutual explanation;
for they dared not speak. The faintest whisper would have crept
over the smooth water to the ears in the larger boat.
One thing was certain-that something must happen presently.
It is impossible for the hardiest men to sit inactive in a boat for
any length of time in a January night in Norway. In the calmest
nights the cold is only to be sustained by means of the glow from
strong exercise. It was certain that these three men could not
have been long in their places, and that they would not sit many
moments more without some change in their arrangements.
They did not seem to be talking; for Oddo, who was the best
listener in the world, could not discover that a sound issued from
their boat. He fancied they were drowsy; and, being aware what
were the consequences of yielding to drowsiness in severe cold,
46 Feats on the Fiord.
the boy began to entertain high hopes of taking these three men
prisoners. The whole country would ring with such a feat, per-
formed by Erica and himself.
The men were, however, too much awake to be made prisoners
of at present. One was seen to drink from a flask, and the hoarse
voice of another was heard grumbling, as far as the listeners could
make out, at being kept waiting. The third then rose to look
about him, and Erica trembled from head to foot. He only
looked upon the land, however, declared he saw nothing of those
he was expecting, and began to warm himself as he stood, by
repeatedly clapping his arms across his breast, in the way that
hackney-coachmen and porters do in England. This was Hund.
He could not have been known by his figure, for all persons look
alike in wolf-skin pelisses; but the voice and the action were his.
Oddo saw how Erica shuddered. He put his finger on his lips,
but Erica needed no reminding of the necessity of quietness.
The other two men then rose; and, after a consultation, the
words of which could not be heard, all stepped ashore one after.
another, and climbed a rocky pathway.
Now, now !" whispered Erica. Now we can get away !"
"Not without the boat," said Odo. "You would not leave
them the boat "
No-not if-but they will be back in a moment. They are
only gone to hasten their companions."
I know it," said Oddo. Now two strokes forward."
While she gave these two strokes, which brought the skiff to
the stern of the boat, Erica saw that Oddo had taken out a knife,
which gleamed in the starlight. It was for cutting the thong by
which the boat was fastened to a birch pole, the other end of
which was hooked on shore. This was to save his going ashore
to unhook the pole. It was well for him that boat-chains were
not in use, owing to the scarcity of metal in that region. The
clink of a chain would certainly have been heard.
Quickly and silently he entered the boat and tied the skiff to
its stern, and he and Erica took their places where the men had
sat one minute before. They used their own muffled oars to turn
the boat round, till Oddo observed that the boat oars were muffled
too. Then voices were heard again. The men were returning.
Strongly did the two companions draw their strokes till a good
breadth of water lay between them and the shore, and then till
they had again entered the deep shadow which shrouded the
mouth of the cove. There they paused.
In with you !" some loud voice said, as man after man was
seen in outline coming down the pathway; "in with you I We
have lost time enough already."
Feats on the Fiord. 47
"Where is she? I can't see the boat," answered the foremost
"You can't miss her," said one behind, "unless the brandy
has got into your eyes."
"So I should have said; but I do miss her. It is very incom-
prehensible to me."
Oddo shook with stifled laughter as he partly saw and partly
overheard the perplexity of these men. At last one gave a deep
groan, and another declared that the spirits of the fiord were
against them, and there was no doubt that their boat was now
lying twenty fathoms deep at the bottom of the creek, drawn down
by the strong hand of an angry water-spirit. Oddo squeezed Erica's
little hand as he heard this. If it had been light enough, he would
have seen that even she was smiling.
One of the men mourned their having no other boat, so that they
must give up their plan. Another said that if they had a dozen
boats, he would not set foot in one after what had happened. He
should go straight back, the way he came, to their own vessel.
Another said he would not go till he had looked abroad over the
fiord for some chance of seeing the boat. This he persisted in,
though told by the rest that it was absurd to suppose that the boat
had loosed itself, and gone out into the fiord, in the course of the
two minutes that they had been absent. He showed the frag-
ment of the cut thong in proof of the boat not having loosed
itself, and set off for a point on the heights which he said over-
looked the fiord. One or two went with him, the rest returning
up the narrow pathway at some speed-such speed that Erica
thought they were afraid of the hindmost being caught by the
same enemy that had taken their boat. Oddo observed this too,
and he quickened their pace by setting up very loud the mourn-
ful cry with which he was accustomed to call out the plovers
on the mountain side on sporting days. No sound can be more
melancholy; and now, as it rang from the rocks, it was so unsuit-
able to the place, and so terrible to the already frightened men,
that they ran on as fast as the slipperiness of the rocks would
allow, till they were all out of sight over the ridge.
Now for it, before the other two come out above us there "
said Oddo; and in another minute they were again in the fiord,
keeping as much in the shadow as they could, however, till they
must strike over to the islet.
"Thank God that we came !" exclaimed Erica. "We shall
never forget what we owe you, Oddo. You shall see, by the care
we take of your grandfather and Ulla, that we do not forget what
you have done this night. If Nipen will only forgive, for the sake
48 Feats on the Fiord.
We were just in the nick of time," observed Oddo. It was
better than if we had been earlier."
I do not know," said Erica. "Here are their brandy-bottles,
and many things besides. I had rather not have had to bring
But if we had been earlier, they would not have had their
fright. That is the best partof it. Depend upon it, some that
have not said their prayers for long will say them to-night."
That will be good. But I do not like carrying home these
things that are not ours. If they are seen at Erlingsen's, they
may bring the pirates down upon us. I would leave them on the
islet, but that the skiff has to be left there too, and that would
explain our trick."
Erica would not consent to throw the property overboard.
This would be robbing those who had not actually injured her,
whatever their intentions might have been. She thought that if
the goods were left upon some barren, uninhabited part of the
shore, the pirates would probably be the first to find them; and
that, if not, the rumour of such an extraordinary fact, spread by
the simple country people, would be sure to reach them. So
Oddo carried on shore, at the first stretch of white beach they
came to, the brandy-flasks, the bearskins, the tobacco-pduch, the
muskets and powder-horns, and the tinder-box. He scattered
these about just above high-water mark, laughing to think how
report would tell of the sprite's care in placing all these articles
out of reach of injury from the water.
Oddo did not want for light while doing this. When he re-
turned, he found Erica gazing up over the towering precipices, at
the Northern lights, which had now unfurled their1 broad yellow
blaze. She was glad that they had not appeared sooner, to spoil
the adventure of the night; but she was thankful to have the
way home thus illumined, now that the business was done. She
answered with so much alacrity to Oddo's question whether she
was not very weary, that he ventured to say two things which had
before been upon his tongue, without his having courage to utter
"You will not be so afraid of Nipen any more," observed he,
glancing at her face, of which he could see every feature by the
quivering light. "You see how well everything has turned out."
"O, hush It is too soon yet to speak so. It is never right
to speak so. There is no knowing till next Christmas, nor even
then, that Nipen forgives; and the first twenty-four hours are not
over yet. Pray do not speak any more, Oddo."
"Well, not about that. But what was it exactly that you. thought
Hund would do with this boat and those people ? Did you think,"
Feats on the Fiord. 49
he continued, after a short pause, "that they would come up to
Erlingsen's to rob the place ?"
Not for the object of robbing the place, because there is very
little that is worth their taking, far less than at the fishing grounds;
not but they might have robbed us, if they took a fancy to anything
we have. No I thought, and I still think, that they would have
carried off Rolf, led on by Hund--"
"0, ho! carried off Rolf! So here is the secret of your wonder-
ful courage to-night-you who durst not look round at your own
shadow last night! This is the secret of your not being tired-you
who are out of breath with rowing a mile sometimes !"
That is in summer," pleaded Erica; however, you have my
secret, as you say, a thing which is no secret at home. We all
think that Hund bears such a grudge against Rolf, for having got
the houseman's place--"
"And for nothing else ?"
That," continued Erica, he would be glad to-to-"
"To get rid of Rolf, and be a houseman, and get betrothed
instead of him. Well: Hund is balked for this time. Rolf must
look to himself after to-day."
Erica sighed deeply. She did not believe that Rolf would attend
to his own safety, and the future looked very dark,-all shrouded
by her fears.
By the time the skiff was deposited where it had been found,
both the rowers were so weary that they gave up the idea of
taking the raft in tow, as for full security they ought to do. They
doubted whether they could get home, if they had more weight
to draw than their own boat. It was well that they left this in-
cumbrance behind, for there was quite peril and difficulty enough
without it, and Erica's strength and spirits failed the more the
further the enemy was left behind.
A breath of wind seemed to bring a sudden darkening of the
friendly lights which had blazed up higher and brighter, from their
first appearance till now. Both rowers looked down the fiord, and
uttered an exclamation at the same moment.
"See the fog !" cried Oddo, putting fresh strength into his oar.
ONipen! Nipen !" mournfully exclaimed Erica. "Here it
is, Oddo,-the west wind "
The west wind is, in winter, the great foe of the fishermen of
the fiords: it brings in the fog from the sea, and the fogs of the
Arctic Circle are no trifling enemy. If Nipen really had the charge
of the winds, he could not more emphatically show his displeasure
towards any unhappy boatman than by overtaking him with the
west wind and fog.
"The wind must have just changed," said Oddo, pulling ex-
50 Feats on the Fiord.
hausting strokes, as the fog marched towards them over the water,
like a solid and immeasurably lofty wall. The wind must have
gone right round in a minute."
To be sure,-since you said what you did of Nipen," replied
Oddo made no answer, but he did what he could. Erica had to
tell him not to wear himself out too quickly, as there was no saying
how long they should be on the water.
How long they had been on the water, how far they had deviated
from their right course, they could not at all tell, when, at last, more
by accident than skill, they touched the shore near home, and heard
friendly voices, and saw the light of torches through the thick air.
The fog had wrapped them round so that they could not even see
the water, or each other. They had rowed mechanically, some-
times touching the rock, sometimes grazing upon the sand, but
never knowing where they were till the ringing of a bell, which
they recognized as the farm bell, roused hope in their hearts, and
strengthened them to throw off the fatal drowsiness caused by
cold and fatigue. They made towards the bell, and then heard
Peder's shouts, and next saw the dull light of two torches which
looked as if they could not bur in the fog. The old man lent a
strong hand to pull up the boat upon the beach, and to lift out the
benumbed rowers, and they were presently revived by having their
limbs chafed, and by a strong dose of the universal medicine-
corn-brandy and camphor-which in Norway, neither man nor
woman, young nor old, sick nor well, thinks of refusing upon
When Erica was in bed, warm beneath an eider-down coverlid,
her mistress bent over her and whispered,
"You saw and heard Hund himself?"
"Hund himself, madame."
"What shall we do if he comes back before my husband is
home from the bear-hunt ?"
If he comes, it will be in fear and penitence, thinking that all
the powers are against him. But 0, madame, let him never know
how it really was !"
He must not know. Leave that to me, and go to sleep now,
Erica. You ought to rest well, for there is no saying what you
and Oddo have saved us from. I could not have asked such a
service. My husband and I must see how we can reward it."
And her kind and grateful mistress kissed Erica's cheek, though
Erica tried to explain that she was thinking most of some one
else, when she undertook this expedition.
"Then let him thank you in his own way," replied Madame
Erlingsen. Meantime, why should not I thank you in mine ?"
Feats on the Fiord. 5
Stiorna here opened her eyes for an instant. When she next
did so, her mistress was gone; and she told in the morning what
an odd dream she had had of her mistress being in her room, and
kissing Erica. It was so distinct a dream that, if the thing had
not been so ridiculous, she could almost have declared that she
had seen it.
GREAT was Stiorna's consternation at Hund's non-appearance
the next day, seeing as she did, with her own eyes, that the boat
was safe in its proper place. She had provided salt for his cod,
and a welcome for himself; and she watched in vain for either.
She saw, too, that no one wished him back. He was rarely
spoken of; and then it was with dislike or fear: and when she
wept over the idea of his being drowned, or carried off by hostile
spirits, the only comfort offered her was that she need not fear his
being dead, or that he could not come back if he chose. She
was, indeed, obliged to suppose, at last, that it was his choice to
keep away; for amidst the flying rumours that amused the in-
habitants of the district for the rest of the winter,-rumours of the
movements of the pirate-vessel, and of the pranks of the spirits of
the region, there were some such clear notices of the appearance
of Hund,-so many eyes had seen him in one place or another, by
land and water, by day and night, that Stiorna could not doubt
of his being alive, and free to come home or stay away as he
pleased. She could not conceal from herself that he had probably
joined the pirates; and heartily as these pirates were feared
throughout the Nordland coasts, they were not more heartily
hated by any than by the jealous Stiorna.
Her salt was wanted as much as if Hund had brought home a
boatful of cod; and she might have given her welcome to the
hunting-party. Erlingsen and Rolf came home sooner than might
reasonably have been expected, and well laden with bear's flesh.
The whole family of bears had been found and shot. The flesh
of the cubs had been divided among the hunters; and Erlingsen
was complimented with the feet of the old bear, as it was he who
had roused the neighbours, and led the hunt. Busy was every
farm-house (and none so busy as Erlingsen's) in salting some of
the meat, freezing some, and cooking a part for a feast on the
52 Feats on the Fiord.
Erlingsen kept a keen and constant look-out upon the fiord, in
the midst of all the occupations and gaieties of the rest of the
winter. His wife's account of the adventures of the day of his
absence made him anxious; and he never went a mile out of
sight of home, so vivid in his imagination was the vision of his
house burning, and his family at the mercy of pirates. Nothing
happened, however, to confirm his fears. The enemy were never
heard of in the fiord; and the cod-fishers who came up, before
the softening of the snow, to sell some of their produce in the
interior of the country, gave such accounts as seemed to show
that the fishing-grounds were the object of the foreign thieves;
for foreign they were declared to be: some said Russian; and
others, a mixture from hostile nations. This last information
gave more impulse to the love of country for which the Nor-
wegians are remarkable, than all that had been reported from the
seat of war. The Nordlanders always drank success to their
country's arms, in the first glass of corn-brandy at dinner. They
paid their taxes cheerfully; and any newspaper that the clergy-
man put in circulation was read till it fell to pieces; but, the
neighbourhood of foreign pirates proved a more powerful stimu-
lant still. The standing toast, Gamle Norgi (Old Norway), was
drunk with such enthusiasm, that the little children shouted and
defied the enemy; and the baby in its mother's lap clapped its
hands when every voice joined in the national song, For Norgk.
Hitherto the war had gone forward upon the soil of another
kingdom; it seemed now as if a sprinkling of it-a little of its
excitement and danger-was brought to their own doors; and
vehement was the spirit that it roused; though some thefts of
cod, brandy, and a little money, were all that had really happened
The interval of security gave Rolf a good opportunity to ridi-
cule and complain of Erica's fears. He laughed at the danger of
an attack from Hund and his comrades, 'as that danger was
averted. He laughed at the west wind and fog sent by Nipen's
*wrath, as Erica had reached home in spite of it. He contended
that, so far from Nipen being offended, there was either no Nipen,
-or it was not angry, or it was powerless; for everything had gone
well; and he always ended with pointing to the deer-a good
thing led to the very door-and to the result of the bear-hunt-a
,great event always in a Nordlander's life, and, in this instance,
one of most fortunate issue. There was no saying how many of
the young of the farm-yard would live and flourish, this summer,
on account of the timely destruction of this family of bears. So
SRolf workedaway, with a cheerful heart, as the days grew longer,
-now mending the boat,-now fishing,-now ploughing, and
Feats on the Fiord. 53
then rolling logs into the melting-streams, to be carried down into
the river, or into the fiord, when the rush of waters should come
from the heights of Sulitelma.
Hard as Rolf worked, he did not toil like Oddo. Between
them, they had to supply Hund's place,-to do his work. No-
body desired to see Hund back again; and Erlingsen would
willingly have taken another in his stead, to make his return im-
possible; but there was no one to be had. It was useless to in-
quire till the fishing season should be over: and when that was
over, the hay and harvest season would follow so quickly, that it
was scarcely likely that any youth would offer himself till the first
frosts set in. It was Oddo's desire that the place should remain
vacant till he could show that he, young as he was, was worth as
much as Hund. If any one was hired, he wished that it might be a
herd-boy, under him ; and strenuously did he toil, this spring, to
show that he was now beyond a mere herd-boy's place. It was
he who first fattened, and then killed and skinned the rein-deer,-
a more than ordinary feat, as it was full two months past the
regular season. It was he who watched the making of the first
eider-duck's nest, and brought home the first down. All the
month of April, he never failed in the double work of the farm-
yard and islet. He tended the cattle in the morning, and turned
out the goats, when the first patches of green appeared from
beneath the snow: and then he was off to the islet, or to some
one of the breeding stations among the rocks, punctually stripping
the nests of the down, as the poor ducks renewed the supply from
their breasts; and as carefully staying his hand, when he saw, by
the yellow tinge of the down, that the duck had no more to give,
and the drake had now supplied what was necessary for hatching
the eggs. Then he watched for the eggs; and never had Madame
Erlingsen had such a quantity brought home; though Oddo
assured her that he had left enough in the nests for every duck to
have her brood. Then he was ready to bring home the goats
again, long before sunset,-for, by this time, the sun set late,-
and to take his turn at mending any fence that might have been
injured by the spring-floods; and then he never forgot to wash
and dress himself, and go in for his grandmother's blessing; and
after all, he was not too tired to sit up as late as if he were a man,
--even till past nine sometimes,-spending the last hour of the
evening in working at the bell collars which Hund had left half
done, and which must be finished before the cattle went to the
mountain : or, if the young ladies were disposed to dance, he was
never too tired to play the clarinet, though it now and then
happened that the tune went rather oddly; and when Orga and
Frolich looked at him, to see what he was about, his eyes were
54 Feats on the Fiord.
shut, and his fingers looked as if they were moving of their own
accord. If this happened, the young ladies would finish their
waltz at once, and thank him, and his mistress would wish him
good night; and when he was gone, his master would tell old
Peder that that grandson of his was a promising lad, and very
diligent; and Peder would make a low bow, and say it was
greatly owing to Rolf's good example; and then Erica would
blush, and be kinder than ever to Oddo the next day.
So came on and passed away the spring of this year at Erling-
sen's farm. It soon passed; for spring in Nordland lasts only a
month. In that short time had the snow first become soft, and
then dingy, and then vanished, except on the heights, and in
places where it had drifted. The streams had broken their long
pause of silence, and now leaped and rushed along, till every rock
overhanging both sides of the fiord was musical with falling waters,
and glittering with silver threads,-for the cataracts looked no
more than this in so vast a scene. Every mill was going, after the
long idleness of winter; and about the bridges which spanned the
falls were little groups of the peasants gathered, mending such as
had burst with the floods, or strengthening such as did not seem
secure enough for the passage of the herds to the mountain.
Busy as the maidens were with the cows that were calving, and
with the care of the young kids, they found leisure to pry into the
promise of the spring. In certain warm nooks, where the sunshine
was reflected from the surrounding rocks, they daily watched for
what else might appear, when once the grass, of brilliant green,
had shown itself from beneath the snow. There they found the
strawberry and the wild raspberry promising to carpet the ground
with their white blossoms; while in one corer the lily of the
valley began to push up its pairs of leaves; and from the crevices
of the rock, the barberry and the dwarf birch grew, every twig
showing swelling buds, or an early sprout.
While these cheerful pursuits went on out of doors during the
one busy month of spring, a slight shade of sadness was thrown
over the household within by the decline of old Ulla. It was
hardly sadness; it was little more than gravity; for Ulla herself
was glad to go; Peder knew that he should soon follow; and
every one else was reconciled to one who had suffered so long
going to her rest.
"The winter and I are going together, my dear," said she one
day, when Erica placed on her pillow a green shoot of birch which
she had taken from out of the very mouth of a goat. The hoary
winter and hoary I have lived out our time, and we are departing
together. I shall make way for you young people, and give- you
your turn, as he is giving way to spring; and let nobodyJpretend
Feats on the Fiord. 5
to be sorry for it. Who pretends to be sorry when winter is
But winter will come again, so soon and so certainly, Ulla,"
said Erica, mournfully: and when it is come again, we shall
still miss you."
"Well, my dear, I will say nothing against that. It is good
for the living to miss the dead, as long as they do not wish them
back. As for me, Erica, I feel as if I could not but miss you, go
where I may."
O, do not say that, Ulla."
"Why not say it if I feel it ? Who could be displeased with me
for grasping still at the hand that has smoothed my bed so long,
when I am going to some place that will be very good, no doubt,
but where everything must be strange at first? He who gave you
to me, to be my nurse, will not think the worse of me for missing
you, wherever I may be."
"There will be little Henrica," observed Erica.
"Ah yes there is nothing I think of more than that. That
dear child died on my shoulder. Fain would her mother have
had her in her arms at the last; but she was in such extremity
that to move her would have been to end all at once; and so she
died away, with her head on my shoulder. I thought then it was
a sign that I should be the first to meet her again. But I shall
take care and not stand in the way of her mother's rights."
Here Ulla grew so earnest in imagining her meeting with Hen-
rica, still fancying her the dependent little creature she had been
on earth, that she was impatient to be gone. Erica's idea was
that this child might now have become so wise and so mighty in
the wisdom of a better world, as to be no such plaything as Ulla
supposed; but she said nothing to spoil the old woman's pleasure.
When Peder came in, to sit beside his old companion's bed,
and sing her to sleep, she told him that she hoped to be by when
he opened his now dark eyes upon the sweet light of a heavenly
day; and, if she might, she would meantime make up his dreams
for him, and make him believe that he saw the most glorious
sights of old Norway,-more glorious than are to be seen in any
other part of this lower world. There should be no end to the
gleaming lakes, and dim forests, and bright green valleys, and
silvery waterfalls that he should see in his dreams, if she might
have the making of them. There was no end to the delightful
things Ulla looked forward to, and the kind things she hoped to
be able to do for those she left behind, when once she should
have quitted her present helpless state : and she thought so much
of these things, that when M. Kollsen arrived, he found that,
instead of her needing to be reconciled to death, she was im.
56 Feats on the Fiord.
patient to be gone. The first thing he heard her say, when all
was so dim before her dying eyes, and so confused to her failing
ears, that she did not know the pastor had arrived, was that she
was less uneasy now about Nipen's displeasure against the young
people. Perhaps she might be able to explain and prevent mis-.
chief: and if not, the young people's marriage would soon be
taking place now, and then they might show such attention to
Nipen as would make the spirit forgive and forget.
"Hush, now, dear Ulla I" said Erica. Here is the pastor."
Do not say Hush'! said M. Kollsen, sternly. "Whatever
is said of this kind I ought to hear, that I may meet the delusion.
I must have conversation with this poor woman, to prevent her
very last breath being poisoned with superstition. You are a
member of the Lutheran Church, Ulla ? "
With humble pleasure, Ulla told of the satisfaction which the
Bishop of Tronyem, of seventy years ago, had expressed at her
confirmation. It was this which obtained her a good place, and
Peder's regard, and all the good that had happened in her long
life since. Yes : she was indeed a member of the Lutheran
Church, she thanked God.
And in what part of the Scriptures of our church do you find
mention of of (I hate the very names of these pretended
spirits). Where in the Scriptures are you bidden or permitted to
believe in spirits and demons of the wood and the mountain ? "
Ulla declared that her learning in the Scriptures was but small.
She knew only what she had been taught, and a little that she had
picked up : but she remembered that the former Bishop of Tron-
yem himself had hung up an axe in the forest, on Midsummer-eve,
for the wood-demon's use, if it pleased.
Peder observed that we all believe so many things that are not
found mentioned in the Scriptures, that perhaps it would be wisest
and kindest, by a dying bed, where moments were precious, to
speak of those high things which the Scriptures discourse of, and
which all Christians, believe. These were the subjects for Ulla
now: the others might be reasoned of when she was in her
The pastor was not quite satisfied with this way of attending
the dying; but there was something in the aged man's voice and
manner quite irresistible, as he sat calmly awaiting the departure
of the last companion of his own generation. M. Kollsen took
out his Bible, and read what Ulla gladly heard, till her husband
knew by the slackened clasp of her hand that she heard no longer.
She had become insensible, and before sunset had departed.
Rolf had continued his kind offices to the old couple with the
utmost respect and propriety, to the end refusing to go out of call
Feats on the Fiord. 57
during the last few days of Ulla's decline: but he had observed,
with some anxiety, that there was certainly a shoal of herrings in
the fiord, and that it was high time he was making use of the
sunny days for his fishing. In order to go about this duty with-
out any delay, when again at liberty, he had brought the skiff up
to the beach for repair, and had it nearly ready for use by
the day of the funeral. The family boat was too large for
his occasions, now that Hund was not here to take an oar:
and he expected to do great things alone in the little manageable
When he had assisted Peder to lay Ulla's head in the grave,
and guided him back to the house, Rolf drew Erica's arm within
his own, and led her away, as if for a walk. No one interfered
with them; for the family knew that their hearts must be very
full, and that they must have much to say to each other, now
that the event had happened which was to cause their marriage
very soon. They would now wait no longer than to pay proper
respect to Ulla's memory, and to improve the house and its furni-
ture a little, so as to make it fit for the bride.
Rolf would have led Erica to the beach; but she begged to go
first to see the grave again, while they knew that no one was there.
The grave was dug close by the little mound beneath which Hen,
rica lay. Henrica's was railed round, with a paling which had
been fresh painted--a task which Erlingsen performed with his
own hands every spring. The forget-me-not, which the Nord-
landers plant upon the graves of those they love, overran the
hillock, and the white blossoms of the wild strawberry peeped out
from under the thick grass; so that this grave looked a perfect
contrast to that of Ulla, newly-made and bare. The lovers looked
at this last with dissatisfaction.
It shall be completely railed in before to-morrow night," said Rolf.
"But cannot we dress it a little now? I could transplant some
flower-roots presently, and some forget-me-not from Henrica's hil-
lock, if we had sods for the rest. Never mind spoiling any other
nook. The grass will soon grow again."
Rolf's spade was busy presently; and Erica planted and watered
till the new grave, if it did not compare with the child's, showed
tokens of care, and promise of beauty.
"Now," said Rolf, when they had done, and put away their
tools, and sat down on the pine log from which the pales were to
be made, so that their lengthening shadows fell across the new
grave,-" now, Erica, you know what she who lies there would
like us to be settling. She herself said her burial day would soon
be over; and then would come our wedding-day."
"When everything is ready," replied Erica, "we will fix; but
58 Feats on the Fiord.
not now. There is much to be done;-there are many uncer-
Uncertainties! What uncertainties? I know of none-ex-
cept indeed as to---"
Rolf stopped to peel off, and pull to pieces, some of the bark
of the pine trunk on which he was sitting. Erica looked wistfully
at him; he saw it, and went on.
"It is often an uncertainty to me, Erica, after all that has
happened, whether you mean to marry me at all. There are so
many doubts, and so many considerations, and so many fears !-I
often think we shall never be any nearer than we are."
That is your sort of doubt and fear," said Erica, smiling.
"Who is there that entertains a worse ? "
"I do not want any rallying or joking, Erica. I am quite
"Seriously then-are we not nearer than we were a year ago ?
We are betrothed; and I have shown you that I do believe we are
to be married, if--"
"Ay, there. 'If' again."
If it shall please the Powers above us not to separate us, by
death or otherwise."
"Death! at our age! And separation I when we have lived
on the same farm for years! What have we to do with death
Erica pointed to the child's grave, in rebuke of his rash words.
She then quietly observed that they had enemies,-one deadly
enemy not very far off, if nothing were to be said of any but
human foes. Rolf declared that he had rather have Hund for a
declared enemy than for a companion. Erica understood this
very well; but she could not forget that Hund Wanted to be
houseman in Rolfs stead, and that he desired to prevent their
That is the very reason," said Rolf, "why we should marry as
soon as we can. Why not fix the day, and engage the pastor
while he is here ? "
"Because it would hurt Peder's feelings. There will be no
difficulty in sending for the pastor when everything is ready. But
now, Rolf, that all may go well, do promise not to run into need-
"According to you," said Rolf, smiling, "one can never get out,
of danger. Where is the use of taking care, if all the powers of
earth and air are against us ? You think me as helpless, under
Nipen's breath, as the poor infant that put out into the fiord the
other day in a tub."
"I am not speaking of Nipen now,-(not because I do not
Feats on the Fiord. 59
think of it;)-I am speaking of Hund. Do promise me not to
go more than four miles down the fiord. After that, there is a
long stretch of precipices, without a single dwelling. There is not
a boat that could put off,-there is not an eye or an ear that
could bear witness what had become of you, if you and Hund
should meet there."
If Hund and I should meet there, I would bring him home,
to settle what should become of him."
"And all the pirates ? You would bring them all in your right
hand, and row home with your left! For shame, Rolf, to be such
a boaster! Promise me not to go beyond the four miles."
Indeed I can only promise to go where the shoal is. Four
miles Suppose you say four furlongs, love."
"I will engage to catch herrings within four furlongs."
"Pray take me with you; and then I will carry you four times
four miles down, and show you what a shoal is. Really, love, I
should like to prove to you how safe the fiord is to one who
knows every nook and hiding-place from the entrance up. If
fighting would not do, I could always hide."
"And would not Hund know where to look for you ?"
"Not he. He was not brought up on the fiord, to know its
ways, and its holes and covers: and I told him neither that, nor
anything else that I could keep from him; for I always mistrusted
Hund.-Now, I will tell you, love. I will promise you something,
because I do not wish to hurt you, as you sometimes hurt me with
disregarding what I say,-with being afraid, in spite of all I can
do to make you easy. I will promise you not to go further down,
while alone, than Vogel islet, unless it is quite certain that Hund
and the pirates are far enough off in another direction. I partly
think, as you do, and as Erlingsen does, that they meant to come
for me the night you carried off their boat: so I will be on the
watch, and go no further than where they cannot hurt me."
"Then why say Vogel islet? It is out of all reasonable
Not to those who know the fiord as I do. I have my reasons,
Erica, for fixing that distance and no other; and that far I intend
to go, whether my friends think me able to take care of myself
"At least," pleaded Erica, "let me go with you."
Not for the world, my love." And Erica saw, by his look of
horror at the idea of her going, that he felt anything but secure
from the pirates. He took her hand, and kissed it again and
again, as he said that there was plenty for that little hand to do at
home, instead of pulling the oar in the hot sun. I shall think
of you all while I am fishing," he went on. I shall fancy you
60 Feats on the Fiord.
making ready for the seater.* As you go towards Sulitelma any
day now, you may hear the voices of a thousand waterfalls, calling
upon the herdmen and maidens to come to the fresh pastures.
How happy we shall be, Erica, when we once get to the seater! "
Erica sighed, and pressed her lover's hand as he held hers.
"While I am fishing," he went on, "I shall fancy our young
mistresses, and Stiorna and you, washing all your bowls in juniper-
water, ready for your dairy. I know how the young ladies will
contrive that all of my carving shall come under your hand. And
I shall be back with my fish before you are gone, that I may walk
beside your cart. I know just how far you will ride. When we
get the first sight of the grass waving, as the wind sweeps over it
on the mountain side, you will spring from the cart, and walk with
me all the rest of the way."
All this would be well," said Erica, if it were not for- "
"For what, love? For Nipen, again If you will not mind
what I say about your silly fears, you shall hear from the pastor
how wicked they are. I see him yonder, in the garden. I will
call him -"
No, no I I know all he has to say," declared Erica.
But Rolf carried the case before M. Kollsen: and M. Kollsen,
glad of every opportunity of discoursing on this subject, came and
took Rolf's seat, and said all he could think of in contempt of
the spirits of the region, till Erica's blood ran cold to hear him.
It was not kind of Rolf to expose her to this : but Rolf had no
fears himself, and was not aware how much she suffered under
what the clergyman said. The lover stood by watching, and was
so charmed with. her gentle and submissive countenance and
manner, while she could not own herself convinced, that he
almost admired her superstition, and forgave her doubts of his
being able to take care of himself, while his deadly enemy on
earth might possibly be assisted by the offended powers of the air.
*Each Norway farm which is situated within a certain distance of the moun-
tains has a mountain pasture, to which the herds and flocks are driven in early
summer, and where they feed till the first frosts come on. The herdmen and
dairy-women live on the mountain, beside their cattle, during this season, and
enjoy the mode of life extremely. The mountain pasture belonging to a farm
is called the Seater. The procession of herds and flocks, and herdmen and
dairy-women with their utensils, all winding up the mountain-" going to the
seater," is a pretty sight on an early summer's day.
Fcats on the Fiord. 61
WHO was ever happier than Rolf, when abroad in his skiff, on
one of the most glorious days of the year? He found his angling
tolerably successful near home; but the further he went, the more
the herrings abounded; and he therefore dropped down the fiord
with tide, fishing as he receded, till all home objects had disap-
peared. First, the farm-house, with its surrounding buildings, its
green paddock, and shining white beach, was hidden behind the
projecting rocks. Then Thor islet appeared to join with the
nearest shore, from which its bushes of stunted birch seemed to
spring. Then, as the skiff dropped lower and lower down, the
interior mountains appeared to rise above the rocks which closed
in the head of the fiord, and the snowy peak of Sulitelma stood
up clear amidst the pale blue sky; the glaciers on its sides
catching the sunlight on different points, and glittering so that the
eye could scarely endure to rest upon the mountain. When he
came to the narrow part of the fiord, near the creek which had
been the scene of Erica's exploit, Rolf laid aside his rod, with the
bright hook that herrings so much admire, to guide his canoe
through the currents caused by the approach of the rocks, and
contraction of the passage; and he then wished he had brought
Erica with him, so lovely was the scene. Every crevice of the
rocks, even where there seemed to be no soil, was tufted with
bushes, every twig of which was bursting into the greenest leaf,
while, here and there, a clump of dark pines overhung some busy
cataract, which, itself over-shadowed, sent forth its little clouds of
spray, dancing and glittering in the sunlight. A pair of fishing
eagles were perched on a high ledge of rock, screaming to the
echoes, so that the dash of the currents was lost in the din. Rolt
did wish that Erica was here when he thought how the colour
would have mounted into her cheek, and how her eye would have
sparkled at such a scene.
Lower down, it was scarcely less beautiful. The waters spread
out again to a double width. The rocks were, or appeared to be
lower; and now and then, in some space between rock and rock,
a strip of brilliant green meadow lay open to the sunshine; and
there were large flocks of fieldfares, flying round and round, to
exercise the newly-fledged young. There were a few habitations
scattered along the margin of the fiord; and two or three boats
might be seen far off, with diminutive figures of men drawing their
62 Feats on the Fiord.
"I am glad I brought my net too," thought Rolf. "My rod
had done good duty; but if I am coming upon a shoal, I will
cast my net, and be home, laden with fish, before they think of
looking for me."
Happy woald it have been if Rolf had cast his net where others
were content to fish, and had given up all idea of going further
than was necessary : but his boat was still dropping down towards
the islet which he had fixed in his own mind as the limit of his
trip; and the long solitary reach of the fiord which now lay
between him and it was tempting both to the eye and the mind.
It is difficult to turn back from the first summer-day trip, in
countries where summer is less beautiful than in Nordland; and
on went Rolf, beyond the bounds of prudence, as many have done
before him. He soon found himself inr a still and somewhat
dreary region, where there was no motion but of the sea-birds
which were leading their broods down the shores of the fiords,
and of the air which appeared to quiver before the eye, from the
evaporation caused by the heat of the sun. More slowly went
the canoe here, as if to suit the quietness of the scene, and
leisurely and softly did Rolf cast his net: and then steadily did
he draw it in, so rich in fish that when they lay in the bottom of
the boat, they at once sank it deeper in the water, and checked
its speed by their weight.
Rolf then rested awhile, and looked ahead for Vogel islet,
thinking that he could not now be very far from it. There it lay
looming in the heated atmosphere, spreading as if in the air, just
above the surface of the water, to which it appeared joined in the
middle by a dark stem, as if it grew like a huge sea-flower.
There is no end to the strange appearances presented in northern
climates by an atmosphere so different from our own. Rolf
gazed and gazed as the island grew more like itself on his
approach; and he was so occupied with it as not to look about
him as he ought to have done at such a distance from home.
He was roused at length by a shout, and looked towards the
point from which it came; and there, in a little harbour of the
fiord, a recess which now actually lay behind him-between him
and home-lay a vessel; and that vessel, he knew by a second
glance, was the pirate schooner.
Of the schooner itself he had no fear, for there was so little
wind that it could not have come out in time to annoy him; but
there was the schooner's boat, with five men in it-four rowing
and one steering-already in full pursuit of him. He knew, by
'the general air and native dress of the man at the helm, that it
was Hund; and he fancied he heard Hund's malicious voice in
the shout which came rushing over the water from their boat to
Feats on the Fiord. 63
his. How fast they seemed to be coming How the spray from
their oars glittered in the sun, and how their wake lengthened
with every stroke No spectator from the shore (if there had
been any) could have doubted that the boat was in pursuit of the
skiff, and would snap it up presently. Rolf saw that he had five
determined foes gaining upon him every instant; and yet he was
not alarmed. He had had his reasons for thinking himself safe
near Vogel islet; and calculating for a moment the time of the
tide, he was quite at his ease. As he took his oars he smiled at
the hot haste of his pursuers, and at the thought of the amaze-
ment they would feel when he slipped through their fingers; and
then he began to row.
Rolf did not overheat himself with too much exertion. He
permitted his foes to gain a little upon him, though he might have
preserved the distance for as long as his strength could have held
out against that of the four in the other boat. They ceased their
shouting when they saw how quietly he took his danger. They
really believed that he was not aware of being their object, and
hoped to seize him suddenly, before he had time to resist.
When very near the islet, however, Rolf became more active,
and his skiff disappeared behind its southern point while the
enemy's boat was still two furlongs off. The steersman looked
for the reappearance of the canoe beyond the islet; but he looked
in vain. He thought, and his companions agreed with him, that
it was foolish of Rolf to land upon the islet, where they could lay
hands on him in a moment; but they could only suppose he had
done this, and prepared to do the same. They rowed quite
round the islet; but, to their amazement, they could not only
perceive no place to land at, but there was no trace of the canoe.
It seemed to them as if those calm and clear waters had swallowed
up the skiff and Rolf in the few minutes after they had lost sight
of him. Hund thought the case was accounted for when he re-
called Nipen's displeasure. A thrill ran through him as he said
to himself that the spirits of the region had joined with him
against Rolf, and swallowed up, almost before his eyes, the man
he hated. He put his hands before his face for a moment, while
his comrades stared at him; then, thinking he must be under a
delusion, he gazed earnestly over the waters as far as he could
see. They lay calm and bright, and there was certainly no kind
of vessel on their surface for miles round.
The rowers wondered, questioned, uttered shouts, spoke alto-
gether, and then looked at Hund in silence, struck by his counte-
nance, and finished by rowing two or three times round the islet,
slowly, and looking up its bare rocky sides, which rose like walls
from the water; but nothing could they see or hear. When tired
64 Feats on the Fiord.
of their fruitless search they returned to the schooner, ready to
report to the master that the fiord was enchanted.
Meantime, Rolf had-heard every plash of their oars, and every
tone of their voices, as they rowed round his place of refuge. He
was not on the islet, but in it. This was such an island as Swein,
the sea-king of former days, took refuge in; and Rolf was only
following his example. Long before, he had discovered a curious
cleft in the rock, very narrow, and all but invisible at high water,
even if a bush of dwarf-ash and birch had not hung down over it.
At high water, nothing larger than a bird could go in and out
beneath the low arch; but there was a cavern within, whose
sandy floor sloped up to some distance above high-water mark.
In this cavern was Rolf. He had thrust his little skiff between
the walls of rock, crushing in its sides as he did so. The bushes
drooped behind him, hanging naturally over the entrance as
before. Rolf .pulled up his broken vessel upon the little sandy
beach, within the cave, saved a pile of his fish, and returned a
good many to the water, and then sat down upon the sea-weeds
to listen. There was no light but a little which found its way
through the bushy screen and up from the green water; and the
sounds-the tones of the pirates' voices, and the splash of the
waters against the rocky walls of his singular prison-came
deadened and changed to his ear; yet he heard enough to be
aware how long his enemies remained, and when they were really
It was a prison indeed, as Rolf reflected when he looked upon
his broken skiff. He could not imagine how he was to get away;
for his friends would certainly never think of coming to look for
him here: but he put off the consideration of this point for the
present, and turned away from the image of Erica'O distress when
he should fail to return. He amused himself now with imagining
Hund's disappointment, and the reports which would arise from
it and he found this so very entertaining that he laughed aloud;
and then the echo of his laughter sounded so very merry that it
set him laughing again. This, in its turn, seemed to rouse the
eider-ducks that thronged the island; and their clatter and com-
motion was so great overhead that any spectator might have been
excused for believing that Vogel islet was indeed bewitched
Feats on the Fiord. 65
A SUMMER APARTMENT.
"HUMPH! How little did the rare old sea-king think," said
Rolf to himself, as he surveyed his cave-" how little did Swein
think, when he played this very trick, six hundred years ago, that
it would save a poor farm-servant from being murdered, so many
centuries after Many thanks to my good grandmother for being
so fond of that story She taught it thoroughly to me before she
died; and that is the reason of my being safe at this moment.
I wish I had told the people at home of my having found this
cave; for, as it is, they cannot but think me lost; and how Erica
will bear it, I don't know. And yet, if I had told them, Hund
would have heard it; or, at least, Stiorna, and she would have
managed to let him know. Perhaps it is best as it is, if only I
can get back in time to save Erica's heart from breaking. But
for her, I should not mind the rest being in a fright for a day or
two. They are a little apt to fancy that the affairs of the farm go
by nature-that the fields and the cattle take care of themselves.
They treat me liberally enough; but they are not fully aware of
the value of a man like me; and now they will learn. They will
hardly know how to make enough of me when I go back. Oddo
will be the first to see me. I think, however, I should let them
hear my best song from a distance. Let me see-which song
shall it be ? It must be one which will strike Peder; for he will
be the first to hear, as Oddo always is to see. Some of them will
think it is a spirit mocking, and some that it is my ghost; and my
master and madame will take it to be nothing but my own self.
And then, in the doubt among all these, my poor Erica will faint
away; and while they are throwing water upon her face, and
putting some camphorated brandy into her mouth, I shall quietly
step in among them, and grasp Peder's arm, and pull Oddo's hair,
to show that it is I myself; and when Erica opens her eyes, she
shall see my face at its very merriest; so that she cannot possibly
take me for a sad and solemn ghost. And the next thing will
He stopped with a start, as his eye fell upon his crushed boat,
lying on its side, half in the water and half out.
Ah thought he, in a changed mood, this is all very fine-
this planning how one pleasant thing will follow upon another;
but I forgot the first thing of all. I must learn first how I am to
He turned his boat about and about, and shook his head over
66 Feats on the Fiord.
every bruise, hole, or crack th-t he found, till he finished with a
nod of decision that nothing could, be done with it. He was a
good swimmer; but the nearest point of the shore was so far off
that it would be all he could do to reach it when the waters were
in their most favourable state. At present, they were so chilled
with the melted snows that were pouring down from every steep
along the fiord, that he doubted the safety of attempting to swim
at all. What chance of release had he then?
If he could by any means climb upon the rocks in whose re-
cesses he was now hidden, he might possibly fall in with some
fishing-boat which would fetch him off; but, besides that the
pirates were more likely to see him than anybody else, he believed
there was no way by which he could climb upon the islet. It had
always been considered the exclusive property of the aquatic birds
with which it swarmed, because its sides rose so abruptly from the
water, so like the smooth stone walls of a lofty building, that there
was no hold for foot or hand, and the summit seemed unattainable
by anything that had not wings. Rolf remembered, however,
having heard Peder say that when he was young there might be
seen hanging down one part of the precipice the remains of a
birchen ladder, which must have been made and placed there by
human hands. Rolf determined that he would try the point. He
would wait till the tide was flowing in, as the waters from the open
sea were. somewhat less chilled than when returning from the head
of the fiord; he would take the waters at their warmest, and try and
try again to make a footing upon the islet. Meantime he would
not trouble himself with thoughts of being a prisoner.
His cave was really a very pretty place. As its opening fronted
the west, he found that even here there might be sunshine. The
golden light which blesses the high and low places of the earth did
not disdain to cheer and adorn even this humble chamber, which, at
the bidding of nature, the waters had patiently scooped out of the
hard rock. Some hours after darkness had settled down on the
lands of the tropics, and long after the stars had come out in the
skies over English heads, this cave was at its brightest. As the
sun drew to its setting, near the middle of the Nordland summer
night, it levelled its golden rays through the cleft, and made the
place far more brilliant than at noon. The projections of the
rough rock caught the beam, during the few minutes that it stayed,
and shone with a bright orange tint. The beach suddenly ap-
peared of a more dazzling white, and the waters of a deeper green,
while, by their motion, they cast quivering circles of reflected light
upon the roof, which had before been invisible. Rolf took this
brief opportunity to survey his abode carefully. He had supposed,
from the pleasant freshness of the air, that the cave was lofty;
Feats on the Fiord. 67
and he now saw that the roof did indeed spring up to a vast
height. He saw also that there was a great deal of drift-wood
accumulated; and some of it thrown into such distant corners as
to prove that the waves could dash up to a much higher water-
line, in stormy weather, than he had supposed. No matter He
hoped to be gone before there were any more storms. Tired and
sleepy as he was, so near midnight, he made an exertion, while
there was plenty of light, to clear away the sea-weedg from a space
on the sand where he must to-morrow make his fire, and broil his
fish. The smell of the smallest quantity of burnt weed would be
intolerable in so confined a place : so he cleared away every sprout
of it, and laid some of the drift-wood on a spot above high-water
mark, picking out the driest pieces of fire-wood he could find for
kindling a flame.
When this was done, he could have found in his heart to pick
up shells, so various and beautiful were those which strewed the
floor of his cave : but the sunbeam was rapidly climbing the wall,
and would presently be gone, so he let the shells lie till the next
night (if he should still be here), and made haste to heap up a
bed of fine dry sand in a corner; and here he lay down as the
twilight darkened, and thought he had never rested on so soft a
bed. He knew it was near high-water, and he tried to keep
awake, to ascertain how nearly the tide filled up the entrance;
but he was too weary, and his couch was too comfortable for this.
His eyes closed in spite of him, and he dreamed that he was
broad awake watching the height of the tide. For this one night,
he could rest without any very painful thoughts of poor Erica,
for she was prepared for his remaining out till the middle of the
next day, at least.
When he awoke in the morning, the scene was marvellously
changed from that on which he had closed his eyes. His cave
was so dim that he could scarcely distinguish its white floor from
its rocky sides. The water was low, and the cleft therefore en-
larged, so that he saw at once that now was the time for making
his fire-now when there was the freest access for the air. Yet
he could not help pausing to admire what he saw. He could see
now a long strip of the fiord,--a perspective of waters and of
shores, ending in a lofty peak still capped with snow, and glitter-
ing in the sunlight. The whole landscape was bathed in light, as
warm as noon; for, though it was only six in the morning, the
sun had been up for several hours. As Rolf gazed, and reckoned
up the sum of what he saw,-the many miles of water, and the
long range of rocks, he felt, for a moment, as if not yet secure
from Hund,-as if he must be easily visible while he saw so much.
But it was not so, and Rolf smiled at his own momentary fear,
68 Feats on the Fiord.
when he remembered how, as a child, he had tried to count the
stars he could see at once through a hole pricked by a needle in
a piece of paper, and how, for that matter, all that we ever see is
through the little circle of the pupil of the eye. He smiled when
he considered that while, from his recess, he could see the united
navy of Norway and Denmark, if anchored in the fiord, his enemy
could not see even his habitation, otherwise than by peeping under
the bushes which overhung the cleft-and this only at low-water;
so he began to sing, while rubbing together, with all his might,
the dry sticks of fir with which his fire was to be kindled. First
they smoked, and then, by a skilful breath of air, they blazed, and
set fire to the heap; and by the time the herrings were ready for
broiling, the cave was so filled with smoke that Rolfs singing was
turned to coughing.
Some of the smoke hung in soot on the roof and walls of the
cave, curling up so well at first, that Rolf almost thought there
must be some opening in the lofty roof which served as a chimney;
but there was not, and some of the smoke came down again,
issuing at last from the mouth of the cave. Rolf observed this,
and, seeing the danger of his place of retreat being thus discovered,
he made haste to finish his cookery, resolving that, if he had to
Remain here for any length of time, he would always make his fire
in the night. He presently threw water over his burning brands,
and hoped that nothing had been seen of the process of preparing
The smoke had been seen, however, and by several people, but
in such a way as to lead to no discovery of the cave. From the
schooner, Hund kept hip eyes fixed on the islet, at every moment
he had to spare. Either he was the murderer of his fellow-servant,
or the islet was bewitched; and if Rolf was under the protection
and favour of the powers of the region, he, Hund, was out of
favour, and might expect bad consequences. Whichever might
be the case, Hund was very uneasy; and he could think of nothing
but the islet, and look no other way. His companions had at
first joked him about his luck in getting rid of his enemies, but,
being themselves superstitious, they caught the infection of his
gravity, and watched the spot almost as carefully as he.
As their vessel lay higher up in the fiord than the islet, they
were on the opposite side from the crevice, and could not see
from whence the smoke issued. But they saw it in the form of a
light cloud hanging over the place. Hund's eyes were fixed
upon it, when one of his comrades touched him on the shoulder.
"You see there," said the man, pointing.
"To be sure I do; what else was I looking at ?"
Feats on the Fiord. 69
"Well, what is it ? inquired the man. "Has your friend got
a visitor,-come a great way this morning? They say the moun-
tain-sprite travels in mist; if so, it is now going; see, there it
sails off,-melts away. It is as like common smoke as anything
that ever I saw. What say you to taking the boat, and trying
again whether there is no place where your friend might not land,
and be now making a fire among the birds' nests ? "
"Nonsense !" cried Hund. "What became of the skiff,
then ? "
"True," said the man; and, shaking his head, he passed on,
and spoke to the master.
In his own secret mind, the master of the schooner did not quite
like his present situation. The little harbour was well sheltered
and hidden from the observation of the inhabitants of the upper
part of the fiord : but, after hearing the words dropped by his
crew, the master did not relish being stationed between the be-
witched islet and the head of the fiord, where all the residents
were, of course, enemies. He thought that it would be wiser to
have a foe only on the one hand, and the open sea on the other,
even at the sacrifice of the best anchorage. As there was now
a light wind, enough to take his vessel down, he gave orders
Slowly, and at some distance, the schooner passed the islet,
and all on board crowded together to see what they could see.
None,-not even the master with his glass,-saw anything re-
markable : but all heard something. There was a faint muffled
sound of knocks,-blows such as were never heard in a mere
haunt of sea-birds. It was evident that the birds were disturbed
by it; they rose and fell, made short flights and came back again,
fluttered, and sometimes screamed so as to overpower all other
sounds. But if they were quiet for a minute, the knock, knock,
was heard again, with great regularity, and every knock went to
The fact was, that after breakfast, Rolf soon became tired of
having nothing to do. The water was so very cold, that he
deferred till noon the attempt to swim round the islet. He once
more examined his boat, and though the injuries done seemed
irreparable, he thought he had better try to mend his little craft
than do nothing. After collecting from the wood in the cave all
the nails that happened to be sticking in it, and all the pieces thai
were sound enough to patch a boat with, he made a stone serve
him for a hammer, straightened his nails upon another stone, and
tried to fasten on a piece of wood over a hole. It was discou-
raging work enough, but it helped to pass the hours till the rest-
less waters should have reached their highest mark in the cave,
SFeats on the Fiord.
when he would know that it was noon, and time for his little
He sighed as he threw down his awkward n'w tools and pulled
off his jacket, for his heart now began to grow very heavy.. It
was about the time when Erica would be beginning to look for his
return, and when or how he was ever to return he became less
able to imagine, the more he thought about it. As he fancied
Erica gazing down the fiord from the gallery, or stealing out, hour
after hour, to look forth from the beach, and only to be dis-
appointed every time, till she would be obliged to give him quite
up, and yield to despair, Rolf shed tears. It was the first time
for some years,-the first time since he had been a man, and
when he saw his own tears fall upon the sand, he was ashamed.
He blushed, as if he had not been all alone, dashed away the
drops, and threw himself into the water.
It was too cold by far for safe swimming. All the snows of
Sulitelma could hardly have made the waters more chilly to the
swimmer than they felt at the first plunge; but, Rolf would not
retreat for this reason. He thought of the sunshine outside, and
of the free open view he should enjoy, dived beneath the almost
closed entrance, and came up on the other side. The first thing
he saw was the schooner, now lying below his island; and
the next thing was a small boat between him and it, evidently
making towards him. When convinced that Hund was one of
the three men in it, he saw that he must go back, or make haste
to finish his expedition. He made haste, swam round so close as
to touch the warm rock in many places, and could not discover,
any more than before, any trace of a footing by which a man might
climb to the summit. There was a crevice or two, however, from
which vegetation hung, still left unsearched. He could not search
them now, for he must make haste home.
The boat was indeed so near when he had reached the point he
set out from, that he used every effort to conceal himself; and it
seemed that he could only have escaped by the eyes of his enemies
being fixed on the summit of the rock. When once more in the
cave, he rather enjoyed hearing them come nearer and nearer, so
that the bushes which hung down between him and them shook
with the wind of their oars, and dipped into the waves.
He laughed silently when he heard one of them swear that he
would not leave the spot till he had seen something, upon
which another rebuked his presumption. Presently, a voice,
which he knew to be Hund's, called upon his name, at first
gently, and then more and more loudly, as if taking courage-at
not being answered.
"I will wait till he rounds the point," thought Rolf, "and then
Feats on the Fiord. 71
give him such an answer as may send a guilty man away quicker
than he came."
He waited till they were on the opposite side, so that his voice
might appear to come from the summit of the islet, and then
began with the melancholy sound used to lure the plover on the
moors. The men in the boat instantly observed that this was
the same sound used when Erlingsen's boat was spirited away
from them. It was rather singular that Rolf and Oddo should
have used the same sound, but they probably chose it as the most
mournful they knew. Rolf, however, did not stop there; he
moaned louder and louder, till the sound resembled the bellowing
of a tormented spirit enclosed in the rock; and the consequence
was, as he had said, that his enemies retreated faster than they
came. Never had they rowed more vigorously than now, fetching
a large circuit, to keep at a safe distance from the spot, as they
For the next few days Rolf kept a close watch upon the pro-
ceedings of the pirates, and saw enough of their thievery to be
able to lay informations against them, if ever he should again
make his way to a town or village, and see the face of a magis-
trate. He was glad of the interest and occupation thus afforded
him,-of even this slight hope of being useful; for he saw no
more probability than on the first day, of release from his prison.
The worst of it was that the season for boating was nearly at an
end. The inhabitants were day by day driving their cattle up
the mountains, there to remain for the summer; and the heads of
families remained in the farm-houses, almost alone, and little
likely to put out so far into the fiord as to pass near him. So
poor Rolf could only catch fish for his support, swim round and
round his prison, and venture a little further, on days when the
water felt rather less cold than usual. To drive off thoughts of
his poor distressed Erica, he sometimes hammered a little at his
skiff; but it was too plain that no botching that he could perform
in the cave would render the broken craft safe to float in.
One sunny day, when the tide was flowing in warmer than
usual, Rolf amused himself with more evolutions in bathing than
he had hitherto indulged in. He forgot his troubles and his foes
in diving, floating, and swimming. As he dashed round a point
of the rock, he saw something, and was certain he was seen.
Hund appeared at least as much bewitched as the island itself,
for he could not keep away from it. He seemed irresistibly drawn
to the scene of his guilt and terror. Here he was now, with one
other man, in the schooner's smallest boat. Rolf had to determine
in an instant what to do, for they were within a hundred yards,
and Hund's starting eyes showed that he saw what he took for the
72 Feats on the Fiord.
ghost of his fellow-servant. Rolf raised himself as high as he
could out of the water, throwing his arms up above his head,
fized his eyes on Hund, uttered a shrill cry, and dived, hoping to
rise to the surface at some point out of sight. Hund looked no
more. After one shriek of terror and remorse had burst from his
white lips, he sank his head upon his knees, and let his comrade
take all the trouble of rowing home again.
This vision decided Hund's proceedings. Half-crazed with
remorse, he left the pirates that night. After long consideration
where to go, he decided upon returning to Erlingsen's. He did
not know to what extent they suspected him; he was pretty sure
that they held no proofs against him. Nowhere else could he be
sure of honest work,-the first object with him now, in the midst
of his remorse. He felt irresistibly drawn towards poor Erica,
now that no rival was there; and if, mixed with all these consider-
ations, there were some thoughts of the situation of houseman
being vacant, and needing much to be filled up, it is no wonder
that such a mingling of motives took place in a mind so selfish
HUND performed his journey by night,-a journey perfectly
unlike any that was ever performed by night in England. He did
not for a moment think of going by the fiord, short atd easy as it
would have been in comparison with the land road.j He would
rather have mounted all the steeps, and crossed the snows of Suli-
telma itself, many times over, than have put himself in the way a
second time of such a vision as he had seen. Laboriously and
diligently, therefore, he overcame the difficulties of the path,
crossing ravines, wading through swamps, scaling rocks, leaping
across watercourses, and only now and then throwing himself
down on some tempting slope of grass, to wipe his brows, and,
where opportunity offered, to moisten his parched throat with the
wild strawberries which were fast ripening in the sheltered nooks
of the hills. It was now so near midsummer, and the nights were
so fast melting into the days, that Hund could at the latest
scarcely see a star, though there was not a fleece of cloud in the
whole circle of the heavens. While yet the sun was sparkling on
the "fiord, and glittering on every farm-house window that fronted'
the west, all" around was as still as if the deepest darkness had
Feats on the Fiord. 73
settled down. The eagles were at rest on their rocky ledge, a
thousand feet above the waters. The herons had left their stand
on the several promontories of the fiord, and the flapping of their
wings overhead was no more heard. The raven was gone home
the cattle were all far away on the mountain pastures; the goats
were hidden in the woods which yielded the tender shoots on
which they subsisted. The round eyes of a white owl stared out
upon him here and there, from under the eaves of a farm-house;
and these seemed to be the only eyes besides his own that were
open. Hund knew as he passed one dwelling after another,-
knew as well as if he had looked in at the windows,-that the
inhabitants were all asleep, even with the sunshine lying across
their very faces.
Every few minutes he observed how his shadow lengthened, and
he longed for the brief twilight which would now soon be coming
Now, his shadow stretched quite across a narrow valley, as
took breath on a ridge crossed by the soft breeze. Then, the
shadow stood up against a precipice, taller than the tallest pine
upon the steep. Then the yellow gleam grew fainter, the sparkles
on the water went out, and he saw the large pale circle of the
sun sink and sink into the waves, where the fiord spread out wide
to the south-west. Even the weary spirit of this unhappy man
seemed now to be pervaded with some of the repose which
appeared to be shed down for the benefit of all that lived. He
walked on and on; but he felt the grass softer under his feet,-
the air cooler upon his brow; and he began to comfort himself
with thinking that he had not murdered Rolf. He said to himself
that he had not laid a finger on him, and that the skiff might have
sunk exactly as it did, if he had been sitting at home, carving a
bell-collar. There could be no doubt that the skiff had been
pulled down fathoms deep by a strong hand from below; and if
the spirits were angry with Rolf, that was no concern of Rolf's
human enemies.-Thus Hund strove to comfort himself; but it
would not do. The more he tried to put away the thought, the
more obstinately it returned, that he had been speeding on his
way to injure Rolf when the strange disappearance took place;
and that he had long hated and envied his fellow-servant, however
marvellously he had been prevented from capturing or slaying
him. These thoughts had no comfort in them; but better came
after a time.
He had to pass very near M. Kollsen's abode; and it crossed
his mind that it would be a great relief to open his heart to a
clergyman. He halted for a minute, in sight of the house, but
presently went on, saying to himself that he could not say all to
M. Kollsen, and would therefore say nothing. He should get a
74 Feats on the Fiord.
lecture against superstition, and hear hard words of the powers he
dreaded; and there would be no consolation in this. It was said
that the Bishop of Tronyem was coming round this way soon, in
his regular progress through his diocese, and everybody bore
testimony to his gentleness and mercy. It would be best to wait
for his coming. Then Hund began to calculate how soon he
would come; for aching hearts are impatient for relief; and the
thought how near midsummer was, made him look up into the
sky,-that beautiful index of the seasons in a northern climate.
There were a few extremely faint stars-a very few,-for only the
brightest could now show themselves in the sky where daylight
lingered so as never quite to depart. A pale-green hue remained
where the sun had disappeared, and a deep-red glow was even
now beginning to kindle where he was soon to rise. Just here,
Hund's ear caught some tones of the soft harp music which the
winds make in their passage through a wood of pines; and there
was a fragrance in the air from a new thatch of birch-bark just
laid upon a neighboring roof. This fragrance, that faint vibrat-
ing music, and the soft veiled light were soothing; and when,
besides, Hund pictured to himself his mind relieved by a confes-
sion to the good bishop-perhaps cheered by words of pardon
and of promise, the tears burst from his eyes, and the fever of his
spirit was allayed.
Then up came the sun again, and the new thatch reeked in his
beams, and the birds shook off sleep, and plumed themselves, and
the peak of Sulitelma blushed with the softest rose-colour, and the
silvery fish leaped out of the water, and the blossoms in the
gardens opened, though it was only an hour after midnight. Every
creature except man seemed eager to make the most of the short
summer season,-to waste none of its bright hours, which would
be gone too soon;-every creature except man; but man must
have rest, be the sun high or sunk beneath the horizon: so that
Hund saw no face, and heard no human voice, before he found
himself standing at the top of the steep rocky pathway, which led
down to Erlingsen's abode.
Hund might have known that he should find everything in a
different state from that in which he had left the place; but yet he
was rather surprised at the aspect of the farm. The stable-doors
stood wide; and there was no trace of milk-pails.. The hurdles
of the fold were piled upon one another in a corner of the yard.
It was plain that herd, flock, and dairy-women were gone to the
mountain: and, though Hund dreaded meeting Erica, it struck
upon his heart, to think that she was not here. He felt now how
much it was for her sake that he had come back.
He half resolved to go away again : but from the gallery of the
Feats on the Fiord. 75
house some snow-white sheets were hanging to dry; and this
showed that some neat and busy female hands were still here.
Next, his eye fell upon the boat which lay gently rocking with the
receding tide in its tiny cove; and he resolved to lie down in it
and rest, while considering what to do next. He went down,
stepping gently over the pebbles of the beach, lest his tread should
reach and waken any ear through the open windows, lay down at
the bottom of the boat, and, as might have been expected, fell
asleep as readily as an infant in a cradle.
Of course he was discovered; and, of course, Oddo was the
discoverer. Oddo was the first to come forth, to water the one
horse that remained at the farm, and to give a turn and a shake to
the two or three little cocks of hay which had been mown behind
the house. His quick eye noted the deep marks of a man's feet
in the sand and pebbles, below high-water mark, proving that
some one had been on the premises during the night. He fol-
lowed these marks to the boat, where he was amazed to find the
enemy (as he called Hund) fast asleep. Oddo was in a great
hurry to tell his grandfather (Erlingsen being on the mountain);
but he thought it only proper caution to secure his prize from
escaping in his absence.
He. summoned his companion, the dog which had warned him
of many dangers abroad, and helped him faithfully with his work
at home; and nothing could be clearer to Skorro than that he
was to crouch on the thwarts of the boat, with his nose close to
Hund's face, and not to let Hund stir till Oddo came back. Then
Oddo ran, and wakened his grandfather, who made all haste to
rise and dress. Erica now lived in Peder's house. She had taken
her lover's place there, since his disappearance; as the old man
must be taken care of, and the house kept; and her mistress
thought the interest and occupation good for her. Hearing
Oddo's story, she rushed out, and her voice was soon heard in
passionate entreaty, above the bark of the dog, which was trying
to prevent the prisoner from rising.
"Only tell me," Erica was heard to say, "only tell me where
and how he died. I know he is dead,-I knew he would die;
from that terrible night when we were betrothed. Tell me who
did it,-for I am sure you know. Was it Nipen ?-Yes, it was
Nipen, whether it was done by wind or water, or human hands.
But speak, and tell me where he is. O, Hund, speak Say only
where his body is, and I will try--I will try never to speak to
you again-never to--"
Hund looked miserable; he moved his lips; but no sound was
heard mingling with Erica's rapid speech.
Madame Erlingsen, who, with Orga, had by this time reached
76 Feats on. the Fiord.
the spot, laid her hand on Erica's arm, to beg for a moment's
silence, made Oddo call his dog out of the boat, and then spoke,
in a severe tone, to Hund.
"Why do you shake your head, Hund, and speak no word?
Say what you know, for the sake of those whom, we. grievously
suspect, you have deeply injured. Say what you know,
What I say is, that I do not know," replied Hund, in ahoarse
and agitated voice. I only know that we live in an enchanted
place, here by this fiord, and that the spirits try to make us answer
for their doings. The very first night after I went forth, this very
boat was spirited away from me, so that I could not come home.
Nipen had a spite against me there, to make you all suspect me.
I declare to you that the boat was gone, in a twinkling, by magic,
and I heard the cry of the spirit that took it."
"What was the cry like ?" asked Oddo, gravely.
"Where were you that you were not spirited away with the
boat ?" asked his mistress.
"I was tumbled out upon the shore, I don't know how,"
declared Hund :-" found myself sprawling on a rock, while the
creature's cries brought my heart into my mouth as I lay."
"Alone ?-were you alone ? asked his mistress.
"I had landed the pastor some hours before, madame; and I
took nobody else with me, as Stiorna can tell; for she saw me go."
"Stiorna is at the mountain," observed madame, coolly.
"But, Hund," said Oddo, "how did Nipen take hold of you
when it laid you sprawling on the rock? Neck and heels? Or,
did it bid you go and harken whether the pirates were coming, and
whip away the boat before you came back? Are you quite sure
that you sprawled on the rock at all before you ran away from the
horrible cry you speak of? Our rocks are very slippery, when
Nipen is at one's heels."
Hund stared at Oddo, and his voice was yet hoarser when he
said that he had long thought that boy was a favourite with Nipen;
and he was sure of it now.
Erica had thrown herself down on the sand, hiding her face on
her hands, on the edge of the boat, as if in despair of her misery
being attended to,-her questions answered. Old Peder stood
beside her, stroking her hair tenderly; and he now spoke the
things she could not say.
"Attend to me, Hund," said Peder, in the grave, quiet tone
which every one regarded. Hear my words, and, for your own
sake, answer them. We suspect you of being in communication.
with the pirates yonder: we suspect that you went to meet
them when you refused to go hunting the bears. We know that
Feats on the Fiord. 77
you have long felt ill-will towards Rolf,-envy of him,-jealousy
of him;-and -"
Here Erica looked up, pale as ashes, and said, Do not ques-
tion him further. There is no truth in his answers. He spoke
falsehood even now."
Peder saw how Hund shrank under this, and thought the
present the moment to get truth out of him, if he ever could
speak it. He therefore went on to say-
We suspect you of having done something to keep your rival
out of the way, in order that you might obtain the house and
situation,-and perhaps something else that you wish."
Have you killed him?" asked Erica, abruptly, looking full
in his face.
No," returned Hund, firmly. From his manner everybody
believed this much.
Do you know that anybody else has killed him?"
Do you know whether he is alive or dead ?"
To this Hund could, in the confusion of his ideas about Rolf's
fate and condition, fairly say "No:" as also to the question,
Do you know where he is ?"
Then they all cried out,
Tell us what you do know about him."
Ay, there you come," said Hund, resuming some courage, and
putting on the appearance of more than he had. You load me
with foul accusations; and when you find yourselves all in the
wrong, you alter your tone, and put yourselves under obligation
to me for what I will tell. I will treat you better than you treat
me; and I will tell you plainly why. I repent of my feelings
towards my fellow-servant, now that evil has befallen him --
"What? O what?" cried Erica.
"He was seen fishing on the fiord, in that poor little worn-out
skiff. I myself saw him. And when I looked next for the skiff,
it was gone,-it had disappeared."
"And where were you ?"
"Never mind where I was. I was not with him, but about my
own business. And I tell you, I no more laid a finger on him or
his skiff than any one of you."
"Where was it?"
Close by Vogel islet !"
Erica started, and, in one moment's flush of hope, told that
Rolf had said, he should be safe at any time near Vogel islet.
Huiz. caught at her words so eagerly as to make a favourable im-
Spression on all, who saw, what was indeed the truth, that he would
have been glad to know that Rolf was alive. Their manner so
78 Feats on the Fiord.
changed towards Hund, that if Stiorna had been there, she would
have triumphed. But the more they considered the case, the
more improbable it seemed that Rolf should have escaped
"Mother, what do you think ? whispered the gentle Orga.
"I think, my dear, that we shall never forgive ourselves for
letting Rolf go out in that old skiff."
"Then you think,-you feel quite sure,-mother, that Nipen
had nothing to do with it."
"I feel confident, my dear, that there is no such being as
" Even after all that has happened ?-after this, following upon
Oddo's prank that night ? "
Even so, Orga. We suffer by our own carelessness and folly,
my love : and it makes us neither wiser nor better to charge the
consequence upon evil spirits;-to charge our good God with
permitting revengeful beings to torment us, instead of learning
from his chastisements to-sin in the same way no more."
But, mother, if you are right, how very far wrong all these
others are '
"It is but little, my child, that' the wisest of us knows: but
there is a whole eternity before us, every one, to grow wise in.
Some," and she looked towards Oddo, may outgrow their mis-
takes here; and others," looking, at old Peder, ".are travelling
fast towards a place where everybody is wiser than years or educa-
tion can make us here. Your father and I do wish, for Frolich
and you, that you should rest your reverence, your hopes and fears,
on none but the good God. Do we not know that not even a
sparrow falleth to the ground without his will ?"
"Poor Erica would be less miserable if she could think so,"
sighed Orga. She will die soon, if she goes on to suffer as she
does. I wish the good bishop would come: for I do not think
M. Kollsen gives her any comfort. Look now I what can she
have to say to Hund ?"
What Erica had to say to Hund was,
I believe some of the things you have told. I believe that
ou did not lay hands on Rolf."
"Bless you! Bless you for that 1" interrupted Hund, almost
forgetting how far he really was guilty in the satisfaction of hear-
ing these words from the lips that spoke them.
Tell me, then," proceeded Erica, "how you believe he really
perished.--Do you fully believe he perished ? "
"I believe," whispered Hund, "that the strong hand pulled
him down-down to the bottom."
"I knew it," said. Erica, turning away.
Feats on the Fiord. 79
"Erica,-one word," exclaimed Hund. I must stay here-I
am very miserable, and I must. stay here, and work and work till
I get some comfort. But you must tell me how you think of me
-you must say that you do not hate me."
I do hate you," said Erica, with disgust, as her suspicions of
his wanting to fill Rolf's place were renewed. "I mistrust you,
Hund, more deeply than I can tell."
Will no penitence change your feelings, Erica ? I tell you I
am as miserable as you."
That is false, like everything else that you say," cried Erica.
"I wish you would go,-go and seek Rolf under the waters--"
Hund shuddered at the thought, as it recalled what he had seen
and heard at the islet. Erica saw this, and sternly repeated,
"Go and bring back Rolf from the deeps; and then I will
cease to hate you. Ah! I see the despair in your face. Such
despair never came from any woman's words where there was not
a bad conscience to back them."
Hund felt that this was true, and made no reply.
As Erica slowly returned into Peder's house, Oddo ran past,
and was there before her. He closed the door when she had
entered, put his hand within hers, and said,
Did Rolf really tell you that he should be safe anywhere near
Yes," sighed Erica,-" safe from the pirates. That was his
answer when I begged him not to go so far down the fiord : but
Rolf always had an answer when one asked him not to go into
danger. You see how it ended;-and he never would believe in
"I shall never be happy again, if this is Nipen's doing," said
Oddo. "But, Erica, you went one trip with me, and I know you
are brave. Will you go another? Will you go to the islet, and
see what Rolf could have meant about being safe there ?"
Erica brightened for a moment; and perhaps would have
agreed to go: but Peder came in; and Peder said he knew the
islet well, and that it was universally considered that it was now
inaccessible to human foot, and that that was the reason why the
fowl flourished there as they did in no other place. Erica must
not be permitted to go so far down among the haunts of the
pirates. Instead of this, her mistress had just decided that, as
there were no present means of getting rid of Hund,-as indeed
his depressed state of spirits seemed to give him some title to be
received again,-and as Erica could not be expected to remain
just now in his presence, she should set off immediately for the
mountain, and request Erlingsen to come home. This was only
hastening her departure by two or three days. At the seater she
so Feats on the Fiord.
would find less to try her spirits than here: and when Erlingsen
came he would, if he thought proper, have Hund carried before a
magistrate; and would, at least, set such inquiries afloat through
the whole region as would bring to light anything that might
chance to be known of Rolf's fate.
Erica could not deny that this was the best plan that could be
pursued, though she had no heart for going to the seater, any
more than for doing anything else. Under Peder's urgency, how-
ever, she made up her bundle of clothes, took in her hand her
lure,* with which to call home the cattle in the evenings, bade her
mistress farewell privately, and stole away without Hund's know-
ledge, while Oddo was giving him meat and drink within the
house. Old Peder listened to her parting footsteps; and her
mistress watched her up the first hill, thinking to herself how un-
like this was to the usual cheerful departure to the mountain
dairies. Never, indeed, had a heavier heart burdened the foot-
steps of the wayfarer, about to climb the slopes of Sulitelma.
SEEKING THE UPLANDS.
Now that the great occasion was come,-that brightest day of
the year,-the day of going to the seater, how unlike was it to all
that the lovers had imagined and planned,! How unlike was the
situation of the two! There was Rolf, cooped up in a dim cave,
his heart growing heavy as his ear grew weary of the incessant
dash and echo of the waters! And here was Erica on the free
mountain side, where all was silent, except the occasional rattle of
a brook over the stones, and the hum of a cloud of summer flies,
The lovers were alike in their unhappiness only: and hardly in
this, so much the most wretched of the two was Erica.
The sun was hot; and her path occasionally lay under rocks
which reflected the heat upon the passenger. She did not heed
this, for the aching of her heart. Then she had to pass through
a swamp, whence issued host of mosquitoes, to annoy any who
intruded upon their domain. It just occurred to Erica that Rolf
The Lure is a wooden trumpet, nearly five feet long, made of two hollow
pieces of birch-wood, bound together, throughout the whole length, with slips
of willow. It is used to call the cattle together on a wide pasture; and is also
carried by travelling parties, to save the risk of any one being lost in the wilds.
Its notes, which may be heard to a great distance, are extremely harsh and dis-
cordant; having none of the musical tone of the Alp-horn,-(the cow-horn
used by the Swiss for the same purpose,)-which sounds well at a distance.
Feats on the Fiord. 8t
made her pass this place on horseback last year, well veiled, and
completely defended from these stinging tormentors: but she did
not heed them now. When, somewhat higher up, she saw in the
lofty distance a sunny slope of long grass undulating in the wind,
like the surface of a lake, tears sprang into her eyes; for Rolf had
said that when they came in sight of the waving pasture, she
would alight, and walk the rest of the way with him. Instead of
this, and instead of the gay procession from the farm, musical
with the singing of boys and girls, the lowing of the cows, and the
bleating of the kids, all rejoicing together at going to the moun-
tain, here she was alone, carrying a widowed heart, and wandering
with unwilling steps further and further from the spot where she
had last seen Rolf!
She dashed the tears from her eyes, and looked behind her, at
the entrance of a ravine which would hide her from the fiord and
the dwelling she had left. Thor islet lay like a fragment of the
leafy forest cast into the blue waters; but Vogel islet could not
be seen. It was not too far down to be seen from an elevation
like this; but it was hidden behind the promontories by which
the fiord was contracted. Erica could see what she next looked
for,-knowing, as she did, precisely where to look. She could
see the two graves belonging to the household,-the two hillocks
which were railed in behind the house: but she turned away
sickening at the thought that Rolf could not even have a grave;
that that poor consolation was denied her. She looked behind
her no more; but made her way rapidly through the ravine,-the
more-rapidly because she had seen a man ascending by the same
path at no great distance, and she had little inclination to be
joined by a party of wandering Laplanders, seeking a fresh pas-
ture for their reindeer; still less by any neighbour from the fiord,
who might think civility required that he should escort her to the
seater. This wayfarer was walking at a pace so much faster than
hers, that he would soon pass; and she would hide among the
rocks beside the tarn* at the head of the ravine till he had
It was refreshing to come out of the hot, steep ravine upon the
grass at the upper end of it. Such grass A line of pathway was
trodden in it-straight upwards, by those who had before ascended
the mountain; but Erica left this path, and turned to the right, to
seek the tarn which there lay hidden among the rocks. The
herbage was knee deep, and gay with flowers,-with wild geranium,
pansies, and especially with the yellow blossoms which give its
peculiar hue and flavour to the Gammel cheese, and to the butter
made in the mountain dairies of Norway. Through this rich
Small lake upon a mountain.
82 Feats on the Fiord.
pasture Erica waded till she reached the tarn which fed the stream
that gambolled down the ravine. The death-cold unfathomed
waters lay calm and still under the shelter of the rocks which
nearly surrounded them. Even where crags did not rise abruptly
from the water, huge blocks were scattered; masses which seemed
to have lain so long as to have seen the springing herbage of a
In the shadow of one of these blocks, Erica sank down into the
grass. There she, and her bundle, and her long lure were half-
buried; and this, at last, felt something like rest. Here she
would remain long enough to let the other wayfarer have a good
start up the mountain; and by that time she should be cool and
tranquillized :-yes, tranquillized; for here she could seek that
peace which never failed when she sought it as Christians may.
She hid her face in the fragrant grass, and did not look up again
till the grief of her. soul was stilled.-Then her eye and her heart
were open to the beauty of the place which she had made her
temple of worship; and she gazed around till she saw something
that surprised her. A reindeer stood on the ridge, his whole form,
from his branching head to his slender legs, being clearly marked
against the bright sky. He was not alone. He was the sentinel,
set to watch on behalf of several companions,-two or three being
perched on ledges of the rock, browsing,-one standing half-
buried in the herbage of the pasture, and one on the margin of
the water, drinking as it would not have dreamed of doing if the
wind had not been in the wrong quarter for letting him know how
near the hidden Erica was.
This pretty sight was soon over. In a few moments the whole
company appeared to take flight at once, without her having
stirred a muscle. Away they went, with such speed and noiseless-
ness that they appeared not to touch the ground. From point to
point of the rock they sprang, and the last branchy head disap-
peared over the ridge, almost before Erica could stand upright, to
see all she could of them.
She soon discovered the cause of their alarm. She thought it
could not have been herself; and it was not. The traveller, who
she had hoped was now some way up the mountain, was standing
on the margin of the tarn, immediately opposite to her, so that the
wind had carried the scent to the herd. The traveller saw her at
the same moment that she perceived him; but Erica did not dis,
cover this, and sank down again into the grass, hoping so to remain
undisturbed. She could not thus observe what his proceedings
were; but her ear soon informed her that he was close by. His
feet were rustling in the grass.
She sat up, and took her bundle and lure, believing now that
Feats on the Fiord. 83
she must accept the unwelcome civility of an escort for the whole
of the rest of the way, and thinking that she might as well make
haste, and get it over. The man, however, seemed in no hurry.
Before she could rise, he took his seat on the huge stone beside
her, crossed his arms, made no greeting, but looked her full in
She did not know the face, nor was it like any that she had
ever seen. There was such long hair, and so much beard, that
the eyes seemed the only feature which made any distinct im-
pression. Erica's heart now began to beat violently. Though
wishing to be alone, she had not dreamed of being afraid till
now : but now it occurred to her that she was seeing the rarest
of sights-one not seen twice in a century; no other than the
mountain-demon. Sulitelma, as the highest mountain in Nor-
way, was thought to be" his favourite haunt; and considering his
strange appearance, and his silence, it could hardly be other than
The test would be whether he would speak first; a test which
she resolved to try, though it was rather difficult to meet and
return the stare of such a neighbour without speaking. She could
not keep this up for more than a minute: so she sprang to her
feet, rested her lure upon her shoulder, took her bundle in her
hand, and began to wade back through the high grass to the
pathway, almost expecting, when she thought of her mother's
fate, to be seized by a strong hand, and cast into the unfathom-
able tarn, whose waters were said to well up from the centre of
the earth. Her companion, however, merely walked by her side.
As he did not offer to carry her bundle, he could be no country-
man of hers. There was not a peasant in Nordland who would
not have had more courtesy.
They walked quietly on till the tarn was left some way behind.
Erica found she was not to die that way. Presently after, they
came in sight of a settlement of Lapps,-a cluster of low and dirty
tents, round which some tame reindeer were feeding. Erica was
not sorry to see these; though no one knew better than she the
helpless cowardice of these people; and it was not easy to say
what assistance they could afford against the mountain-demon.
Yet they were human beings, and would appear in answer to a
cry. She involuntarily shifted her lure, to be ready to utter a
call. The stranger stopped to look at the distant tents, and
Erica went on, at the same pace. He presently overtook her,
and pointed towards the Lapps with an inquiring look. Erica
"Why you no speak ? growled the stranger, in broken language.
"Because I have nothing to say," declared Erica, in the sudden
84 Feats on the Fiord.
vivacity inspired by the discovery that this was probably no demon.
Her doubts were renewed, however, by the next question.
Is the bishop coming ?"
Now, none were supposed to have a deeper interest in the holy
bishop's travels than the evil spirits of any region through which
he was to.pass.
"Yes, he is coming," replied Erica. "Are you afraid of
The stranger burst into a loud laugh at her question: and very
like a mocking fiend he looked, as his thick beard parted to show
his wide mouth, with its two ranges of teeth. When'he finished
laughing, he said, No, no-we no fear bishop."
"' We !'" repeated Erica to herself. He speaks for his tribe,
as well as himself."
" "We no fear bishop," said the stranger, still laughing. "You
no fear ? and he pointed to the long stretch of path-the
prodigious ascent before them.
Erica said there was nothing to fear on the mountain for those
who did their duty to the powers, as it was her intention to do.
Her first Gammel cheese was to be for him whose due it was; and
it should be the best she could make.
SThis speech she thought would suit, whatever might be the
nature of her companion. If it was the demon, she could do no
more to please him than promise him his cheese.
Her companion seemed not to understand or attend to what
she said. He again asked if she was not afraid to travel alone in
so dreary a place, adding, that if his countrywomen were to be
overtaken by a stranger like him, on the wilds of a mountain, they
would scream and fly; all which he acted very vividly, by way of
making out his imperfect speech, and trying her courage at the
When Erica saw that she had no demon for a companion, but
only a foreigner, she was so much relieved as not to be afraid at
all. She said that nobody thought of being frightened in summer
time in her country. Winter was the time for that. When the
days were long, so that travellers knew their way, and when every-
body was abroad, so that you could not go far without meeting a
friend, there was nothing to fear.
You go abroad to meet friends, and leave your enemy behind."
At the moment, he turned to look back. Erica could not now
help watching him, and she cast a glance homewards too. They
were so high up the mountain that the fiord and its shores were
in full view; and more;-for the river was seen in its findings
from the very skirts of the mountain to the fiord, and .tie town
of Saltdalen standing on its banks. In short, the whole landscape
Feats on the Fiord. 85
to the west lay before them, from Sulitelma to the point of the
horizon where the islands and rocks melted into the sea.
The stranger had picked up an eagle's feather in his walk; and
he now pointed with it to the tiny cove in which Erlingsen's farm
might be seen, looking no bigger than an infant's toy, and said,
Do you leave an enemy there, or is Hund now your friend ?"
"Hund is nobody's friend, unless he happens to be yours,"
Erica replied, perceiving at once that her companion belonged to
the pirates. "Hund is everybody's enemy; and, above all, he is
an enemy to himself. He is a wretched man."
"The bishop will cure that," said the stranger. He is coward
enough to call in the bishop to cure all. When comes the
"What day, and what hour?"
Erica did not choose to gratify so close a curiosity as this. She
did not reply; and while silent, was not sorry to hear the distant
sound of cattle-bells, and Erlingsen's cattle-bells too. The
stranger did not seem to notice the sound, even though quicken-
ing his pace to suit Erica's, who pressed on faster when she
believed protection was at hand. And yet the next thing the
stranger said brought her to a full stop.-He said he thought a
part of Hund's business with the bishop would be to get him to
disenchant the fiord, so that boats might not be spirited away
almost before men's eyes; and that a rower and his skiff might
not sink like lead one day, and the man be heard the second day,
and seen the third, so that there was no satisfactory knowledge as
to whether he was really dead. Erica stopped, and her eager
looks made the inquiry which her lips could not speak. Her
eagerness put her companion on his guard, and he would explain
no further than by saying that the fiord was certainly enchanted,
and that strange tales were circulating all round its shores-very
striking to a stranger ;-a stranger had nothing more to do with
the wonders of a country than to listen to them. He wanted to
turn the conversation back to Hund. Having found out that he
was at Erlingsen's, he next tried to discover what he had said and
done since his arrival. Erica told the little there was to tell--that
he seemed full of sorrow and remorse. She told this in hope of a
further explanation about drowned men being seen alive; but the
stranger stopped when the bells were heard again, and a woman's
voice singing, nearer still. He complimented Erica on her
courage, and turned to go back the way he came.
"Stay," said Erica. "Do come to the dairy, now you are so
The man walked away rapidly.
86 Feats on the Fiord.
"My master is here close at hand; he will be glad to see a
stranger," she said, following him, with the feeling that her only
chance of hearing something of Rolf was departing. The stranger
did not turn, but only walked faster and with longer strides down
The only thing now to be done was to run forwards, and send
a messenger after him. Erica forgot heat, weariness, and the
safety of her property, and ran on towards the singing voice. In
five minutes she found the singer, Frolich, lying along the ground
and picking cloud-berries with which she was filling her basket for
"Where is Erlingsen ?-quick-quick I" cried Erica.
"My father ? You may just see him with your good eyes,-up
And Frolich pointed to a patch of verdure on a slope high up
the mountain, where the gazer might just discern that there were
haycocks standing, and two or three moving. figures beside
"Stiorna is there to-day, besides Jan. They hope to finish
this evening," said Frolich; "and so here I am, all alone: and I
am glad you have come to help me to have a good supper ready
for them. Their hunger will beat all my berry-gathering."
You are alone?" said Erica, discovering that it was well that
the pirate had turned back when he did. "You alone, and
gathering berries, instead of having an eye on the cattle I Who
has an eye on the cattle !" *
"Why, no one," answered Frolich. "Come now, do not tease
me with bidding me remember the Bishop of Tronyem's cattle.
The underground people have something to d? elsewhere to-day;
they give no heed to us."
"We must give heed to them, however," said Erica. "Show
me where the cattle are, and I will collect them, and have an eye
on them till supper is ready."
"You shall do no such thing, Erica. You shall lie down here
It is a popular-belief in Norway that there is a race of fairies or magicians
living underground, who are very covetous of cattle; and that, to gratify their
taste for large herds and flocks, they help themselves with such as graze on the
mountains; making dwarfs of them to enable them to enter crevices of the
ground, in order to descend to the subterranean pastures. This practice may,
be defeated, as the Norwegiaa herdsman believes, by keeping his eye constantly
on the cattle.
A certain Bishep of Tronyem lost his cattle by the herdsmen having looked
away from them, beguiled by a spirit in the shape of a noble elk. The herds-
men, looking towards their charge again, saw them reduced to the size of mice,
just vanishing through a crevice in the hill side. Hence the Norwegian proverb
used to warn any one to look after his property, "Remember the Bishop of
Feats on the Fiord. 87
and pick berries with me, and tell me the news. That will rest
you and me at the same time; for I am as tired of being alone as
you can be of climbing the mountain.-But why are your hands
empty? Who is to lend you clothes? And what will the cows
say to your leaving your hire behind, when you know they like it
so much better than Stiorna's ?"
Erica explained that her bundle and lure were lying on the
grass, a little way below; and Frolich sprang to her feet, saying
that she would fetch them presently. Erica stopped her, and
told her she must not go: nobody should go but herself. She
could not answer to Erlingsen for letting one of his children
follow the steps of a pirate, who might return at any rm m-ent.
Frolich had no longer any wish to go. She started off towards
the sleeping-shed, and never stopped till she had entered it,
and driven a provision-chest against the door, leaving Erica far
Erica, indeed, was in no hurry to follow. She returned for her
bundle and lure: and then, uneasy about the cattle being left
without an eye upon them, and thus confided to the negligence of
the underground people, she proceeded to an emimence where
two or three of her cows were grazing, and there sounded her lure.
She put her whole strength to it, in hope that others, besides the
cattle, might appear in answer; for she was really anxious to see
The peculiar and far from musical sounds did spread wide over
the pastures, and up the slopes, and through the distant woods,
so that the cattle of another seater stood to listen, and her own
cows began to move,-leaving the sweetest tufts of grass, and
rising up from their couches in the richest herbage, to converge
towards the point whence she called. The far-off herdsman ob-
served to his fellow that there was a new call among the pastures;
and Erlingsen, on the upland, desired Jan and Stiorna to finish
cocking the hay, and began his descent to his seater, to learn
whether Erica had brought any news from home.
Long before he could appear, Frolich stole out trembling, and
looking round her at every step. When she saw Erica, she flew
over the grass, and threw herself down in it at Erica's feet.
"Where is he? she whispered. Has he come back ?"
"I have not seen him. I dare say he is as far off by this time
as the Black Tarn, where I met with him."
"The Black Tarn i And do you mean that-no, you cannot
mean that you came all the way together from the Black Tarn
hither. Did you run? Did you fly? Did you shriek? Oh,
what did you do ?-with a pirate at your heels "
By my side," said Erica. We walked and talked."
88 Feats on the Fiord.
"With a pirate But how did you know it was a pirate ? Did
he tell you so ?
"No: and at first I thought,"-and she sank her voice into a
reverential whisper,-" I thought for some time it was the demon of
this place. When I found it was only a pirate, I did not mind."
"Only a pirate! Did not mind !" exclaimed Frolich. "You
are the strangest girl You are the most perverse creature You
think nothing of a pirate walking at your elbow for miles, and
you would make a slave of yourself and me about these under-
ground people, that my father laughs at, and that nobody ever
saw.--Ah I you say nothing aloud; but I know you are saying in
your own mind, Remember the Bishop of Tronyem's cattle.'"
"You want news," said Erica, avoiding, as usual, all conversa-
tion about her superstitions. "How will it please you that the
bishop is coming ? "
Very much, if we had any chance of seeing him. Very much,
whether we see him or not, if he can give any help,-ariy advice.
. My poor Erica, I do not like to ask but you have had no
good news, I fear."
Erica shook her head.
I saw that in your face, in a moment. Do not speak about
it till you tell my father; he may help you-I cannot; so do not
tell me anything."
Erica was glad to take her at her word. She kissed Frolich's
hand, which lay on her knee, in token of thanks, and then in-
quired whether any Gammel cheese was made yet.
No," said Frolich, inwardly sighing for news. "We have the
whey, but not sweet cream enough till after this evening's milking;
so you are just in time."
Erica was glad, as she could not otherwise have been sure of
the demon having his due.
"There is your father," said Erica. "Now do go and gather
more berries, Frolich; there are not half enough, and you cannot
be afraid of the pirate, with your father within call. Now do go."
"You want me not to hear what you have to tell my father,"
said Frolich, unwilling to depart.
That is very true. I shall tell him nothing till you are out of
hearing; he can repeat to you what he pleases afterwards, and
he will indulge you all the more for your giving him a good
"So he will, and I will fill his cup myself," observed Frolich.
"He says the corn-brandy is uncommonly good, and I will fill his
cup till it will not hold another drop."
You will not reach his heart that way, Frolich. He knows to
a drop what his quantity is, and there he stops."
Feats on the Fiord. 89
"I know where there are some manyberries* ripe," said
Frolich, "and he likes them above all berries. They lie this
way, at the edge of the swamp, where the pirate will never think
And off she went, as Erica rose from the grass to curtsey to
Erlingsen on his approach.
IT may be supposed that Erlingsen was anxious to be at home,
when he had heard Erica's story. He was not to be detained by
any promise of berries and cream for supper. He put away the
thought even of his hay, yet unfinished on the upland, and would
not hear nothing that Frolich had to say of his fatigue at the
end of a long working day. He took some provision with him,
drank off a glass of corn-brandy, kissed Frolich, promised to
send news, and, if possible, more helping hands, and set off, at a
good pace, down the mountain.
The party he left behind was a dull one. When Jan came
in to supper he became angry that he was left to get in the hay
alone; even Stiorna could not help him to morrow, for the cheese-
making had already been put off too long while waiting for Erica's
arrival, and it must now be delayed no longer. It was true some
one was to be sent from below, but such an one could not arrive
before the next evening, and Jan would meanwhile have a long
day alone, instead of having, as hitherto, his master for a com-
rade. Stiorna, for her part, was offended at the wish, openly ex-
pressed by all, that Hund might not be the person sent; she was
sure he was the only proper person, but she saw that he would
meet with no welcome, except from her.
Scarcely a word was spoken till Erica and Frolich were about
their cheese-making the next morning. Erica had rather have
kept the cattle, but Frolich so earnestly begged that she would let
Stiorna do that, as she could not destroy the cattle in her ill-
humour, while she might easily spoil the cheese, that Erica put
away her knitting, tied on her apron, tucked up her sleeves, and
prepared for the great work.
There let her go !" cried Frolich, looking after Stiorna, as
she walked away slowly, trailing her lure after her. "She may
The Moltebceer, or Manyberries, so called from its clustered appearance.
It is a delicious fruit, amber-coloured when ripe, and growing in marshy ground.
90 Feats on the Fiord.
knit all her ill-humour into her stocking, if she likes, as Hund is
to wear it, and that is better than putting it into our cheese.
Erica," said the kind-hearted girl, You are worth a hundred of
her. What has she to disturb her, in comparison with you?-and
yet you do just what I ask you, and work at our business as if
nothing was the matter. If you chose to cry all day on the
two graves down there at home, nobody could think it unreason-
Erica was washing the bowls and cheese-moulds in juniper-
water at this moment; and her tears streamed down upon them
at Frolich's kind words.
"We had better not talk about such things, dear," said she, as
soon as she could speak.
Nay, now, I think it is the best thing we can do, Erica, Here,
pour me this cream into the pan over the fire, and I will stir,
while you strain some more whey. My back is towards you, and
I cannot see you; and you can cry as you like, while I tell you
all I think."
Erica found that this free leave to cry unseen was a great help
towards stopping her tears; and she ceased weeping entirely while
listening to all that Frolich had to say in favour of Rolf being still
alive and safe. It was no great deal that could be said; only that
Hund's news was more likely to be false than true, and that there
was no other evidence of any accident having happened.
"My dear!" exclaimed Erica; "where is he now, then -
why is he not here? 0, Frolich I I can hardly wonder that we
are punished when I think of our presumption. When we were
talking beside those graves on the day of Ulla's funeral, he
laughed at me for even speaking of death and separation. What I
at our age !' he said. 'Death at our age,-and separation I'-
and that with Henrica's grave before our eyes "
"Then, perhaps, this will prove to be a short and gentle
separation, to teach him to speak more humbly. There is no
being in the universe that would send death to punish light gay
words; spoken from a joyful heart. If there were, I and many
others should have been in our graves long since. Why, Erica !
this is even a worse reason than Hund's word. Now, just tell me,
Erica, would you believe anything else that Hund said?"
In a -common way, perhaps not: but you cannot think what
a changed man he is, Frolich. He is so humbled, so melancholy,
so awe-struck, that he is not like the same man."
He may not be the better for that. He was more frightened
than anybody at the moment the owl cried, on your betrothment
night, when you fancied that Nipen had carried off Oddo. Yet
never did I see Hund more malicious than he was half an hour
Feats on the Fiord. 91
afterwards. I doubt whether any such fright would make a liar
into a truthful man, in a moment."
Erica now remembered and told the falsehood of Hund about
what he was doing when the boat was spirited away :-a false-
hood told in the very midst of the humiliation and remorse she
Why there now!" exclaimed Frolich, ceasing her stirring for
a moment to look round ; what a capital story that is and how
few people know it and how neatly you catch him in his fib And
why should not something like it be happening now with Rolf?
Rolf knows all the ins and outs of the fiord: and if he has been
playing bo-peep with his enemies among the islands, and frighten-
ing Hund, is it not the most natural thing in the world that Hund
should come scampering home, and get his place, and say that he
is lost, while waiting to see whether he is or not !-0 dear !" she
exclaimed after a pause, during which Erica did not attempt to
speak, I know what I wish."
You wish something kind, dear, I am sure," said Erica, with a
"We have so many,-so very many nice, useful things,-we
can go up the mountains and sail away over the seas,-and look
far abroad into the sky. I only wish we could do one little thing
more. I really think, having so many things, we might have had
just one little thing more given us ;-and that is wings. I grudge
them to yonder screaming eagles, when I want them so much."
My dear child, what strange things you say ?"
"I do so very much want to fly abroad, just for once, over the
fiord. If I could but look down into every nook and cove between
Thor Islet and the sea, I would not be long in bringing you news.
If I did not see Rolf, I would tell you plainly. Really, at such
times it seems very odd that we have not wings."
Perhaps the time may come, dear."
I can never want them so much again."
My dear, you cannot want them as I do, if I dared to say
such bold things as you do. You are not weary of the world,
What! this beautiful world? Are you weary of it all,
"What! of the airy mountains, and the silent forests, and the
lonely lakes, and the blue glaciers, with flowers fringing them ?
Are you quite weary of all these ? "
that I had wings like a dove! Then would I flee away,
and be at rest." Erica hardly murmured these words; but
Frolich caught them.
92 Feats on the Fiord.
"Do you know," said she, softly, after a pause, "I doubt
whether we can find rest by going to any place, in this world
or out of it, unless- if-- The truth is, Erica, I know
my father and mother think that people who are afraid of selfish
and revengeful spirits, such as demons and Nipen, can never have
any peace of mind. Really religious people have their way
straight before them;-they have only to do right, and God is
their friend, and they can bear everything, and fear nothing. But
the people about us are always in a fright about some selfish
being or another not being properly humoured, and so being dis-
pleased. I would not be in such bondage, Erica,-no, not for
the wings I was longing for just now. I should be freer if I were
rooted like a tree, and without superstition, than if I had the
wings of an eagle, with a belief in selfish demons."
"Let us talk of something else," said Erica, who was at the
very moment considering where the mountain-demon would best
like to have his Gammel cheese laid. What is the quality of the
cream, Frolich ? Is it as good as it ought to be ?"
Stiorna would say that the demon will smack his lips over it.
Come and taste."
"Do not speak so, dear."
"I was only quoting Stiorna-"
"What are you saying about me? inquired Stiorna, appearing
at the door. Only talking about the cream and the cheese ?
Are you sure of that? Bless me! what a smell of the yellow
flowers It will be a prime cheese."
"How can you leave the cattle, Stiorna ?" cried Erica. "If
they are all gone when you get back-"
Well, come, then, and see the sight. I get scolded either way,
always. You would have scolded me finely to-night if I had not
called you to see the sight-"
"What sight ? "
"Why there is such a procession of boats on the fiord, that
you would suppose there were three weddings happening at once."
"What can we do?" exclaimed Frolich, dolefully looking at
the cream, which had reached such a point as that the stirring
could not cease for a minute without risk of spoiling the cheese.
Erica took the long wooden spoon from Frolich's hand, and
bade her run and see where the bishop was going to land. The
cream should not spoil while she was absent.
Frolich bounded away over the grass, declaring that if it was
the bishop, going to her father's, she could not possibly stay on
the mountain for all the cheeses in Nordland.-Erica remained
alone, patiently stirring the cream, and hardly heeding the heat of
the fire, while planning how the bishop would be told her story,
Feats on the Fiord. 93
and how he would examine Hund, and perhaps be able to give
some news of the pirates, and certainly be ready with his advice.
Some degree of hope arose within her as she thought of the esteem
in which all Norway held the wisdom and kindness of the bishop
of Tronyem: and then again she felt it hard to be absent during
the visit of the only person to whom she looked for comfort.
Frolich returned after a long while, to defer her hopes a little.
The boats had all drawn to shore on the northern side of the fiord,
where, no doubt, the bishop had a visit to pay before proceeding
to Erlingsen's. The cheese-making might yet be done in time,
even if Frolich should be sent for home, to see and be seen by
the good bishop.
THE day after Erica's departure to the dairy, Peder was sitting
alone in his house, weaving a frail-basket. Sometimes he sighed
to think how empty and silent the house appeared to what he had
ever known it before. Ulla's wheel stood in the corner, and was
now never to he heard, any more than her feeble, aged voice,
which had sung ballads to the last. Erica's light, active step was
gone for the present, and would it ever again be as light and
active as it had been ? Rolf's hearty laugh was silent; perhaps
for ever. Oddo was an inmate still, but Oddo was much altered
of late, and who could wonder? Though the boy was strangely
unbelieving about some things, he could not but feel how wonders
and misfortunes had crowded upon one another since the night of
his defiance of Nipen.
From the hour of Hund's return, the boy had hardly been heard
to speak. All these thoughts were too melancholy for old Peder,
and, to break the silence, he began to sing as he wove his basket.
He had nearly got through a ballad of a hundred and five
stanzas, when he heard a footstep on the floor.
"Oddo, my boy," said he, surely you are in early. Can it be
dinner time yet?"
No, not this hour," replied Oddo, in a low voice, which sank
to a whisper as he said, I have left Hund laying the troughs to
water the meadow, and if he misses me, I don't care. I could
not stay;-I could not help coming;-and if he kills me for telling
you, he may, for tell you I must."
And Oddo went to close and fasten the door, and then he sat
down on the ground, rested his arms on his grandfather's knees,
94 Feats on the Fiord.
and told his story in such a low tone that no little bird under
the eaves could carry the matter."
grandfather, what a mind that fellow has he will go crazy
with horror soon. I am not sure that he is not crazy now."
"He has murdered Rolf, has he?"
I can't be sure, but the oddest thing is that he mixes up wolves
with his rambling talk. Rolf can hardly have met with mischief
from any wolf at this season."
"No, boy; not Rolf. But did not Hund speak of orphan
children, and how wolves have been known to devour them when
snow was on the ground ?"
"Why, yes," said Oddo, surprised at such a guess.
"There was a reason for Hund's talking so of wolves, my dear.
Tell me quick what he said of Rolf, and what made him say any-
thing to you,-to an inquisitive boy like you."
He is like one bewitched, that cannot hold his tongue. While
I was bringing the troughs, one by one, for him to lay, where the
meadow was dryest, he still kept muttering and muttering to him-
self. As often as I came within six yards of him, I heard him
mutter, mutter; then, when I helped him to lay the troughs, he
began to talk to me. I was not in the mind to make him many
answers, but on he went, just the same as if I had asked him a
"It was such an opportunity for a curious boy, that I wonder
you did not." -
"Perhaps I might, if he had stopped long enough. But if he
stopped for a moment to wipe his brows, he began again before I
could well speak. He asked me whether I had ever heard that
drowned men could show their heads above water, and stare with
their eyes, and throw their arms about, a whole day,-two days,
after they were drowned."
"Ay I indeed I Did he ask that ?"
"Yes, and several other things: he asked whether I had ever
heard that the islets in the fiord were so many prison-houses."
"And what did you say?"
"I wanted him to explain; so I said they were prison-houses
to the eider-ducks when they were sitting, foi they never stir a
yard from their nests. But he did not heed a word I spoke; he
went on about drowned men being kept prisoners in the islets,
moaning because they can't get out. And he says they will knock,
knock, as if they could cleave the thick hard rock."
What do you think of all this, my boy?"
Why, when I said I had not heard a word of any such thing,
even from my grandmother or Erica, he declared he had heard the
moans himself,-moaning and crying; but then he mixed up
Feats on the Fiord. 95
something about the barking of wolves that made confusion in
the story. Though he had been hot just before, there he stood
shivering, as if it was winter, as he stood in the broiling sun.
Then I asked him if he had seen dead men swim and stare, as he
said he had heard them moan and cry."
And what did he say then ?"
He started bolt upright, as if I had been picking his pocket.
He was in a passion for a minute, I know, if ever he was in his
life. Then he tried to laugh as he said what a lot of new stories
--stories of spirits, such stories as people love-he should have
to carry home to the north, whenever he went back to his own
In the north,-his own place in the north! He wanted
to mislead you there, boy. Hund was born some way to the
No, was he really ? How is one to believe a word he says,
except when he speaks as if he was in his asleep,-straight out
from his conscience, I suppose? He began to talk about the
bishop next, wanting to know when I thought he would come,
and whether he was apt to hold private talk with every sort of
person at the houses he stayed at."
How did you answer him? You know nothing about the
So I told him: but, to try him, I said I knew one thing,-
that a quantity of fresh fish would be wanted when the bishop
comes with his train; and I asked him whether he would go
fishing with me, as soon as we should hear that the bishop was
He would not agree to that, I fancy."
He asked how far out I thought of going. Of course I said
to Vogel islet,-at least as far as Vogel islet. Do you know,
grandfather, I thought he would have knocked me down at
the word. He muttered something, I could not hear what, to
get off. By that time we were laying the last trough. I asked
him to go for some more, and the minute he was out of sight I
scampered here. Now, what sort of a mind do you think this
Not an easy one, it is plain. It is too clear also that he
thinks Rolf is drowned."
But do you think so, grandfather?"
Do you think so, grandson ?"
Not a bit of it. Depend upon it, Rolf is all alive, if he is
swimming and staring, and throwing his arms about in the water.
I think I see him now. And I will see him, if he is to be seen,
alive or dead."
96 Feats on the Fiord.
And pray. how?"
I ought to have said if you will help me. You say, some-
times, grandfather, that you can pull a good stroke with the oar
still: and I can steer as well as our master himself: and the fiord
never was stiller than it is to-day. Think what it would be to
bring home Rolf, or some good news of him. We would have a
race up to the seater afterwards to see who could be the first to
Gently, gently, boy! What is Rolf about not to come home,
if he's alive?"
That we shall learn from him. Did you hear that he told
Erica he should go as far as Vogel islet, dropping something about
being safe there from pirates and everything ?"
Peder really thought there was something in this. He sent off
Oddo to his work in the little meadow, and himself sought out
Madame Erlingsen, who, having less belief in spirits and enchant-
ments than Peder, was in proportion more struck with the neces-
sity of seeing whether there was any meaning in Hund's reve-
lations, lest Rolf should be perishing for want of help. The story
of his disappearance had spread through the whole-region; and
there was not a fisherman on the fiord who had not, by this time,
given an opinion as to how he was drowned. But Madame was
well aware that, if he were only wrecked, there was no sign that
he could make that would not terrify the superstitious minds of
the neighbours, and make them keep aloof, instead of helping
him. In addition to all this, it was doubtful whether his signals
would be seen by anybody, at a season when every one who could
be spared was gone up to the dairies.
As soon as Hund was gone out after dinner, the old man and
his grandson put off in the boat, carrying a note from Madame
Erlingsen to her fleighbours along the fiord, requesting the assist-
ance of one or two rowers on an occasion which might prove one
of life and death. The neighbours were obliging. The Holbergs
sent a stout farm-servant with directions to call at a cousin's, lower
down, for a boatman; so that the boat was soon in fast career
down the fiord,-Oddo full of expectation, and of pride in com-
manding such an expedition; and Peter being relieved from all
necessity of rowing more than he liked.
Oddo had found occasionally the truth of a common proverb;
he had easily brought his master's horses to the water, but could
not make them drink. He now found that he had easily got
rowers into the boat, but that it was impossible to make them row
beyond a certain point. He had used as much discretion as
Peder himself about not revealing the precise place of their desti-
nation; and when Vogel islet came in sight, the two helpers at
Feats on the Fiord. 97
once gave him hints to steer so as to keep as near the shore, and
as far from the island, as possible. Oddo gravely steered for the
island, notwithstanding. When the men saw that this was his
resolution, they shipped their oars, and refused to strike another
stroke, unless one of them might steer. That island had a bad
reputation : it was bewitched or haunted ; and in that direction
the men would not go. They were willing to do all they could to
oblige : they would row twenty miles without resting, with plea-
sure ; but they would not brave Nipen, nor any other demon, for
How far off is it, Oddo ?" asked Peder.
Two miles, grandfather. Can you and I manage it by our-
selves, think you ?"
Ay, surely, if we can land these friends of ours. They will
wait ashore till we call for them again."
I will leave you my supper if you will wait for us here, on
this headland," said Oddo to the men.
The men could make no other objection than that they were
certain the boat would never return. They were very civil-would
not accept Oddo's supper on any account-would remain on the
watch-wished their friends would be persuaded; and, when they
found all persuasion in vain, declared they would bear testimony
to Erica, and as long as they should live, to the bravery of the
old man and boy who thus threw away their lives in search of a
comrade who had fallen a victim to Nipen.
Amidst these friendly words the old man and his grandson put
off once more alone, making straight for the islet. Of the two
Peder was the greater hero, for he saw the most ground for fear.
Promise me, Oddo," said she, not to take advantage of my
not seeing. As sure as you observe anything strange, tell me
exactly what you see."
I will, grandfather. There is nothing yet but what is so
beautiful that I could not, for the life of me, find out anything to
be afraid of. The water is as green as our best pasture, as it
washes up against the grey rock. And that grey rock is all crested
and tufted with green again wherever a bush can spring. It is all
alive with sea-birds, as white as snow, as they wheel about it in the
'Tis the very place," said Peder, putting new strength into his
old arm. Oddo rowed stoutly too for some way, and then he
stopped to ask on what side the remains of a birch ladder used to
hang down, as Peder had often told him.
On the north side ; but there is no use in looking for that, my
boy. That birch ladder must have rotted away with frost and wet
long and long ago."