Fw I -
ON TH E
FJ O RD
A TA L E
J M DENT S COMPANY
C. 1 14 i ig E 1 '.
I. ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME I
II. ODDO'S WALK 27
III. OLAF AND HIS NEWS 41
IV. ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 60
V. THE WATER-SPRITES' DOINGS 2
VI. SPRING 86
VII. VOGEL ISLET 102
VIII. A SUMMER APARTMENT III
IX. HUND'S REPORT 125
X. SEEKING THE UPLANDS 138
XI. DAIRY-MAIDS' TALK .. 154
XII. PEDER ADROAD 161
XIII. PLOT AND COUNTERPLOT 178
XIV. MIDNIGHT 194
XV. MOUNTAIN FARE 20
XVI. OLD TALES AND BETTER TIDINGS 218
XVII. THE WATCH ON THE HILL 226
XVIII. TO CHURCH 232
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
QUICKLY AND SILENTLY HE ENTERED THE
BOAT AND TIED THE SKIFF TO ITS
STERN (Chap. v.) Frontispiece
ERLINGSEN AND SOME OF HIS SERVANTS STOOD
WITH LIGHTED PINE-TORCHES TO RE-
CEIVE THEIR GUESTS II
IT CAME NEARER AND NEARER, AND AT LAST
QUITE UP TO THE CAN OF ALE 31
IN THE PORCH SHE FOUND ODDO EATING
SOMETHING WHICH CAUSED HIM TO MAKE
THE POOR ANIMAL STRUGGLED VIOLENTLY. 63
AND THAT VESSEL, HE KNEW, WAS THE PIRATE
HE SOMETIMES HAMMERED A LITTLE AT HIS
No OTHER THAN THE MOUNTAIN-DEMON 143
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
AT THE END OF A LEDGE HE FOUND THE
REMAINS OF A LADDER MADE OF BIRCH-
IN DESPERATION HUND, UNARMED AS HE WAS,
THREW HIMSELF UPON THE PIRATE 187
IT WAS HUND, WITH HIS FEET TIED UNDER
HIS HORSE, AND THE BRIDLE HELD BY A
MAN ON EACH SIDE 215
AS PRETTY A BOAT PROCESSION ON THE STILL
WATERS OF THE FIORD AS HAD EVER
BEFORE GLIDED OVER ITS SURFACE 235
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
2 FEATS ON THE FIORD
mountain sides, the mirror being broken only by
the leap of some sportive fish, or the oars of the
boatman 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 sunshine; 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 pictures 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, 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 the stars.
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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
the islets; and all these sounds are mingled ana
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
FEATS. ON THE FIORD
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 merriment in the house of a farmer who
had fixed his abode within the 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 Ely (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 mountain, 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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
family depended, no less than his cows, for a prin-
cipal 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 housemen 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 him-
self 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, and few articles of manufacture, and where
travelling Russian.merchants came with the produc-
tions of other climates, and found eager customers
in the inhabitants who thronged to this fair, to make
their purchases. Here, in exchange for the salt-
fish, feathers, and eider -down which had been
prepared by the industry of his family, Erlingsen
obtained flax and wool wherewith to make cloth-
ing 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
FEATS ON THE FIORD
and stalls, as the supply of bear's 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 calculate 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 things.
Nor was it only what was required for his own
every-day household that he brought. The quan-
tity 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 Christiania. They gave feasts at Christ-
mas, and on every occasion that they could devise.
The occasion, on the particular January day men-
tioned above, was the betrothment of one of the
house-maidens to a young farm-servant of the estab-
lishment. I do not mean that this festival was
anything like a marriage. It was merely an engage-
ment 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 companionship, together with
certain rights in law. This makes up to them for
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
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 just said.
As Madame Erlingsen had two daughters grow-
ing 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 busi-
ness 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 own 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
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 with-
out a character and without knowledge; while those
who pass well stand high in credit; and, if they have to
8 FEATS ON THE FIORD
were offered her, and Madame Erlingsen had
thought herself very fortunate in obtaining her ser-
vices. 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 super-
stitions 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 con-
firmed the lessons of her life. She had stayed too
long, one autumn day, at the Erlingsen'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 super-
earn their living, are sure of good situations. In the
newspapers in Norway you may see among the advertise-
ments, 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.
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
station as a weakness ; and when she was not present,
they ridiculed it. Yet 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 every-
body knows who lives in the rural districts of Nor-
way-about Nipen, the spirit that is always so busy
after everybody's affairs-about the Water-Sprite,
an acquaintance 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 house-
man, 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 business 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
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
Io FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 contract 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 or
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 .voyage. Almost all came by the fiord, for
the only road from Erlingsen'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 ot
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-
ERLINGSEN AND SOME OF HIS SERVANTS STOOD WITH LIGHTED
PINE-TORCHES TO RECEIVE THEIR GUESTS.
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
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, con-
trasting 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 pinewood. 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 ex-
cept 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
14 FEATS ON THE FIORD
in his belt, as he ran in and out on the arrival of
Before four o'clock the whole company, con-
sisting 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, followed by a dull-
looking young man with a violin. The oldest men
lighted their pipes, and sat down to talk, two or
three together. 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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
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 couples."
And what would you have more, sir ? In this
young man's father's time- "
"Rolf's father's ?"
"No, sir, Erlingsen's. Ah! I forgot that Er-
lingsen 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 sup-
pose there is no question but there are finer doings
"Of course, of course," said the young clergy-
man. "But there are many youths in Tronyem
that would be glad of so pretty a partner as M.
Erlingsen has, if she would not look so frightened."
16 FEATS ON THE FIORD
Pretty she is," said Peder. "As I remember
her complexion, it looks as if it was made by the re-
flection 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
midsummer noon. Did you say she looks frightened,
"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 superstitions-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 that I never knew any one who had so
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 ?"
A hundred years ago Nordland was included in the
diocese of Tronyem.
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
"Certainly. No doubt of that. What sort of
pastor must he be who cannot vindicate his own
"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
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 per-
haps, 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 with his foot upon the ground,
to carry off his impatience at being instructed.
"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 off 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
I8 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 care-
fully, 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 the 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 lights."
His red brows! Oh, 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 every one
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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
-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 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 marriage."
That must be rather a painful consideration to
"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 under ground,
and Rolf will have, I am certain, the pleasant feel-
ing 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 of 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
20 FEATS ON THE FIORD
under ground 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 disapprobation 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 medi-
tating, 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
"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 enter-
tained. 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
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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
would be very sorry. Is there anything forgotten,
"I think you have forgotten what the day is,
that is all. Nobody 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
"Yes, indeed, Rolf."
"You look as dull, as sad, you and Hund,
Hund! 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
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 disappointment about the house than any
other. To-day once over, he will soon fix his
love on somebody else. Perhaps we shall be
dancing on his betrothment-day before the year
Then I hope his girl will look merrier than
22 FEATS ON THE FIORD
you do to-night," muttered Rolf, with a sigh.
1"0 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 yourself- "
"I think I know one who is cleverer still at
tormenting himself," said Erica, with a smile.
"Come, Rolf, no more tormenting of ourselves
or one another! No more of that after to-day!
What is to-day worth, if it is not to put an end
to all doubts of one another ?"
"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---"
"Oh, hush! hush! said Erica, turning pale
and red at the presumption of this speech. See,
they are waiting for us. One more round before
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 spirits!
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
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 business 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, be-
come 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
24 FEATS ON THE FIORD
he should thus be the gainer of a few of her sweet
words. She did come, and just said-
"The cake and ale are here, Rolf. Will you
carry them ?"
Oh, 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 Nor-
way to give the spirit Nipen a share at festival
times. His Christmas cake is richer than that pre-
pared 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."
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 super-
stitious observances, 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
ERLINGSEN'S "AT HOME"
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 morn-
ing in betrothing Rolf and Erica, he was now rest-
ing 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 the guests.
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.
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 he would row him-
26 FEATS ON THE FIORD
self. 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 re-
tiring 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 betrothment; and she saw that
Hund thought so; for there was a gloomy satis-
faction in his eye, as he sat silently watching all
She could not help being glad that Oddo re-
newed 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. More-
over, 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 per-
mitted 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.
THE place where Nipen liked to find his offer-
ings 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 prowling 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 sometimes 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,
28 FEATS ON THE FIORD
without looking behind him, fancying everything he
saw and heard a spirit, or a wild beast. Oddo did
very differently from this. As usual, he was too
busy finding out how everything happened to feel
afraid, as a less inquisitive boy would.
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
starlight, at the end of the barn, how small a piece
was left. He 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 per-
haps suppose that Madame Erlingsen's stock of
groceries had fallen short, at least that it was in
some way inconvenient 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 ex-
pected was a little more than he was equal tao; 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. Oh, 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
30 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 gallery with all his strength
as he heard it. The strangest thing was, it was
not a single cry: others followed it, all soft and
sweet; but Oddo thought that Nipen must have
many companions, and he had not prepared him-
self to see more spirits than one. As usual, how-
ever, 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
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 elephant
or hippopotamus, and never smaller than a large
IT CAME NEARER AND NEARER, AND AT LAST QUITE UP TO
THE CAN OF ALE.
~` no, 'T~RO%~b~E~`2~!
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
"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 could go.
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 fireside. 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
would be entirely spoiled by the frost if it stood
another hour. This would be a pity, he thought;
34 FEATS ON THE FIORD
so he finished it, saying to himself 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
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 fol-
lowed; 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 of 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 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 de-
struction, 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;
36 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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.
Oh, 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
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 per-
haps 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 re-
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
"And the cake-1 bade you bring down the
cake with you."
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.
SIt is all here, sir."
And the ale in the same place ?"
Oddo bowed, and Erlingsen turned away with-
out speaking. He could not have spoken without
"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.
38 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 farther 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 opportunity to a child of making him-
self 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 imme-
diately. He blew upon his fingers, however, observ-
ing that they were too stiff with cold to do their
duty well. And when he turned towards the fire,
every one 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 something supernatural.
Erlingsen saw that something must be done on
the spot to clear up the affair. If his guests went
home without having heard 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 any one 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 any-
thing 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 counte-
nance still glowed with exultation.
The rest of the company were 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 provoked 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
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 goodwill 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
40 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 de-
stroyed. 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 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 certainly distance Nipen. Rolf then took a part-
ing 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
"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 breaking forth. "When I think of it all,
I am so shocked-so ashamed "
"How ashamed ? "
Nipen has been so favourable to us to-day,
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
madam! not a breath of wind stirring all the morn-
ing, so that nobody was disappointed of coming !
And then to serve it in this way! To rob it, and
mock it, and brave it as we have done!-So un-
grateful -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 hap-
pening. 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 pro-
tector. 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 morning."
Erica smiled; and when Orga and Frolich saw
the effect of what their mother had said, they too
went to rest without trembling at every one of the
noises with which a house built of wood is always
Olaf and his News
W HEN 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
42 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 en-
gaged upon the skins which had been tanned on the
farm, and kept in readiness for him. He was in-
structing 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 twist-
ing strips of leather, thin and narrow, into whips.
Rolf and Hund were silently intent u on 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 of 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 ford 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
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
upper gallery to air, as she did on all days of fair
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 reindeer 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 fireside; .in
the midst of which conversation 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
"We hope you will like this coverlid, for we
have made an 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 barberry, 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 into our
heads! and it is the most original thing in the
44 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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
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, compared with its
handsome size; and then bent over te 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,
"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 workman 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
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
whether our native carvers may not be found 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 superstitions, 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."
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 consciously 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
46 FEATS ON THE FIORD
with an eider-down quilt, like the first lady in the
land; but 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 every-
thing essential to health and comfort: but there
was nothing more, unless it was the green sprink-
ling of the floor, and the clean appearance 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 nobody 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
"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
Peasant brides in Norway wear, on their wedding-
day, a coronet of paste-board, covered with gilt paper.
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
wish for your crowning more than we. 0 Erica !
you have a fine lot in having Rolf."
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 everybody 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 pulpit---"
Aye! trying his eyes with fine carving, as
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?"
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.
48 FEATS ON THE FIORD
"I wish it may be Hund. If it be Rolf, 1
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 inti-
mate that they would not talk of Nipen. And she
began to speak of something else.
"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 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 blabbing 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
OLAF AND HIS NEWS 49
Bergen. In midwinter, four years since, his master
sent him on an errand of twenty miles, to carry
some provisions 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 sledge 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 Hund 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 sledge, and- "
Oh, 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
50 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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, 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 re-
mained after his return. Then there was a question-
ing 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 Hammerfest. 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
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
very house," she continued, looking round the
"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
"I wish there never was any news," exclaimed
Erica, almost pettishly.
Good or bad?" inquired Ulla.
Oh, 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 three
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,"
52 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 farmhouse 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?"
Oh 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 above, near the foss.
Olaf had heard of her being roused, and Rolf and
Hund have found her traces. Oddo 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 calves."
Does he expect to kill them all ?"
I tell you we are all to grow stout on bears'
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
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 got
up to the mountain for the summer. Oh, 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 yard."
And that made you burst in as you did. Did
Olaf say anything about coming to see me? Has
he plenty of medicines with him ? "
Oh, 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 ready.
When Erica opened the door, she instantly drew
back and shut it again.
What now ?" asked Frolich. Are all the
bears in the porch ?"
Olaf is there," replied Erica in a whisper,
"talking with Hund."
Hund wants a cure for the heartache,"
54 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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
Olaf assured her that he would hear no com-
plaints 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-skates 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 themselves 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.
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,
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
and here were the pirates come to make her poor
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 riot mind Ulla hearing my words," said
Erica. "She knows miy 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
"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
"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 parti-
cular shape of misfortune Nipen's displeasure would
56 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 the house.
In the porch she found Oddo eating something
which caused 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 assafoetida, sometimes 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 medicines without.
Such was the cause of his wry faces. If he had
IN THE PORCH SHE FOUND ODDO EATING SOMETHING WHICH
CAUSED HIM TO MAKE FACES.
OLAF AND HIS NEWS
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 Nor-
wegians, of being able to eat anything, in any
quantity, without injury. His wry faces were
from no indigestion, but from the savour of assa-
foetida 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 not you?"
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 farther 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
"Oh, 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
6o FEATS ON THE FIORD
camphor before you come back. And be sure
you bring me some Iceland moss, to pay me for
what you have been helping yourself to."
When Oddo had convinced himself that Olaf
really had seen a reindeer on the heights, three
miles off, he said to himself that if 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 rightly.
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
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 61
the morning the director of the hunt was to go his
rounds, and arrange the hunters in a ring enclosing
thl 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 among the trees,
or bushes, or holes of the rocks where the bears
might 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 con-
sultation, 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 preparing the boat.
His master spoke to him, but Hund was not re-
markable 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, accom-
panied 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.
62 FEATS ON THE FIORD
They occupied themselves, to keep away anxious
thoughts. One began some new nets for the ap-
proaching 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
Every one was surprised, and Madame Erlingsen
highly displeased. At the time when her husband
would be wanting every strong arm that could be
mustered, his servant chose to be out fishing, in-
stead 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 dis-
obedience 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; "oh,
you mean the pirates. They are far enough from
THE POOR ANIMAL STRUGGLED VIOLENTLY.
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 65
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 welcome to."
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, fol-
lowed at a short distance by a 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 ap-
peared 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 oppor-
tunity 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
66 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 lifetime, boldly seized its head and felt its horns,
and the bones 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 once 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 sport."
"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 his oar."
"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 grand-
father 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.
Stiorna, too, was better out of the way. Oddo had
not half told the story of the deer to his grand-
mother when his mistress and Erica entered.
"Did not you see M. Kollsen in the boat with
Hund ?" she inquired.
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 67
"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 fish."
How do you know it was Hund that you
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 he could."
"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 decidedly.
"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 watching 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
The fiord takes a wide sweep below there,"
"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
68 FEATS ON THE FIORD
doubt, till he comes back-if he means to come
"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
"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, madame."
"And what business can he have among the
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, madame, 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 cannot
expect that much from Nipen to-day."
I will do anything in the world," cried Oddo
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 69
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 farmhouse seen burning already."
"I will tell you what you must let me do,
madame," 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, madame."
"And there is the old skiff on Thor islet,"
said Oddo. "It is a rickety little thing, hardly
big enough for two; but it will carry down Erica
and me, if we go before the tide turns."
"But how will you get to Thor islet?" in-
quired Madame Erlingsen. "I wish the scheme
were not such a wild one."
"A wild one must serve at such a time,
madame," replied Erica. Rolf had lashed
several logs before he went. I am sure we can
get over to the islet. See, madame, the fiord is
as smooth as a pond."
"Let her go," said Peder. She will never
"Then come back, I charge you, if you find
70 FEATS ON THE FIORD
the least danger," said her mistress. "No one
is safer at the oar than you; but 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,
"Wife," said Peder, "give her your pelisse.
That will save her seeing the girls before she goes.
And she shall have my cap, and then there is not
an eye along the fiord that can tell whether she is
man or woman."
Ulla lent her deer-skin pelisse willingly enough;
but she entreated that Oddo might be kept at
home. She folded her arms about the boy with
tears; but Peder decided the matter with the
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
It was dusk; and this was well, as the pair
could steal down to the shore without being per-
ceived 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.
ROVING HERE AND ROVING THERE 71
One would think," continued the lady, when
she returned from watching Erica and Oddo dis-
appear 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 her life."
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
"There is her weakness," observed her mistress.
"Can we speak of weakness, after what we have
just seen, if I may say so, madame ? "
I think so," replied Madame Erlingsen. I
think it a weakness 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, madame. 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 Providence to such as our Erica. But
here are my girls coming to seek me. I must meet
them, to prevent them missing Erica."
"Get them to rest early, madame."
Certainly; and you will watch in this house,
Peder, and I at home."
72 FEATS ON THE FIORD
Trust me for hearing the oars at a furlong off,
"That is more than I can promise," said the
lady; "but the owl shall not be more awake
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 islet
they must reach, it seemed as if some invisible hand
was pushing them forth, to shiver the bright pave-
ment 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
THE WAR-SPRITES' DOINGS 73
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, 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 any visible
impression, and Erica proposed again and again that
they should proceed on the raft. Oddo was un-
willing. 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
Erica worked hard too; and one advantage of
their labour was that they were well warmed before
74 FEATS ON THE FIORD
they put off again. The boat's icy fastenings were
all broken at last, and it was launched; but all was
not yet ready. 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 must 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 around.
The rowers were so occupied with the manage-
ment 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.
THE WAR-SPRITES' DOINGS 75
Oddo laughed, and looked upwards as he croaked
again. He 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 cheerfully, ob-
serving 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 any-
thing 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 some-
thing, 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.
76 FEATS ON 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
holding the torch. Cannot you see his black
figure ? And the spearman-see how he stands at
the bow-now going to cast his spear I wish I
"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 fishing-party.
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
hesitated 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
THE WATER-SPRITES' DOINGS 77
was now out of the question; and stealthily there-
fore 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 Hund 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 star-
light, 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 movement 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 them-
selves 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
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
78 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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, the boy began to entertain high hopes
of taking these three men prisoners. The whole
country would ring with such a feat performed 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.
THE WATER-SPRITE' SDOINGS 79
"Now, now!" whispered Erica. "Now we
can get away."
"Not without the boat," said Oddo. "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
"I know it," said Oddo. "Now two strokes
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! We have lost time
80 FEATS ON THE FIORD
Where is she? I can't see the boat,"
answered the foremost man.
"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 incomprehensible 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
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 overlooked 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
THE WATER-SPRITES' DOINGS 81
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
mournful cry with which he was accustomed to
call out to 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
unsuitable 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 of this-- "
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 these away."
"But if we had been earlier they would not
have had their fright. That is the best part of 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 carry-
ing 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
82 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 bear-
skins, the tobacco-pouch, 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 sprites' 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 returned, he found Erica gazing up over
the towering precipices at the Northern Lights,
which had now unfurled their broad yellow blaze.
She was glad that they had not appeared sooner to
spoil the adventure of the night, but she was thank-
ful 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 the courage to utter them.
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."
THE WATER-SPRITES' DOINGS 83
"Oh, 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 for-
gives; 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," he continued, after
a short pause, that they would come up to Erling-
sen's to rob the place ?"
Not for the object of robbing the place, be-
cause 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 any-
thing we have. No; I thought, and I still think,
that they would have carried off Rolf, led on by
"Oh, ho carried off Rolf! So here is the
secret of your wonderful 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. How-
ever, 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 get rid of Rolf, and be a houseman, and
get betrothed instead of him. Well; Hund is
baulked for this time. Rolf must look to himself
Erica sighed deeply. She did not believe that
84 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 encumbrance behind, for there
was quite peril and difficulty enough without it;
and Erica's strength and spirits failed the more, the
farther 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.
0 Nipen! 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 exhausting 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 Erica bitterly.
THE WATER-SPRITES' DOINGS 85
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 now 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 streng-
thened 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 burn 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 occasion.
When Erica was in bed, warm beneath an eider-
down coverlid, her mistress bent over her and whis-
"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? "
86 FEATS ON THE FIORD
If he comes, it will be in fear and penitence,
thinking that all the powers are against him. But
oh, madame, let him never know how it really
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 ser-
vice. 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 ?"
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 inhabitants 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 appear-
ance 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 bears' 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 farmhouse (and
none so busy as Erlingsen's) in salting some of the
meat, freezing some, and cooking a part for a feast
on the occasion.
88 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, how-
ever, to confirm his fears. The enemy were never
heard of in the fiord; and the codfishers 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 Norwegians are remark-
able, 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 cheer-
fully, and any newspaper that the clergyman put in
circulation was read till it fell to pieces; but the
neighbourhood of foreign pirates proved a more
powerful stimulant still. The standing toast, Gamil
Norge (Old Norway), was drunk with such en-
thusiasm 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 Norgi. Hitherto the war had gone for-
ward upon the soil of another kingdom : it seemed
now as if a sprinkling of it-a little of its excite-
ment 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 yet.
The interval of security gave Rolf a good oppor-
tunity to ridicule 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 Nord-
lander's life, and, in this instance, one of most
fortunate issue. There was no saying how many
of the young of the farmyard would live and flourish
this summer on account of the timely destruction of
this family of bears. So Rolf worked away with a
cheerful heart as the days grew longer-now mending
the boat, now fishing, now ploughing, and 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. Nobody desired to see Hund back
again; and Erlingsen would willingly have taken
another in his stead to make his return impossible,
but there was no one to be had. It was useless to
inquire till the fishing season should be over; and
when that was over, the hay and harvest seasons
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
90 FEATS ON THE FIORD
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 reindeer-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 farmyard 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 quan-
tity 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 mend-
ing 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 clarionet, though it now and then hap-
pened that the tune went rather oddly; and when
Orga and Frolich looked at him to see what he
was about, his eyes were 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 Erlingsen'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.