Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

Forest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman online

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easily enough, but the stuff here is not high enough to hide us ;
those brutes have eyes sharp enough to see through a mill-

" Had we better not watch her? perhaps she will think
that which is good for young Hopeful will be good for her ;
we shall have her climbing, herself, next."

" Not she, she knows better ; the branch that is very good
protection to a little lump of brown fur, she knows well
enough, would not do for a beast almost as big as a cow, — you
will not catch her up a tree, and you need not expect it."

" What is to be done then 1 there she is still."

" I do not know anything better than to keep along this
edge, till we put a mile or so of ground between us and her,
and then to cross ; and the sooner we start the better, for
she will not stay long after she has disposed of her young


" Good !" said the Parson, " and now for finding the place
again ; " — and he took out his compass and placed it on the
fallen trunk. " That forked tree bears to us exactly E. by
K. ; when we come down the other side and bring it W. by
S., we shall not be very far from the place ; and then the
northern edge of that large clump of epilobium will give us
the exact mark. And now to get there as quick as we

They had not proceeded a couple of hundred yards when
they met with a brook which intersected the opening nearly
at right angles.

" This will do," said Torkel, jumping into it, for it was not
much more than knee deep, and clear as crystal. " The fall
of the ground, the bed of the stream, and the stuff that
always grows on the banks, will be quite sufficient cover
for us."

On they went, stooping, sometimes splashing through the
water itself, sometimes creeping on hands and knees under
the bank, resting for a while behind some friendly rock or
stump, then creeping on again, till at last they neared the
opposite side ; and then, seeking the shelter of the trees, they
took a few minutes' rest — for going on all -fours is anything but
a comfortable mode of progression. Slowly and warily they
advanced, peering about, moving from tree to tree, and look-
ing closely into every bush before they showed themselves.
There was the place evidently enough ; the north corner of
the epilobium was near enough to the forked tree to make a
capital mark — there could be no mistake as to the locality ;
besides, the bear's tracks were evident enough on some soft
ground ; but no living creature was to be seen. The bear
had either heard them, or smelt them, or, having provided
for her young one, and being restless and anxious on account
of the noises that had roused her at first, had gone on to
some thicker cover.

"That comes of calling the beast by his name," said Torkel,
half sulkily ; "never do that again, at least not in the fjeld.
Well, never mind, we will have young Innocence, at all eveuts;
the reward is half as much for a cub as it is for an old

z 2


" That is all you think about," said the Parson.

" No it is not," said Torkel ; " I like the sport itself as
well as any man living — I love it for its own sake ; but I
should not mind a few of their yellow notes, either, to be
turned into honest, hard Norwegian specie- dalers, and laid up
for the winter, — at least, just now, for Lota's sake. Fancy
what a set of scoundrels these Swedes must be, when they
have to print on all their notes, ' Whoso forges this shall be
hanged'— we do not do that in Norway."

" No," said the Parson, "you are none of you clever enough
to forge — the Norges Bank's Representativ is quite safe in
such clumsy hands as yours."

" There he sits, just in that fork close to the trunk," said
Torkel, who, if he had not, as the Parson insinuated, skill
enough in his fingers to forge a note, had quickness enough
in his eyes to see through a log of timber, if a bear had been
hiding behind it. " There is young Innocence ! Oh ! do not
spoil his skin with that small shot. Here is the rifle. Put
the ball in under his ear, — that will not hurt him."

It did not seem to hurt him, in good truth, for he never
moved an inch on receiving the shot, though the blood
dripping down the tree showed that the ball had reached its
mark. The cub remained perfectly dead, but supported by
the fork in which he was sitting.

" What is to be done now ?" said the Parson ; "Ido not
see how to get him down, for the trunk is too big to swarm
up, and we have not a branch for twenty feet ; but it will
never do to leave him there."

" Leave him !" said Torkel ; " O no ! that would never do.
I think we may get up into that tree, though, with a little

There was growing, within a few yards of the great tree
which the bear had selected, a small thin weed of a fir, which,
coming up in the shade, had stretched itself out into a long
branchless pole with a bunch of green at the top, in its legi-
timate aspirations after light and air. Torkel, disengaging
the axe which he usually carried at his back, notched it on
the nearer side, and then, seeing its inclination would carry
it to the great tree on which the cub was hanging, cut vigo-


rously. In a minute or two the little fir sank quietly into
the yielding arras of his great neighbour, and formed with its
trunk a rough ladder. Up this Torkel, having paused for a
moment to see if it had finally settled, climbed as readily as
any bear in the forest. He was soon seen worming himself
through the spreading branches, and slipping down to the
fork ; and the little lump of bear's fat, about the size of a
two-year-old hog, came squashing down upon the turf.

Small as it was for a bear, it was impossible to carry it ;
so they tied its hind legs together, and hung it upon one of
the dead trees in the open, the Parson having first pinned
upon its snout a leaf which he had torn out of his note-book,
and had written Torkel's name upon it.

Torkel, however, was mistaken about his share of the yellow
notes, though the Parson did not suffer him to lose by it.
Every bear killed in a skal is the property of the Ofwer
Jagmastere; a regulation which is found to be absolutely ne-
cessary, in order to prevent men from breaking their ranks
and hunting the likely places independently, — a proceeding
which would ensure the loss of every bear except the parti-
cular animal which was the object of immediate pursuit. Of
this Torkel was not aware, because in Norway skals such as
this seldom or never take place, not only because the ground
is generally too difficult, but principally because the inhabi-
tants are too widely scattered to be easily collected in suffi-
cient numbers, and a great deal too lawless to be managed if
they could.

With all the complacency which the consciousness of having
done a good action confers, they proceeded on their journey,
which, as their course happened to lie lengthways of the
opening, was easy enough. Hot, and the least little bit in
the world fatigued, they sauntered along on the shady side
of the glade, till they began to discover that the whole
country had become shady, and that a little sun, if it was
to be had, would be just as pleasant. In fact, it had
become extremely chilly.

" There goes Thor's hammer," said Torkel, as a crash o~
thunder burst over their heads, echoing from tree to tree ;


" we need not fear the Trolls now, every one of them is
half-way to the centre of the earth by this time."

" I wish we had nothing worse to fear," said the Parson ;
but this gradual darkening looks a great deal more like a
spell of bad weather than a sudden storm. I wish we knew
where the Captain's post is."

" We cannot be within seven or eight miles of that," said
Torkel ; " and I really do think that we are going to have a
wet night, and plenty of mist into the bargain. It will be
perfectly impossible for us to find the post, knowing so little
of the country as we do. We had better hut ourselves at
once. If we had been on the hill we might have seen this
coming, but down here it was impossible, with no sky visible,
except that which is right over our heads."

" Well," said the Parson, " if it is to be, we may as well
halt at once. So off with your havresac, and turn to. This
spreading fir will do as well as any for our canopy."

" Torkel was a man of deeds, and his assent and approba-
tion were demonstrated by his throwing down his havresac
and forthwith selecting and cutting down a young fir for his
ridge-pole ; and, — while the Parson was securing the locks of
the guns with handkerchiefs, and such like extemporaneous
expedients, — for the gun covers had, of course, been left with
the baggage, — he had already cut down two pair of cross tim-
bers to lay it on. The Parson, with his hand-bill, aided him
vigorously, and the more so that the rain had now begun to
patter sharply from leaf to leaf, and it was very evident that
no long time would elapse before it found its way to their
localities below. The frame-work of the hut was arranged,
and branches of the fir and beech, and coarse grass and
juniper, — in fact anything that could be collected on the
spur of the moment, — was laid on as thatch, while Torkel
hastily drew together and chopped up the driest stuff he
could find for the fire.

The rain was now coming on in right earnest, and the
night was prematurely setting in. The drops came through
thicker and thicker, each one as big as a marble ; and the
sportsmen, with jackets more than half wet through, crept


disconsolately into the unfinished hut, in order, as Torkel
said, to make themselves comfortable.

The first piece of comfort which was discovered was that
the havresacs, which had been thrown off at the beginning of
the hutting operations, had been left where they were
thrown, and were by this time wet through and through, to-
gether with every morsel of bread that they contained. The
supper was not luxurious, and, as neither was greatly dis-
posed for conversation, they laid themselves up in the warmest
corner they could find, and courted forget fulness, as well as
rest and refreshment, in sleep.

The Parson, as an old fisherman, had been pretty well
accustomed to a minor description of roughing it. The
boxes of dried poplar leaves of a Norwegian cottage, or the
heaps of hay of a sceter-farm were to him as feather beds.
A rainy day, too, he had often hailed as remarkably good
fishing weather, but a night's bivouac, sub- Jove, and that
Jove jDluviali, was rather a new thing to him ; and his cloak,
too, miles off, under the charge of the faithful Jacob. One
habit, however, he had picked up in his travels, which stood
him in good stead now, and that was the habit of " making
the best of it."

Bad was the best ; the fuel was wet and scanty, and the
fire soon went out ; and Torkel's house, run up hastily and
after dark, was as little water-tight as if it had been built
by contract. Before midnight the Parson was roused up,
first by detached drops and then by little streamlets falling
on his face and person, and wet and chilled, he lay counting
the hours, and envying Torkel, who snored comfortably
through it all.

Morning came at last — it always does come if we wait long
enough for it, — and a dull and misty light began to struggle
in through the opening of the hut, and through several other
openings also, which, during the past night had officiated,
though uncalled for, as spouts for the water.

Still the rain fell, not in showers, not violently, for there
was not a breath of wind, but evenly, quickly, steadily, as if,
conscious of its resources, it meant to rain for ever ; while
the big drops from the fir branches kept patter, patter, on


the soppy ground, and the mist hung so low that you could
scarcely see the branches they fell from.

" Hang that fellow, he will sleep for ever," said the Par-
son ; " come, rouse out Torkel, ' show a leg,' as Tom says,
it is broad daylight now, and high time for us to be

Torkel stretched himself and rubbed his eyes, and looked
stupid ; his thoughts had not returned from his native
Tellemark, and his prospects of a " home and pleasing wile,"
on the banks of the Torjedahl, of which, in all probability,
he had been dreaming.

" Come, Torkel, rouse up my boy," said the Parson, kicking
him ; " here is the tail end of the brandy-flask for you, and
when that is gone, we must find our way to where more is
to be had." The hint of brandy had the desired effect of
waking up the old hunter ; for even his iron frame was none
the better for the night's soaking. The brandy, however,
put them both in good-humour, and having extracted from
their havresacs that which had once been excellent kahyt
scorpor, but which now were black soppy lumps of dough,
they made an extempore breakfast, seasoned by some chips
of Fortnum and Mason's portable soup, a piece of which the
Parson invariably carried with him, but which, as there was
now no possibility of lighting a fire, they were obliged to
suck or eat as thev could.

" Now Mister Torkel, en route ! hvar er vaga til hallet 1
we must get there before we taste brandy again, that is
certain ; pray Heaven they have not broken up the skal, and
left us alone in our glory. That is our direction," continued
he, looking at his pocket-compass, " but the thing is to keep
it, in this thick wood and thick weather, when no one can
see a dozen yards before his nose."

Every one who has been out in a fog knows the propen-
sity the traveller invariably has to work round in a circle,
and to return to the spot from which he started. True, in
the present case, the compass was a safeguard against this,
but to consult the compass when walking or riding requires
time, the needle does not settle itself to the north without a
good deal of vacillation ; and here the lie of the country


gave no assistance whatever ; it was not a plain, certainly, for
it was very uneven, and occasionally rocky, but there was
nothing like hill, or any continuous direction of declivities,
which could form a guide. Here and there were dense
brakes, every leaf and twig of which, overcharged with
moisture, showered down its stores upon them, and there
was no possibility of picking the ground, where the only
chance of finding the track lay in keeping the compass
course. No brook had been met with of sufficient volume
to render it probable that it had come from behind the hills ;
and besides, it was more than probable that the water-
courses, which formed the only communications with the
pickets above, were much too full now to be practicable.

As hour after hour wore on, and the forest seemed always
like that through which they had started in the morning, the
Parson was more than once tempted to follow the course of
the running water, and to make his way down to the river,
upon the chance of at least a shelter and a meal at one of
the farm-houses ; but the hopes of effecting a junction with
his friends, and still more with his baggage, kept him to his
course, though the hallet — as Virgil's Italy served poor
.ZEneas — seemed to be continually going backwards as he
approached it.

" Hallo ! " said Torkel at last, who was then a little in
advance, " what have we got to now, a svedgefall, or a
sceter ? the fjeld is much clearer here. Oho, I see ! this
will do ; look here, this juniper was cut only lately, and here
is another stump, and the branches all carried away, too, and
there is a tree that has got its lower boughs trimmed ; we
have got to the shooting line at last."

" Upon my word, I think we have," said the Parson ; " and
if so, we must turn short up to the left, and the Captain's
post cannot be far from us."

" Unless they have broken up the skal," said Torkel.

" If they have, I am sure we shall find some one here, left
to guide us ; Lieutenant Birger knows that we are to make
ior this spot. Here is something, at all events," as they
came in sight of a line of peeled saplings, right across the
path, which had for some time begun to ascend rather rapidly.


" This will do, I am sure ;" for now a peasant, who had been
sitting cowering under the rock, with a soldier's musket in
his hand, the lock of which he had covered with a sack that
had evidently done duty with the carioles, came forward to
meet them.

He was not very communicative, however, for he could
not speak English, and would not understand Norwegian ;
but, at all events, they learnt to their comfort that the post
was there still, and, after ten minutes sharp pull up a steep
but very open and practicable pass, they came in sight of the
Captain's watch-fires, situated in the gorge of it.

" Home at last 1 " said the Parson.

" And high time, too," said the Captain. " There, pick
those wretched flowers out of that hat of yours, and let us see
whether we cannot make you look less like a drowned rat."

"You have not broken up the skal, then?" said the

" Oh, no ! nothing like it ; the rain came on late in the
evening, and they could not have broken it up then if they
wished, for the men would not have had time to go home, and
might just as well make themselves comfortable where they

Comfortable ! thought the Parson, shrugging his wet
shoulders, and thinking of his own comforts during the
night past.

" And this morning," continued the Captain, "the weather-
wise say that the rain will not last ; and as they have driven so
much of the country, and fairly disturbed the game, the
Ofver Jagm'astere sent for some brandy — not enough to make
the men drunk, but as much as is good for them, — and they
are to keep their fires burning and make all the noise they
can, and so keep the game within the ring till the weather

" And where did you hear all this V said the Parson.

" Oh, Birger is here," said the Captain ; " he came in
about two hours ago, as wet as you are ; he is asleep in the
other tent. Did you not see a row of barked bushes as you
came up 1 "

" Yes," said the Parson, " that I did, and I hailed them as


the traveller did the gibbet, — the first mark of civilisation I
had seen ; but I cannot say that I understand what they

" It was Birger's plan," said the Captain, " they have done
it pretty continuously along the line of the dref ; it is intended
to look like a trap, and to prevent the game from coming up
the pass during the rain, when we cannot trust to our rifles.
We have had half-a-dozen wolves here last night ; there is
one of them," pointing to a carcase which two of the men
were skinning. "I was not ready for them, that is the
truth, for I was eating my supper. I ought, certainly, to
have had a brace of them, but this gentleman was a little in
the rear of his party, and the Devil took the hindermost, — at
least my little pea-rifle did. And there are a couple of
foxes ; Tom says their skins are valuable. I picked them
off during the night. I am pretty sure we had a bear,
too, early this morning ; but he turned, whatever he was,
before I could get a sight of him."

"No wonder, with that fire," said the Parson.

" Why, w r e do want to keep them in," said the Captain ;
besides, who is to do without a fire in such weather as this ?
There — had you not better go and make yourself comfortable.
Jacob has brought your knapsack and cloak : you will find
them there in the tent — (by-the-bye, what do you think of
the use of tents now ?) After that I suppose you will be
ready for dinner V

" You may say that," said the Parson ; " it is little beside
biscuit sopped in rain that we have had this day. Tom,"
he shouted, " mind you take care of Torkel there ; going
without his grub is a serious thing to one of your country,
and a still more serious thing going without his brandy."

" As for your wet clothes," continued the Captain, " there
is no help for that. Birger's are much in the same mess,
but we have a fire big enough to dry anything, if the rain
would only hold off. In the meanwhile you must keep
under canvas ; those lug-sails of yours keep the wet out
capitally. You see, I have used them for roof, and have
built up walls to them with fir-branches and junipers."

" Upon my word," said the Parson, " it is quite luxurious,


and so is this dry flannel shirt — Heaven bless the man who
invented flannel shirts, — I should have been dead with cold
by this time, if I had been wearing a linen one. Hallo,
Jacob ! you look rather moist ; what is the state of the
larder ?"

Whatever the state of the larder was, the Captain had
determined it should be a mystery, for he knew well that
nothing unfits a man for subsequent work so much as a
hearty meal after great fatigue upon little sustenance. As
soon, therefore, as he heard that they had eaten little or
nothing since their breakfast at the sceter on the preceding
day, he gave a private sign to Jacob, and nothing whatever
was forthcoming but a good strong basin of portable soup,
smoking hot, with a couple of kahyt scorpor bobbing about
in it ; and, early as it was in the day — for it was not more
than four in the afternoon, — the Parson was well satisfied to
scoop out a bed in the dry moss of the tent, to draw his fur
cloak over him, and to seek in sleep the rest which he needed
quite as much as he did the food.

BEST. 349



"Fire will be needful
For him who enters
With his knees frozen.
Of meat and clothing
Stands he in need
Who journeys o'er mountains.

" Water is needful, —
A towel and kindness,
For the guest's welcome.
Kind inclinations
Let him experience ; —
Answer his questions."


Sound and deep were the Parson's slumbers, complete and
absolute was bis state of unconsciousness. Noises there were
in the camp, no doubt, noises of every description : eight or
ten people without any particular occupation, without
any reason whatever for keeping silence — rather the
reverse, — are apt to be noisy. But it was all one to
him, the Seven Sleepers themselves could not have slept
more soundly ; and the next four or five hours were to him
as though they had not been. His first perception of sublu-
nary matters was awakened by the words of a well known
air, which at first mingled with his dreams, and then pre-
sented themselves to his waking senses : —

" 0, never fear though rain be falling, —
0, never fear the thunder dire, —
0, never heed the wild wind's calling,

But gather closer round the fire.
For thus it is, through storm and rain,
The weary midnight hours must wane,
Ere joyous morning comes again,

And bids the gloom retire."


The Parson unrolled himself from his cloak and looked
out ; the night had fallen dark enough, and the rain, though
it gave evident symptoms of having exhausted itself, was still
falling, but scantily and sparingly. The mist was thicker and
darker and blacker than ever ; all, however, was bright light
in the camp, for the bale-fires of Baldur could not have burnt
more brightly than the watch-fires of the picket. The Cap-
tain had had plenty of spare hands and plenty of spare time,
and had kept his men in work by collecting stores of fuel ;
besides which he had made use of an expedient which,
common enough in winter camps, is seldom resorted to in
summer. A full-grown pine, which seemed to have died of
old age, and had dried up where it stood, was cut down ; the
head, already deprived of its branches by Time, was chopped
off and laid alongside the butt, end for end, and the fires had
been lighted on the top of these two pieces of timber. The
interstice between them admitting the air from below, roared
like a furnace, and blew up the bright flames on high ; whilst
the trunks themselves, which had speedily become ignited,
contributed their own share to the general light and heat.
There were several supplementary fires, for the great furnace
was much too fierce for culinary operations ; and the smoke
from all these, pressed down, as it were, by the superincumbent
mist, formed, by the reflection of the flames, a sort of lumi-
nous halo, beyond which it was impossible for eye to pene-
trate. Here and there fir branches were stuck into the
ground to dry the clothes upon, for though the drizzle had
not exactly ceased, the heat dried much faster than the rain

Full in the blaze of light, and as near as he could approach
to it without burning himself, stood Birger ; his neat little

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 30 of 36)