Henry [Garrett] 1804-1860 Newland.

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

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me now, I knew that, for there is no turning or dodging on
skier, going up-hill, so I rested my rifle on the fork of a
branch, and, waiting till he had come within a dozen yards
of me, I shot into his mouth. Lord ! it seemed as if some-
body had given him a lift behind ; his hind -quarters rose up,
and his head went down, and he came sliding alo:» T g the snow
on his back, wrong-end foremost. I could not move right
or left, hampered as I was, and he took me just across the
the shins with his huge carcass, breaking one of my skier,
and carrying me with him as if I were riding in a sledge ;
but when we got to the bottom he never tried to hurt me,
for he was as dead as Baldur.

" That was something like a chase, and we turned a pretty
penny by it, too ; we got four specie for sealing his nose,
and fourteen for his skin, to a young Englishman who
wanted to prove to his friends at home that he had killed
a bear, and gave two specie over the market price for
the shot-hole ; and, for ourselves, we had lots of fat, most
of which, by the way, had got melted in the race, and
had to be frozen again before we could carry it ; and,
for solid meat, the scoundrel weighed hard upon four
hundred pounds. We had pretty hard work in getting him
home, for in those two days we had run on end more than
thirty of your English miles, besides the turns. We had to
go home and fetch a sledge for him, and my sisters had a
pretty job of salting when we got him there ; Kari said
that our work was not half so hard as hers."

" It is a curious thing, much as I have been in your country,
I never saw a skie," said the Parson ; " I do not even know
what sort of things they are."

2 c


" It would be strange if you had," said Torkel ; " we never
keep thein at the soeters, for the plain reason that we do not use
them in summer at all, nor inhabit the soeters in the winter.
You have been very little in any of our permanent winter
homesteads since you have been here, and if you had hap-
pened to put your eye upon half-a-dozen long pieces of wood,
with leather straps to them, the chances are, you would never
have thought of asking what such very ordinary-looking
articles were. I will answer for it, Herr Moodie has plenty
of them at Gaddeback ; but they are, most likely, stowed
away at the top of the house, in the winter store-room, where
you would never think of going. They are long, thin strips
of wood, of a triangular form, about three or four inches
broad, with their points curved up for a foot or so, to clear
the obstacles. In this flat country they make the left-foot
skie, which is of fir, ten or twelve feet long ; the right one
is generally of ash, and not above five or six feet in length,
or they would never be able to turn in them. I, myself, like
them best both of a size, and not above five or six feet long,
■ — only then you must have them broader, to prevent sink-
ing in the snow. This is a disadvantage, certainly, still they
are much handier to dodge about the trees with, than those
unwieldy concerns they have here. Mine are a pair of old
military skier, and there are none better."

" What ! do the soldiers use them ?" said the Parson.

" That they do," said Torkel. "I was always a good
runner on skier, but I learnt a good many clever tricks at drill,
when I was serving my time of duty in the militia. Our rifle
regiment have all two light companies of skielobere, and are
drilled to light infantry movements on skates. I did not
like much being called out in the depth of winter for drill,
and not a little did I grumble at the hard work they
put us to, — scaling mountains, which we are obliged to do in
skier, like ships beating to windward ; and then charging down
them among trees and stumps, — swinging this way and that,
to keep one's rifle out of harm's way, and then suddenly
called upon to halt and fire, — and preciously punished are we
if the piece is not ready for action. However, I did not know


what was good for me ; I have been twice the man ever
since after the bears and winter game."

" I suspect," said the Parson, " that is pretty nearly the
whole use of your skate-drill ; it must be a pretty thing to
see in a review, — but he must be a gallant enemy who un-
dertakes a winter campaign in Norway, unless he is de-
scended from the Hrimthursar themselves."

" Well ! I cannot stand this any longer," said Moodie,
coming up ; " half the party are drunk, and the rest are
half-seas over ; and there's the Captain pounding away to his
own whistling, for the last fiddler has just dropped off his
empty barrel. It is time to go to bed."

" Bed, yes ! but where are we we to find it : Jacob, I
suppose, is by this time numbered with the dead drunk."

" You may swear to that, and Tom also ; I saw him very
near his end an hour ago."

" Well I do not care, for one," said the Parson ; " my bed is
here, and he pulled out of his cariole his trusty mackintosh,
and folding one of the sails to his own length, he spread the
mackintosh upon it. I shall sleep here luxuriously ; and
Torkel, bring me the cushion of the cariole seat. I will not
forget to tell Lota how faithful you have been to her this
day. Good night, all of you ; we have work before us to-

And so they had, — for the sun was not yet far above the
horizon, when the carioles were bumping along the forest
roads to the southward.

At Amal, Torkel, with good wishes from all, and presents
from some of the party, took his leave to prepare for what
Tom called the amending of his life, and parted on his sepa-
rate road through Fjall, and laid under contribution a market
boat from Wagne to Frederickshald, where he hoped to find a
vessel to Tonsberg, or Larvig, on the Norwegian coast. The
party proceeded leisurely along the western coast of the lake,
to enjoy for some time longer the hospitalities of Gaddeback.

But the daysbegan to shorten, and the joyous Scandinavian
summer to come to its close. It was necessary to think of
the homeward passage, in time to allow fine weather and

2 c 2


sunny days for a leisurely cariole journey along that most
picturesque of countries, the southern coast of Norway.
Torkel's wedding day, too, was approaching, and the party
were under a half engagement to old Torgensen, which tallied
very well with the necessity of reaching Christiansand for
their homeward passage. " Time and tide wait for no man,"
and a forebud having been laid to Stromstad, the carioles, ac-
companied as far as Wenersborg by Moodie, rolled away on
the road to Uddevalla.

One piece of luck attended them, — they were not yet to
part from Birger, for it so happened that his royal highness
the Crown Prince, was to pay his usual state visit to Chris-
tiania, on which occasion he was to be attended by Count
Birger, our young scamp's father, whose daughter, Birger's
sister, held also some appointment in the establishment of
the Princess. Birger, therefore, was able to consult his
pleasure and his duty at once, in going to Norway; to enjoy
the coasting journey with his friends, and then to meet his
family at Christiania after their departure.




When he came into the house at nightfall,

She was angry with him — his old mother —

" Son," she said, " thou lay'st thy snares each morning,

And each day thou comest back empty handed !

Either thou lack'st skill, or thou art idle ;

Others can take prey where thou'st taken none ! "

Thus to her the gay young man made answer :
" Who need wonder that our luck is different,
When the same birds are not for our snaring ?
At the little farm that lieth yonder,
Lives a wondrous bird, my good old mother ;
Snares I laid to catch it all the autumn,
Now, this very winter have I caught it.
Marvellous is this bird ! for it possesses
Not wings, but arms for tenderest embracing ;
Not down, but locks of silky, sunny lustre ;
No beak, but two fresh lips so warm and rosy ! "

Tlce Young Fowler. — Runneberg.

It was the morning of the wedding-day, and that day, of
course, Sunday. Autumn was a little advanced, but the sky
was as serene, and the lake as still and as smiling as it was
on that day on which the fishermen had last looked
upon it.

The Parson had strolled out with Birger, after a very
hurried and uncomfortable breakfast, — the only time such
a thing had ever occurred under the hospitable roof of Tor-
gensen ; this was not so much for exercise as for the sake of
being out of the way of the good lady Christina, who looked
as if she considered the whole of her daughter's earthly
happiness to depend on the perfection of the wedding-dinner,
which, even at that early hour of the morning, was in the
course of preparation. Upstairs and downstairs was she, with


a face as red as lier scarlet stomacher, her great bunch of
keys jingling like a sheep-bell as she moved, and her embroi-
dered skirt whisking round every corner. She was partially
dressed for the grand occasion, though her head was as yet
muffled in a rather dirty handkerchief, but the glories of her
holiday gown were in a great measure obscured by an
immense apron, which bore indisputable marks of something
more than mere superintendence of her peculiar department.
The whole district would be there, no doubt, for though there
are generally appointed days for weddings, and several
couples were usually married at the same time, and more-
over, the beginning of winter is a very favourite time for
such matters, yet the Torgensens were so indisputably the
squires of the place, that besides their own party which had
been collected from far and wide, and that of one or two of
their dependants who were to be married on the same day,
the chances were that they would have visitors enough from
other and inferior bridals.

Come as many as there might, there were provisions
enough for them all ; there was brandy enough to float a
barge ; there were heaps of fish and game of all sorts ; and —
a much rarer thing at the beginning of autumn and before
the cattle have returned from the sceters, — plenty of beef and
mutton. Puddings, sweet soups, and all the infinite variety
of grods had been in preparation for days and nights ; still
the good house-mother distressed herself, and rendered un-
comfortable everything around her, lest something should
have been forgotten, and the credit of Torgensen's hospitality
should suffer in the eyes of the strangers.

The Captain, who had offered to officiate as bridesman,
was taking lessons in his arduous duties from little Lilla, the
prsest's daughter, who, proud of her English, and not at all
unwilling to get up a flirtation with a good-looking foreigner,
had neglected her own duties as bridesmaid, and enticed the
Captain, nothing loth, to the pragstgaard, where he was prac-
tising the required duties of his office ; and, to judge from the
time he took at his lessons, he must have been particularly
slow and stupid in comprehending them.

What was the morning occupation of Lota and her other


bridesmaids was a mystery, — not one of them was visible ; that
it was something of an entertaining character was evident
from the tittering, and gay laughter, and occasional little
screams that proceeded from a large square- headed window
wide open on the upper-floor, and on the farthest extremity
of the building. The only anxious and unhappy-looking
countenance was that of the happy bridegroom himself, who
having nothing whatever to do, wandered up and down the
terrace with his hands in his pockets, the only idle man, and
consequently in the way of every one. Conscious that he
was the object of every body's attention, and the butt of
those jokes which are common on such occasions, and no
where more common or less delicate than in Norway, he
laboured hard to be at his ease and succeeded but very ill.
Indeed, his new jacket, which did not come down to his
shoulder blades, and was a little too tight for him into the
bargain, and his stiff glossy trousers would alone have been
sufficient to disturb any man's self-possession, to say nothing
of the chain of filagree silver balls, each as large as a grape-
shot, which were called shirt buttons, and hung down from
his neck ; while a stout broad hat twice as broad in the
crown as in the rim, and stiffly turned up on each side,
weighed on his brows like a helmet, — so very new that it
still exhibited the creases of the paper in which it had been

Jan Torgensen, Lota's brother, who was his other brides-
man, was doing his best to keep him in countenance, for
they had always been great allies, and in fact, Torkel had been
Jan's preceptor in wood-craft, and, so Lota declared, in every
sort of mischief besides. At this present moment any one
who had seen them both, would have taken Jan for the pre-
ceptor and Torkel for the pupil ; and Jan for the happy
bridegroom, and Torkel for the disappointed swain, — so happy
looked Jan and so sheepish looked Torkel. But, in truth,
Jan had his own particular pride and happiness, connected,
though in a remote manner, with that of his friend. He
had just received his appointment as skipper of the Haabet,
vice Svensen, superseded in Lota's affections by Torkel, and
in the command of the brig by Jan ; for the poor fellow,


when he found how things were going with him, resigned
the command, settled accounts with old Torgensen, and,
much to the regret of the latter, — for Svensen was a first-rate
sailor, — betook himself to Copenhagen, out of the sight of his
rival's happiness.

Jan, who was a thorough partizan, and had never liked
poor Svensen, not so much on account of any of his demerits
as out of affection for his friend Torkel (for Lota it is to be
feared, had coquetted between her admirers much more than
was altogether proper), was singing, or rather roaring, at the
full pitch of a sailor's voice, the popular ballad of Sir John
and Sir Lave : —

"To an island green Sir Lave went ;
He wooed a maiden with fair intent ; —

' I will ride with you,' quoth John ;
' Put on helmets of gold, to follow Sir John.'

He wooed the maiden and took her home,
And knights and serving-men are come ; —
' Here am I !' quoth John.

They set the bride on the bridal seat, —
Sir John, he bade them both drink and eat.

' Drink, and drink deeply ! ' quoth John.

They brought the bride to the bridal bed, —
They forgot to untie her laces red :

' I can untie them ! ' quoth John.

Sir John, he locked the door with speed ;
' Good night to you, Sir Lave",' he said.

' I shall sleep here ! ' quoth John.

Word was brought to Sir Lave there —
' Sir John is within, with thy bride so fair !'
'That am I, in truth !' quoth John.

At the door, Sir Lave makes a loud din ; —
' Withdraw the bolts, and let us in !'

' You had best keep out,' quoth John.

He knocked at the door with shield and spear, —
'Withdraw the bolts, and come out here !'
' See if I do !' quoth John.

' If my bride may not in peace remain,
I will go and unto the king complain.'

' Just as you like,' quoth John.


Early next morn, when the birds 'gan to sing,
Sir Lave is off to complain to the king ; —
1 1 will go, too !' quoth John.

' I was betrothed but yesterday, —
Sir John has taken my bride away !'

' Yes, so I have !' quoth John.

' If that the maiden to both is dear,
It must be settled at point of spear.'

' I'm very willing !' quoth John.

As soon as the morrow's sun was bright,
Came all the knights to see the "fight ; —
• Here am I !' quoth John.

The two were mounted, and at the first round
The knees of Sir John's horse touched the ground.
' Now help me, Heaven !' quoth John.

Once more, and in the second round
Sir Lave" lies upon the ground ; —

' There let him lie,' quoth John.

Sir John he rode to his hall in state,
And his maiden met him at the gate ; —

1 Now thou art mine,' quoth John.

Thus was Sir John made happy for life,
And the maiden became his wedded wife.

' I knew I should have her,' quoth John.
' Put on helmets of gold, to follow Sir John.' "

" Come, come ! Jan !" growled old Torgensen, "hold your
saucy tongue ; Svenson was a better man than you will ever
be in a year of Sundays. And you, you grinning fiirtr.," —
to the servant-girls, with whom Master Jan was an especial
favourite, and upon whom the application was by no means
lost — " get along with you, and mind your own business, —
as if you had nothing to do, on such a morning as this, but
to listen to such fooleries ! Be off with you, I say !"

In the meanwhile the Parson and Birger, — who, by the
way, hardly recognised each other in their gala habits, for
the one was habited, in honour of the occasion, in the black
dress of an English clergyman, while the other, with his sword
clinking by his side, blazed in all the blue and yellow splendour
of the Swedish guard, — took up their old position at the lick


gate of the church ; one as "before balancing on the stocks,
the other astride on the dwarf wall, glad to be out of the
din of preparation. It was not a happy day for any of them,
for it was the last day of the expedition, which every mem-
ber of it had enjoyed so thoroughly ; — Birger's leave of ab-
sence was running to an end, and the two Englishmen had
taken passage with young Torgensen to the Haabet. They
were to sail — so Torgensen said — that night ; but, as it was
quite certain that, before that time, the whole crew would
be drunk, in honour of their young mistress, this probably
meant to-morrow. Still, to-morrow was to be the final break-
up of the party; and Tom had been philosophizing, with
tears in his eyes, on the transitory nature of human plea-
sures ; and Torkel, bridegroom as he was, would willingly
have postponed his wedding if he could have prolonged the
expedition, — at least, so Lota had told him the evening
before, and he did not look as if he was speaking the truth
when he denied it.

Neither of the friends felt much inclined for conversation.
They were natives of different parts of the world ; their
courses from that point lay in opposite directions ; the
chances were very much against their meeting again, and,
though their acquaintance had not been of very long dura-
tion, so far as time is concerned, one week's campaign in the
wild forest does more towards ripening an intimacy than a
year of ordinary life.

In the meanwhile the time passed on, and the early peal
rang out, and the groups began to collect as before in the
church-yard, and the lake to be dotted with boats, all pull-
ing or sailing from its remoter bays and islets to the church,
as a common centre. Here and there a party, as before,
was occupied round a grave, pulling up the overgrown con-
volvulus and trimming the withering leaves of the lilies.
By and by a bugle sounded a call, and a couple of fiddles
from one of the nearest boats struck up a polka.

" Here come some of the wedding parties," said Birger ;
" there seem to be plenty of happy couples in Soberud this
year. Well ! there is nothing like fashion, — in this, as in
other things, one fool makes many. Look at that leading


boat ! — that one, I mean, just pulling round the point of the
island ! — there is a crowned bride in her ! Holy Gefjon,
Mother of Maids ! such a sight as that is rare in Norway !
I should think the chances were that she got some one to
pull her crown oft' her head before the day was over. She
does not seem much afraid, either, and an uncommonly pretty
girl, too, which makes it all the more wonderful. Well !
well ! 'a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband ;' I hope
he will appreciate his blessings as he ought, such blessings as
that do not fall to the lot of many in this country."

"What do you mean by that, Burger?" said the Parson,
getting up, and shading his eyes with his hands as he looked
out on the lake.

"Ah, you may well shade your eyes before beauty and
innocence," said Birger ; " you do not often see them com-
bined, in this country."

" Well, the fact is this," said he, dropping his bantering
tone, " what you commonly call virtue — that is to say,
chastity, — is a very rare article indeed, I am sorry to
say, either in Norway or Sweden ; the manners of the
people do not tend to foster it. Their promiscuous way of
living in the winter, and the sceter life in summer, makes it
absolutely necessary for a girl either to have a very great re-
spect for herself, or to be forbiddingly ugly ; and whatever the
case may have been in earlier and better times, certain it is that
beauty is now much more common among us than self-respect.
Then, again, the laws which prevail in Sweden, and the
customs, which the Udal tenures in Norway make as strin-
gent as laws, forbid any to marry who are not householders
(whence your word husband, which simply means huus bonde
— a peasant with a house), and at the same time forbid the
erection of more than a specified number of houses on any
land. Ail this renders early marriages almost impossible.
The result may easily be imagined. And to make this the
more certain, our wise laws enact that a woman, having any
number of children by any number of fathers, who at any
time of her life shall marry any one whatever, by the simple
act of marriage affiliates all the children she may ever have
had on her unhappy husband ; and wherever the Udal law


prevails, he is obliged to share his land equally among them.
The consequence of this is, that unchastity is no sort of dis-
grace. It is the commonest thing in the world for a noble
to live with a woman all his life, under promise of marriage
to be performed on his death-bed, and the woman is all the
while received much like the Morganatic bride of a German
prince. Frederika Bremer, herself as exemplary a woman as
ever lived, has made the plot of one of her novels to hinge
on a man living in such a manner, and dying suddenly, with-
out being able to perform his promise. She does not attach
the shadow of disgrace to any one, except the relatives of the
deceased, who refused to acknowledge the woman merely on
account of this ' unfortunate accident,' as she calls it. And so
it is. Had she written otherwise, she would have been out
of costume ; there is no disgrace in the matter. I do not
mean to say that this girl is not proud of her crown — of course
she is, just as I am proud of this blue and yellow ribbon of
mine," pointing to the Order of the Sword with which he
had decorated his uniform-coat for the occasion ; " but look
how she is kissing that girl in green, who has just landed
from that other boat, — that is another bride who cannot
claim the distinction ; she no more thinks her disgraced, than
I should think a brother officer disgraced to whom his gracious
Majesty had not been pleased to give the same distinction
that he has to me."

" There seem to be plenty of brides," said the Parson, " for
there is another green lady, of damaged fame ; she seems to
be a rich one, by the number of her fiddlers before, and fol-
lowers after."

" They generally have one wedding-day for the district,"
said Birger, " and a good plan too ; it diminishes the expense
when they all have their festivities together, and diminishes
the drunkenness very considerably, both on the day and on
its anniversaries, for the whole district get drunk together at
once, and get it over, instead of inviting one another to help
them to on their several wedding-days."

" But what are the ' crowns 1 ' " said the Parson.

" An ancient custom, by which they challenge any impu-
tation on their fair fame ; any one who has anything to say


against the chastity of the wearer, is privileged to pull off
the crown and to drive the lady out of the church, only the
accuser is bound to prove his allegations."

"It seems a pretty expensive affair, at least, to judge of it
at this distance."

" O yes, far too expensive to be the property of any indi-
vidual ; they hire it for the occasion, and, I will be bound,
pay five or six dollars for the pleasure of wearing that and the
rest of the costume. Just look at her as she comes into the
light ; that dress of black bombazine, with the short sleeves
and white mittens, is probably her own, — very likely it was her
mother's before her, only fresh dyed for the occasion ; but that

Online LibraryHenry [Garrett] 1804-1860 NewlandForest scenes in Norway and Sweden: being extracts from the journal of a fisherman → online text (page 34 of 36)