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will ever remain, a curious, and interesting association,
with the ''Poet's House " on the Bygdin lake.*

Our experience does not enable us to give a single
instance of any of the English lawyers writing a
mortgage in poetry. The only instance we know of any
legal document being written in poetry, in England, is
the will of Sir Willoughby Dixon, of Bosworth Park,
Leicestershire. It was written by himself. United to
the refinement of the scholar, there is often a sharp,
sound, practical hitting the-right-nail-on-the-head sort of
abihty, among the country gentry of England. A manly

* The poet's pantebrev, or mortgage, uith a translation, is given in the


viofour of intellect, united to an intense love of honour-
able dealing, and fair play, in all the affairs of life.

A rein-deer hunter, a friend of Ole's, soon afterwards
came to us. He was a tall, spare, keen man, and brought
some rein-deer meat up in a small wooden tub. We
were afraid to buy more than one piece ; the weather
was hot, and the meat would not keep long. Another
reason for not buying inore rein-deer meat was, our
chance of obtaining fish at the Tyen Lake, which we
expected to reach the same afternoon. Our fire was
soon liohted. One of the gentlemen from the " Poet's
House " came up. The gipsies were very busy preparing
our dinner. A young Norwegian gentleman, who wore
a uniform tunic and trousers of green cloth, came to our
camp. He was fair and prepossessing. Amiability was
written in his countenance, without looking in his hand.
He spoke some English. After our meal, it was arranged
we should pay himself and friends a visit at the " Poet's
House," where they were staying, Tea, fried rein-deer,
pickled walnuts, and fladbrod, formed our repast. A
short man, in a leather jacket, trousers, and cap, came up,
and we paid him sixteen shillings for the rein-deer meat.

Skeaker was before us. Kesohang in our mind to go
without our gipsies to the " Poet's House," w^e left them
to pack up and load the donkeys, whilst we went with
Ole to visit the poet's retreat.

The chalet is built of logs, on a rising point of land, at
the head of the lake. The first of the two rooms it con-
tained, had a fireplace for cooking, and two boarded
bedsteads, not unlike " bunks," but more finished, and
elaborate. The room had also one window, which would
not open. A door gave entrance to the inner room, also


provided with two similar bedsteads, Tlic iimer chamber
was occupied by the Ladies, and had only one Avindow,
which apparently did not open for ventilation. A
beautiful bouquet of wild flowers, stood upon the room
table ; all was order and neatness. How soon we
distinguished the female hand, in domestic arrange-

The view from the chalet was a scene of enchantment,
as wc looked in the glorious midday sun, over the distant
expanse of lake. On the left shore of the lake, rise the
mountains of the Grava Fjeld, Galdeberg, the lofty
Sletmarkho, and the Svartdalspiggne. Again, to our
right, rise the wild mountain ranges of the Dryllenoset,
Volaahornene, and Oxendalsnoset, the home of the rein-
deer, the eagle, the wolf, and the bear.

The visitors at the " Poet's House " appeared to do
everything for themselves. They had, no doubt, their
commissariat, like ourselves. The young ladies were very
agreeable, and good looking. We were told they were
the daughters of a banker. The elder gentleman of the
party, who spoke a little English, pointed out some old
Norwegian poetry, written in pencil, on the inucr room
door. They had been staying at the chfdet about eight
days. Often, in after life, shall we remember our
pleasant \^sit, to the " Poet's House," on the beautiful
Lake Bygdin.

On our return to our party, we found Noah had broken
his Alpine stock. Zachariah had commenced fishing in
the lake, but was referred by some man to a stream jiear,
which Zachariah alleo-ed was destitute of fish. Esme]'alda
was short and chaffy.

One rein-deer hunter, made a start for the mountains


with the telescope. We were told that it belonged to
Proesten Hailing, who seemed either in person, name,
or belongings, to be everywhere. The rein-deer hunter
swung off at a jaunty pace, as if he w^ould make short
w^ork of the very steep mountain before him. Ole said
he was going to look out for rein-deer.
■ The party from the " Poet's House " came up to see
us off. They seemed interested in our ecjuipment. We
also showed the young ladies our guitar. A copy of
our song, had previously been given to one of the
party. With very little delay, we hastened away from
this region of poetry. Esmeralda was getting impetuous.
Even the donkeys, after all their mishaps during the
previous day, were eager to proceed on the journey.
With many adieux to the very pleasant visitors at
the "Poet's House" we left Eisbod, and the Bygdin

Esmeralda was very determined, stepping after the
baggage, as only a gipsy can step. Ole, of course,
leads the way. Three merles loaded, Noah and Zacha-
riah, and then Esmeralda, and then ourselves.

Esmeralda had been very quick in movement, up and
down, and everywhere, with now and then, something
to say. AVe were thankful when we were removed, with
this restless orbit of our wanderings, from the "Poet's

* Before we left the Bygdin Lake, a rumour reached ns, that the poet
Vinje -was dead. His sj^irit had departed to some far-distant world. It
was quite true : Aasmund Olafsen Vinje died 30th July, 1870, at Sjo, in the
parish of Gran, Hadeland. He was born of poor parents, in the parish of
Vinje, in Thelemarken, about 1818, The exact year of his birth appears
to be doubtful. A soft and melancholy stillness seemed to pervade the
air, as if the departed sjjirit of the poet lingered near his once favourite
haunt. It glided silently over the Sletmatldio, and was for ever gone.


House." Yet she said soon aftenvards, she had only-
pretended to be offended, ^Ye must think nothing of it.
We were on the eve of fresh scenes, why should we
remember a slight ripple on the glittering surface of
the waters of Lake Bvo'din.

v' O


The guitai- is part and i^arcel of the Spaniard and his ballads ; he
slings it across his shoulder with a ribbon, as was depicted on the
tombs of Egypt four thousand years ago. The performers seldom are
vei7 scientific musicians ; they content themselves with striking the
chords, sweeping the whole hand over the strings, or flourishing, and
tapping the board with the thumb, at which they are very expert.

Ford's SjMin.


EiSBOD, on Lake Bygxlin, had been left at one o'clock.
The Lake Tyen was soon reached. The Lake Bygdin
is said to be 1 7-^ English miles long, Lake Tyen about
12 miles. The evening was beautifid when we reached
Lake Tyen. Our route lay along its left shore nearly
the whole length of the lake.

After we had journeyed some short distance, follow-
ing the narrow footpath or rough track, we reached

This is also a wooden cludet, on a rise of oTound
above the lake, erected, we Avere told, at the cost of
the " Norwegian Tourist Club " for their accommodation
in summer. The cost, we were told, was 100 dollars,



equivalent to about 201 The sketch of the chalet vre
then made is given below, with a view of the lake, and
the Koldedalstinderne (peaks of the cold valley).*

Ole shouted to some fishermen at " Fiskebod," on the
other side of the lake. It was expected they would bring
some fish. One man came in his boat after we had waited
quite a quarter of an hour. 01c was disappointed to find


he had brought no fish. It occurred to us we should have
to pay him after calling him over : a glass of aquavitas
settled matters to his satisfaction. There were two men
at the " Tourists' Chalet." One was a tall thiu fellow,
draped in leather, and nothing else — coat, breeches,
stockino's, and a sort of skin shoe. The chCdet consists
of two rooms, with superior kind of "bunks," or bed-

* This exteusive mountain rei^ion, witli its wild wiMerness of peaks,
rising in fantastic form and sharp outline, especially the Koldedalstind,
Stolsnaastinder, Dryhaugtinden, Skagastolstinden, and Styggedalstinder
of Horungerne and Fleskenaastind, and Melkedalstind, and others too
numerous to mention, present a wide field of interest, and at present are
little known and seldom explored by tlie Nor\\-egian tourist.


steads, but no fittings of any kind. The windows are
too low to obtain a pleasant view of the lake when
standing np, and are not adapted for ventilation.
Travellers staying at the chalet must take everything
with them, including bedding, &c. There is a stove in
one room. "We must, of coiu\se, consider that this chalet
of the Norwegian club, is only intended for summer
residence. Travellers who avail themselves of its ac-
commodation, must be mountaineers. It is a shelter
from the storm, wind, and night-air, and is not intended
for anything more. The evening was warm and sultry ;
at the same time we enjoyed the summer s sun, as we
made our way, as best we could, along the narrow
broken track.

Except ourself, all the party were very thirsty ; even
Ole, seldom troubled with thirst, made frequent visits to
the clear rippling mountain streams, which often crossed
our path.

At evening close, we reached a green, pleasant slope,
below a rising bank, covered with juniper bushes, and
very near a shingly beach on the lake.

We were within five or ten minutes of the time, Ole
predicted we should reach the soetcr of I.ortwick. The
name, Ole said, meant dirty. Not from the state of the
soeter, but from the prevailing bad weather of that part
of the lake. If we could judge from the outside of the
soster, it might also have suited the name.

At first the gipsies did not see any dry fire-wood.
" Go to the shingly beach," said we, '' you will find
plenty." There is always some rough wood, drifted up
by high winds on every beach. They found plenty, and
we had a oood fire.


What is that we hear, as Noah is putting up thxe
tents ? Esmeralda's voice to her brotlier Zachariah,
in severe reproof — " Push it on, Higliflyer. — What,
pushing the prop the wrong way. Oh, Lucas ! Luclis !
you were always" a mumper ! "

AYe had tea, fladbrod, and butter, for our aftens-mad,
Ole afterwards went to the soeter, and had their iron
pot cleaned out for grod in the morning.

Noah produced a meerschaum pipe, and began to
smoke. What camp rules — smoking ! Noah was, upon
explanation, found to have picked it up at a spring, and
said he was only drawing out the contents of the tobacco
in it, to empty it. He very soon put it up. After re-
flection — 'Why are thoughtless tourists so careless, as
to leave their pipes about, to the serious injury, and
temptation of our gipsies ?

Just as we were retiring to bed, Esmeralda thought
she heard a toad croaking — didn't like it. As far as
we could ascertain, it was her brother Zachariah, who
was fast asleep in bed snoring.

Up at half-past three o'clock ; a very cold morning ;
there is a wintry feeling about the air. To-day is
Wednesday, the 10th August, yet, after all, we can
stand without inconvenience, the chilliness of an early
sunrise in the mountains. The view was beautiful, as the
sun rose beyond the lake, over the sharp peaks of Kolde-
dalstinderne. We went to the Lortwick soeter. Ole was
of course up. Does he sit up all night ? was a question,
we again asked. He had got the iron pot full of water
ready to boil. When we returned Noah was sent for the
grod. How we enjoyed, notwithstanding the extreme
freshness of the morning, a summer's day iced, as we had


our matutinal splash in the lake. Noah soon brought the
grod to the tents ; Ole joined us, and we had our break-
fast. Grod and milk is certainly a cheap meal, suffi-
cient for five people scarcely exceeds the cost of ten
shillings. We found the grod very good for hard work ;
our cost at the Lortwick soeter was —

m, 3,

2lbs. butter 2

Fladbrod 12

Milk 8

Soeter 4

Total cost 3

At six o'clock in the morning, we passed the Lort-
wick soeter on the Tyen Vand. Esmeralda and Noah
had evidently got up on the wrong side the turf.

The Lake Tyen is picturesque, but not so wild as
the Lake Bygdin. Time did not permit us to test
the fishing. The view, especially from the " Tourist's
Chalet," Tvindehougen, is very picturesque. On the op-
posite shore there are generally some Norwegian fisher-
men, at a place called Fiskebod.

As we left the shores of the lake, the gipsy storm rose
higher ; the hurricane of human intellect was even too
great for Zachariah to swim in — Mephistopheles kept
aloof with his donkey, as a mariner shuns a maelstrom.
Even Ole pushed ahead some yards farther than usual,
not altogether out of reach of the wordy projectiles, which
fell around.

We were used to it — ours was a kind of charmed life;
it is marvellous how we sometimes escaped. Fancy the
melancholy termination of our career, as a wandering-
gipsy, on the shores of the Tyen Vand.

The Birmingham bagman would have lost two copies


of tliis work. The fate of the English gipsies in Norway,
would have remained an impenetrable mystery.

Esmeralda, as we passed the Lortwick sceter, would
now and then advance rapidly from the rear, and fire
a heavy broadside into Noah. The Komany chaff was
very severe on both sides. " Isn't Ambrose a ballo-
shero ? Oh, yes, Ambrose is like varnon, when he
rockers like a galdering gorgio. Ambrose can talk,
can't he ? The mumply dinlo I What a state he puts
himself in, over everybody else."

Noah was by no means wanting in ammunition. When
Esmeralda fell back to the rear, we did our best to
keep her there. Noah kept a running fire all the time.
The tall gipsy kept his temper very well, except when
severely hit, by some more than usually sarcastic

Leaving the lake, we passed down a narrow gorge.
At the head of this gorge, Esmeralda again brought
up all her reserve of the Romany artillery. Uncle
Elijah was brought up, knocked down, and killed ten
times over.

How well we remember the tall active form of the
gipsy girl, rapidly bringing up her merle and baggage
from the rear, her eyes flashing with indignant fire —
poor Noah — what will be his fate'? The battle of
Dorking was nothing to it. Noah stands firm. He
takes advantage of the intricacy of the narrow path-
way ; the broken nature of the ground separates their
forces. Ole, we see, is still alive ; a stray shot is only
heard now and then.

Again we had calm, and quiet, on the horizon. Shortly
after coming' forth from the defile, we halt. Our


donkeys are imloadcd on the summit of a lofty slope.
At a short distance from us there is a soeter. Below, at
the bottom of the valley across a small river, we see the
Bergen road. The gipsies had had their say. No one
had any conception, or they themselves, what it was all
ahout. An exhaustion of superabundant animal energy,
and intense physical force. All was forgotten. A fire
was quickly lighted in the now warm sunshine. Ole and
ourselves were now to part. The middags-mad con-
sisted of fried English ham, vinegar, fladbrod, butter,
ovensbrod, and tea. Ole was delighted with our tea.
He carefully measured the tin pannikin Ave had given
him to use. Ole always had the same. Noah said he
knew it by a dinge on the side. Our guide said he
should have one made like it. All our camp arrange-
ments had, apparently, much interested Ole. Moun-
taineers are naturally interested in the most portable, and
convenient methods, of affording food and shelter, in those
regions where accommodation is scanty and uncertain.
There was very little that we had not provided ; scarcely
any addition necessary, beyond those things we had
already brought. Such was the practical result of our
camp experience.

After our middags-mad, slightly tinged perhaps with a
shade of melancholy, we strolled aside with Ole. The
cost of Ole's services amounted to eight specie dollars,
calculated at the rate of four marks a day, and including
his return allowance. Our coat, lost on the Galdhopiggen,
was to be sent by parcel post if found. The postage
would be twelve skillings per pound, and we gave him
one mark twelve skillino-s.


Ole said he hoped to see us again ; we hoped so too.


Witli unfeigned regret we parted witli our gallant
Ole Halvorsen, of Rodslieim. Always punctual, even-
tempered, and ever anxious to save us any unnecessary
expense ; possessed of mucli practical experience of a
large region of wild country ; ready to camp out on tlie
mountain side without a tent ; undaunted in the hour of
difficulty ; never at fault, quick in expedients, cool and
calm ; of few words, but full of information ; we pay
this parting tribute to our excellent Ole Halvorsen.

Ole said he had never fared so well in the mountains.
It was a compliment to our cook and commissariat,

" Good-by, JMr. Ambrose, good-by, JMiss daughter,
and master Zakee," said Ole.

" Good-by, Mr. Eodsheim," said our gipsies as we
shook hands, and with our parting farewell, and good
wishes, Ole was soon far up the mountain side.

Our donkeys were already loaded. In a very short
time we had crossed the river, and had reached the
Bergen road. Our party came forth from the deep
recesses of the Horungerne mountains with new energy ;
issuing forth, as it were, from the vast wilderness of
peak, glacier, lake, and river, to the civilized world.
The distance to Christiania was yet considerable ; the
time we could allow ourselves was short ; the summer
fast waning, yet we had gathered renewed energy. Our
donkeys pricked their ears when they found themselves
on the hard road. Nothing could exceed the health
and spirits of our party. A few forced marches would
accomplish all we required. Mephistopheles said it could
not be done in the time, and v,'as cpiickly snuffed out.

It is necessary to push on in this world. Splangy
when he goes out to hunt, will always be in somewhere.


It is true liis weight may be ca stone or two more than
his hunter can well carry. It is equally certain that
Splangy's mare is disinclined to jump if it can bore
through a fence. If she stuml)les into the first ditch,
Splangy tumbles into the second. Still Splaugy never
looses the reins ; he pulls through, and is always in

Then there are Johnson and Toboys, men of business.
Johnson is said to sleep with one eye open, and Toboys
never sleeps at all. They have business all over the
world. For instance, when an order is given, it is sent
in to the day. It is pushed through. The set of chairs
are in the drawing-room, never mind if the owner, a few
days afterwards, sits on one with a defective leg, and is
flat on the floor, with the chair upon him. He is pain-
fully reminded of Johnson and Toboys' address. Well,
after all, says he, they were delivered in time for me to
receive the Prussian Ambassador. With many other
firms, says the owner, I should have had to wait two
years, when the chintz would be faded, and the fashion
gone. Johnson and Toboys, of course, get the order for
his dining-room. The furniture van dashes up ; all is
delivered on the day. What matter if one chair is
afterwards discovered legless. Ah ! says the owner,
holding it up, it is well cushioned, and comfortable.
What matter if, forgetting the legs, he sits down, turning
an acrobatic back-somersault in the air ? Carpets are
thick now-a-days ; no bones are broken. The owner is
only painfully reminded of Johnson and Toboys' address.
Never mind, says the owner, after all, they were in time
for me to receive my friend Fitful and his wife from
India. It soon turns out the workman who had the legs,

The Bergen road. \m

jiad no head ; they were only forgotten. Johnson and
Toboys. have made their fortune, whilst some firms are
thinking about it. Let us push on.

The Bergen road was reached by our party, at a point

between Nystuen and Skogstad. The trout of Nystuen

are said to be exceedingly good. We were at the foot of

the Fille Fjeld. The scenery was charming as we

followed the road down to Skogstad ; all down hill, and

an excellent road. Groves of birch, mountain willow,

and alder trees, alterjiating with rock scenes, and fir

wood. The Findal's Horn rises to our right. Allous

done ! How gaily the Puru Eawnec, with her jingling

bells stepped out ; ever leading ; head well up, as if in

her pride, she knew she Avas always admired. We shall

never see another donkey like her ; such fine long legs,

clean, and admirably shaped, stepping under her heavy

load, as if it was nothing. Allons done! as we rapidly

followed the winding road, and our party soon reached

Skogstad Station. We had parted from Ole at the

soeter, at twenty minutes past twelve o'clock, and

reached Skogstad at half-past one. In we went to get

some fiadl)rod. Whilst the pige was getting the fladbrod,

we Avent into a very small comfortable side room. Seeing

a curiously inlaid violin hanging up, ayc asked the pige

the price. She brought the master of the station ; he

called the ostler. It now appeared the ostler Avas a

faljricator of violins ; a musical genius. The short old

man, Avho wore breeches on very bow legs, reached out

another violin from a cupboard. This was of more recent

manufacture, and far better tone. The station-master,

Avho Avas a very pleasant obliging man, prevailed on the

ostler to play a tune. " An ancient Norwegian air," said


tlie station-mnstcr. AVc can only say the composer must
have l)een far from lively at the time of composition.
The old man sawed away in a slow methodical manner.
As contrasted wdth our camp music, it , was luguljrious.
How delighted Ole Bull, the celebrated Norwegian vio-
linist, would have been with his countryman's performance.
Mephistopheles was nearly in a j&t. We ordered a bottle
of excellent ale, and gave the ostler a glass to drink gamle
norge. The ostler had exhausted his inspiration, and
the ale had no reviving effect. The gipsies and myself,
therefore, finished the rest. Ah! what about strict
camp rules ? We are not in camp, we are in the
Skogstad Station. Then Mephistopheles played some
rather stirrino; airs on the new violin and the old one.
We understood it was one of the Hardanger violins, and
asked the price. The station-master and the two pige
stood by, whilst Mephistopheles played. Then the
station-master said, *' English," and smiled. The ostler
wanted three dollars. We were considering, trying,
discussing, when up drove some carrioles to the station ;
English travellers in knickerbockers. Out went the old
ostler ; out went the station-master. We paid the pige
for the fladbrod and ol. Noah took the Hardanger


violin, if it was one, under his arm. The ostler was out-
side, standing by the pony of the first carriole just put in.
We handed three paper dollars to the old man. " Fire,"
said the old fellow, showing four fingers. " Nei ! Nei ! "
said Noah. " No," said we, finding the old man had
suddenly raised his price. " Tre," and we put out our
hand mth our three dollars. The two young girls were
close by him with anxious countenances, evidently
expecting we should give up the purchase.



The scene was famous, Skogstad Station, and its
picturesque scenery. Carrioles before the entrance with
ponies just put in, and ]:)onies just taken out. Jolly
station-master ; English travellers in knickerbockers just
getting into carrioles. Two rather pretty Norwegian
girls standing beside the old ostler ; old ostler, the
picture of irresolution. His melancholy countenance,


expressing anxiety to get one dollar more. Esmeralda at
our elbow, telling us not to let the gorgio do Mandy.
Her tall gipsy brother waiting for the ancient violin,
Mephistopheles saying : " Maw kin the Bosh, sii-, if he
don't lei the three dollars."''' We were just going off; the

Online LibraryHubert SmithTent life with English Gipsies in Norway → online text (page 29 of 37)