Paul B. (Paul Belloni) Du Chaillu.

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Then my turn came to go through. I got into the chimney first, and saw
the faces of Nils and Erik peeping down. "It is all right. Come on, Herr
Paul." I ascended the ladder, then crept up the rest of the chimney. The
boys got hold of my hands and pulled me through. What a sight! I was
black with soot. Nils and Erik were likewise. We gave three great
hurrahs. We shouted through the chimney to the folks with great glee,
"Be patient, you will get out by and by."

We worked with a will, and succeeded in clearing the trench leading to
the door, and there was a great shout of joy when it opened. Then the
girls came out and joined us in making the way clear to the barn, to the
two horses, five cows, and twelve sheep. When we opened the door of the
barn the horses neighed, the cows lowed, and the sheep baaed. It was a
fine concert of voices. They were glad to see us. It was their way of
bidding us welcome.

Returning to the house we cleared the windows, then the well, of snow.
The well was surrounded by a mass of ice. We drew water and gave a good
drink to the horses and the other animals. The girls milked the cows,
and gave fresh fodder to all.

When our work was done we were all as hungry as the wolves are in
winter, when they have had no food for days.

In the mean time the mother had prepared a big meal for us, and we
entered the house. We were ready to do justice to the food. The potatoes
and the bacon quickly disappeared. After the meal we cleared the other
windows of snow, and made passages to them, so that light might come
through. It was a hard day's work all round!

When supper time came we seated ourselves before a big wooden bowl of
porridge called "gröd," made from barley meal. On each side were two
wooden bowls filled with sour milk. We ate with wooden spoons from the
same dish. There were no plates for supper, and once in a while we took
a spoonful of sour milk to help the gröd go down. I always enjoy eating
with wooden or horn spoons.

I went to sleep in the loft this time. I wanted to be near Nils and
Erik. They were fine boys, and we were friends. Did we not sleep well
that night! We did not awake until their father came to shake us.

"There is nothing like shovelling snow to make one sleep," we all said,
after we awoke.

The next day the women were very busy a great part of the day. Engla
spun flax on her spinning-wheel, Serlotta carded wool, and Maria wove a
thick woollen cloth to be turned into garments for three new suits for
her father and two brothers, while the mother knitted woollen stockings.

I remained three days on this farm. During that time the snow had packed
and the snow-ploughs followed by the rollers had made their reappearance
on the highroad. It was time for me to leave, for I was in a hurry, and
I had to travel nearly nine hundred miles before I could reach Nordkyn.

When I left I put some money into the hands of the wife, and when she
felt it in her hand she said, "No, no; to be paid for giving food and
shelter to a person who is overtaken by a storm, is a shame. What would
God think of me for doing that? No, no;" she said again, with more

I succeeded at last, after much insistence, in overcoming her scruples
and making her take it; and once more I was on the road leading

Travelling was still very difficult. I came late to a post station where
I intended to spend the night, for I was very tired. The place was
filled with travellers and all the beds were taken. Men slept on
benches, on the top of the table, and on the floor. These were
travellers who had been detained on the road and were once more on their
way southward.

I saw a space on the floor between two men - just enough for me to get
in - and I quietly stepped over three fellows who were fast asleep and
made for the empty place, and went to sleep in my fur coat.

The next morning I was once more on the long and tedious road leading
north, towards "The Land of the Long Night." That afternoon I reached
the little town of Umeå.

The days had become shorter and shorter. The sun was very low at noon
and was not above the horizon more than one hour. As I travelled further
north I was surprised to notice that the snow diminished rapidly. I had
left the great "Snow Land," or snow belt, which seemed to be between 62
and 64 degrees north, behind me.

After changing horses at several post stations I came to the little
towns of Skellefteå, Piteå, and Luleå, and at last I reached Haparanda,
situated at the extreme northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the
mouth of the Torne river, the most northern town in Sweden.

At Haparanda I had driven about seven hundred and forty miles from
Stockholm, and over twenty-five hundred miles since I had left the
mountains of Norway. I was only forty-one miles south of the Arctic
Circle, which is the most southerly part of "The Land of the Long



I had hardly arrived in Haparanda, when the leading people of the place
came to welcome me. I was not unknown to several of them, on account of
some of my books which have been translated into Swedish; and they were
my friends at once.

They heard with astonishment that I intended to go further north. They
looked serious and remained silent for a while. "We will give you
letters of introduction to our friends," they said; "but after a time
you will be too far north, where we do not know anybody. You will find
only Finlanders and Laplanders until you come to the Arctic shores of

After saying this they began to fill their big meerschaum pipes with
tobacco and lighted them, and smoke came out as if from a small funnel.
They gave puff after puff and were again silent; the wrinkles over their
foreheads showed that they were thoughtful and anxious.

One friend said: "The country which lies between the head of the Gulf
of Bothnia and Nordkyn, the most northern part of the mainland in
Europe, is very stormy in winter, the winds blow with terrific force,
and midway between the shores of the Baltic and the extremity of the
land snow is also very deep. It is a roadless land."

When I heard this, I said to myself: "Is 'The Land of the Long Night'
'Snow Land' as well?" Then I thought of the great "Snow Land" I had left
behind me, and how hard travelling had been, and I wondered if it would
be worse in this second "Snow Land." If it was, then I had a hard task
ahead of me.

Another friend said, "This big overcoat of yours will never do in the
country you are going to. These long boots you wear will not be

"Yes," they all said together. "This costume of yours will be
unmanageable on account of the wind. You cannot travel in 'The Land of
the Long Night' dressed as you are. You must dress like a Laplander.
Theirs is the only costume that can stand the weather you are to
encounter, the only one in which you will be able to get into their
small sleighs, and face the fierce wind and the intense cold."

"Remember," said another of my new friends, "that you are going to
travel over a roadless country covered with snow, the reindeer will be
your horse, and you will not be able to go about without going on skees,
for at every step one sinks deep into the snow."

Then another added, to reassure me: "Our country is a country of laws;
we have order, and hate lawlessness. You will feel safe among the
people. You will find where the country is uninhabited, or where the
farms are very wide apart, houses or farms of refuge where you can get
food and reindeer to take you further on. These are post stations where
you can remain until the weather is good. There you are as safe as among

I thanked them for all the advice and information they gave me and said
that I would follow their admonition in regard to my dress. They then
bade me good-night. The next day I remembered what my friends had said
to me the day before, and with one of them I went to get the garments
worn by the Lapps.

I bought two "kaptor."[1] These are also called "pesh." They are long
blouses reaching down to the knee or below, made of reindeer skins, with
fur attached; with a narrow aperture for the head to pass through, and
fitting closely round the neck.

[1] Plural form. Singular, "kapta."

One of the kaptor was much larger than the other, for in case of intense
cold one is worn beneath the other with the fur inside, and the outside
one with the fur outside.

I got a pair of trousers made of skin from the legs of the reindeer, of
which the fur though short is considered the warmest part of the animal,
as it protects his legs, which are always in the snow. The provisions of
nature are wonderful!

There are no openings to the Lapp trousers, so that no cold air can
reach the body. They are fastened round the waist by a string and are
tied above the ankle. There the fur is removed and the leather is made
very soft so that it may go round the shoe.

I got two pairs of shoes made of the skin of the reindeer near the hoof,
with the fur outside. This part is said to be the warmest part of the
whole skin. All the Lapp shoes are sharp pointed, the point turning
upward. They are bound at the seams with red flannel. The upper part
fits above the ankle. They were large enough for me to wear two pairs of
thick, home-knitted stockings and Lapp grass to surround the foot
everywhere without pinching it. Long narrow bands of bright color are
attached to them. These bands are wound around the legs above the
ankles, thus preventing snow and wind from penetrating. These shoes can
only be used in cold weather when the snow is crisp, and are especially
adapted for skees, as they are pointed and have no heels.

I procured also four pairs of mittens, one made of the skin of the
reindeer near the hoof, another of wool with a sort of down, the third
of cow's hair, and the fourth of goat's hair; the two latter are the
warmest, but they are very perishable.

I also got two pairs of very thick home-knitted stockings. These were of
wool. I succeeded in getting two other pairs made of cow's hair, and
another pair made of goat's hair, and I was especially cautioned to
handle them gently when I put them on or took them off - likewise with
the mittens of goat's and cow's hair.

I also got a vest made of soft reindeer skin to put on over my
underwear, and two sets of thick underwear of homespun, for these are
much warmer than those that are made by machinery.

I added to my outfit one pair of long and another shorter pair of boots
for wet weather in the spring, when the snow is damp and watery. These
boots were made of the skin of the lower part of the hind legs of
reindeer, the fur being scraped off. The leather is black and it is
prepared in such a way as to exclude water or moisture. They were rubbed
with a composition of reindeer fat and tar.

Then I bought a square Lapp cap, the top filled with eider down. The rim
could be turned down to protect the ears and the forehead.

After procuring my Lapp outfit, I thought I would try to dress myself in
my new garments. The friend who accompanied me said: "I will show you
how to prepare your feet before you put your shoes on. One can never be
too careful, otherwise the feet are sure to be cold on a journey."

I put on my two new pairs of hand-knitted stockings. He surrounded my
feet over the stockings with Lapp grass; then he put my shoe on most
carefully, with the lower part of the trousers inside, and then wound
the bands not too tight round my ankle, saying, "Now your feet will be
warm all day even if you spend all your time on skees. You see how
careful I have been in putting on your shoes. Dressed as you are you
can defy the cold. If you follow the advice I have given you, you will
never have cold feet no matter how long you drive or walk in the snow.
But take great care that neither shoes, nor stockings, nor grass be
damp. I think it will be well for you to let a Lapp or a Finn put your
shoes on before you start on a long journey - until you can do it
yourself quite well."

The "shoe grass" of which I have spoken grows in the Arctic regions in
pools in the summer. It is gathered in great quantity by the Laplanders
and Finlanders, who dry it and keep it carefully, for it is
indispensable in winter in their land of snow and cold. It has the
peculiarity of retaining heat and keeping the feet warm and absorbing
the moisture. I always travelled with a good stock of that grass,
twisted and knotted together in small bundles.

Then I looked at myself in the looking-glass, and for the first time saw
how I appeared in my new outfit, my Lapp costume. The frontispiece will
show you exactly how I was dressed (without a hood), for it is from a
photograph. Unfortunately, being a bachelor, I don't know how to take
care of things, and my costume, gloves, stockings, and mittens have been
eaten up by moths, and I have had to throw them away. But I appeared
before the American Geographical Society in New York dressed in this
suit, seated in my Lapp sleigh, with a stuffed reindeer harnessed to it,
and my bearskin over me.

To complete my outfit I added two large reindeer-skin bags, one larger,
so that the smaller one could be put inside it without much difficulty.
I was to sleep in these bags when obliged to rest out doors on the snow.
One bag was sufficient in ordinary cold weather - say 15 or 20 degrees
below zero; the other I would use when the thermometer ranged from 25 to
40 or 50 degrees below zero.



Now I was ready to go further northward beyond the Arctic Circle, and
roam in "The Land of the Long Night."

The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line, just as are the Equator and the
two Tropics, going round the earth, and begins at 66° 32' north latitude
and is 1623 miles from the North Pole. It is the southernmost limit of
the region where the sun disappears in winter, under the horizon, for
one day.

At the North Pole on the 22nd of September the sun descends to the
horizon and then disappears till the 20th of March, when it reappears
and remains in sight above the horizon until the 22nd of September. So
at the pole the year is made of one day and one night. On the 22nd day
of December it disappears at the Arctic Circle for one day only. The
space between the Arctic Circle and the pole is therefore called the
Arctic region, or the Frigid Zone. Consequently, the further one
advances to the north, the longer the duration of the night.

I will tell you the causes of this phenomenon of the Long Night. The
earth revolves about the sun once every year, and rotates on its axis
once in twenty-four hours, which makes what we call a day.

Rotate means to move round a centre; thus the daily turning of the earth
on its axis is a rotation. Its annual course round the sun is called a

The axis about which the daily rotation takes place is an imaginary
straight line passing through the centre of the earth, and its
extremities are called poles, hence the names of the North and the South
pole. The diurnal movement is from West to East and takes place in
twenty-four hours.

The earth's orbit, or the path described by it in its annual revolution
about the sun, is, so to speak, a flattened circle, somewhat elongated,
called an ellipse. The axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the
plane of the orbit, which is an imaginary flat surface enclosed by the
line of the earth's revolution, but is inclined to it at an angle of 23°
28', which angle is called the obliquity of the ecliptic. The ecliptic
is the path or way among the fixed stars which the earth in its orbit
appears to describe to an eye placed in the sun, for the sun is the
fixed centre and not the earth. The earth, therefore, in moving about
the sun, is not upright, but inclined, so that in different parts of its
course it always presents a half, but always a different half, of its
surface to the sun.

Twice in the year, 21st of March and 21st of September, the exact half
of the earth along its axis is illuminated. On these dates, therefore,
any point on the earth's surface is, during the rotation of the earth on
its axis, half the time in light and half the time in darkness, - that
is, day and night are twelve hours each all over the globe.

These two dates are called equinoxes, March 21st being the vernal, and
September 21st being the autumnal, equinox.

As the earth moves in its orbit after March 21st, the North Pole
inclines more and more towards the sun, till June 21st, after which it
turns away from it. On September 21st day and night are again equal all
over the earth, and after this the North Pole is turned away from the
sun, and does not receive its light again till the following March.

It will thus be seen that from the autumnal to the vernal equinox the
North Pole is in darkness and has a night of six months' duration,
during which time the sun is not seen. Therefore, any point near the
pole is, during any given twenty-four hours, longer in darkness than in

The number of days of constant darkness depends on the latitude of the
observer. At the pole the sun is not seen for six months, at the Arctic
Circle it is invisible, as I have said, for only one day in December. At
North Cape and Nordkyn the sun disappears November 18th, and is not seen
again till January 24th. That is the reason I have called the land
between North Cape and the Arctic Circle "The Land of the Long Night."

This "Land of the Long Night" commences at Nordkyn, or the most northern
point of the continent of Europe, - or at North Cape, but five miles
distant - on the 16th of November. The whole sun appears on that day, its
lower rim just touching above the horizon at noon. The next day, 17th of
November, the lower half of the sun has disappeared, and the following
day, the 18th, it sinks below the horizon and does not show itself again
until the 24th of January - hence the night there lasts sixty-seven days
of twenty-four hours each. And at the Arctic Circle the sun is only
completely hidden on the 22nd of December.

The following table shows you the dates of the disappearance of the sun,
and of its reappearance at the principal places to which we are going.


_Where the sun is last seen, begins at:_

Karasjok November 26th
Vardö 22nd
Hammerfest 21st
North Cape or Nordkyn 18th

_Where the sun is first seen again, begins at:_

Karasjok January 16th
Vardö 20th
Hammerfest 21st
North Cape or Nordkyn 24th

I hope that I have been successful in giving you an idea of day and
night in the Frigid Zone.



I left Haparanda in the beginning of January, surrounded by the friends
who had taken such an interest in me. The atmosphere was clear, and not
a cloud was to be seen in the pale blue sky, turning into greenish as it
approached the horizon. There was not a breath of wind. Once the
thermometer marked 30 degrees below zero.

"Be careful," said my friends. "This is treacherous weather for ears and
noses, there is danger of their getting frozen; rub them, and also your
face, now and then with snow. Keep your ears covered, and protect them
with your hood. If it becomes colder put on your mask."

I thanked them for their kind advice, but replied: "No mask for me just
now, I want to breathe this pure invigorating air as much as I can. I
want it to reach my lungs."

[Illustration: "It was indeed, a fearful wind storm."]

"Be careful in such weather," they repeated. "This is beautiful weather
indeed, but sometimes it does not last long and is followed by furious
gales, or great snowstorms; but we hope this fine weather will follow
you for many days. Often it lasts quite a while."

Then we bade good-bye to each other. They tucked the sheepskin round me,
and bade the driver to take good care of Paulus.

Soon after this we were out of Haparanda and on the highroad leading to
Pajala, which was about one hundred and ten miles further north, there
being ten or twelve post stations between the two places.

Sleighing was fine, the road had been used much, so we went on at a very
fast pace. It was just the weather people, horses, dogs, and reindeer
liked. I liked it also very much, for it was so exhilarating, and I felt
so well and so strong. I was ready, nevertheless, for all kinds of
weather, and I was fully prepared to meet great storms, for I wanted to
encounter the blizzards of the Arctic regions just to find out how
strongly the wind could blow. I found out later!

I changed horses at several post stations during the day, among them the
stations of Korpikyla, Niemis, Ruskola, and Matarengi. I found that the
Finnish language was now prevalent, Swedish being only spoken by
comparatively few people.

That day was the end of the fine weather. Towards evening the wind was
blowing very hard, and it increased in strength every minute until it
blew a perfect hurricane. Then what my friends had said to me came to
mind. It was indeed a fearful windstorm!

The gale had become such that the horse at times did not seem to have
strength enough to pull our sleigh. The snow flew in thick cloudy masses
to a great height, curling and recurling upon itself and blinding us.
Fortunately our robes were fastened very securely. I wore my hood, and
it was so arranged that my eyes were the only part of my face that was
not covered. The wind was so powerful that our sleigh was in continual
danger of upsetting, and was only saved because it was so low.

I was glad indeed when I reached the hamlet of Matarengi with its
red-painted log church, two hundred years old, and separate belfry of
the same color.

The windstorm lasted three days. During that time I found that the
temperature varied from 8 to 22 degrees below zero.

Then it became calm, the sky was perfectly clear, and the mercury marked
40 degrees below zero. There was not a breath of wind. It was fine, and
I made ready to continue my journey.

Wherever I changed horse and sleigh, before starting I shook hands with
the station master and his family, and after this bade good-bye to the
driver who had brought me to the place. One must not forget that little
politeness in these northern lands, otherwise the people would think you
ill-bred or proud and would dislike you. No man has ever made friends by
being proud or conceited. It is, after all, very silly, and often very
ill-bred. I have found that one gets along much better in the world by
being polite and obliging. It is so much easier to be pleasant than
sour and gruff. In the former case you are happy; in the latter
discontented and wretched. I always feel sorry when I meet people who
are proud or conceited. Often I laugh at them in my sleeve, and when
that pride or conceit becomes overbearing I have great contempt for
them, and do not wish to have anything to do with them.

I approached very fast the regions of "The Land of the Long Night." The
road was filled with freshly made, huge snowdrifts, which greatly
impeded our progress. Towards noon the wind increased again, and soon I
was in a worse gale than before. I said to myself, "Now I am indeed in
'The Land of the Wind.'"

Suddenly I saw dimly through the clouds of snow the dwellings of a farm.
"Let us go there," I said to my driver, "for we cannot reach the post
station to-day." Our horse evidently thought as we did; he had made up
his mind to go no further, and preferred to be in a stable. He suddenly
turned to the right, entered the yard, and stopped before the
dwelling-house of the farm. I alighted. I was so dizzy from the effects
of the wind that I could not walk straight, and tottered about for a
minute or more. My driver was in the same condition.

I entered the house and found myself in a large room, in the midst of a
family of Finlanders, whose language is very unlike the Swedish or
Norwegian. I was welcomed at once by all.

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Online LibraryPaul B. (Paul Belloni) Du ChailluThe Land of the Long Night → online text (page 3 of 16)