Read CHAPTER VII - UP THE CHRISTIANIA FJORD of Up The Baltic Young America in Norway‚ Sweden‚ and Denmark , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on

“I should like to know where this place is,” said Ryder, the second master, as he appeared upon the quarter-deck of the ship, with one of the forty bound volumes of Harper’s Magazine, which were contained in the library.

“What place?” asked Lincoln, the third lieutenant, as he glanced at the volume.

“That’s more than I know; but here is a picture of a steamer between two high bluffs of rock, and under it, she is said to be entering the fjord.”

“We are just at the mouth of the fjord now, and if there are any such rocks as those here, I should like to see them.  Why, you see they rise above the steamer’s main-topmast.”

Lincoln took the book, and read the description; but he was none the wiser for his labor, for the narrow strait through which the steamer in the picture was passing was not particularly described.  The book was shown to the pilot, who did not know just where the place was; but after he had been told that the steamer came from Gottenburg, and was on her way to Christiania, he thought that the bold rocks must be in the vicinity of Frederiksvaern.  He offered to take the ship through the pass, as the wind was fair, and Mr. Lowington consented that he should do so, for in order to enable the students to see the fine scenery on the fjord, the studies were to be laid aside for the day.

“I don’t see where there can be anything like this,” said Ryder, as he surveyed the shores.

“There are plenty of islands here, but certainly none of them rise to any such heights as those in the picture,” replied Lincoln.  “They are bare rocks out at sea, but some of them are a little green farther in.  It don’t begin to be so wild as I supposed it was in these parts.  Why, I have read and heard so much about the Christiania Fjord, that I supposed it was the grandest scenery in the world.”

“It don’t look much like the picture ­does it?” laughed Ryder.

In a short time the ship was approaching the narrow pass.  The cliffs on each side were very bold and rugged, and if the students had not been feasting themselves with grand anticipations, they would have appreciated the scenery much better.  Ryder and Lincoln laughed when they compared the reality with the pictures they had.  The scenery could not be called grand, though it was certainly very fine.  The strait was very narrow, and on each side of it rings were fastened in the rocks, which were painted white around them, for the convenience of vessels warping out in a calm or against the wind.  On the high rock, ­it could not have been a hundred feet high, ­at the right, was a small fort, which looked grim and terrible in its way, but which any well-ordered man of war, with modern ordnance, could have battered down in half an hour.

Passing through the strait, the ship came in sight of the small village of Frederiksvaern, which is a naval station, where a number of gunboats are housed in a series of uniform buildings.  The town itself is only a hamlet, but as the vessels proceeded, those on board saw Laurvig at the head of the bay, which is a place of considerable importance.

“Little Foerder,” said the pilot, an hour later, as he pointed to a tall, red light-house, at the entrance of the fjord.

“Then the land we see beyond must be Sweden,” added Ryder.

Sverige,” nodded the pilot.

“I suppose that is Sweden, but I don’t see the use of having half a dozen names to a country.”

“And this is Norge,” added the second master, pointing to the other side.

“Yes, Norge,” answered the pilot, pleased to hear the young officer apply the Norwegian name.

On the port hand of the ship was a vast sea of rocky islands, of all shapes and sizes.  Those farthest from the mainland were entirely destitute of soil or verdure; but in the distance a few pines, and the fresh tints of the early grass, could be seen.

“Keep her north-north-east,” said the pilot.

“Man the weather and stand by the lee braces!” shouted the first lieutenant.

Clyde Blacklock took out his station card, and looked to see whether the order applied to him.

“You are on the main brace,” said Scott, a good-natured young tar, who happened to be near the new student.  “There you are, on the weather side.”

“Who spoke to you?” demanded Clyde, dropping his card, and looking Scott in the face.

“I haven’t been introduced to you, I know; but I thought you wanted to know your duty,” laughed Scott.

“You take care of yourself, and I’ll mind my own duty,” growled Clyde.

“All right, my lad,” replied the good-natured student, whose station was at the weather fore brace.

Clyde walked aft, and placed himself in the line of those who were to haul on the weather main brace.

“Slack the lee, and haul on the weather braces,” said the first lieutenant, and the other officers repeated the order.

“Walk away with it!” shouted the fourth lieutenant to those at the main brace.

Clyde took hold, and tugged with all his might; but the brace would not come away.  To tell the exact truth, there was a disposition among the students to haze the new comer, and the main brace men had agreed among themselves to let him do the whole of the work.  They pretended to haul, but not one of them bore a pound upon the brace.

“Pull!” shouted Clyde, at the top of his lungs, as he strained at the rope.  “Why don’t you pull, boys?”

“Silence on the quarter-deck!” cried the executive officer ­for all work was required to be performed in silence.  “Walk away with the main brace.”

“Come, boys, why don’t you pull?” roared Clyde, who was blest with a pair of hearty lungs.

“Silence, Blacklock!  You mustn’t hollo like that when you are on duty,” interposed De Forrest.

“Who says I mustn’t?” demanded Clyde, dropping his hold upon the brace, and walking up to the officer who had dared to give him these words of counsel, which were uttered in a mild and pleading tone, rather than in those of authority.

“Starboard the helm,” said the executive officer.

“Starboard, sir,” repeated the quartermaster at the wheel.

“Walk away with that main brace!” added the first lieutenant.

The main brace men, finding that Clyde was at issue with the fourth lieutenant, applied themselves to their work, and the main yard swung round.

“Steady!” said the executive officer.

“Steady, sir.”

“Avast hauling!  Belay, all.”

By these manoeuvres the ship had been kept away, and was now headed directly up the fjord.

“I don’t allow any fellow to speak to me like that,” blustered Clyde.  “I want you to understand that I am a gentleman.”

“Go forward, Blacklock, and don’t make a row on the quarter-deck,” replied De Forrest, mildly.

“I’ll not go forward!”

“Then I must report you to the first lieutenant.”

“I’m willing to do my work, but I won’t be fagged by any nob in gold lace.”

“You are making a mistake, Blacklock,” said De Forrest, in a low tone, as he walked towards the angry Briton, with the intention of reasoning with him upon the absurdity of his conduct.

Mr. Lowington had cautioned him and other officers to be very prudent in dealing with the new student till he had become accustomed to his duty, and certainly De Forrest was prudent in the extreme.  Perhaps Clyde misunderstood the purpose of this officer when approaching him, and suspected that he intended to use violence, for, drawing back, he made a pass at De Forrest with his fist.  But the latter detected the nature of the demonstration in season to ward off the blow, and, still in the exercise of the extreme prudence which had before characterized his conduct, retreated to the other side of the quarter-deck.

“Enough of that,” said Judson, the first lieutenant, as he stepped between Clyde and De Forrest.

Clyde was very angry.  Though he had made up his mind to perform his duty in the beginning, he fancied that no one had the right to command him to be silent.  In his wrath he pulled off his blue jacket, tossed it upon the deck with a flourish, and intimated that if the first lieutenant wanted to fight, he was ready for him.  Happily the first lieutenant did not wish to fight, though he was fully prepared to defend himself.  At this crisis, the principal observed the hostile attitude of the young Briton, and quietly ordered Peaks to interfere.

“Go forward, Blacklock,” said Judson, calmly.

“I won’t go forward!  I have been insulted, and I’ll break the sconce of the fellow that did it,” added Clyde, glancing at the fourth lieutenant.

“Come, my hearty, let us go forward, as we are ordered,” interposed Peaks, as he picked up Clyde in his arms, and in spite of his struggles, carried him into the waist.

It was useless to resist the big boatswain, and the pressure of Peaks’s arms soon crushed out Clyde’s anger, and like a little child, he was set down upon the deck, amid the laughter of his companions.  He felt that he was not getting ahead at all; and though he reserved the expression of his anger, he determined at the first convenient opportunity to thrash both Judson and De Forrest.  He had also decided to run away at the first chance, even if he had to camp on a desolate island in doing so.  He regarded Peaks as a horrible ogre, whose only mission in the ship was to persecute and circumvent him.

“I’ll have it out with those nobs yet,” said Clyde, as Peaks left him, restored to his senses, so far as outward appearances were concerned.

“Have it out!  Have what out?” asked Scott, the good-natured.

“I’ll whip that nob who told me to be silent.”

“Don’t you do it, my jolly Briton,” laughed Scott.

“I can do it.”

“Do you mean the first lieutenant?”

“Yes, that I do; and I’ll teach him better manners.”

“I wouldn’t hurt him; Judson’s a good fellow.”

“I don’t care if he is; he’ll catch it; and De Forrest, too.  They insulted me.”

“I dare say they didn’t mean to.”

“If they didn’t, I’ll give them a chance to apologize,” added Clyde, a little mollified by the mild words of his companion.

“That’s very kind of you; but officers don’t often apologize to seamen for telling them of it when they disobey the rules of the ship.”

“Rules or not, I’ll hammer them both if they don’t apologize.”

“Don’t be cruel with them,” laughed Scott.

“And that big boatswain ­I’ll be even with him yet,” blustered Clyde, as he shook his head menacingly.

“Are you going to thrash him too?” asked Scott, opening his eyes.

“I’ll take care of him.  He don’t toss me round in that way without suffering for it.”

“Well, don’t hurt him,” suggested the good-natured seaman.

“He’ll get a broken head before he grows much older,” added Clyde, drawing out a belaying-pin from the fife-rail.  “I shall not be in this ship a great while longer; but I mean to stay long enough to settle my accounts with the big boatswain and the two nobs on the quarter-deck.”

“How are you going to do it, my dear Albion?”

“Leave that to me.  No man can insult me without suffering for it.”

“Perhaps the officers will apologize, but I don’t believe Peaks will.  He’s an obstinate fellow, and would do just what the principal told him to do, even if it was to swallow you and me, and half a dozen other fellows.  You don’t mean to lick the principal too ­do you?”

“I haven’t had any trouble with him.”

“But he is at the bottom of it all.  He told Peaks to persecute you.  I’m not sure that the principal isn’t more to blame than all the others put together.”

“No matter for him; he has done very well.”

“Then you mean to let him off?”

“I say I’ve nothing against the head master.”

“Don’t be too hard on Peaks,” added Scott, as he climbed upon the rail to see the scenery of the fjord.

“I suppose all these islands, points, bays, and channels have names, just as they do on the other side of the ocean,” said Laybold, at whose side the good-natured tar seated himself.

“Of course,” nodded Scott.

“I wonder what they are.”

“Don’t you know?”

“Certainly not ­how should I?”

“I didn’t know but you might have seen the chart,” added Scott, gravely.

“There’s a town!” exclaimed the enthusiastic Laybold, as the progress of the ship opened a channel, at the head of which was a village, with a church.

“I see; that’s Bossenboggenberg,” said Scott.

“O, is it?  Is that a river?”

“Not at all.  That’s only a channel, called the Hoppenboggen, which extends around the Island of Toppenboggen.  That channel is navigable for small vessels.”

“Where did you learn all those names?” demanded Laybold, amazed at the astonishing words which his companion rolled off so glibly.

“My father had to send me to sea to keep me from learning too much.  My hair all fell off, and the schoolmasters were afraid of me.”

“There’s another town ahead on the port hand,” said Laybold, a little later.

“That is Aggerhousenboggen, I think.  Let me see; here’s Cape Tingumboggen, and that must be the opening to the Stoppenboggen Fjord.  Yes, that must be Aggerhousenboggen.”

“Where did you learn to pronounce Norwegian so well, Scott?”

“O, I learned Norwegian when I was an infant.  I could speak it first rate before I learned to utter my mother tongue.”

“Go ’way!” protested Laybold.  “Do you know what island that is on the starboard hand.”

“To be sure I do.  Do you think my education has been neglected to that extent?  That’s Steppenfetchenboggen.  A very fine island it is, too,” continued Scott, rattling off the long names so that they had a decidedly foreign ring.

“I don’t see how you can pronounce those words,” added Laybold.  “They would choke me to death.”

“I don’t believe they would,” laughed Scott.

The squadron passed through several narrow passages, and then came to a broad expanse of water at the mouth of the Drammen River.  The students were perched on the rail and in the rigging of the various vessels, observing with great interest the development of the panorama, which seemed to be unrolled before them.

“It is rather fine scenery,” said Lincoln, who still carried the book in his hand, and occasionally glanced at the pictures; “but I think the artist here must have multiplied the height of the cliffs by two, and divided the height of houses, men, and masts by the same number.”

“It certainly looks like an exaggeration,” replied Ryder.

“Look at this,” added Lincoln, pointing to a scene on the coast of Norway.  “There’s a large steamer carrying a top-gallant yard on the foremast.  That mast is probably a hundred and fifty feet high, and there are hills and bluffs beyond it ­which would lose by the perspective ­five times as high.”

“Still it is very fine scenery.”

“So it is; but no finer than we have on the coast of Maine.  You remember last summer we went through the Reach, down by Machias?  That was something like this, and quite as pleasant.”

“We mustn’t be too critical, Lincoln,” laughed Ryder.

“I don’t intend to be critical; but I had an idea, from the pictures I have seen, that Christiania Fjord was something like the Saguenay River, where the cliffs rise perpendicularly four or five hundred feet high.  These pictures would certainly lead one to expect such sights.”

“Horton,” said the pilot, pointing to a town which now came into view, as the vessel passed beyond a point of land.

It was a small place, in appearance not unlike a New England village.  At the wharf were a couple of small steamers, one of which had come down the Drammen, and the entire population of the town seemed to have turned out on the occasion, for the shore was covered with people.  They were all neatly dressed.  On the opposite side of the fjord was the town of Moss, where the convention by which Norway and Sweden were united was drawn up and agreed upon.

The fleet sailed rapidly before the fresh breeze across the broad expanse, and then entered a narrow passage.  There was a gentle declivity on each side of the fjord, which was covered, as far as the eye could see, with pines.  Droebak, on the right, is a village of one street, on the side of the hill.  The houses are mostly of one story, painted yellow, with roofs covered with red tile.  Before noon the passage began to widen, and the fleet entered another broad expanse of water, filled with rocky islands, at the head of which stood the city of Christiania.  Some of the islets were pretty and picturesque, in some instances having a single cottage upon them, with a little garden.  The rocks were often of curious formation, and the shore of one island was as regular and smooth as though it had been a piece of masonry.  After rounding a point of rocks, the fleet came into full view of Christiania.  The city and its environs are spread out on the southern slope of a series of hills, and presents a beautiful landscape to the eye.  On the left the country was covered with villas, prominent among which was Oscarshal, a summer palace of the late king.  On the right was the castle of Agershuus, rising abruptly from the water.  At a little distance from the town was a kind of hotel, built on a picturesque island, with its pretty landing-place, not unlike some similar establishments near the head of Narragansett Bay.  At the wharf in front of the city, and lying in the bay, was a considerable number of steamers, some of them quite large.  The fleet ran up to the front of the city and anchored.

“This is the end of my voyage,” said Clyde Blacklock, when everything had been put in order on board of the ship.

“You are not going yet ­are you?” laughed Scott.

“Very soon.”

“I thought you were going to stop, and whip Peaks and the two lieutenants.”

“Time enough for that.  I suppose the ship will stay here two or three days ­won’t she?”

“Perhaps a week.  I suppose we shall go on shore this afternoon, and see the sights.”

“I say, Scott, if you tell those officers what I’ve been saying to you, I’ll serve you in the same way,” added Clyde, as for the first time it occurred to him that he had been imprudent in developing his plans to another.

“No!  You won’t lick me, too ­will you?”

“Not if you behave like a man, and don’t peach,” answered Clyde, in a patronizing tone.

“I will try to be a good boy, then,” laughed Scott.

“I only want to catch them on shore, where I can have fair play.  I’m not to be fagged by any fellow that ever was born.”

Clyde walked uneasily about the deck till the crew were piped to dinner, evidently thinking how he should carry his big intentions into execution.  To one less moved by fancied insults and indignities the case would have looked hopeless.  He devoured his dinner in a much shorter period than is usually allotted by well-bred Englishmen to that pleasing diversion, and hastened on deck again.  Peaks was there, acting as ship-keeper, while the carpenter was painting the second cutter, the repairs upon which had been completed.  The big boatswain was seated on one of the cat-heads, where he could see the entire deck of the ship, and observe every craft that approached her.  The new student observed his position, and thought he was seated in a very careless manner.  A very wicked thought took possession of the Briton’s mind, and he ascended to the top-gallant forecastle.  The boatswain sat very composedly on the cat-head, with his feet hanging over the water, and was just then studying the beauties of the landscape.  A very slight exercise of force would displace him, and drop him into the water.

“Well, my hearty, you stowed your grub in a hurry,” said Peaks, when he discovered the new pupil.

“I was not very hungry, and thought I would take another look at the town,” replied Clyde.  “What’s that big building off there, near the hills?”

“That may be the county jail, the court-house, or the lunatic asylum.  I haven’t the least idea what it is,” answered Peaks, indifferently.  “The professors can tell you all about those things.”

“I wonder where that ship came from?” added Clyde, pointing to a vessel which was standing in ahead of the Young America.

“That isn’t a ship,” replied Peaks, as he turned partly round, so that he could see the craft.  “That’s a ’mofferdite brig; or, as bookish people would say, an hermaphrodite brig ­half brig and half schooner.  You must call things, especially vessels, by their right names, or you will fall in the opinion of ­”

At that instant the big boatswain dropped into the deep waters of the fjord.

“And you will fall, in my opinion,” said Clyde, as, taking advantage of his antagonist’s attention to the brig, he gave him a smart push, which displaced him from the cat-head.

But Peaks, who was half man and half fish, was as much at home in the water as on the deck, and struck out for the cable, by which the ship was anchored, as the nearest point of support.  Clyde walked along the rail till he came to the swinging-boom, where the boats which had been lowered for use after dinner were fastened.  Climbing out on the boom, he dropped down by the painter into the third cutter, one of the four-oar boats.  Bitts, the carpenter, who had been the only person on board except the boatswain, was in the waist busily at work upon the boat, and did not observe that anything unusual had transpired.  Clyde had practised gymnastics a great deal, and was an active, agile fellow.  Casting off the painter of the third cutter, he worked her astern, so as to avoid Peaks.  Then, shipping a pair of oars, he pulled for the shore.

In the mean time, the boatswain, disdaining to call for assistance, and not having observed the movements of Clyde, climbed up the cable to the hawse-hole, and then, by the bowsprit guys, made his way to the top-gallant forecastle, where he discovered the Briton in the cutter, pulling with all his might for the shore.  Shaking the water from his clothes, he hastened to the main cabin, and informed the principal that the new scholar had left the ship.

“Left the ship!” exclaimed Mr. Lowington.  “Were you not on deck while the students were at dinner?”

“Yes, sir, most of the time; but just at the moment when the young sculpin left the ship, I happened to be in the water,” answered Peaks, shrugging his shoulders like a Frenchman, and glancing at his wet garments.

“How came you in the water?”

“The little Britisher pushed me overboard, when I was sitting on the cat-head.”

“I see,” added the principal.  “We must get him back before his mother arrives.”

By this time most of the students had come up from the steerage, and the order was given to pipe away the first cutter.  Peaks was directed to change his clothes, and go in her.  He was ready by the time the crew were in their seats, for, as he was not a fashionable man, his toilet was soon made.  The boats from the other vessels of the fleet, including those of the yachts, were already on their way to the town.  The first cutter pulled to the shore; but Clyde had already landed, and disappeared in the city.

As at Christiansand, Paul Kendall and lady decided to remain on shore during the stay of the fleet.  They had several pieces of baggage, and the custom-house officers on the wharf were obliged to examine them, after which they followed a porter to the Victoria Hotel, which was said to be the best in the place.  Peaks found a man who could speak English, and immediately applied himself to the business of finding the runaway.  Clyde had been seen going up one of the streets, but no one knew anything about him.

The fugitive felt that he had achieved a victory.  He had “paid off” the big boatswain, and no fellow on board of the ship could believe that he had not kept his word.  He walked up the street till he came to Dronningensgaden.  People looked at him as though he were a stranger, and he became aware that his uniform was exciting attention.  In the Kirkegade he found a clothing store, in which the shop-keeper spoke English.  In changing his dress on board of the ship, he had retained the contents of his pockets, including a well-filled purse.  He selected a suit of clothes which pleased him, and immediately put it on.  At another store he bought a hat, and then he appeared like a new being.  With the bundle containing his uniform, he walked till he found a carriage, in which he seated himself, and ordered the driver to leave him at the Victoria Hotel.  He thought it would only be necessary for him to keep out of sight till evening, when his mother would probably arrive in the Foldin, and he was confident he could induce her to withdraw him from the Academy.  He would stay in his room the rest of the day, and by that time the search for him, if any was made, would be ended.

“I want a nice room for myself, another for my mother and sister, who will arrive this evening, and a place for the man,” said Clyde, as the porter of the hotel touched his cap, and helped him out of the carriage.

The young man was evidently a person of some importance.  The porter, the clerk, and the head waiter, who came out to receive him, bowed low.  A man took his bundle, and he was ushered to a room on the ground floor.  As he crossed the court, he discovered several of the Orlando’s passengers in the reading-room.  He had not entered his chamber before there was another arrival, ­Paul Kendall and lady, ­who were assigned to the next room.