Read CHAPTER X - GOTTENBURG AND FINKEL of Up The Baltic Young America in Norway‚ Sweden‚ and Denmark , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on ReadCentral.com.

On Saturday night, as Clyde had anticipated, his mother arrived at Christiania; and the people at the Victoria informed her of the disappearance of her son.  The next morning she hastened on board of the ship, and heard the principal’s story.  Mrs. Blacklock wept bitterly, and was fearful that her darling boy was forever lost; but Mr. Lowington assured her that no serious harm could befall him.  He spoke very plainly to her in regard to Clyde’s character and his ungovernable passions, assuring her that he must certainly come to an evil end within a few years, if he was not restrained and controlled.  The poor mother felt the truth of all he said, and was willing that he should continue the beneficent work upon which he had commenced.  She spent the forenoon on board, and was introduced to Kendall and Shuffles and their ladies.  The principal illustrated what he had said about Clyde by relating the history of the present captain and owner of the Feodora, and Mrs. Blacklock went away even hopeful that her boy might yet be saved to her.

On Monday, the first secular day of the month, the new list of officers was announced in each vessel of the squadron.  The changes on board of the ship were not very violent, though the third lieutenant became captain, while Cumberland became the commodore.

“I congratulate you, Captain Lincoln,” said Dr. Winstock to the new commander, when he appeared in the uniform of his new rank.

“Thank you, sir,” replied Lincoln.

“I have been satisfied for some time that you would attain this position.”

“I am only sorry to be promoted over Judson and Norwood, for they have always been good friends of mine.”

“If they are good and true friends they will rejoice at your success, though it places you over them.  You have worked very hard, and you are fully entitled to your rank.”

“Thank you, sir.  I have tried to do my duty,” replied Lincoln, modestly.

“When I see a young gentleman use the library as freely as you do, I am always tolerably confident that he will attain a high rank.  We go on shore this forenoon, I believe.”

“I heard we were to make an excursion to-day, and another to-morrow.”

“You will see something of the interior of Norway, after all, though it is not quite possible to transport two hundred boys over a country where the facilities for travel are so meagre,” added the surgeon.

“For my part, I should like to walk, even a hundred miles.”

“That is not practicable.  How could such a crowd be lodged and fed, in some of the small villages where you would be compelled to pass the night?”

“I suppose it would not be possible, and I shall be satisfied with whatever the principal thinks best,” replied the captain.

The students were called to muster, and Mr. Lowington explained that he proposed to spend the day, in picnic style, at Frogner Saeter, and that the party would walk.  The boats were then prepared, and the crews of the several vessels went on shore.  Captains Kendall and Shuffles procured carriages, for the ladies were not able to walk so far.  Passing out of the more densely settled portions of the city, the excursionists came to a delightful region, abounding in pleasant residences, some of which were grand and lofty.  For a time the landscape was covered with small cottages, painted white or yellow; but as they proceeded they came to a country very sparsely settled, and very similar to that of New England.  The road lay through woods of pine and fir, and had been constructed by Mr. Heftye, a public-spirited citizen, who owned a large estate at the summit of the hill.

“This looks just like Maine,” said Captain Lincoln, who walked at the side of Dr. Winstock.

“Exactly like it.  There is a house, however, which is hardly so good as those you see in Maine,” replied the doctor.

“It isn’t any better than a shanty, and the barn is as good as the house.  I wonder what that is for;” and Lincoln pointed to a bunch of straw, on the top of a pole, at the entrance of the barn.  “I have seen two or three of those here, and near Christiansand.”

“It was grain placed there for the birds during the winter.”

“That’s very kind of the people, I must say.”

“They are very kind to all their animals.”

Near the summit of the hill, the party came to the summer-house of Mr. Heftye, a very neat structure of wood, with a piazza, from which is obtained a beautiful view of the surrounding country.  Another half hour brought them to the top of the hill, where the proprietor had erected a wooden tower, or observatory.  It was some sixty or seventy feet high, and was stayed with rope guys, extending to the trees on four sides, to prevent it from being blown over.  Only twenty of the boys were permitted to go up at one time, for the wind was tolerably fresh, and the structure swayed to and fro like the mast of a ship in a sea.  From the top, mountains fifty miles distant could be seen.  Christiania Fjord lay like a panorama in the distance, stretching as far as the eye could reach.  To the west the country looked wild and desolate, and was covered with wood-crowned mountains, though none of any considerable height could be seen.  It was a magnificent view, and some of the most enthusiastic of the students declared that it was worth a voyage to Norway; but boys are proverbially extravagant.

A couple of hours were spent on the hill, the lunch was eaten, and the boys declared that they were well rested.  The return walk was not so pleasant, for the novelties of the region had been exhausted.  The road passed through private property, where there were at least a dozen gates across it in different places; and as the party approached, a woman, a boy, or a girl appeared, to open them.  Kendall or Shuffles rewarded each of them with a few skillings for the service.  When their two and four skilling pieces were exhausted, they were obliged to use larger coins, rather than be mean; but it was observed that the Norwegians themselves, though able to ride in a carriage, never gave anything.  It was amusing to see the astonishment of the boys and girls when they received an eight skilling piece, and the haste with which they ran to their parents to exhibit the prize.

The party reached the vessels at five o’clock, and after supper the boats were again in demand for a visit to Oscarshal, the white summer palace, which could be seen from the ship.  Mr. Bennett had provided the necessary tickets, and made the arrangements for the excursion.  It is certainly a very pretty place, but there are a hundred country residences in the vicinity of New York, Boston, or any other large city of the United States, which excel it in beauty and elegance, as well as in the expense lavished upon them.  Before returning to the anchorage, the boat squadron pulled about for a couple of hours among the beautiful islands, and when the students returned to the fleet, they felt that they had about exhausted Christiania and its environs.

The next day they went by the railroad train to Eidsvold, and there embarked in the steamer Kong Oscar for a voyage of sixty-five miles up the Mjosen Lake to Lillehammer, where they arrived at half past five in the afternoon.  The scenery of the lake is pleasant, but not grand, the slope of the hills being covered with farms.  Near the upper end, the hills are higher, and the aspect is more picturesque.  Some of the western boys thought it looked like the shores of the Ohio River, others compared it with the Delaware, and a New Hampshire youth considered it more like Lake Winnipiseogee.

Lillehammer is a small town of seventeen hundred inhabitants.  M. Hammer’s and Madame Ormsrud’s hotel were not large enough to accommodate the party, and they began to experience some of the difficulties of travelling in such large numbers; but Mr. Bennett had done his work well, and sleeping-rooms were provided in other houses for the rest.  The tourists rambled all over the town and its vicinity, looked into the saw-mills, visited the farms, and compared the agriculture with that of their own country; and it must be added that Norway suffered very much in the comparison, for the people are slow to adopt innovations upon the methods of their fathers.

Early in the morning ­for steamers in Norway and Sweden have a villanous practice of starting at unseemly hours ­the students embarked for Eidsvold, and were on board the vessels long before the late sunset.  On the quarter, waiting for the principal, was Clyde’s courier, who had arrived that morning, after the departure of the excursionists.  He evidently had not hurried his journey, though he had been told to do so.  He delivered Sanford’s brief note, which was written in pencil, and Mr. Lowington read it.  The absentees were safe and well, and would arrive by Thursday.  He was glad to hear of their safety, but as the squadron was now ready to sail, he regretted the delay.

“Where did you leave the boys?” asked the principal of the courier.

“At Apalstoe,” replied the guide, whose name was Poulsen.

“Do you belong there?”

“No, sir; I live in Christiania.  I went down there with a young gentleman last Saturday.”

“Who was he?”

“Mr. Blacklock, sir; a young English gentleman.”

“Ah! did you?  And where is Mr. Blacklock now?”

“I left him at Apalstoe with a party of young gentlemen who were dressed like the people here; and he sent me back with this letter,” replied Poulsen, who proceeded to explain that Clyde had engaged him as courier for Christiansand, but had changed his mind when he met the party belonging to the ship, and had concluded to return to Christiania with them.

This was precisely what he had been told to say by the young Briton, and probably he believed that it was a correct statement.  The principal saw no reason to doubt the truth of it, for Clyde must be satisfied that his mother was in Christiania by this time, and would naturally wish to join her.  Anxious to console Mrs. Blacklock, Mr. Lowington called for a boat, and hastened on shore to see her.  He found her, her daughter, and Paul Kendall and lady, in the reading-room at the Victoria ­a unique apartment, with a fountain in the centre, a glass gallery over the court-yard, and lighted with many-colored lamps.  The principal communicated the intelligence he had received of her son to Mrs. Blacklock, whose face lighted up at the news.

“Then you have heard from the absentees, Mr. Lowington,” said Paul Kendall.

“Yes; they are on their way to Christiania, and Sanford says they will arrive to-morrow, at farthest; but they may be delayed,” replied the principal.

“No one need worry about them if they are safe and well,” added Paul, glancing at Clyde’s mother.

“They are safe and well, but I intended to sail for Gottenburg to-morrow morning.  I have almost concluded to do so, and leave some one to accompany the boys to Gottenburg in the steamer.  I do not like to delay the whole fleet for them.”

“It would take a long time to beat out of the fjord against a head wind,” added Paul.

“If the wind is fair to-morrow morning, I shall sail, whether they arrive or not.”

“A steamer leaves for Gottenburg on Saturday morning, and she may arrive as soon as your ship,” added Paul.

“Very true.  I think I will leave Peaks to look out for the absentees.  Are you sure the steamer goes on Saturday?”

“Yes, sir; here is the time table,” replied Paul, producing a paper he had obtained at Mr. Bennett’s.  “Dampskibet Kronprindsesse Louise.”

“That’s Norwegian, Paul.  Can you read it?” laughed Mr. Lowington.

“A little.  ‘Hver Loeverday;’ that means on Saturday; ‘at 6 fm.,’ which is early in the morning.  She arrives at Gottenburg about midnight.”

“That will answer our purpose very well.  We shall get under way early in the morning, Paul.”

“Then I will go on board of the yacht to-night, sir; but you need not wait for me, for I think I can catch you if you should get two or three hours the start of me.  I haven’t used my balloon jib yet, and am rather anxious to do so.”

“I shall not wait for you, then, Paul.”

After a long conversation with Mrs. Blacklock, in which he assured her again that nothing but firmness on her part could save her son from ruin, the principal left the hotel, and returned to the ship.  In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Kendall went on board of the Grace.  On the following morning, the wind being a little north of west, the signal for sailing was displayed on board of the Young America, and at six o’clock the fleet were under way.  The weather was beautiful, and the fresh breeze enabled all the vessels to log eight knots an hour, which brought them fairly into the Skager Rack early in the afternoon.

“I suppose we are off the coast of Sweden now,” said Norwood, as he glanced at the distant hills on the left.

“The pilot said Frederikshald was in this direction,” replied Captain Lincoln, pointing to the shore.  “It is at the head of a small fjord, and is near the line between Norway and Sweden.”

“Charles XII. was killed there ­wasn’t he?”

“That’s the place.  The fortress of Frederiksteen is there, on a perpendicular rock four hundred feet high.”

“I wish we went nearer to the Swedish coast,” added Norwood.

“We shall see enough of it before we leave the Baltic,” said Lincoln.

“Probably we shall not care to see it after we have been looking at it a week.”

“According to the chart, this part of the coast is fringed with islands, but they don’t look so bare and desolate as those of Norway.  I had an idea that everything on this side of the ocean was entirely different from what we see on our side,” added the captain.

“That was just my idea.”

“But it isn’t so.  It is almost the same thing here as the coast of Maine.  The shore here is hilly, and through the glass it looks as though it was covered with pine forests.”

“I expect to see something different before we return.”

“Not in the Baltic; for I fancy most of the southern coast looks like that of our Middle and Southern States.”

“Up here, even the houses look just as they do at home.”

“I don’t believe we shall find it so in Denmark.”

As there was little to be seen, the regular routine of the squadron was followed, and those who were in the steerage, attending to their recitations, did not feel that they were losing anything.  Later in the day, the wind was light, and the vessels made very little progress, though the course brought them nearer to the coast, where on the port bow appeared a high promontory, extending far out into the sea.  The wind died out entirely just before sunset, and the sails hung motionless from the spars; for there was no swell to make them thrash about, as at sea.  It was utter silence, and it was hard to believe that very ugly storms often made sad havoc in this channel.

When the sun rose the next morning it brought with it a light breeze from the west, and the fleet again skimmed merrily along over the water.  Its course was near the town of Marstrand, a noted Swedish watering-place, situated on an island.  Soon after, pilots were taken, and the vessels stood into the harbor of Gottenburg, which is formed by the mouth of Goeta River.  Along the sides of the channel were posts set in the water, for the convenience of vessels hauling in or out of the harbor.  The fleet came to anchor in a convenient part of the port, and those on board proceeded to take a leisurely survey of the city.  The portion of the town nearest to them was built on low, flat land, and they could see the entrances of various canals.  Farther back was a series of rugged hills, which were covered with pleasant residences and beautiful gardens.  After dinner the students were mustered on deck, to listen to a few particulars in regard to the city, though it was understood that the general lecture on Sweden would be reserved until the arrival of the squadron at Stockholm.

“What city is this?” asked Mr. Mapps.

“Gottenburg,” replied a hundred of the students.

“That is plain English.  What do the Swedes call it?”

“G-oe-t-e-b-o-r-g,” answered Captain Lincoln, spelling the word.

“Perhaps I had better call on Professor Badois to pronounce it for you.”

“Y[=a]t-a-borg,” said the instructor in languages, repeating the pronunciation several times, which, however, cannot be very accurately expressed with English characters.  “And the river here is Ya-tah.”

“The French call the city Gothembourg.  It is five miles from the sea, and is connected with Stockholm by the Goeta Canal, which is a wonderful piece of engineering.  Steamboats ply regularly between Gottenburg and the capital through this canal, the voyage occupying three or four days.”

“I intend to make a trip up this canal as far as the Wenern Lake, with the students,” said Mr. Lowington.

A cheer greeted this announcement, and then the professor described the canal minutely.

“The principal street of Gottenburg,” he continued, “is on the canal, extending through the centre of the city.  There are no remarkable buildings, however, for the city is a commercial place.  It was founded by Gustavus Adolphus, and, like many other cities of the north, being built of wood, it has several times been nearly destroyed by fire.  The buildings now are mostly of stone, or of brick covered with plaster.  The environs of the city, as you may see from the ship, are very pleasant.  Now a word about the money of Sweden.  The government has adopted a decimal system, of which the unit is the riksdaler, containing one hundred oere.  The currency in circulation is almost entirely paper, though no bills smaller than one riksdaler are issued.  The silver coins in use are the half and the quarter riksdaler, and the ten-oere piece; the latter being a very small coin.  On the coppers, the value in oere is marked.  A riksdaler is worth about twenty-seven cents of our money.  Sweden is a cheap country.”

The signal was made for embarking in the boats, and in a few moments the Gottenburgers, as well as the people on board of the foreign vessels in the harbor, were astonished by the evolutions of the squadron.  The students landed, and dividing into parties, explored the city.  Their first care was to examine the canal, and the various craft that floated upon it; but the latter, consisting mainly of schooners, were not different from those they saw at home.  They visited the exchange, the cathedral, the residence of the governor of the province, and other principal edifices.

“How do you feel, Scott?” asked Laybold, after they had walked till they were tired out, and it was nearly time to go to the landing-place.

“Tired and hungry,” replied the wag.  “I wonder if these Swedishers have anything to eat.”

“Probably they do; here’s a place which looks like a restaurant.”

“I feel as though I hadn’t tasted food for four months.  Let’s go in.”

They entered the store, which was near the Bourse.  A neatly-dressed waiter bowed to them, and Scott intimated that they wanted a lunch.  The man who understood English, conducted them to a table, on which a variety of eatables was displayed, some of which had a familiar look, and others were utterly new and strange.  The waiter filled a couple of wine-glasses from a decanter containing a light-colored fluid, and placed them before the boys.

“What’s that?” asked Scott, glancing suspiciously at the wine-glass.

Finkel,” replied the man.

“Exactly so; that’s what I thought it was,” replied Scott, who had never heard of the stuff before.  “Is it strong?”

“No,” answered the waiter, shaking his head with a laugh.  “Everybody drinks it in Sweden.”

“Then we must, Laybold, for we are somebody.”

Scott raised the glass.  The fluid had the odor of anise-seed, and was not at all disagreeable.  The taste, too, was rather pleasant at first, and Scott drank it off.  Laybold followed his example.  We must do them the justice to say that neither of them knew what “finkel” was.  Something like strangulation followed the swallowing of the fluid.

“That’s not bad,” said Scott, trying to make the best of it.

“No, not bad, Scott; but what are you crying about?” replied the other, when he recovered the use of his tongue.

“I happened to think of an old aunt of mine, who died and left me all her money,” added Scott, wiping his eyes.  “But you needn’t cry; she didn’t leave any of the money to you.”

“What are you going to eat?”

“I generally eat victuals,” replied Scott, picking up a slice of bread on which was laid a very thin slice of smoked salmon.  “That’s not bad.”

The waiter passed to Laybold a small plate of sandwiches, filled with a kind of fish-spawn, black and shining.  The student took a huge bite of one of them, but a moment elapsed before he realized the taste of the interior of the sandwich; then, with the ugliest face a boy could assume, he rushed to the door, and violently ejected the contents of his mouth into the street.

“What’s the matter?” demanded the waiter, struggling to keep from laughing.

“What abominably nasty stuff!” exclaimed Laybold.  “It’s just like fish slime.”

“Don’t you like it, Laybold?” asked Scott, coolly.

“Like it?  I don’t like it.”

“Everybody in Sweden eats it,” said the waiter.

“What’s the matter with it?  Is it like defunct cat?” asked Scott.

“More like defunct fish.  Try it.”

“I will, my lad,” added Scott, taking a liberal bite of one of the sandwiches.

“How is it?” inquired Laybold.

“First rate; that’s the diet for me.”

“Very good,” said the waiter.

“You don’t mean to say you like that stuff, Scott.”

“The proof of the pudding is the eating of the bag.  I do like it, even better than ‘finkel.’”

“I don’t believe it.  No one with a Christian stomach could eat such stuff.”

“You judge by your own experience.  I say it is good.  Yours isn’t a Christian stomach, and that’s the reason you don’t like it.”

“You are a heathen, Scott.”

“Heathen enough to know what’s good.”

“Some more finkel, sir?” suggested the waiter.

“No more finkel for me,” replied Scott, whose head was beginning to whirl like a top.

“Better take some more,” laughed Laybold, who was in the same condition.

“I can’t stop to take any more; I’m hungry,” replied Scott, who continued to devour the various viands on the table, till his companion’s patience was exhausted.

“Come, Scott, we shall be late at the landing.”

“We won’t go home till morning,” chanted the boozy student.

“I will go now;” and Laybold stood up, and tried to walk to the door ­a feat which he accomplished with no little difficulty.

“Don’t be in a hurry, my boy.  Come and take some finkel.”

“I don’t want any finkel.”

“Then come and pay the bill.  I shall clean out this concern if I stay any longer.”

“How much, waiter?” stammered Laybold.

“One riksdaler.”

“Cheap enough.  I should have been broken if they charged by the pound for what I ate.”

“That’s so,” added Laybold, as he gave the waiter an English sovereign, and received his change in paper.

“Now, my boy, we’ll go to sea again,” said Scott, as he staggered towards the door.  “See here, Laybold.”

“Well, what do you want?” snarled the latter.

“I’ll tell you something, if you won’t say anything about it to any one.”

“I won’t.”

“Don’t tell the principal.”

“No.”

“Well, then, we’re drunk,” added Scott, with a tipsy grin.

“You are.”

“I am, my boy; I don’t know a bob-stay from a bowling hitch.  And you are as drunk as I am, Laybold.”

“I know what I am about.”

“So do I know what you are about.  You are making a fool of yourself.  Hold on a minute,” added Scott, as he seated himself on a bench before a shop.

“Come along, Scott.”

“Not for Joseph.”

“We shall be left.”

“That’s just what I want.  I’m not going to present myself before the principal in this condition ­not if I know it.”

Laybold, finding that it was not convenient to stand, seated himself by the side of his companion.  Presently they discovered a party of officers on their way to the boats, and they staggered into a lane to escape observation.  The two students, utterly vanquished by “finkel,” did not appear at the landing, and the boats left without them.