Read CHAPTER X of A Yacht Voyage to Norway‚ Denmark‚ and Sweden 2nd edition , free online book, by W. A. Ross, on ReadCentral.com.

Rand Phad expressed a wish to visit the Falls of Trolhaettan, and, the Iris had scarcely touched the quay, before they started in search of a carriage to convey them to the Falls. As I knew we should sail for Christiania early on Tuesday morning, I was desirous of seeing Gottenborg, and preferred remaining where I was, and allowing Rand Pto go to Trolhaettan without me; and I was more determined when I heard they had arranged to begin their journey at five o’clock the following morning, Saturday. I learned nothing more about the matter until three o’clock in the morning, when, by the counterpane, blankets, and sheets being pulled off my bed, I was awakened from a sound sleep, and recovered my senses in time to hear Rand Plaughing, and scrambling up the companion-stairs.

I passed the day on board, stretched at full length on the sofa, and reading; nor was it possible to employ the body more industriously, the thermometer not being much below 90. The cool evening, the bright moon, and the Casino induced me to forego all solitary confinement, and to wander in the direction of the town.

By dint of many and frequent inquiries I arrived at the Casino. This Casino resembled not the one I had visited at Copenhagen, but bore more affinity to the tea gardens of England.

There was a cottage in the centre of a flower garden, and at one extremity of another garden a building, imitative of an Indian pagoda, stood, appropriated to a fine band breathing, throughout the evening, all the pathos and melody of Italian music. The cottage itself was set apart for refreshment, and one might descend to a cup of coffee, or mount to the limitless command of a dinner. I had dined very early, and, feeling the effects of good digestion, desired to dine again. The persons who attended the guests were Swedish girls, as notorious for their inability to speak English, or any other language but their own, as they are conspicuous for their personal attractions. Beckoning one Hebe, whom I had selected, to come to me, I endeavoured, by every method I could devise, to inform her how hungry I was, and how I should like to have some food more edible than muffin. She bowed her pretty head in token of her entire perception of my wishes, and, leaving the room with the agility of a fawn, returned in a short time, laden with a tray, from the level surface of which rose a tall coffee-pot that continued to taper till it kissed with its old fashioned lid her jet black ringlets.

Alarmed to mark at what a fearful distance I stood from my dinner, I looked wistfully round the room for some face on which I could read an example or two of the English grammar; but in vain. The poor girl observed that she had not anticipated my desire as well as she might have, and said something to me in a tone of regret, to which I could only make reply by a partial negative and affirmative shake of my head, and committing it to the peculiar sagacity of her sex to understand what I wanted. A little, stout man, something like a runt, saw the position to which I was reduced, and, coming up to me, said in broken English,

“What you want, Sir? can I do you help?”

“Thank you,” I replied; “I want some dinner; but I cannot make this girl understand me.”

“I not English,” answered the man, “and I not speak te Swedish. I am Russian. I alway make sign for tings I wish.”

“And so do I,” I said; “but in this case I am quite at a loss what to do.”

“You want dinner, Sir? When I want dinner,” replied the Russian, “I alway say, ‘food,’ vitch is, ‘foeda,’ and put my finger down my moût; and if tey not know what I mean by ‘foeda,’ I say, ‘koett,’ vitch is meat.”

“That’s a capital plan; but, you see, I could not adopt it, for I never heard of ‘Foeda’ and ‘Koett’ before.”

“Ha! Sir,” exclaimed the Russian, “I alway find out te word for ‘eat’ in every country. I travel much. I starve if I not know. What shall I help for you?”

“Why I will have some dinner,” I said; “anything I can get I don’t care what it may be.”

“Good,” answered the Russian; and, turning to the girl, who had remained listening to our dialogue, but totally at a loss to imagine its drift,

“Koett! koett!” he exclaimed.

“Visserligen,” said the girl, and walked away with her tall coffee-pot and tray; but, stopping when she had reached the door, she looked back as if some other idea, which she had altogether forgotten, suddenly presented itself to her mind, and she asked,

“Farkoett?”

The little Russian understood her directly, and told me she desired to know if I would have some ‘farkoett,’ mutton. I undertook the task of answering for myself, and exclaimed aloud, with striking brevity,

“Ja.”

My pretty Hebe laughed outright, and left the apartment to seek the mutton.

In ten minutes she reappeared smiling; and brought me not only what I asked for, but three or four potatoes in the bargain. I pointed to them. Nodding her head, as if she understood I meant to say “How kind of you to bring those too,” she said,

“Goot.”

“Ja; manga goot,” I answered in a dialect of my own. She hurried away laughing heartily; but did not forget to glance at me over her shoulder as she passed out of the room.

Crossing, on my way home, a bridge which is thrown over one of the many canals that intersect Gottenborg in all quarters, I stumbled against an old watchman. In one hand he held the formidable “Morning Star,” or truncheon, and in the other hand an implement of chastisement, of which I could make out no decisive classification, at least, so I fancied; and, led away by that fancy, I drew near to the unsleeping Swede. I requested him, as courteously and distinctly as I possibly could in tattered English and with original signs, that he would permit me to take a bird’s-eye view of the instrument. It was a stick four or five yards in length, to the end of which two pieces of iron were attached in the shape of a heart. The implement may be drawn thus:

Suppose Charley finds cause that a thief, who may be rather swifter of foot than himself, should be taken into custody: he proceeds after the following fashion. The instrument is seized hold of in the right hand, or both hands, firmly, at the end A, and, giving the stick the full benefit of his arm’s length, the watchman runs along in the purloiner’s wake. Having approached sufficiently near to guarantee a certainty of success, he thrusts the ingenious instrument either at the calves, or neck of the flying thief; and the point B coming in contact with the calf, or the nape of the neck, opens, and admits the leg, or head into the centre C, and the sides D and E, being elastic, instantly close again, the centre C being adapted to fit a man’s neck, or leg, and no more. The most careless reader may easily perceive the relative positions of the guardian and the breaker of the Law, when the former is at the extremity A, the latter in the centre C, and the advantage one has obtained, without risk of injury to himself, of throwing the other to the ground, should he prove restive. The watchman was as much amused by observing me, as I was by scrutinizing his wand of office.

On Monday morning I was present at a review of the Horse Artillery. The men went through their various evolutions, loading and discharging their guns without ball or powder, by applying a walking-cane, in lieu of a fusee, to the touch-hole, and, then, shouting aloud to imitate the report of cannon.

At the upper part of the town of Gottenborg is a road, curving like a crescent, sheltered on each side by trees, growing at equal distances from one another, under the shade of which are benches where the traveller may rest when tired, and enjoy the cool air, perfumed, as it sometimes is, with the pleasant odour of flowers abounding in the nursery gardens on either side of the road.

The noon of day had come with intense sultriness, and, feeling fatigued, I walked towards this shady grove, with the intention of passing an hour there, in the full enjoyment of my own thoughts, or in listening to any zephyr which might be sighing among the young leaves of the elm and cherry. Between the trunks of the trees I saw the stooping figure of a man creeping slowly, by the aid of a stick, under the thickly leaved boughs. He was dressed much after the manner of some of our English farmers, with knee breeches, white stockings, and shoes fastened over the instep with a large silver buckle. A short drab coat, and a scarlet felt hat, something like a cardinal’s, with large flaps, completed his costume. After a while the man crawled, rather than walked, towards one of the benches, and sat down.

He was apparently seventy, or eighty years of age. His long, silvered hair strayed down over the collar of his coat; and the soft languor of his light blue eye imparted a sad impression to his countenance, which, when he was young, must have been eminently handsome. He smiled as I approached, and seemed desirous that I should take a seat by his side, for he moved nearer to the end of the bench to make more room. The day being hot, as I have said, I received the hint, hoping by doing so to find entertainment, at least, and, perhaps, information. Soon as I had taken my seat the old man touched his hat, and bowed low as his infirmities would permit, and,

“Hur mar Herren?” he said. Knowing sufficient of the Swedish language to understand that he asked me how I was, I answered in the same tongue, and, in compliment to himself,

“Bra, Gud ske laf;” which four words I intended should intimate my gratitude to Heaven that I was well. The old man appeared pleased, that I should make reply to him in Swedish, and no doubt deemed me no deficient linguist; for, observing my eyes were wandering over the beautiful landscape, undulating with corn-fields, and terminating by gentle hills clothed with the beech and elm, he ventured to say,

“Det aer ett vackert land.”

I knew he alluded to the pretty appearance of the country; but I was anxious to inform him that I did not understand the Swedish language sufficiently well to carry on a conversation, and, at the same time, to fall as decently as possible from the height on which I had placed myself by the grammatical answer I had previously given, and which I had accidentally learned by listening to the salutations and ordinary replies of our pilots. I therefore curtly said,

“Ja.”

A light seemed to stream across the old man’s expressive features, and he asked, leaning forward to catch my words, whence I had come;

“Hvarifran kommer Ni?”

“Jag kommer fran England,” I answered.

The old man rose from his seat, and said, in tolerable English, that he was glad to see me, (at which I was also delighted) and then begged, like all the inhabitants of Northern Europe, that I would shake hands with him. I did so, and taking my hand in his, he clapsed it firmer than I imagined he could, and looked into my face.

“You are not French?” he observed inquiringly.

“I am not.”

“Then I am glad,” and he pressed my hand again; then letting it drop, continued:

“I speak English, sir, but badly; and, yet, I always address an Englishman, and read an English book when I can get it, and, this one, in particular;” holding up to my view an old black book I had not observed.

“May I see it?” I said, and, taking the volume from his hand, a Bible fell open at the 8th chapter of Solomon’s song. These two verses were marked by a line being drawn down the margin.

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for Love is strong as death; Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench Love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for Love, it would utterly be contemned.”

“You read, sir?” he said interrogatively; and, putting on his spectacles, glanced over my shoulder.

“Ah! sir, fifty-eight years ago, I was young like you, and it was then I noted those two verses. You are young,” he continued, “and perhaps have loved.”

“No,” I replied; “Heaven has not given me the opportunity of participating in one of its most essential blessings.”

“Then, sir, Heaven has blessed you,” he said. “I am old, you see; but I am alone in the world. Love has made me solitary.” He sighed.

The old man seemed overcome with grief, and, desirous though I now was to hear his story, I dreaded to renew a sorrow, the intensity of which Time had not lessened. He drew forth in silence from his bosom, a miniature, suspended from his neck by a black ribbon, and with shaking hands he touched a spring, and held it unclapsed before me. It was the likeness of a girl about seventeen years of age. A loose robe partially covered her shoulders, and, the elbows resting on a kind of slab, her right cheek was cradled on the back of the left hand, the fingers of which touched her throat; and she looked, with laughing, light blue eyes, over her left shoulder. Her hair, parted slightly on one side, clustered in ringlets above a full, fair forehead; while a melancholy expression about her small, compressed mouth seemed to counteract the joyousness of the upper part of her countenance. The resemblance to the old man was striking.

“Sixty years ago, sir, I first saw that face, and it is as fresh in my memory as if I had only seen it yesterday. It was a face once to look on, to dream of for ever.”

“It is very beautiful,” I said, still gazing on the picture. “Was she your daughter?”

“Oh! no, sir, no. Would to God she had been!” the old man mournfully replied. “When, sir, I first saw that fair young creature, I was eighteen years of age, and she might have been seventeen. Endeavouring in vain to suppress the emotions which her beauty and amiable temper caused in my heart, I ventured one day to tell the father of Thora Rensel, for that was her name, the love I bore his daughter. Eric Rensel listened; and, when I had told my tale in words as fervent as my feelings, he replied, ’Engelbert Carlson, my daughter’s hand is uncontrolled as her heart; win the girl’s affections, and I will not stand in the way of your union.’ I thanked Rensel with a grateful heart, and went forth to seek Thora.

“Do you see yonder hill?” said my narrator, pointing in the direction of a hill skirting some corn-fields before us; “there, close to that clump of elm-trees, stood Eric Rensel’s cottage. Descending that hill, I met Thora, returning homewards, laden with a little basket full of fruit and flowers. She smiled when she observed me, and held out her hand, as she always did, in token of friendship. I hastened towards her, and, seizing the offered hand, pressed it warmly, and would have raised it to my lips, but I had not the courage.

“‘Are you not well, Engelbert?’” she said, in a gentle tone, “’for your hand trembles;’” and she took hold of my hand with both of hers, and looked round inquiringly into my averted face.

“‘Yes, Thora,’” I replied; “’I am ill at heart, and I can find relief nowhere else but when I am near to you. I have endeavoured for the many months since I have known you, to hide my grief, or forget my pain; but the more I have exerted myself to do so, the keener felt my sorrow, and deeper still I probed the wound.’

“’Alas! and why should grief, or pain be yours, Engelbert, when virtue has been attendant on you always.’”

“’Sit down here, on this stone, and listen for a little while to me, dear Thora.’”

“I led her to a large stone by the roadside, which is there to this hour, and we both sat down together. The day, sir, was bright as this; and the corn waved, as it does now, to each breath of wind, and over our heads, among the trees, the birds were warbling. Ah! even now, at this distance of time in my old age the tear comes to my eye, and my heart heaves and swells to the memory of that happy, happy day.

“‘Hitherto, to me, dear Thora,’ I said, “’life has brought no changes of excessive pain, or pleasure; for at an early period I lost both my parents, and, being then but young, I never knew the sweet joys of home. Forced to struggle with men for independence, and, tossed about whichever way the waves of fortune pleased, my heart soon became indifferent to every gentle feeling; and, in my isolation, I never thought to seek for sympathy, but desired, by my industry, to live in competency, and, at the last, to leave the world as I had been sent into it, alone.’”

“The tears began to flow down Thora’s face, and, nestling closer to me, she placed her hand on my arm, and murmured,

“‘Dear Engelbert!’”

“’One evening, my own Thora, relieved from daily toil, I was sitting, as now, under that beech-tree, enjoying the cool evening air, heeding and listening to the sweet sights and sounds of life, and musing with softened spirit on all that had occurred to me since my dear parents’ deaths, when I heard the gentle footstep of some one behind me. I turned, and, by the light of the full moon, saw a female figure approaching the spot where I was. With beating pulse I kept my eyes fixed on the form; but I soon gazed with delight on what my fluttering heart then almost bade me shun, and now droops with desire to take as its own. It was you.’”

“She replied not; and her head gradually turned from me. I raised the hand I still held, and, in a moment of passionate feeling, pressed it to my lips, and kissed it ardently. She immediately withdrew her hand, but seemed not altogether offended; for a smile but oh! how sad and prophetic of what was to occur passed over her beautiful face.

“‘Dear Thora!’” I exclaimed, “’do not torture me. Pardon me, if, in giving expression to the sweet but painful feelings which obscure my brow with sorrow, I offend you; but I love you, dear Thora; and, the first moment I saw you, I felt you were the only created thing which could revive my torpid soul; and, you, I could have fallen down and worshipped.’”

“‘Do not, do not speak so, Englebert,’” she said; and, taking my hand in hers, folded it warmly to her heart. I thought, as she lifted her eyes fondly to my face, I observed a tear trickling down her cheek; and the quick movement of her heart, against which my hand was still clasped, told of all that was contending there.”

The old man ceased for a few minutes, and the tears began to course each other down his face. He then said:

“It may seem strange to you, sir, that one, so old as I am, can feel so deeply and so long; but, though of a quiet temperament, I was prone in my youth to be acutely sensible of pain or joy, however much I concealed my emotions. I remember, when I was a mere child, my mother’s chiding would grieve me for many days together, and I used to hear her wondering what the cause of my grief could be. She was wont then, sometimes, to call me sulky. How, sir, the characters of children are misunderstood, and how the heart, at that tender time, is trifled with, to bring remorse in after life; but, sir, to my story.

“In the summer of 1758 a French vessel arrived at Gottenborg, and on board were several young Frenchmen possessing many worldly advantages, and much personal grace. One, in particular, was remarkable for the liveliness of his disposition, and beauty of form. His name was Adolphe de Lacroix.

“By accident Adolphe saw Thora; and hers was a countenance which could not be looked on with apathy. De Lacroix saw and loved, or fancied that he loved. It would be useless, sir, to occupy your time, and increase my own pain, by relating with the garrulity of old age all that happened after the arrival of M. de Lacroix; but it is sufficient to tell you, that, he sought the affections of Thora, gained them, and married her.”

The speaker stopped in his narrative, and, taking from his pocket a small packet of three letters, selected one from it, and, with tears still rolling down his cheek, showed it to me.

“In this letter, Thora,” he said, “told me of her marriage. I read it then, but I have never read it since.”

Observing me cast a glance at the other two letters,

“And these two,” he continued, “brought the intelligence of my father’s and mother’s deaths. I keep them all together.”

When I had read, or attempted to read, Thora’s letter, which was written in the Swedish language, I returned it to the old man; and, folding it carefully with the other letters, he tied the little parcel with a piece of tape, and placed it in his bosom again.

“If, sir, my story is pleasing to you,” observed the old man, “I will go on with it; for though the repetition gives me pain, its acuteness is relieved when I murmur, as I do now, to some one who will listen kindly like you.”

“I am sorry,” I replied, “that you should feel so deeply in making me acquainted with the earlier period of your life; for I have attended with pleasure to your tale.”

The old man peered with a sorrowful expression in my face, and, brushing away a tear with his hand, continued:

“Two years had passed away since Thora had been wedded, and the time was Autumn. Almost on this very bench I rested, listening to the merriment of men and women who were gathering winter-apples in the orchard yonder. Divided between the study of this old Bible, and the recollection of the happy hopes which Thora had once raised in my heart, a sense of desolation crept so utterly over me, that I could read and think no longer, and, closing the book, I bowed my head, and burst, like a child, into tears. This attitude of excessive grief arrested the attention of two passengers, a lady and a gentleman, whom I had not seen, and who, moved by my youth, no doubt, and vehement sorrow, came near to where I sat weeping; and, placing her hand gently on my shoulder, a woman, in a soft and kind tone of voice, desired to know my grief. Though two years had sadly laid waste my heart, my memory had not forgotten the source of all its affliction; and the sweet, clear tones of the voice were so familiar to my ears, that I raised my head quickly. In an instant my tears ceased; through my whole frame, passed, like a cold wire, an aching chill, which, when it subsided, left me faint and weak, and I could hardly stand.

“It was Thora who had spoken to me. Standing, motionless, for a few minutes in front of M. de Lacroix, Thora buried her face in her hands, and then fell almost insensible into the arms of her husband. I did not like to offer my assistance in restoring her, and stood aloof, prepared to perform any office which her husband might think necessary. Thora soon recovered; and when her hand was lifted to arrange her disordered hair, I saw a little ring, still encircling her finger, which I had, in token of our mutual plight, given to her years before. My wounded heart at its sight began to bleed again; but Thora, expressing a wish to M. de Lacroix that she might return home, bowed to me with a forced smile and swimming eyes, and I was spared the humility of showing how incompetent I was to conceal my tears. As Thora walked away from me, I could not help casting a lingering look towards a form that I once knew at distance, however great, and that I had thought to have called my own. I resumed my seat, and, giving expression to my anguish with sighs and tears, I did not stir till evening roused me from my trance of wretchedness. Length of time, sir, flew fast away, and heaped cares upon my head; but the recollection of my youthful days was vivid still as ever. No day dawned without a thought of Thora.

“One winter’s evening I sat alone over my cheerless hearth, gazing vacantly on the glowing embers, when a coal fell from a mass of others which had formed themselves into a hollow body in the fire, leaving a tinge of deeper red over the spot, in the midst of which the letter, T, appeared indistinctly, fading and reappearing for some time, till, at last it became as visible as the mark I make with my stick on this sand. Another coal was driven suddenly with a loud noise, into the middle of the room, and the little cavity collapsed. No sooner had I risen to throw the coal into the grate again, than a gentle tap at my door attracted my attention. I thought it might be my fancy, or the wind; but the visitor seemed determined to gain admittance, and the tap was renewed a little louder than at first. Rising, I opened the door, and an old woman, who had been Thora’s nurse, stood before me; and, with bitter lamentations, she placed a small note in my hand. It brought the dreadful tidings of Thora’s sudden death.

“The mournful fact soon flew from end to end of Gottenborg, for Thora was much loved; and people whispered that she had died unfairly. This conjecture grew so strong, that a few days after her burial, Thora’s body was taken from the tomb, and, after the minutest examination, no cause could be found to account for her death, but the Will of Heaven.

“A year came and went; and M. de Lacroix, wearied of his lonely condition, married again. He did not live happily with his second wife; and, from angry words, they were wont to come to blows. To be brief, sir, Madame de Lacroix, died as suddenly and mysteriously as my poor Thora. Suspicion showed a more audacious front than it had done on the previous occasion, and M. de Lacroix was arrested for murder. The loud cries of Madame de Lacroix, heard the day before her death, were sufficient to put M. de Lacroix on his trial.

“Either from contrition, or some other cause of fear or hope, M. de Lacroix confessed that the death of Thora had been brought about by his own hand. It seems, sir, by some act of the basest depravity, Heaven permits that the fallen condition of man should be forced, at intervals, on our minds, to show the necessity of keeping in subjection the vicious propensities of our thoughts and deeds; for, unless it be so, I can in no way solve the reckless abandonment of all human feeling in the breast of M. de Lacroix. Ever afterwards, from the day I met Thora accidentally on this spot, her husband gave way to fits of frequent jealousy and anger; and a home, which had been one of harmony and joy, was then converted into a den of contention and the bitterest acrimony. In one of these domestic brawls, M. de Lacroix resolved to murder his beautiful wife; and the plan he devised to accomplish his purpose was as novel as it was diabolical.

“In the dead of night, when the young and innocent Thora was folded in profound sleep, M. de Lacroix arose, and, going to a small box, took thence a needle not larger than those in ordinary use, but of greater length. Returning to the bed where Thora still lay, breathing with the long, heavy respiration of slumber, he leaned over her, and the moment he did so, and but for a moment, a low, spasmodic cry was heard, a slight struggle shook the bed, and all was hushed as before. M. de Lacroix had driven the needle into Thora’s heart! Wiping with his finger the trifling drop of blood which oozed from the puncture, he effaced all trace of violence from the body.”

The old man paused; and, drawing a handkerchief from his pocket, hid his face in it, and, from the convulsive movement of his shoulders, I could see he was weeping bitterly, though in silence.

“So ends, sir,” with faltering accents the old man soon continued, “the cause of all my misery. I am old now, and yet in my old age I keep fresh the feelings of my youth; and, therefore, I wander hither every day to gaze upon the blue sky, and bask in its warmth; but never to forget her whose loss has made oblivion a desire, and created the hope, that, Death be an eternal end of sensibility.”

The old man ceased to speak. The solemn manner, and the earnest tones in which he had told this sad episode of his life, made a deep impression on me; and when I looked on his frame, bent more by sorrow than with age, and saw the settled gloom of an inward grief shadowing a countenance, on which length of years and rectitude of conduct should have left the lines of happiness and mental peace, I felt how unable was virtuous thought, or strength of intellectual refinement, to secure, even, the love of life’s young day, or to soothe the anguish of its loss; and, unresistingly, I yielded to the remembrance of hope’s passionate farewell to joys, once dreamed of, before the world’s strange knowledge fell with grief’s canker on the bloom of my own heart.

The old man rose to go. When I had assisted him from his seat, he took my hand, and, sadly, wished me farewell. I watched him a long time, wending his way slowly homeward through the corn-fields; and, when his form was hid from sight, I could just see his head above the blades of corn, and his silvery, white hair shining, like a wreath of snow, in the slanted rays of the setting sun.

About six o’clock, when returning to the yacht, I heard the beating of drums and discharge of cannon, the howling of dogs, the screams and lamentation of women, and, now and then, rising above the general din, the shrill blast of trumpets. As I approached nearer to the water-side, the rigging, even to the mast-heads of the different ships in the harbour and canals was crowded with sailors, who, clinging by one leg, or one arm, to the ropes, strove with outstretched necks, to catch a glimpse of some extraordinary deed to be, or being done. Presently a troop of horse-soldiers trotted by me; and it was with some difficulty I could escape being trod under foot by these impatient riders. Everybody seemed mad. One Swede, with slippered feet, without hat or coat, rushed past me with so much impetuosity, that he was like to throw me to the ground; and, seizing him by his flying shirt-sleeve, I remonstrated against his carelessness. He gave no heed to my anger, but continued headlong in his flight, and left a fragment of his linen in my possession. The maniac speed and bearing of the man reminded me of a story which is told of the Calif Hegiage, who, having by his cruelties rendered himself hateful to his subjects, one day, on a journey, met an Arabian of the Desert, and asked him, among many other things, what kind of a man the Calif was, of whom so much was said?

“He is no man,” replied the Arabian; “but a monster.”

“Of what do his subjects accuse him?” asked the Calif.

“Of the most inhuman barbarities,” answered the indignant Arabian.

“Have you ever seen him?” demanded Hegiage.

“No,” the other replied.

“Look at him now!” said the Calif; “for it is to him you speak.”

The Arabian, without betraying the least sign of fear or surprise, fixed his eyes on him, and said, “And you, sir, do you know who I am?”

“No,” replied the Calif.

“I am of the family of Zobair,” the Arabian continued, “all whose descendants are infected with madness one day in the year; and this is my mad day.”

The faster I walked to that part of the town where the yacht lay, the denser became the crowd of people; and I met regiments of foot-soldiers and troops of cavalry scampering in every direction, as if Gottenborg were besieged by a hundred thousand men, or the sun had slipped, when setting, and fallen in the market-place. A fat Swede, who stood demurely smoking his pipe, attracted my attention by the indifference of his manner in the general confusion; and, noting the sagacity of his little, roguish, blue eye, which he blinked as frequently as he blew the smoke, in a horizontal spire, from his mouth, I asked him what the uproar meant.

“Eld, eld,” he said; and that was all the explanation I could obtain from him. However, I soon discovered the cause of the hubbub; for, following the direction of the people’s eyes, I saw, elevated higher than its fellows from the roof of an older house, an old chimney ejecting volumes of the sootiest smoke, and causing the inmates to toss beds, blankets, chairs, tables, and, even, their darling pipes out of the windows. I immediately understood the alarm of the inhabitants of Gottenborg. A chimney was on fire.

The conflagrations in Sweden and Norway have been so extensive and frightful of late years, that the natives of those two countries regard them as the most dreadful scourges of Odin, Thor, or Frey; and adopt every precaution they possibly can, in their primitive way, to prevent a fire, or to allay its fury when one does break out. I am not surprised at their consternation, for many of the houses are entirely built of fir, which is very inflammable; and a fire must bring a very fearful catastrophe to such a crowded town as Gottenborg where you can shake hands from an attic window with your opposite neighbour.

In half an hour, long before the trumpery apparatus counterfeiting the shape of a fire-engine, or the water-buckets of the Corporation wrenched from the custody of locks and iron gates, could be made to act, the old chimney exhausted itself; and, at the moment when one unhappy broken-winded engine spirted a small quantity of water into a window of the first story only, the house having five stories, a column of clear blue smoke shot straight up, from the chimney-pot into the air, with the quietude and ease of a good joke. The chimney actually seemed to have got up the smoke for a jest. The folks of Gottenborg, however, did not view the matter in the same light as I did; for the bands of the different regiments, that had been called together, by sound of trumpet, to put out the fire, were mustered in a large square, and, in the presence of a vast multitude, played a psalm, in token of the whole nation’s gratitude to Heaven, that Gottenborg had been spared the ancient fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The wind veering round to the south, had blown the yacht farther from the quay than when I left it in the morning. While conjecturing how I should get on board, Dcame on deck, and said, if I would jump, I should find no difficulty in reaching the vessel. King Philip, of yore, once wrote to the Lacedaemonians in the following manner: “If I enter your territories, I will destroy everything with fire and sword.” To this terrible menace, the Lacedaemonians answered only by the word, “If.” I certainly felt like a Lacedaemonian, and gave Dcredit for all the confidence of the Macedonian monarch. I was rowed on board in the jolly-boat.

A mob of many hundred persons surrounded the quay where the Iris was moored, charmed by the symphony of Jerome’s fiddle, or astounded by the vociferous melody of the crew, as they tossed off a couplet or two of

“Rule Britannia!”

and then chanted with the recitative energy of truth,

“And there we lay, all the day,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!”

On Sunday morning, Rand Preturned, unexpectedly, from Trolhaettan, and, when they entered the cabin, they were so powdered with dust, and smeared with mud, that I hardly recognized them. They would not, at first, tell me the cause of their dirty plight, but I contrived to hear the whole account from King, who had accompanied them in the capacity of valet. When they arrived at Trolhaettan, on Saturday afternoon, being wearied, they strove to find some cottage where they might sleep, but failed; and it was, therefore, determined to visit the Falls, snatch a hasty meal, and return to Gottenborg the same evening. Having beheld the awful cataract, and eaten their humble dinner, at set of sun they started.

The moon was bright, and, not having climbed half way up the Heavens, surety of her light was promised throughout the night. The strict enforcement of the laws had cleared the roads of robbers, and no ill was to be feared from bears or wolves, for the approach of summer had driven these animals to the farthest highlands of the kingdom to seek for food and coolness.

With minds at ease, then, and drowsy by the process of digestion, Rand P, hushed by the rolling of the carriage, fell fast asleep. The night crept on, and the moon began to go down on the other side of the sky, and, still, Rand Pslumbered; and, moreover, their pleasant snores, invading the ears of King, accustomed only to the lusty roar of ocean, soon enticed him with a stupefying influence from his watchful attitude on the box, and laid his head in similar forgetfulness on the shoulder of the coachman.

They might have slept for three hours, and King and the coachman for two, when the unguided carriage gave a violent jolt, a loud creak, a revolving motion, and fell, wheels uppermost, on the road-side. King awoke in an instant, but too late to resist being plunged to the top of a high, irritable bramble hedge that showed him no mercy, while Rand Pfound themselves, in a state of perfect sensibility, on their knees and hands in a dry but deep ditch, with the cushions, the empty drawers, little pieces of old carpet, and all the other interior appointments of their travelling carriage piled mysteriously on their backs and the napes of their necks.

The riddle was soon solved. The horses being sensible of what was restraint and what was not, felt the reins dangling about their hocks, and, having had no food since they left their stables at Gottenborg, walked to the wayside, and began to crop the grass; but, as mindless of the vehicle at their tails, as desirous to swallow the green fare before their eyes, they approached too near the gutter, and one wheel, sliding plump into it, drew the other three wheels after, and immediately caused the accident I have mentioned.

With its tributary streams, a branch of the river Gotha flows through the main street, and lesser thoroughfares of Gottenborg; and along the banks are planted rows of trees, which give the town a lively appearance. As I crossed the bridges, I saw, on floating platforms, a shoal of washerwomen scouring and thrashing lustily, with an instrument like a shuttle, the wardrobe of their customers. When I first arrived at Gottenborg, I thought myself in Holland, the mode of dress, and aspect of the town bearing so close a resemblance to Rotterdam.

On Tuesday morning, the 1st of June, at eleven o’clock, just one month after our departure from Greenwich, we left Sweden for Norway. The time had glided pleasantly and speedily away; and, wherever we had gone, kindness and hospitality always awaited us. We had brought from England few letters of introduction, and, at some places where we went, on our first arrival, knew no one; but here, as here at Gottenborg, not many hours would elapse before the doors of these simple and generous hearted people were opened to us; and, the greatest delight was evinced, when we entered their houses.

Gottenborg was founded by the great Gustavus Adolphus. The town is situated, like all the towns of Scandinavia, on a fiord of its own name, sleeping with all the placid beauty of a lake; but there is so much monotony in the romantic position of the Swedish and Norwegian towns, that, to describe one is to describe all. There are one or two fine buildings in Gottenborg; and the many villas in its neighbourhood, invariably bosomed in thickly wooded valleys, urged me to remember an old tradition among the Swedish Laplanders, which has not been lost on the Swedes. They maintain the Swedes and the Lapps were originally brothers. A storm burst; the Swede was frightened, and took shelter under a board, which God made into a house; but the Lapp, unappalled, remained without. Since that time, the Swedes dwell in houses, but the Lapps under the bare sky.

What Venice was to ancient Italy, Gottenborg was to Sweden, the national mart; but Time, with ravages and alterations, has swept away its traffic. A Swedish fisherman told me, that the herrings, which used to be so plentiful in the adjacent waters, are now scarcely to be caught; and Gottenborg feels the defection of their extensive sale. The same man asserted, that our ships of war, going up the Baltic, were wont to fire salutes, and the noise had driven the fish away. The fisherman made this statement so roundly, that I could not have the heart to tell him how incredulous I was; but, when I got on board the yacht, I repeated the circumstance, as a jest, to the sailor who stood at the gangway to receive me.

“Well, your Honour,” replied the man, after listening with attention to my narrative, “he arn’t put his helm too hard a-port.”

“What!” I said, “do you intend to tell me you believe that a salute will frighten herrings, from this fiord, or any other fiord, so that they never return?”

“Why, your Honour,” answered the sailor, touching his hat, “I must run alongside this ere foreigner, and sequeeze [acquiesce] with him like; for when I was aboard the Racehorse, sloop o’ war, we fired a salute off the Western coast of England, and I’m blowed, your Honour, if they didn’t ax Sir Everard to cease the hullabaloo.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Ay; your Honour,” said the credulous tar, “that’s just what I’m bearing up to why, your Honour, bekase we frightened away the pilchards! May I never lift another handspike if that ain’t gospel, that’s all your Honour!”

“You be hanged!” I muttered.

“What! your Honour,” exclaimed the man, warming with his faith, “have you never heerd, that the report of a cannon will make a lobster shake off his big, starboard claw?”

“No, nor you either,” I answered walking away; for I thought the man was striving to palm off a joke.

“Ay; but it’s gospel your Honour,” I heard the man reply; and, I believe, sailors do hand down to each other a tradition of that kind; for there is a figure of speech, and it is nothing more, with which the English men-of-war’s men used to hail the lobster smacks going up the Thames.

“Smack a-hoy! hand us a few lobsters, or you know what’ll happen!”