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

“I hope, my Lord,” observed D, as he stood at the gangway of the yacht, and handed the man-ropes to R, “you have had a pleasanter voyage than we.”

“Why? Has any accident occurred?” asked R, anxiously.

“No, my Lord, no accident,” continued D; “but since your Lordship left us, a gale of wind has been blowing from the south-west; and knowing your Lordship would have no home until the cutter came round to this place, I thought it best to thrash our way to Faedde in the best manner we could.”

“Oh! yes; you did right,” replied R; “but, I hope, you did not strain the craft.”

“No, my Lord, no,” answered D.

“How did she behave?” inquired R.

“Beautifully, my Lord, beautifully,” rejoined D, rubbing his hands, and casting his eyes up the spars towards the top-mast, which was still struck. “We had three reefs in the main-sail, and still she made nine knots against a heavy sea. You see, she is wet, my Lord. The sea made a clean breach, both fore and aft.”

“Ah! it won’t hurt her,” said R, in a confident tone, while he approached the companion, and began to descend into the cabin. Pand I had already preceded him. Every thing below seemed in the greatest medley. The four chairs, lying on the floor, stuck their sixteen legs right up in the air; and the books, with their covers horribly distorted, were scattered in every corner. The sofa pillows appeared to have been playing “bo-peep” with each other, for three had hid themselves under one sofa, and the fourth I found in the after-cabin, jammed between my portmanteau and the bulk-head. Nothing was in its place, and all things were suffering the completest discomfort.

“Hollo!” exclaimed R, as soon as he entered; “what’s the row?”

“The bell is broken, my Lord,” replied the steward. This was a favourite hand-bell of R; and any injury to it so entirely occupied his sympathy, that, the steward generally parried a minute cross-examination by referring, when he could, to the ill, or well, being of this bell.

“Is that all?” answered R.

“No, my Lord,” said the steward, pursuing his narrative, seeing the bell had failed; “three decanters, four couples of soup-plates, and”

“Hang the plates!” interrupted R; “how is Jacko?”

“Not so hearty, my Lord,” replied the steward.

“Why, what’s the matter with him, eh?” asked R, going to the sofa, and lying down. He was accustomed to do this when, on his return home, he desired to know what had occurred in his absence.

“He went into the pantry, my Lord,” the steward continued, “when my back was turned, and while he was looking about him in one of the cupboards, the vessel took a lurch to port, and unshipping the cruet-stand, emptied the pepper-pot in his eye, my Lord.”

“What was he doing there?” demanded R.

“Up to his tricks again, my Lord,” replied the steward, drily.

“Is he much hurt?” Rasked.

“No, my Lord; not much,” said the steward.

“Have you done anything for the eye?” continued Rin his interrogation.

“Cook has put on a poultice, my Lord,” answered the steward, “a piece of raw beef.”

“Oh! that’s it, is it?” replied R, quietly, regaining his self-possession.

“Yes, my Lord,” rejoined the steward, with firmness, holding a positive belief in his own, and the cook’s efficacious remedy.

“Well,” observed R, with deliberate quaintness, “don’t boil it in our soup afterwards.”

“No, my Lord,” and the steward took his leave, understanding his master’s disposition, and knowing that his dialogues with him generally resulted in a compliment to the traditionary cleanliness of persons in his office.

In the afternoon we went farther up the Fiord, about five miles to the north-east of the village of Faedde. The Faedde Fiord is of great depth, and in a circular bay to which we had now sailed, no anchorage for a vessel of the yacht’s tonnage could be found. Running her, therefore, into a bight, ropes from the bow and stern were made fast to a couple of firs, and by belaying them taut, the cutter was kept clear from the base of a mountain that rose, straight as the mast, out of the water to an altitude of several thousand feet. This was the most beautiful and romantic spot of which the imagination of a poet might dream. The bay was about half a league in circumference, and a perfect circle in form. To the east, south, and west, were mountains covered nearly to their peaks with thick forests of fir; and when the dispersion of the clouds revealed their gray summits, many cascades, like thin pillars of light, darted down the rocks; and the eye, following their track, could trace their increasing bulk as they rolled along from crag to glen, bounding, gliding, foaming, till they fell, roaring, with collected volume, into the waters of the bay. The sound of these cascades during the heat of the day was not only pleasant to the ear, but still more delightful was the feeling of freshness it conveyed to the mind.

To the north a piece of level land, made into an island by the severed branches of a river, bore, by its position, all the beauty and aptitude for human habitation that nature could bestow; and the clean, white cottages with their red roofs and spires of ascending smoke, its gardens with their symmetrical flower-beds, and its cultivated fields, teemed with every sign of ease and plenty, and revealed the ingenuity of man. Beyond the northern limit of this island, far away in the interior, the blue outlines of the mountains were drawn with a darker tint upon the kindred colour of the sky, and their snowy scalps thrust to Heaven, seemed to claim priority of creation and rule with patriarchal dominion over the lesser hills. The main river ran along the eastern quarter of the island, leaping and flowing over and under the rocky ledges of a mountain, and its stream, sometimes expansive, then contracted, hurried down a bed of scanty depth.

As the sole pursuit of my two companions was the circumvention and death of numberless salmon, the same evening on which we arrived a start was made for the salmon pools on the other side of the island. In the course of an hour the pools were reached, and having gone through the usual forms, such as solicitation for permission to fish, and the hire of two prams, Rand Pbegan their accustomed labour. Taking, as customary, my position on some elevated spot, whence a good range of all my two friends’ operations might be had, I strove to pass away the time by staking bets with myself whether one fish could be caught in thirty casts, or whether, on an average, twice as many minutes would elapse without such a result. My left hand generally took the odds, and I calculated that it won four times out of five.

The sun had set for many hours, but it was light as noon. Wearied with fruitless watching, I lay down on the grass. Stretched at full length on my back, and having read in astronomical works that, looking upwards from a dark hole dug in the earth, the stars might be seen shining at mid-day, I covered my face with my cap, and peered upwards at the sky through a small hole in the crown. But my philosophy was suddenly interrupted by the solution of another remarkable fact, and of more personal moment than the scintillation of the stars, by finding I had put my head in an ant’s nest. I started to my feet, affirming that I had never been so unwary before. But I am a believer in predestination, and know that this accident could no more fail of occurrence, than that from my cradle, in harmony of order, it should fail being traced, link by link, to the instant at which it came upon me. See, now, its consequences. No sooner had a score of angry ants been brushed from my hair, in which their irritability had entangled them, than I was gratified with the sight of a herculean salmon that rose completely out of the water, and sprung, like a ravenous cat, at P’s fly, which he had just withdrawn from the water, intending to change it for another of a brighter colour. The fish leapt about a foot and a half above the surface of the stream, and was the largest salmon I ever saw, weighing, I should think, between fifty and sixty pounds. If sharks inhabit the Faedde river, I would not pledge my word it was not one. I yield, however, my opinion to that of my gallant friend, who is a better sportsman than myself and asserts, without any mental reservation, that

“It was a salmon, sir, a salmon.”

Be it as it may, the difference of classification has nothing to do with my story.

The Norwegians, I know, are a bold people, but may sometimes be taken unawares, as well as other men, and though they live and think in the simple and primitive manner of the Mosaic era, they express the signs and feelings of apathy and surprise, with similarity of silence and spasmodic gestures to Indians and Englishmen. This world, too, is certainly a world of incongruities, and the more I see of it, the more I am biased in that way of reflection; and if any one will take the trouble to look at things as they are, abstractedly, and observe how good, bad and indifferent, black, white and blue, are jumbled together, he will not deny me his assent. It so happened, throughout our travels in Norway, and, indeed, whenever we went on these fishing excursions, that R, who gave little expression to success in his pastime, nor felt annoyed at failure, invariably obtained the services of the most expert boatmen, while P, who threw heart and soul into everything he undertook, and always swerved under discomfiture, secured with the same invariableness the aid of the most consummate clowns; and the rewardless termination of his toil, or tact, has been mainly attributable to the thick-headedness of those who should have assisted him with their sagacity. Scarcely, then, had this bulky salmon shown his mouth, literally an ugly one, above the water, than P’s boatman, instead of keeping silence, and subduing his fears, as any reasonable being would do, raised an immediate shout of horror, and during the paroxysms of dismay, dipped his two sculls negligently into the stream, and in his anxiety to make a few rapid strokes towards the shore, caught, what is nautically called, a couple of crabs, that caused him to lose his balance, and fall, legs uppermost, with a loud crash backwards to the bottom of the pram. His aspiring feet, taking Pin the flank with the purchase of a crow-bar, raised him from the diminutive poop-deck of the pram on which he was standing; but some part of P’s apparel giving way to the weight of his body, told its mute love of gravitation, and desire to prevent any further mischief. As it was, Pnarrowly escaped submersion; and his presence of mind alone saved the fly-rod from any more serious damage than a slight fracture of the top joint. The untimely vociferation of the Norwegian interrupted of necessity any plan Pmight have adopted to secure the salmon; for the assault made so unexpectedly on his person seemed, like an electric shock, to pursue its course throughout his whole frame, and rushing to the tips of his fingers sent the rod, at a tangent, bolt into the air.

About sixty yards from the inlet where the yacht was anchored, stood a cottage, tenanted by a woman and her daughters, two girls about fourteen and fifteen years of age, elegant as Indians, in form, and possessing the flowing fair hair, the large, round, loving, languid, blue eye, and the unaffected simplicity of bearing, and native loveliness of their clime. Every morning they brought us milk, eggs, and strawberries, and seemed to find great delight in listening to our language, and, observing the routine of a vessel carried on with all the regularity of a ship of war; for, with their little bare feet that escaped from their blue gowns, and shone on the black rocks, like the white moss of the rein-deer, they would sit for hours on the crags above us, clinging to each other and explaining the reason why the bell struck at certain intervals of time, and why the firing of the evening gun made the flag to fall, as if by magic, from the mast-head to the deck.

On Sunday morning, the 11th of July, we took leave of Faedde, and started, with a foul wind, for the Bukke Fiord. Being in want of bread, we were obliged to anchor off the village, in order to supply our stores; and having accomplished our object with less difficulty than we had anticipated, we set off fairly, at one o’clock, for our destination.

The wind had been increasing the whole morning, and veering two points from the south toward the south-west, now blew with the fury of a gale. The shifting gusts, as they careered down the valleys, taking the head sheets, first, on the weather, then, on the lee, bow, made us more tardy than usual in getting up the anchor. Being the Sabbath, greater crowds of people were abroad than on other days; and we could see, with our telescopes, ladies and gentlemen standing or sitting, in large numbers, in the churchyard, watching our manoeuvres with much interest. On the brows of the headlands, the peasants, both men and women, viewed with surprise our determination to put to sea on such an inauspicious day, and in such stormy time; but when the cutter swung, so that the anchor could be heaved, they could not refrain from loud expressions of praise to see her gallant trim, and the pride of buoyancy with which she swam the baffling waves.

At six o’clock in the evening, when we had stood out five or six miles from the land, a calm fell; and when the sun declined, his disc, expanded by the vapours of the mighty mountains at the mouth of the Bukke Fiord, threw a gleam of golden light from peak to peak that, glancing along the water, even came and danced upon our deck, and dazzled the helmsman with its oblique light.

On Monday morning when I went on deck, I found that we had entered the Bukke Fiord; and the same ravines, chasms, and cascades, identified the sublimity of the scenery with that which I have already attributed to the other Fiords. As we sailed along, the Fiord would expand into the broad surface of a lake, and anon diminish to the narrow breadth of a river hemmed in between two rocky banks. Smiling and still as a sleeping child, and calmer than the watching mother, the water, undisturbed by a breath of wind, lay without a ripple; and no cloud on the pure sky above us intercepted the vertical rays of the sun, that descended with intolerable heat; and, while panting beneath the piercing beams, we turned towards the snow-clad mountains, and strove to bear the warmth by looking on their glistening summits; but the tantalization was still greater to see large patches of snow lying low down between the crevices and deep glens, places where the sun had never shone, and to feel no breath of cool air come to refresh us. Not a human habitation rose to the sight, and no living creature, not even the gull, or smallest bird, broke with its note the solemn stillness.

The pilot told us, that this Fiord had never been fathomed, and he supposed it had no bottom. This was intelligence sufficiently interesting to rouse all on board into activity; and a lead line of eighty fathoms was nimbly brought on deck.

“I have heard say, my Lord,” observed the sailing master to R, “that if a bottle be corked ever so tightly, and lowered to a certain depth in the water, the water will find its way into the body of the bottle. Is that true, my Lord?”

“Of course it is,” replied R.

Drather hesitated in his credulity, and to persuade him of the fact, a bottle was tied to the line, and sunk in the water. At seventy fathoms it was drawn up, and to D’s astonishment the water had nearly filled the bottle to its neck. He took the bottle in his hand, and peering at the cork, which had been driven to float on the water inside, said that some trick had been played.

“I don’t think, my Lord,” observed D, “the cork was large enough, and of course the weight of water, at any trifling depth, will force it inwardly.”

“You are incredulous as Didymus,” said R. “Here, bring a champagne bottle.”

A champagne bottle was brought, cork and all.

“Will you be satisfied now, D?” continued R. “It is quite impossible that this cork can be too small; for you see, the upper part of it overhangs the lip of the bottle.”

“I see, my Lord,” answered D; “that’s all fair enough.”

And Dtook a piece of yarn, and lashed the cork at the sides and over the top, having previously with a small stick rammed his handkerchief into the body of the bottle, and wiped it perfectly dry.

“Let it go,” said Rto one of the men, who made the bottle fast to the line, and did as he was commanded. Dchallenged the mate with an equal shilling that the bottle would be water tight; and the mate, like a sage, accepted the bet. As balance to the overlapping cork, we gave the champagne bottle the whole length of the eighty fathoms; and then, drawing it up, found the cork had not been moved an iota; but the bottle was full of water.

Dshook his head, and paid the shilling.

I do not think Dwill ever doubt any phenomena again, as he is ready to admit the hardest truths of Science, however whimsical they may appear, or sound to him. Indeed he believes most things, and only mistrusts shoals and lee shores, to which he never fails to give a wide berth.

“Now we are about it,” said R, “let us try and find the bottom.”

When King told the pilot what we were going to undertake, the old man laughed, and said we might try; but the Fiord was as deep as the mountains were high. Another line of a hundred fathoms was joined to the one with which we had been making the experiments to shake the infidelity of the heterodox D, and lowered. No weigh was on the cutter; and two leads, being fixed to the line, were thrown over the quarter, and leaving a perpendicular track of froth, descended, hissing through the water. The whole hundred and eighty fathoms ran out; and we seemed as far from the bottom of the Fiord as we were before we commenced. Some idea may be conceived of the amazing depth of these Fiords, when I say, that the yacht was not one hundred and twenty yards from the shore, and the entire breadth of the Fiord about two miles. The pilot again came aft, and through his interpreter, King, informed us that the Fiord had never been plumbed, although the endeavour had been made very frequently by scientific men, and Danish naval officers.

Not many miles from the village of Sand, the place to which we were bound, on one of the sloping woodland swards that cheer by their vivid verdure the loneliness of the Bukke Fiord, a small cottage, thatched with the branches of the fir, may attract the traveller’s observation, and if he does not look around attentively he will not see it, for it is low, and sheltered by the spreading arms of an old pine. The waters of the Fiord flow not many feet from its humble threshold; and perhaps, fastened to a stake, a fisherman’s pram swings to the changing currents of air. Now, however, as the cutter drifted, rather than sailed, nearer to this green point of land, we saw that the pram had been untied from the stake, and was rowed by an old woman round and round, in an unending circuit, in midway of the Fiord. Often she ceased to row, and unfolding a white handkerchief from her head bared her whiter hair to the burning sky, and waved the signal in the air. Shouting with the shrill voice of her sex and age, she beckoned us to hasten to her aid. Then, hobbling from one end of her pram to the other, and moving quickly from side to side she leaned over and looked steadfastly down in the water, as if something valuable had been lost. When she saw we made no haste, she resumed her seat, and singing a native song that had more of liveliness than melancholy in its burden, again she rowed her pram round the same circle, never deserting the spot, but whistling and chanting by turns, she kept her face turned in one direction, that she might always watch the central surface of the water.

“What means that old woman?” asked Rof several men who were observing her, and, clustering round the pilot, seemed to be gathering all the information he could give.

“She is mad, my Lord,” the sailors made reply.

“Mad! why mad?” repeated R.

“The pilot says, my Lord, that she is so, and looking for her husband,” the cockswain answered.

“Where’s her husband? Is he drowned, eh?” continued R.

“No, my Lord,” the sailor said, twitching up his trowsers, and walking aft towards the quarter-deck; “her husband was a fisherman, and lived hard by, my Lord, up there. About fifteen years ago the man was bathing hereabouts, and he was eaten up by mackerel; but the old woman thinks, my Lord, he has only dived, and soon will rise again.”

And so indeed the legend goes. One morning, fifteen summers past, the poor fisherman plunged into the element, that had been his sole sustaining friend from youth, to bathe, and before scarce fifteen minutes had elapsed, surrounded by a shoal of mackerel, and in sight of home and her who made it home, was devoured by these ravenous fish. When he raised his arms from out the water to show the dreadful fate that threatened him, and to rouse the alarm of his unconscious wife, a hundred mackerel hung, like plummets, from the flesh. The fisherman sank, and was never seen or heard of more. From that morning until to-day his widow, having lost her reason, ever rows her husband’s pram about the spot where he perished, in the full persuasion, which she certifies in her song, that he has gone to seek a sunken net, and in a little while will emerge again; and, so, she prays the crew of every vessel sailing by to stay and see the truth of what she speaks.

We arrived at Sand the same afternoon, and after ransacking the little place from house to house, found the proprietor of the salmon river there. With the good nature and extreme courtesy of his countrymen, the Norwegian gave assent that we might angle, and not only favoured my two indefatigable friends with a prolonged dissertation on the peculiarities of the Sand salmon, but offered to undertake any duty that might lessen the difficulties and increase the chances of taking a few of these extraordinary fish.

It seems that the time when a salmon has been caught with a fly in the Sand river is completely beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitant of the village; nor is the task less difficult to snare this crafty species in a net. On our arrival on the banks, or more properly rocks, of the river, the salmon were thrusting their heads, like the bubbles of a boiling pot, above the water; and leaping from one ledge of rock to a higher, they were striving to make their way, in battalions, up a foss, that was of no great height, but poured down its waters in a compact flood with the din of a larger cataract. Persuaded as we had been of the improbability that success would attend our sport, our spirits became more buoyant as our attendant, by his despairing tone, made our prosperity less likely.

All the most famous fishermen have visited this little river of Sand, and after adopting every mode, all of them have failed to take the fish. Although the salmon float within sight and reach in the most transparent stream, they will not touch the fly, be it thrown even on their noses. The only reason that can be given for this notorious fact is, that the salmon, when they leave the sea, are generally gorged, and do not desire, or seek for food until they have travelled some distance up the rivers; for it is equally well ascertained that the farther the first foss is removed from the mouth of a salmon river, the more voracious are the fish. Now, the foss, or fall of the Sand river, is scarcely five hundred feet from the shore of the Fiord, and the water is salt, or, at least, brackish; and salmon are not caught in salt water.

It was certainly most annoying to my two companions, to see thousands of the finest fish gamboling in the crystal water, not far from their feet, and to throw their flies with the accumulated nicety of four Waltons, absolutely in the teeth of these obstinate creatures, without the semblance of success. I, myself, took R’s rod, which with weariness of hope he had laid on the ground, and seeing a splendid salmon two feet below the surface of the stream, moving his fins slowly to resist the current and remain stationary, I placed the fly above his head, allowing the bait to sink gradually till it touched the top of his snout. The fish did not, verily, alter the motion of its fins, either more slothfully or quicker; but with perfect indifference permitted me to keep the fly dangling before its eyes as long as I pleased.

To fish, therefore, at Sand was an absurdity; but having heard that the Fiord abounded with seals, and wild fowl of every denomination, we hoisted a square sail on the gig, and turned privateers.

The village of Sand is inclosed on three sides north, east, and south by mountains; but before it, to the west, spread the broad waters of the Fiord. The fragrant smell of uncultured flowers, the freshness of the morning air, the serene loveliness of the sky and calm water, on which the mountains with their peaks of snow were distinctly reflected, even to the diminutive waterfall, and the whole solemn, yet sweet character of the scenery, pressed upon me with an indefinite feeling of delight and awe; and, sometimes yielding to the eternal aspirations and impulsive passions of the soul, my heart heaved with gratitude, that I had opportunity, health, and youth to see and feel with ardour the infinity of God’s good creation; and, then, I would relapse into the humility of man’s condition, the recollection of his trivial existence; and the combination of excessive beauty filled my mind with sadness.

Arming ourselves with two guns and a rifle, we scoured the Fiord for many miles round. No sooner did we fire at one seal that rose on the gig’s bow, than another would poke his rat-like head above the water, at the stern, and a third and fourth on either beam. The report of our guns was incessant; and the multitudes of crows, wild geese, ducks, eagles, and gulls that croaked, and screamed, and whirled about above our heads, to hear the echoes rattling among their silent fastnesses, were incalculable.

Our seal-hunts, however, were most entertaining, and the excitement relaxed not for an instant. The seal dives as soon as it is fired at, or alarmed; but cannot remain for a prolonged period under water, nature making it compulsory that the animal should ascend to the surface for respiration. Having selected a particular seal, that appeared nearly as large as a sheep, we were determined, by dint of perseverance, to hunt it down. We divided our force in such a manner, that, rise where the animal would, one of us must immediately see it; for Rtook the starboard side of the gig, Pwent to port, and I stood at the stern, while the two sailors, one being a crack shot, kept watch a-head. None of us spoke; for the seal is as quick of hearing as of sight, and timid to a proverb; but it was arranged, that, whoever saw it first was to fire. We kept the boat broadside on, that is to say, her bow and stern faced either shore, and her two sides swept, up and down, the entire length of the Fiord. Regardless of myriads of gulls that flew close round our heads, screaming angrily, we abated not in attention to the water; and watched with straining eyes for the score of bubbles that usually precede the rising of a seal; and the water being brilliant and smooth as a looking-glass, they could not escape notice.

Up came a sleek head not twenty yards from me, and down it went again, just in time before my rifle ball struck the eddying water; and at the same instant both barrels of R’s gun, discharged one after another, made the drum of my ear ring.

“Two of them,” he murmured. Pand the sailor fired almost immediately; but the seals were too quick for them. As fast as we could load, these creatures kept rising around us; and they only seemed to dive in order to spread the tidings below amongst their friends, for they increased in numbers at each emersion. After firing a great quantity of shot and powder to little purpose, we were making up our minds to attack a rock covered with gulls, when a large seal rose within reach of our oars, but sunk again the moment it discovered our propinquity. In a few minutes afterwards, it bounced, head first, to the top of the water, five-and-twenty or thirty yards from the boat; and Rand I having granted Pthe preference of first shot, he gave the seal’s full face the fuller benefit of a double charge of duck-shot. We never saw the seal again, although we loitered about the spot for an hour in the hope of finding its carcass. The cockswain persuaded us that the seal was dead to a certainty; but that Phad stowed such a locker of shot in its head, it was too heavy to float.

The rock, moving like a huge living mass, being so thickly covered with gulls, now attracted our attention; but we did not purpose to destroy them for the mere sake of slaughter; for Rhad bought a couple of young eagles a few days before, and it was necessary to procure food for them.

“Let’s pull to the rock,” observed R, “and see what we can do there.”

“I assent,” said P; “but we had better pull round to leeward, and take them by surprise. What do you say, cockswain?”

“Yes, your Honour,” replied the man, “we shall never be able to near them as we pull now. Give the rock a wide berth, and get under the lee, as your honour says.”

“Pull away, then,” said R, to the two sailors; “but don’t make a row with your oars in the water.”

The cockswain kept his eye on the rock, and, every now and then, hinted to me the course I should steer; for I had taken the tiller.

“Port a little, your Honour,” he said, in a voice hardly above a whisper. The gig obeyed her helm instantly. We gradually came near to the rock; and passing abreast of it, we could see the gulls basking in the hot sun; some, standing on one leg, having the other drawn up under the wing, and looking apathetically at us, while others arranged the feathers of their tails, or breasts, with their bills, much after the same fashion as ducks do, when they have been swimming in ponds, or dabbling in puddles.

“Put your helm to starboard, your Honour,” said the cockswain to me in a quiet voice, “and bring her head right round.”

I did as desired; and the men pulling noiselessly, the boat glided towards the rock, like a needle to a magnet. The gulls had all clustered to windward, and not one could be seen to leeward.

“I have no shot,” I observed to R, who sat just before me; “but only balls.”

“Never mind they will do,” Rreplied; “more credit to you if you kill any.”

Letting the tiller ropes loose, I allowed the boat to choose its own course, and began to ram down my bullets. I tried two at a time. With a slight grating, the keel of the gig touched a sunken piece of land, and almost at the same time, its weigh was stopped entirely by the stem coming in gentle contact with the main rock.

Like so many cats, we now crawled, without a sound, from the boat; and Pbeing the first to step on the rock, slipped back into the water. The gurgling of the water as it ran over the tops of his jack-boots, and the floundering Pmade to recover himself, alarmed two gulls, and they flew, screaming, into the air. We crouched to the bare rock; and these two sentinels, not distinguishing us from the colour of their roosting place, took a few gyrations, and then re-perched themselves on the rock. Aided by Rand me, and the two sailors, Pwas got out of the water; but it was no easy matter to accomplish this, for his jack-boots had filled, to the brim, with water, and added considerably to his natural weight.

We now stood fairly on the rock, prepared to encounter any given, or ungiven quantity of birds or beasts.

“I say,” observed Rto me, in a low tone, “take a stone, or piece of moss, or mud, or anything, and shy it amongst them just for a start.”

The cockswain, who was close behind me, had overheard R, and being more active than I, picked up a small pebble; and by way of giving warning to Rand P, said, under his breath,

“Helm’s a-lee, your Honour.”

The clicking of their triggers answered the signal; and the missile stone was tossed over the highest part of the rock in the midst of the placid gulls. With the shrill screams of a thousand imps they darted into the air.

“Blaze away, your Honours,” shouted the cockswain, and mounting to the top of the rock, endeavoured with an oar, which he handled like a flail, to knock down every gull that came within reach. We all three fired at the same instant, and some dozen gulls made a summerset in the air, and with flapping wings and dangling legs, fell into the water. Those that were not killed outright, screeched piteously as they floated on the water. Their unscathed companions, with all the affection and courage of the brute creation, hovered over their fallen kinsfolk, and descending close to them, strove to bear them away with their beaks. Each time we fired, the shock appeared to drive the gulls at a distance from us, as a discharge of heavy artillery might cause a regiment of soldiers to swerve backwards; but, as soon as the powder cleared away, these pugnacious birds returned to the vicinity of the rock, screaming loudly; and some of them were audacious enough to pounce upon our caps, and wreak their vengeance by giving us one or two hearty pecks. The cockswain, working like a telegraph with his swinging oar, generally contrived to pick off these skirmishers.

“Load, your Honours, load,” exclaimed the sporting cockswain; “here they come again.”

And a whole shoal of gulls, like a troop of Arab cavalry, came, flying with the speed of a whirlwind, to the attack. As soon as they were within gun-shot, Rand Pgave the van the contents of two tolerably good charges of large duck-shot, and I sent a couple of bullets, making the third brace, right into a small division of the approaching multitude. The surface of the water now appeared like a field of turnips that had forced their bulky white bodies above the earth, so thickly was it strewn with disabled and defunct gulls.

“Had those gulls not better be picked up?” said R, while loading his gun, to the cockswain.

“No, my Lord; let them be,” replied the cockswain with as much excitement in his face and manner, as if we had been bombarding a strong citadel. “As long as there’s one on the water, the others will always come back; it’s their love for one and t’other, my Lord.”

A bevy of wild ducks now scoured the sky to windward, and quacking all together, whirled round about in the air, and describing each circle smaller and lower than the preceding one, approached the rock.

“Keep your weather eye up, your Honour,” exclaimed the cockswain from his commanding point to P, who had not seen the advancing ducks; “keep your weather eye up. Here they come; here’s provender, your Honour.”

His remembrance, no doubt, returned to the eagles on board, and which, by the bye, had been committed to his care. But the ducks kept a pretty good elevation, being more timid, or wary than the gulls; and my rifle now came into play. I took a random shot at the entire group just as it was making a masterly evolution; and a drake, evidently the general commanding, having ceased his quacking, and tumbling in tee-totum style to the water, sufficiently proved how correctly I had, for the first time, done my duty. The uproar of furious gulls and routed ducks was never heard in these silent Fiords since the Flood to such a clamorous extent; and I would not venture to say that the echoes were not as surprisingly loud as the cries of the birds themselves. Urged on by the entreaties and gesticulations of the warlike cockswain, the slaughter lasted for an hour; but seeing that we had killed an ample quantity to feed the eagles for some days, and remembering that powder and shot could not be bought among the mountains of Norway, we retreated from the rock, and getting into the boat, began to gather our game. This occupied some little time; and after collecting a decent boatful, we lighted our meerschaums, and floated homewards.

We might have proceeded nearly half way, when Psuddenly dropped the pipe from his mouth, and seizing his gun, fired it towards the shore, from which we were not twenty feet, without uttering a word.

“Be quick load!” he said, at last, to both of us, ramming down his own charge as fast as he could. “Here’s a seal.”

“Where?” I asked, “where?”

“Why, there,” and he fired without any other explanation a second time at the, apparently, bare rock.

“I see him, and here goes,” said R, and taking a deliberate aim, fired also. “Missed him,” he murmured.

I just caught a glimpse of the seal’s flat tail, as the animal slided from the rocky shore into the water.

“We have him,” said P, with brightened eyes, “if we act properly.”

“There he is!” shouted one of the sailors, with a set of lungs that might be needful in a gale, as the seal rose about ten feet from the spot where it first sank.

“Don’t make such a confounded row; you’d frighten the devil!” said R, to the seafaring Stentor.

“Beg pardon, my Lord,” replied the man, in a low voice, and touching his hat with a sheepish look.

“Keep the boat broadside on,” observed Rto the cockswain.

Rhad scarcely spoken, when the water bubbled a little, and the seal’s black snout, with dilating nostrils, rose close under the gig’s gunwale. The water whirled in eddies, and his tail, as he turned, appearing slightly above the surface, showed me that the seal had seen us, and dived again.

“He must come up in a minute; so, look out,” whispered P; and the triggers of both barrels of his gun clicked, as he breathed the fact and admonition. Fortunately the day was very calm, and the least disturbance, the fall of the thistle’s down, marred the bright surface of the Fiord.

The head of the luckless seal soon peeped slowly up, a short way astern of the boat, and before his eyes had risen above the water to take a horizontal glance at us, Psent a handful, or so, of small shot into his nose. Down popped the little dark proboscis speedily as thought.

“He hadn’t much fresh air then,” said R, laughing at the promptitude with which Psaluted the appearance of the unfortunate seal.

“No; that’s the way to do it,” answered P, smiling. Then turning to the sailors, he said,

“Back astern.”

The boat was accordingly backed, and so silently, that only the silvery sound of the water as it fell, drop by drop, from the oars, contended with the natural trickling of the ripples as they murmured under the ledges of rock.

“Here he comes,” whispered R, “close on our quarter.”

The seal rose, like a cork, up to its fore fins as if it had suffered much torture from long retention of its breath, and, swifter than thought, R’s gun flashed, and with a sharp report seemed to take a bucket of water from the Fiord, and fling it into the air. When the light gray smoke of the powder had rolled in a revolving cloud from the space intervening between us and the spot where the animal was observed, the water was white with froth, but no sign of the seal could be seen.

“By Jove! that’s odd. I thought I had killed him to a certainty,” said R, somewhat surprised.

“Yes, my Lord, you hit him,” observed the cockswain, consolingly. “I saw him reel over to port.”

“That’s all right,” said P, “in that case he is done.”

Once more two large bubbles, the spiteful heralds of the seal’s advent, rose to the top of the water, and then burst with a slight sound.

The purple dye of blood tinged the water, and immediately afterwards the wounded seal, with lacerated fin, buoyed itself sluggishly to sight. Its heavy breathing, expressive of pain, could be heard by all of us in the boat; and levelling both their pieces, Rand Pfired together. The seal rolled over with a moan, not unlike the faint lowing of a calf, and floating in a pool of blood, rather than water, expired without a struggle. Rowing the boat to the spot, the cockswain and his messmate used their whole strength to pull the animal on board, its dimensions not being contemptible. We reached the yacht about midnight, proud of our day’s sport.

Although it was the noon of night, it was light as at six o’clock in the afternoon; and, indeed it is not an easy thing to tell the hour of the day without referring to a time-piece; for there is but a very slight difference in this part of the globe, during the summer months, between the darkness of night and the transparency of day. This may sound paradoxical enough; but the fact is no less true for all that. It would be hardly necessary to observe, that the heat during the night in Norway is sometimes more oppressive than during the day; and simply, I should imagine, because, before the setting and rising of the sun, sufficient time is not given to allow the ascending vapours to carry off the fervour retained by the earth; and added to which the sun does not sink at any period during the summer eighteen degrees below the horizon. His rays therefore assist in keeping up the hot temperature until two or three hours have elapsed, and then his great red face again begins to parch every thing that dares come within its range. Norway being also a very rocky country, absorbs the heat with wonderful facility, and as every one may know, is disinclined to part with it. Returning home at half-past twelve, or one, just before sunrise as I sometimes did, by some shadowed path along the mountains, I have placed my hand on the rocks, and found them still warm. The day, on the contrary, though exposed to the direct power of the sun, has the atmosphere always cooled by the wind, which is kept in motion more actively the hotter become the sun’s rays, the heat being a circulating medium of itself. Indeed the departure of the sun is the signal for the wind’s flight likewise; and the night is generally painfully calm.

There is also another phenomenon that may rivet the observation of an inhabitant of a more Southern latitude, and convey as much sublimity to the mind, as it may be strange to the outward senses. I refer to the appearance of a great Northern city at night. I shall not easily forget Bergen, when for the first time, I walked through its streets at three o’clock in the morning, and saw a bright sun in a blue sky shining over it. Not a sound, beside my own footstep, disturbed the stillness; and when I turned my eyes from the long, deserted avenues of streets and closed windows of the houses, towards the mountains that droop sullenly over the town, and sought there for some living sign to assure me that I was not absolutely alone, not a bird or insect chirped or flitted on the wing. I felt amid this desolation as if wandering in the fabled City of Death; nor do I think that any man, the most elastic of disposition, could bring to his heart any other feelings than those of awe and sadness, when walking, as I did then, in the glare of day through the thoroughfares of a populous city, he witnesses the silence and solemnity that pervade it. I am glad that I have seen Bergen at midnight, for I would see everything in this curious world; but the reflections that troubled my mind were so much more than the sight was worth that I have no desire to look again.