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“That is unreasonable,” said the Professor, gravely checking this outburst. “The Bishop's church is in the suburbs, not far off; and you forget that, if there were more churches in the capital, you would still oftener be reminded of the progress of time, for there would be more towers and more watchmen also.”
“That is true. Yet it is strange to think that you Lutheran Protestants have only a single church for the whole population of your capital ; while the Roman Catholic Church, against which you protest, has not only a church for her few children here, but its priest is now taking lessons in English from a master, in order to be able to minister to any of the labourers employed on the railway you mean to have, who belong to his church. How very few Protestant priests are there who would learn a language in order to be able to instruct or edify a few Irish navvies! Is it not better to imitate zeal than to protest against it; to keep our own, rather than to labour for proselytes ?"
It was a delicious evening, and as I sailed over the lovely Fiord, I ceased to regret that the size of the Candidat had deprived me of another ex
cursion. The blue and beautiful Fiord lay brightly beneath the glowing sun, rippled only by the motion of numerous boats, that moved over it with joyous freights. How glorious the scene; how thankful should the human heart feel that even for one hour escapes the grasping fangs of care, or grief, or pain, or sin, to luxuriate thus in the purity and loveliness of nature !
We visited the ruins, from which certainly we did not make out much that was not known before; namely, that the convent had dated from the twelfth century, and that the church attached to it was dedicated to our royal saint, Edmund; the monks having come thither from England.
From this now solitary, and once sacred place, we went to one dedicated to the evening amusements of the lower orders of the people of Christiania. I like to see the arrangements made for the recreation and amusements of a people, being very long convinced that they stand in closer connection with their civilization and morality, than we in England have been in the habit of believing.
Certainly at this place there was little to be seen; it was not Sunday evening, the only one in this Protestant land exclusively devoted to amusement.
Neither are the Norwegians, like the Swedes, a pleasure and amusement-seeking people. The summer ball-room, made of twisted branches, with their leaves on, was now empty; so was the more substantial winter one; in the neglected garden of the restaurant, in which a few customers were to be seen, we had evidence of the negligent and slothful habits of these Northern folk; and here we found the only species of amusement or recreation which was then going on. There were in this garden two swings, and in the swings two respectable-looking middle-aged Norsemen.
The French say that the English “ S'amusent bien tristement ;" what would they say of these Norwegians ? I stood and looked at the swings; they hung opposite to each other, apparently made to be used as they then were; the swingers faced one another, and each had, naturally, a long pipe in his mouth. They advanced to meet with the most profound gravity. I fully expected to see them pull off their hats and bow, but they only expelled a cloud of smoke into each other's face, and retired. I listened for a word, a laugh ; no such thing, swing and smoke-smoke and swing, to and fro; they came and went, met and withdrew, solemn and slow, puffing a salute at every meeting. If they had only taken off their hats every time, it would have been complete ; but I was tired of looking on, I left them to swing.
The Professor had told me that the fairy-legend hunter spoke English; a delightful knowledge this was to me, for I am by no means strong in Northern tongues.
Thus, in the hope of using and hearing my own, I was quite at ease, when the next day they both made their appearance. The Professor presented me formally.
Herr Fairy-hunter made a great many bows; and as so many bows involve a good many curtsies, I inclined nearly as often. Then with a last reverence he spoke, in English, and said, very slowly,
“I complain of you much, that you are so disagreeable; but now I make an extra.”
I made my last reverence in reply. Such a speech, by way of a complimentary one, was rather startling, and not a little alarming. I looked nervously at the Professor, who, with profound gravity, interpreted his friend's meaning, thus,
“He pities you for being so disagreeably circumstanced; but he is making an abridgment of his book, and, therefore, cannot now make his tour.”
I bowed with a sense of relief, and the Fairyhunter and myself exchanged some sentences which I do not record, as I believe the fairies alone would be able to understand the language.
“I have got another plan for you," said the Professor ; " yes, this is the very thing. A teacher of music here wishes to take his wife and child into the country, and one of our operavoices, who also speaks Italian—which you do likewise- will go with them. They will all join you; but as they must leave their affairs here, they expect you will pay all the travelling expenses. They will bring their own provisions, because there are none to be got on the road. That is fair."
“Very fair, indeed,” I answered. “The very thing."
“I complain of you much !” murmured the Fairy-hunter, looking at me compassionately.
“You must, then, take a carriage,” said the Professor.
“It will be quite filled," I replied. “Four persons, with Norse-cloaks, pipes, tobacco-pouches, provisions, and luggage!"
" And the child ?" added my Professor. “Ah! I suppose I must take it on my knee."