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What a charming spot this would have been for an inn; but the climate, it is true, must be consulted, as well as the Norwegian taste and customs.
The Professor insisted that he knew I should find the spot, and find him there, without ever knowing anything of one or the other. I asserted that it was by the merest chance in the world I had come, but that having come by chance was much more delightful. To which he stupidly replied, "Yes, I knew all that."
And then after breakfast I went down Krogleven, quite by myself, for the Professor had enough to do to guide down the horse and phaeton. The evening before he had shown me what seemed to be a chasm or fissure in the rock, and told me we should go through it. To confess the truth, I did not believe him; for I had no notion that this fissure, as it appeared to be when viewed from the summit, with its little foamy torrent springing down its tree-clad sides, would prove to be a broad and very tolerable road, where loaded carts constantly pass. The wide, open, nearly circular, and mountain-closed plain at its foot, is Eingerige; and when I came down there, there was a level road, and the phaeton and the Professor waiting.
There is nothing very remarkable in this descent; it is bounded by wooded rocks, by no means perpendicular, and bordered by a little stream which makes pleasant music as it dashes downward. The Professor thought I was weary, which I was not, when I reached the lovely and fine plain, and took my seat in the phaeton; so he began to give me some information, by saying that the famous Harald Harfaager was brought up in this district, and that in our vicinity there was a tumulus which holds the head of Halfdan the Black, one of the best beloved kings of Norway, at a time when Norway had several kings to itself, instead of having, as now, only half a one.
"Was he beheaded?" I asked, on hearing of the head.
"Yes, he was so beloved that they cut him in pieces."
"A curious proof of love."
"Yes; four countries disputed for his remains, and to prevent a war they cut the body in pieces, and distributed him; his head is somewhere hereabouts."
Somewhere hereabouts! So much is thought now of the head for which four countries would have fought!
"There is the Parsonage in which Anna Colbjornson lived," said the Professor. "Have you heard of Anna Colbjornson?"
"Not much; but wherever we have stopped on this road, I have seen a print consisting of three figures—a sick priest, a woman, and an officer. This print had the name of Anna Colbj ornson underneath; and from what I have heard of the story, I think she must have been as treacherous as Jael, the wife of Sisera; for did she not keep the soldiers of Charles XII. feasting in her invalid husband's Parsonage until she despatched a messenger privately for the Norwegian dragoons that were at some distance, who came and put them all to the sword? And did she not tell their Colonel, when his ear caught the sound of the advancing cavalry, that it was the roar of Honne-fos he heard?"
"Noble woman!" said my companion; and driving on faster, suddenly drew up in the centre of a bridge, and then silently stopped.
This was a trick which the Pyrenean guides often practised with me—leading me unexpectedly to the point of view, and then looking silently in my face to see the result. The scene from this bridge was wildly and curiously beautiful. Honnefos, or the waterfall of Honne, is not a high solitary torrent, descending from lofty rocks, amid the silent retreats of nature; nor a cataract, wasting its power and might, as its frantic course speeds through the deep solitudes where its own tumultuous roar is heard unmingled with any sounds of life.
Neither does Honne-fos appear to be enslaved by the art of man and tortured into his service. It seems to serve him unconsciously, or at its own free will. It rushes and rages along, just as it likes, through a scene of mortal life and labour; and a whole village of small mills sit at work on its breast. They look so very quiet, they seem so very silent, amid its roar and din. The stream, dividing in two currents, appears to hold between its foaming jaws the narrow little bridges, mills, and houses, that are erected on these beautiful falls. At one side of the bridge, by which the high road crosses it, there is not a trace of water seen in the fall itself; it is a mass of tumbling, agitated snow, with one spot of pure amber colour seen against the face of the rock down which it falls. The height of the fall is only sixty-three feet, but the quantity of water is very great.
The people of Norway do not think so much of
this fall, and perhaps it was because I had not been led to expect much that I was more pleased.
There is a very good-looking inn at Honne-fos, and we stopped at it. I looked at that fine fall in the stilly moonlight, with all its tiny mills sitting steadily on its stormy breast. Neither the view nor the effect of the torrent are here spoiled, as they are at Sarp-fos, near Frederickstadt, by enormous buildings of all kinds. I could hardly wish the little mills removed, which gave an air of singularity and of usefulness to this glorious work of nature. Wonderful power of nature, and wonderful art of man!
And the roar of that mighty torrent was beside me as I rested that night in a really handsome and comfortable room; but, like all Norwegian houses of the kind, the view was not to be seen; I had to go out of the house for that. Most beautiful looked that falling mass of snow beneath the clear moonlight, and I returned to listen when I could not see; and to think how often I had watched the burning, roaring, blazing Vesuvius,—gazing upon it through the hours of night. The cool contrast pleased my fancy. I placed the pictures side by side—the burning mountain of Italy, the foamy waterfall of Norway, and then—I went to sleep.