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I DATE now from one of the most lovely parts of Norway. How I came to get into the fair valley called Gulbrandsdal, I can tell you; but how I am to leave it, is becoming enigmatical.
Notwithstanding our break-down, my little excursion with the good old Professor gave me one cause of regret only—it was too short. I had still more than a week to spend in the Hotel de Scandinavie before I saw the sun of the twenty-eight. However, I had another good friend in Christiania as well as the Professor. And the very day we got back there, this kind gentleman sent me a
note which gave me the unlooked-for and gratifying intelligence, that I was invited to the countryhouse of a celebrated personage who resided at the place I so much wished to see, and who, being led to expect the visit of some “ distinguished foreigner," would be happy to convey me down there in his carriage if I consented to go.
I read over the note, which was a short and legible one, two or three times; but still I could only understand from it that I was the “distinguished foreigner," as well as the invited guest.
However, in the evening, there walked into No. 13, a little old gentleman, who announced himself as Herr Y., who was to have the honour of giving me a place in his carriage to his country-house. I asked the hour of departure on the morrow.
“I must go before him,” said Herr Y., musingly. “We shall start at nine o'clock.”
At nine o'clock I was ready. The word “him” made no impression on me the first time I heard it, for I thought the observation was merely the utterance of Herr Y.'s own thoughts, such as are very convenient on paper, but very insignificant when they take place in reality; and related only to some personal or domestic arrangement.
Punctuality is a failing; I have often found it so, for one loses time in practising it. I was ready at nine o'clock, forgetful that an hour or two of Norwegian time counts for not more than a minute or two of English. As I was not summoned to the carriage, I began to tremble lest Herr Y. should depart without the “distinguished foreigner ;” and I went out on the wooden gallery, and saw him sitting before the small table in the dirty yard below, which bore a coffee-cup at all hours of the day, save that particular one of the afternoon when most persons were asleep. I called over the balcony to ask when we should set out, and was answered — O yes, there was no danger, we should go in half-an-hour.
In half-an-hour I looked again, and saw the carriage drawn out and left in the yard. Herr Y. was standing by it, and asking for all my paraphernalia. I therefore descended to see how these could be arranged, for the aspect of affairs seemed to be singular. The carriage was standing there, and the post-horses, at a little distance from it, were eyeing it rather shyly; three or four men, with hands in their pockets, and pipes hanging from their mouths, were gazing at it less expressively. The only creatures between the clay passage by which we enter, and the two upper rooms, is made by means of a rough and nearly perpendicular ladder. The fare, which is spread out immediately upon our table, seems to be very good, and to get it immediately is still better; but the Professor will not let me taste it; I am hungry, tired, wounded, and very cross; but I must ascend Krogleven, I must see the sun go down.
"Ascend it on foot ? Is not this Krogleven usually called Ringerige, which the wife of a civil engineer told me she had the hardihood to ascend on horseback, with an artilleryman to attend her ?!!
“Yes, they call it all Ringerige; but Ringerige, you know, means Ring's kingdom, the dominions of old King Ring, who took Ingeborg the Fair from Frithiof, and gave her back to him before he died. All the plain, which you will see from the top of Krogleven, is Ringerige.”
I thanked the Professor for historical and geographical information, and set forth for the ascent of Krogleven, with misgivings as to its accomplishment, after an upset, a walk, and without a pony or artilleryman. But as a substitute for both, my feet were immersed in a pair of real brogues, borrowed from the sturdy girl at the inn.
The substitution proved sufficient, for the only difficulty of the walk lay in its being exceedingly swampy. The miserable inn is built on the mountain, or great hill; there is a better one at its foot. We walked down there and up again the next day; but after a Pyrenean or Alpine promenade, Krogleven appears a very small ascent. The top presents a view which is the most admired in Norway, and concerning which a traveller there is sure to be asked if he meets a Norwegian in any other country. It is not, however, such a view as elicits a cry of wonder or delight as it bursts upon you; it grows in interest and beauty as you gaze upon its features, which are extensive, but neither grand nor strikingly diversified. For my part, when triumphantly led to the point called Kongen's Udsigt. or the King's View, I felt the torment of having previously seen too much, wide and beautiful as it is.
A large, nearly circular valley lies beneath ; its lovely lakes were glistening in the declining sunlight, circled with mountains stretching away in the distance, among which the giant of Norway, the Gousta, is scantily visible with its peak of snow, though, I think, seventy English miles off.