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my little boxes and baskets out of the way of the lobsters and crabs. "These people have only seen a few of our rich idlers, or perhaps even of our poor idlers; they conclude that the specimen is a national one. Now, they will have soon another means of judging. Englishmen, I am told, are coming to Norway for other purposes than to catch a salmon and bear it in triumph up the Thames; yes, or even to shoot a bear! They are coming," I added, with emphasis and laudable pride, "they are coming to make a railroad!"
"I know that,'' said Herr Y., with meaning.
"We know that," added the others.
"But I know also that Englishmen like to eat and drink, whether they fish or not," the former pertinaciously added. "I know what He will like, and I must provide accordingly."
"Yes, yes," responded the others, "that is necessary." And they packed in the sundries, including Herr Y. and myself. I suspect a live crab was my footstool, and I am sure I felt a lobster crawling at my back; but with the first motion of the carriage-wheels my spirits revived, and happy to leave No. 13, I started joyously for Gulbrandsdalen.
The beauty of the environs, the prospects, and the better state of the road immediately about Christiania, at first kept up this temper; but at the second station matters began to change.
The road was already beginning to get very bad; but it was not the road alone that agitated Herr Y. He came out of the post-house, which he entered alone, in a state of excitement; the delay in bringing fresh horses from the plough for our carriage seemed to torment his tranquil temper. "When at last the reeking things were galloped up, and the terrible operation of harnessing concluded, he offered a good drink-penny to the driver for making a rapid stage. Away then we flew; they drive fast enough at all times in Norway; so on we went, up hill and down hill, over hillocks, into ruts and out of them; now bouncing high from our seats, now swinging from side to side, to the infinite detriment of my bonnet against Herr Y.'s hat. Imagination can scarcely depict such a highway as that which the first railway made in Norway is now about to supersede. English words,—dreadful, shocking, and others, do not sound so expressive of it as the native one skracMig. Sometimes it is true we had a few minutes' rest by getting locked in a cart-wheel; the Norse drivers of such vehicles seem to like to try whose wheels are the strongest; you may keep out of their way if you will, but they will not keep out of yours. Herr Y. on these occasions lost his national calm; what could be the cause of our wild speed, I was at a loss to make out, and all his ejaculations were self-addressed. At last, from the top of a hill up which the panting horses had been vehemently urged, the driver, pointing his whip forwards and downwards, said gravely and earnestly the words, "They are there;" and Herr Y., who had been leaning over his shoulders to look out in the same direction, fell back on his seat with something like a sigh of relief.
In fact a forbud, or luggage-cart, travelling in company with five or six carriages, appeared at the door of the next post-station; and as we drew nearer we plainly saw a number of small stout bottles come out of the cart and go into the house after the travellers.
"It is He!" sighed Herr Y., drawing a long breath.
"He! in five carriages and a cart?"
"They follow him," he responded, by way of explanation, but leaving me as much in the dark as ever.
Glad to get relief from the violent jolting, I descended at the station-house, and asked for a glass of water; the most appalling-looking stuff I ever saw presented under that name was brought to me, and at the same moment a particularly nice-looking Englishman interposed, and asked me to take porter instead. I believe I should have accepted the substitution, but Herr Y. came hurriedly in, gave me his arm, led me out, and packed me into the carriage before I had time to give any answer. Forced now into a livelier sympathy with the parching eels and lobsters, I saw our mad career recommence with only added wonder. That we had overtaken a great party, was evident; but still the drink-penny was offered; and now, instead of looking out forwards, he kept casting uneasy glances backwards. The anxiety of a chase seemed at once turned into fear of a pursuit. Unable longer to endure a state of mystification, I ventured to ask, at last, the cause of this commotion; and I was briefly informed that Herr Y. had engaged to order a dinner on the road for the distinguished foreigner, who was coming to be a guest at his house, a fact which he wished duly to announce along the road as the herald of the great man's approach.
VOL. I. L
Now light began to dawn upon me; that I was not the "distinguished foreigner," but that the emphatic personal pronoun was, I began to understand.
"I ordered his dinner a week ago at Eidsvold," said Herr Y., still anxiously speaking to himself, "but they may not know his hour, and, besides, he will want to eat along the road. I must keep before to tell them to have things ready. The English dine at night."
But at our next station there was a commotion surpassing the rest. A man and horse had arrived there from Eidsvold, twenty miles off, to deprecate the idea that the hotel, where' the bathers were, could furnish a dinner to the great English party.
"They could furnish a dinner to ten times as many natives," cried Herr Y., wringing his hands, as in his despair he for once admitted me to a participation in his troubles; "but these English— no, it is impossible."
"Well," thought I to myself, "now that this matter is at rest, I may be able to get a drink; it is quite clear that Englishwomen are considered to be of quite a contrary nature to Englishmen."
Herr Y, indeed, resolved to await here the