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I said I would wait. After it came a sort of solid pudding, cut in thick slices, of a grey-coloured dough, with some currants appearing through it, and sweet cream to eat with it. To this also I bowed, and said still, "I would wait."
"It will not be very long to wait now," said my kind entertainer, "for now we have only some strawberries." She might naturally believe I was desirous that a meal, at which I was a spectator only, should soon terminate; however, I ceased to wait when the third and last dish, the beautiful wild strawberries and rich cream of Norway, was presented to me. The extreme plenty and perfection both of this fruit and its excellent accompaniment, are quite curious, not in Norway alone, but in Sweden too; and the more so, because fruit in general is so miserably bad and sour, and the garden strawberry I seldom could eat.
My dejeuner d la fourchette thus came to be made with a spoon; and breakfast and dinner were despatched with a plate of wild strawberries and cream.
Dinner in the North can hardly be said to be over until coffee has been taken, and this does not follow till an hour or more after that meal; no one, however, who can help it, does anything till after coffee, which is much more like what it is in England than what it is in France, except that they use a quantity of rich cream with it instead of warm milk.
After coffee we got into movement, and set off in a handsome carriage, with good Frue K.'s handsome pair of horses, to drive to Ladegaardsoen, which, though called an island, is an isthmus running into the Fiord. The late King of Sweden (Bernadotte) bought this place, and had it laid out in promenades and pleasure grounds for the people of Christiania. His son, King Oscar I., has built a royal villa on it, called Oscarshalle. It was from this villa, especially from its tower, that I saw views over the Fiord and its shores, which made me repent of my ill humour the day before, and make there a wise resolution, which I fear I shall break,—namely, not to say I do not like a place in bad weather until I have seen it in fine. These views are indeed most charming, remarkable, and interesting. King Oscar patronises native art. This lodge is decorated by Norwegian artists. The designs on the walls were not quite so interesting to me as the views beyond them.. One room is adorned with a series of paintings, representing scenes in peasant life in Norway; scenes they are, which may well serve to show that peasant life in Norway must, in its leading features, be the same as human life is elsewhere; being quite as peculiar to England or Scotland, Persia or America,—a courtship, a marriage, a birth, a family scene, a parting, a death.
A small room had its walls covered with unknown scarlet birds, sitting among green vine leaves.
But art and artists cannot produce the scenes over which the eye delightfully wanders from the tower of that royal lodge.
"Yes," I cried, "Christiania Fiord has, in some respects, the advantage of Lake Malar."
"We can easily believe that," observed a Norseman of our party, in a tone that said plainly enough, there can be nothing in Sweden to compete with Norway.
It is always safest to keep clear of dangerous ground, so I remained neutral between the united kingdoms.
"When we got back to Frue K.'s, I must own I was vulgar enough to be hungry, and I took pleasure in seeing all the preparatives for a supper, or dinner, displayed in the salon. The sight of knives, forks, plates, napkins, and a number of small dishes on the table, convinced me that the former meal had merely been what we call lunch, and that the "tea" to which I was requested to remain, was in reality the dinner. But tea we should have also, for I saw an immense copper bucket, with fire in it, and on the fire a great copper kettle, boiling as furiously as any English tea-kettle need do.
I approached the table with very friendly feelings; but a strong sense of repulsion came over me, when two or three dishes of totally raw provisions were presented to me. I began to scrutinise the others, and found that everything except the tea and bread was raw;—salmon, ham, herring-fish, in some other of the varieties in which it meets you in Norway, but all unspoiled by Norwegian cookery. I sighed as I recollected another distinguished person, who had only been allowed to feast his eyes with viands he could not eat. But, to reward me for patiently looking on while young ladies delicately put a little raw fish, that had lain in vinegar for some time, on a piece of bread and butter, and bit it through, as if to tantalise me—the door opened, and who should come in but my old friend, Professor F. He was so astonished to see me that he forgot his bows."
"So you are the French authoress," he cried at last, "whom the Captain has been asserting he brought here yesterday, though no one could make out such an arrival. He said he picked her up among the Danish Islands, and that she must have come here tt) see the sun. Was it you?"
"Tes; I did not come to see the sun, for I did not know it was to be seen; but being here I should like to see such a curiosity; I cannot, however, remain a whole fortnight in the Hotel de Scandinavie, and what am I to do?"
"Go to the country," said Frue K.
"How shall I travel?"
"In a carriole."
"Who will drive me?"
"Yourself. It is pleasant that, I like it."
"Can I travel four or five hundred miles without any protection?"
"Certainly; no one wants protection inNorway; you can very well travel alone, if you do not dislike it, and are not afraid.''
"I do not dislike it, but I am afraid."
"Then you must not go."
"Could I not get some one to travel with me? I would pay all the expenses of one person."