Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

and some few of those of the same sex whom we designate as "women." Eidsvold is one of those places to which I believe the people of all lands condemn themselves, either from gregarious habits, or on account of the waters for which they attain a reputation. Herr Y. left me there, saying I would find it naturally quite to my taste. I did not agree with Herr Y. in this, though I did of course in most other things; so I went to the steam-boat that lay anchored on the Miosen, waiting to receive—I was going to say— me—but Herr Y. interposed another pronoun— him. The boat was lowered to take me on board; a scarlet flag was spread upon the seat; the mate stepped into it, and the captain stood bowing to me from the deck. These honours re-assured me; "For surely," I said to myself, "I must after all be the distinguished foreigner." But there was to be no end of my mystifications and self-delusions! It was only the next day that I found the cause of all my honours was—that I was taken for the wife of a civil engineer!—perhaps the very dear lady who had an artilleryman to attend her travels in Norway, or to Eingerige. The mistake was not wonderful, considering that thirteen—or eleven—I forget which, though I know it was an odd number, of civil engineers were actually to be passengers by that boat. The fact was there was going to be a railroad in Norway. Like the heroine of a romance, I was gradually coming round to my senses, and finding the spell uplifting.

Herr Y. followed soon afterwards to the steamboat. He could not however converse with me, for, he said, he must attend only to the preparations for His supper.

As my aching limbs already bore testimony to the zeal evinced in ordering His dinner, I went to what Herr Y. termed my cabin; it was about as large as a condemned cell. I opened both windows, settled myself on an upper sofa beside me, and looking out at whatever was to be seen— there was little more than the rising moon just then—I felt soon inclined to fall asleep, and forget my fancied honours or my real fatigues and miseries. Alas! before midnight, one after another of that unhapppy sex who are doomed to the united miseries of the ladies' cabin, came dropping in, until fifteen or sixteen living, breathing bodies shared with me the little cell that I had considered to be " my cabin."

One window was instantly shut; the people of Norway seem to have as sincere a horror of air as the Germans have. But, having one other open beside me, I flattered myself that I should be able to breathe throughout the night, and deceptively drew the muslin curtain across it to conceal the fact from sight, as not a breath was stirring to make it apparent otherwise.

No remonstrance was attempted; but the artifice was discovered, the attendant was summoned, and with a look which convicted me of premeditated manslaughter, she closed and fastened the little window; then silently withdrew, giving me another look that said, "Whatever may be your designs, the lives of our passengers are saved now."

The look of the moon, and of the little water we could see so close to shore, tended to keep me cool, and I fell asleep.

I awoke stifling; all was dark; I could no longer see the moon, nor a glimpse of the water. I raised my hand to where the window had been, and got hold of a thick woollen shawl, doubled, and fastened over the glass while I slept, lest by any chance crevice the smallest breath of air should enter. I felt thankful for having power to rise, to get down from my sofa, to stumble over the sleepers, and to open the door. The day was breaking. The stairs I mounted led into the saloon, and thence on deck. There some men were desperately sleeping, some smoking, some, who had only just come on board, drinking coffee. I made a rush, and gained the deck. Precisely as I appeared, the gun was fired, and we steamed away over Miosen Lake. It was a tedious day; I saw little to please me; perhaps I was in a discontented humour. This lake presents many pleasing views, but none at all remarkable or impressive. It is sixty-three miles long, but cannot compare in picturesque beauty with our English, Irish, or Scotch lakes. Scarcely knowing what to do with myself, as the little cabin was full, (and after having been up with the sun of the North, a day may well seem long,) I climbed to the upper deck, and from this exalted position I looked around and around, and what I saw made no impression upon me, but what I heard did. There was leaning over the side of the boat a fine-looking man—an Englishman, in a furred pelisse. He talked to me; I did not talk to him; but I listened while he spoke of many things, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall. How strangely I felt while doing so! I perceived at once that this was the distinguished foreigner whose place I had had the audacity to think of occupying; but in this really great man I saw glimpses of a mind that I could not readily associate in my own with live lobsters and wriggling eels, nor with any eating and drinking propensities whatever. How absurd the mistakes of good Herr Y. and some of his country-people appeared to me then! How very zealous was I for their removal. Alas! perhaps even in this the influence of No. 13 in the Hotel de Scandinavie continued to pursue me.

I did indeed see glimpses of a great mind, and I wanted to see more; to peer out of the twilight of mine into the brightness of the intellect with which I desired to hold communion. Could that intellect, indeed, take the blind by the hand, and guide from doubt to certainty, from conjecture to reality, from ignorance to knowledge, from error to truth? Would the light it upheld be the pure torch of Faith, not the Ignis Fatuus of so-called philosophy? To find science without scepticism; to be instructed by knowledge derived from its true, eternal source, and leading thither again—this was what I desired, and in this I might not have been disappointed; but a crowd of disciples were waiting for their Gamaliel; I descended, in more senses than one, and sitting

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »