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company as they do here," observed one of the English party, whose opinions are worthy of preservation; "it teaches them subjection, it is one of the best customs of Norway."
But our good host, what was he sitting on ?— Thorns; or something that made him equally restless. "What will he eat first?" he whispered to me; "what do they begin with?"
"In England, generally with soup."
"Soup! soup!" he cried, to the young lady and the attendants; "he will have soup first. Yes, he likes it. Well!" A sigh of satisfaction was heaved when he saw the Englishmen eating their soup. "Now, what will he eat next?"
"Fish," I said.
"Ah! I knew that, I said so. Fish; yes, he eats fish next." And in answer to the order the most splendid trout of the Logan, weighing as much, I believe, as forty pounds, was presented to the party.
"He likes it," I whispered, to my host, being sincerely anxious that his benevolent feelings and intentions should be appreciated and gratified.
"He likes it!" he echoed. "Ah!—nay, there is nothing he can like; I have got everything certainly." Some words were here uttered to the Piga, or waiting-maid (I may here remark that the phrase implying, in Norwegian, "pretty girl," sounds very like "smoked pig" in English), but in obedience to this mandate, she presented, to eat with the trout which the great men were enjoying—what do you think?—the very eels that had travelled with me! Now we have all said until we are weary of saying it, "where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise;" it is one of those household words of which we have had something too much. Yet is it still my ever recurring folly to remove such blissful ignorance. The great unknown was going to help himself to the dish. "What is this?" he said, in too plain English for the Piga to understand. "Sauce?" he inquired again, looking at me, as I believed.
"Eels !" I cried, with an expression of horror.
The spoon dropped—dropped into his plate with some of the mutilated forms of my late travelling companions upon it. "Eels! they eat eels with salmon!"
"Take it away, away!" cried our host, waving his arm in dismissal, "there is nothing he can eat, no, nothing! I knew that!"
VOL. I. M
"Only eels; especially when they have been skinned alive," I whispered; "everything else he can eat, only try him."
"Well, well! yes, he cannot eat eels; I knew that; the English never eat eels, never."
So went on that tremendous meal; and at every dish at which the least hesitation was made, the unfortunate host murmured at my ear: "I knew it; I knew he could not eat his dinner; no, that could not be;" while all the time the greatest, as well as the least man in the company, was giving abundant proof that he could do just what the host said he could not do.
It really pained me to think that the good man should not have the reward he sought for, in having the excellent things for which he had spent money and labour, receive the commendation he thought due to them. I did all I could to make up for the deficiencies of others; but after two or three dozen of black bottles had been brought up from the cellar, which was believed to be the best of the country, opened, delicately sipped, and put away as not to be tasted, the only advice he obtained was, "Change your cellar."
I was very near getting angry at all this, when the question was asked me, "What do you think that thing covered up there on the table is?"
I thought a little, and then recollecting that a betrothal had lately taken place in the family, I said, "Perhaps a bride's-cake."
"A bride's-cake! now, I think itis a steam-boat."
"Our ideas are entirely dissimilar."
'' What do you think it is,'' asked the distinguished foreigner, turning to his right hand. "I think you have seen it before."
"Yes, I was here six months ago, and saw it then. I agree with your conjecture."
Conjectures were ended by the advance of an old toast-master from the end of the table; holding a glass of wine in his hand, he stood opposite to our host, and began a speech. I concluded naturally, that its object was to announce the arrival in their country of the great man at the head of the table, to set forth his praise, and drink his health. But when the whole company rose up, up rose that great man also, holding his glass ready, and prepared to do honour to the toast; his face was perfectly composed, yet I was sure the tears were in his eyes.
"He is going to drink his ownhealth!" Ithought to myself, but, at the moment, the toast-master uttered the name of HerrY., and with a tragic air, extending his hand, snatched off the muslin drapery, and displayed—what only a few of us saw now for the first time—a small French clock, (manufactured in Norway,) from the pendulum of which swung a very small steam-boat. And almost simultaneously the tall young lady went round the table and laid on each plate, empty ones of course, a lithographic sketch of the mysterious clock, bearing underneath an inscription, importing that it was presented to Herr Y., in honour of his merits in having first set up a steam-boat on a Norwegian lake.
I heard some sounds, not far removed from sobs, beside me, and saw the object of this tribute with tears running fast down his face.
"They are so grateful to me," he murmured; "they feel what I have done for the country, but they are too good. They gave me a snuffbox before; they gave me this clock six months ago, but it was not presented to me till now."
I looked to the head of the table, for I felt it had been my lot always to mistake the object of honour for whom this entertainment was really designed. First I had fancied it was myself; then another "distinguished foreigner;'' now I found it was the worthy host himself. The face I looked at at the head of the table was quite unintelligible