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"You had better not try it," said a kind and prudent Swede, who accompanied me; "that is what happened to a poor tailor here once."
"A tailor ? »
"Yes, that is so; at least, they say so. The poor man was in love with a very proud young girl; and, to try his love, she told him she would not have him to be her husband until he had made one complete pair of trousers sitting here on this island."
"Well!" I cried, in anxiety.
"Well, he thought he would do that; and he took his work, and sat there, just on that rock you sit on, and he worked away, but"
"One day he jumped into the cataract, and took the trousers with him."
Near to the falls is the conjuror's hat, from which the name is taken. It is a curiously scooped out rock. The excavation, which is nearly like that of a man's • hat, is supposed to have been made by the action of water; but, as it is very high above the bed of the river, that question is a matter of speculation. The crown of the old Troll's hat is invertically covered with what are called autographs, including the names of Carl Johan (better known always as the celebrated Bernadotte), and of the present royal family, and a host of great or renowned personages, who went into the conjuror's hat in order to inform all other good people that they once had there "a local habitation and a name."
And so we went on over the wide Wenern, fifty miles broad in its fullest width, one hundred in its length, and interesting chiefly from its size, in merely passing over it; but there are several towns on its banks, from which very pleasing excursions can be made. And then again we had recourse to a connecting canal, called the "West Gota, which leads to crooked lake Viken; long, narrow, and winding, it at least is full of interest and excitement, both to captain, crew, and passengers; it is so hard to wind our way through these woody islets and rocks. Now indeed beauty and interest commence, for there is a great deal of loveliness around us, and a good deal of anxiety too. Our channel is marked out for us, even over these small lakes, which succeed Viken with perplexing rapidity. Tall poles, sticks, branches of trees—looking like scarecrows, but they tell me very artistically designed, and simply too, to serve the purpose of buoys—prescribe the path our boat must keep. This intricacy of navigation causes the boats to stop during the hours of darkness, if indeed darkness can be said to be here. But, on one splendid occasion, I was privileged to pass the Wettern, the lovely, cross-grained Wettern, by moonlight. Never can that be forgotten! the time has been short since, but filled—how darkly filled! And am I again there? again alone,—no! this is not a midsummer's night on lovely and dangerous Lake Wettern.
Yet once, in the mystic light of a northern midsummer night, I crossed this most interesting water; crossed it in that light which is not of the day, yet has no affinity to night: a poetic, visionary, dreamy, yet most beautiful light. And now I am here again in a dreary autumn. Sweet and pleasant Wettern! says the traveller who passes it on a summer's day, or a summer's night. But I, passing over it in the storms of a northern autumn—ah! I have now quite another character to give, another temper to describe.
There was some learned scientific Swede, who had been imbibing health by means of the warm mud of Stromstad, returning among the luggage on our deck, to the infinite detriment of a poor young lady's heart, who was journeying from the same land of deceitful promise; she told me, with looks of awe, that he was,—I fancy what we would call the principal of a mechanics' institute. This learned man told me, that the idea I had recorded in a former description, concerning the capricious temper of Lake Wettern, was now quite an exploded one; but, when I got to Stockholm, another scientific man told me, it was still to be credited. The idea was this—that when a calm prevails on land, the waves of this paradoxical inland sea arise and toss themselves, and on the contrary, when a storm sweeps the land, its waters repose in peace. Such phenomena, arising as they may from physical constitution, are natural to human temperaments, which are sometimes calmest in the greatest tumults, and vice versa; but they give a mysterious character to a lake; so that, notwithstanding the learned Swede's rebuke, I still think the genius of old Scandinavia, if it be anywhere, does lurk beneath the deceitful waters of Lake Wettern. See it in summer tide, and see it in the white gloom of a winter's day. And then see if you do not recall the idea of the unholy things who devised the treacherous calm, and raised the sudden storm; who exulted in the shriek of the drowning, and danced in the surge of the billow, and sang in the howling wind! I have seen it all, and seen the Wolf-witch, with her jaws dropping blood, pursue her ghostly flight over this vast lonely lake of untrodden ice,—seen it all, while the learned principal of a mechanics' institute thought I was dreadfully mistaken in his country, and wished me to acquire more precise information.
Wettern is ninety or ninety-five English miles long, but so much narrower than its sister lake that its banks can almost always be seen with clearness; its average width is fifteen miles. Its elevation is 295 feet above the sea; so that, on this water journey, we are continually ascending one part of it and descending the other. The lake is in some places immensely deep, to which cause, perhaps, is owing the peculiar greenness of its waters—green as those of the Baltic. Its exposure to the north and south winds which sweep its surface, is said to be the cause of those sudden- squalls which render it so often fatal to the poor fishermen, and small vessels that ply their trade upon it.
Its uncertainty was indeed remarkably vivid in my mind while the principal of the mechanics'