Изображения страниц

Tidemann looked benevolently grateful, and the innkeeper mildly patronising. They squeezed each other's hands; they exchanged looks of goodwill and brotherly kindness. I demanded the price of the post-carriage; it was just three times what the proprietor of the hotel at Copenhagen told me I should pay. Kecollecting that time was flying, I proposed that one-third should be abated. The proposal somewhat lessened the fraternal cordiality; however, it was agreed to, and in about another hour the expected post-carriage was announced. The landlord hurried me into it; I felt aghast, but was not allowed time either to see or to think.

The post-carriage, as I found on further examination, was an immensely long cart of plain wood, quite free from paint, springs, or cushions; there were two large seats, just like old-fashioned leather chairs, strapped across the upper part; the rest of the long vehicle was left empty for some other sort of burthen, containing at present only a little straw and an empty sack. On the foremost of the leather seats was perched a little animal in a faded scarlet jacket, cut like a soldier's, with a crown on its large brass buttons, and a broad yellow band round a glazed-leather hat; a horn, as long almost as itself, in one hand, and the reins in the other; and looking altogether not unlike a good-sized monkey with a broken back, for the red jacket came out in the form of a bow behind.

I was lifted in,—how, I forget; for the horn gave a scream,—and fell on the seat; the whip Was caught up and cut a caper; the red monkey standing upright, uttered a cry; the horses still reeking wet, gave a heavy plunge,—and I went right on the red monkey's shoulders I He gave me a terrible look, such a look as has scarcely left my mind ever since; for if ever a look spoke daggers, that did; and to aid its reproachful terrors, he grasped the brass horn in the hand that held the reins, nourished the whip in the other, and rattled forth over the paved street of pleasantly situated Steege, blowing, whipping, and looking, if he did not say, what we used to do in our childish play—" Clear the way, clear the way, for the King's messenger."

Now it so happened, perhaps by the overcarefulness of good Tidemann, that my leather seat was fastened on in too close approximation to the wooden back of that occupied by my royal charioteer; and so as we rattled on in the heavy cart, my knees kept constantly bobbing against its sharp edges. To avoid this additional pain, I calculated, as the Americans say, on placing myself beside Eed Jacket, who had the front seat to himself and the horn. With this intention I placed my hand on the royal insignia, thinking to put myself in its room; but, I do believe the spirit of all postilions must have animated the little hunchbacked defender of that horn! Grasping it with one hand, but holding it down on its place, he sprang on his little legs, and turned to me such a strange pair of longshaped black eyes, and such glittering rows of teeth, that I saw the notion of the substitution was abhorent to his nature, and resigned my knees to torture. A shrill, sharp "Nay, n-a-y, nay," was all he would utter, but he took occasion of the only animals in sight,—a woman at one time, and a starved sheep at another,—to show me in action the impropriety of wishing to displace the horn, by blowing a blast that made the poor sheep drop the wayside morsel it was picking, and bound quite across the lame horse's feet to the other side of the road, while at the same commanding sound the woman looked up and dropped me a curtsey as I rattled past her in my post-wagon, with the King of Denmark's postilion.

After about an hour and a half of great suffering to my bodily frame, the long vehicle made a heavy plunge off the high road; we entered then on a sort of foot-path through a wood. The relief was great in every way; the sun no longer burned my forehead, and the path was more interesting—'broken and bad as it was—than the fiat, barren, desolate road we left, where the only thing to be observed was the great number and familiarity of the larks; they walked besides us, sat beside us, sung beside us, in spite of the lumbering cart, and in defiance of the horn that was blown at them.

And now we came to the platform; and here some carriages, certainly of a better description than mine, were waiting; and here is a droll sort of restaurant, of which the drollest part is an offset, consisting of four walls, unroofed, just high enough not to allow any one to see anything but the aforesaid four moss-covered walls, enclosing about six feet of ground—a retreat for the lovers of nature who come to see the beauties of Klinten. I found a couple in it drinking tea, but they proved to be lovers of another class, and I left them to drink their tea within the four walls. And so I went upon the cliffs, and I walked over them, and saw the valley and the "Queen's Chair," and all else, except "the foamy billows," which the description said "rolls at their feet." Not a foamy billow was there. That was a decided error in the Hand-Book.

The cliffs are quite white,—certainly as white as the cliffs at Dover, and the trees growing on them are very pretty, and the walks make me think of our own dear wood-paths in a distant home; and I reflected, with some pathetic feeling, that the cliffs of Moen, or Klinten, might be a very pleasant and charming spot to such persons as those who were drinking tea within the four unroofed walls; but that one who had only a red jacketed postilion, a brass horn, and a springless postwagon as accessories to enjoyment, would have done at least as well to have stayed away.

I felt anxious to get back to cheerful Steege, thinking the sooner my sufferings were over the better. I got into my cart, believing it would go directly back there; but instead of doing so, it made a sudden bound into a very large ploughed field, traversed by a path which showed marks of other cart-wheels as well as mine, for it was full of deep ruts; my seat was hung too high to suffer my feet to touch the bottom of the cart; consequently, not only was the knocking of my knees more severe, but each jerk of the horses over

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »