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round till he came to the right one, and made every sleeper in the Hotel de Scandinavie "look alive" in the dead of the night. I fancy some of my French friends would on this occasion have used their favourite remark, "H faut etre Anglais d /aire celaP
Well, I am in Christiania, in the Hotel de Scandinavie; and I am trying to write from it, and to give you a full and true account of all that I see, and hear, and say.
My chamber is No. 13, among those little cells which abut on the wooden corridor. No. 13 is an unlucky number you know. My poor friend, Madame B., was nearly being made a bankrupt by living in a No. 13; and persons used to get a living in former times in Paris by being called in to make up a fourteenth when the unlucky number occurred at a dinner party. So to this No. 13 I think I must attribute the numerous vexations which for the first time attend my travels. But to proceed. My window looks into a lane; for a certain number of hours daily a butcher opposite to it cuts up the most horrible looking meat that I believe ever was known in this world. They say horse-flesh is not reckoned bad in Norway; I have sometimes thought they gave it to me instead of beef. At the groundfloor window of the next house a tinker stands, with a large tin pan before him; hammer, hammer, hammer. Will that pan, I say, ever be finished? In the window above him sits a young straw-bonnet maker j sew, sew, sew. When will she have done that bonnet? Constant as the tinman's hammer, as the workwoman's needle, down comes the heavy, splashing rain,—drop, drop, drop. Will this rain ever cease? Pleasantj sights—pleasant sounds—pleasant reflections. They make up the total of what I see, hear, or say. But I am in Norway, in Christiania, in the Hotel de Scandinavie! Alas! if I were not also in No. 13!
Herr Hanson, junior, walks in, cap in hand. "There is a countryman of yours here," he says, "if you like to speak. He is a Frenchman, who has come to see the sun."
VOL. I. H
"To see the sun!" I answer, "I wish I had his eyes ;" and I lift mine to the leaden skies.
"You shall see it also if you stay here till the twenty-eight," says Herr Hanson, encouragingly.
"A fortnight hence!" I cry, almost desperately; "is it indeed such a rarity to see the sun in Norway?"
"Ea-ree-tee," says Herr Hanson, as if learning a new word, and trying to affix a meaning to it.
"Is it a wonderful thing to see the sun here?" I repeat; "is it so seldom seen?"
"Wonderful? Yes, they say it will be so. Seldom? Yes, it is not two times in a life one sees that. They will come from all parts of the world to see the sun here on the twenty-eight, for then there will be no sun."
The next day I applied for a solution of the enigma to our Vice-consul.
"It means," said he, "that they will come not to see the sun, for there will be the grand total eclipse. You must stay for it."
I could not think of disobeying both Herr Hanson and the Vice-consul; but what on earth should I do for a whole fortnight in the Hotel de Scandinavie?
It was this question which already occupied my thoughts, when, on the very first day I spent in Christiania, I went to dine, by invitation, with pleasing and amiable Frue K.
The morning that followed that alarming night when the English, Irish, Scotch, or Welsh-man was on his beat round our corridor, naturally found the subject of such an alarm without appetite for breakfast; and as Frue K.'s dinner was announced for two o'clock in the afternoon, I dispensed with all the provisions which the Hotel de Scandinavie afforded, and only taking a cup of coffee, went out to make a dejeuner d la fourchette, and dinner also, at the pleasant house to which I was invited; this was my first dinner in Gamle Norge; and so for once I must fall into the tourist's fashion of putting what I eat and drink, or rather what I did not eat or drink, on paper.
The first dish handed round was cold lobster in sauce; lobsters in Gottenburgh and in Christiania are almost like cockchafers in Denmark in their effect on me; if I did not dislike them before, their multitude and size would create an antipathy. I bowed to the lobster; and when asked if I would not eat, said, "I would wait." The lobster dish, however, came round three times, and three times was eaten by every one; but still