WHILE in London, received a letter from Jenkins, telling me to go to Norway. Very fashionable, delightful climate, fine scenery. Took his advice and left London immediately. Have a very vague idea how I got here. Was so confused with time-tables, railroads, steamboats, and sea-sickness, that my journal is quite unintelligible. Think I sailed for Christiania from a city in England called Ull (spelled with an H on the map). Having bought a guide-book and a conversation-manual, I leave Christiania and strike out boldly for the interior. Intend ultimately to reach Drontheim.
Ride all the morning on a train which goes at the rate of fourteen miles an hour. In the afternoon embark on a steamboat which makes between fifteen and sixteen miles an hour. (These statistics I glean from time-tables, which I studied carefully before leaving Christiania.) On board the steamboat I talk affably to the passengers around me. They are very good listeners, but no conversationalists. They say nothing to me, but only smile and shake their heads. Finally I ask a gray-haired man the name of the lake on which we are sailing. He replies thoughtfully, "Most always on Sunday." I repeat my question, thinking he misunderstood me. He says, " I no understand English." I reply sarcastically, "Evidently not." He smiles sweetly and is silent.
The boat soon stops at a place called Lille-hammer. I understand from my guide-book that I must hire a horse and carriole here for Drontheim. Do not know what a carriole is, but step out on the wharf and call for one loudly. A ragged urchin soon drives up in a curious-looking low gig, with long and slender shafts, inserted between which is a wonderful horse. Wonderful, because, although apparently dead, he is yet really alive. Boy talks volubly in a gibberish quite unintelligible, but as I catch the word "carriole," I conclude that it must be all right. He straps my valise to a seat at the rear of the vehicle, and perches himself upon it. I perceive that I shall have to drive myself. Get in and chirrup to the horse. He does not stir. The boy produces a whip, and, lashing the animal, says something that sounds like "shoe blacking," whereupon my Bellerophon breaks into an uncouth gallop (on afterthought, am not quite certain whether Bellerophon was a horse or a man).
Have ridden several times on the Erie and Grand Trunk Railroads, and have had more or less experience in Cambridge horse-cars off the track, but never was so jolted in my life before. Every bone in my body is apparently dislocated. In agony I shout "Whoa" to the horse, but with no effect. I turn around and entreat the boy to stop the animal. Like an idiot that he is, he only repeats, "Shoe blacking," and persists in whipping the galloping brute. My eye-glasses shake off, and become a total wreck in the bottom of the gig. The sun is very hot and the road is dusty. (I anathematize Jenkins for advising me to come to Norway.) The more I pull on the reins the faster the horse goes. Despair! After two hours of misery we come to a town; the horse stops of his own accord, and I descend to terra firma more dead than alive.
My guide-book says I must pay the boy three marks.* Not being familiar with the coin of the country, I am obliged to let him take his pay from a handful of silver, which I hold out to him. He considerately leaves me one small coin, value unknown. Several men gather around, and talk to me in the heathenish dialect of the country. I conclude to go no farther to-day, and tell them so. They seem satisfied, yet make no reply. Splendid scenery, although a thick fog, which has suddenly settled down upon us, renders the prospect somewhat indistinct.
I feel very chilly, and, going into the house, study my phrase-book a few minutes, then ask the housemaid, in excellent Norwegian, to build a fire. She goes into a closet, and, taking a huge cheese from the shelf, sets it down before me inquiringly. I point angrily at the stove, and say "Fire," with as correct a pronunciation as possible, at the same time pushing the cheese contemptuously aside. She goes to the stove, opens the door, and looks in stupidly, but, seeing no fire there, shakes her head. I tell her in English that I know there is no fire in the stove, but that I want her to build one. She pretends not to understand. I am too tired "to carry on a conversation," so give up the fire, and study the food vocabulary in my manual. The only word which I can pronounce successfully is "Kjod," which means "meat." I ask carelessly for "Kjod." She says "Ja," and goes out, but soon returns and sets before me a large plate containing four different kinds of bread, - dark rye bread, light rye bread, Graham bread, and white bread. Pretend that this is what I ordered, and eat heartily. Have a variety at any rate.
After supper, consult my watch. Time ten o'clock. Never had any confidence in that watch of mine. Always fast. Judge from position of the sun that the true time is about 5 P. M.
I take a stroll around the town. Population chiefly pigs. Fog has lifted, and sun again very warm. Soon get tired of walking, and come back to the house. Everybody gone to bed. Suppose it must be one of the customs of the country to retire before the sun goes down. Sit up several hours studying my phrase-book. The sun in the mean time goes behind some mountains, but to my surprise, soon comes up again and seems to be getting higher. Time by my watch now one o'clock. Am determined not to go to bed before dark, so continue studying my phrase-book. Read also my Herbert Spencer, and several other entertaining books in which I was conditioned last year. Sun keeps growing higher and higher. Finally at four o'clock by my watch several men appear in the yard. Among them an English tourist. I know him by his huge field-glasses and numberless portmanteaus. He gets into a carriole. While the men are harnessing the horse, I ask him for the correct time. He says, "Four o'clock," adding, "Nothing like starting off early." His words puzzle me. I ask him if it is morning or afternoon. He stares and replies, "Morning, of course." He drives off, saying something about a "midnight sun." So it seems that all this time while the sun has been shining, it was really night. I am disgusted with Norway, and do not understand why the sun did not set. Am afraid that something is out of order in the universe, and that we are going to have an earthquake. Perhaps it is a result of the comet. I hastily work my way back to Christiania, and leave the country by the first steamer.
N. B. I copy verbatim from my guide-book a description of the scenery in Norway, and send it as original to the "Smithville Herald."
THE prospects of the Harvard Medical College were never better. The number joining it from the class of 1874 was unusually large. The effort now being made towards the erection of a new building is well supported, and will no doubt result in success.
*About seventy-five cents.