« PreviousContinue »
kind as to bring me a glass of brandy-wine, for I was afraid she would discover the internal convulsions which threatened every moment to rend my ribs asunder. While she was looking after the brandy.wine I made a hasty copy of the portrait, and I now leave it to the impartial reader to decide upon the supposed resemblance. It may be like me, but I confess the fact never would have impressed itself upon my mind from any personal observation of my own countenance taken in front of a looking-glass.
There was something so genial and cozy about the inn at Djerkin that I partially resolved to stop all night. At dinner-time the landlord made his appearance steaming hot from the kitchen. I no longer hesitated about staying. I am a great believer in the physiognomy of inns as well as of landlords. Traveling through a wild country like Norway, where there is little beyond the scenery to attract attention, the unpretending stations by the wayside assume a degree of importance equaled only by the largest cities in other countries. The approach, the aspect of the place, the physiognomy of the house, become matters of the deepest interest to the solitary way.farer, who clings to these episodes in the day's journey as the connecting links that bind him to the great family of man. I claim to be able to tell from the general expression of an inn, commencing at the chimney-top and ending at the steps of the front door, exactly what sort of cheer is to be had within—whether the family are happily bound together in bonds of affection; how often the landlord indulges in a bont of hard drinking; and the state of control under which he is kept by the female head of the establishment; nay, I can almost guess, from the general aspect of the house, the exact weight and digestive capacity of mine host; for if the inn promise well for the creature comforts, so will the inn-keeper. And what can be more cheering to a tired wayfarer than to be met at the door by a jolly red-faced old fellow
“His fair round belly with fat capon lined”
beef-steaks in the expression of his eye; his bald pate the fac-simile of a rump of mutton; plum-puddings and apple-dumplings in every curve of his chin; his body the
living embodiment of a cask of beer supported by two pipes of generous wine; the whole man overflowing with rich juices and essences, gravies, and strong drinks—a
breathing incarnation of all the good things of life, whom to look upon is to feel good-natured and happy in the present, and hopeful for the future; such a man, in short, as mine host of the Golden Crown, whose portrait I have endeavored to present.
If there be any likeness between myself and the son, it certainly does not extend to the father. He carries in his hands a steaming hot plum-pudding; he is a model landlord, and delights in feeding his customers. His voice is greasy like his face. When he laughs it is from his capacious stomach the sounds come. His best jokes are based upon his digestive organs. He gets a little boozy toward evening, but that is merely a hospitable habit of his to prove that his liquors are good. You commit yourself at once to his keeping with a delightful consciousness that in his hands you are safe. He is not a man to suffer an honest customer to starve. Nature, in her prodigality, formed him upon a generous pattern. Whatever does other people good likewise does him good. May he live a thousand years—mine host of the Golden Crown !—and may his shadow never be less !
DOWN THE DRIVSDAL. The next morning I proceeded on my way, resolved, if ever I came this route again, to spend a week at Djerkin. A withered old man accompanied me on the back of the cariole. After half an hour's hard climbing up a very steep hill we reached the highest point of the Dovre Fjeld, 4594 feet above the level of the sea. From this point the view is exceedingly weird and desolate. Owing to the weather, however, which was dark and threatening, I did not stop long to enjoy the view of the barren wastes that lay behind, but was soon dashing at a slapping pace down into the valley of the Drivsdal—one of the most rugged and picturesque in Norway.
My journey down the valley of the Drivsdal was both pleasant and interesting. A beautiful new road commences at Kongsvold, the last station on the Dovre Fjeld,
way to Ny Orne. On each side towering and pine-covered mountains rear their rugged crests, sometimes approaching so close to the river as to overhang the road, which for miles on a stretch is hewn from the solid rock.
The innumerable clefts and fissures that mark the rug. ged fronts of the cliffs; the overhanging trees and shrubbery; the toppling boulders of granite, balanced in midair; the rushing torrents that dash from the moss-covered rocks; the seething and foaming waters of the Driv, whirling through the narrow gorges hundreds of feet below the road; the bright blue sky overhead, and the fitful gleams of sunshine darting through the masses of pine and circling into innumerable rainbows in the spray of the river, all combine to form a scene of incomparable beauty and grandeur such as I have rarely seen equaled in any part of the world, and only surpassed by the Siskiyon Mountains in the northern part of California.
About midway down the valley, after passing the settlement of Rise, I stopped to examine a curious passage of the river in the neighborhood of the Drivstuklere, where it dashes down between two solid walls of rocks, which at this point approach so as to form a passage of not more than fifteen feet in width. Securing my cariole horse to a tree by the side of the road, I descended a steep bank under the guidance of my skydskaarl, a bright little fellow about ten years of age, who first called my attention to this remarkable phenomenon. I was soon compelled to follow his example, and crawl over the rocks like a caterpillar to avoid falling into the frightful abyss below. For a distance of fifty or sixty yards, the river, compressed within a limit of fifteen feet, dashes with fearful velocity through its rugged and tortuous boundaries, filling the air with spray, and making an angry moan, as if threatening momentarily to tear the rokcs from their solid beds, and sweep them into the broad and sullen pool below.
The trembling of the massive boulder upon which I lay ontstretched peering into the raging aby'ss, the fierce