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0105_001E A Norwegian Honeymoon Henry van Dyke

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Our gig was waiting for us at Odnaes. There was a brisk little mouse-coloured pony in the shafts; and it took but a moment to strap our leather portmanteau on the board at the back, perch the postboy on top of it, and set out for our first experience of a Norwegian driving-tour.

The road at first was level and easy; and we bowled along smoothly through the valley of the Etnaelv, among drooping birch-trees and green fields where the larks were singing. At Tomlevolden, ten miles farther on, we reached the first station, a comfortable old farmhouse, with a great array of wooden outbuildings. Here we had a chance to try our luck with the Norwegian language in demanding "en hest, saa straxt som muligt." This was what the guide-book told us to say when we wanted a horse.

There is great fun in making a random cast on the surface of a strange language. You cannot tell what will come up. It is like an experiment in witchcraft. We should not have been at all surprised, I must confess, if our preliminary incantation had brought forth a cow or a basket of eggs.

But the good people seemed to divine our intentions; and while we were waiting for one of the stable-boys to catch and harness the new horse, a yellow-haired maiden inquired, in very fair English, if we would not be pleased to have a cup of tea and some butter-bread; which we did with great comfort.

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The SKYDSGUT, or so-called postboy, for the next stage of the journey, was a full-grown man of considerable weight. As he climbed to his perch on our portmanteau, my lady Graygown congratulated me on the prudence which had provided that one side of that receptacle should be of an inflexible stiffness, quite incapable of being crushed; otherwise, asked she, what would have become of her Sunday frock under the pressure of this stern necessity of a postboy?

But I think we should not have cared very much if all our luggage had been smashed on this journey, for the road now began to ascend, and the views over the Etnadal, with its winding river, were of a breadth and sweetness most consoling. Up and up we went, curving in and out through the forest, crossing wild ravines and shadowy dells, looking back at every turn on the wide landscape bathed in golden light. At the station of Sveen, where we changed horse and postboy again, it was already evening. The sun was down, but the mystical radiance of the northern twilight illumined the sky. The dark fir-woods spread around us, and their odourous breath was diffused through the cool, still air. We were crossing the level summit of the plateau, twenty-three hundred feet above the sea. Two tiny woodland lakes gleamed out among the trees. Then the road began to slope gently towards the west, and emerged suddenly on the edge of the forest, looking out over the long, lovely vale of Valders, with snow-touched mountains on the horizon, and the river Baegna shimmering along its bed, a thousand feet below us.

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Fisherman's Luck
Henry van Dyke

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