As we drove on, we noticed here and there the houses of the poorer farmers. They are invariably made of wood, and some, constructed out of huge spruce logs, look as enduring as the hills that surround them. The roofs are covered first with pieces of birch-bark, laid on the logs like shingles. On these are placed two layers of sod - the upper one with its grassy surface toward the sky. This grass is sometimes mown for hay. Occasionally a homoeopathic crop of grain will grow here. In almost every case the top of the house looks like a flower-garden; and I once saw a bearded goat getting his breakfast on his master's roof.
A peasant's cottage.
Occasionally, a little distance from the house, we saw another smaller structure, built beside a river; for the water-power of Norway is made use of in some simple way by almost all the country people. Many a peasant has a tiny water-wheel which turns a grindstone, or even a mill, and thus his scythes are sharpened and his grain is ground on his own premises. Such farmers, therefore, are their own millers, and frequently their own blacksmiths, too, and they can shoe their ponies with considerable skill.
In traveling through Norway it is most interesting to observe how the people utilize every available portion of the land. Wire ropes extend from the valleys up the mountain sides, and are used for letting down bundles of compressed hay, after it has been reaped, gathered, and packed on some almost inaccessible plateau. On elevations, where it seems well-nigh impossible for man to gain a foothold, people will scramble, at the hazard of their lives, to win a living from the little earth that has there found lodgment. Seeing with our own eyes these habitable eyries, we could well believe what we were told, that goats, and even children, are often tied for safety to the door-posts, and that the members of a family who die on such elevated farms are sometimes lowered by ropes a thousand feet down to the valley or fjord.
A Norwegian Youth.
It was on this journey that I took my first and never-to-be-forgotten cariole-ride in Norway. On this occasion, my driver was a small boy, ten years old, just young and mischievous enough to laugh at danger and be reckless. I noticed that his mother cautioned him before we started. She evidently understood him. I did not. Accordingly, while I took the reins, I gave him the whip. Springing like a monkey into his place behind me, he cracked his whip and off we went. The road was good, and for half an hour I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then we began to descend, and suddenly dashed across a bridge beneath which was a foaming cataract. I naturally reined the pony in. But, to my surprise, the more I pulled, the faster went the pony. "Whoa!' I exclaimed; "whoa!' but whether prolonged or uttered with staccato emphasis that word made no apparent difference in the pony's gait. "Whoa," was evidently not in its vocabulary. My hair began to stand on end. Perceiving this, the demon of a boy commenced to utter the most unearthly yells, and to crack his whip until he made the pony actually seem to fly.
A Beast Of Burden.
A Fishing Station.
The Scene Of An Adventure.
"Go slowly," I exclaimed. Crack, crack, went the whip.
"Stop that, you young rascal." Crack, crack, crack! I tried to seize the whip, but my tormentor held it far behind him. I sought to turn and petrify him with a look, but it was like trying to see a fly between my shoulder-blades. I saw that I was only making faces at the mountains.
To appreciate my feelings, one should perceive the winding road along which I was traveling. It was a splendid specimen of engineering skill, but after twenty-seven of these curves, I felt that I was getting crosseyed. Fancy me perched, as it were, upon a good-sized salad-spoon, flying around the mountain side, with one wheel in the air at every turn, at the rate of the Chicago Limited going round the Horse-shoe Bend. I looked back at my companion, whose horse, excited by my own, was just behind me. His face was deathly pale. Anxiety was stamped on every feature. His lips moved as if entreating me to slacken this terrific speed. Finally, he faintly cried: