A Wonderful Panorama.
"My friends, I am glad to see you happy, but I have just returned from the North Cape. I have n't slept for eight nights. It seems quite dark here by comparison, and I was hopeful of a good night's rest. Would you just as lief postpone your fun until you get inside the Arctic circle?"
This pathetic appeal could not be resisted, and asking his forgiveness, we retired.
Taking leave of Molde one pleasant afternoon, we sailed across its beautiful fjord to explore the snow-capped mountains opposite. It was upon this voyage that I was taught the bitter lesson never to trust my baggage to a Norwegian, merely because he claims to be able to speak English. Upon the deck of our little steamer stood that day a man, upon whose hatband I read the legend that he was the proprietor of a hotel at Veblungsnas, where we proposed to spend the night. Approaching him, therefore, I inquired:
"Can you speak English?"
He smiled upon me sweetly, and replied, "O, yes".
Innocent of the awful fact that this was the whole extent of his vocabulary, I continued:
"When we arrive, will you bring my valise ashore, while I go at once to the hotel to secure rooms?"
Ten minutes later we reached our landing pier. I left the boat, as I had said, and hurried on to the hotel. I presently beheld the old proprietor coming from the wharf, but without my satchel.
"What does this mean?' I cried; "did you not bring my valise off the steamer?"
"O, yes." "Where is it, then? Is it not on there still?' "O, yes." "Mercy on me! Is not that the steamer going off with my valise on board?" "O, yes!"
"Well, are you not a monumental idiot, then?" "O, yes!"
It took me three days to recover that valise; and the important lesson of "0, yes," was effectually learned.
Early next morning we took leave of Veblungsnas, and drove directly towards the Romsdal, one of the finest valleys in all Norway. Before us, like a mighty sentinel, the imposing Romsdalhorn rose, dark with somber shadows, to an altitude of five thousand and ninety feet. The peak itself, five hundred feet in height, is said to be almost as dangerous to ascend as the appalling Matterhorn, not only on account of its perpendicular sides, but also from the crumbling nature of the rock, which renders it impossible to fasten iron bars in its surface.
Some years ago, an English tourist, after a number of unsuccessful efforts, finally reached the summit of this mountain. He was, of course, exultant. The inhabitants of the valley had told him that the conquest of the Romsdalhorn was hopeless, and no tradition existed among them that its ascent had ever been made. Nevertheless, when the successful climber finally stood upon the mountain's crest, he found to his astonishment and regret that he was not the first man who had gained this victory. A mound of stones, heaped up there as a monument, proved beyond doubt that at some unknown epoch some one had been there before him. Driving around the base of this majestic mountain, we found ourselves within a narrow gorge shut in by savage cliffs, with barely space enough between them for the carriage-road and a wild torrent rushing toward the sea. One wall of this ravine is singularly weird and awe - inspiring. A multitude of crags and pinnacles, splintered and shattered by the lightning's bolts, stand out in sharp relief against the sky, as if some monsters, hidden on the other side, were raising o'er the brink of these stupendous precipices their outstretched hands and tapering fingers in warning or in supplication. These strange, fantastic forms are in the evening light so ghostly and uncanny, that they appear to the Norwegian peasants like demons dancing gleefully upon the mountain tops. Hence the pinnacles are called the "Witches' Peaks".
V1Ew From Molde.
It was while riding through this gorge that I heard a tourist complaining that Norway had no ruins. In one sense this is true, for, owing to the fact that the feudal system never existed here, castles and strongholds are nowhere to be found. But Norway surely can dispense with any crumbling works of man. Amidst the ruins of her everlasting mountains and stupendous fjords, grooved by the glaciers when the earth was young, all remnants of man's handiwork would seem like ant-hills made but an hour ago.