Toward evening, at the head of the Romsdal Valley, we reached the station of Stuflaaten, where we were to sleep. Our spirits sank as we approached it. Nothing, apparently, could be less inviting. But here, as in so many other instances, we found the accommodations excellent. It is true, the beds possessed the usual Norwegian fault - an insufficient length.
The Witches' Peaks.
Tall travelers, who object to having their limbs closed under them at night, like the blades of a jack-knife, frequently sleep on the floor in Norway.
"I cannot lie in one of these beds," exclaimed my friend; which, for a lawyer, seemed to me a remarkable admission! Never shall I forget the dining-room at Stuflaaten. Here we were first attracted by the fireplace. It was a chimney built out from the corner, with space behind for a warm cupboard. The opening for fuel was so narrow that sticks were placed upright upon the hearth. Beside this were two rocking-chairs (almost unheard of luxuries in any part of Europe), and sinking into these, we thought of home. The influence of that American article of furniture was, I fear, depressing, for soon my friend remarked:
A New England Souvenir.
"How far we are from dear New England! If I could only see one object here which really came from there, how happy I should be!"
"Look at that clock upon the wall," I responded; "that has a familiar look. Perhaps that came from 'dear New England!' "
"Nonsense," he answered; "how could anything made in New England find its way here almost within the Arctic circle?"
"Well," I exclaimed, "where is the land that Yankee inventions have not entered? Let us put it to the test." Accordingly, stepping to the clock, I opened it and read these words: "Made by Jerome & Co., New Haven, Conn".
Returning once more through the Romsdal, Veblungsnas, and Molde, we sailed again, for twelve hours, along the Norway coast to reach the city of Trondhjem. Although less beautifully situated than Bergen, Molde, or Christiania, in point of historic interest, Trondhjem is superior to them all. For here lived the old Norwegian kings, and the town can boast of a continuous existence for a thousand years. It also enjoys the proud distinction of having the most northern railway station in the world, for from this city, which is in the latitude of Iceland, a railroad now extends three hundred and fifty miles southward to Christiania.
A Norwegian Railway.
Upon this road are run some cars which are facetiously called "sleepers"; but they are such as Mr. George M. Pullman would see only in an acute attack of nightmare. The road being a narrow-gauge one, the car is not much wider than an omnibus. The berth (if the name can be applied to such a coffin-like contrivance) is formed by pulling narrow cushion-seats together. On these is placed one pillow, but no blanket and no mattress, - simply a pillow, - nothing more! From the feeling, I should say that my pillow consisted of a small boulder covered with cotton. But what, think you, is the upper berth? It is a hammock, swung on hooks, and sagging down to within a foot of the lower couch. Now, it requires some skill to get into a hammock anywhere; but to climb into one that is hung four feet above the floor of a moving railroad car, calls for the agility of an acrobat. After my experience that night, I feel perfectly qualified to perform on the trapeze, for since I weighed but one hundred and forty pounds, while my friend tipped the scales at two hundred and fifty, I thought it was safer for me to occupy the upper story. Another difficulty met with in that memorable journey was to keep covered up. There was no heat in the car. At every respiration, we could see our breath. This was, however, a consolation, since it assured us that we were still alive. Wraps of all kinds were needed, but the space was limited. There was, for example, in my hammock, room for myself alone; or without me, for my traveling-rug, overcoat, and pillow. But when we were all in together, the hammock was continually overflowing. Accordingly, every fifteen minutes during that awful night, my friend would start up in abject terror, dreaming that he was being buried beneath a Norway avalanche.