Reindeer And Sledge.
Advancing to one of their huts, we peered into the interior. Upon the ground was smoldering a small fire, part of the smoke from which escaped through an opening in the roof. The inmates scarcely noticed us, until my artist produced his camera. Then there was instantly a general stampede. One woman seized her baby and rushed forth, as if a demon had molested her. The cause of this confusion, however, was not fear, nor even modesty, but avarice, pure and simple. They understood perfectly what the camera was, and wanted a good price for being photographed. Three shillings was at first demanded for a picture, but finally we compromised by giving half that sum.
A Little Lapp.
Life In Lapland.
Among these Laplanders, the clothing of both men and women is made of reindeer skin, worn with the hardened pelt outside. These garments last indefinitely, and are sometimes bequeathed from one generation to another. The Lapp complexion looks like leather. Even the babies have a shriveled look, resembling that of monkeys. This is not strange, however, for both men and women are great consumers of tobacco. Their huts are always full of smoke, till finally the inmates become smoke-dried within and without. This, in turn, produces thirst. Hence we were not surprised to learn that they are inordinately fond of ardent spirits. In fact, when a Norwegian wishes to remonstrate with a friend who is inclined to drink to excess, he will often say to him, "Don't make a Lapp of yourself!"
Bidding farewell to Tromso and the Laplanders, the next day brought us to the most northern town in the world -Hammerfest. It was a great surprise to me to see, in such proximity to the North Pole, a town of about three thousand inhabitants, with schools, a church, a telegraph station, and a weekly newspaper! The snow-streaked mountains in the distance gave me the only hint of winter that I had; and I could hardly realize that I was here two hundred miles farther north than Bering's Strait, and in about the same latitude in which, on our side of the Atlantic, the gallant Sir John Franklin perished in the ice. The cause of this, however, is not difficult to trace.
The influence of the Gulf Stream is felt powerfully even here. For here it is that the great ocean current practically dies, bequeathing to these fishermen of Hammerfest, for their firewood, the treasures it has so long carried on its bosom, such as the trunks of palm-trees, and the vegetation of the tropics. It is an extraordinary fact that while the harbor of Christiania, one thousand miles farther south, is frozen over three months every winter, this bay of Hammerfest, only sixty miles from the North Cape, is never closed on account of ice.
An interesting object in Hammerfest is the meridian shaft, which marks the number of degrees between this town and the mouth of the Danube, on the Black Sea. The mention made upon this column of that other terminus of measurement, so far distant in the South of Europe, reminded us by contrast of one more advantage which this high latitude possesses - the greater rapidity of its vegetation. When the sun once appears within this polar region, it comes to stay. Nature immediately makes amends for her long seclusion. For three months the sunshine is well-nigh incessant. There is no loss of time at night. The flowers do not close in sleep. All vegetation rushes to maturity. Thus vegetables in the Arctic circle will sometimes grow three inches in a single day, and although planted six weeks later than those in Christiania, they are ready for the table at the same time.
The Gulf Streams Terminus.
The Meridian Shaft.
Sailing finally from Hammerfest, a voyage of seven hours brought us to our destination - the North Cape. I looked upon it with that passionate eagerness born of long years of anticipation, and felt at once a thrill of satisfaction, in the absence of all disappointment. For my ideal of that famous promontory could not be more perfectly realized than in this dark-browed, majestic headland, rising with perpendicular cliffs, one thousand feet in height, from the still darker ocean at its base. It is, in reality, an island, divided from the mainland by a narrow strait, like a gigantic sentinel stationed in advance to guard the coast of Europe from the Arctic storms.