The National Vehicle.
Luxury In Norway.
At home we would not think of driving forty miles a day in an open wagon through the rain; why, then, should we do it unnecessarily in Norway, where showers are proverbially both frequent and copious? As for the fun and novelty of cariole-riding, these can always be had, for several hours at a time, between one station and another, even if one has engaged a larger carriage for the entire journey, for the cost of a cariole and pony for half a day is ludicrously small, and the change to it, occasionally, well repays the slight expenditure.
A Peasant Girl.
But in thus speaking of the cariole, I have unwittingly put the cart before the horse. A word of praise must certainly be given to the usual Norwegian steed. Of all the ponies I have ever seen, these of Norway are at once the strongest, prettiest, and most lovable. They are usually of a delicate cream color, with one dark line along the back, the mane being always closely cut. These ponies are employed in Norway almost universally, being not only less expensive but really more enduring than the larger horses. For weeks we drove behind these little animals, till we had tested certainly seventy - five of them, and never once did we observe in any of them the slightest ugliness or a vicious trait. They are, moreover, wonderfully sure-footed. I never saw one stumble or go lame. Possibly, later in the season, when much over-worked, they may not have the spirit which we found in them; but in our drives of more than two hundred miles there was not one which did not cheerfully respond to any call.
A Norwegian Pony.
A Farm Scene.
This being premised, let us really begin our journey. At first we found the scenery more beautiful than grand. In many places I could have believed myself in portions of either of the American states of New Hampshire or Vermont. Across the fields I often noticed long, dark lines which, in the distance, looked like hedges. On examination, however, these proved to be wooden fences, covered with new - mown grass; for, in this way, Norwegian farmers "make hay while the sun shines." Some of these fences are very low, but others have considerable height. Norwegian farmers claim that grass hung thus, and thoroughly exposed to wind and sun, will shed the rain and dry more quickly than if left upon the ground. Their theory seems reasonable, and the extent of the hay crop, which is very important, further justifies it. There is one other argument in favor of these hay-racks,- during all other seasons of the year they serve as clothes-lines for the family washing. But even more peculiar than the fences were the vehicles used for hauling the hay into Norwegian barns. We laughed at first sight of these rustic carts. They are only a trifle larger than a good- sized cradle, and are perched upon the smallest wheels I ever saw on anything except a toy. Yet there is good reason for their use, for on Norwegian farms the loads are drawn, not by stout oxen, but by little ponies. Moreover, the grass is often cut from the edge of precipices, or in deep ravines, and these low carts are certainly better adapted than high and heavy ones for locomotion in such regions.
A Maud Muller.
While thus absorbed in agricultural reflections, we drove up to the house where we were to take supper. A pleasant-featured girl, with a baby in her arms, invited us to enter. She spoke English perfectly, having been born, as we learned, in Minneapolis. I shall never forget that first Norwegian supper. The name for the evening meal in Norway is "aftenmad," but often-mad would better express it in English. First, there were placed before us five different kinds of cheese, the most remarkable of which was a tall monument of chocolate-colored substance made from goat's milk. This, by Norwegians, is considered perfectly delicious; but for a month I shuddered at it regularly three times a day. Next was brought in a jar containing fish. At this my friend smiled joyfully.