A Hay Cart.
At A Farm House.
A Norwegian Hay-Field.
"Ah," he exclaimed, "here is fish! Anything in the line of fish I can eat with a relish".
He drew a specimen from the jar, and put a portion of it in his mouth. A look of horror instantly overspread his face, and, covering his features with a napkin, he left the room in haste. I quickly followed him, and found him in the back yard gazing mournfully at some Norwegian swine.
"What is the matter?' I asked, "do you prefer pork to fish?"
"I believe I do," he rejoined. Then turning to the girl, who had followed us, he inquired, "What is the Norwegian word for pork?"
"Do You Prefer Pork To Fish?".
"Griss,"* was the reply.
"Thank you," he faltered, "I don't think I will take any today".
"Eh" (in an aside to me), "had n't we better drive on?'
"Drive on?" I cried. "Drive on, when there is plenty of fish, which you always eat with so much relish?' "Great heavens!" he groaned, "that was too much even for me. It was a raw anchovy dipped in vinegar".
While this colloquy was taking place, we re-entered the dining-room and asked for bread. We were amazed to see what this request brought forth. Upon a plate almost as large as the wheel of a Norwegian hay-cart was brought to us a mound of circular wafers nearly three feet in circumference, and each about as thick as one of our buckwheat cakes.
* Pronounced as is our English word grease.
They were made of rye meal and water (chiefly water), and were so crisp that they would break to pieces at a touch. This is called "flatbrod," and it is certainly in every sense the flattest article ever invented for the human stomach. The people, however, are fond of it, and I saw horses eat it frequently, mistaking it (quite naturally, I am sure) for tablets of compressed hay.
But here I shall probably be asked, "Is this the usual state of things in Norway?" No, this first station was unusually poor. The staple article of food in Norway (always fresh and good) is salmon. Milk and sweet butter can also be had, and eggs ad libitum. In fact, the abundance of eggs here is probably responsible for the atrocious witticism often perpetrated by Norwegian tourists, to the effect that "if the sun does not set in Norway, hens do." Mutton and beef are not obtainable, save at the large hotels, their places being usually supplied by veal, sausage meat, or reindeer hash. I met, while traveling here, an Englishman, who said to me, "I did intend to drive on to Christiania; but I really can't, you know; another month of this would kill me. In the last two weeks I have eaten so many of these 'blasted eggs' that I'm ashamed to look a hen in the face!" Yet, notwithstanding the hardships which the traveler meets in Norway in regard to food, he will find all discomforts easily outweighed by the enjoyment of the trip. The constant exercise in the open air gives powers of digestion hitherto unknown, preceded by an ap-petite which laughs at everything, .....
save cheese. Of course, being so far from any city, one cannot look for luxuries at these small stations; indeed, I was surprised to find that the peasants knew enough to give us, during a meal, several knives and forks, hot plates, and other features of a well-served table. And as far as prices are concerned, they are so moderate as to provoke a smile from any one accustomed to travel in other parts of Europe.
Yes, all ordinary discomforts sink into insignificance, as I recall those memorable drives, day after day and hour after hour, over lofty mountains, through noble forests, and beside stupendous cliffs, the only sounds about us being the songs of birds and the perpetual melody of numberless cascades. Moreover, this mode of travel gave us the energy of athletes. For how can I describe the invigoration and sweetness of the air of Norway, - pure from its miles of mountains, - rich with the fragrance of a billion pines, and freshened by its passage over northern glaciers and the Arctic sea?