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THE BRIDE OF THE FIORD.
OLD Norway, crowned in snow, and embraced in ocean's waters, begirt with rock and mountain, with her forests of pine and her living lakes the primitive habits of her people, their industry, and their national en thusiasm, is, indeed, a remarkable land. As remarkable to-day in her character, as she was a thousand years ago; when her sea-kings were upon the coasts of many European lands, giving laws and customs to the civi. lised nations, who now look down upon modern Norway, and forget, or are ignorant of, the past. But if scenery and national habits stamp noble peculiarities upon the land and its people, still more should that people's warm-heartedness make them objects of European interest. A warm-heartedness which, whether it displays itself in deep national love of “ Fader-land," in generous hospitality to the stranger, or in the relations of man to man and to society, of hus. band, wife, and child, is, in its intensity and truthfulness, markedly illus. trative of an uncorrupted people. Somewhat of this is conveyed in the true story of Olaf and Margaret.
It was summer on the Fiord, whose waters slept without a ripple, as their clear surface reflected back the shadows of the abrupt rocks, upon whose summits grew lofty pines, and within whose clefts the wall-flower, and the red and yellow cloud-berries, con trasted their gaudy colours with, here and there, a lily of the valley, rearing its modest head through scanty grass and green moss. So narrow was the inlet for its waters, that the Fiord might have seemed a closed lake ; and so surrounded was it by its lofty and rocky boundaries, that no light fell upon its surface, save that which shot down vertically from a cloudless sky. Far beyond those rocks arose mountain piled on mountain, until they blended with the heavens; and their tops, capped with the unmolten snow of centuries, contrasted their silvery whiteness with the black rocks and
dark trees which surrounded that glassy Fiord. Above it, and opposite to those mountains, wound one of those precipitous roads, over which it is impossible for horse or machine to travel, save when the Norwegian snow fills up all chasms, and strong ice, from cleft to cleft, makes winter bridges, over which the sledge is then drawn, with a security marvellous to such as could have seen its irregular summer surface and gaping chasms, down whose sides nought save the fox, the squirrel, or the hare, could be expected to find footing. Yet, at the upper end, through an open between two rocks, the waters passed out into a wider space and onward, until miles above that Fiord arose a little village, of some dozen farmhouses, and a plain white church. Here, on that Fiord, the village found its fishing, and its inhabitants were sustained principally from its waters, together with such game as the Fjelde, beyond its rocky boundaries, afforded.
It was yet morn, and no boat was out; nothing disturbed the perfect stillness of the hour, except the screech of some alarmed sea-bird, as the fox or the wolf neared its dwelling. One human being only was visible in its neighbourhood; and she, with a light and agile foot, yet with cautious steps, wound her way along that boundary road—now up amid the topmost pines, now down the side of some declivitous rock, now along the moss-bank at its foot, and then up again ; now in sight, and now obscured from view by some projecting prominence. Her figure was light and graceful, and her dress picturesque in the extreme. Upon her head she wore a cap of blue and scarlet cloth, fastened 'in upon her temples with a golden band. A dress of reindeer skin, closed in at the waist by a worsted sash, fell to her knees, and beneath it her limbs were clad in a lighter skin, which fitted her close as stockings, and surrounded the feet as shoes; while her neck was
covered with a red wrapper, fastened looked laughingly upon everything ; in a neat tie beneath her chin. Her and her well-developed frame, full, yet dress alone bespoke her not of Nor- graceful, with every move of the cars wegian blood ; and the remarkable was moulded into fresh outlines of characters of her exquisitely-delicate loveliness. A glance at her could tell shape, her dark-brown eyes, sloping that her heart was a happy home, and somewhat to the temples ; her black the music of peace it breathed was on hair and sallow skin, stamped her one her countenance. It was Margaret, of the Lapland race. She was of that the betrothed of Olaf, and she was out outcast blood. Her tribe was sure to in her light skiff upon the waters to be near at hand-their tents cast in meet him, to whom her heart was some neighbouring Fjelde, where were pledged. She looked not for the Lapgrazing their troops of reindeer. Every lander—the Laplander looked not for foot of that way seemed known to her—but their eyes met, and Margaher; she must have trod it often be ret's boat was speedily at the bank, fore. Does she seek flower or fruit ? where that young Laplander sat mus. No; she looks to neither. Journeys ing. And Margaret addressed hershe to the village ? No; for now she « Ho! are your tribe near the stops, and seating herself upon the Fiord? Have you any furs to sell ?". bank, close to the water's edge, she “None to sell," was the calm reply, seems to await in silence the object of distinctly spoken in passable Norse. her mission. From her bosom she has “Then what do you at the Fiord, pulled forth a pair of fur mittens, and alone, unless you came to sell or looked at them with a pleased earnest- buy? If on your way to the village, ness; then glanced hastily along the I will row you there in my boat." waters in the direction of the cleft The Laplander looked up, and the leading to the village, and with a lis- tears were in her eyes. In Norway tening but a disappointed expression there is a superstition against sitting of face, she has replaced them in her with a Laplander, whose outcast tribe dress again. There, until the noon- are at once despised as inferior, and day sun lay reflected on those waters, dreaded as supernatural. The Lapshe sat, statue-like and motionless, lander knew and felt all this, and the except that at intervals her head in- unexpected and kindly offer touched clined in a listening attitude, as though upon her heart. She expressed her she watched for some oar upon the thankfulness, and shook her head, as water. At length a look of pleasure she looked up into the sunny face of beamed over her dark features, and her who, standing in her boat, looked her head and ears became fixedly at down upon that “poor Fin”* with an tentive to some coming sound. It expression of touching, but warm sad. was a boat, approaching from the vil. ness, as though she grieved for the lage; its oars splashed steadily but outcast fate of her race. gently in the water, worked by a "I have nothing to sell," said the female's hands, who sat alone within Fin,' " and I want to buy nothing." it. Again the Laplander's counte Then, after a pause-"I have not been nance relaxed into its passive sadness, here for two years; my tribe has been and expressed disappointment. She up far north, and now, when on their made a first motion, as though she way to Drontheim, I ventured to this would retire, and then hesitatingly re. Fiord with these gloves," said she, sumed her seat. Presently the boat drawing them from her bosom, "which neared her, and she had a closer view I have made for one to whom I owe of its inmate. A sweet-looking girl, the rescue of my life, even from this upon whose regular features twenty water, two years ago." summers had told their time, and ri. Pleasure again lit up the young pened into glorious womanhood a thing Norwegian's countenance, as she exof angel beauty, her soft blue eyes, claimed from the midst of light flaxen hair, “Oh, I know it, I know it all; you that curled naturally over her temples, are the young Laplander, who fell
* Mallett, in his “ Northern Antiquities,” considers Fins and Laps as distinct ; but these wandering and gipsy tribes appear to be called, in modern Norway, indifferently, Fin or Lap.-See the Works of Inglis and Laing:
from yonder rock, and whom noble Olaf plunged into the waters for, and saved."
Warmly and passionately the young Fin exclaimed, “I am, I am;" and her dark eyes lit up, and the flush of gratitude came in warm red blood upon her sombre features.
Two years before, in clambering over these rocks, her skin shoes had slipped upon a shelving bank, from whose edge she was precipitated into the waters beneath. Olaf, a bold young waterman, living near the Fiord, and who happened to have been then, from his boat, casting his fishing-net upon the waters, saw her fall, and with the instinctive courage of true manhood, aided by his skill in swiming, as a child of the water, he res. cued her. In his boat she came to consciousness, as his manly form knelt over her, and from his corn-spirit flask he poured upon her temples, and applied to her lips, the rude stimulant and restorative of his country. She recovered with that intense sense of gratitude which such an event was sure to beget. She looked up into his open and gallant features, as though some genius of the spot above the measure of humanity had been her deliverer. And she, the poor Lapland girl, an outcast from Norwegian homes -one with whom the sons of old Nor. way would neither sit nor eat-was there tended by a Norseman, to whom she was debtor for her life. It has been somewhere beautifully said, “We plant a rose, and then we water it because we planted it.” Olaf felt the influence of some such feeling: he would fain have carried home the gentle and subdued being he had rescued; but the superstitions of his country were strong upon him, and as soon as he felt that she was sufficiently restored to leave his boat, he raised her in his arms, and laid her upon that very bank where she now sat. Thence he helped her along the rude footings of the rocky path, and as she indicated the direction of her tribe, he led her to the Fjelde where her people, with their flocks and tents, had gathered. There, left in security, he parted her, scarcely returning the warm and pas. sionate band-grasp she bestowed upon
him, as kneeling at his feet, she prayed her earnestly honest thankfulness to him and “Nipen "* for her deliver, ance.
"Pray to Nipen," said he, "to guard me on the Fiord-'tis all I ask.”
And the poor Fin prayed, and warmly prayed.
They met to know each other no more; but his image, and the thought of him, and the warm prayer to Nipen for him, for her brief life, filled the heart and soul of that young Fin. She and her tribe passed far north ; but wherever they struck their tentswherever she led her aged and sightless mother, victim of the Lapland blindness, t there her mental vision carried Olaf. Her filial duties of guiding and caring that feeble parent, her duties to her tribe, her needlework, which she plied dexterously, were still pursued as constantly as before; but the Lappish song no longer kept time with her employment : her gaiety was gone. She no longer sat before her tent, surrounded by the youth of her tribe, listening to the music of her gentle voice, or delighting in her tales of tent-scenes and olden Lapland times, and reindeer adventures, and stories of the Fiord demon and the Nipen vengeance. The poor Laps shook their heads, and marvelled what had fallen upon “Una." Her whole character was changed. One all-absorbing thought filled her mind. “Olaf, her saviour !-should she ever meet him again? What could she do to show him the depth of her gratitude for that kindness from the hands of one of his race?" Still it never suggested itself to Una's simple nature, that this feeling of gratitude was gradually extending itself into a deeper passion. For two whole years, while with her tribe, she had gone north, and now south again, back to the old and well-remembered encampment. Her thoughts had been upon that man and that hour. At her blind mother's knee she had wrought those gloves of the loveliest skin she could procure, and fastened with such needlework as never Fin-girl had given to skin before, and made to fit him_"Oh! she knew they would fit him!” Poor in. nocent!--and yet she knew not it was love. And now, upon the first morning she had reached that Fiord, she was down upon it, and there, upon the well-remembered bank she had placed herself, patiently to await the fishing. hour that would bring the object of her mission upon those waters. And who was the Norwegian girl with whom she now conversed ?
* “ Nipen” is the demon-god, to whom the Norwegians make such propitiating offerings : he is the author of good and evil.
f Blindness is sadly prevalent amongst the Laps and Fins.
Margaret Franz was the pride of the village above that Fiord. She was the daughter of the farmer, or landowner, who held all those lands stretching up from its boundaries to the mountain foot. Every one liked Margaret Franz. She was so good, and then there was so much of that good. ness shining out in her open features. And all the young men loved her, she was so beautiful and so gay—so cheer ful at their feasts, so free from guile; she sang so sweetly, she danced so well, and she was so kind to all. Alas, poor Fin !_and Olaf loved her warmly and wildly as ever man loved a woman; and Olaf had won return-love. And ere the winter set in, Olaf and Margaret were to be wed together, and he was to live with her upon her father's land; and everything was set tled, and the day named ; and Olaf had gone down to Drontheim, to lay in the necessary stores for a wedding, and a winter home in Norway.
All this, with the open franknessof her nature and her nation, Margaret Franz told to the poor Fin. She told it, partly because every one knew it, and partly because she thought that grate ful Lapland girl would be glad to hear that Olaf was about to be happy; she told it, because she felt proud to have a listener who knew that Olaf was good, and Olaf was brave; she told it, because her heart was full of joy, and she thought every one must participate that joy; and sure the outcast Fin, who owed her life to him, must rejoice in it too!
Now, for the first time, that poor Lapland girl felt the truth. She knew not till now she loved, but now !she felt it in the envy of Margaret which sprang up in her bosom at that
moment. She felt it in the hot tears which rolled down her cheek, as she stooped to pluck the flowers that lay at her feet, to hide her bitter secret. She felt it in the heart-sinking which made ber wish she was beneath those waters again, and no Olaf near to rescue her. But to bear and suffer was the destiny of her race, and she knew it, and she must endure it. Still it came so suddenly upon her, that though she knew she durst never hope that Norway Olaf would wed Lapland Una, she never thought of it at all till now, and now it was all, all upon her ; now she understood herself- she saw it all. Slowly, as the tears dried off, she raised her head, and looking into the sunny and happy face before her, said
“And he cannot be back to-day ?”
"No ;" was Margaret's reply ; “as he has not been here before this hour, he comes not till to-morrow."
" Then you will give him," said the Fin, and her measured words were scarcely audible-"you will give him the present I have made for him ;" and she placed the gloves in Margaret's hands. “Tell him the Lapland girl he saved made them for him! Tell him she never forgot to pray, and give cakes to Nipen,* as Norway men do, that he might be good to Olaf. Tell him," said she, and her bosom swelled as she spoke, “that if you do make him happy-and oh, you will that it was Una's prayers to Nipen that got you for him.” And the hot tears rolled down again, but she brushed them aside, and rushing up the declivity, was speedily out of sight.
Margaret looked after her she was puzzled what to think. She never dreamed of an outcast Fin loving Olaf. And then these Fins were so wild ; they partook so much of the preternatural; their manners were so strange, that Margaret thought no more of it, save that she stored up the grateful creature's gloves in her own bosom for Olaf, and casting her light oars into the water, she was again afloat for her business up the Fiord.
AND at length Olaf has returned froin been completed, and the Saturday's Drontheim. All his preparations have first feast is over,t and the Sabbath
* Sweet and richly-seasoned cakes are left out at night, in Norway, for Nipen to eat.
† Wedding feasts commence on Saturday-the ceremony on Sunday.
morn has opened with its glorious light, and the waters are calm, the trees green, and the boats are all assembled, that are to carry that bridal party to the parish church. And the waters are smooth, as is to be the life of that young bride and bridegroom. Now the oars strike into the water, and the three boats are off from the bank. The first carries Margaret, and her female friends and relatives, and they are dressed in gay attire, and Margaret is all in white, and upon her head she wears a gilt crown, Norwegian emblem of a virgin bride. Her eyes are laugh. ing, and gay eyes are answering their meaning looks. At the head of that first boat sit two youths with pan-pipes, playing their sweetest music, all arms have laid down their oars to listen to that music, a light sail has been un. furled to catch the favouring breeze, and all are happy there_happy as though life had no ills in the future.
Within the second boat sits Olaf; he handles no oar now, and around him sit his friends and relatives, and some of them carry fiddles, and some carry the rifle, wherewith the Norway peasant is found to be expert in killing wolves and cock; and the third boat carries more friends, and one of them has a drum, and around them are piled the wedding presents of numerous friends, making a store of winter food and clothing—the kegs of spiced-meat puddings, the dried fish, the frozen venison, the cock of the north, the ptarmigan, and the hare, the cloaks and shawls of fur, the cloth, woven in domestic looms, and the various arti. cles of furniture ; and nearly all are the gifts of those loving Olaf and Mar garet-the food from the hands of fair kinswomen-the clothes and furniture wrought by the skill of brother-pea sants and brother-boatmen. How beau. tifully illustrative of the generous and simple habits of this natural people! And as the boats moved onward for the Church, now the pandean-pipe pours out its music, and woman's voice goes with it, and then the drum peals out its louder joy, and presently the music ceases, and the rifles are dicharged along the water, and the distant echoes reiterate their discharge, again and again. And these rough men, with their large slouched hats and tightened
jerkins, and long knives, stuck in at their waists, and reaching down to their large water-boots, are all joyous, too, and they sing in loud and spirited cho. rus their national anthem of “ For Norge;" and then, as its chorus dies upon the waters, the rifles are again discharged. Then some old Norseman, whose age precludes his singing, but who is venerable in his knowledge of the historic records of his country; who,wending back intoprimitive times, can recount the Saga, which he now recites with the energy of younger daysthe Saga of many a noble “seaking," who carried war and conquest down into England, and off for southwho gave Norway laws, and made her name ring, a thing of terror upon southern ears. How intently that national people regard his historic tales, and thank their aged bistorian when he ends. And then the flasks of corn. whiskey, and the fiery potato-spirit, and the birch-tree wine, are handed round, and the toast of “ Gamle Norgé"4 is drank with an enthusiasm becoming the sons of that mountain, snow-clad land. Oh, it is a happy scene!-and when a pause comes in their joyous music, the tinkling of bells can be heard upon these waters, from the village church, where the clergyman awaits their coming.
Nearer and nearer they make for that village; and already Margaret's boat, lightest made and lightest filled, strikes a-head of the others, and bids fair to win in this bridal race to reach the church. And now the rough jest is thrown by his male companions to Olaf
« His bride and her bright crown are fleeing from him."
« His lazy boat had best pull hard, or she will be to the church and wed to his rival before he can reach her."
And Olaf looks serious, not because his honest nature disrelishes the joke, but his seaman's knowledge has looked a-head, and dark clouds are rolling down from behind that pinewood forest, and the gathering shadows portend that, ere the evening closes, the storm-demon may screech over those calm waters. He shouts to Margaret's boat to have her sail lowered, and to work with their oars. But that boat is too far a-head to hear, or