Title: The Land of the Long Night
Author: Paul B. Du Chaillu
Release date: September 22, 2007 [eBook #22727]
Credits: Produced by Peter Vachuska, Chuck Greif, Stephen Blundell
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
Author of "The Viking Age," "Ivar the Viking," "The
Land of the Midnight Sun," "Exploration
in Equatorial Africa," etc.
Illustrated by M. J. Burns
Charles Scribner's Sons
By Charles Scribner's Sons.
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.
EX-CHIEF JUSTICE CHARLES P. DALY
As I write this dedication, dear Judge Daly, a flood of recollections comes over me of unbroken friendship and great kindness on your part and that of your wife, whose memory I venerate and cherish. This friendship has never faltered for a moment, but has grown stronger and stronger as the years have rolled by. Fortunate is the man who wins for himself two such friends! I have never ceased to remember the warm interest you and your noble-hearted wife took from the first in my explorations in Africa. I can only give you in return love and devotion for all the kindness I have experienced at your hands.
Your devoted friend,
Paul Du Chaillu.
My Dear Young Folks:
Friend Paul has led many of you into the great Equatorial Forest of Africa. We met there many strange and wild tribes of men, and lived among cannibals and dwarfs or pygmies. We hunted together, and killed many elephants, fierce gorillas, leopards, huge crocodiles, hippopotami, buffalos, antelopes, strange-looking monkeys, wonderful chimpanzees of different varieties,—some of them white, others yellow or black,—and many other kinds of animals.
In this book I am going to take you to a very different part of the world. I am going to lead you towards the far North, to "The Land of the Long Night,"—a land where during a part of the year the sun is not seen, for it does not rise above the horizon, and in some parts of the country does not show itself for sixty-seven days, during which time the moon, stars, and the aurora borealis take its place.
"The Land of the Long Night" is a land of darkness, of snow, of wind, and at times of intense cold; and we shall have a long journey before us, and shall have to change horses and vehicles at many post stations, and at those places we shall get meals and lodgings.[viii]
When once in "The Land of the Long Night," we shall roam far and wide—east, west, north—over a vast trackless region, covered with deep snow, drawn by reindeer instead of horses, and sometimes we shall walk or run with skees, which are the snowshoes of that country, and very unlike those used by our Indians.
We shall sleep on the snow in bags made of reindeer skins, follow the nomadic Laplander and his reindeer, live with him and sleep in his kåta or tent. We shall hunt wolves, bears, and different kinds of foxes and other animals, and sail and fish on the stormy Arctic seas.
We shall have plenty of fun, in spite of the snow, the terrific wind, and the cold we shall encounter; and, thanks to the houses of refuge which we shall find in our times of peril, we shall not perish in these Arctic regions. But woe to the man who wanders in that far northern land without a guide or without knowing where these houses or farms of refuge are to be found, for he will surely succumb in some one of the storms that are certain to overtake him.
We shall cross the Swedish and Norwegian mountains of the far North, which rise to a height of several thousand feet, and come to the desolate shores of the Arctic Ocean, and there live among the people.
In a sunny room at the Marlborough in Broadway I have written this book. It is a dear little room, made bright at night with electric lights, and full of delightful reminiscences of cheerful evenings with[ix] friends, all kinds of knick-knacks, tin horns, "booby" prizes, mugs, etc.,—souvenirs of frolics at which I have had fine times. My two windows look out on the roof of a church; it is all I can see; the noise of a wheel never reaches my ears. It is an ideal room to write books in.
I am surrounded by pictures of boys and girls, and many older friends; they look down upon me and cheer me, and when I write they all seem to say, "Go on, Paul," and at other times, they cry, "Stop, Paul, you have written enough to-day; go and take a walk, go and see people and life, dine with friends; you will work much better to-morrow. 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' We shall be here to welcome you when you come back."
How good it is to have friends, no matter how humble some of them are. I love them all. No one ever has too many friends, and life without them is not worth having.
Now, as I am ready to lay down my pen, I draw a long breath—"The Land of the Long Night" is ready for the printer. I am just thinking: all my books have been published in New York, and all but two have been written, in the dear old city.
Paul Du Chaillu.
|I.||On the Way to "The Land of the Long Night."—Homesick.—Tempted to Return.—Girls and Boys Say "No; Go on, Go on, Paul."—Decide to Continue my Journey.—Winter Coming On.—Don Warmer Clothing.—From Stockholm North.||1|
|II.||Snow Land.—A Great Snowstorm.—Fearful Roads.—Snow-ploughs.—Losing the Way.—Intelligence of the Horses.—Upset in the Snow.—Difficulty of Righting Ourselves.—Perspiring at 23 Degrees below Zero.—Houses Buried in the Snow.||9|
|III.||Halt at a Farmhouse.—Made Welcome.—A Strange-looking Interior.—Queer Beds.—Snowed In.—Exit through the Chimney.—Clearing Paths.—I Resume my Journey.—Reach Haparanda.||17|
|IV.||Good Advice from the People of Haparanda.—Warned against Still Colder Weather.—Different Costume Needed.—Dressed as a Laplander.—Lapp Grass for Feet Protection.||29|
|V.||What the Arctic Circle is.—Description of the Phenomenon of the Long Night.—Reasons for its Existence.—The Ecliptic and the Equinoxes.—Length of the Long Night at Different Places.||36|
|VI.||Fine Weather Leaving Haparanda.—Windstorms succeed.—A Finlander's Farm.—Strange Fireplace.—Interior of a Cow-House.—Queer Food for Cattle.—Passing the Arctic Circle.||40|
|VII.||Skees, or the Queer Snowshoes of the North.—How They Are Made.—Learning to Use Them.—Joseff's Instructions.—Hard Work at First.—Going Down Hill.—I Bid Joseff Good-bye.||48|
|VIII.||A Primitive Steam Bath House.—How the Bath was Prepared.—What are the Twigs for?—I Ascertain.—Rolling in the Snow.—Fine Effect of the Bath.||56|
|IX.||How the Laps and Finns Travel.—Strange-looking Sleighs.—Different Varieties.—Lassoing Reindeer.—Description of the Reindeer.||60|
|X.||Harnessing Reindeer.—The First Lessons in Driving.—Constantly Upset at First.—Going Down Hill with Reindeer.—Thrown Out at the Bottom.—Queer Noise Made by Reindeer Hoofs.||66|
|XI.||The Last Days of the Sun.—Beginning of the Long Night.—A Mighty Wall of Ice.—The Long Night's Warning Voice—The Aurora Borealis and its Magnificence.||73|
|XII.||The Snow Getting Deeper.—Lapp Hospitality.—A Lapp Repast.—Coffee and Tobacco Lapp Staples.—Babies in Strange Cradles.—How the Tents are Made.—Going to Sleep with the Mercury at 39° Below.||77|
|XIII.||Toilet with Snow.—A Lapp Breakfast.—Lapp Dogs. Talks with my Lapp Friend about the Reindeer.—Their Habits and Various Forms of Usefulness.||89|
|XIV.||Moving Camp.—Another Great Blizzard.—A Remarkable Sight—Deer Getting their Food by Digging the Snow.—How Reindeer are Butchered.||99|
|XV.||Watching for the Reappearance of the Sun.—The Upper Rim First Visible.—The Whole Orb Seen from a Hill.—Days of Sunshine Ahead.||109|
|XVI.||Wolves the Great Foe of the Lapps.—How the Reindeer are Protected against Them.—Watching for the Treacherous Brutes.—Stories of their Sagacity.||112|
|XVII.||In Search of Wolves.—A Large Pack.—They Hold a Consultation.—Their Fierce Attack on the Reindeer.—Pursuing Them on Skees.—Killing the Chief of the Pack.||122|
|XVIII.||Great Skill of the Lapps with Their Skees.—Leaping over Wide Gullies and Rivers.—Prodigious Length of Their Leaps.—Accuracy of Their Coasting.—I Start Them by Waving the American Flag.||129|
|XIX.||We Encounter More Wolves.—My Guide Kills Two with his Bludgeon.—A Visiting Trip with a Lapp Family.—Extraordinary Speed of Reindeer.—We Strike a Boulder.—Lake Givijärvi.—Eastward Again.||136|
|XX.||The Lapp Hamlet of Kautokeino.—A Bath in a Big Iron Pot.—An Arctic Way of Washing Clothes.—Dress and Ornaments of the Lapps.—Appearance and Height of the Lapps.—Givijärvi.—Karasjok.||142|
|XXI.||Leave Karasjok still Travelling Northward.—The River Tana.—River Lapps.—Filthy Dwellings.—On the Way to Nordkyn.—The Most Northern Land in Europe.||150|
|XXII.||Leave Nordkyn.—Frantic Efforts of the Reindeer to Keep their Footing on the Ice.—The Bear's Night.—Foxes and Ermines.—Weird Cries of Foxes.—Building Snow Houses.—Shooting-boxes.—Killing Foxes.—Traps for Ermines.—A Snow Owl.||155|
|XXIII.||Jakob Talks to Me about Bears.—The Bear's Night.—Watching a Bear Seeking for Winter Quarters.—They Are Very Suspicious.—I Tell a Bear Story in my Turn.||165|
|XXIV.||Preparations for Crossing the Mountains to the Arctic Ocean.—Decide to Take the Trail to the Ulf Fjord.—Houses of Refuge.—A Series of Terrific Windstorms in the Mountains.—Lost.—Gloomy Reflections.—A Happy Reunion.||170|
|XXV.||A Dangerous Descent.—How to Descend the Mountains.—The Most Perilous Portion of the Journey.—Exhaustion of the Reindeer.—All Safe at the Bottom.—Arrival at the Shore of the Arctic Sea.||183|
|XXVI.||Sail on the Arctic Ocean.—The Brig Ragnild.—Ægir and Ran, the God and Goddess of the Sea.—The Nine Daughters of Ægir and Ran.—Great Storms.—Compelled to Heave To.||190|
|XXVII.||A Dark Night at Sea.—Wake of the Ragnild.—Thousands of Phosphorescent Lights.—A Light Ahead.—An Arctic Fair.—A Fishing Settlement.—How the Cod are Cured.—Fish and Fertilizer Fragrance.||199|
|XXVIII.||Among the Fishermen.—Their Lodgings and How They Look.—What They Have to Eat.—An Evening of Talk about Cod, Salmon, and Herring.—The Immense Number of Fish.—A Snoring Match.||205|
|XXIX.||Departure for the Fishing Banks.—Great Number of Boats.—More than Five Thousand Oars Fall into the Water at the Same Time.—Quantities of Buoys and Glass Balls.—A Notable Catch of Cod.||211|
|XXX.||A Great Viking Sea Fight.—Svein King of Denmark, Olaf King of Sweden, Erik Jarl of Norway, against King Olaf Tryggvasson of Norway.—They Lie in Ambush.—Magnificent Ships.—The Long Serpent.—Ready for the Fight.—The Attack.—The Jarn Bardi.—Defeat of Olaf Tryggvasson.||219|
|XXXI.||Sailing along the Coast of Finmarken.—Hammerfest, the Most Northern Town in the World.—Schools.—Fruholmen, the Most Northern Lighthouse in the World.—Among the Sea Lapps.—Men and Women Sailors.||227|
|XXXII.||A Sea Lapp Hamlet.—Strange Houses.—Their Interiors.—Summer Dress of the Sea Lapps.—Primitive Wooden Cart.—Animals Eat Raw Fish.—I Sleep in a Sea Lapp's House.—They Tell Me to Hurry Southward.||232|
|XXXIII.||Comparison of Finmarken with Alaska.—The Two Lands Much Alike.—What Must be Done for Alaska.—Colonization.—Importation of Reindeer.—Protection of Fisheries.—Houses of Refuge.||241|
|XXXIV.||Preparation to Leave the Arctic Coast.—Great Danger of Encountering Melting Snow, or Rivers Made Dangerous by the Ice Breaking.—Reindeer Come.—Farewell to the Sea Lapps.—I Leave for More Southern Land.||244|
|XXXV.||We Enter a Birch Forest.—The Reindeer are Soon Fagged.—Sleep on the Snow.—The Rays of the Sun Melt through the Snow.—Great difficulty in Travelling.—Meet Herds of Reindeer.—Reindeer Bulls Fight Each Other.||249|
|XXXVI.||Variable Weather.—Snowy Days.—An Uninhabited House of Refuge.—Animals Changing the Color of their Fur.—Mikel Tells Me about a Bear.—Killing the Bear.—Hurrying on over Soft Snow and Frozen Rivers.—The Ice Begins to Break.—Pass the Arctic Circle.||256|
|"Your friend, Paul Du Chaillu."||Frontispiece|
|"On the road were many snow-ploughs at work levelling the snow."||8|
|"The husband suddenly disappeared through the trap-door and soon came back with potatoes and a big piece of bacon."||20|
|"The boys got hold of my hands and pulled me through."||24|
|"It was, indeed, a fearful wind storm."||40|
|"Paulus, try again!"||54|
|"The man had to use all his strength."||64|
|"I was shot out of the sleigh."||68|
|"At noon I saw the sun's lower rim touching the horizon."||72|
|"What a strange abode these nomadic Lapps have!"||80|
|"I went outside the tent with my host."||92|
|"They were really working hard for their living."||104|
|"The Lapp passed him like a flash and gave him a terrible blow."||124|
|"It was a fight for life!"||128|
|"Suddenly I saw them fly through the air."||132|
|"I advanced cautiously."||160|
|"The mist was so thick that I could not see ahead."||172|
|"We remained seated on the ground, back to back."||180|
|"Once in a while I gave a look towards the ugly precipice."||184|
|"I am clad in the garb of a fisherman."||190|
|"I saw a big towering wave rolling towards the stern of the ship."||194|
|"It is hard work to haul in the nets."||212|
|"We sailed towards North Cape."||228|
|"He sat on his haunches and looked at us, uttering a tremendous growl."||262|
On the Way to "The Land of the Long Night."—Homesick.—Tempted to Return.—Girls and Boys say "No; Go on, Go on, Paul."—Decide to Continue my Journey.—Winter Coming On.—Don Warmer Clothing.—From Stockholm North.
AT the time when this narrative begins I was travelling on the highroad that skirts the southern coast of Sweden, then turns northward and follows the shores of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. I had reached that part of the highway overlooking the narrow part of the Sound which separates Sweden from Denmark, and had just left the pretty little city of Helsingborg, and was looking at the hundreds of vessels and steamers which were moving towards the Baltic or coming out of that sea. It was a most beautiful sight.
I intended to follow the road as far north as it went, and enter "The Land of the Long Night" when the sun was below the horizon for many weeks. I had plenty of time to spare, for it was the beginning of October.
On that day my horse was trotting at the usual gait of post-horses, going at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. He knew every stone, ditch, bridge, and house on the road, for many and many a time the dear old animal had made this journey to and fro, often twice each way in a day. He had been a post-horse for over twelve years.
His master, my driver, was very kind to him. He always alighted when there was a hill to ascend, and walked by his side, gently urging him to go on. When the top of the hill was reached, he stopped to give the animal time to take breath; then, before starting again, he would give him a piece or two of black bread, sometimes a potato, which he had put in his pocket before leaving. The people of Scandinavia are always kind to their dumb animals. Believe me, dear young folks, there is something mean and cowardly about a man who is not kind to dumb creatures. Do not have him for a friend!
As I looked at the ships sailing from the Baltic, a sudden yearning to go home took hold of me, and I forgot all about "The Land of the Long Night." I thought of all my dear friends, of all the school girls and boys whom I knew, and I wanted to see them ever so much, even if it might be only for a day. It would have made me so happy to look upon their faces once more. Sometimes one feels very lonely when away from home, and that day I could not help it. I thought of dear Jeannie, of sweet Gertrude, and Hilda, of Marie, of Pauline, of Helen, of Laura, of Blanche, of Julia, of Melissa, of Rowena, of Beatrice, of Alice, of Maude, of Ethel, of Evelyn, of Louise, of Iphigenia, and others that were also dear to me. Then I thought of Charles, of Arthur, of William, of Louis, of John, of Robert, of Frank, of George, of Anson, of Mortimer, of Eddy, of Fred, and of many others.
Many of the girls and boys call me either "Paul," "Friend Paul," or "Uncle Paul;" some of the girls call me "Cousin Paul." These are my chums, and it is lovely to have chums! I thought of the fun and good times I had had with all of them; and I felt on that day that I loved them more than ever as the great ocean separated us.
I thought of all the young folks whom I had talked to in the public or private schools in many of the States,—for if there is a thing Friend Paul likes, it is to talk to the young folks at school. As I thought of this, it seemed as if I could see them listening to me.
I suddenly became very homesick. I said to myself: "I will go to America and see my dear friends, and then return to go to 'The Land of the Long Night.'" I could cross the Sound, go to Copenhagen,—the city was almost in sight, and a nice city it is,—and take one of the comfortable steamers of the Thingvalla Line, now called Scandinavian-American Line, for New York.
As I was thinking of this, it suddenly seemed to me that I heard voices coming across the Atlantic,—voices from friends, from school girls and boys, calling: "Friend Paul, go on, go on to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, and then come and tell us how it is there. Be of good cheer; no harm will befall you; you will be all right."
Friend Paul cheered up when in imagination he had heard the voices of his young friends urging him to go on, and he answered back: "Girls and boys, you are right. I am going to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, and on my return I will tell you all that I have seen there."
The dear old horse did not know what I was thinking, and was trotting along—until suddenly he made a sharp turn and entered the post station, the end of his journey. There I changed horse and vehicle, took some refreshment, and started again. During the afternoon, I came to the town of Landskrona. There, looking towards the Sound, I saw a steamer of the Thingvalla Line gliding over the sea on its way to New York, and I said aloud, "Steamer, you are not going to take me home this time. I am going to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, to the land of snow and of gales, the land of the bear, of the wolf, of the fox, and of the ermine. Good-bye, good-bye, dear steamer! I hope you will have a successful passage, and also that you have on board many Scandinavians going to our shores to make their home with us."
I thought I again heard the same voices as before cry in response, "Good for you, Paul, good for you!"
I felt now that I was a different man. It was as if I had actually heard the voices of the dear young people encouraging me to go forward. I suddenly became very restless and full of energy. I wanted my horse to go faster. The young folks wished me to go to "The Land of the Long Night." To that country I should go.
From that day I was ready for any amount of hardships, of bumping and knocking about in sleighs. I did not care if my ears and nose were frozen. All I wanted was to go ahead as fast as I could until I reached "The Land of the Long Night."
I was in splendid condition for the journey. I had been roughing it all summer in the mountain fastnesses of Norway. I had been living on cream, butter, cheese, and milk, and had had bacon twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays.
There were about one hundred and forty or fifty post stations before I reached Haparanda, the most northern town on the Gulf of Bothnia.
Every day's travel brought me nearer to "The Land of the Long Night," but it was still a very long way off. I had yet to sleep at many post stations and to change horses and vehicles many times.
I entered and left many towns—Malmö, Skanör, Falsterbö, Trelleborg,—these last three were quaint, and the most southern towns in Sweden. How charming, clean, and neat are those little Swedish towns! I wished I could have tarried in some of them. Then I made a sweep eastward, following the coast, and passed the town of Ystad, and then I gradually drove northward, for now the road skirted the shores of the Baltic. I passed Cimbrishamn, Sölvesberg, Carlshamn, and Carlskrona.
From Carlskrona the country was very pretty, and on my way to Kalmar, and further north, I could see the Island of Öland with its numerous windmills.
The continuous driving, often in vehicles without springs, was rather hard on my trousers, and I had not many pairs with me. In a word my outfit was very modest. To travel comfortably, one must have as little baggage as possible; for if you have too much baggage it is as if you were dragging a heavy log behind you; you are not your own master, all kinds of difficulties come in the way, and you have become the slave of your own baggage. I bought clothing as I went along. I wished I could have found some trousers lined with leather, like those used by cavalry soldiers and by men who ride much on horseback; these would have lasted a long time.
The weather was getting colder every day, winter was coming, and we had had a few falls of snow. I passed Oscarshamn and Westervik, and at last about the middle of November I arrived in Stockholm. But I had yet to travel more than nine hundred miles to the north before I came to the southern border of "The Land of the Long Night."
I had to give up my New York overcoat for warmer clothing and get a new winter outfit. I bought a long, loose overcoat coming down to my feet. It was lined throughout with thick, hairy wolf skin, which is said by the people of the far North to be the warmest lining after the skin of the reindeer. I also purchased big top-boots lined inside with furry wolf skin, and a round beaver cap with a border which, when turned down, protected my ears and came to my eyes. I had besides a big, heavy hood, lined with fur, to be used when it was very cold. I had a pair of leather mittens lined inside with fur (mittens keep one's hands much warmer than gloves, because they are not so tight and they do not impede the circulation of the blood). The collar of my coat rose above my head and almost hid my face, and when I wore my hood only my eyes could be seen. In this winter costume I could drive all day long without feeling cold.
From Stockholm I drove to Upsala by road—for I did not care for railway travelling—changing horse and vehicle at every post station. When I reached Gefle winter had come on in earnest. Now all the houses in the hamlets and towns which I passed had double windows, and at the bottom, between the two, a layer of cotton was spread to absorb the moisture. Instead of sliding sashes, French windows opening like doors are used, and one of the panes of each is free for ventilation. The rooms were uncarpeted, just as in summer, but rugs were spread on the floors.
As I drove along it was pleasant to see at the windows, behind the panes of glass, pots filled with roses, carnations, geraniums, and other plants, all bending in the direction of the sun. The sun gave scarcely any heat, yet all the plants in a room liked to look towards the light.
I was always so glad at the end of the day's travelling to rest at a post station, to enter the "stuga," the every-day room, where the family lives, and see the blazing open fireplace. How nice it was to jump into a feather bed, and sink deep and be lost in it, and to cover myself with a quilt filled with feathers or eider down!
When I found a pleasant station I would remain there a day or two to rest, for it was hard to drive day after day, for ten, twelve, or fifteen, and sometimes eighteen hours. It was interesting to see the whole family at their daily occupations; to see the women spin, weave, or knit; to see the men make skees, wooden shoes, etc., and the girls and boys go to school and have fun and play together, throwing snowballs at each other; making snow forts and defending them against other girls and boys that came to attack them. I wished sometimes to join in the fray, for I love fun.
The snow was deep, and the snow-ploughs, drawn by three horses, were seen pretty often on the road. The streets in the little hamlets or towns were often blocked.
Snow Land.—A Great Snowstorm.—Fearful Roads.—Snow-ploughs.—Losing the Way.—Intelligence of the Horses.—Upset in the Snow.—Difficulty of Righting Ourselves.—Perspiring at 23 Degrees below Zero.—Houses Buried in Snow.
AFTER I left the town of Gefle the blue sky became obscured by clouds, a few flakes of snow began to fall, then more and more came down, and soon they covered the old snow, that was already of good depth.
I had never before had a post-horse that went so fast, and I wondered why. The horse knew, but I did not: a big snowstorm was coming! He was afraid of being caught in it, and wanted to reach his stable in time. After a while the snow fell so thick that I could see nothing ahead. To make things worse it began to blow hard. Then I dropped the reins and let the horse go as he pleased. As he knew that the snowstorm was coming, so he would know how to get home. Suddenly he gave three or four loud neighs; this announced his arrival. Then he turned to the right and entered a yard. He had reached home!
The next morning it was still snowing; nevertheless I started. On the road were many snow-ploughs at work levelling the snow. These ploughs were of triangular form, made of heavy timber braced with crossbeams. They were generally from eight to ten feet in width at the back, which was the broadest part, and above fifteen feet long. They were drawn by four horses and attended by two men.
The ploughs were followed by heavy rollers of wood to pack the snow.
Erik, my driver, said that every farmer is obliged to furnish horses to clear the road and level it after a snowstorm. The number of horses he furnishes is regulated by the size of his farm. It is very important that the road should be kept in good order, and the rules are strictly enforced.
As we travelled along the road, it was amusing to see horses and dogs roll in the snow; they enjoyed it! The horses that we drove would often take a nip of the snow, and the dogs that followed us did likewise.
One day when I was looking at two horses rolling in the snow near a farmhouse, I suddenly felt a great jerk and we were pitched out headlong! Our horse wanted to have some fun! So he fell on his side and was about to roll over and enjoy himself, taking the sleigh with him; but we did not see the joke. We succeeded in putting him on his legs. The driver gave the animal a good scolding: "Shame on you, shame on you!" he said to him. The horse listened, and seemed to understand him. I think he felt ashamed.
As I journeyed further north the snow got deeper and deeper every hour. Snow-ploughs were now drawn by five horses and generally attended by three men.
The snowstorm still continued. It had now lasted over four days, and with no appearance of holding up. The wind at times blew very hard.
In spite of the snowstorm I continued to travel, and had passed the towns of Söderhamn, Hudicksvall, Sundsvall, and Hernösand, with their streets deep in snow. On the fifth day we had great difficulty in getting along. In some places the ploughs had not passed over the road since two days before, for we were now going through a very sparsely inhabited country. Some parts of the road were honeycombed with holes about fifteen inches deep, made in this way: each horse that had passed stepped in the tracks of the one that had preceded him, and made the holes deeper and deeper, which made walking very difficult for the poor animals.
The further north I went the deeper became the snow, and travelling became tedious. Our sleigh tumbled on one side or the other, upsetting before we could say "Boo!" At each effort the poor horse made to extricate himself, we had either to get out of the sleigh or be thrown out. The poor brute would often sink to his neck, and sometimes almost to his head when he got out of the snow-plough's track! In order to make some headway and to make up for the slowness of the horses and bad roads, I travelled sixteen and eighteen hours a day, and when I came to a post station I was pretty tired.
The ploughs I now met were drawn by six horses and attended by four or five men. The struggles of the poor animals as they sank continually in the deep soft snow and tried to extricate themselves, were sometimes painful to behold.
We always had to be careful to drive in the middle of the road, where the snow had been cleared and packed by the snow-ploughs and the rollers. Sometimes we could not tell where it was, for the land around was deeply buried and the track of the snow-ploughs was hidden by the fresh-fallen snow.
When my driver made a mistake and drove one way or the other outside of the track, the first intimation we had was that of the horse sinking suddenly, being ourselves upset or nearly so. Then we had a lot of trouble putting him on the track again.
After several of these mishaps, the driver would say to me: "Now I am going to let the horse go by himself. He is accustomed every year to go in deep snow on this road and he will know the way." "You are right," I would reply.
When let alone the horse would walk very slowly, and he would hesitate each time he put either his right or his left foot on the snow, to make sure he was on the right track. If he thought he was on the left of the road, it was his left foot that came down first; if he thought he was to the right of the road, he put his right foot down, but not until he had made sure that he was right. If he saw that he had made a mistake, he turned quickly to one side or the other.
One day the horse suddenly dropped one leg in the soft snow, on the right side of the track; this unbalanced him and—bang! he fell on his side, taking the sleigh with him. We were pitched out, and as we got up on our legs we found ourselves in snow up to our necks. Only after frantic efforts did the horse succeed in regaining his footing.
As I looked around and saw our situation, and that our three heads were just above the snow, with the horse's head looking at us, his eyes seeming to say, "Are you not going to help me out of this?" I gave a great shout of laughter, for the sight was so funny that I forgot being pitched out—and I said to the driver, "Don't we look funny, the horse included, with only our heads and shoulders above the snow!"
What a job we had to extricate ourselves, put the poor horse on the track again, and afterwards right the sleigh. Then we found that the harness was broken in several places, and we had to mend it the best way we could with numb fingers. I had stopped laughing, for there was no fun in that.
"At this rate of travelling," I said to the driver, "it will take a whole day to go three or four miles. I do not know whether our poor horse will be able to stand it. Look at him! He looks as if he were a smoke-stack, so much steam is rising from his body. He may become so exhausted that he will not be able to go further, and we shall have to abandon the sleigh."
"It is so," coolly replied Lars the driver, and he remained silent afterwards.
I felt sorry for the poor horse, and reproached myself for not having tarried at the last post station.
Then I said to Lars, "If the horse gives out, we will try to build a snow house for us three. You have some hay, and he will not starve. As for ourselves, we will try to reach some farm and get some food and some oats for our poor dear horse. I am very sorry we have no skees with us."
There was so much snow over the land that I thought I had come to "Snow Land." It was over twelve feet in depth; it had been snowing for six consecutive days and nights, and it was snowing yet. I was now between the sixty-third and sixty-fourth degrees of north latitude, and I had to travel on the road nearly two hundred miles more before I came to the southern part of "The Land of the Long Night." The little town of Umeå for which I was bound was still far away. I said to myself, "I have to cross this 'Snow Land' before I reach 'The Land of the Long Night.' What hard work it will be!"
A little further on we came to the post station—and how glad I was to spend the night there—to get into a feather bed. The following day the snow-ploughs and the rollers were busy, and the centre of the highway was made passable for some miles further north. So bidding good-bye to the station master and to my driver of the day before, I started with a fine young horse and a strong young fellow for a driver.
As I looked around, I could see snow, snow, deep snow everywhere. The fences, the stone walls of the scattered farms, and the huge boulders with which that part of the country is covered were buried out of sight; only the tops of the birches and of the fir and pine trees could be seen. I had not met such deep snow before! I had never encountered such a continuous snowstorm! "Surely," I said to myself again, as I looked over the country, "this is 'Snow Land.'" I wondered how long it would take to cross it. The snow was nearly fourteen feet deep on a level.
I next came to a part of the country where thousands of branches of pine and fir trees had been planted in two rows to show the line of the road. I could not tell now when I was travelling over a river, a lake, on land, or over the frozen Gulf of Bothnia!
As we were passing over one of the barren districts, a swamp in summer, full of stones and boulders, without a house in sight, I said to my driver: "When are we coming to the next farm?"
"At the rate we are going," he replied, "it will take us two hours at least."
"Then let us stop and give a little of the hay you have brought with you to the horse. After he has rested a while, we will start again."
After the horse had eaten his hay, we started. We had not gone long, however, before we were upset. The horse had not kept to the road. We had a hard time to right the sleigh and bring the horse back to firm snow. It was such hard work that the perspiration was dripping from our faces, though it was 23 degrees below zero.
"I have had enough of this travelling," I said to the driver; "the snow is too deep and soft to go on. The snow-ploughs have not done much good here. They evidently could not go far."
"I do not believe," he replied, "that horses will be given to you at the next post station, even if we should reach there to-day. But I am sure we cannot do it, and we shall have to stop at the first farm we meet and ask the farmer for shelter until people can travel on the road again."
Two hours afterwards I saw in the distance a little hamlet, or a number of farms close together. What a sight! Many of the small houses were buried in the snow, and only their roofs or chimneys could be seen. From some of the chimneys smoke was curling upwards. I was delighted.
Every one was busy digging and making trenches, so that the light and air might reach the windows, or that communication could be had between the buildings, especially those where the animals were housed. In some cases the exit had first to be made through the chimney.
It was a very strange sight indeed! and I said to myself, "Surely I am in 'Snow Land.'"
Halt at a Farmhouse.—Made Welcome.—A Strange-looking Interior.—Queer Beds.—Snowed in.—Exit Through the Chimney.—Clearing Paths.—I Resume my Journey.—Reach Haparanda.
SOON after we stopped at one of these farms. A trench about fifteen feet deep had been made, leading to the door of the dwelling-house. Here lived friends of my driver. I alighted and walked through the narrow trench and opened the storm door. In the little hall hung long coats lined with woolly sheepskin; on the floor were wooden shoes, shovels, axes, etc. A ladder stood upright against the wall.
I opened the other door. As I entered I found myself in a large room. I saluted the farmer and family. They all looked at me with astonishment, for I was not one of the neighbors, and who could I be!
The farmer said: "What are you doing, stranger, on the highroad with snow so deep, and when travelling is suspended, snow-ploughs abandoned, horses belonging to them gone to the nearest farms? You cannot go further until the snow packs itself with its own weight, and the snow-ploughs and rollers are able to work on the road. Did you come here on skees?"
"No, I drove," I replied.
"Where is your horse?"
"At the gate," I answered.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I am going north as far as the extremity of Northern Europe. I want to be in that land during the time of 'The Long Night,' when no sun is to be seen for weeks; but I am afraid I cannot travel further for a few days on account of the deep snow, and I shall have to wait; and as we cannot go further and reach the post station, I come to ask you if you can give shelter to a stranger far from his country."
"You are welcome," he replied; and his wife added, "We are poor people, we have a humble home, for our farm is small, but you will have the best we have."
"I thank you ever so much," I replied.
The farmer put more wood on the fire, the sticks being placed upright, in which manner they throw out much more heat, and a sudden blaze filled the room with a bright glow.
I like these farmers' fireplaces. They are always built of masonry in one of the corners of the room. The platform is about one foot above the floor and generally four or five feet square, with a crane to hang kettles or cooking pots on; and when only the embers remain a trap in the chimney is closed, to prevent the heat from getting out.
The wife put the coffee kettle over the fire, and one of the daughters kept herself busy with the coffee mill.
In the mean time my driver came in and was welcomed, and they asked him about me. When they heard I was from America they shouted, "From America!" and when they had recovered from their astonishment, the husband said, "I have a brother in America." The wife said, "I have a sister and two nieces in America," and tears came into her eyes. They did also into mine; there was at once a bond of union between us. To them the United States was so far away, and I was so far from home. They often thought of their folks and friends who had emigrated to our land.
The family was composed of three daughters and two sons. The girls had fair hair and large blue eyes, and were strong enough to be victorious in a wrestling contest with big boys.
The sons helped their father on the farm. The names of the girls were: Engla Matilda, Serlotta Maria, and Kajsa Maria; the mother Lovisa Kristina; the father Carl; the sons were Nils and Erik.
The big room was strange-looking. In one corner was the large open fireplace. A large hand loom, with an unfinished piece of thick coarse woollen stuff or cloth which was being woven, was in another corner. Near by were three spinning-wheels; upon one was flax and on the two others wool. On the walls were shelves for plates, saucers, glasses, mugs, dishes, etc.
The ceiling was about eight or nine feet in height. There was an opening in it which was accessible by a ladder. I wanted very much to know what there was above. Along the walls were several wooden benches like sofas, upon which the people sat. A large wooden table with wooden benches and two or three wooden chairs completed the furniture. There was a trap-door in the middle of the floor, leading into the cellar; and as this never froze, the potatoes and other vegetables, the butter and cheese, and ale were kept there.
By the side of the living-room were two doors leading to two small rooms. One had shelves for pails containing milk and the churn to make butter with. In the other room were a number of painted chests, with the initials of the owners upon them, and lots of dresses hanging along the walls, and a bed.
The husband suddenly disappeared through the trap-door and soon came back with potatoes and a big piece of bacon. The sight roused my appetite. The potatoes were washed and boiled, and the pan was put over the fire and the bacon cut into slices and fried.
The meal was put on a very clean table without tablecloth, and then the driver and I were bidden to sit down and eat. Our coffee cups were filled to the brim, and every two or three minutes we were urged to eat more, to drink more coffee. How good were the potatoes! How good were the bacon and the cheese and the butter! I thought that that meal tasted better than any I had eaten in my life.
When we stopped, for we had eaten to our hearts' content, with one voice husband and wife said: "Eat more, eat more;" and before I knew it, our two cups were filled for the third time, and more potatoes and bacon were put on our plates. They all seemed so happy to see us eat with such an appetite.
The dear farmers of Norway and Sweden were always so hospitable and kind to me. Do not wonder that I love them. No one in these countries has ever tried to do me harm or ever robbed me of a penny.
After our meal we stretched our legs before the open fireplace. I was more happy than if I had been in a splendid palace. I forgot the snow and storm. How nice it was to be in front of a fireplace when the storm was raging!
The farmer put more sticks on the fire. The room was in a perfect blaze of light. Gradually the fire died out, and when there were only embers left he stirred them with the poker until not a particle of flame appeared, and when there was no danger of fumes he shut the trap so that no heat would escape through the chimney. The time of going to bed had come.
I was wondering all the time where we were all going to sleep, for there were no beds in sight. "Perhaps," said I to myself, "we are all going up the ladder to sleep upstairs. Perhaps we are going to sleep on the floor." But I did not see any mattress, sheepskins, or home-made woollen blankets anywhere—and these when together would have made a big pile.
Suddenly I saw the daughters come to the bench-like sofas and pull out a drawer out of each sofa. These were to be the beds. They were filled with hay, with two sheepskins on the top to be used as sheets and blankets.
These sliding boxes could be made of different widths, according to the number of occupants that were to sleep in the same bed.
I said to myself, "Strange-looking beds these," when one of the girls said, "Sometimes we can squeeze five or six into one of these beds." I was glad I was not going to be the fifth or sixth, for we should have been packed like sardines or herring.
When everything was ready the boys ascended the ladder and went to sleep upstairs. A bed was given me, and the rest of the family slept in their own, two girls sleeping in one bed. Then we bade each other good-night. How warm and comfortable were my sheepskins!
In the middle of the night I heard the howling of the wind; a terrific gale was blowing. How thankful I felt to be under shelter! Early in the morning, while still in bed, I was startled by the shouts of one of the boys: "Father, we are snowed in! We cannot get out of the house!"
"Are we snowed in?" I exclaimed.
"Yes," shouted the two boys at the same time. I jumped out of bed to find out if it was a joke. It was true!
The boys were delighted, and said with great glee: "The wind has filled all the trenches with snow. We shall have to get out through the chimney. What fun that will be!"
I thought also that it would be fun. I had never got out of a house through the chimney, and I was anxious now to do it, for I might never get another chance.
Everybody was now out of bed. "It is good that the cellar is full of potatoes and that a sack of the Russian flour has not been touched, so we have plenty of food," said the father. "Besides, there is bacon, cheese, and butter," said one of the girls. Another added, "We have inside firewood for three days without being obliged to go to the woodshed."
The farmer said, "There has never been so much snow during living man's memory. Old Pehr, my neighbor, whom I went to see yesterday, and who is eighty-four years old, said that he never remembered such a snowstorm."
I thought of the poor horse that had worked so hard to bring us here. "Boys, we must make the way clear to the stable and feed your horse and mine," I said. "Let us hurry and go out through the chimney."
"They are all right," said the father; "I left so much fodder before them that they will not starve even if we could not reach them to-day."
"Dear horses, how useful to us," I said. "I often wonder that there are some men so cruel and so hard-hearted as to beat the poor animals when they have not strength enough to carry the heavy load put upon them, or to make them work when they are ill. It is a good thing that there are societies in many countries for the prevention of cruelty to horses and other animals."
"It is so," said they all with one voice; "we do not know of any one among our neighbors who is unkind to his horse. We do not know what we should do if our poor horse were ill."
"Yes," said one of the girls, "when he was a colt our horse used to put his head through the door to get pieces of potatoes and apples. We love him!"
The ladder was fetched and put into the chimney. There was no trouble about that, for the chimney was so wide. The shovels were brought in. There were three of them. Then Nils ascended the ladder, and afterwards crept to the top. This was a hard job. Erik followed, and succeeded also in reaching the roof. Then we heard voices coming down the chimney.
"Father," called the boys, "tie the shovels to the cord we drop." They had taken the precaution of carrying a cord with them. The shovels were hauled up.
Then my turn came to go through. I got into the chimney first, and saw the faces of Nils and Erik peeping down. "It is all right. Come on, Herr Paul." I ascended the ladder, then crept up the rest of the chimney. The boys got hold of my hands and pulled me through. What a sight! I was black with soot. Nils and Erik were likewise. We gave three great hurrahs. We shouted through the chimney to the folks with great glee, "Be patient, you will get out by and by."
We worked with a will, and succeeded in clearing the trench leading to the door, and there was a great shout of joy when it opened. Then the girls came out and joined us in making the way clear to the barn, to the two horses, five cows, and twelve sheep. When we opened the door of the barn the horses neighed, the cows lowed, and the sheep baaed. It was a fine concert of voices. They were glad to see us. It was their way of bidding us welcome.
Returning to the house we cleared the windows, then the well, of snow. The well was surrounded by a mass of ice. We drew water and gave a good drink to the horses and the other animals. The girls milked the cows, and gave fresh fodder to all.
When our work was done we were all as hungry as the wolves are in winter, when they have had no food for days.
In the mean time the mother had prepared a big meal for us, and we entered the house. We were ready to do justice to the food. The potatoes and the bacon quickly disappeared. After the meal we cleared the other windows of snow, and made passages to them, so that light might come through. It was a hard day's work all round!
When supper time came we seated ourselves before a big wooden bowl of porridge called "gröd," made from barley meal. On each side were two wooden bowls filled with sour milk. We ate with wooden spoons from the same dish. There were no plates for supper, and once in a while we took a spoonful of sour milk to help the gröd go down. I always enjoy eating with wooden or horn spoons.
I went to sleep in the loft this time. I wanted to be near Nils and Erik. They were fine boys, and we were friends. Did we not sleep well that night! We did not awake until their father came to shake us.
"There is nothing like shovelling snow to make one sleep," we all said, after we awoke.
The next day the women were very busy a great part of the day. Engla spun flax on her spinning-wheel, Serlotta carded wool, and Maria wove a thick woollen cloth to be turned into garments for three new suits for her father and two brothers, while the mother knitted woollen stockings.
I remained three days on this farm. During that time the snow had packed and the snow-ploughs followed by the rollers had made their reappearance on the highroad. It was time for me to leave, for I was in a hurry, and I had to travel nearly nine hundred miles before I could reach Nordkyn.
When I left I put some money into the hands of the wife, and when she felt it in her hand she said, "No, no; to be paid for giving food and shelter to a person who is overtaken by a storm, is a shame. What would God think of me for doing that? No, no;" she said again, with more earnestness.
I succeeded at last, after much insistence, in overcoming her scruples and making her take it; and once more I was on the road leading northward.
Travelling was still very difficult. I came late to a post station where I intended to spend the night, for I was very tired. The place was filled with travellers and all the beds were taken. Men slept on benches, on the top of the table, and on the floor. These were travellers who had been detained on the road and were once more on their way southward.
I saw a space on the floor between two men—just enough for me to get in—and I quietly stepped over three fellows who were fast asleep and made for the empty place, and went to sleep in my fur coat.
The next morning I was once more on the long and tedious road leading north, towards "The Land of the Long Night." That afternoon I reached the little town of Umeå.
The days had become shorter and shorter. The sun was very low at noon and was not above the horizon more than one hour. As I travelled further north I was surprised to notice that the snow diminished rapidly. I had left the great "Snow Land," or snow belt, which seemed to be between 62 and 64 degrees north, behind me.
After changing horses at several post stations I came to the little towns of Skellefteå, Piteå, and Luleå, and at last I reached Haparanda, situated at the extreme northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of the Torne river, the most northern town in Sweden.
At Haparanda I had driven about seven hundred and forty miles from Stockholm, and over twenty-five hundred miles since I had left the mountains of Norway. I was only forty-one miles south of the Arctic Circle, which is the most southerly part of "The Land of the Long Night."
Good Advice from the People of Haparanda.—Warned against Still Colder Weather.—Different Costume Needed.—Dressed as a Laplander.—Lapp Grass for Feet Protection.
I HAD hardly arrived in Haparanda, when the leading people of the place came to welcome me. I was not unknown to several of them, on account of some of my books which have been translated into Swedish; and they were my friends at once.
They heard with astonishment that I intended to go further north. They looked serious and remained silent for a while. "We will give you letters of introduction to our friends," they said; "but after a time you will be too far north, where we do not know anybody. You will find only Finlanders and Laplanders until you come to the Arctic shores of Norway."
After saying this they began to fill their big meerschaum pipes with tobacco and lighted them, and smoke came out as if from a small funnel. They gave puff after puff and were again silent; the wrinkles over their foreheads showed that they were thoughtful and anxious.
One friend said: "The country which lies between the head of the Gulf of Bothnia and Nordkyn, the most northern part of the mainland in Europe, is very stormy in winter, the winds blow with terrific force, and midway between the shores of the Baltic and the extremity of the land snow is also very deep. It is a roadless land."
When I heard this, I said to myself: "Is 'The Land of the Long Night' 'Snow Land' as well?" Then I thought of the great "Snow Land" I had left behind me, and how hard travelling had been, and I wondered if it would be worse in this second "Snow Land." If it was, then I had a hard task ahead of me.
Another friend said, "This big overcoat of yours will never do in the country you are going to. These long boots you wear will not be serviceable."
"Yes," they all said together. "This costume of yours will be unmanageable on account of the wind. You cannot travel in 'The Land of the Long Night' dressed as you are. You must dress like a Laplander. Theirs is the only costume that can stand the weather you are to encounter, the only one in which you will be able to get into their small sleighs, and face the fierce wind and the intense cold."
"Remember," said another of my new friends, "that you are going to travel over a roadless country covered with snow, the reindeer will be your horse, and you will not be able to go about without going on skees, for at every step one sinks deep into the snow."
Then another added, to reassure me: "Our country is a country of laws; we have order, and hate lawlessness. You will feel safe among the people. You will find where the country is uninhabited, or where the farms are very wide apart, houses or farms of refuge where you can get food and reindeer to take you further on. These are post stations where you can remain until the weather is good. There you are as safe as among us."
I thanked them for all the advice and information they gave me and said that I would follow their admonition in regard to my dress. They then bade me good-night. The next day I remembered what my friends had said to me the day before, and with one of them I went to get the garments worn by the Lapps.
I bought two "kaptor." These are also called "pesh." They are long blouses reaching down to the knee or below, made of reindeer skins, with fur attached; with a narrow aperture for the head to pass through, and fitting closely round the neck.
 Plural form. Singular, "kapta."
One of the kaptor was much larger than the other, for in case of intense cold one is worn beneath the other with the fur inside, and the outside one with the fur outside.
I got a pair of trousers made of skin from the legs of the reindeer, of which the fur though short is considered the warmest part of the animal, as it protects his legs, which are always in the snow. The provisions of nature are wonderful!
There are no openings to the Lapp trousers, so that no cold air can reach the body. They are fastened round the waist by a string and are tied above the ankle. There the fur is removed and the leather is made very soft so that it may go round the shoe.
I got two pairs of shoes made of the skin of the reindeer near the hoof, with the fur outside. This part is said to be the warmest part of the whole skin. All the Lapp shoes are sharp pointed, the point turning upward. They are bound at the seams with red flannel. The upper part fits above the ankle. They were large enough for me to wear two pairs of thick, home-knitted stockings and Lapp grass to surround the foot everywhere without pinching it. Long narrow bands of bright color are attached to them. These bands are wound around the legs above the ankles, thus preventing snow and wind from penetrating. These shoes can only be used in cold weather when the snow is crisp, and are especially adapted for skees, as they are pointed and have no heels.
I procured also four pairs of mittens, one made of the skin of the reindeer near the hoof, another of wool with a sort of down, the third of cow's hair, and the fourth of goat's hair; the two latter are the warmest, but they are very perishable.
I also got two pairs of very thick home-knitted stockings. These were of wool. I succeeded in getting two other pairs made of cow's hair, and another pair made of goat's hair, and I was especially cautioned to handle them gently when I put them on or took them off—likewise with the mittens of goat's and cow's hair.
I also got a vest made of soft reindeer skin to put on over my underwear, and two sets of thick underwear of homespun, for these are much warmer than those that are made by machinery.
I added to my outfit one pair of long and another shorter pair of boots for wet weather in the spring, when the snow is damp and watery. These boots were made of the skin of the lower part of the hind legs of reindeer, the fur being scraped off. The leather is black and it is prepared in such a way as to exclude water or moisture. They were rubbed with a composition of reindeer fat and tar.
Then I bought a square Lapp cap, the top filled with eider down. The rim could be turned down to protect the ears and the forehead.
After procuring my Lapp outfit, I thought I would try to dress myself in my new garments. The friend who accompanied me said: "I will show you how to prepare your feet before you put your shoes on. One can never be too careful, otherwise the feet are sure to be cold on a journey."
I put on my two new pairs of hand-knitted stockings. He surrounded my feet over the stockings with Lapp grass; then he put my shoe on most carefully, with the lower part of the trousers inside, and then wound the bands not too tight round my ankle, saying, "Now your feet will be warm all day even if you spend all your time on skees. You see how careful I have been in putting on your shoes. Dressed as you are you can defy the cold. If you follow the advice I have given you, you will never have cold feet no matter how long you drive or walk in the snow. But take great care that neither shoes, nor stockings, nor grass be damp. I think it will be well for you to let a Lapp or a Finn put your shoes on before you start on a long journey—until you can do it yourself quite well."
The "shoe grass" of which I have spoken grows in the Arctic regions in pools in the summer. It is gathered in great quantity by the Laplanders and Finlanders, who dry it and keep it carefully, for it is indispensable in winter in their land of snow and cold. It has the peculiarity of retaining heat and keeping the feet warm and absorbing the moisture. I always travelled with a good stock of that grass, twisted and knotted together in small bundles.
Then I looked at myself in the looking-glass, and for the first time saw how I appeared in my new outfit, my Lapp costume. The frontispiece will show you exactly how I was dressed (without a hood), for it is from a photograph. Unfortunately, being a bachelor, I don't know how to take care of things, and my costume, gloves, stockings, and mittens have been eaten up by moths, and I have had to throw them away. But I appeared before the American Geographical Society in New York dressed in this suit, seated in my Lapp sleigh, with a stuffed reindeer harnessed to it, and my bearskin over me.
To complete my outfit I added two large reindeer-skin bags, one larger, so that the smaller one could be put inside it without much difficulty. I was to sleep in these bags when obliged to rest out doors on the snow. One bag was sufficient in ordinary cold weather—say 15 or 20 degrees below zero; the other I would use when the thermometer ranged from 25 to 40 or 50 degrees below zero.
What the Arctic Circle is.—Description of the Phenomenon of the Long Night.—Reasons for its Existence.—The Ecliptic and the Equinoxes.—Length of the Long Night at Different Places.
NOW I was ready to go further northward beyond the Arctic Circle, and roam in "The Land of the Long Night."
The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line, just as are the Equator and the two Tropics, going round the earth, and begins at 66° 32' north latitude and is 1623 miles from the North Pole. It is the southernmost limit of the region where the sun disappears in winter, under the horizon, for one day.
At the North Pole on the 22nd of September the sun descends to the horizon and then disappears till the 20th of March, when it reappears and remains in sight above the horizon until the 22nd of September. So at the pole the year is made of one day and one night. On the 22nd day of December it disappears at the Arctic Circle for one day only. The space between the Arctic Circle and the pole is therefore called the Arctic region, or the Frigid Zone. Consequently, the further one advances to the north, the longer the duration of the night.
I will tell you the causes of this phenomenon of the Long Night. The earth revolves about the sun once every year, and rotates on its axis once in twenty-four hours, which makes what we call a day.
Rotate means to move round a centre; thus the daily turning of the earth on its axis is a rotation. Its annual course round the sun is called a revolution.
The axis about which the daily rotation takes place is an imaginary straight line passing through the centre of the earth, and its extremities are called poles, hence the names of the North and the South pole. The diurnal movement is from West to East and takes place in twenty-four hours.
The earth's orbit, or the path described by it in its annual revolution about the sun, is, so to speak, a flattened circle, somewhat elongated, called an ellipse. The axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the plane of the orbit, which is an imaginary flat surface enclosed by the line of the earth's revolution, but is inclined to it at an angle of 23° 28', which angle is called the obliquity of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path or way among the fixed stars which the earth in its orbit appears to describe to an eye placed in the sun, for the sun is the fixed centre and not the earth. The earth, therefore, in moving about the sun, is not upright, but inclined, so that in different parts of its course it always presents a half, but always a different half, of its surface to the sun.
Twice in the year, 21st of March and 21st of September, the exact half of the earth along its axis is illuminated. On these dates, therefore, any point on the earth's surface is, during the rotation of the earth on its axis, half the time in light and half the time in darkness,—that is, day and night are twelve hours each all over the globe.
These two dates are called equinoxes, March 21st being the vernal, and September 21st being the autumnal, equinox.
As the earth moves in its orbit after March 21st, the North Pole inclines more and more towards the sun, till June 21st, after which it turns away from it. On September 21st day and night are again equal all over the earth, and after this the North Pole is turned away from the sun, and does not receive its light again till the following March.
It will thus be seen that from the autumnal to the vernal equinox the North Pole is in darkness and has a night of six months' duration, during which time the sun is not seen. Therefore, any point near the pole is, during any given twenty-four hours, longer in darkness than in light.
The number of days of constant darkness depends on the latitude of the observer. At the pole the sun is not seen for six months, at the Arctic Circle it is invisible, as I have said, for only one day in December. At North Cape and Nordkyn the sun disappears November 18th, and is not seen again till January 24th. That is the reason I have called the land between North Cape and the Arctic Circle "The Land of the Long Night."
This "Land of the Long Night" commences at Nordkyn, or the most northern point of the continent of Europe,—or at North Cape, but five miles distant—on the 16th of November. The whole sun appears on that day, its lower rim just touching above the horizon at noon. The next day, 17th of November, the lower half of the sun has disappeared, and the following day, the 18th, it sinks below the horizon and does not show itself again until the 24th of January—hence the night there lasts sixty-seven days of twenty-four hours each. And at the Arctic Circle the sun is only completely hidden on the 22nd of December.
The following table shows you the dates of the disappearance of the sun, and of its reappearance at the principal places to which we are going.
THE CONTINUOUS NIGHT
|Where the sun is last seen, begins at:|
|North Cape or Nordkyn||18th|
|Where the sun is first seen again, begins at:|
|North Cape or Nordkyn||24th|
I hope that I have been successful in giving you an idea of day and night in the Frigid Zone.
Fine Weather Leaving Haparanda.—Windstorms Succeed.—A Finlander's Farm.—Strange Fireplace.—Interior of a Cow-house.—Queer Food for Cattle.—Passing the Arctic Circle.
I LEFT Haparanda in the beginning of January, surrounded by the friends who had taken such an interest in me. The atmosphere was clear, and not a cloud was to be seen in the pale blue sky, turning into greenish as it approached the horizon. There was not a breath of wind. Once the thermometer marked 30 degrees below zero.
"Be careful," said my friends. "This is treacherous weather for ears and noses, there is danger of their getting frozen; rub them, and also your face, now and then with snow. Keep your ears covered, and protect them with your hood. If it becomes colder put on your mask."
I thanked them for their kind advice, but replied: "No mask for me just now, I want to breathe this pure invigorating air as much as I can. I want it to reach my lungs."
"Be careful in such weather," they repeated. "This is beautiful weather indeed, but sometimes it does not last long and is followed by furious gales, or great snowstorms; but we hope this fine weather will follow you for many days. Often it lasts quite a while."
Then we bade good-bye to each other. They tucked the sheepskin round me, and bade the driver to take good care of Paulus.
Soon after this we were out of Haparanda and on the highroad leading to Pajala, which was about one hundred and ten miles further north, there being ten or twelve post stations between the two places.
Sleighing was fine, the road had been used much, so we went on at a very fast pace. It was just the weather people, horses, dogs, and reindeer liked. I liked it also very much, for it was so exhilarating, and I felt so well and so strong. I was ready, nevertheless, for all kinds of weather, and I was fully prepared to meet great storms, for I wanted to encounter the blizzards of the Arctic regions just to find out how strongly the wind could blow. I found out later!
I changed horses at several post stations during the day, among them the stations of Korpikyla, Niemis, Ruskola, and Matarengi. I found that the Finnish language was now prevalent, Swedish being only spoken by comparatively few people.
That day was the end of the fine weather. Towards evening the wind was blowing very hard, and it increased in strength every minute until it blew a perfect hurricane. Then what my friends had said to me came to mind. It was indeed a fearful windstorm!
The gale had become such that the horse at times did not seem to have strength enough to pull our sleigh. The snow flew in thick cloudy masses to a great height, curling and recurling upon itself and blinding us. Fortunately our robes were fastened very securely. I wore my hood, and it was so arranged that my eyes were the only part of my face that was not covered. The wind was so powerful that our sleigh was in continual danger of upsetting, and was only saved because it was so low.
I was glad indeed when I reached the hamlet of Matarengi with its red-painted log church, two hundred years old, and separate belfry of the same color.
The windstorm lasted three days. During that time I found that the temperature varied from 8 to 22 degrees below zero.
Then it became calm, the sky was perfectly clear, and the mercury marked 40 degrees below zero. There was not a breath of wind. It was fine, and I made ready to continue my journey.
Wherever I changed horse and sleigh, before starting I shook hands with the station master and his family, and after this bade good-bye to the driver who had brought me to the place. One must not forget that little politeness in these northern lands, otherwise the people would think you ill-bred or proud and would dislike you. No man has ever made friends by being proud or conceited. It is, after all, very silly, and often very ill-bred. I have found that one gets along much better in the world by being polite and obliging. It is so much easier to be pleasant than sour and gruff. In the former case you are happy; in the latter discontented and wretched. I always feel sorry when I meet people who are proud or conceited. Often I laugh at them in my sleeve, and when that pride or conceit becomes overbearing I have great contempt for them, and do not wish to have anything to do with them.
I approached very fast the regions of "The Land of the Long Night." The road was filled with freshly made, huge snowdrifts, which greatly impeded our progress. Towards noon the wind increased again, and soon I was in a worse gale than before. I said to myself, "Now I am indeed in 'The Land of the Wind.'"
Suddenly I saw dimly through the clouds of snow the dwellings of a farm. "Let us go there," I said to my driver, "for we cannot reach the post station to-day." Our horse evidently thought as we did; he had made up his mind to go no further, and preferred to be in a stable. He suddenly turned to the right, entered the yard, and stopped before the dwelling-house of the farm. I alighted. I was so dizzy from the effects of the wind that I could not walk straight, and tottered about for a minute or more. My driver was in the same condition.
I entered the house and found myself in a large room, in the midst of a family of Finlanders, whose language is very unlike the Swedish or Norwegian. I was welcomed at once by all.
I looked around, and saw a queer-looking structure, built of slabs of stone plastered over. It was about seven feet square, the inside oven-like in shape. They were just lighting a fire; then the door was closed. In one section of the structure was an open fireplace used for cooking.
Poles were secured to the ceiling near the fireplace, upon which hung garments,—stockings, shoes, boots, and other articles. In the middle of the room was the usual trap-door leading into the cellar. There were two large hand looms upon which two girls were weaving. These two looms were very old and had been several generations in the family. Three other girls were occupied with wheels, spinning wool and flax.
Along the walls of this large room, which was about twenty feet square, were a number of bench-like sofas, used for beds. Two or three wooden chairs, and a large wooden table surrounded by wooden benches, made up the rest of the furniture.
The stove began to heat the room fearfully, for after the firewood had been reduced to charcoal, and the fumes from it were gone, the sliding trap-door in the chimney had been closed, thus preventing the heat from escaping. The thick walls of the oven-like stove had been heated, and threw out a great deal of heat, which to me soon became unbearable.
The farmer said to me that the walls would remain warm for two or three days. The windows were all tight; none could be opened, and the only ventilation came through the door when some one came in or went out.
I went out and looked at the farm buildings while my sleigh was being made ready. I was surprised to see the buildings of the farm and the big timber of the log house, for I was so far north. The yard was enclosed by houses on three sides. The dwelling-house, the barn, and the cow-houses were the largest buildings. There were besides a blacksmith shop, a storehouse, and a shed for carts. All these buildings were painted red.
In the middle of the yard was an old-fashioned well, with its sweep, having at one end a bucket and at the other a heavy stone, and surrounded by a thick mass of ice. From the well there was a trough going into the cow-house, which I entered. The cattle were small and well-shaped and in good order. The building was very low, the windows very small and giving but little light. The floor was entirely planked over, and there were pens on each side.
Looking towards the end of the building I saw a girl standing by a huge iron pot, about four feet in diameter and three feet deep, encased in masonry. She was putting coarse marsh grass into the pot, which was filled with water made warm by a fire underneath. "Much of the grass we gather," said the farmer, "is coarse, and it is so tough that the cattle cannot eat it; so we have to prepare it in this way before we give it to them."
A number of sheep were penned in a corner. "Our three horses," said the farmer, "have a stable for themselves." This farm was one of the good farms, and there were a number quite as good. In some the dwellings are of two stories, but these were the great exception.
In the mean time supper had been prepared. Dry mutton as tough as leather but cut very thin, smoked reindeer meat, hard bread, butter, cheese, two wooden bowls of buttermilk, and fish were put on the table. This was a great repast, in my honor. There was no tablecloth, no napkin, no fork, the flat bread was used instead of plates, we had wooden spoons for the sour milk, and helped ourselves to it from the common dish.
A little after supper came bedtime. The girls, looking at the clock, which marked nine, suddenly got up to make the beds ready. They pulled out the sliding boxes, in one of which three of them were to sleep. The boxes were filled with straw and hay, and had homespun blankets or sheepskins, and eider down or feather pillows. The sofa-like beds were all along the walls, for there was a large family.
It was well that I was at the farm. A more terrific windstorm than all those I had seen before, arose during the night. In the morning the snow swirled to an immense height, hiding everything from sight; the whole country was enveloped in a thick cloud; the huge snowdrifts were carried hither and thither. The storm lasted two days, and after it was over the weather became calm, the temperature was 40° below zero, and when the atmosphere was very clear we had about three or four hours of twilight.
Then I bade farewell to the good farmer and his wife, and once more I was on my way to "The Land of the Long Night," which was now very near.
The next day I came to a little lake the natives called Kunsijarvi, and further on I came to still another lake called Rukojarvi; and between these two I had crossed the Arctic Circle. But it was January, the sun showed itself above the horizon at noon. Near the shore of Lake Rukojarvi was a solitary farm, where I stopped.
Skees, or the Queer Snowshoes of the North.—How They Are Made.—Learning to Use Them.—Joseff's Instructions.—Hard Work at First.—Going Down Hill.—I Bid Joseff Good-bye.
IN the morning Joseff, the owner of the farm, said to me: "Paulus, before you go further on your journey you must learn to go on skees; otherwise you will not be able to travel, for the snow is very deep further north. I will teach you how to use skees, but in order to learn you must remain with us for some time."
Then pointing to the lake near by, he said, "This is the place where you are to learn. It will be easy for you to walk with them, for the surface of the lake is smooth and flat."
After saying this, he went into one of the outer buildings of the farm and came out with several beautiful pairs of skees, and handed one of them to me with these words: "I give them to you; when you wander further north and walk with them, think of me." I thanked Joseff for his gift and said: "I will always remember you, also your wife and your children, without these skees." Then looking at them, I added, "How beautiful they are! How proud I shall be when I walk with them."
These skees, or snowshoes of northern Europe, are made of wood from the fir tree; at their thickest part, in the centre, they are between four and five inches in width. Here, where the foot rests, there is a piece of birch bark fastened, over which there is a loop, and through this loop the foot passes. That part of the skee under the foot is concave, and here it is thickest, so that where it supports the weight of the person it cannot bend downward. The under part of the skee is grooved and polished, and soon becomes by use as smooth as glass. The forward end turns slightly upward, as you see by the pictures, so as to pass over the snow easily.
Joseff left me, and soon came back with a good many more skees; some were not more than six feet long; one pair was much longer than mine.
After I had looked at them, he said, "The short ones are used in the forest, especially among the Lapps, where pine, fir, or birch trees are close together, for there long skees cannot be used; but a heavily built man must have longer ones." Then pointing to the long pair, which were about fourteen feet long, he said, "These long skees are used chiefly in the province of Jemtland, which you passed on the shores of the Baltic on your way here. The snow is generally very deep there, and after a great snow fall, when it is very soft, long skees are needed so that they can bear up the weight of a man and not sink too deeply. Here we use skees of about the size of the pair I gave you, sometimes a little longer; but you are not a heavy man, so longer ones are not necessary for you. They will be able to support your weight without going deeply into the snow, even when it is soft."
Then showing another pair, he said, "These have sealskin under them. They are used in the spring when the snow is soft and becomes watery; the skin prevents the snow from sticking to the skee."
The following morning we started with our skees for the lake, I carrying mine on my shoulders. When we reached the lake Joseff said, "Put your feet under the loops, and you must manage to keep them there, just as you would do if you had an old pair of slippers much too large for you. You would have all the time to push your feet forward to keep them on. Do likewise with the skees. Your sharp-pointed Lapp shoes will help you to do this, as they somewhat prevent the slipping of the skee. It will be a little difficult at first, but it will not take long for you to learn to do this. Constant practice will be the best teacher, and you will soon be able to walk with them."
Then Joseff gave me two staves to propel myself with. At the end of each was an iron spike, and above it a guard of wicker-work, about ten inches in diameter, to prevent the stick from sinking deeper. "These staves," he added, "are very useful when the snow is soft and the skees do not glide easily. Then propelling oneself with them makes one go faster. Though the snow is packed they will help you, as you are a beginner. The most important point to learn is to keep the skees always parallel with each other; this is somewhat difficult at first. Never raise your feet or skees above the ground; make them glide on the snow; push one foot forward, then the other, just as when you walk."
Then he got on his skees, and said: "Now, look at me and see how I go." I saw him gliding on the snow, pushing first one foot then the other, the two skees running parallel with each other; and when one had a tendency to go inside or outside, he corrected the deviation at once by a slight movement of his leg and foot. I noticed afterward that with many persons the ankle was very flexible, owing to their going so much on skees.
After going some distance he returned to me, and we started slowly together. I pushed first one foot then the other forward, and tried to do exactly what he had told me to do; but before I knew it the end of one skee overlapped the other and stopped my advance at once. Fortunately I was going slowly, otherwise I should have landed on the snow. "The overlapping of one skee over the other is quite common with a beginner," said my teacher to me.
Putting my skees in position again, we started. This time one of my skees left me. Several times the two left me, and I found myself seated on the snow every time. I made slow progress that day. At the end of the lesson Joseff said, "Do not be discouraged, Paulus, you will soon learn the knack. I will now show you how fast a man can go on skees. Look at me." Then he started; he seemed simply to fly over the snow, and before many minutes he was far away, almost out of sight. He was going at the rate of at least twenty miles an hour.
I said to myself: "O Paul, when will you go as fast as Joseff!" I was filled with ambition. I wanted to learn as fast as I could, and I thought I would take lessons every day.
When he returned the perspiration was dripping from his face, though the cold was 39 degrees below zero.
I spent several hours every day on the lake, learning and practising, and when Joseff had time he would come with me; and after three days I was able to manage the skees tolerably well. I kept them in line and they did not slip out from my feet any more. I could go several thousand yards without stopping and with no mishaps.
After I could do this, Joseff said to me: "Paulus, you know now how to go well on skees upon level land; now you must learn how to go down hill with them. This is difficult, and I do not know whether in one winter you can learn how to do it—at least so as to go down the slopes of mountains; one has to have learned that in boyhood—but I will teach you anyhow to go down hill safely."
We left the farm and went on with our skees until we came to the foot of a pretty steep hill. Then Joseff said: "We will stop here, and I will teach you to go down hill."
I noticed that he said this with a roguish eye, which was full of fun, and I began to suspect that things were not to go as smoothly as when I was taught on the lake. "We cannot ascend this steep hill straight forward, for the skees would slip backward. We must ascend in zigzag," said Joseff; and then with his staff he showed me how we were to go. "Follow my furrow, then it will be easier for you," said he. I found it hard enough, and slow work. When we reached the top of the hill we were very warm, though that day it was 32 degrees below zero. I was wet with perspiration.
After a rest, Joseff said: "Paulus, look at me." Straightening his skees and armed with his staff he leaned his body forward, and down he went, faster than boys coasting down a very steep hill at home. It was fine, and I wished I could learn quickly and go down hill as fast as he did.
When he had ascended the hill again, Joseff said to me: "Now, Paulus, get ready." He saw that my skees were in position, and saying, "Bend your body far forward as you go down," he shouted "Go!" At this word I bent my body forward as he had told me, and down I went; but I got scared, as I was going very fast, and forgot to follow his advice; straightened myself and bent backward, and before I knew it my skees slipped from my feet. I was unskeed just like a man who is unhorsed, and was seated on the snow looking at my skees, which were going forward down the steep hill and only stopped at its base, to the great amusement of Joseff, who evidently expected something of the kind. "The tendency of a beginner," he explained, "is to bend backward, thinking that by doing so he will be able not to go so fast; this invariably brings about the same result, and he falls."
After a good laugh from both of us, Joseff said: "Paulus, try again; but this time I will teach you to go down hill in another way." He gave me his big stick, and said, "Ride this, and rest upon it as heavily as you can, so that a great part of your weight shall be on the end that sinks into the snow, and before you start let the stick be in the snow about three inches deep. Thus you will be prevented from going down too fast. Don't forget to start with your skees running straight along side of each other." I went down riding the stick, and reached the bottom of the hill in safety. I felt very proud of my success, but thought that if I could ever do this like Joseff how happy I should be.
Then Joseff gave me another warning. "Paulus," said he, "people must look out carefully not to run into boulders as they go down hill, and a hill full of boulders only those who can guide their skees well can venture to go down. Avoid such hills when you are further north, for otherwise you might even be killed."
Shortly after our return to the farm the wind began again to rise, and another terrific windstorm blew over the land. The hillocks of snow were swept from where they stood and new hillocks were made in other places. When I went out the wind almost took me off my feet.
I found that my friends in Haparanda were right. The Lapp costume is well adapted for cold weather. Nothing is warmer than reindeer skin, and it is convenient either when the wearer is driving in his Lapp sleigh, walking or travelling on skees, or when breasting violent windstorms.
I finally bade good-bye to Joseff, and thanked him for having taught me to go on skees. And I continued my journey northward, with a guide to show me the way.
A Primitive Steam Bath House.—How the Bath was Prepared.—What are the Twigs for?—I Ascertain.—Rolling in the Snow.—Fine Effect of the Bath.
A FEW miles further on I came to a little hamlet composed of a few farms. The inhabitants were all Finlanders. Travelling was so bad, on account of the big drifts of snow, that I decided to stay a few days in the place. The following day was Saturday and the afternoon was the beginning of Sunday, and the boys and the young men of the place said to me: "Paulus, to-day is bathing day. Every Saturday we have a bath."
"All right, boys," I replied, "I will have a bath with you." Of course they did not mean a water bath, but a steam bath.
Pointing to a little log building, they said, "Paulus, this is the bath house. Come, and we will show you how we work out a steam bath in our country. You see the bath house stands away from other buildings, to prevent the fire from spreading in case it should start anywhere."
So I went with them to the bath house and got in. It was dark, and no light or air could come in except through the door. The room was about fifteen to eighteen feet long and about ten or twelve feet wide. In the centre there was an oven-like structure, made of boulders piled upon each other without any cement whatever. Along the walls were three rows of seats, made simply from the branches of trees and rising one above the other, just like seats at a circus, the first one being near the ground. The people had brought wood beforehand. This they put into the oven and set fire to it. They said to me, "We are going to keep the fire burning all the time, to heat the stones, and when they are burning hot this afternoon we will stop the fire, the place will be cleaned, and then we will take our bath."
We were soon obliged to go out, on account of the smoke. And the fire was kept up all day, boys coming now and then with more firewood to add to it.
Late in the afternoon I went with two women who cleaned the place thoroughly and took away the ashes, and a big vessel put next the oven was filled with water. Slender boughs of birch trees were brought in, and I wondered why. I found out later! Finally word was sent round that everything was ready.
Then my new friends said to me, "Paulus, you will undress in your room and come to the bath room with nothing on, for there is no place there to dress or to hang your clothes. We all go there naked."
"But," said I, "it is 30 degrees below zero."
"That is nothing," they answered, laughing. "The bath house is close by—just a stone's throw from your place, and you will find it warm enough there," upon which they left me to get ready themselves.
When I was undressed I looked through the windows and saw men and boys without clothes on running towards the bath house, which they entered quickly and shut the door.
It did not take me much time to reach the bath house. I ran double quick to it. Oh! wasn't it cold on the way! But as soon as I was in I could feel the great heat from the oven. It was so warm, and felt so good after coming from the icy air.
Then water was taken from the large vessel and thrown over the stones with a big dipper. Steam rose at once; then more water was thrown, until the place was full of steam. I could not stand it. It was too hot for me. "Don't stand up, Paulus," they said; "sit on the lower seat." Even that was too high for me. I sat on the floor until I got accustomed to breathing the hot air. The perspiration was fairly running down my body. More water was poured and more steam was raised.
Then one of the fellows said, "Paulus, let me give you a switching with the birch twigs. It is fine; it brings the blood into circulation." One of the boys began to switch my back, and soon I cried, "Enough, enough, enough!" Soon all were switching one another, and the one who had switched me said, "Paulus, give me a good switching—harder than the one I gave you." I thought mine had been strong enough; my back must have been as red as a boiled lobster. I followed his injunctions until he said it was enough.
Then more steam was raised after a while, and after this was done all shouted, "Let us have another switching before we go." At last I went out with a few of the men, when, lo! they rolled over two or three times in the snow, calling out to me to do likewise; that it felt so good. I did what they bade me to do. How nice it was! It was a delightful sensation. Then we got up and ran as fast as we could for our houses.
As we ran, they called to me, "Paulus, do not dress at once, and not before you have stopped perspiring." So I walked up and down in my room for more than an hour before I dressed. After this I felt like a new man.
The Finlanders do not dress like the Laplanders when they are at home; it is only when they travel that they wear the kapta or pesh. The men wear long overcoats, lined with woolly sheepskin. The women's dress is composed of a body of black cloth, with skirt of thick homespun wool. Their long and heavy jackets are also lined with sheepskin inside, and they wear hoods.
How the Lapps and Finns Travel.—Strange-looking Sleighs.—Different Varieties.—Lassoing Reindeer.—Description of the Reindeer.
AFTER leaving this hamlet where I had such an odd bath, I came to a farm where I saw sleighs the like of which I had never seen before. To many of these were harnessed reindeer with superb horns, while others were without animals.
These sleighs looked exactly like little tiny boats, just big enough to carry one person and a very small amount of luggage, but not big enough for trunks. They were all made of narrow fir-tree planks, strongly ribbed inside just like boats, about seven feet long and two and one-half feet in width at the end, which was the broadest part. The forward part of some was decked. They all had a strong leather ring to which the traces were fastened. They had holes pierced in their sides for strings to pass through from one side to the other to keep everything fast. They had keels like sailing boats; these were very strong and about four inches wide, and varied some in thickness or height; many of the keels were much worn from constant use.
As I was looking at these sleighs, strange-looking people of very small stature came out of the farmhouses. These were Lapps, and they were dressed as I was. We saluted each other and began to speak together in Swedish, and they wondered where I came from.
One of them said to me, "You are looking at our sleighs as if you had never seen such ones before."
"You are right," I replied, "I have never seen such sleighs before, and if these had been on the shores of a river or lake, I should have taken them to be boats."
Then the Lapp explained: "The higher the keel is the quicker the sleigh can go and the faster we can travel. The keel acts like a runner, and when the snow is well packed and crisp, the sides of the sleigh hardly touch it; but this makes it the more difficult for a beginner to remain inside, for the sleigh rocks to and fro."
Then pointing to a sleigh, he said, "This kind is called 'Kerres.' They are used to carry merchandise or people." Then pointing to another, "This kind is called a 'Lakkek.'" These were somewhat larger than the other, and had decks like a vessel, with a sort of hatchway. These were used as trunks; two had their decks covered with sealskin to make them more surely water-tight.
"In these," said the Lapp, "we carry our woollen clothing, our fine handkerchiefs, our jewelry, our silver spoons, our prayer-book and psalm-book—everything that is precious. In them we also carry our provisions, our coffee, our sugar, salt, and everything that has to be protected against snow or dampness."
Another kind was called "Akja," especially built for fast travelling, and had keels about two and a half to three inches thick. The forward part of these was over-decked to about a third of the length, and covered with sealskin. The decked part was a sort of box or trunk to keep provisions or other things necessary for a journey which required to be protected. The backs of most of these were leather-cushioned.
After I had looked carefully at all the sleighs, I went to the farmhouse with the Lapps and was welcomed by the Finlander who owned the place. His name was Jon. We were soon friends.
The people asked me whither I was bound, and I told them that I was going as far north as the Arctic Ocean, as far as Nordkyn. Then they said to me, "You cannot go further without learning how to drive reindeer, for you must give up horses. The snow is too deep and we do not use dogs in our country. We will teach you how to drive reindeer and use our sleighs; then, when you know, some of us will take you where you want to go, either north, east, or west."
I bought a very pretty sleigh with the forward part decked over, where some of my things could be stored. The back was cushioned and covered with sealskin made fast with broad rounded-top copper nails. This was a really "swell" sleigh.
The next day Jon said to me, "Let us go together where my herd of reindeer is, and lasso those I want to use, for I am going to teach you myself how to drive," adding: "I own over one thousand reindeer."
He called two other Lapps, and we put on our skees and started, and soon after we were out of sight of the house. After an hour's travel we reached the reindeer. I noticed that the snow was not very deep.
"In this herd I have over sixty reindeer that have been broken to harness," said Jon.
"How can you find them out of such a great number?" I asked. "To me so many of them look alike, in fact they would all look alike if it were not that with some the horns are not as big as those of the others."
"I know them all," he replied. "I could even tell the ones that are missing."
Then I remembered that I had heard that a shepherd knew every sheep of his flock.
"Stay where you are," said Jon. "Many of the reindeer are shy, and do not come to us when we are trying to lasso them."
Jon and the other two Lapps let their skees slip off their feet, so that they could have a stronger footing, looked round so as to recognize the deer they wanted, and then with their lassos in their hands, ready to be flung, walked very carefully towards two reindeer somewhat apart from the others. When they were near enough, some ten or fifteen yards from them, which is about the distance one can lasso with a chance of success, they stopped and threw their lassos over the horns of the animals. One made no effort to escape, for he had been used to this for more than five years; but the other cut up any amount of pranks, though in his efforts to get away the rope got tighter and tighter at the base of his horns.
The man had to use all his strength before the animal was subdued. Once or twice he was pulled by the reindeer and almost fell. In his efforts to get away the reindeer entangled his legs in the lasso and fell powerless. In the mean time Jon had come gently towards his reindeer and knotted the cord of the lasso round his muzzle.
"We always do this," said he to me, "as a measure of precaution. When thus corded the reindeer move with far more difficulty if they wish to run away."
The other reindeer, which fought so desperately for freedom, had only been used twice during the winter and was not accustomed to being lassoed.
These two animals were tied to trees, and then Jon and the Lapps went to capture two others. Jon missed the second reindeer, a splendid bull, on the first throw, the lasso falling on his back; but the next throw caught him. At the same time the other man had succeeded in lassoing the fourth one.
Then Jon, pointing to the second reindeer he had lassoed, said: "Paulus, I wanted this one especially for you. He is thirteen years old. He is one of my favorites and has been often under harness. He does not go quite as fast as he did formerly, but he is just the reindeer for you, for he is more easily managed than any others I own."
I looked at the reindeer. I noticed that the animal had much stouter legs than the common deer, or even than the elk, and the hoofs were particularly large. They are smaller than our own big elks, and looked very much like our caribou. The hair of the majority of the reindeer was gray, very coarse and thick, and almost white under the belly. Some of the animals in the herd were white.
Then we went homeward. Two or three times one of the reindeer made a light show of resistance and had to be pulled for a minute or so, and the wilder one was even less easy to manage; he struggled hard several times, and twice the Lapp who held him was almost thrown down.
Harnessing Reindeer.—The First Lessons in Driving.—Constantly Upset at First.—Going Down Hill with Reindeer.—Thrown Out at the Bottom.—Queer Noise Made by Reindeer Hoofs.
ON our return we tied our reindeer securely and went to a small house where the harness was kept. There I saw along the walls many collars, leather straps, and traces, but no bits. I thought this was singular, and I wondered how the reindeer could be driven, but I said nothing. But when harnesses for the reindeer were brought out I found that harnessing a reindeer was very unlike harnessing a horse, and far more simple. A collar was put on, and at the lower part of the collar a strong plaited leather trace was fastened. This passed between the reindeer's legs and was made fast to the forward part of the sleigh. No bits are used. The rein (there was only one) was also of plaited leather and fastened at the base of the horns.
During this process the reindeer seemed very restless and several times were on the point of running away.
"The harnessing, as you see," said Jon to me, "though simple, has to be done with great care, for no matter how well trained a reindeer is, as soon as he is harnessed he wants to go; besides, he is easily scared when in harness." So while things were being made ready for the start the reindeer were tightly held.
"I will now show you how to take your place in the sleigh," said Jon. Then he sat upright at the bottom, with his legs stretched before him and his back resting against the end of the sleigh. Then he got out and said, "Now you get in." I found the position a very uncomfortable one; but this is the only way one can sit in these little sleighs. And it took me some time to get accustomed to it without getting tired, though afterwards I could sit for hours without getting out.
Jon handed me the rein and twisted it round my wrist, and said with a rather roguish smile: "Now, if you upset, the reindeer cannot run away without you! After a while he will stop when he knows you are tipped over. You will roll over several times in the snow before he stops."
"All right," I replied, "there is plenty of snow, no harm can come to me. My head is safe."
"Be careful, Paulus," he added; "see that your rein never touches the snow, for if it should get under the sleigh your arm might become entangled and your wrist or shoulder be dislocated. If you upset, let the rein go. If you want the reindeer to stop, throw the rein to the left. If you want him to go fast, keep it on the right. Keep your rein always loose, almost touching the snow. Have a sharp lookout about this.
"I myself will ride with my legs outside, my toes touching the snow to guide my sleigh; but you are a beginner, and you cannot do so. Never ride with your legs out, for it is dangerous for a man who is not accustomed to it to ride that way. Sometimes accidents happen even among the most expert, and some Lapps get seriously injured. Here is a stick to guide your sleigh, and to prevent your reindeer from going too fast push the stick deep into the snow. It will not be as good as feet, but it is much better than nothing.
"I will take the lead, you will follow, and two Lapps will come behind to watch over you. Do not mind if you upset often; do not be discouraged; a beginner has to upset many times before he knows how to drive a reindeer and keep in his sleigh."
In the mean time our reindeers had become very restive and they were held with difficulty. Suddenly Jon gave the order to start.
We started at a furious speed, and my sleigh rocked to and fro. It was awful. I swayed first one way, then another. I knew that I could not keep my equilibrium long without being thrown out, and I was right. Each reindeer wanted to go faster than the others; they kept on at a terrible gait. I was shot out of the sleigh, heels over head, and rolled over and over in the snow. Finally the animal stopped.
The Lapps behind me came to the rescue. After brushing the snow from my face I got in again, and my reindeer started off at a fearful speed, and in less than thirty seconds I was once more shot out of my sleigh. This time the rein slipped from my wrist, as I had not secured it well enough, and the animal sped away, leaving me on my back, blinded by the snow. The Lapps went on their skees after my reindeer, which in the mean time had stopped, and brought it back to me.
Then they said to me with a laugh: "Often reindeer start that way when they feel frisky. To-day is the right sort of weather for them. The mercury marks 40 degrees below zero. The starting is the most difficult part."
I thought so! I got into my sleigh, and the animal started at a furious speed, and once more I was shot out of the sleigh. I got up half stunned, covered with snow. Fortunately I had twisted the rein so well round my wrist this time that the reindeer could not run away without me, and he stopped after I had been dragged a few seconds.
I was not disheartened—so I kept on driving and being thrown out. It happened so often that I began to tire of counting the number of times I upset. It must have been nearly one hundred times that day. It had been a very hard day's work for me.
The second day I took more lessons, and began to learn how to balance myself. It is a knack, and I began to improve and had fewer upsettings. The third day I did better. I gradually learned pretty well how to balance myself on level ground, and did not upset any more.
After a few days I knew how to drive reindeer on level ground, and I could guide my sleigh with a stick as well as a sailor steers his boat with the rudder.
When I had reached this stage of expertness Jon said to me: "Paulus, now you can drive in a level country, but soon you will come where there are many steep hills, and mountains. So you must learn how to drive down steep hills. This is often very exciting. The weather is beautiful, and this afternoon I want you to take your first lesson going down hill. I have sent men for a fresh set of reindeer; they will soon be back."
In the course of the afternoon the reindeer came out harnessed, and as we were ready to start, "I will lead," said Jon, "you will follow, and another Lapp will come third. It is far more difficult to go down hill than to drive on a level surface. You must put your stick deep into the snow to slacken the speed and guide your sleigh. Don't be frightened at the speed, which is very great, and be careful not to be thrown out when you reach the bottom of the hill; this is the most difficult part of driving, for the reindeer turn sharply so as not to have the sleigh strike their legs." At this remark I thought of my going down hill on skees. That was hard enough, and I wondered what would happen to me with the sleigh.
The surface of the country was slightly undulating, and our reindeer followed each other in good order and at a short distance from one another.
Suddenly Jon slackened the pace of his reindeer so that I should overtake him. Then, when within hearing distance, he called out: "We will soon go down a steep hill," and he started again.
He had hardly said these words when he was out of sight. I reached the crest of the hill, then down went my reindeer at a terrible pace, railway speed in fact, and as the animal reached the bottom of the hill he made a sudden sharp curve. For a few seconds my body swayed from one side to the other, and before I knew it I was flung headlong out of the sleigh.
This took place in a great deal less time than I can tell it in. I had been thrown out with great force against the snow, face forward, and as the snow was granulated it hurt.
I had learned to be quick. I was in my sleigh in the twinkling of an eye and followed the track made by Jon, and we rode quietly on the plain. Soon Jon stopped and a moment after I joined him.
"Paulus," said he, when I had caught up with him, "we must try another descent." We ascended the bank in a zigzag way (I following his track) until we reached the summit. It was hard work. This hill was very long and steep. When ready Jon shouted: "Paulus, look out; we are going to have another descent." The pace of my reindeer was tremendous as he went down. The animal seemed to know that if he did not go fast enough the sleigh would strike against his legs as he descended the hill. Down we went; we simply seemed to fly, and as the reindeer got to the bottom he made the same sharp turn again, the sleigh whirled round with a great jerk, and I was thrown out head over heels as before.
During the descent, as my animal ran his hind feet threw particles of granulated snow in my face—they were like small stones striking it with great force. It hurt awfully. After this I was obliged to put on my mask for protection that day.
Ever since I had begun driving reindeer I had heard a noise, a sharp sound, as if sticks of wood were striking against each other, when the animals were trotting at full speed. It occurred to me to ask what was the cause of this curious noise. My Lapp replied, "Every time the hoof of the reindeer touches the snow it spreads wide apart, broadening in this way and keeping the animal from sinking too deep in the snow; and when the foot is lifted, the two sides of the hoof are brought together again, striking against each other and making the noise you hear."
I continued to improve every day in going down hill, and succeeded at last in keeping in by throwing my body in the opposite direction when the reindeer made his sharp turn. This difficulty conquered, I bade Jon a hearty good-bye, thanking him for his patience in teaching me, and continued my journey.
From Rukojarvi I had followed the highroad, passed the post stations of Korpilombolo with its church, Sattajarvi, and came to the hamlet of Pajala, in latitude 67° 10'. The hamlet is situated near the junction of the Torne river with the Muonio, and had a church.
The Last Days of the Sun.—Beginning of the Long Night.—A Mighty Wall of Ice.—The Long Night's Warning Voice.—The Aurora Borealis and its Magnificence.
THE day I left Pajala I saw the sun at noon; it was hardly above the horizon; it had barely risen and shown itself when it was sunset and it disappeared under the horizon.
Then came a long snowstorm, and for a wonder one without a gale. After the snowstorm the sky suddenly cleared, and at noon I saw the sun's lower rim touching the horizon. It was of a fiery red. Then after a while it disappeared.
The next day only the upper half of the sun was above the horizon at noon, and just as the rim was ready to sink I fancied I heard the sun say to me: "To-morrow you will not see me; then you will have entered 'The Land of the Long Night,' and when you go further and further north you will be in that land. Good-bye, good-bye."
Then I thought I heard the "Long Night" say to me: "For one night of six months I rule at the North Pole. Then I am most powerful. In the course of countless years I have frozen the sea and I have built a wall of ice so thick, and so broad, and so hard, that no vessel will ever be strong enough to break through, and no man will ever reach the pole. I guard the approach to the pole and watch carefully the wall of ice I have built around it. When the sun drives me away and rules in his turn one day of six months at the pole (for the whole year is equally divided between us), he tries with his steady heat to destroy the wall I have built. On my return I repair the damage the sun has done and make the wall as strong as it was before. I send terrific gales and mighty snowstorms over oceans and lands, and even far to the south of my dominion, for my power is so great that it is felt beyond my realm."
There was a pause; then I thought I heard the sardonic laugh of the "Long Night." I shuddered when I remembered the words the "Long Night" had just spoken, and the laugh had in it something sinister. I fancied I saw the dim figure of a woman with long flowing hair standing at the pole, looking towards me. She was the "Long Night." I remembered the names of the valiant and daring commanders who had led expeditions towards the North Pole, and had perished in their endeavors with the gallant men who had trusted and followed them.
Then I thought of the brave explorers who had followed in their wake with better fortune, for their lives had been spared, though they failed to reach the pole. The wall the "Long Night" had built could not be passed.
As these thoughts came over me, I exclaimed: "'Long Night,' great and terrible indeed has been the loss of life among those who have tried to reach the pole, but the ingenuity of man is great, and in spite of the ice barrier thou hast built around it we have not lost hope that man by some device of his own may yet be able to reach the pole."
After uttering these words I imagined I heard, again coming from the far north, another laugh of the "Long Night." It seemed like a laugh of defiance in response to what I had said.
Near me was a forest of tall fir trees; looking up I saw the great blue of heaven studded all over with brilliant stars shining down upon the snow-covered land where I was.
The next day the sun did not appear. I was now in "The Land of the Long Night." It was strange now to see stars all the time, and the moon in the place of the sun. The great pines and fir trees of the forest contrasted strongly with the snow of the land.
The sun had disappeared below the horizon, but in clear days its glow could be seen. I could not tell the hour of the day, for the stars set and rose in continuous succession in this kingdom of the "Long Night." I did not know when it was morning or when it was evening, but in fine weather the glow over the horizon told me when it was about noon. It was indeed a strange land; but the Lapps could tell from the stars whether it was night or day, for they were accustomed to gauge time by them according to their height above the horizon, just as we do at home with the sun. I had my watch, but could not look at it often, for it was under my garments.
For many days the land was illuminated for a while every night by the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. Sometimes the aurora seemed to imitate the waves of the sea and moved like big heavy swells, changing colors, bluish, white, violet, green, orange. These colors seemed to blend together. Then the heaving mass would become gradually intensely red. This red mass broke into fragments which scattered themselves all over the blue sky. It gave its reflection to the snow. It was the end of the aurora or electric storm. They were never twice alike; they varied in forms and colors. The auroras are like everything in creation: on our earth there not two men or women exactly alike, there are not two leaves alike, two blades of grass, two trees, two stones alike, neither two waves, for the sea is ever changing in its ripples.
The Snow Getting Deeper.—Lapp Hospitality.—A Lapp Repast.—Coffee and Tobacco Lapp Staples.—Babies in Strange Cradles.—How the Tents are Made.—Going to Sleep with the Mercury at 39° Below.
WHEN I had left Pajala I travelled on the frozen Muonio, passed the stations of Kaunisvaara, Killangi, and Parkajoki, and came to Muonioniska. All the hamlets or farms had comfortable log buildings. Some of the dwelling-houses were quite large. Wood was not lacking and the houses were quite warm. Forests of the fir were abundant.
The sun was now hidden below the horizon. The snow was getting deeper every hour—and was about seven or eight feet deep on a level after being packed. I was coming to another great "Snow Land." From Muonioniska I travelled on between the Muonio and Ouanasjoki rivers. (Joki means river in Finnish.) I became acquainted with many nomadic Lapps who wandered with their reindeer over that great snow land—among them were two very pleasant men of the name of Pinta and Wasara, who agreed to travel with me for a while.
Wasara, the younger, was the son of a very rich Lapp who owned nearly ten thousand reindeer, and possessed besides a good bank account.
Pinta was poor, the possessor of only about one hundred reindeer, which pastured with those of his elder brother. Pinta was about thirty years old; Wasara about twenty-five. Both were men of splendid physique; broad shouldered with very muscular legs and arms, which were apparently as hard as wood. They had blue eyes and fair hair. One was four feet eight inches and a half in height, the other was four feet ten inches. They were very skilful on skees; in summer they could make tremendous leaps over rivers and ditches with the long poles they carried with them, and could drive the most intractable reindeer, which are even worse than our broncos.
While travelling, I drove next to the leader, for reindeer follow each other mechanically in the same furrow. The leader is the one that has the most work; but if he follows a furrow, his reindeer gives him little trouble.
Pinta generally took the lead, I came next, and Wasara third. Pinta and Wasara had their faithful dogs with them.
Travelling was fine; the snow was well packed, and so crisp that the sleighs glided over it lightly. Often we travelled at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, for our animals were strong and had not been used for several days.
How I shouted, for I had such an exuberance of spirits. I felt so strong and healthy. I wanted to go, to go onward, to go all the time. Sometimes I felt like running, like jumping. One could not help it, for it was the atmosphere that made one feel so. I could not get tired.
The fine weather, however, lasted but a few days. Then the sky became gray, there was not a star to be seen, the wind began to rise, and snow fell. We could see nothing. Wasara thought we were near the tent of his father, but we could not see any landmark to guide us.
The two dogs ran in every direction, to try to scent people. They seemed to know that we were looking after the tent of Wasara's father; but each time they would return looking in the face of their masters silently, as if to say "We find nothing."
We were somewhat afraid of wolves, but trusted in the dogs to warn us of their approach. We at last concluded to stop; we kept the reindeer harnessed and stood near them. We fixed our hoods carefully over our faces, put on our masks, and seated ourselves on the snow. Soon I heard heavy snoring—Pinta and Wasara were fast asleep, with their heads downward and arms crossed on their breasts. The Lapps sleep often in that way when travelling. But the weather cleared after three or four hours and we continued our journey. My two friends then knew where they were.
After an hour's drive we saw in the midst of the snow, near a large forest of fir trees, a tent. "Here is the tent of my father," said Wasara, pointing out the tent to me.
We hurried our reindeer, and as we approached the place more than a dozen Lapp dogs, wolf-like in appearance, announced our arrival by their fierce barking.
Wasara's father came outside of the tent, drove the dogs away, and told them to be quiet. He recognized his son and bade us come in.
"What a strange abode these nomadic Lapps have," I said to myself, as I looked around inside of the tent. According to Lapp etiquette the left side of the tent was given to us, soft reindeer skins being first laid on the top of branches of young birch trees that were spread on the floor of earth, the snow having been removed where they had pitched their tent.
The father took his snuffbox from a small bag and offered me a pinch of snuff. This ceremony meant that I was welcome, and I passed the snuffbox to his son who, in turn, offered a pinch of snuff to Pinta.
I looked with astonishment at the people that were in the tent, and everything that surrounded me. These Lapps had blue eyes; their faces, owing to exposure to the blustering winds, were very red, but the protected part of the skin was as white as that of the whitest people. There were a number of women and men, several young girls and two lads. I was told that there were two men with the reindeer.
The women were all busy; one was weaving shoe-bands of bright colors, red predominating; another was just finishing a "kapta," and a third one was putting a lining of red flannel over the seams upon a tiny pair of reindeer-skin shoes for a child; the girls were sewing some undergarments.
Wasara's father's first name was Pehr,—he was a fine-looking Lapp, about seventy years old. His father was living, and was about ninety years old. The outdoor life agrees with the Lapp. Give me the plateaus of the Arctic regions for health. There are plenty of mosquitoes in summer, but no malaria at any time. Nor is there any sore throat there. I do not remember, indeed, ever to have heard a person cough in that country.
The material of the tent was of very coarse woollen stuff, called "vadmal." The tent was about thirteen feet in diameter at the ground. Its frame was composed of poles fitting each other; the wood had become black from being smoked for years. These poles are so well knitted together that they can resist the terrific winds which blow over the land. A cross pole high up sustained an iron chain, at the end of which is a hook to hold the kettle and cooking pot. The coarse woollen stuff which covered the frame was composed of two pieces that were made fast by strings. The nature of the vadmal permits the wind to go gently through. The entrance is by a small sliding door made of the same material.
Inside, along the lower part of the tent, were boxes of different shapes and sizes, packages lying on the top of skins to prevent the wind from blowing in from the bottom; the outside was protected by snow.
As I glanced around I saw two queer-looking things, resembling in shape the sabots or wooden shoes of the peasantry of Europe, only very much larger, hanging near the sides. I looked in, and to my great astonishment saw a Lapp baby in each. They were Lapp cradles, called "katkem" or "komse." They were made of a single piece of wood and were about two and a half feet long by fifteen or eighteen inches wide. In one was such a sweet Lapp baby, a dear little girl, with her eyes wide open. As I looked at her she smiled. In the other was a big fat boy, fast asleep.
Two women went out and collected a lot of snow, which they put on to melt in a big iron pot hanging over the fire. This is the way the Lapps have to do to procure water. When the snow had melted she put the water in a coffee kettle that had a spout. One of the women ground coffee in a mill. Then the ground coffee was put into the kettle and left to boil for quite a while, the woman watching it, taking off the pot when it was about to boil over, and then putting it over the fire again. The third woman was attending to the cups and saucers. When the coffee was ready they put in a little bit of salt to give it flavor, then set the coffee kettle on the ground and put into it a small piece of dried fishskin to clarify it and precipitate the grounds at the bottom of the kettle.
When the coffee was ready to be poured, one of the women went out and came back with reindeer milk which had remained frozen for over three months. Then the coffee was served. The wife bit several pieces of rock candy from a big lump, to sweeten each cup of coffee, and after putting in frozen reindeer milk with a spoon, licked it with her tongue—"What is the use of being particular when one travels," I said to myself. If one were, he would starve. We had silver spoons, round in shape, with twisted handles. "These," said the father, "have been in the possession of our family for nearly two hundred years." I saw different initials and different dates from the year 1700 down.
After coffee men, women, and the young girls filled their pipes and had a good smoke. They were very much astonished when I told them I had never smoked in my life.
"There are two things we Lapps have always with us—coffee and tobacco. After a hard day's work or a long journey there is nothing so refreshing as coffee," said Pehr Wasara, smacking his lips at the very thought.
While we were chatting, Pehr was busy cutting reindeer meat and putting the pieces in a pot hanging over the fire which had been filled with snow that had melted. When he had finished, he said: "By and by you will have something to eat." I was prodigiously hungry; travelling over the snow in a temperature between 35 and 45 degrees below zero, as I had done for several days, gives one such a good appetite! While waiting for the meal to be ready, I went outside the tent with my host.
The sight outside was quite as strange as the inside of the tent. Numerous Lapp sleighs were scattered here and there, skees were lying on the ground in different directions. Quarters and other large pieces of reindeer meat, out of the reach of wolves, foxes, and dogs, were suspended to the branches of trees. On two racks about eight feet high above the ground were pieces of reindeer meat piled upon each other. Collars, traces, reins, everything for the harnessing of reindeer, were seen all round the tent; buckets full of frozen reindeer milk, filled late in the autumn, were on the ground. Hanging on trees were bladders filled with congealed milk or blood.
The sleighs were of different kinds; several were decked over and used as trunks. Others were empty. Four were filled with hoofs of the reindeer they had killed to subsist upon during the winter.
Skins of wolves, of white foxes, of reindeer, were stretched on frames, so that they could not shrink. Reindeer pack-saddles, empty pails, wooden vessels, lay here and there. Fur garments and underwear were hanging to the branches of trees. It was a strange sight indeed! But a sight I met thereafter at almost every camp.
When the meal was ready we were called in. The host served the meat, which had been put in a large platter, in portions, guessing what would satisfy the hunger of each person. The fattest parts, which are considered the most dainty, were given to me, being the guest of honor, and the meat was served to us in wooden plates. We had nothing but reindeer meat. I was getting accustomed to eat meat without bread or potatoes.
During the meal small pieces of roots of fir trees, which are full of resin, were thrown into the fire for light. After the meal I thanked all for it, according to the custom. Then the Lapps lighted their pipes again.
Pehr Wasara employed a man and a woman servant. From their clothing you could not tell them apart from the other people. They were treated like members of the family. The girl was paid three reindeer a year, the man six.
"How much can you buy a tent for?" I inquired of Pehr Wasara. "Thirty or forty dollars," he replied. "This is a great deal of money for us poor Lapps." Pehr had plenty of money in the bank, but pretended poverty. I learned also that a trained reindeer costs eight dollars.
I asked many questions. How long a tent lasted? He replied: "The vadmal is very durable, and a tent lasts about twenty years, but it has to be patched very often during that time." I looked round and saw a good many patches, and I thought of the story of the knife and handle,—first the blade broke, then a new blade was put in; after this the handle broke, and a new handle was put on. I remembered that once a dear old aunt of mine said to me: "Paul, this black silk dress has lasted me twenty years." I exclaimed, "Twenty years, aunty! Are you sure of this?" Then in the course of a few days, by indirect questions I found out that she had had three new bodices put on at different times, and three different skirts. I thought the tent of the Lapp might be twenty years old in the same way.
After the meal had been finished the babies were taken from their cradles, and their little beds were made afresh. The cradle bottoms were covered with fine, soft, well-dried lichen or reindeer moss, over which a little cotton sheet was spread. The babies were stark naked, and were wrapped in little sheepskins while their beds were being made. Then they were laid in, the sheet turned down, with a coarse piece of vadmal and sheepskin over it; the whole was made fast by a cord fastened through holes on each side of the cradle and laced across.
One of the mothers said to me: "When a child is born it is the custom among Lapps to give him or her a reindeer. When baptized the sponsor, too, often gives a reindeer to the babe, and these animals, and the increase thereof, become the child's own property."
This woman, pointing out her sister to me, observed: "When my baby had his first teeth, my sister here presented him with a reindeer. This is a custom among us Lapps."
Then two of the men and two of the women with their dogs and their skees went to relieve the people who were watching the reindeer herd, and Pehr Wasara remarked, "My reindeer are divided in a number of herds—for they could not all pasture together. We are afraid of wolves. These people are to remain on the watch all night."
The family was very pious; they were, like all the Lapps, Lutherans. Before going to sleep they sang psalms and hymns, praising God for the blessings of the day.
Then they dressed themselves for the night, putting on over the garments they wore during the day a long reindeer kapta, a sort of nightshirt reaching below the feet. More reindeer skins were put over the skins on which we were seated. Then a big bearskin was given to me as a blanket, Pehr saying, "I killed this bear myself."
Before retiring I took off my shoes, the Lapp grass, and my stockings, and hung them on the cross poles to dry. All did likewise. I carefully arranged my precious Lapp grass so every vestige of dampness would be absorbed when I should put it on again in the morning. One of the women lent me a pair of her own stockings, which she took from one of the little chests by her side.
The fire had gradually died out. "We seldom keep fires burning at night," said the head of the family, "for it would be dangerous." The dogs were driven out and the door made secure, comparatively speaking. We were all huddled close together. Then we bade each other good-night. I looked at my thermometer, it marked 39 degrees below zero inside the tent; it was 46 degrees outside and everything was perfectly still, there was not a breath of air stirring. Through the opening in the tent for the smoke to pass, I could see the stars twinkling in the blue sky as I lay on my back. Then putting my head under my bearskin I soon fell asleep, though some dogs succeeded in smuggling themselves in, and two or three times they awoke me by trying to get under my bearskin and lie by me. They did likewise with the other people. Once I was awakened by a big booming sound. It was the cracking of the ice over a lake not far off from us.
Toilet with Snow.—A Lapp Breakfast.—Lapp Dogs.—Talks with my Lapp Friend about the Reindeer.—Their Habits and Various Forms of Usefulness.
WHEN we awoke in the morning it was 40 degrees below zero in the tent and 48 degrees below outside. I felt like washing my face and my hands, but melted snow was sure to turn into ice as soon as it was on my face. I did not want to wash in warm water, for it would have made my skin too tender. So I rubbed my face and hands with snow and dried them thoroughly. This was my usual morning wash when I slept out of doors.
A big fire was lighted and the maidservant went to work kneading dough—yeast was not used. The loaves were baked on charcoal, as is often done among the Lapps, and at the same time coffee was made.
The breakfast was composed of the dry powdered blood of reindeer, mixed with flour, diluted in warm water and made into pancake. We had a porridge of dried reindeer's milk that had been stirred in warm water with a wooden spoon. The milk of the reindeer is very rich and thick. When it was served to me, the wife remarked: "This food is very nutritious." We also had some reindeer meat and finished up with reindeer cheese and a cup of coffee. It was a fine breakfast. I ate heartily of everything. When it is so cold one is always hungry. After the breakfast, all the household with the exception of the host and hostess started on their skees for the reindeer herd, which was to be removed to some other quarters, for the moss had been more or less eaten and they were to take them to a place where the snow was not so deep. The mothers had slung their cradles with their babies on their shoulders. Each Lapp was followed by his dog.
About one hour after breakfast the night watch returned with their dogs. Immediately the wife gave to each a cup of coffee; then they took their breakfast. They gave their dogs some of the powdered blood mixed with flour and warm water. The dogs relished this greatly. Then they were given the bones, which they had been watching with glaring eyes. They went out with them and gnawed them until there was nothing left of them. Such is generally the meal given to the dogs every day. Once in a while they get a small piece of meat, which they swallow voraciously in a single mouthful.
When the night watch had done eating they went to sleep; so did their dogs. These Lapp dogs are thickset. They resemble the Pomeranian breed, but are larger; their hair is long, very thick, and bushy. Their ears stand upright; they seem to have some wolf blood in them. The tail is curly. Pehr Wasara said to me: "Lapps could not do without their dogs. They are faithful animals; they are our helpmates; they keep our reindeer together when we are on the march, watch them when they are pasturing; they look out constantly for wolves, and warn us when they are in the neighborhood, and of their approach beforehand, and attack them without fear. Neither are they afraid of bears. They are very brave.
"Every man, woman, manservant or maidservant and grown-up child, has his or her dog which obeys and listens to his master alone. They are never allowed to stay behind; wherever their master goes they go, and watch with him night and day if necessary. Occasionally, for some reason unknown to us, or because the deer scent the wolves afar off, a panic seizes the herd of reindeer, and instinctively they move away. That is the time when our dogs prove most useful and of the greatest service to us. They go around in every direction and bring the reindeer together. They seem to know that there is some unseen danger. When the wolves come into the herd, the dogs attack them fiercely and act with great cunning, taking care not to be bitten by them and waiting for the opportunity to spring on the wolves."
While Pehr was talking I wished I could see a pack of wolves attacking reindeer, to see how the dogs fight them.
"Do not think," added Pehr, "that it is our inclination to be harsh towards our dogs. We never overfeed them; it is the only way to keep them hardy, strong, and healthy. They are not allowed to rest until their master or mistress has returned to the tent. Then we want them to stay out doors."
"I should like very much," I said to Pehr, "to see how you break in reindeer and accustom them to harness."
"Well," he replied, "you will see how we train our reindeer to draw sledges. You came just in time, for we are now training some, as we have several that are getting too old. The males are used as draught animals, as they are stronger than the females. When the snow is in good condition they can draw as much as four hundred pounds, or two or three logs of pine or fir."
So he sent two men after the reindeer. They took their lassos with them, and in less than an hour they returned with two reindeer.
"The process of teaching a reindeer to draw a sleigh or carry a pack on his back," observed Pehr, "is very tedious and very hard work. Some of the reindeer are more difficult to teach than others, and in spite of the best training the wild nature and restlessness of the animal shows itself not infrequently."
I thought so. I remembered my first lessons.
"We begin to train the reindeer," he continued, "when he is about three years old, and he does not become a well trained animal before he is five. When they are under training a daily lesson is given them to let them know their masters, and also a lesson to accustom them to be lassoed, of which they are very much afraid at first. We give them salt and angelica, of which they are very fond, every day, to make them come when they are needed, and in that case the lasso is not necessary. They are never subjected to ill-treatment at any time; if they were we could do nothing with them."
The work of teaching the reindeer to draw a sleigh began. Salt was first given to one of the deer, which he seemed to enjoy very much. Then without trouble a very strong leather cord with a loop was put carefully over his horns, and the loop was drawn tight at the base. The collar was carefully put on his neck and more salt given to him. The trace attached to the sleigh was much longer than those used when driving; it was several yards in length, so that the sleigh could not be touched when the animal kicked; then it was tied to the collar of the reindeer. As soon as the animal was urged to move, and felt the weight of the sleigh, he plunged wildly forward and kicked, then plunged first in one direction and then in another. It was a great sight. I thought they would never be able to break the animal in. It required all the strength of the Lapp not to be dragged by the animal. The other man, with a cord, held the sleigh. After a few trials both man and beast were exhausted.
A short rest was then taken and another trial was made. With repeated rests for the trainer and the animal, the day's lesson proceeded. The trainer was in profuse perspiration, though it was 38 degrees below zero. My host said to me: "This exercise is repeated day after day until the animal submits to it. They are in their prime at seven or eight years and can work till the age of fifteen or seventeen years. The reason we have to wander so much with our reindeer is that we have to go where the snow is not so deep as in other parts, for the reindeer has to dig into the snow to find his food, the lichen, and he cannot go deeper than three or four feet. We generally know where these places are, for the wind, which blows every year more or less in the same direction, blows away a part of the snow. When we come to such a place we pitch our tent."
"When the reindeer is left to himself can he find such a place?" I inquired. "How can the animals know that the snow is only three or four feet deep?"
"I do not know," he replied, "but the wild reindeer can find it, otherwise they would starve."
"How can they dig through the snow?" I asked with a smile. "They have no shovels."
Pehr laughed at my remark. "Their fore feet are their shovels," he replied. "You will see for yourself how they dig the snow."
I asked Pehr also about the speed of the reindeer.
"The speed of the reindeer," he replied, "varies very much according to the time of the year and the state of the snow, October, November and December being the months when they are the fleetest, as they are fresh from the summer pastures. January and February are also very good months for them. The cold weather strengthens them, and they are not yet exhausted from digging through the snow, as they are at the end of the season. The rapidity of their gait depends very much also on the state of the surface of the snow. If it is well packed and crisp, they go very fast. Much depends, too, upon the distance and whether the country is hilly or not, or with a long range of slopes. On the rivers, over well packed snow, and a good track that has been furrowed by previous reindeer, they can average twelve or fifteen miles an hour when in good condition, sometimes twenty for the first hour; down a mountain slope twenty and twenty-five. They can travel five or six hours without stopping; the first hour very rapidly, the second more slowly, and towards the fifth and sixth hours still more slowly, perhaps not more than eight or ten miles an hour, for by that time they require rest and food, and we unharness them in places where the snow is not deep, and let them get their food. Early in the winter, when they are in good condition, one can travel with a swift bull reindeer one hundred and fifty miles in a day, and even two hundred miles if the condition of the snow is favorable and the cold is 30 or 40 degrees below zero. The colder the weather is the greater is the speed. Seventy or eighty miles a day is a good average for a reindeer."
When this talk was ended, Pehr Wasara said to me, "Let us take our skees and go to one of my herds near by." After a run of about two miles we came into the midst of a herd of about three thousand reindeer. "There are more," he said with pride. "Are they not fine animals?"
"Yes, indeed, they are," I replied.
While I was looking at the magnificent horns of some of the beasts, Pehr remarked: "The horns of the males, which often weigh forty pounds, attain the full size at the age of six or seven years, those of the cow at about four years. The time the reindeer drops his horns is from March until May. In the adult animals they attain their full size in September or at the beginning of October. After the age of eight years the branches gradually drop off. They are the easiest animals that man can keep. They require no barns. They are never housed. They like cold weather and snow. Food has not to be stored for them. They will not touch the moss that has been gathered unless brought up to do so by farmers. They get their food themselves. We do not give them water. When thirsty they eat the snow. When our people go among them they will often not even raise their heads, and remain quiet when we pitch our tents. Once in a while there is so much snow in some districts that it is impossible for reindeer to get at the moss; then the only way is to go to the lowlands, or into the forest, where the reindeer can feed on the moss hanging from the firs or pines.
"Some of the reindeer," he went on, "though trained to eat kept moss, hay, and even bread, thrive only when they are free to roam about; they cannot be kept all the time in their stables. They must wander over the snow and eat it. Otherwise they are sure to degenerate and become useless as draught animals."
"How many reindeer," I asked, "does a family require for its support?"
He replied, "A thousand at least. A herd of two thousand to two thousand five hundred gives from two hundred to two hundred and seventy-five, perhaps three hundred, calves a year. Sometimes we have bad years with our reindeer. Some years prove unfavorable to their increase. Some years the snow is very deep, which prevents them from digging for food; the herd then become emaciated from their exertions and want of sufficient food, and many die.
"Some Lapps," he added, "own five or six thousand reindeer, one or two among us, eight or ten thousand. The spring is a bad time for them; the snow melts during the day from the sun's heat, and a thick crust forms at night from the frost, so that their feet break through, causing lameness and disease. At that time we move them as much as we can only during the day, but it is hard work for them to go through the soft snow.
"Without the reindeer we could not exist in this northern land of snow. The reindeer is our horse, our beast of burden. On him we feed. He gives us our clothing, our shoes, our gloves; his skin is our blanket and our bed; his sinews our thread. On the march a herd of reindeer is easily managed. We keep them together without much trouble, and in winter they remain where we leave them to get the moss; but if the wolves are after them, then they flee in every direction, and many herds then become mixed together."
"When your reindeer get mixed with those of other herds, how can you tell which are yours?" I inquired.
Pehr answered, "Every owner has his own mark branded on the ears of all his reindeer, and no other person has the right to use the same, as this is legal proof of ownership; otherwise, when several herds were mingled together the separation would be impossible. The name of the owner of a herd, and each mark, have to be recorded in court like those of any owner of property."
Moving Camp.—Another Great Blizzard.—A Remarkable Sight.—Deer Getting their Food by Digging the Snow.—How Reindeer are Butchered.
THE next day after our conversation about reindeer Pehr Wasara said to me: "We are going to move away our camp and take our reindeer to a new pasture," an expression that struck me as somewhat singular, as the country lay under snow to the depth of five or six feet. "Some of us are going to fetch the draught animals, and I will be back in a short time." With these words he left with some of his people.
They returned with a fine lot of trained reindeer.
In the mean time there had been a great commotion in the camp; everybody was busy; the tent had been packed in two bundles; its frame made three packages; the frozen reindeer milk, all the provisions, meat, garments, robes, skins,—in a word, everything they had was loaded on different sleighs and secured.
The babies were carefully fixed in their queer-looking cradles, and made quite safe against blustering winds.
Everything being ready, the reindeer were harnessed and we started. Soon after, we came to the herd which had been bunched by the Lapps, the dogs keeping them together. Then we began our march.
The herd moved in advance, in a body. Men, women and children on their skees moved after them with great rapidity, with their dogs to help them in the work of keeping the herd together. They all shouted and urged the dogs to look out, but this required, I thought, no urging, for the dogs were on the alert and knew what to do. In the rear were three Lapps with their dogs driving the reindeer forward; the dogs barked behind the heels of the animals, and once in a while would bite the legs of those that did not move fast enough.
The women worked just as hard as the men, and those who had babies carried them in their cradles, slung on their backs, and went as fast on their skees as if they had been free from burdens. The babies were evidently very comfortable, for they were very quiet.
It was a fine sight to see the herd of over three thousand reindeer on the move over the vast plain of snow. After two hours we arrived at the place of our encampment.
The Lapps hurried the putting up of the tent. The snow had been shovelled from the place where it was to stand. They were laying the birch twigs for a floor, and skins were put on the top of these; alongside of the tent inside boxes and firewood were placed, and outside snow was piled along the sides, also. This was to prevent the wind coming in. In the mean time the reindeer had been unharnessed and some of the sleighs unloaded.
Just then Pehr Wasara exclaimed: "Paulus, we are going to have a great windstorm very soon. That is the reason we are in so much of a hurry."
He was right. Soon after the wind began to rise and blew stronger and stronger, hissing and striking against the tent. In another moment we were in the midst of a hurricane. I thought every instant that our tent would be blown away and the woollen canvas torn to pieces.
The snow was flying thickly in the air. I said to myself: "If our tent is blown away I will get into my reindeer bags." I was astonished to see that the tent could withstand the storm, but the frame was well knit together, and the woollen vadmal being porous allowed the wind to pass through and did not give the resistance that canvas would have done. If the tent had been made of canvas I am sure the frame could not have withstood the pressure and fury of the blast. The door was protected from the violence of the wind, which struck against the tent on the other side.
The reindeer had huddled close together and stood still, except that now and then those which were outside wanted to go inside and let some of the other animals bear the brunt of the storm. I noticed that many of the bulls formed the outer ring, thus protecting the female reindeer. The poor fellows on the outside had a hard time of it. All the herd faced the wind.
Inside the tent, when everybody was in, we were packed close together, including the dogs. In spite of all the drawbacks the tent was comfortable compared with the weather outside. A blazing fire, over which hung a kettle full of reindeer meat, sent the smoke into our faces; but we were thinking of the warm broth and of the good meal we were going to have, and we laughed merrily and did not care for the storm. The Lapps knew that the tent would stand the hurricane. The dogs were in the way of everybody; the Lapps continually drove them out, but soon after they were in again.
How nice the broth was when we drank it! How good the meat tasted! This was a splendid meal.
When it was time to go to sleep I took off my shoes and stockings, and carefully put the Lapp grass with the stockings on my breast to dry the moisture, for the fine snow came through the smoke hole. Then I got into my two bags and said good-night to the family.
I was bothered by the dogs during the night. They were no sooner driven out than they would come in to huddle with the people. One tried to come into my bag and awoke me. I did not blame the poor dogs, for it was far more comfortable inside than outside. When I awoke in the morning the weather was fine, there was no wind, and some of the Lapps took the reindeer to their new pasture.
After breakfast, my host and I drove to see some of his friends who had pitched their tent some forty or fifty miles from us. On our way we entered a large forest of fir trees, and soon after found ourselves in the midst of a number of deep holes dug by reindeer in order to reach the moss. We also saw furrows made by Lapp sleighs and tracks of skees. The holes increased in number as we got deeper into the forest, and driving instead of being a pleasure became a hard task. There was no mistake about that. Our little sleighs pitched forward, then side-wise, and rolled on one side or the other. I had the hardest work to keep inside. At last I was pitched into one of the holes with my sleigh almost on top of me. This was no joke. Fortunately I had undone the twist of my rein round my wrist, for I did not wish to be dragged against a tree in case I did upset. I was soon in my sleigh again, however, and before long Pehr Wasara said: "We shall come to the tent of my friend very soon." He had hardly uttered these words when we heard the fierce barking of dogs announcing our arrival. Soon after we found ourselves before a tent.
These dogs were strange looking, a breed I had never seen; they had the dark color of the brown bear, and were without tails. A man came out to silence them. He was the owner of the tent, the friend of Pehr Wasara. He bade us in, we were made welcome, and the snuffbox was passed around. Coffee was made and served to us with true Lapp hospitality, but to my taste it was seasoned with a little too much salt.
We had a grand time. A big kettle filled with reindeer meat was cooked, and Pehr Wasara told his friend all the news, and how his son had come with me to see him. The place of honor was given to us in the tent; we slept well, under a lot of skins, and the next morning after breakfast we bade our host and his family good-bye.
We had not been gone long when I saw something very strange ahead. An exclamation escaped from me. I stopped. I thought I saw the ground covered with hares. I could see them moving. "What are such great numbers of hares doing here?" I said to myself. They moved in such a strange manner; they seemed to jump, or rather leap. Suddenly I saw my mistake. "These are not hares," I exclaimed; "but the tails of reindeer just above the snow. That is all I see of their bodies. The rest is hidden. They have dug the snow and are eating the moss, and their tails are in motion." I had never seen such a sight before. It was a queer landscape; over two thousand tails shaking above the snow at about the same time. This herd also belonged to Pehr Wasara, who was smiling all over when he saw how amazed I was at this sight.
Then we continued our journey, and soon found ourselves in the midst of hundreds and hundreds of reindeer of all sizes. They were just beginning to dig the snow with their fore legs. How strange was the sight! As we passed among them they were not in the least afraid of us. They were left to themselves. There were no dogs with them, and no people to watch.
Every reindeer was working as hard as he could, busily digging in the snow. They were evidently hungry. I said to Pehr Wasara: "Let us stay here a while; I want to watch the reindeer working." Pehr, who had been accustomed to see reindeer all his life, wondered at my curiosity, which seemed rather to amuse him. They dug with the right fore foot, then with the left, rested at times, then worked again. It was hard work indeed, but the holes got larger and larger. The bodies gradually disappeared in the holes they made, and were partly hidden by the little mounds of snow coming from these holes, until only the tails of many could be seen. They had reached the moss of which they were so fond. They were really working hard for their living.
Some of the female reindeer were working with a will, while the young does were looking on, and when the moss had been reached the mothers called the calves by a peculiar grunt and let them feed by their side.
After looking at the reindeer for a while, we continued our journey and were completely lost in the midst of deep holes made by the thousands of reindeer. Wherever we turned we discovered holes and mounds, until we came to fresh furrows of sleighs and knew that these led to an encampment. We had succeeded in getting out of the honeycombed track into a smooth and open region.
All at once I noticed that Pehr Wasara was going much faster than I did. I was losing ground. His reindeer seemed now to fly over the snow. Suddenly he disappeared; he was going down a hill. Now it was the turn of my reindeer to go fast. I prepared myself for the occasion, for I did not know how steep was the descent. I said to myself, "Paul, you must not upset; bend your body on the opposite side when the sleigh makes the curve, and be quick when the time arrives. Do this in the nick of time."
Down I went. The animal reached the bottom, and before I knew it made a sharp curve to prevent the sleigh striking his legs. I gave a shout of joy. I had not upset. I felt quite proud.
At the next hill I was more proud than ever, for Pehr Wasara upset and I did not, but I had never seen a Lapp get quicker into a sleigh than he did. Further on Pehr stopped and waited for me. When I came to him I found myself on the edge of a long and very abrupt hill, and he said: "This hill is too steep, we must descend it in long zigzags, so that the sleighs may not strike the legs of our reindeer, for if we do not do this the sleigh will go faster than the reindeer. Follow in my track, and use your stick with skill to guide the sleigh. Your reindeer will follow mine without trouble."
Hill after hill was ascended and descended. Now I had got the knack. At every sharp curve I managed to bend my body out on the other side in time, and thus avoided being thrown out. Then we came to a forest of large fir trees, which surprised me, for we were in 69 degrees latitude.
The trees were very thick. Pehr Wasara alighted and led his reindeer, for fear of striking against them, and I did likewise. It was a relief to move one's legs, for it is very tiresome to sit for hours with legs stretched out. Afterwards we got again into our sleighs, and at the end of a pleasant drive we reached our own tent and I was received with a hearty welcome by the family.
The next day Pehr said to me, "We are going to kill some reindeer this morning, for the skins of the animals are at their best now and their fur is very thick. We want clothing, shoes, and gloves. With their sinews we will make our thread. We want also new reins, new traces, new lassos."
In the afternoon eight reindeer were brought before the tent. These were to be slaughtered. My host said to me: "Paulus, we are going to show you how we slaughter our reindeer." An old bull was brought forward and one of the Lapps seized the animal by the antlers, and by a peculiar twist, without apparently great effort, threw him on his back. Then he thrust a long, sharp, narrow knife deeply between his forelegs until it pierced the heart, where he let it remain. The poor creature rose dazed, turned round upon himself twice, then tottered and fell dead.
I did not like the sight, but I was studying the life of the Laplanders and I had to see everything for myself. After the blood had accumulated in the cavity of the chest it was removed and put into a bladder. The intestines were taken out and washed. The skin belonging to the forehead between the eyes, and from the knees to the hoofs, was cut off from the rest of the hide.
"This," said Pehr Wasara, "will be for shoes and gloves;" and each piece was stretched on wooden frames, likewise the skin of the carcass. The tongues were set aside, the host saying to me, "If it were summer we would smoke them." The sinews were collected for thread.
The other reindeer were then butchered, and the meat placed on the racks outside of the tent.
Watching for the Reappearance of the Sun.—The Upper Rim First Visible.—The Whole Orb Seen from a Hill.—Days of Sunshine Ahead.
I WATCHED the horizon every day towards noon, hoping to see the sun, for the light was getting brighter and brighter. The glow of the hidden sun was so great at noon that it looked as if sunrise were going to take place. How disappointed I felt when the glow became less and less, as the unseen sun sank lower without showing itself. Then came to my mind the coast of New Jersey, where in the early morning I had often watched for the appearance of the sun above the horizon, in the long glow that preceded sunrise.
One day I saw a golden thread above the snowy horizon. It was the upper rim of the sun. I watched, hoping to see the whole sun. But it was at its meridian, and in a very short time the golden thread had disappeared and the sun was on its downward course. I shouted, "Dear Sun, how much I should like to see you. I am so tired of beholding only the stars and the moon. I am longing for sunshine."
Near by was a hill. A sudden thought came into my mind. I said to myself, "If I ascend this hill I shall see the whole sun, as the greater height will make up for the curvature of the earth."
I ran, and soon was ascending the hill. After a while I stopped, turned round, and looked where I had seen the golden thread. I saw about half the sun. I climbed higher as fast as I could, and when I reached the top of the hill I saw the whole sun. I shouted, "Dear Sun, I love you. I love sunshine. Come and reign once more on this part of the earth. Come and cheer me, and drive away the 'Long Night.'"
I watched the sun until it disappeared. Oh! I wished the hill had been higher so that I could have ascended it and kept seeing the sun.
When I came to the bottom of the hill I said, "I do not wonder that in ancient times there were people who worshipped the sun, for without the sun we could not exist on the earth, for nothing would grow."
I felt like a new being, for I had seen the sun and its sight had filled me with joy. Days of sunshine were coming, and I gave three cheers with a tiger for the sun.
I had had enough of the "Long Night." I wanted to see a sky without stars and also the pale moon during the day.
The following day the glow above the horizon became more brilliant, and towards noon the sun rose slowly above the snow; but only about half of its body made its appearance. It was of a fiery red. Then it gradually sank. The third day the whole of the sun appeared above the horizon, then in a short time sank below. As it disappeared I imagined the sun saying to me: "Day after day I will rise higher and higher in the sky and shine a longer time. I bring with me joy and happiness. I will gradually transform 'The Land of the Long Night' into a land of sunshine and brightness. I will bring the spring; with me flowers will appear, the trees will be adorned with leaves, grass will grow, the land will be green; I will make gentle winds to blow, the rivers will be free and roll their crystal waters, the birds will come and sing. Man will be happy and gather the harvest that grows under my rays and husband it for the days of winter."
Wolves the Great Foe of the Lapps.—How the Reindeer are Protected against Them.—Watching for the Treacherous Brutes.—Stories of their Sagacity.
AFTER the reappearance of the sun I came to a region where the Lapps among whom I lived were in great fear of wolves, for three packs of them had made their appearance in the forests about one hundred and fifty miles away to the eastward, and the news had come to the people.
One day as I was in the tent watching the meal that was being cooked, one of the Lapps said to me, "We dread the wolves. No animal is as cunning as a wolf when he is hungry, and the Chief of the Pack is chosen by them as their leader because he is the most cunning of them all."
"What do you mean," I asked, "by the Chief of the Pack being chosen?"
He replied, "The wolves are very intelligent, and they choose their leader just as people do. They select the one among them that can lead them where there is prey."
Then he added, with a tone of sadness in his voice: "Our life is one of constant vigilance, and old and young are continually on the lookout for wolves. We have not suffered from them for three years, but they may appear suddenly at any moment when we think they are far away. When wolves attack our herds the reindeer scatter in great fright in every direction to long distances, and we have very hard work in bringing them together again. When they have once been attacked by the wolves they become very suspicious, and take fright easily, and at the least alarm run away. After their flight they roam in small bodies without any one to watch over them, or dogs to look out for their enemies, and they become an easy prey to the wolves. Sometimes the herd is destroyed, and the rich Lapp becomes suddenly poor. Yes," he added with flashing eyes, and in a loud tone, "the wolves are our greatest enemies. We kill them whenever we can."
He remained thoughtful for a little while and then proceeded: "Reindeer bulls have more fight in them than the females, and sometimes fight successfully one wolf; but what can they do against a pack of them? Our life is a hard one indeed when wolves are around, for we have to be constantly on the watch night and day. The wolves are so wary that they always approach a reindeer or a herd of them when the wind blows from the herd towards them, so that neither dogs nor reindeer can scent them."
"I hope," I said to myself, "that I shall see bull reindeer fight some of these treacherous wolves and get the better of them; besides I will make them taste my buckshot, and kill them before the poor reindeer is overpowered."
After this conversation we went on our skees to scour the country for wolves, but there were none to be seen, and we returned in time for our dinner.
The following day, as we stood in front of our tent watching the sun above the horizon, we saw in the distance a black speck coming over the snow. We watched! What could it be? The speck came nearer, and we recognized a woman with a bludgeon coming towards us as fast as her skees could carry her. As soon as she was within hearing distance she shouted, "Wolves! Wolves!" The dreaded news had come; the wolves had made their appearance in our district.
She stopped when she reached us, and with one voice the Lapps asked her when the wolves had been seen, and if they had attacked any herd. "No," she answered, "but they will soon do so, for the tracks of three packs have been seen." She had hardly spoken these words when she bade us good-bye, and was on her way to some of her family who had pitched their tent about four miles from where we were. The bludgeon she carried for defence against the wolves.
Soon every man, woman, and child of our tent were on their skees. The men armed themselves with heavy bludgeons and guns and, followed by all the dogs, we started for the herd, taking a lot of reindeer meat with us. Now there was to be an increased watch day and night.
I followed the Lapps on my skees, and though I lagged behind, as I could not go as fast as they did, one of the girls remained with me to show me the way, and now and then she would stop and scan the country for wolves.
I was armed with my double-barrelled shotgun loaded with buckshot. "Oh, if I could encounter the wolves," I said to myself, "what havoc I would make amongst them."
When we came to the herd we told those who were on the watch the news of the appearance of wolves. Immediately preparations were made to discover their whereabouts.
Some of the people went in different directions to reconnoitre, all armed with their heavy bludgeons. They shouted as they left: "We will show the wolves if we meet and chase them on our skees what our bludgeons can do. We will smash their heads and break their legs."
Towards dark, when they returned, they had seen no wolves nor their tracks. "The wolves are so cunning and their ways are so unknown to us that we must be on the lookout all night," said the Lapps to me.
Then we partook of our reindeer meat, which had been kept between our clothing and our chests to prevent it from freezing. It is not pleasant to eat a frozen piece of meat as hard as a rock. But I had learned not to be so very particular. Otherwise I should never have been able to travel in the country.
The moon was on the wane. When it rose it cast its dim light upon the snow. It was a very busy night for the Lapps, for the reindeer had to be kept together and required constant watching.
The dogs acted with great intelligence; they seemed to know that their masters dreaded the wolves; they barked continually, and looked once in a while into the distance, moving away, as if to see if they could scent the wolves afar off.
I walked with my skees slowly, looking off into the distance! Suddenly I thought I saw far away a pack of them. I drew the attention of the Lapp who was with me to the spot; but his eyes, accustomed to scan the snow, soon discovered what it was. He said to me: "There are no wolves there; only the top of some branches of birch trees above the snow."
All the Laplanders, men, women, and big boys and girls, remained on their skees all night. The men were outside and made a circle round the herd. The second circle was made by the women; the third circle, the nearest to the reindeer, by the children. All shouted and yelled. I yelled also—I thought it was great fun! The dogs barked as they followed their masters or mistresses, going outside of the ring to look for wolves. They were constantly urged; but little urging was required, for almost all of them knew from past experience that it meant that the herd had to be protected from wolves, for they had seen them come when their masters were acting precisely as we were doing, and they were ready for the fray.
If it had been a dark night, or if it had been snowing, we should have been in a bad plight; but the moon was our friend. The night passed away and the wolves had not made their appearance. When daylight came we were all pretty tired, and we moved the reindeer nearer to the tent. Then after the coffee was made and drunk, and some reindeer meat had been eaten, we all huddled the best way we could into the tent, covered ourselves with skins, and soon after fell asleep, leaving the care of the reindeer to those who were on the watch and to the dogs—their untiring and faithful friends.
When I awoke, three dogs were fast asleep near me—the dear dogs required rest as well as ourselves; they had worked hard for their masters all night. I remembered the time we had had during the night, and said to myself, "Hard, indeed, is the life of the Laplander." The reindeer lay on the snow. After breakfast they were taken a short distance to pasture, and those who had slept watched them, ready to fight the wolves if they came.
The news had spread quickly among the Lapps in the district that wolves might make their appearance at any moment, and several families with their tents came to camp near us and their herds were kept near ours for mutual protection. We were numerous enough to fight a great number of hungry wolves, and the country was scoured in every direction.
Numbers of juniper-brush fires were lighted at night where we had cleared away the snow to scare off the wolves.
That evening the Lapps told wolf stories. One began thus:
"When wolves have lost the Chief of the Pack, they hold a council and name another Chief, who they expect will lead them safely through their wanderings and direct them when an attack is to be made. The wolves understand each other perfectly well, and they obey the Chief of the Pack. They often speak to each other with their eyes. This appears wonderful, but it is so. But woe to the Chief when the wolves become dissatisfied with him. When they find that under his leadership they are constantly starving, they agree among themselves to destroy him. They then pounce upon him, kill him, and devour him. They have a way of agreeing to do this without their Chief knowing what is to happen to him. They pass judgment upon him and sentence him to die."
"Wonderful indeed," I said, "is the intelligence of the wolves, if what you say is true."
"It is true," said the narrator, and the rest with one voice confirmed him. "Wolves are as knowing as people, and we know some of their cunning ways. The Chief of the Pack must often lead the wolves on long marches, through forests and unbeaten tracks, over the snow to some place where he supposes they will find prey. Besides he must not lead them into ambush where they may be destroyed. The Chief must be not only cunning, but brave also. We see them often, after they have discovered us, going away or taking another direction than the one in which they were going. It is simply to deceive us, to make us believe that they are going away. Then they make a long detour and take our reindeer in our rear. People say foxes are cunning, but the cunning of a fox is nothing to compare to the cunning of a wolf."
"That is so," repeated all the Lapps.
Another man said: "When the Chief of the Pack becomes old, and is not able to lead the wolves any more, the wolves kill him and eat him. When two packs meet there is often a great fight between the two chiefs for the mastery, and the defeated one runs away. Then his own pack over which he ruled runs after him and kills him. Then they proclaim the victor the new Chief and the two packs join forces. Often, when the wolves make an attack, the Chief looks on with a few of his followers as a reserve to see how things are going, and then rushes in with them to insure victory."
After this story the Lapps lighted their pipes and puffed away. Then one passed his snuffbox round, each taking a pinch of snuff. I took one, and I had immediately a fit of sneezing that lasted quite a while, to the great amusement of my Lapp friends. One of the latter then told the following story:
"Some winters ago, while a number of us were on skees on our way to church, which was about one hundred miles away, we saw in the distance quite a number of wolves, following the Chief of the Pack. He was easily recognized, not only because he seemed larger than the others, but because he was always in the lead, and when he stopped they did likewise. It was fortunate that we were on skees instead of in sleighs, for the reindeer would have become unmanageable in their fright and would certainly have been attacked by the wolves. We were armed with our bludgeons, and three of us had guns. The wolves, which had seen us, came in our direction and when at about a quarter of a mile from us stopped and suddenly held a consultation, then advanced again towards us. When they had come within shooting distance I aimed with my gun at the Chief of the Pack, who stood by himself, and killed him. Immediately the other wolves precipitated themselves upon him and fought over his body and devoured him. In the mean time we shot two others. Those likewise were devoured by their comrades. It did not take the wolves much time to devour their three companions. It was done in the twinkling of an eye. The wolves were so voracious because they had not eaten for several days. This is the time when they follow men and sometimes attack them when they are a large pack together.
"The other wolves made off, cowed by the death of their three comrades, but soon stopped and held a consultation among themselves again, and soon we saw one among them take the lead. This was the new Chief of the Pack that had been chosen by them. Then they walked towards us again, and we were ready to meet them on our skees. Our object was to kill this new Chief of the Pack. I aimed at him and succeeded in killing him also. He had hardly fallen when he was set upon and devoured. Now the appetite of the wolves was more or less satisfied, and after we had killed another they fled as they saw him fall; once in a while they looked back towards us, but having no chief they did not know what to do until they had chosen another—and they disappeared in the distance."
In Search of Wolves.—A Large Pack.—They Hold a Consultation.—Their Fierce Attack on the Reindeer.—Pursuing Them on Skees.—Killing the Chief of the Pack.
THE following day a great snowstorm swept over the land, and during that time the Lapps were much in fear that prowling wolves would get into the midst of their herds and that we should be unable to see them on account of the storm.
When the snowstorm was over, the Lapps said to me: "We are going to scour the country for miles around and look out for wolves, for now is a good time to hunt them because the snow is soft. They sink into it as they run, and we can go much faster than they do on our skees, and so overtake them and fell them with our bludgeons." And they asked if I would accompany them.
"Yes," I replied, without hesitation, and added, "I hope we shall meet wolves."
The Lapps left by twos and threes and went in different directions. One of them and myself took our way directly east.
After travelling a few miles I espied a black speck very far away, for I am long-sighted. This at first I thought to be the top of birch trees above the snow, as before; but I was not quite sure, and as I walked along on my skees I kept a sharp lookout. Suddenly I thought the black spot was moving. I stopped and watched. There was no mistake, the spot was moving. It was a large pack of wolves. And they were apparently coming towards us. I called to my companion, and pointing to the spot said to him: "Look there. I think I see wolves." He looked for a while, then with glittering eyes he said, "Paulus, you are right; they are wolves."
We stood still to watch them. The spot was getting bigger and bigger as the wolves came nearer. They made a large pack; but they were still too far away for us to be able to guess how many there were. I wondered if they were coming to attack us. They certainly would if they had had no food for several days, for hunger makes them very bold and fierce.
I looked at my gun. It was all right. My pouch was filled with buckshot cartridges. My hunting knife hung by my side. My Lapp held his bludgeon tightly in his hands. No wolf could run as fast as he could when he was on his skees, and he could run away from them if he was not equal to the contest and if there were too many after him.
"The wolves have perhaps scented the reindeer," said he; "they have to come in our direction to reach the herds."
Not far from where we stood was a big boulder that was not entirely buried in the snow. "Let us hide behind it, and watch," said my companion.
After we had come to the boulder, the Lapp hid at one end of it, I at the other. From our hiding-place we could peep out and keep a sharp lookout on the wolves.
The wolves were coming nearer and nearer. I tried to count them, and I thought there were about thirty. I soon recognized the Chief of the Pack. He was bigger and appeared darker than the rest. He was walking quite ahead of all the pack. They seemed to become more cautious as they neared us. What was the reason? We held a consultation. The Lapp said, "The wind has shifted and is blowing from the wolves towards us, so they cannot scent us, and it is by mere chance they are coming in this direction. They have evidently come from the great Finland forest east of us."
Suddenly the Chief of the Pack stopped, and all the wolves stopped also. Then he advanced alone slowly while the remainder of the pack stood still. Then the wolves came to join him. They were now evidently holding a consultation, talking wolf fashion among themselves, or listening to their Chief, who had something to say. "What are the wolves up to?" I inquired of the Lapp.
"They are planning some mischief," he replied.
Then they divided themselves into two packs, the old Chief having the greater number of wolves with him. The new pack with its Chief turned to the right, the ones with the old Chief remaining at the same place. I said to the Lapp, "How strange is the wolves' behavior! Apparently the long conversation they had among themselves was to arrange a plan of campaign and to divide themselves into two packs."
"That is so," replied he. "Wolves are very knowing, and by their tactics fool us very often."
I replied, "We will try to fool them this time, and kill many of them. The reindeer must be protected."
"I believe," continued the Lapp, "that the new pack that has left is going to take our reindeer in the rear and attack them, and those which remain here are going to wait for this attack. The reindeer in their fright will run in the opposite direction and fall into the midst of these wolves that we see, and which are waiting for them. The cunning of wolves is wonderful. When a pack attacks a herd of reindeer there are always some of them lying in wait somewhere else.
"You stay here and watch. I must go and warn our people that the wolves have come among us. We have been expecting them every hour. It is very seldom when their tracks are seen that they do not attack our reindeer. I will return very soon."
"All right," I said. I had plenty of buckshot, and with my back to the boulder I was not afraid of being attacked in the rear, and I could face them without fear, fire at them, and kill a number of them.
After the Lapp had gone I watched the pack carefully. The wolves stood still for a long time. They were looking in a certain direction. I tried to find what they were looking at, but saw nothing. Suddenly they advanced, turning away slightly from the boulder, then walked faster, headed by the Chief of the Pack. There seemed to be great excitement among them. I looked in the direction whither they were moving, when I saw a lot of reindeer coming towards them, pursued by wolves from behind and Lapps and dogs following them. What the Lapp had said had come to pass; the wolves had attacked the reindeer in the rear, and the pack that had stood still was ready for the fray and to attack them in front. I was also prepared for the fight—ready to kill all the wolves I could.
Now I saw reindeer in every direction—wolves among them, and the Lapps everywhere, moving at great speed on their skees. They seemed to fly over the snow. Suddenly I saw one coming near a wolf which was running after a reindeer, and passing by his side give with his bludgeon a blow that broke the back of the beast, which gave a fearful howl. In the mean time the Lapp wheeled round, came back, and finished him by a blow on the head.
I saw further on a poor reindeer in his death struggle with two wolves that had fastened upon his neck. Two Lapps had seen this also, and armed with their bludgeons they came at full speed, and as quick as the flight of an arrow they passed on each side of the poor reindeer and broke the fore legs of the wolves, which fell on their backs howling. The Lapps wheeled round, returned and gave them two terrific blows on their heads, which stunned them; then they killed them. I had heard the sound of the blows.
The wolves had become very fierce in their attacks. I wanted to pursue them on my skees, but unfortunately I was not skilful enough to do so. The reindeer were fleeing, pursued by the wolves which were in their midst. It was a fight for life. I saw four wolves attacking a bull while he was charging one of them and had almost pierced him with his antlers. The three other wolves sprang upon him, their big teeth in his flesh. He ran with them for a while, then the noble animal fell.
Another wolf came near me and succeeded in bringing down a young reindeer that was running away with all his might. I sent a lot of buckshot through him and killed him on the spot, but I was too late to save the life of the poor reindeer; and in an instant the dying wolf was attacked by his voracious comrades, which precipitated themselves upon him and tore him to pieces and devoured him. I looked at this scene with so much astonishment that I forgot to fire another shot at the wolves.
Several wolves were killed, and at last all were put to flight. Our victory was complete. I recognized the Chief of the Pack among the slain. What a big fellow he was! What ugly-looking teeth he had! The wolves after this attack were completely disorganized, and fled in different directions.
In the mean time my Lapp, true to his word, had rejoined me. He said: "These wolves understand each other, and have agreed among themselves to meet somewhere in the great forest east of us. They will visit us again in small packs, so we must be on the watch constantly." Then with a sigh he said: "Now we are going to have a hard time to bring the reindeer of each owner together."
The day after the slaying of the wolves, I bade good-bye to the Lapps and once more started to wander over the great snowy waste of "The Land of the Long Night."
Great Skill of the Lapps with Their Skees.—Leaping over Wide Gullies and Rivers.—Prodigious Length of Their Leaps.—Accuracy of Their Coasting.—I Start Them by Waving the American Flag.
I WAS once more travelling westward, and two days afterward fell in with another company of nomadic Lapps. We became, as usual, good friends.
One day they said to me: "Paulus, the snow is in a very fine condition for skeeing, and we are going to have some fun among ourselves, and run down steep hills on our skees and try our skill in making leaps in the air across a chasm there is over yonder, with a river beyond, and find out who can make the longest leap and be the champion. We want you to come with us, for there will be great fun."
I replied, "I am certainly coming, for I have never seen such a game before, and I like fun. Yes, boys, I like fun." They laughed heartily when they heard me say this.
We made ready, and started on our skees, and after a run of about four miles the Lapps stopped near the edge of a long and very steep hill, at the foot of which was a plain.
There they said to me: "There is a wide gully, which you cannot see, before reaching the bottom of the hill, and further down is a river. We will go down this hill and leap over both the gully and the river on our skees. Of course, the greater our speed, the longer the leap we make. The danger is in not being able to reach the ledge on the other side; but this makes the fun more exciting. It is very seldom, however, that accidents happen, for no one undertakes these dangerous leaps unless he is very sure of himself."
"What happens then," I asked, "if the leap falls short?"
"Then," he answered, "you may break your leg, or arm, or your neck; but I do not know of any such misfortunes happening, though we hear once in a great while in the mountains of an accident which results in death. One of the great dangers in skeeing is that of striking a boulder hidden under the crust of snow, or of falling over an unseen precipice. When we are small children we learn to leap forward in the air and come down on our skees, beginning by making small leaps from insignificant heights, increasing the leap gradually as we have more practice, and so becoming stronger and more agile and skilful in going down a hill."
Thereupon the Lapps took up their position along the brink of the hill and stood in a straight line about ten or fifteen yards from each other. It was a fine sight. At a given signal they started on their skees, holding in one hand their sticks to be used as rudders to guide them. They slid down at tremendous speed; suddenly I saw them fly through the air, and then land below on their skees. They had leaped over the gully. Then they continued their course faster than before, on account of the momentum of the leap, and as they reached the bottom of the hill they made another leap in the air, which took them over the river to the plain beyond. After going a little further, for they could not stop at once, they came to a halt. Then returning they examined the leaps, to see who among them had made the longest one.
After they had ascertained who was the champion in the first contest, they continued to ascend the hill in zigzags on their skees, and after this tiresome task they came to where they had left me.
I said to them, "Friends, I am going down the hill, for I shall then be able to see better your great leaping feats, and how wide and deep is the space you leap over, for from the top of the hill it cannot be seen. Wonderful, indeed, are your skill and daring! Such tremendous leaps as you made can never be accomplished by man except on skees. I wish I could have been brought up to go on skees like yourselves, from my childhood, then I should enjoy this greatly, and compete for the championship. It is far better fun than skating." "Certainly," they shouted with one voice, "there is ten times more fun in skeeing than in skating. It is like all sports, the more danger there is in them the greater are the excitement and the interest."
"But," said I, "I must go down this hill in a roundabout way, for I do not want to fall into the hollow over which you leaped."
"It would not hurt you," they cried; "you would find plenty of snow at the bottom if you should fall in." It was agreed that one of the Lapps should go with me and show me the way through a less steep descent to the chasm. We made the descent successfully, and came to a good position from which I could see the men make the great leap.
Looking up, I saw all the Lapps in position ready for the descent and waiting for the raising of the little American flag I always carried with me,—a custom which dates from the time of my travels in Africa—as the signal to start. As I unfolded it, I kissed it with great affection. How beautiful the stars and stripes looked as they waved in the breeze and over the snow!
At this signal the Lapps started. Suddenly I noticed that one of them—the last one in the row—bore down directly upon me. "Goodness!" I said to my companion, pointing out to him the Lapp above, "suppose this man as he comes down should happen to strike me."
The Lapp heard me with a smile, and replied: "Paulus, do not be afraid; he will guide his skees as skilfully as a skilful boatman steers his boat. I think perhaps he intends to touch you with his hands as he passes by you, so do not be frightened; do not move an inch; he is one of the most skilful among us."
He had hardly finished these words when the Lapp with railroad speed and dangerously close bore down upon me, and before I could realize it passed in front of me within three feet, without however touching me, as my companion had predicted. Still it took my breath away; my heart beat so quickly. Down he went. Before I had time to recover I saw the Lapps in the air, over the chasm, then in the twinkling of an eye they had alighted on the other side. Their momentum was very great, and in less than a minute they had leaped over the river, and continued their forward course, which they could not stop, on the plain below; then lessened their speed gradually with the help of their sticks, the ends of which were thrust deep in the snow.
It was a grand sight. As they leaped over their legs were somewhat bent, and as they struck the snow they righted themselves. While in the air they maintained their skees parallel, as if they had been on the snow, and when they alighted the skees were on a perfect level with each other; no man seemed to be more than two or three feet ahead of another.
I had followed their motions with great curiosity. They seemed to give a spring as they came near the brink of the chasm, bending their bodies forward, straightening themselves as they struck the snow, and continuing their way as if nothing had happened.
On their way back, as they neared me I shouted, "Good for you, boys! Good for you! It was splendid." I shook hands with every one of them. They were very much excited over the sport.
The hollow over which they leaped seemed to be about ninety-five feet wide, and the place from which they sprang was about twelve or fifteen feet above the bank on the other side. They told me that some of the great leaps in the country had been over one hundred and twenty-five feet.
"Is it possible!" I exclaimed; "it seems incredible."
Then the Lapp who had passed so near me said to me, "You were afraid I would strike you on my way down. We can pass an object far below us within a few inches when we like. We will show you how we do by and by."
The Lapps once more ascended the hill, and I took a new position by the river and waited for them to come down. They started in the same way as before and came down with very great speed, leaped over the gully, and in an instant, seemingly, they were in the air over the river—a leap of about sixty or seventy feet.
I shouted again, "Well done, boys! Well done!" I was terribly excited myself.
Then they came to me and said: "Now we are going to have a new game." They planted several sticks in the snow in different positions on the declivity of the hill, and said, "Paulus, we are going to show you how near we can come to those sticks; we will almost touch them with our skees."
When they were ready I raised my flag. They came down the hill almost with the same rapidity as before, but pushed their guiding sticks deeper into the snow; and most of them came within a few inches of the sticks.
After passing one they would change their direction and move to another, either on the left or right, further down.
This terminated the day's sport. We returned to our encampment. I had had a day of great delight.
We Encounter More Wolves.—My Guide Kills Two with his Bludgeon.—A Visiting trip with a Lapp Family.—Extraordinary Speed of Reindeer.—We Strike a Boulder.—Lake Givijärvi.—Eastward Again.
NOW I kept a sharp lookout over the horizon as we drove along, for I thought wolves might make their appearance again at any moment. My Lapp guide was also apprehensive.
When we stopped for our meals he said to me, "If our reindeer scent or see wolves, they will become uncontrollable. It will be impossible for us to stop them, and if we try to keep in our sleighs we shall be surely upset, for the animals will be so wild from fright. We had better have our skees handy, so that we can throw them out of our sleighs and then jump out ourselves."
Then, brandishing his bludgeon, he said fiercely, "I will make short work of some of them. They will never run after any more reindeer."
I brandished my gun, and cried, "Woe to the wolves if they come near us. I will give them enough buckshot to make them jump."
We continued our journey, the Lapp keeping close to me. Suddenly he stopped and said, "Paulus, I am going to tie your sleigh behind mine and fasten your reindeer to it. I do not know why, but I have an idea, somehow, that there are wolves around, and I expect to see them at any moment. At any rate it is better to be prepared for them."
After my sleigh was attached as he had said, we resumed our journey, I, quietly seated in my sleigh, having no reindeer to drive, only using my stick as a rudder. About two hours afterwards as we skirted a forest of fir trees we suddenly saw two wolves skulking in the distance. Fortunately we discovered them before the reindeer did. We threw out our skees, and then the Lapp with his bludgeon and I with my gun jumped out. We were hardly out when our reindeer scented the wolves and plunged wildly in their efforts to escape, and we had to let them go, for we could not hold them.
The Lapp in an instant was on his skees armed with his bludgeon. He made directly for the wolves at tremendous speed. He seemed to fly over the snow, and before I knew it he had slain a wolf by giving him a mighty blow on his skull. Then like a bird of prey he made for the other wolf. The animal stood still, ready to bite him, but the Lapp passed by him like a flash and gave him a terrible blow on his mouth which broke his teeth. Then after he had stopped the speed of his skees, he turned back and gave him his deathblow.
After he had taken breath, he said to me, "Paulus, wait here, for you cannot 'skee' fast enough. I must go after our runaway reindeer and our sleighs," and off he went. He followed the tracks they had left behind them.
I waited one hour, two hours,—I thought he would never come back. Finally I saw a little black speck over the snow. It was my Lapp, and soon he was by my side with reindeer and sleighs.
In the afternoon we came to a tent, where we were kindly received, and there we slept. The next morning the owner of the tent said to me, "The snow is very fine for sleighing, for it is crisp and well packed. The weather is cold and travelling with reindeer could not be better, for the animals will feel fine. Some of my people and I want to go and visit my brother and his family. Will you come with us?"
"Yes," I replied, "I shall be very glad to go with you."
A short time after this five reindeer made their appearance; they were all males, and splendid animals,—Samoyeds, the finest and largest I had thus far seen. Their antlers were superb.
"These reindeer," said their owner, "are the fastest I have, and are in their prime for driving, for they are between six and eight years old, the age when they are the strongest. They have not been used for two weeks, so they feel very frisky; and it being so cold they will run at a rate that will perhaps scare you, and I am sure they will go as fast as they ever did. No reindeer that I know of can keep pace with them. I have taken great care in training them."
I was delighted at the thought of travelling with such fast animals, and I replied, "I am sure I shall enjoy the drive."
Then everybody got ready for the start. My host, pointing to one of the biggest reindeer, said to me, "This one will be yours, and you will follow me."
We were hardly ready when the reindeer started at a furious rate and in the wildest way. The Lapps held their reins as hard as they could and threw themselves across their sleighs and were carried in that way for a little distance. It was a most ludicrous sight, the like of which I had never seen! But they all succeeded in getting in—they were masters of the situation.
How they succeeded in getting in I could not tell, it was certainly a great feat of gymnastics. My reindeer had started with the rest and was ahead of them all, but soon the Lapps overtook me.
We went on at a tremendous rate. These were indeed the fastest reindeer I had ever travelled with. It was a good thing that I had learned how to balance myself in those little Lapp sleighs. I did not mind any more their swinging to and fro. I rather liked the excitement. And it was exciting enough! We went so fast that things appeared and disappeared almost before I had time to look at them.
We sped with such rapidity that I fancied I was travelling on the Pennsylvania railroad, as I often had done on the Limited to Chicago on the way to see my Scandinavian friends and others. I was thinking of that splendid train with its luxurious cars—of the observation cars with their comfortable chairs, sofas, library; of the bath room, stenographer, and barber, and polite employees, and all the comforts travellers had. Suddenly I thought of its fine dining-room cars, and as I was hungry I imagined I was seated before one of its tables, with snowy-white linen, and enjoying a glorious meal,—oysters, capon, roast beef, vegetables of several kinds, and puddings and fruits; the ice cream I dismissed, for I did not feel like having any, it was so cold. Then I thought of its comfortable beds—when suddenly a tremendous bumping, which almost threw me out, reminded me that I was not on that luxurious train. I had struck a snag or boulder. This made it clear at once that I was dreaming and was not on the Chicago Limited, but that I was travelling in "The Land of the Long Night."
The air was so rarefied, the drive so exciting, that I shouted with all my might, "Go on, reindeer, go on. This is fine, I never had such a drive in my life."
After two hours, and a drive of nearly fifty miles, we alighted before a Lapp tent. The dogs, and there were many, announced our arrival by fierce barking, and the inmates of the tent came out to see who the strangers were. They recognized my friends and received them with demonstrations of joy, which was the more remarkable as the Lapps are far from being demonstrative.
The next day in the afternoon we returned to our tent, the reindeer as frisky as the day before and running as fast. I have never forgotten those two glorious rides, and I shall remember them as long as I live.
Bidding my Lapp friends good-bye I came one day to Lake Givijärvi and further on to Lake Aitijärvi. There I saw a lonely farm with a comfortable dwelling-house of logs. How pleasant this habitation seemed in that snow land. The smoke curling over the chimney told that there were people there, and soon after we were in front of the house, and I entered a large room, and saw a man with long black shaggy hair tinged with grey. His name was Adam Triump. Then a woman, his wife, came in, also with loose shaggy black hair falling over her shoulders. My guide and I were made welcome.
From there I travelled once more eastward, driving over the Ivalajoki, which falls into the Enarejärvi. If I had been travelling alone I should certainly have perished, for I did not know where to find the people of the thinly inhabited country.
The Lapp Hamlet of Kautokeino.—A Bath in a Big Iron Pot.—An Arctic Way of Washing Clothes.—Dress and Ornaments of the Lapps.—Appearance and Height of the Lapps.—Givijärvi.—Karasjok.
A FEW days after the events I have just related to you, I found myself in the Lapp hamlet of Kautokeino, with its Lutheran church, near latitude 69 degrees. Here and there were queer-looking storehouses which belonged to the nomadic Lapps. I alighted before the post station, and entered the house and was welcomed by the station master. The dwelling was composed of two rooms, one for the use of the family, the other for guests or travellers. The place was full of Lapp men and women who had come to rest, go to church on the following Sunday, or see their children who were at school; or to get coffee, sugar, and other provisions stored in their own houses.
On the opposite side of the post station was the cow house, and between it and the house was the old-fashioned wooden-bucket well with its long, swinging pole, surrounded by a thick mass of ice made of the dripping water from the bucket. I did not wonder when I saw the ice, for it was 43 degrees below zero that day, and sometimes it is colder still.
I went into the cow-house. It was, as usual, a very low building, lower than most of those I had seen before. The two long windows admitted a dim light. At the further end was the usual big iron pot seen in almost every cow-house, for soaking the grass in boiling water, as the coarse marsh grass is so hard to chew that it has to be thus prepared. The daughter of the house, a girl about twenty years old, said to me, "I am going to prepare a meal for the cows and the sheep."
The huge iron pot was filled with reindeer moss and grass and warm water. "This food is for the cows and sheep," she said. "The horse is fed on fine fragrant hay, gathered during the short summer; horses will not eat the food we give to the cows and sheep; they are very particular."
I was very much in need of a good wash and of a warm bath, for I had only used snow to wash my hands and face for many days. As I looked at the big iron pot I said to myself, "This pot will make a good wash-tub."
I went to the mistress of the house and asked her if I could take a warm bath in the big iron pot. "Certainly," she replied. Then she called her daughter, and both went to the cow-house. They cleaned the iron pot thoroughly; then filled it about two thirds full with water from the trough communicating with the well, which the old station master drew for them. They lighted a fire under the pot, and cleaned the surroundings, and laid down a reindeer skin for my feet, and a chair for me to sit on.
When the water was warm, and the fire under it extinguished, the wife said that my bath was ready.
How good I felt when I was in the big iron pot filled with warm water. I gave grunts of satisfaction. I put my head under water and thought "How good; how good the water feels."
Suddenly one of the family appeared, and before I had time to say "What do you want?" had jumped into the water all dressed and got hold of one of my legs and rubbed it with soap. Then came the turn of the other leg, then the body, head and all. I was rubbed with a brush as hard as if I had been a piece of wood that had no feelings, and as if my skin had been the bark of a tree. Two or three times I screamed out, but my attendant only laughed. After the rubbing I was switched with birch twigs till I fairly glowed, and then I was left alone. When I looked at my body my skin was as red as a tomato. The blood was in full circulation and I felt fine, for it was such a long time since I had taken a real bath that I had almost forgotten that there was such a thing.
How nice it was to put clean underwear on. How comfortable it felt. I put on a new pair of reindeer trousers, that were lent to me and that had never been worn before, and a new "kapta." Here was a good occasion to have my underwear washed, and my fur garments cleansed of everything, for it was over 40 degrees below zero. This wearing of the same clothes for a long time is the greatest hardship of travelling in winter in the Arctic regions; for in the course of time obnoxious things swarm in the fur and also in the woollen underwear. When these become unendurable the following way of washing has to be performed without soap or water.
After a person has changed his fur garments and underwear, he hangs them outside when the temperature is from 20 to 50 degrees below zero. The colder it is, the better for the clothes that are to be cleansed. These are left hanging for several days, during which time all the noxious things are killed by the intense cold. After this the underwear and the fur garments are well shaken and beaten, and then they return from this kind of laundry clean, according to the views of the Arctic regions, and are ready to be worn again. I often had my clothing washed in that manner, and also my sleeping-bags.
On Sunday many Lapps attended the Lutheran church from different parts of the country, coming either on skees or with their sleighs; those who lived far away starting the day before. Some had come even so far as one hundred and fifty miles. I was present at the religious services; the church was crowded. The clergyman was not in his clerical robes, but dressed in furs—like the rest of the congregation, for the churches are not heated.
On my return from church, the Lapps asked me where I was going. I replied I wanted to go as far as the land went north of me, as far as Nordkyn. They all wondered why I wanted to go there. They asked me if I was a merchant and bought fish. I told them I was not, but that I travelled to see the country and its people. They thought I was a very strange man, and they wondered at my ways.
This hamlet was composed of about twelve homesteads. The dwelling-houses were built of logs, those for beasts of turf or stones. By the church was the schoolhouse, and there was a large store very much like our country stores at home.
The inhabitants owned about sixty cows,—such small cows! they were about three feet in height—one hundred and seventy sheep and a few oxen as small as the cows.
Kautokeino was full of nomadic Lapps, and we had a good time together, for the Lapps are very friendly and I had learned to love them. "We come here," they said, "to meet our friends, to see our children who are in school, to get some of the provisions kept in our storehouses and other things we want; and we bring with us skins of reindeer and the garments and shoes that have been made in our tents."
In this church hamlet were a number of very old Lapps, men and women who could no longer follow their reindeer and endure a hard, wandering life. Thither also the sick or the lame come, to stay until they get well or die. Two Lapps were pointed out to me who were nearly one hundred years old.
The inhabitants of these Lapp hamlets are not nomadic; they live on the produce of their farms, the increase of their reindeer, by catching salmon, and in employing themselves as sailors on the fishing-boats of the Arctic Sea, which they reach by descending the rivers.
The Lapp women wore queer-fitting little caps of bright colors, and when in holiday dress wore a number of large showy silk handkerchiefs. Sometimes they had as many as four, on the top of one another, over their fur dresses; they wore necklaces of large glass beads, round their waists were silver belts, and their fingers were ornamented with rings. They wore trousers of reindeer skin, as the Lapp women do universally. The men wore peaked caps.
These people were short of stature, compactly but slightly built, with strong limbs, their light weight allowing them to climb, jump, and run quickly. There are no heavy men with big stomachs among them. Quite a number of Lapps have fair hair and blue eyes. They are unlike the Esquimaux, and in a crowd at home, dressed like ourselves, would pass unnoticed. There are a number of Lapps in the North-west of our own county. The tallest woman that I saw was 5 feet ½ inch, the tallest man 5 feet 4½ inches; the smallest woman 4 feet 4¼ inches, the smallest man 4 feet 7 inches. There were more women averaging 4 feet 10 inches than men of that size, men averaging generally above five feet.
I left Kautokeino, and that same day I came to Lake Givijärvi. I had to be told that it was a lake, for it was a continuous snow-land. Here was a farm, the owner of which kept a small store and sold sugar, coffee, salt, flour, tobacco, matches, some woollen underwear, etc., to the Lapps; and bought from them skins, shoes, and gloves, in summer smoked tongue and reindeer meat, reindeer cheese, etc., and every year went with these to some of the Norwegian towns on the Arctic Sea to sell them and buy groceries and other goods.
Here I had a clean room and bed. The place was a great rendezvous for nomadic Lapps, and I found many of them. The farmer extended to them unbounded hospitality, and spread as many reindeer skins on the floor at night as the room could hold, for them to sleep on.
The Lapps liked the place very much, and came there to rest for a few days, bringing their food with them. Their wives and children would also come, and were sure to be welcome at the farm. I could not drink sufficient milk or coffee, or eat enough reindeer meat, cheese, or butter that had been churned in summer, to please the good-hearted farmer. He wanted no pay. He even insisted on accompanying me to Karasjok.
The sleighing was fine, and the snow was six and seven feet deep on a level. Our arrival at Karasjok, after a hundred miles' journey from Givijärvi, was announced by the fierce barking of the dogs of the place, and twice I was almost overtaken by one more fierce than the others. "They only bark," shouted my guide. I was now in latitude 69° 35', and within a few miles of the longitude of Nordkyn. The hamlet was situated on the shores of the Karasjoki river. Some of the fir trees of the forests near Karasjok measured twenty inches in diameter; but once cut they do not grow again. I saw very few young trees.
The hamlet was composed of eighteen or twenty homesteads, with about one hundred and thirty inhabitants. There were over twenty horses, besides cows, sheep, and reindeer. The horses were so plentiful because they are used to haul timber. I reflected that the horse is a wonderful animal, and can live like man in many kinds of climate.
All the houses at Karasjok were built of logs. The finest residence was that of the merchant of the place. The Karasjok Lapps, and others in the neighborhood, were very unlike those I had seen before. They were tall; some of them six feet in height. The women were also tall, most of them having dark hair. The fair complexion and blue eyes were uncommon. Men and women wore strange-looking head-dresses. The men wore square caps of red or blue flannel, filled up with eider down. The women put on a wooden framework of very peculiar shape, appearing more or less like a casque or the helmet of a dragoon.
I only stopped the night in Karasjok, and after getting new reindeer at the post station and a new guide, started north.
Leave Karasjok still Travelling Northward.—The River Tana.—River Lapps.—Filthy Dwellings.—On the Way to Nordkyn.—The Most Northern Land in Europe.
ON leaving Karasjok I travelled northward, over the frozen Karasjoki, until I came to a broad stream called the Tana. As we drove on the river I saw here and there solitary farms and strange little hamlets inhabited by river Lapps.
The occupation of the river Lapps is largely salmon catching in summer. These fish are very abundant in the rivers. Many, during the codfish season, engage themselves as sailors on the Arctic Sea. Almost every family has a small farm, stocked with diminutive cows; besides they have sheep and goats. During the summer their reindeer are taken care of by the nomadic Lapps. These reindeer have to go to the mountains near the Arctic Sea, on account of the mosquitoes.
Now travelling was becoming very hard,—not on account of the snow, but because the inhabitants and their dwellings were so dirty.
But I had one comfort. All over that far northern land I felt so safe; it never came into my head that these people would rob me, though they knew I had plenty of money with me, according to their ways of thinking, to pay for reindeer and other travelling expenses; but the Finns and the Lapps are a God-fearing people.
The first day, I came to a place occupied by a single man. The house was so filthy, and vermin apparently so plentiful, that I whispered to my Lapp guide, "Let us go on." The Lapp was so tired that he looked at me with astonishment, and seemed to say: "Are not these comfortable quarters?"
We got into our sleighs, however, and further on we stopped and tied our reindeer together. The Lapp slept in his sleigh covered with a reindeer skin, and I in my bag.
The next day we halted before a farm. It was dark. There we intended to spend the night. The people do not lock their doors, neither do they knock to obtain admittance. So we entered. The family were all in bed. A man lighted a light. Such filth I thought I had never seen. The beds were filled with dirty hay that had been there all winter. The sheepskin blankets with the wool on were almost as black as soot. The people who slept between them were without a particle of clothes. "What a place for vermin!" I whispered to myself.
At this sight, I again said in a low voice to my Lapp, "Let us go on." He replied, "The reindeer are hungry, and we have had no food ourselves for long hours. Let us remain overnight and breakfast here to-morrow."
In the mean time the owner of the place got up, put on a long dirty woolen shirt, and went with us into the next room, which was clean. I gave a sigh of relief. The wooden bed had no hay, no sheepskin blankets. The man got for me a clean reindeer skin which he said had just come out of the open air, where it had been for several days.
To my consternation my Lapp guide offered to sleep alongside of me, and added, "We shall be warmer if we sleep together." I was in a dilemma. I did not want to offend him, but I told him that I always slept by myself. Then the owner of the place spread another reindeer skin on the floor, and my guide slept upon it.
The next morning we breakfasted on dried reindeer meat, hard bread, and milk. After bidding our host good-bye, and thanking him for his hospitality, we continued our journey, arriving towards noon at a farm owned by a river Lapp. The farm had three buildings; only the wife and daughter were at home. The husband was cod fishing in the Arctic Sea. The wife told me she had been a sailor before she was married, and engaged in cod fishing.
There were on this farm three diminutive cows, an ox of the size of the cows, nine sheep, and they owned besides quite a number of reindeer. The cows were getting smaller and smaller as I went north. In the little dwelling-house was a small room for a stranger; reindeer skins made the mattress. My guide and I ate together. We had excellent coffee, smoked reindeer meat, and milk.
Further on we stopped awhile at a little farm owned by a woman and her daughter. The mother and daughter worked as if they were men; they fished for salmon in the river in summer, mowed hay, collected reindeer moss to feed their cows, went after wood. A faithful dog was their companion. At some seasons the daughter descended the river, and engaged herself as one of the crew on board of a fishing boat on the Arctic Ocean.
Resuming our journey we passed the church hamlet of Utsjoki. Near Utsjoki I met some nomadic Lapps, who had a large herd of reindeer with them, and were willing to take me to Nordkyn. That night I slept in their tent. Early the next morning they lassoed some very fine reindeer, which had superb horns and had not been used for quite a while. I did not care now how fast the reindeer went, for I could keep inside of my sleigh. The men said: "We will meet on the promontory Lapps with their reindeer herds, and if it is very stormy we can go into their tent."
Soon after we started.
They were not mistaken in regard to the speed of their beasts. They set off at a furious pace, and it was all I could do to keep inside of my sleigh. My pride was up, and I was bound to do my utmost not to upset.
We finally reached the high promontory which divides the Laxe from the Tana fjord, at the extremity of which is Nordkyn. It was blowing a gale right from the north, and we had to protect our faces with our masks. Fortunately we came to a Lapp encampment, and were received with great kindness and hospitality; enjoyed a good meal of reindeer meat, and a good sleep afterwards.
The next morning the weather was fine, and I drove on to Kjorgosk Njarg—hard name to pronounce—the most northern land in Europe.
The land's end was nearing, and erelong I stood on the edge of Cape Nordkyn, 71° 6' 50"—the most northern end of the continent of Europe, and rising majestically over seven hundred feet above the level of the sea. Before me was the Arctic Ocean, and beyond, a long way off and unseen by me, was the impenetrable wall of ice which the Long Night had built to guard the Pole.
From there I could see North Cape.
Leave Nordkyn.—Frantic Efforts of the Reindeer to Keep their Footing on the Ice.—The Bear's Night.—Foxes and Ermines.—Weird Cries of Foxes.—Building Snow Houses.—Shooting-boxes.—Killing Foxes.—Traps for Ermines.—A Snow Owl.
NORDKYN being the land's end, I could not go further north, so I retraced my steps southward. That afternoon we saw on the other side of a frozen lakelet the tent of some nomadic Lapps, and we made preparations to cross the lake to go and see them.
While we were in the midst of the lake the wind rose, and before we knew it the ice was left bare around us, and our reindeer could not run or walk over it, it was so slippery. They would fall at every step they made, making all kinds of contortions to try to stand on their legs; their hoofs could not possibly hold on fast to the ice. We got out of our sleighs to help them. I said to myself that reindeer ought to be shod, especially to go over the ice.
It was awful—the poor beasts made frantic efforts to get on, but could not. I thought we should never be able to cross the lake, and that we should be obliged to abandon the reindeer, or try to put them into our sleighs, and drag these ourselves to the shore. But we watched our opportunity, and when a layer of snow was blown in our way, we succeeded in making some headway. At last we reached the shore, after three or four hours of hard work.
The Lapps received us very kindly.
That night I heard the weird and dismal howls of foxes. They sounded so strange in the stillness of darkness. In the morning I asked the Lapps how many kinds of foxes were found in the country. "There are red, blue, and black foxes," they answered. "During the Bear's Night or winter months the blue foxes and the gray hares turn white; the fur of the black fox is tipped with white, and he is known as the silver-gray fox, the fur thus tipped being very valuable. The ptarmigan also, a species of grouse, turns white during the Bear's Night."
I asked the Lapps, "Why do you call the winter months the 'Bear's Night'?"
"Because," one replied, "in this land the bears sleep all through the winter months."
"Goodness!" I exclaimed; "then the bear has a sleep that lasts five or six months, and even more?"
"Yes," the Lapp replied.
"Are there any bears here," I asked, "that are sleeping in the neighborhood?—for I should like immensely to stir one up."
"There are none this year," he replied.
Then I said to him, "Let us go fox hunting, for I should like to get some white and silver-gray fox-skins. We will build a snow house for our camp to shelter ourselves." One of the Lapps, called Jakob, agreed to go with me.
Besides hunting foxes, we were to trap ermines and kill white hares, for I wanted to have a rug of their skins. I remembered that I had slept between two rugs of white hare skins, and how beautiful, soft, and warm they were.
After this talk Jakob went off after reindeer, and returned with three of them. In a short time our preparations for camping were made. We took with us our sleeping-bags, some reindeer meat, a little salt, some hard bread, a coffee kettle, coffee, a small iron pot to cook our food in, two wooden shovels to help us in building a snow house and clearing the ground of snow, our skees, guns, and ammunition. I did not forget a couple of wax candles, for I always carried some with me, and plenty of matches, besides a steel and flints in case some accident should happen to our matches. We took also a few slender poles, upon which we intended to hang our meat to keep it out of reach of prowling carnivorous animals. These carefully packed and made secure in a special sleigh, we started. Our sleighs glided along as if they were going on smooth ice.
After a journey of four hours, having travelled about sixty miles, we came to the shores of a lake, and at one end were two conical dwellings belonging to fishing or river Lapps. The smoke curling above their tops showed us the people were at home.
"Here," said Jakob, "we will build our snow houses. I think we shall find plenty of foxes in the neighborhood, for the country is full of ptarmigans, and the foxes prey upon them."
We tied our reindeer with long ropes, so that they should have plenty of room to dig for moss. Then we began to build our snow house. It was so cold that the snow did not hold well together, so we concluded to make two instead of one, just big enough for each of us to sleep in and be protected from the great cold. It was hard work. When finished they were a little over five feet and a half long and some three feet wide inside.
"I like this much better than going in and sleeping in the dwellings of the river or fishing Lapps yonder," I said to Jakob.
Clearing a space for our fire in front, we put up three long poles we had carried with us, and hung our meat high up upon them, so that wolves and foxes could not get at it. Then we put our sleighs containing our outfit on the top of each other and made them fast with cords. When this was done Jakob said: "Foxes are often very bold, and they come and rummage around the tents; and when famished they bite everything they get hold of. We shall be able to hear them from our snow houses if they try to get into our sleighs."
We had carried with us a few sticks of dry wood to be used as firewood, but Jakob knew the country well and that near us were some junipers, the branches of which appeared above the snow, and he went and gathered some of them. The wood of the juniper, though green, burns well, for it is full of resinous matter.
Our camp was now ready. The day's work being done we lighted a fire, cooked a piece of reindeer meat for our supper, and made coffee. Jakob, as usual, had some dried fish skin with him to clarify the coffee. After our meal we went into our snow houses, and taking off my Lapp grass and stockings, I laid them inside of my kapta on my chest to dry the dampness out of them during the night. Then I got into my bag. Jakob did likewise, and after bidding each other good-night we fell asleep. Our houses were warm and comfortable.
During the night we were startled by the piercing howls of foxes, and these kept us awake for a time. How dismal those howls sounded. We had evidently come to a good place to find foxes! Jakob evidently knew what he was about, and had brought me to the right place.
When we awoke the weather had become colder, the thermometer marking 45 degrees below zero. After a breakfast of reindeer meat and a cup of coffee we went to reconnoitre on our skees and saw many tracks of foxes. I was delighted at the discovery, and said to myself, "Paul, do not leave this place till you have a few fox skins." I wished all the time that these tracks might be those of the white and silver-gray foxes, for they were the ones I particularly wanted.
On our return the fishing Lapps from the other side of the lake came on their skees to pay us a visit, and invited us to come and see them. Looking at their faces I thought they had not been washed for months, for a coat of dirt covered their skins. I looked at their fur garments with great suspicion, and kept away from them without appearing to do so. I found it necessary to use all the tact I possessed to avoid wounding their susceptibilities.
After their departure Jakob said: "I am going to take the reindeer to some friends of mine who have their camp within two hours from this place, and they will take care of them until we go back." Then he bade me good-bye, saying, "I will not be long."
I watched him until I lost sight of him and of the reindeer. Then I put on my skees, took my gun, and went to look for foxes, and soon came upon fresh tracks of them. Once or twice I thought I saw white foxes, but they are difficult to see at a long distance, being of the color of the snow, and I could not be sure. Being satisfied of their presence in our neighborhood, I returned to the camp.
As I came within sight of our shelter I thought I saw on the snow, near one of the poles where the reindeer meat was hung, something that was not there when I had left. It was possible that it was only the snow that had been piled up in heaps by us. "Strange," I said to myself, "that I did not notice that this morning." I advanced cautiously, when suddenly I discovered that what I thought so strange was three foxes, white ones, seated and looking up intently at the reindeer meat, probably thinking how they might reach it. I watched them while they stood still and kept their heads up, looking at the meat. I was glad the meat was out of their reach, otherwise we should have had no supper. I stood perfectly still and kept watching them. The three foxes did not move. Suddenly one turned round, and when he saw me he gave the alarm to his companions and off they ran at a great rate, and soon were out of sight.
When I came to the camp I saw that the foxes had gone round and round the pole, in the hope of finding a way to reach the meat. It was lucky that they had not intelligence enough to dig the snow with their paws at the foot of the pole to make it come down.
After this, looking over the snow, I saw in the distance a little black spot, which grew bigger and bigger as it came nearer. I recognized Jakob on his skees.
Soon after he arrived in our camp I told him about the foxes. "They will come again," he replied, "for they are hungry. Other foxes will also come, for they will surely scent our meat."
After a while we began to work, and built two little round enclosures of snow, the walls about three feet high, with openings here and there to fire from, and went inside and waited for the foxes, having previously put within a short shooting distance some reindeer meat. We waited for quite a while—no foxes—when suddenly I thought I saw something moving over the snow. Looking carefully I found that they were white foxes. They had evidently scented the meat and were approaching in that direction, and when within shooting distance we fired and two of them fell. They were fine creatures, with soft long hair almost as white as the snow upon which they walked. We skinned them at once, and stretched their skins on frames we made from branches of juniper.
The next day we built two new snow entrenchments, in the opposite direction to the others, and when it was dark we went into them, putting reindeer meat near.
We had not to wait long. I saw something black on the snow. Certainly the animal was not a white fox. It could not be the cub of a bear, for it was the Bear's Night and they were all asleep. When the animal was near enough I fired and it fell. I ran towards it, and saw that it was a splendid silver-gray fox. How carefully we skinned the animal!
The next day Jakob made a lot of traps for ermines. These traps are made in the following manner: A string is attached to a loop long enough for the head of the animal to pass through. The string is fastened to a branch, which is bent down above the place where meat is deposited, some distance back of the loop. The ermine approaches, and in trying to reach the meat pushes his head through the loop and pulls the string up, and the loop tightens round the neck and strangles the animal in the air.
We scattered these traps in every direction, and caught many ermines. How pretty is the ermine, with its short legs, white fur, and tail tipped with black! The ermine feeds much on the ptarmigans.
That day I saw perched on the low branch of a tree a beautiful snowy owl, motionless, evidently watching for something. Jakob said to me, "The owl is watching for ermines. There are plenty of these, I am sure, round here, or the owl would not be on this tree. We will set some of our traps here." The owl was big and beautiful, and I said to myself, "The ermine feeds on the ptarmigans, and the owl on the ermine." I did not like the idea of the harmless ptarmigans being eaten by ermines and owls, so I raised my gun and knocked him over.
The foxes, after being hunted for two or three days, became very shy and it was impossible to get near them. There were a great number of ptarmigans, and they were so tame that we had no difficulty in getting many for food.
Strange to say, when we fired our guns they made hardly any noise, for the air was so rarefied. We feasted well at our camp, for we also killed a number of white hares.
The white fox had become so scarce that we concluded to leave our camp for good, and Jakob went to get our reindeer. After packing we retraced our steps towards his home, his tent on the snow.
In one place where we stopped to rest I suddenly noticed that our reindeer had got loose. I shouted to Jakob, who was quietly taking a little snooze on the snow, "Our reindeer are loose!"
Without saying a word, he went to his sleigh and took a lasso. The Lapps never travel without a lasso. This reassured me. "I must be very wary, for our reindeer are somewhat wild," Jakob said; "Paulus, follow me." So I took to my skees. As we approached the animals moved off from us. Then he came near enough to one of them, and threw his lasso and caught him. After making the animal fast, he went carefully after the others and succeeded in lassoing them.
"Well done," I said to him. Then we lay on the snow, with our masks to protect our faces, and went to sleep. After a short nap we continued our way, and finally reached Jakob's tent just in time for supper, and were warmly welcomed by the family.
Jakob Talks to Me about Bears.—The Bear's Night.—Watching a Bear Seeking for Winter Quarters.—They Are Very Suspicious.—I Tell a Bear Story in my Turn.
SINCE I had heard of the Bear's Night, I wanted to know more about these animals and their habits. After our supper, I said to Jakob, "Talk about bears to me—tell me about them." "All right," he replied. "I will tell you all I know about them."
"At the end of the summer and before the first fall of snow," he began, "the bears are very fat, for they have had plenty of berries and roots to eat. They are so fat that they can stand the long fast during the Bear's Night; but when they go out in the spring from their snow cover, they are very lean. We dread the bear more in the spring than during any part of the summer, for he is voraciously hungry all the time and goes after cattle, horses, sheep, or reindeer."
"I do not wonder at their being hungry, for the poor bear has to make up for his long fast," I said.
Jakob continued: "The bear chooses a place in which he can lie comfortably, such as under boulders or fallen trees, where he can be protected from the snow. He becomes suspicious after he has chosen the place for his Winter's Night, and for days he walks round and round to see that there is no danger and to make sure that no enemy can see him. He wants to feel perfectly safe before he goes into winter quarters. By walking round wherever the wind blows, he is sure to scent danger, and if he does he moves away and goes to seek some other place. The bear is very wary; it is almost impossible in summer to pursue him without dogs, for he is so quick of foot and always on the alert, that when a hunter sees one he has to be more wary than the bear to approach within shooting distance of him. When badly wounded he attacks his enemy suddenly."
After Jakob had done speaking, I said to him, in my turn: "Let me tell you a bear story. One autumn day when I had crossed the mountains by the great Sulitelma glacier and was descending the eastern slope on my way to the Gulf of Bothnia, my Lapp guide and I saw a big brown bear in the distance, but as it was almost dark we decided not to go after him, for the country was very stony. We camped that day in a forest of pines, in order to be sheltered from the wind, for we were to sleep without a fire so as not to make the bear suspicious. After taking our frugal meal of hard bread and butter, my Lapp said to me, 'To-morrow we shall see the bear; it is late in the season, and I am sure that he is looking for his winter quarters in the neighborhood, and at the first indication of a big snowstorm he will make ready for his long sleep, for the bears know when a snowstorm is coming.'
"'How can they know?' I inquired.
"'I cannot tell you, for I do not know,' he replied, 'for I am not a bear; but they do know. Do not the swallows and other migrating birds know the approach of winter and then fly southward?'
"'They do,' I replied.
"That day we were very tired, for we had been tramping all day, down and up hills and leaping over boulders which covered the country in many places, and the wonder to me was that we did not break our necks.
"The place we had chosen for the night was by a big boulder almost as large as a small house. There we could be sheltered against the cold wind of the night that came through the trees. I picked out a stone for a pillow, then stretched myself by the side of the boulder on thick lichen that grew over the barren soil, and made a comfortable bed. My guide did likewise. Then we bade each other good-night and soon fell asleep.
"The next morning we wandered in the neighborhood where we had seen the bear, but that day we did not find him; then we moved in the direction whither we thought he had gone. That evening we saw another boulder some twelve or fifteen feet high. 'This will be a fine place of shelter for the night,' I said to the Lapp. He replied, 'It is just the place we want. If the wind shifts we will shift also, so as to be protected.'
"I lay flat along the boulder on the thick reindeer moss, the Lapp did likewise, and soon after we fell asleep with the pure bracing wind of the mountains blowing over our faces.
"The next morning we saw the bear; he was a long way from us. The Lapp said to me, 'I think the bear expects to winter round here; we must watch him and follow him.' Soon after the bear disappeared.
"'Do you think he has scented us?' I asked. 'I do not see how he could,' my guide replied, 'the wind is in the wrong direction for that. He has gone for some reason of his own, you may be sure. There may have been people on the other side of the hill and he has scented them.'
"We moved all round our boulder to scan the country, but there was no bear in sight as far as our eyes could reach. After a while I noticed a small black spot on the top of a hill. It was the bear; he was looking all round. He then walked away and disappeared. Soon he appeared again, and we saw him walk round and round a cluster of pines. The Lapp said: 'The bear is walking, making a ring in that manner. He tries to find out if there is any danger for him, and by walking round he is sure to get the wind, no matter from what direction it comes. Sometimes the bear will try a number of places for several days before he selects one.'
"'How clever the bears are to walk around in that manner,' I said.
"Suddenly the bear disappeared. 'He has scented us,' said the Lapp, 'and I think he will never come back here. We have eaten all the food we have with us. We shall have to feed on berries the rest of our way. This bear will probably remain in this region and take up his winter quarters around here somewhere. I will find out where he will lie. Come to me early in the spring, before the snow melts, and we will kill him.'
"'All right,' I replied; but the following spring, I regret to say, I was travelling in another part of the country, but I heard that Bruin met his fate at the hands of my Lapp when he aroused himself from his long sleep and came out from under the snow."
The bears in Sweden, Norway, and Finland are very fine animals and attain great size. They vary in the color of their fur, some being almost black, but generally they are of different shades of brown. I think they rank in size next to the grizzly bear of the Rocky Mountains. They are sometimes dangerous, but not so much so as the grizzly.
Preparations for Crossing the Mountains to the Arctic Ocean.—Decide to Take the Trail to the Ulf Fjord.—Houses of Refuge.—A Series of Terrific Windstorms in the Mountains.—Lost.—Gloomy Reflections.—A Happy Reunion.
THE next day I said to Jakob and to the Lapps, "I wish some of you to go with me across the mountains to the shore of the Arctic Ocean. I will pay you well."
We were then between the 69th and 70th degrees, north latitude, and we had to cross the mountains at an elevation of about 5,000 feet on our way to the sea. I wanted to find out the kind of weather they had in these high altitudes in the Arctic regions.
"Some of us will go with you," they replied; and added: "There are several trails leading to the Arctic Ocean. We can reach the sea by going to the Ofoden, the Ulf, the Lyngen, the Quananger, or the Alten fjords." I took my map out. After a conference it was agreed that we should go to the Ulf fjord.
Norway is the country of fjords. A fjord is an arm of the sea, winding its way far inland in the midst of mountains. The sea is very deep, often of greater depth than the towering heights which rise abruptly from the shore, though these are often several thousand feet in altitude. No road can be built along many of these fjords, and boats are the conveyances that are used to go from one place to another.
"There are houses of refuge in the mountains, where we shall find shelter in case of heavy storms," said the Lapps. "If it were not for those places of refuge people would often perish when overtaken by these storms. Paulus, you have met great windstorms on your way here, but they are nothing to compare with the terrific winds to be met in the high mountains. Remember that we are in the month of March—the month of storms."
As I was listening to what the Lapps said, I thought I heard, from across the Atlantic, my young folks and friends encouraging me, crying: "Be not afraid, Paul. Go on! Go on! No harm will befall you!" I shouted back, "I am not afraid!"
So we started. First we came to a Finn hamlet, where we met a good many Finlanders and Laplanders who had arrived with their goods and a great many sleighs and reindeer on their way to the Ulf fjord. All the animals had been trained to eat reindeer moss gathered and stored for that purpose. We had come just in time.
Here it was agreed that Jakob and the Lapps who had taken me to this place should not go further, but that I should be taken care of by Finlanders, whose destination was the same as mine and who were on their way to the Arctic Sea. I was to go with John Puranen. John was a powerfully built man, with a very kind expression.
We were soon good friends. John and a party of friends were going with a large number of sleighs loaded with reindeer meat, butter, reindeer cheese, smoked tongues, skins, garments, shoes, and thousands of frozen ptarmigans, to sell to the people living on the coast.
The day after our coming parties of Finlanders and Laplanders began to leave, with forty or fifty sleighs and a number of spare reindeer in case any gave out.
As I looked over the snow, I could see the caravans following each other, in single file, and a number of dogs following their masters.
The next day we started with a large party. We all hoped for good weather. We took a good supply of reindeer moss with us.
Late at night we came to the first farm of refuge found in our track. Hundreds of sleighs and reindeer were outside, and when I entered the house more than a hundred men were sleeping on the floor. The snoring was something terrific, and the heat and the closeness of the room were unbearable. A lighted lamp shone dimly on the slumberers.
So I thought that I would be far more comfortable sleeping outside in my two bags. John said that he would sleep in his bags by me—and in fact we slept very comfortably.
When I awoke in the morning it was 42 degrees below zero. Then we went into the house and had some coffee and reindeer meat for breakfast. As at all the post stations, there is a tariff for everything printed on the walls, so no overcharge is practised.
Many of the people had already left; we hurried on to overtake them, and as usual went in single file.
The weather had become windy, and the wind blew stronger and stronger as we went on, until there was hardly any snow left on the ground. It flew to a great height, and the mist was so thick that I could not see ahead. My reindeer was going of its own accord. I trusted him to scent and follow the other reindeer ahead of me. I hurried him on by striking slightly his right flank with my rein, hoping to overtake the people of our party.
The wind kept increasing, and seeing no one ahead or behind I became alarmed.
Where were John and the other fellows? I had no provisions with me. Where was I? Once in a while, when there was a lull that lasted about a minute, I saw nothing but huge mountains ahead of me. At sight of them I became more anxious than ever. I could only hear the shrieking of the wind, which at times threatened to upset me. Occasionally it blew so hard that my reindeer had to stop.
My head was entirely hidden by my mask and my hood, which had been made so secure that I felt it would stay with my head till both were blown away. Only my eyes could be seen; but the snow which kept flying in the air became as fine as flour and penetrated everywhere. It got through the open space for my eyes, then gathered on my hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and mustache, and on my cheeks and nose; in fact, everywhere on my face, and made a mask of ice.
I wished I had no mustache, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, no hair—for it was very painful every time I broke this mask of ice. It was hardly broken when it would form again from the particles of new snow adhering to each other. When I broke it, I thought every hair would be torn from my face. If I had not cleared it away the mask of ice would have become so thick that I would have been unable to see. I began to think that there was no fun crossing the mountains after all, if this was the weather we were going to get all the way.
As I could not overtake the people ahead, and John was not in sight, gloomy thoughts came over me. Suppose I can find nobody, nor even a house of refuge, I repeated: what then? What will become of me in this terrific windstorm, in the midst of these great towering mountains that surround me on every side? An answer to my question, as dark as my thought, said: "Starvation! Starvation! Death! Death!"
Suddenly I thought I heard, through the storm, the same voice from the friends at home shouting to me, "Be of good cheer, Paul; go on; go on! No harm will befall you!"
These imaginary words had hardly been uttered when I said to myself, "If the worst comes to the worst, and when I am on the point of starving, I will kill my reindeer, drink its warm blood to sustain my life, abandon my sleigh, and depend on my skees. By that time the storm may be over, and I may meet some of the people who were with me, or other parties who are going to the Arctic Sea."
Soon after I had reached this decision, however, I saw through the mist something black. Was it a pack of hungry wolves? It was moving towards me. I seized my gun; but how could I shoot in such weather and be sure to kill? I did not fancy the idea of being attacked by a pack of hungry and starving wolves. At any rate, I would make a desperate effort to kill some; these would be eaten by the pack, and after they were satisfied they would perhaps not follow me but let me alone. Perhaps I might kill a wolf and suck his warm blood; this would avoid the need of killing my reindeer.
No, they were not wolves, but people! I was in the midst of my friends; they had stopped and were waiting for me.
Now I felt happy. John's dog also felt happy for he wagged his tail and looked at me, and John said, "Paulus, if you had been lost, my dog would have found you."
Then they exclaimed: "We would never have gone to the sea without you. We would have wandered all over the mountains with our reindeer or on our skees to find you. But we thought your reindeer would follow our track, for he could scent ours, as the wind was in the right direction; and here we were waiting for you." I could hardly hear their voices, though they surrounded me, for they were drowned in the hissing of the wind.
We continued our way and came to another house of refuge, where we took shelter. There we could wait until the storm was over.
It was so nice to stretch one's legs and to stand up and pace the floor and bring the blood into circulation.
What would the people do while travelling in such a climate without houses of refuge? The place of refuge was a mountain farm; they had cows, goats, and sheep, for there were pastures near by in summer.
When the time to sleep came I stretched myself at full length upon a reindeer skin on the floor, and fell asleep hearing the wind howling fiercely round the house.
When I awoke in the morning the storm had ceased. I washed my face and hands in water and dried them with a clean towel which the wife handed me. What a luxury!
After breakfast we bade the kind people of the house of refuge good-bye, and once more we were on our way to the Arctic Sea. We had not been two hours on the way, however, when the sky began to grow gray and apparently a storm was coming; the wind increased, and flakes of snow began to fall; the squalls increased in force and frequency. Little did I know that these were the forerunners of a series of great windstorms that were to take place nearly five thousand feet above the sea. In a word, I was to encounter the greatest windstorms I have ever met in my life. The dark clouds kept flying very fast high over our heads, then at times seemed to be hardly above the top of the mountains. The sky became wild and peculiar. John was hurrying his reindeer as fast as he could by striking his flanks. He evidently knew what was coming, for he was a child of the stormy regions of the North, and knew what such a threatening sky meant in March. The wind was increasing in force every minute, the snow flew thicker in the air. At last, when we reached the station of refuge, John gave a great shout of satisfaction. We had come just in time. The snow was driven in thick clouds, the hills and mountains were hidden from view, and all around was nothing but a thick haze. The fur of our garments was entirely filled with particles of snow; we looked as if we had been rolled in a barrel of flour.
I gave a great sigh of relief when we came in front of the house of refuge. It was well that we hurried with all our might, for we would never have reached the place at a slower speed. Then what would have become of John and me, and of the others!
At bedtime reindeer skins were strewn on the floor, for many had come to get shelter against the furious windstorm. Before going to sleep, we took off our shoes, and carefully hung them with our stockings and Lapp grass on the poles that were suspended near the ceiling. Then we bade each other good-night and thanked the farmer and his wife for their kindness.
That night I dreamed that the same voices that I had heard before were saying to me, "Go on! Go on! Friend Paul, no harm will befall you. Do not be afraid, be valiant, as you were in Africa. Then come back and tell us what you have seen in 'The Land of the Long Night.'" Thereupon I saw all their faces smiling at me. I felt so happy during that sleep. But it was nothing but a sweet dream. When I awoke there was nothing round me to remind me of my far-away friends, of the girls and boys I loved so dearly. "What makes you, Paul, so fond of a wandering life," I said to myself, "and of encountering such perils and hardships as you have done all through your life, when you have so many warm friends at home?"
In the morning, one by one, the people awoke and got up. The weather was calm, but John said: "The weather is not to be trusted at this time of the year on these high mountains." I had great faith in John, as a weather prophet.
Most people had their provisions with them. I was to drink my coffee in the finest cup owned by the owners of the house of refuge. "Taste some of my butter," a Finlander would say. "Taste my smoked reindeer meat," urged a Laplander. "Help yourself to some of my cheese," said a third. If I had eaten a little of all that was offered, I should not have been able to travel. People must not eat too much when they have plenty of exercise to perform, or hard work to do.
After breakfast John said to me: "It is wise in these mountains to prepare for all kinds of weather. It has been bad enough already, but it may be a great deal worse, for to-day the mountains we are to cross are very high."
"Goodness gracious!" I exclaimed. "Is it possible that we can have worse weather than we have seen, John?" "Certainly," he replied. I wondered what sort of weather it could be!
John attended himself to my toilet; he would not trust me. He put my stockings on, put an extra quantity of Lapp grass round them, and saw that every part of my foot to my ankle was well protected, tied the shoes over my ankles and my reindeer-skin trousers most carefully, saw that my belt was well fastened, that my "pesh" or fur blouse was carefully made fast round my neck, and that my gloves were well secured to my wrists with bands used for that purpose and my hood tied tightly. When he had finished, he said, with a smile:
"Paulus, you are ready to stand the strongest windstorm that can blow; everything on your body is made as secure as it can be!"
Our reindeer being harnessed we bade good-bye to the people of the house of refuge, and a number of parties left together for self-protection.
John was not mistaken about the weather. Three or four hours after our departure the wind increased, and terrific squalls followed each other and threatened to upset our sleighs. The blinding snow dust prevented my seeing my reindeer, and at times I could not even see the head of my sleigh. Night seemed to have taken the place of daylight,—a thick fog could not have been worse. Then, to add to my discomfort, I had continually to break through the mask of ice, which formed again quickly after being broken. It was of no use to look for the furrows of the sleighs that had preceded us, for their tracks were filled at once with snow.
Once more I thought I was lost, when I saw John standing still; he was waiting for me, and attached my sleigh to his, so that the mishap of being parted again could not occur. When he had tied the two sleighs, he said: "If we are lost we will be together." Dear John, what a glorious fellow he was!
I thought of what I imagined the "Long Night" had said to me after the disappearance of the sun: "I send terrific gales and mighty snowstorms upon ocean and lands." It seemed to me that I could hear her sardonic laugh after telling me of her power. The storm continued to increase, and swept down upon us from the higher mountain sides with a force which I had never witnessed before, though I have crossed the Atlantic more than twenty times in winter and met with furious gales.
When I thought that it was impossible for the wind to blow stronger, the next squall proved that it could. Then we fell in with a number of men of the party. They had stopped; they did not dare to go further, travelling had become impossible; before we knew it we might fall over a precipice, or go in the wrong direction. I managed to look at my thermometer. It was 17 degrees below zero. I wished it had been forty or forty-five, for instead of a windstorm we should then have had glorious still weather.
The wind had risen to such a pitch that no snow was left on the ground, though in many places it must have been twenty or thirty feet deep or more. It was all flying in the air, and though it was noon it was quite dark. We remained seated on the ground, back to back, in order to support each other, with our heads bent, to prevent as far as possible the snow getting under our masks. It was a weird sight, as once in a while I could see dimly through the flying snow our bent, immovable bodies, with heads down. Not a man said a word; it seemed as if we were frozen to death.
The snow was carried hither and thither, and all at once in a lull of a few seconds fell, forming hillocks, which were in an instant destroyed and sent flying in the air. One of these hillocks settled dangerously near us and scared us.
Then one of the men suggested that we had better divide into two parties, so that in case one should be buried in the snow, the other party could help to extricate those who were buried. This suggestion was accepted at once. As we got up several of the men were taken off their feet, and rolled over against some sleighs, which stopped them. I was raised bodily and thrown on the ground, and carried away; but some of the men came to my rescue and caught me. Finally we succeeded in making two parties; we were about fifty yards from each other and ready to help one another in case of emergency.
The wind became so terrific that we had to crouch against the rocks. I thought we must be in the heart of "The Land of the Wind," and that this was the worst country I had ever come to. I almost believed that the wind had obtained the mastery over the world, and chaos was coming again. But after a few hours these north-west squalls gradually diminished in intensity, and for a time the windstorm seemed to be over. Then we made preparations to continue our journey.
A Dangerous Descent.—How to Descend the Mountains.—The most Perilous Portion of the Journey.—Exhaustion of the Reindeer.—All Safe at the Bottom.—Arrival at the Shore of the Arctic Sea.
AS we were ready to start, John said to me: "Paulus, we are soon to come to the most dangerous part of the journey; we are to descend the western slopes of the mountains, which at times are very abrupt, to the sea. We will go over mountain tops and descend their steep declivities. We shall have to drive twice along the sides of deep ravines; all that are here are going together, so that we may help each other. Get into your sleigh and follow us closely. I will lead, and my brother will be behind you."
We set forth, and soon afterwards I noticed that our reindeer went much faster than at the start. I knew by this that we were approaching the slope of a mountain. I was right. Next we came to the brink of a hill, and descended with a rapidity of at least twenty-five miles an hour. The animals simply flew.
When my reindeer reached the bottom of the hill he made the usual sudden curve to the left to keep the sleigh, which had a tremendous momentum, from striking against his legs. I had prepared myself for the sudden motion; I had been there before! I bent my body almost out of the sleigh in the opposite direction, and succeeded in keeping in. It was a fine sight to see sleigh after sleigh coming down the hill, but no man followed exactly in the track of the others, so that in case of accident the one behind would not pitch headlong into the sleigh ahead.
I thought this was lots of fun. But ascending the hill on the opposite side was no fun at all. It was indeed hard work for the reindeer and for the men. The snow had drifted on one side of the hill and was very deep, and in many places very soft. The poor reindeer spread their hoofs as wide as they could, so as not to sink too deeply. But in many places it was of no avail; they would sink to their flanks and even deeper; but it was wonderful to see how quickly they sprang out.
We should never have been able to ascend the hill without going in zigzag. We had often to get out of our sleighs and take to our skees. One Finn lent me a pair of them that were much shorter than mine, to ascend the hills. I should never have been able to do it had I not followed the track of those ahead. Though it was 43 degrees below zero, I was in a profuse perspiration.
At times the poor reindeer panted; their tongues protruded. They would fall down on their backs, breathing heavily. My reindeer was so exhausted and breathed so hard, with protruding tongue and mouth wide open, that I thought he was going to die. "Don't be afraid," said John to me with a smile, as he saw my anxious face, "reindeer often act like this when they are exhausted; yours will soon be all right."
John was not mistaken.
It was wonderful how quickly they all recovered, and after eating plenty of snow they went on as if nothing had happened to them, until they again became exhausted and powerless. When we reached the top of a mountain, we waited for those of our party that lagged behind. I said to John, "I hope we have not many more of these hills to ascend." "We have none so steep; but, Paulus, now we have come to the most dangerous part of our whole journey; we are going to run along the brink of one of the ravines of which I spoke to you. Look ahead," said he, pointing to the deep ravine.
When all the men of our party had arrived at the top of the hill, every one began to make careful preparations for the descent, and I watched with great earnestness what was done. Once in a while I gave a look towards the ugly precipice. I did not like the sight a bit. The men were anxious, and showed this in the care and pains they took in testing every plaited leather cord, and those were especially strong that were to be used for such an emergency. They knew how dangerous was the ride and that no cord must snap.
A number of sleighs were lashed with mine by a very strong plaited leather cord. When John was through he said to me: "This cord cannot break."
Behind each sleigh a reindeer was fastened, the cord being attached at the base of his horns. John said to me: "Reindeer cannot bear to be pulled quickly, and make every effort to disengage themselves, and by doing so act as a drag." All the sleighs had been lashed together by fours, sixes, eights, or tens. We had plenty of spare reindeer with us, and at the end of each set of sleighs two or three reindeer were made fast to the last one. A man was in the front sleigh of the set to lead, and another man in the last one. John was to lead the set in which I was, and his brother was to be in the last. As usual each man rode his sleigh with his legs outside, turned back somewhat, or reversed, with the top of his shoes touching the snow, the feet to act as rudder.
When I did the same a great cry went up. I heard, "No! No! Paulus, your legs will surely be broken; put them inside your sleigh, as you have always done!" and before I could say a word in reply John and a Finn were by me, each taking one of my legs and putting it inside.
A short time was to elapse between the start of each set of sleighs, so that there would be no chance of their coming in contact. The signal was given, and one set after another started with great speed. It was one of the grandest and most dangerous sights I had ever seen, but the Lapps and Finns were accustomed to this, for they generally went twice every winter to the Arctic Sea with their produce for sale.
Then my turn came. John started and off we went.
As the sleighs swerved in the descent the tension was very great. I said to myself, "If the cord that keeps our sleighs together breaks we shall be pitched far below and be dashed against the rocks with incredible force."
In the mean time every reindeer was holding back with all his power, making efforts to disengage himself, and by doing this acted as a brake on the sleighs in front. If they had not done so the descent would have been impossible.
What speed! I had never seen anything like this descent before. Here was a terrifying precipice, the sloping rocks leading towards the chasm. I was afraid the reindeer would miss their footing. I hoped that no bare ice would be met. At any moment we might have been thrown out headlong. After we reached the dale, which closed abruptly at the head of the ravine, I was breathless from excitement. I had just ended one of two of the most exciting rides I had ever taken. We waited for those that were behind, and when they had arrived we rested for a while.
I asked John what would have happened if one of the cords had snapped. He did not answer my question, but simply looked at me with a serious expression. I knew what it would have meant. Death!
Further on we had another descent of the same character, but not so dangerous.
We were all glad when we reached the station of refuge; we were so tired from the excitement of the day.
We had crossed the backbone of the mountain, and had come down the western slope. Each stream now flowed to the Arctic Sea.
The next day we continued the descent. The day before we had come to the zone where the juniper grew; to-day we passed the birch. Then came the fir trees. Darkness overtook us, and I could not make out what sort of land it was, but soon we came to the house of a fisherman, where we all spent the night.
When I awoke in the morning and looked out I found that I was at the bottom of a great chasm with towering mountains on each side. I had never seen the like. It seemed to me that I had come to a world unknown before. Looking towards the west I saw a long dark green line of water, sunk deeply into the ragged and precipitous mountains. I had come to the Ulf Fjord. The water was the Arctic Sea. I was on the shores of grand old Norway.
The fjord was frozen at its inner extremity for about one mile with thick solid ice. At the inner end of every fjord there is a river, flowing through a valley, which is the continuation of the fjord; consequently the water is only brackish and freezes more easily than salt water. Further on the fjord is free of ice, for in this part of the world, though so far north, the sea is made warm by the Gulf Stream, the very same Gulf Stream that starts from West Africa and flows westward to the coast of Brazil, then branches off northward and runs close to our American shores. Without the Gulf Stream this part of Norway would be a land of ice, just as the land of North-west America is, in the same latitude.
I remembered that I had sailed over the Gulf Stream waters near the African coast, and it had come to meet the same stream again on that far-away northern shore—beyond the Arctic Circle.
My journey over mountains 5,000 feet high, between the 69th and 70th degrees of north latitude, was over.
I saw a vessel in the distance, and with one of the fishermen living on this inhospitable shore we went on board. It was good luck the vessel was going to sail north. The captain was willing to take me with him on his voyage.
I thanked John and my other travelling companions for the kindness they had shown me. We parted with great tokens of friendship.
Sail on the Arctic Ocean.—The Brig Ragnild.—Ægir and Ran, the God and Goddess of the Sea.—The Nine Daughters of Ægir and Ran.—Great Storms.—Compelled to Heave to.
AS I stepped on board I said farewell to my dear skees and sleigh, as they were put into the hold. "I shall miss you very much," I said, "for we have had happy times together." Then we sailed away. Now I have laid aside my Lapp costume, and I am clad in the garb of a fisherman. I am clothed in a suit of oilskin garments, over my woollens, to protect me from the wet. I wear a big sou'wester, instead of a cap, to keep the rain and the spray from running down my neck, and huge sea-boots to keep my legs and feet dry. In these I am ready to brave the storms of the Arctic Ocean. Now a boat will be my sleigh, its sail my reindeer: these will carry me onward on the sea, as the others have done on the snow.
As I stood quietly on deck looking at the sea, the captain said to me, "For a wonder we have pleasant weather. This winter we have had nothing but a succession of gales or terrific squalls, and what is worse, blinding snowstorms, when we could not even see each other on deck."
The Ragnild—such was the name of our vessel—was a staunch Norwegian brig that had weathered many a gale on the stormy coast of Norway and the Arctic Sea. She was bound for the coast of Finmarken, on the east side of North Cape, to buy codfish. On board were provisions and clothing, boots, etc., for sale to the fishermen we were to meet in the coast settlements.
Our crew was composed of most sturdy seafaring men. The name of the captain was Ole Petersen, a real old salt who had been at sea for nearly fifty years and was part owner of the craft.
John Andersen was the first mate; the sailors were Lars, Evert, Ivor, Hakon, Pehr, and Harald. All of these men had encountered many a gale, and two had been wrecked.
Towards nine o'clock that evening, the captain and I went to our bunks, the captain leaving the first mate and three men on the watch.
When I awoke in the morning the Ragnild was rolling heavily; we were in the midst of an angry sea and of a great gale, and while I was dressing I was thrown from one side of my little stateroom to the other, and it was no fun. I came on deck, and as I looked at the big waves I said, "The wind and the waves are in their ugly mood." The wind howled and shrieked through the rigging, and waves were like big hills. I thought of the many wrecks of ships and boats, and of the multitude of passengers and seafaring men that have been drowned since people have sailed on the seas.
The captain murmured to me, "This is ugly weather indeed. We must employ all the skill we have to fight against the storm. Our sails are new, our rigging is strong, and our vessel is staunch, and we are all valiant men on board who have gone through many such a storm before."
That morning as I watched the coast, I remembered that the Vikings believed and worshipped Ægir as the god of the sea. Ægir ruled over the sea and the wind. Ran was his wife, and she had a net in which she caught all those who were lost at sea; her Hall was at the bottom of the ocean, and there she welcomed all the shipwrecked people.
Ægir and Ran had nine daughters, and their names were emblematic of the waves. They were called Hefring the Hurling, Hrönn the Towering, Bylgja the Upheaving, Bara the Lashing.
The five other daughters were called Himinglæfa the Heaven Glittering, Blödughadda the Bloody Haired, Kolga the Cooling, Unn the Loving, Dufa the Dove.
The Vikings dreaded Hefring, Hrönn, and Bylgja when far out at sea, and Bara when they were approaching the shore. These four waves are those the mariners dread to-day.
They believed that these daughters of Ægir and Ran were seldom partial to men, that the wind awakened them and made them angry and fierce. They called them "The white-hooded daughters of Ægir and Ran." They called the spray their hair. They believed that in calm weather they walked on the reefs and wandered gently along the shores, and that their beds were rocks, stone-heaps, pebbles, and sands.
I had not been long on the sea before I found that I had exchanged the terrific winds of Arctic "Snow Land" for the gales of the Arctic Ocean. The weather was fearful! Snow, sleet, hurricanes, treacherous heavy squalls, followed each other in succession.
"This is the winter weather we have here," said the captain; "we do not expect any better at this time of the year. When there is a lull, it is only to deceive us; then it blows harder than ever, and the snow or the sleet falls thicker than before."
My fancy recalled again to me the words of the "Long Night": "I send terrific gales and mighty snowstorms over oceans and lands."
As I looked at the ocean I saw a big towering wave rolling up towards the stern of the ship and apparently gaining upon us. It was transparent and of a deep green color. I imagined I could see Hefring with glittering eyes, one of her arms directing the wave against us.
The men looked anxiously towards the wave, which was steadily advancing, but our ship rode over it as if she were a gull resting on the ocean. Then the ugly wave formed a crest, curled upon itself, and with a heavy boom broke into fragments of snowy foam.
I said to the men: "This wave has missed us." They answered in serious voices, "And we must watch, for a more towering one will follow, as there are always three of them going together, and this second one may come and break over us."
These words were hardly uttered when I saw far off another mountainous wave rolling up. I imagined it was Hrönn. It was so high as it neared us that we could not see the horizon beyond; it looked fierce and dangerous. Its crest gradually rose higher and higher, as if getting ready to strike. Steadily Hrönn advanced. We are lost, and our ship is sure to founder if her wave breaks over our stern. The faces of the captain and men were serious. I said to myself: "If we get into the whirlpool of its crest there will be no escape; we are sure to founder."
The wave broke about fifty yards before reaching us. It had become harmless, but the foaming, scattered billows enveloped the ship in their thick spray. It was a narrow escape; but we were saved thus far! Then in the wake of the imaginary Hrönn rose another wave. I imagined Bylgja was coming. It advanced slowly and angrily towards us, ready to sweep our deck and to do the work the two others had tried to do and missed—demolish our ship. It broke before reaching us with a loud boom, making the sea a surging sheet of foam as white as snow for a long distance. This was a beautiful sight. We gave a great shout of joy; we had had a narrow escape.
After these three heavy seas came a lull. The captain said thoughtfully, "Those are the waves that disable or founder ships and send them to the bottom of the sea!"
We were indeed still in the midst of a great gale. But the captain and our crew had thus far fought against the storm successfully. I thought of the great Viking Half, and of his champions. It was their custom always to lie before capes, never to put up a tent on board, and never to reef a sail in a storm. Half had never more than sixty men on board of his ship, nor could any one go with him who was not so hardy that he never was afraid or changed countenance on account of his wounds. I wondered if Half and his men had ever encountered such a storm as we were having. If so his ship must have been a staunch vessel indeed.
As the hours passed the storm continued, the Daughters of Ægir and Ran rose again and again, trying to strike our ship; when their hoods were rent asunder, their long hair streamed on the gale.
In the afternoon the dark clouds were lower than usual and moved rapidly over our heads. The wind howled and hissed through the rigging. Wave after wave struck against the ship's side and deluged the deck with water. One of them took me off my feet and pitched me to the other side against the bulwarks, almost washing me overboard.
"You had better go into the cabin," said the captain; "this is no weather for you." But I replied, "Yes, captain, it is; I want to see this big storm with its mighty sea." I had hardly said these words when another wave came aboard of us. Two men were nearly washed overboard; fortunately they held fast to the rigging.
Soon after another big wave struck our port side, and carried away a part of our bulwarks, swamping our decks with a huge mass of water; this time nearly washing overboard all of us who were on deck. Looking at the havoc the wave had wrought, I remembered the saga which tells of the storm the celebrated Viking Fridthjof encountered at sea, and which says:
"Then came a wave breaking so strongly that it carried away the gunwales and part of the bow, and flung four men overboard, who were lost.
"'Now it is likely,' said Fridthjof, 'that some of our men will visit Ran. We shall not be thought fit to go there unless we prepare ourselves well. I think it is right that every man should carry some gold with him!' He cut asunder the arm ring of his sweetheart Ingibjörg, and divided it among his men."
We had been running before the wind with all the sails we could carry safely, so that the ship might not be overtaken and swamped. As long as the ship can sail faster or quite as fast as the waves, it is all right; but if the waves go faster then there is great danger that the ship will be pooped by the sea,—that is, that the seas may come over the stern, and sweep over the deck, carrying everything away. In such a case it happens sometimes that all those who are on deck are swept overboard.
The sea finally became so high and so threatening that the captain ordered that we should heave to and wait for the storm to abate. To heave a ship to before the wind is a dangerous manœuvre. We waited until three big seas had passed. There is generally a lull after that, and then is the time to bring the ship's head to the wind. During the evolution the ship is liable to get in the trough of the sea, when she rolls heavily, and has her deck swept by the waves. The dangerous operation in our case proved successful.
While our ship lay to we had just sail enough to keep her head to the wind, and she rode like a big albatross on the water, drifting a little to leeward. When she was in the hollow of two waves, these seemed like mountains ready to engulf us, but we rode safely over every one. As we lay to we felt perfectly secure. Our ship did not roll as if broadside to the seas, but pitched, rising slowly, over every wave.
After lying to for over six hours, the storm having somewhat moderated, we sailed east towards the shore; but before the day was over we encountered a cross-sea, the waves coming in every direction and striking against each other. The man at the helm had to watch them. Evidently there had been two or three heavy storms blowing in different directions. A cross-sea is very dangerous, for the man at the helm never knows where the wave will strike. After a while the wind shifted and was ahead, and now we had to beat against it and we sailed under close reefed sails. The wind seemed ten times stronger than before, for when a ship runs before the wind, the wind is not felt so much, as it goes with the ship.
As we came to a barren island, running parallel with the main land, we saw the angry sea lashing itself with a tremendous force against the solid base of mountain walls, filling the air each time it struck with a deep booming sound which seemed like the roar of cannon heard far off; the waves, as they struck the immovable wall of rocks which stopped their advance, breaking into a tumultuous mass of seething billows, which recoiled from the barrier that opposed them and fell back into a surging, boiling mass of white which soon after was hurled forward again by another advancing wave rushing on to meet the same fate. The whole coast was fringed as far as the eye could see with a mass of angry white billows. It was an awful sight.
Seamen dread the coast in a storm more than they do the waves in the middle of the ocean. We steered for the leeward of the island, and when we reached the sound separating it from the main land we came into smooth water where we cast anchor. We were to remain there until the storm abated, to give a good rest to the crew.
A Dark Night at Sea.—Wake of the Ragnild.—Thousands of Phosphorescent Lights.—A Light Ahead.—An Arctic Fair.—A Fishing Settlement.—How the Cod are cured.—Fish and Fertilizer Fragrance.
THE weather having moderated, we raised our anchor and with a fair wind continued our voyage. When the night came it was so pitch-dark that I could not distinguish the sea from the horizon and the sky. It was impressive. I felt so little in the immensity that surrounded our craft. Our ship, to my eyes, when compared with the size of the ocean, was not bigger than a tiny hazelnut tossed to and fro upon it.
Once in a while the crest of a wave broke into a long snowy-white line which appeared to be filled with a thousand lights; this effect was caused by the infinite number of animalculæ, which are struck together by the movement of the wave and give out phosphorescence. These animalculæ are living creatures which cannot be seen without the help of the microscope. It is wonderful that such small things can give such glowing light.
The long heavy swells, pushed by the southerly gales that had passed away, moved irresistibly on towards the North, one after another, to break the wall of ice the Long Night had built round the pole. What terrific booming must take place there at times, when the ice gives way, breaks up, and rises in great ridges over the Long Wall!
A light at our masthead told of our presence to the mariners of the fishing boats, or the vessels coming from far northern ports across our course, and warned them of danger.
Our ship ploughed her way through the sea, raising a mass of foam brilliant with globules of light. These globules swept astern along the sides of the ship, and disappeared further on. We left behind us an undulating luminous wake, resembling a long bright snake following us, which was gradually in the distance engulfed by the ocean. This luminous track seemed to be reeled off from a windlass at the stern of the ship.
As I watched this white serpentine phosphorescent pathway, I thought of the countless wakes that had been made in like manner since vessels sailed upon the seas, on their way to different lands, for thousands of years past, yet not one of those tracks has ever been seen again. No wonder that the Norsemen called the sea "The Hidden Path."
On deck were four men on the watch, who guarded the lives of those who had gone below to sleep. The man at the helm watched the compass, which was lighted by a lamp. A man at the prow was on the lookout for sudden danger—ships, derelicts, or rocks. Another stood amidships. The first mate paced the deck, watching for any change in the wind. Suddenly the man at the prow shouted:
"Light on the starboard bow!" It was the light of a ship sailing in the opposite direction towards us. In a snowstorm, in a fog, we might have collided; then both might have gone to the bottom of the sea.
To the leeward of us was the barren, forbidding coast; to the windward lay rocky islands. "Dear compass," I whispered, "we trust in thee; lead us right; the night is very dark, and our eyes cannot see rocks ahead, except, perchance, when it is too late."
Suddenly the bell struck: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. It was midnight—time for the watch below to relieve the one on duty, and for the captain to take the place of the mate. Every four hours this change is made. I remained on deck, for I wanted to watch this dark night.
I came on deck early the next morning, for I smothered in the close confined cabin—I had been so accustomed to the bracing open air. As I looked around me I saw nothing but the great horizon which surrounded us. It had seemed so near every day, as we sailed towards it, and yet, no matter how long we sailed, we never came nearer. This was because the horizon is the boundless space in the midst of which the earth moves on its axis round the sun.
In the morning we came to a place full of people dressed in furs. They were Laplanders and Finlanders. A great fair was taking place, and most of the people had crossed the mountains to the Arctic Sea, taking with them for sale reindeer meat, butter, cheese, reindeer cheese made in the summer and autumn, frozen ptarmigans, skins of reindeer, bears, foxes, ermines, and other animals; ready-made clothing, gloves and shoes of reindeer skin; hoofs of reindeer, and other things. They bought salted and dried codfish, sugar, coffee, salt, and other groceries, flour, lamp oil, tobacco, and things for their wives and children, and took back cash with them.
After a short stay we raised our anchor, and continued to sail along that bleak coast until we came to a hidden harbor, well protected by a number of barren islands from the storms of the Arctic Ocean, and cast anchor before a large fishing settlement. It was the beginning of April.
It was a strange place indeed. The port was filled with fishing boats. Hundreds of them were drawn up on the shore, and other hundreds were at anchor. There were also a number of good-sized vessels and smaller craft. All along the rocky shore were huge piles of codfish caught that day. The water was crowded with boats moving in every direction, loaded with cod.
Alongside the big piles of fish, men dressed in wide trousers and overalls of leather were busy preparing the codfish. Some were cutting the heads off and throwing them into a pile, while others were opening the fish, cleaning them, and then, after flattening them, throwing them to other men, who salted them. After this operation they were carried to the warehouses and were ready for drying.
By some of the piles men opened and cleaned the fish and tied them together by twos. After this they were hung on frames or poles. In other places the men divided the cod in halves, taking their spines out, but kept them connected by their gills. These were also hung on the poles. When dry the fish is as hard as wood.
The eggs or ova were put into barrels and salted, and Captain Ole Petersen, who was with me, said to me: "Each barrel contains the ova of three hundred cod. They are sent to Italy and France and used in the sardine fisheries of those countries." Other men were busy putting the livers into barrels, two barrels of fat liver yielding about one barrel of brown oil. The tongues of the cod were taken out of the heads, put into barrels and salted.
I visited the warehouses, built partly on piles projecting into the sea. Along some of these were brigs and schooners loading.
What a sight was the inside of these warehouses! They were filled with long deep rows of freshly salted codfish, piled higher than a man and about the same width. These fish were to be put on board ships and landed upon rocks, there to stay until they were dried and ready to be shipped to foreign countries. The cod is the gold of the people living on this desolate land.
The country around was covered with frames upon which fish were hanging. Nets and lines were seen in every direction on the rocks, left to dry or ready to be mended. Wherever I turned the place was saturated with the blood of fish and offal. The sea was covered with offal; thousands of gulls were flying in every direction and feeding upon it, while great numbers of eider ducks, as tame as farm ducks, were swimming everywhere and feeding. They were not afraid, for no one is allowed to shoot them. The bare rocks were black with hundreds of thousands of heads of cod that had been put there to dry.
These heads, with the bones of fish, are turned into a fertilizer, or used to feed cattle. The heads are boiled before they are given to the animals. "Cattle and sheep feeding on dried fish heads!" I exclaimed with astonishment to my companion, "I never heard of this before."
I asked one of the merchants how he could live in such a place. "The atmosphere that brings money," he replied, "never smells bad. Where there is no smell there is no business and no money with us."
Goodness gracious! what a smell there was in this fishing settlement. It was far from pleasant, especially when compared with the pure air of the land over which I had travelled.
Several nice houses belonged to the merchants of the place. These were painted white and were very comfortable.
The cabins of the fishermen were scattered everywhere and were all alike. They were built of logs, with roofs covered with earth. I wanted to live with the fishermen and become acquainted with them.
Among the Fishermen.—Their Lodgings and how They Look.—What They Have to Eat.—An Evening of Talk about Cod, Salmon, and Herring.—The Immense Number of Fish.—A Snoring Match.
SOON after Captain Petersen and I entered one of the houses of the fishermen. They had just returned from their fishing. I asked them if I could live with them for a few days. "Yes," they all replied with one voice. They knew Captain Petersen, I was with him: that was enough for them.
Strange indeed was the room. Each fisherman's cabin had only one. The wall was surrounded by two rows of bunks, on top of each other. The room was arranged like the forecastle of a ship.
"Where are you from?" one of the fishermen asked me.
"From America," I replied.
"From America!" they all exclaimed at once. "Is that possible?"
"Yes, he is from America," said Captain Petersen.
"I have a brother in America, in Minnesota," exclaimed one.
A second said: "I have a sister in Dakota."
A third: "I also have a brother in America; he sails on the Great Lakes."
From that moment those fishermen and I were great friends. They asked me my name. I replied, "My name is Paul Du Chaillu."
"Why!" some of the younger fishermen said, "we have read in school the translation of your travels in Africa. Are you really he?"
"Yes," I replied.
Twenty-eight men, the crews of four boats, including the captains, lived together. A cooking-stove was in the centre of the room; a few wooden benches and a table composed the rest of the furniture, while a number of chests contained the garments of the men, several coffee kettles, a pan and a big pot, etc.
All these twenty-eight men insisted that I should have a whole bunk to myself—the occupant would shift and go to another fellow. I must be comfortable, they said. I was not accustomed to living in their way.
A man took his things from his bunk. He was the captain of one of the boats. He said to me: "Paul, my bunk is yours." I had to accept.
When they had cooked their meal, they said: "Paul, eat with us simple fisher folk; we will give you the best we have; you are welcome." We had only one dish, and it was entirely new to me.
It was what the sailors called lobscouse, a sort of pudding made of ship biscuits, liver, and fish. I did not care much for it, but I said nothing to the fishermen. One said: "We eat this dish every day, and that will be your food when you are with us."
"Humph!" I said to myself. I remembered the elephants, the crocodiles, the snakes, and the monkeys, etc., I had had to eat while in Africa. The monkeys when fat were fine, and tasted so good I should have been willing to exchange a dish of lobscouse for a monkey.
After our meal we had coffee; each man owned his own cup. "We drink only coffee," they said, "for no spirits are allowed to be sold here, for fear some of the men while going to sea might become drunk, and endanger their lives, and the lives of those that are with them."
Our coffee drunk, we talked first about fish and their peculiar habits. The names of the four captains were John Ericksen, Hakon Johansen, Ole Larsen, Harald Andersen.
"Every spring," said Captain Ole, "salmon come up from the sea and ascend our rivers to spawn, and in time the little ones go to sea. As they grow up they continue to come every year to the same river where they were born, and nobody knows where they spend the interval."
After a pause, during which the fishermen filled their pipes, Captain Ericksen said: "Every year the codfish make their appearance in winter in vast shoals and countless millions on the Lofoden Islands banks to spawn. Then they migrate further north to the coast of Finmarken, then eastward as far as Russia. Then they disappear until the following winter. No one knows where they come from or where they go."
One of the men observed: "I have been a fisherman for over forty years, and it is wonderful how regularly the cod make their appearance on the fishing banks. We depend so much on their time of coming that we leave home every year at the same date. They must know their way in the ocean and recognize different marks on their journey, for they have to travel thousands of miles before they return to the fishing banks to spawn. The cod in their migration leave behind them a great many stragglers, which are caught all the year round. The number of cod caught on the banks of Finmarken and of the Lofoden Islands averages about forty to forty-two millions a year, and the total catch along the coasts of Norway amounts to about fifty millions a year. The land is barren, and if it were not for the fish we could not live in our country."
"Fifty millions of cod is a great number," I observed.
"Yes," he replied, "but these fifty millions are nothing but a small fraction compared with the great number that are not caught."
After our talk on the cod was finished, Captain Ericksen spoke about herrings as follows: "If the number of codfish caught is great, the number of herring is far greater. The herrings make their appearance in immense shoals, and it is beyond the power and calculation of man to guess their number, for their millions are countless. The migration of the herring is often very irregular. They appear generally from January to March. The herring are known to have disappeared for years in some districts, then suddenly reappear."
"That is strange," I said. "Can you account for that?"
"No," the captain replied; "if I were a herring I probably could tell." We all laughed when he said this.
I remarked: "The number of Norwegian fishing boats is so great, how do you know when some are missing and have foundered at sea?"
Captain Ericksen replied: "Every fishing district has its own letter on each boat belonging to it, and a number, and the name of every man composing its crew is registered; also his residence, the day of his birth, etc. This is necessary, for every year some poor fisherman's boat is lost and the crew drowned; thus the boat and crew missing can be identified. All the Norwegian men you see at the fisheries have homes—humble it is true—either on the fjords, by the coast, or on some little islands where there are a few patches of land which they can cultivate, raise potatoes and some grain, and where there is grass enough to keep a cow or two, sometimes more, some goats, and a few sheep to give us wool.
"That is the reason you see us so warmly clad. Our wives, daughters, or sisters, while we are absent from home think of us. They spin and weave the wool from our sheep into outer garments and underwear, knit stockings for us, and with some of the money we get from our catch of fish we buy waterproof clothing. With a good part of the money we save we buy things for our family and the provisions that we need, and put the rest in the bank."
It was time to retire, for we had to start up at five in the morning, if the weather permitted, for the fishing bank. It was agreed among the fishermen that I should go net-fishing in the boat owned by Captain Ole. What music we had during the night! All the fishermen snored. I thought I had never heard such a snoring before! I amused myself by wondering which one of them would have received the prize had it been a snoring match.
Departure for the Fishing Banks.—Great Number of Boats.—More than Five Thousand Oars fall into the Water at the Same Time.—Quantities of Buoys and Glass Balls.—A Notable Catch of Cod.
AT four o'clock the next morning we were up. It was the dawn of the day. It was wonderful how quickly the nights shortened. Coffee, flat bread, butter, and cheese made our breakfast.
When we came out almost all the boats with their full crews were ready waiting for the hoisting of the flag at five o'clock, which is the signal for the start, the time changing according to the length of the day. We all had to leave together, and to return the same day. Every one, including myself, was dressed in oilskin garments, sou'wester, and high sea-boots. There were more than nine hundred fishing boats. As soon as the flag was hoisted over five thousand oars struck the water at the same time, and filled the air with a deep booming sound. I had never seen so many sea boats and oars together. It was a grand sight!
As soon as we were out of the harbor the boats hoisted their sails, and soon we were scattered in every direction, each boat going towards its buoys. I looked at the thousands of white sails with wonder.
Our fishing boat was a fine craft, forty-two feet long and about seven feet and a half beam. The poop was decked under for a cabin, with bunks for the men to sleep in. The rudder-like oar, several feet long, is held by the captain, who sculls and steers at the same time.
Captain Ole was a regular "old salt." Our crew was composed of Sven, Hakon, Fridthjof, Ivor, Evert, Harald and Erik. Evert and Harald were lads about seventeen years old; they were learning to be hardy sailors like their father.
After a sail of three hours' beating against the wind, we came to the fishing banks and towards our buoys. The water for as far as I could see was filled with buoys and glass balls (floaters to hold the nets) enclosed in netted ropes. These glass balls were attached by a short cord to the nets to keep them floating, while stones at the bottom held the nets stretched. It was no easy matter to sail among them.
Looking at the multitudes of buoys I asked Captain Ole, "How can you ever find and recognize your own buoys?"
He answered smiling, "We can find our nets by the bearings, and every buoy has its special mark of ownership. It is hard work to haul in the nets, especially when the sea is rough. Each net is one hundred and twenty fathoms long, and about three fathoms deep;—we sailors do not count by yards but by fathoms. Each fathom is six feet long. In our boat we have to raise twenty-four nets tied together in fours."
"I will help you all I can," I replied; "I am willing to work. I have come to sea and I am in your boat as one of the crew, and I will try to do my part. I hope we are going to have good luck, and that the catch of cod will be big."
To Evert and Hakon was assigned the duty of pulling in the nets. Two other men stowed the nets carefully. Near the net-reels were two men who hooked the fish as they appeared and threw them inside of the boat, and another man and I arranged the nets. How eager we were as the nets were hauled up to peep and see how plentiful the fish were; for these represented money—and the poor fishermen work so hard to get a livelihood.
The sea was rough and it took us about ten minutes to haul each net. After they were all in, we estimated that we had caught about eight hundred codfish. This was considered a very fine catch. Then a consultation was held to decide where to re-set the nets. It was very important to know the direction in which the fish had gone on the banks, for these big shoals were constantly moving as they spawned.
After they had decided where to go our sail was hoisted, and we started for another part of the fishing banks; in the mean time the nets were inspected and put into good order. When we reached the spot, we sounded twice and found the sea too deep. When we found a depth of one hundred fathoms we set our nets, after which we returned home.
On our return we went on board of one of the ships, and our fish was bought by the captain at a little over eight dollars a "big hundred,"—that is, 112 cod.
On the deck of this ship were already several boat-loads of cod; the fish were cleaned, flattened, washed and salted, and laid in the hold on the top of one another.
The captain said to me: "When I am loaded I shall sail for my farm, and then lay the fish on the rocks to dry. I have a nice little home by the sea. I hope my boys will one of these days be sailors as I am." Then we shook hands with the captain and returned to our cabin.
Before we went to bed we learned that the catch of all the boats of the settlement that day had been over six hundred thousand cod.
The following morning found me ready to start at the appointed time for fishing with hook and line. The departure of the boats took place in the same manner as the day before. Our boat was not so large as the netting boat; it was not decked over.
Captain Johansen steered. The men of our crew were Mats, Pehr, Anders, Ole, Knut, and Roar.
Captain Johansen had fished in the Arctic regions for forty-two consecutive years. His face had been permanently reddened by the wind. Whenever he had a chance he had his pipe in his mouth, and he told me that his pipe was one of his best friends.
We had a fair wind at the start and in about one hour the men came to their buoys. Then we lowered the sail. The sea was covered with boats; there were nearly fifteen hundred in sight, for they had come to that part of the banks from several other fishing settlements. These boats were manned by about eleven thousand sailors; men enough to man a big fleet of men-of-war.
Captain Johansen said: "We are going to have hard work raising our lines, but if we catch many fish the work will seem to be much lighter to us."
"That is so," I said, "Captain, for when I go hunting and see no game I get tired; but if I see plenty of game, then I can tramp all day without fatigue."
A large reel was placed on one side of the boat to haul in the line. Before we began to haul the lines the captain remarked: "We attach four lines together; each line is one hundred fathoms long. The hooks are generally from four to six feet apart and there are about one hundred and twenty on each line. We have to pull in over twenty-four hundred fathoms or over twenty-six thousand feet of line, to which are attached about five thousand hooks."
"Indeed," I said to the captain, "it will be hard work and will take quite a while, especially if many fish are caught."
"I hope, nevertheless, we shall catch many," he replied with a smile, "for most of us have a home to keep and a wife and children to clothe and feed."
We began to haul in the lines on the reel. How we watched! How deep our eyes tried to see into the water! It was quite exciting. We were fortunate: a big shoal of fish had been passing on that part of the banks, and on many a hook a cod was hanging. After we got through, we pulled towards another of our buoys, passing several that belonged to other fishermen on the way.
Having pulled in about three hundred fathoms of our next line, we found that the rest of the line had drifted into a net and some of the hooks were caught and entangled in it, and we had a hard job to free the line.
Then we rowed to a third buoy belonging to us and began hauling. Almost every other hook had caught a fish. The faces of the fishermen were full of happiness. They felt that on that day they would have a great catch, when suddenly one of the men shouted, "Our line is entangled; I wonder whether it has fouled a net or another line." But as we pulled in the line we raised another line with it not belonging to us. We had a hard time to separate them, but after nearly half an hour's work succeeded in doing so. We had caught over two hundred cod on this line.
Our fourth line proved to be entangled in nets as well as also in several lines belonging to different owners. The untwisting was something awful, and it was no joke to separate them. Fortunately we could tell to whom the lines belonged, for each one is marked from distance to distance with the number of the boat and the letter of the district from which the craft comes. The rest of the lines were so badly tangled that we concluded to cut them. Then we pulled the cut pieces with the fish on them into our boat, intending to give them to their owners—not a difficult task, as the marks of ownership were on the tackles—and if they belonged to another settlement the fish would be sold and the money given them.
Captain Johansen and the crew thought the cod would remain two days more. Their advance guard had passed, but a great deal of the shoal was going northward; and there were miles of cod still to pass over the bank upon which we fished.
The wind had been gradually rising. We had had two days of good weather, and now the sea was covered with white caps. The daughters of Ægir and Ran were all white-hooded. But as we sailed for home the wind suddenly increased; squall after squall followed each other. We had to reef the sail; the sea at times washed over us, and the poor fishermen began to think seriously of throwing our cargo of fish overboard, for we were pretty deeply loaded, but it would have been like throwing away money, and they had worked so hard to get it.
A big black cloud overspread our heads and hail fell thickly upon us, and it hurt us badly for the hailstones were hard and very big. I tried to protect my face, for my sou'wester only protected well the back of my head. The hail was succeeded by sleet, the rigging and mast were covered with ice; our garments and sou'westers were stiff, and we looked like big icy things. The captain, looking at me with a smile,—for he saw I did not like this sort of weather, said: "This weather is the forerunner of spring in these high latitudes; the sun is getting higher at its meridian every day."
It was dark long before we reached port, but the men knew every rock on the coast, and yonder was the lighthouse guiding us on our way. Boat after boat entered the harbor, and not one of them was lost.
The next day the gale was such that no boat was permitted to put out to sea. In the evening there was very little talking, and for a while no one said a word; then Captain Johansen broke the silence and said: "Paul, this Arctic Ocean is the home of gales; these often bring sadness to many homes; some of us here have lost friends and relatives at sea. Some years ago a fishing fleet of eight hundred boats was caught in one of these sudden gales. After the boats had come safely into port the roll-call showed that twenty boats with their crews were missing."
"How sad!" I exclaimed; and as Captain Johansen was speaking I wondered how many people thought, when they ate fish, of the hard life of the poor and brave fishermen and of the gales they encounter.
The fishermen wanted to entertain me before we retired for the night, and Captain Larsen said, "I will tell you, Paul, about one of the great sea battles of the Vikings."
A Great Viking Sea Fight.—Svein King of Denmark, Olaf King of Sweden, Erik Jarl of Norway, against King Olaf Tryggvasson of Norway.—They Lie in Ambush.—Magnificent Ships.—The Long Serpent.—Ready for the Fight.—The Attack.—The Jarn Bardi.—Defeat of Olaf Tryggvasson.
AFTER we had clustered round Captain Larsen, he gave three or four big puffs of his pipe and began:
The battle of Svold took place in the year one thousand. Olaf Tryggvasson, King of Norway, had left Vindland in the Baltic and was on his way back to Norway with his fleet. He was on his ship the Ormrinn Lange (the "Long Serpent"). Svein, the King of Denmark, Olaf King of Sweden, and Erik Jarl of Norway, his enemies, lay in ambush for him under the island of Svold with all their ships. The three chiefs landed on the island. After a while they espied some ships of the fleet of Olaf. Among them was a particularly large and splendid one. Both kings said: "This is an exceedingly fine ship; it must be the Long Serpent."
Erik Jarl, who knew the Long Serpent, answered: "This is not the Long Serpent, which is much larger and grander, though this is a fine ship."
Ship after ship passed by and the two kings took each of them to be the Long Serpent, but they received invariably the same answer from Erik Jarl.
The three chiefs drew lots to know who should first attack Olaf Tryggvasson's ship. Svein, King of Denmark, drew the lot to attack first; then Olaf, King of Sweden, and Erik Jarl last, if it should be found necessary. It was agreed between the three chiefs that each should own the ships which he himself cleared of men and captured.
Erik Jarl's ship was called the Jarn Bardi, an iron-clad ram which had the reputation of cleaving through every ship it attacked; there were beaks on the top of both stem and stern, and below these were thick iron plates which covered the whole of the stem and stern all the way down to the water.
When the chiefs had arranged their plan, they saw three very large ships, and following them a fourth; they all saw a dragon-head on the stem, ornamented so that it seemed of pure gold, and it gleamed far and wide over the sea as the sun shone on it. As they looked at the ship, they wondered greatly at its length, for the stern did not appear till long after they had seen the prow, as the ship glided past the point of the island slowly; then all knew that this was the Long Serpent—a ship about three hundred and sixty feet long, with a crew of over seven hundred and fifty men.
At this sight many a man grew silent.
Sigvaldi Jarl, one of Olaf Tryggvasson's commanders, let down the sails on his ship and rowed up towards the island. Thorkel Dydril on the Tranan (the "Crane"), and the other ship-steerers (for the commanders were so called), lowered their sails also and followed him. All waited for Olaf Tryggvasson. When King Olaf saw that his men had lowered their sails and were waiting for him, he steered towards them and asked them why they did not go on. They told him that a host of foes was before them and that the fleets of the allied kings lay around the point.
Advancing further the King Olaf Tryggvasson and his men saw that the sea was covered far and wide with the warships of his foes. Thorkel Dydril, a wise and valiant man, said: "Lord, here is an overwhelming force to fight against: let us hoist our sails and follow our men out to sea. We can still do so while our foes prepare themselves for battle, for it is not looked upon as cowardice by any one for a man to use forethought for himself and his men." King Olaf Tryggvasson's men now missed the ships that had sailed ahead.
King Olaf replied loudly: "Tie together the ships and let the men prepare for battle!" for in those days it was the custom to tie the ships together. Then the commanders arranged the host.
The Long Serpent was in the middle, with the Short Serpent on one side and the Crane on the other, and four other ships on each side of them; but this fleet was but a small one compared with the overwhelming fleet which their enemies had.
When Olaf saw that they began to tie together the stern of the Long Serpent and of the Short Serpent, he called out loudly, "Bring the Long Serpent forward; I will not be the hindmost of all my men in this fleet when the battle begins!"
Then Ulf ("Wolf") the Red, the king's standard bearer, and who was also his prow-defender, said: "If the Long Serpent shall be put as much forward as it is larger and longer than other ships, the men in the bows will have a hard time of it!"
The king cried: "I had the Serpent made longer than other ships so that it should be put forward more boldly in battle, but I did not know I had a prow-defender who was faint-hearted!"
Ulf replied: "Turn thou, King, no more back in defending the high deck than I will in defending the prow!"
Olaf Tryggvasson stood aloft on the high deck of the Long Serpent. He had a shield, and gilt helmet, and was easily recognized. He wore a red silk kirtle over his ring-armor.
When he saw that the ships of his foes began to separate, and that the standards were raised in front of each chief, he asked: "Who is the chief of that standard which is opposite us?" He was told that it was King Svein of Denmark with the Danish ships.
"What chief follows the standard which is to the right?" He was told that it was Olaf of Sweden.
"Who owns those large ships to the left of King Olaf of Sweden?"
"It is Erik Jarl Hakonson," they replied.
Then Svein of Denmark, Olaf of Sweden, and Erik Jarl rowed towards the Long Serpent.
The battle horns were blown and both sides shouted a war-cry, and soon the combat raged fiercely,—at first with arrows from crossbows and long bows, then with spears and javelins and slings—and King Olaf Tryggvasson fought most manfully. King Svein's men turned the prows of many of their ships towards both sides of the Long Serpent. The Danes also attacked the Short Serpent and the Crane. The carnage was great.
King Svein made the stoutest onset. King Olaf Tryggvasson made the bravest defence with his men, but they fell one after another. King Olaf fought almost too boldly, shooting arrows and hurling spears; he went forward in hand-to-hand fight, and cleft many a man's skull with his sword.
The attack proved difficult for the Danes, for the stern-defenders of the Long Serpent and of the Short Serpent hooked anchors and grappling hooks to King Svein's ships, and as they could strike down upon the enemy with their weapons, for they had much larger and higher boarded ships, they cleared of men all the Danish ships which they had laid hold of. King Svein had to retreat.
In the mean time Erik Jarl had come first with the Jarn Bardi alongside the farthest ship of Olaf Tryggvasson on one wing, cleared it, and cut it from the fastenings; he then boarded the next one, and fought until it was cleared of men; and as the men fell on his ship, other Danes and Swedes took their places. At last all of Olaf Tryggvasson's ships had been cleared of men and captured except the Long Serpent, which carried all the men who were now able to fight.
Erik Jarl then attacked the Long Serpent with five large ships; he laid the Jarn Bardi alongside, and then ensued the fiercest fight and the most terrible hand-to-hand struggle of the day, and such a shower of weapons was poured upon the Long Serpent that the men could hardly protect themselves.
King Olaf Tryggvasson's men became so furious that they jumped upon the gunwales in order to reach their foes with their swords and kill them, and many went straight overboard; for out of eagerness and daring they forgot that they were not fighting on dry ground, and sank down with their weapons between the ships.
When only a few men were left on the Long Serpent around the mast amidships, Erik Jarl boarded it with fourteen men. Then came against him King Olaf's brother-in-law, Hyrning, with his followers, and between them ensued a hard fight. It was ended by Erik Jarl's retreating onto the Bardi, which took away the dead and the wounded, and in their stead brought fresh and rested men.
When Erik had prepared his men, he said to Thorkel the High, a wise and powerful chief: "Often have I been in battles, and never have I before found men equally brave and so skilled in fighting as those on the Long Serpent, nor have I seen a ship so hard to conquer. Now, as thou art one of the wisest of men, give me the best advice thou knowest as to how the Long Serpent may be won!"
Thorkel replied: "I cannot give thee sure advice, but I can say what seems to me best to do. Thou must take large timbers, and let them fall from thy ship upon the gunwales of the Long Serpent, so that it will careen; then thou wilt find it the easier to board the ship."
Erik Jarl did as Thorkel had told him.
King Olaf and his men defended themselves with the utmost bravery and manliness; they slew many of their foes, both on the Jarn Bardi and on other ships which lay near theirs.
When the defenders of the Long Serpent began to thin out, Erik Jarl boarded it and met with a warm reception.
Olaf Tryggvasson shot at him with spears. The first flew past his right side, the second his left, and the third struck the fore part of the ship above his head.
Then King Olaf said: "Never before did I thus miss a man; great is the Jarl's luck."
In a short time most of King Olaf's champions fell, though they were both strong and valiant. Among them Hyrning, Thorgier, Vikar, and Ulf the Red, and many other brave men who left a famous name behind. The Long Serpent was now cleared of men and captured, but Olaf Tryggvasson was never seen or heard of more. He probably threw himself into the sea not to survive his defeat.
"It was a grand fight, Captain Larsen!" I exclaimed, as the narrator concluded his story. I thanked the captain, and after this we all went to our bunks to sleep.
The following day was Sunday. There was no buying or selling of fish. Every man was shaved and wore clean linen; the church was crowded with fishermen, and the afternoon was spent in making social visits.
I had fished with the four boats of our house, and now I made my preparations for sailing northward. Our catch of fish and that in several neighboring fishing settlements during the fishing season had amounted to over twenty-two millions of cod.
Sailing along the Coast of Finmarken.—Hammerfest, the most Northern Town in the World.—Schools.—Fruholmen, the most Northern Lighthouse in the World.—Among the Sea Lapps.—Men and Women Sailors.
LEAVING the fishing settlement, the Ragnild, which I had rejoined, sailed along the rugged and dreary shore of Finmarken, the most northern part of the continent of Europe, passing now and then a solitary fisherman's house, or a settlement hidden from sight, though the stranger would never dream that any human being lived in this land of rocks and desolation.
We next came to Hammerfest, in 70° 40' north latitude, the most northern town in the world. In its commodious port were English, French, Russian, German, Swedish, and Norwegian vessels. Hundreds of fishing boats were there also, waiting for favorable winds to continue their voyage. Steamers were going and coming from the south.
The population was about three thousand souls. There were warehouses owned by rich merchants, a church, a comfortable hotel, good schools where boys and girls can learn French, English, German, Latin and Greek.
The streets were filled with snow. But though so far north there was not a particle of ice in the port, on account of the warm Gulf Stream, though sometimes the thermometer reaches 20 degrees below zero. Often during the winter the mercury stands for consecutive days above the freezing point.
After leaving Hammerfest we sailed towards North Cape. Suddenly I heard one of the sailors on the watch shout, "Light! Light!" "What," said I, "a lighthouse so far north?"
"Yes," replied the captain, who was standing near me; "it is the most northern light on the globe. It is the light on the island of Fruholmen, situated in latitude 71° 5' north." We sailed as far as North Cape, on the island of Magerö, rising majestically to a height of nine hundred and eighty feet above the sea, and in latitude 71° 10'. At the top of the cape there was evidently a gale, for the snow was flying to a great height.
As we were sailing along the shore, I saw some strange-looking weather-beaten logs, covered with barnacles. The captain said to me, "Some of these logs come probably from the coast of South America, from the Amazon and Orinoco rivers; the Gulf Stream has brought them here. It has taken them a long time to reach this place, for they are covered with barnacles."
Instead of doubling North Cape, we sailed through the narrow Magerö Sound which separates the island from the mainland.
We had hardly entered the sound when I was astonished by the view that met my eyes, for now there were fishing settlements coming suddenly into view, with comfortable, white-painted houses, ships at anchor, glittering churches shining in the sun, and school buildings.
We sailed across the Porsanger Fjord. Far off was Nordkyn, upon the summit of which I had stood. The coast looked dreary indeed! We sailed across Laxe Fjord and doubled Nordkyn.
The following day we entered a fjord and came upon a number of fishing boats that were returning from the open sea. Some of these boats rowed towards us, and soon were alongside of our craft, and we engaged in conversation.
These people appeared very strange; they were dressed like the nomadic Lapps, with the noteworthy exception, however, that the fur of the reindeer skin was on the inside of their garments. They were Sea Lapps.
I looked at the crews of the boats, and was more astonished still, for some of the boats were partly manned by women, and big girls; other crews were entirely composed of women with a man for captain. One boat was entirely manned by women, the captain included. I could not easily distinguish the men from the women, for the features of the women were coarse from exposure to the storms of the Arctic Sea. They wore reindeer trousers like the men, as indeed do the women of the nomadic Lapps. They rowed quite as well as the men, too. They were distinguishable by their long shaggy hair. It was of a dark chestnut, with a reddish tinge—almost black in some. They wore it hanging over their shoulders. It was indeed a strange sight, and I looked at them with great curiosity, for I had never seen such people before—women who were sailors, some captains of boats, going to sea and braving the storms of the inhospitable ocean.
Captain Petersen said to me: "Almost all these sea Laplanders own their crafts. Some of these are commanded by the husband, while the wife, the daughters, sister or hired woman form the crew; the women are very hardy, and excellent sailors; they pull as hard as strong men, and can use the oar as long as the men do."
The captain was right—for I could not see any difference between their rowing and that of the men as they followed us.
When they learned that I had come to see their land and wanted to live among them, they were glad. They asked my name, and they were told that I was called Paulus.
Then many of these Sea Lapps said:
"Come, Paulus, and stay a few days with us; we will take good care of you;" and pointing to a hamlet at a distance, "there we live, and soon we shall be at home."
Looking towards where they pointed, I saw smoke curling up from strange-looking dwellings. The settlement was scattered on the brow of a hill looking down upon the fjord.
As the word went round that I was coming to stay with them, the Sea Lapps made haste and rowed with all their might; the women were especially in earnest, for they wanted to prepare their houses for my reception before I landed. Soon they all were far ahead, and after they had landed I saw them running as fast as they could towards their homes. Evidently they were going to announce my arrival to the people who had remained at home.
Here I parted with the Ragnild, which sailed to another fjord for more fish.
A Sea Lapp Hamlet.—Strange Houses.—Their Interiors.—Summer Dress of the Sea Lapps.—Primitive Wooden Cart.—Animals Eat Raw Fish.—I Sleep in a Sea Lapp's House.—they Tell Me to Hurry Southward.
WHEN I had landed, and ascended the hill towards the settlement, I found myself in a Sea Lapp hamlet. I looked at their dwellings with great curiosity. Some of the buildings were conical and resembled the tent of the nomadic Lapps; but they were built of sod or turf. There were others resembling in shape log houses, with only a ground floor, built entirely of the same material. Others were partly of stone and turf. Some were entirely of stone slabs. Two houses were built of logs.
In the mean time the people had changed their clothes, and wore their summer every-day dress called vuolpo (though it was still cold), ready to receive me.
Some of these summer dresses were made of coarse vadmal of a gray or blackish color; others were blue. Most were in a ragged state, or patched—having when new been used as Sunday clothes. The men wore square caps of red or blue flannel, and the women had extraordinary looking head-gear resembling casques of dragoons, on account of the wooden frame under the cloth. These were also red or blue.
"Come in," said one of the Sea Lapps, "come into my gamme (house) and see how I live." His house was of conical shape and built of sod, supported inside by a rough frame formed of branches of trees. A fire was burning in the centre of the hut, the smoke escaping by an aperture above; and upon cross poles hung shoes, boots, and clothing. This sod hut was about twelve feet high and eight feet in diameter. A large kettle hung over the fire. It was filled with seaweed, which was cooking for the cows. I tasted it and found it very palatable and not at all salt.
I was hardly in this gamme when I wished myself out, but kept this to myself, for I did not want to hurt the feelings of the poor Lapp. The interior of the place was horribly filthy—dirty reindeer skins lay on the ground upon old dirty dried grass. A tent of a nomadic Lapp was a model of cleanliness compared with this! The outside was just as bad; on the ground lay the entrails and heads of fish, and a couple of barrels filled with half-putrid liver which in time would make a barrel of brown oil; there were a great many codfish heads drying on the rocks.
"Will you stay and have a cup of coffee with us?" my host asked.
"Yes," added his wife, "it will not take long to make a cup of coffee."
"Not to-day," I replied, "but some other time."
"All right," the host said; "don't forget."
I was glad when I got out. This abode was the gamme of a poor Sea Lapp, and the poorest kind of dwelling seen among them.
The next house, which was at a short distance, belonged to the captain of one of the boats which had been alongside of our ship. He and his wife were waiting for me outside and bade me come in. His house was long, narrow, and low, and built entirely of flat stones. I entered through a wooden door a room built in the centre of the house. Their winter garments hung on poles, there was a pile of firewood, and a heap of dry seaweed and reindeer moss.
I followed him to the room on the left. There the family lived. The floor of the room was covered with flat slabs; in one corner was a bed on the floor, itself made of young branches of birch, kept together by logs. The skins that made the rest of the bed were outside to be aired. This room was about ten feet long and about ten feet wide, the whole width of the house, and lighted by a small window with tiny panes of glass.
At the foot of the bed in the corner was a small cow. Such a cow! I had never seen one so small. In the opposite corner was another one. These two cows were hardly three feet high, and between the two were a calf and three sheep. "These animals," said my host, "help us to keep our room warm and comfortable during the winter months."
This was a very strange way of heating a room, I thought to myself.
"Come and stay with us to-night," added the Lapp. "You will sleep comfortably and you will not be cold."
The furniture of the room consisted of some kettles, a coffee pot, coffee grinder, a lamp, and a few chests. Everything, strange to say, was very clean. The third room contained a few nets, and on the floor were a few reindeer skins upon which slept any stranger who chanced to share their dwelling. I was a favored guest. I was to sleep in the same room with the host, hostess, cows and sheep. I was considered as one of the family.
I slept splendidly. In the morning I had water to wash my face with. That was fine! I gave myself a good rubbing with soap, for I said, "Paul, after you leave this place it will be quite a while before you wash your face, except with snow." But I could not as successfully get rid of the odor of the stable, which clung to my clothes with a persistence that would have driven every friend I had away from me if I had been at home.
Not far from this gamme was the house of another well-to-do Sea Lapp, one of the rich fellows of the hamlet. His house was long and narrow, one part built of logs, the remainder of layers of turf.
The wooden part was the every-day room—parlor, bedroom, kitchen. The roof was supported by poles and covered with birch bark, over which more than a foot of earth had been placed to keep the cold out; the birch bark was used as shingles and kept the rain from dripping inside. Two little cows, two dwarfish oxen, eight sheep, and two goats completed the household, and these were housed in the turf compartment.
Further on I passed a somewhat long and narrow house built entirely of turf, which I also visited, and as I came out of it a very strange sight greeted me. Several people were returning with their dwarfish carts loaded with seaweed; each was drawn by a team of two wretched little oxen not bigger than the cows of the place—that is, not more than three feet in height. Some were driven by women, others by men or children.
These queer-looking small carts were of the same pattern as those used thousands of years ago. The wheels were of a solid block of wood hewn out of the trunk of fir trees, which grow on the banks of some of the fjords, though the land is so far north, owing to the effects of the Gulf Stream. These wheels were of the pattern first made by man, and for thousands of years there had been no improvement; just as in some parts of the world the natives to-day still use the dug-out, or canoe made of the trunk or bark of a tree—the primitive boat of man. The carts were loaded with seaweed, fish, or reindeer moss.
I stayed here several days, and one day I went to see Ole Maja, the nabob of the place. Ole was an old Sea Lapp, who was considered very rich among his neighbors. His house was entirely built of logs, and was much admired by the people. The little room had two plain pine-wood beds, a cast-iron stove (the only one in the hamlet), a clock and three wooden chairs. Everything was exceedingly clean. He belonged to the best type of Sea Lapps.
Ole owned a horse, which had a special stable built of turf, and his four cows, two oxen, and twelve sheep were kept in another building. I asked what he wanted a horse for in these high latitudes. He answered: "We use them on the frozen rivers to draw logs." "The hay I gather in summer," he added, "is for him. Horses are very particular, they will not eat the kind of food we give to our cattle, sheep or goats." I did not wonder at this.
I noticed, as there was no snow on the ground, that all the dwellings of the little hamlet had small patches of land round them, which were to be planted with potatoes when warm weather came.
Those who had the best houses wanted me to stay with them, and to avoid making distinctions I agreed to remain with each family one day until I went away. They seemed very much pleased.
I witnessed one day the feeding of the cattle, sheep, and goats. This was a sight! They were to be fed on that day with raw fish cut in pieces, instead of boiled heads of dry cod, or boiled lichen. These pieces of fish were put in large wide wooden pails, the animals were called, and they devoured the contents with great avidity. This amazed me greatly. Just think of cattle feeding on raw fish!
One day found me comfortably settled in a gamme which belonged to Matias Laiti. The chief meal was of reindeer meat and fish,—a boiled head of fresh cod. This is considered the sweetest and nicest part of the fish. A great wooden bowl of milk was given to me. The milk had a queer taste—it had a fishy taste—so had everything else, I thought. I am sure that if the cannibals that were my friends in Africa had been here, and eaten me up, they would have found that I tasted of fish, for I had been living on fish ever so long.
I kept visiting one Sea Lapp and his family after another, and had a good time—living on fish and reindeer meat, for the Sea Lapps own reindeer which are kept for their relations or friends further in the interior. Sea Lapps intermarry much with river Lapps, and also with nomadic Lapps. They form really one family.
On Sunday morning they were dressed in their best vuolpo head-dresses and garments. These were red, blue and white, with red and yellow bands at the bottom of the skirt. Some had pretty belts, and wore necklaces of large glass beads. The women and men had combed their hair, and it was not to be combed again for a week. They all had washed their faces and hands. One woman wore a pair of blue woollen trousers, fitting tight from the knees to the ankle, had put on a new pair of Lapp shoes, and wore casque-like head-gear, which was blue like her dress and had red seams. The boats were ready to be rowed across the fjord to take them to the church, where service was held once in three weeks. They were all Lutherans.
There were hardly any children in the place. The school was the other side of the fjord by the church. The children were about to return to their parents, for in summer there is no school. All the Swedish-Norwegian Lapps know how to read and write.
One evening as we were talking round a bright fire, one of the Lapps said to me, "Paulus, you have told us that you intend to travel southward by land. If that is so, there is no time to be lost, for the sun is getting more powerful every day, and the snow will soon be in an unfit condition for reindeer to travel on, and the ice over the rivers and lakes will break; besides you are going to have great difficulty in procuring reindeer, for no reindeer can be had at the post stations now. You may be detained on the way, and be obliged to wait until snow has melted and the rivers become navigable. At this time of the year the reindeer are very feeble; it is the worst time to travel with them; they shed their coats and horns and are weak and lean from their winter digging. During the day they feel the heat of the sun, and do not go as fast as during the winter months. So, though we love to have you stay with us, if you want to go you had better hasten your departure. Do not forget to take with you blue or green goggles, for the glare is so intense, on account of the bright sun, you will surely become snow-blind if you have none with you. We are going to send for reindeer, and we will give you a guide to go with you."
The long days come on with remarkable rapidity in this far North. The sun was below the horizon till the latter part of January, and now on the 25th of April in clear weather I could read a newspaper at midnight. There were to be no more nights. The Long Night had been driven away from the pole.
Comparison of Finmarken with Alaska.—The Two Lands Much Alike.—What Must be Done for Alaska.—Colonization.—Importation of Reindeer.—Protection of Fisheries.—Houses of Refuge.
THAT same evening (it has to be called so for the sake of distinction) I stood out on the brow of the hill, looking at the fjord and Arctic Ocean. Suddenly Alaska came to my mind. I remembered all I had seen on the coast of Finmarken, and also all I had encountered and done in "Snow Land", "The Land of the Long Night," and "The Land of the Winds," and I said to myself, "Why should not Alaska have its fishing towns, settlements, and hamlets, like those of Finmarken, and become as prosperous as the country I have travelled through?" There is a wonderful similarity between these two countries; they are both exactly in the same latitudes; they have the same kind of barren coast bathed by a warm stream, and both have fjords.
Alaska has immense shoals of codfish and herring, besides salmon. Both have their long nights, and then long days of Midnight Sun. We must give inducements to the people of Finmarken to come to Alaska. They will find in their new country something similar to the one they have left, they will enjoy the same life. California and Oregon will provide the people with flour and send them delicacies and products of their state, and take in return the cod and herring. The southern American countries would be a great market for their codfish.
Then I thought that the only way to make Alaska prosperous eventually, is to do exactly what the Swedes and Norwegians have done for their country in the far North. The fisheries must be protected, and the laws regulating them must be enforced. Then, as on the Finmarken coast, towns, hamlets, and fishing settlements will rise in the course of time, and the wealth of the people will come from the fish—their gold from the sea. Then we shall have more American-born sailors to man our ships.
Some of the barren hills of Alaska should be planted with juniper, birch, alder, and with pine and fir and other trees growing in the high altitudes of the mountains of Scandinavia. It will take a good deal of time, but the world was not made in one day. The Scandinavian laws regarding the cutting of trees below a certain size ought to be adopted for Alaska.
Then we must import many reindeer, and establish the same laws in regard to them and their pasture as the Swedes and Norwegians have done. A great many of these reindeer must be broken, and brought up to eat kept reindeer moss. Samoides and Laplanders must be induced to come to Alaska; they know how to take care of the reindeer, they are accustomed to law and order, and they are absolutely honest.
"Yes, indeed, they are honest," I said loudly without knowing it; "for they knew I had money with me, and I have never been afraid of being robbed or murdered. Such thoughts have never entered my head." Then I thought of the good care these kind people took of me when there was danger in travelling.
Wherever there is a little good grazing land, houses and farms of refuge, and post stations where reindeer can be procured, must be built by the government in the interior, so that people can find refuge from the terrific storms that blow over Alaska, and I cannot realize how they could be fiercer than those I had encountered in Finmarken. With reindeer and skees, travelling will become easy, and good distances will be made in a short time.
In summer boat stations must be established along navigable rivers, also a tariff made for distances and for food—so that there be no overcharge—as is done in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
Little hamlets with the church and the school will rise. Doctors must be sent, and paid a salary by the government; besides a fee must be given by the patient, who will then not call the doctor for a trifle.
Preparations to Leave the Arctic Coast.—Great Danger of Encountering Melting Snow, or Rivers Made Dangerous by the Ice Breaking.—Reindeer Come.—Farewell to the Sea Lapps.—I Leave for more Southern Land.
THE advice the Sea Lapps had given me was not to be neglected, and I at once made hasty preparations for my journey southward. There was not one hour or one minute to be lost. I did not want to be caught in the midst of vast tracts of half-melted snow, seven, eight, or ten feet deep, with reindeer unable to travel further; or to drive over rivers and lakes covered with treacherous ice, made the more dangerous by being hidden under the snow—or, worst of all, to find no reindeer to carry me onward; or delayed somewhere, waiting for the snow to melt and the land to become dry and the rivers navigable, for during the time of thaw the country is full of bogs and swamps, and the rivers become in many places but roaring torrents, their waters dashing against huge boulders strewn in their beds, or breaking over them in rapids and pouring cataracts.
My little sleigh, my skees, my bags, and winter outfits were landed, and were before me. I left off my sou'wester and oilskin garments and sea-boots, and I said to them: "We have had rough weather together on this stormy Arctic sea. Henceforth I do not need you any more; I hope you will keep the Sea Lapp to whom I give you as dry as you did me."
Then I donned my Lapp costume once more. Now the fur shoes of winter were unsuitable to travel with, for being porous they are only good to get over dry and crisp snow with. I had to wear henceforth the shoes or boots that are without fur and the leather of which is prepared in such a manner as to be impermeable to water or damp snow. I had provided myself with two pairs of these, while at Haparanda on my way to "The Land of the Long Night," for my return journey,—a short pair, of the shape of the winter shoes, and a pair of boots coming as high as my knees.
One of the Lapps smeared them with a preparation of tar and fat that he used for his own shoes. When they were ready he said: "Now you are all right, no dampness or water will penetrate them," and he gave me some of the stuff to use on my journey, saying, "Rub your shoes every two days with it." I thanked him. Then I put on a new pair of woollen socks. I surrounded my feet with the Lapp grass, and wore my short boots.
While turning over in my mind the mishaps that might come to me on this southward journey, I fancied the same friendly voices I had heard before from across the Atlantic called to me: "Hurry on, Friend Paul! Hurry on! for there is danger in delay; and when your journey is finished come back to us at once."
"I will hurry on," I replied aloud. "Do not be afraid. I will return at once to our dear United States." After this I was more impatient to leave than before. I waited anxiously for the reindeer to arrive.
Henceforth I shall wear only one fur garment, instead of two as I did during my journey northward, for the weather is getting warmer every day. After I was dressed completely I looked affectionately at my little sleigh, for I remembered the many hundreds of miles we had travelled together, what fun I had had, and how hard it was at first to learn to drive reindeer and to keep inside the sleigh, and all the sudden upsettings I had.
Then I looked at my skees, and said: "Dear skees, we are again to tramp over the snow together. I wish I could leap over chasms with you, as the Lapps do. I cannot do that; but we will walk on the snow, and go down hill riding a stick. This will be great fun for me anyhow."
Then I turned to the bags, and I said: "Dear bags, I have often thought of you and how comfortable I was with you." I remembered how cosy I was when I slept in them on the snow. I did not mind how hard the wind blew; the harder it blew the more comfortable I felt inside of them. Near by them was the big brown bearskin, which was safely fastened over me in the sleigh. I said: "Dear bearskin, I think a great deal of you also, for you have been my friend and have kept my legs so warm when I was driving."
The next morning to my great joy the reindeer came,—one for me, one for my guide, and a spare one; but how differently they looked compared with those I had in the winter. They were thin, and were changing their coats. I did not wonder that the poor reindeer did not look frisky—they had had to work so hard for their living, digging the snow to reach the moss during the whole of the winter.
I looked at the guide the kind Sea Lapps had provided for me. He was the man who had come with the reindeer. His name was Mikel. He was a nomadic Lapp, but had come to visit his sister, who had married a Sea Lapp. He was about four feet eight inches in height, well built, broad shouldered, nimble as a deer, about forty years old, with a face made by the wind as red as a ripe tomato. He lived and pastured his herd of reindeer south of Karesuando.
As we were introduced to each other we shook hands, and I said, "Mikel, we are going to be friends."
"Yes," he replied, "we are to be friends."
Then all the Sea Lapps that were round us shouted with one voice: "Paulus, we are all your friends! Mikel will take good care of you."
"I will," said Mikel. "I will take good care of Paulus." "Thank you, Mikel," I replied. From that moment Mikel and I became fast friends.
An hour after the arrival of the reindeer and after a hearty meal of codfish and black bread we were ready to start.
Before seating myself in the sleigh, I turned my face towards the North Pole and looked at the Arctic Ocean beyond the fjord, and shouted: "Farewell to thee! farewell, tempestuous Arctic Sea! farewell to thy gales! farewell to thy snow and sleet storms. But I am glad I have been through it all, for I have learned something I did not know before. I have gained knowledge about the people and 'The Land of the Long Night.'"
One of the Sea Lapps held my reindeer, and after I was seated another drew my bearskin round me, and made it secure with the cord belonging to my sleigh.
When Mikel saw that I was ready he jumped into his sleigh and we started.
"Good-bye, good-bye, Paulus!" shouted all the Lapps.
"Good-bye, good-bye, dear Sea Lapps!"—I shouted back to them, and the last words I heard were: "Lucky journey, Paulus, come to see us again, come to see us again."
We Enter a Birch Forest.—The Reindeer are Soon Fagged.—Sleep on the Snow.—The Rays of the Sun Melt through the Snow.—Great Difficulty in Travelling.—Meet Herds of Reindeer.—Reindeer Bulls Fight Each Other.
WE entered the birch forest soon after our departure. We had great difficulty in driving among the trees. I was glad our reindeer were not as frisky as in the earlier part of the winter. I could hardly follow the track of Mikel, and sometimes I could not do so at all. I drove sometimes against one tree and then against another, then the boughs of the birch would strike against my face. I had not been five minutes among the birches when I was upset.
At last, losing patience, I shouted to Mikel, "When are we to get out of these birch trees into the open country?" He replied: "We shall reach the river soon."
The snow was not more than three or four or five inches deep at first, but grew gradually deeper as we moved further south. Along the coast of Finmarken the heat of the Gulf Stream prevents it from lying deep on the ground.
That afternoon we reached the Tana river, at a place called Polmak, and sped on over its snow-covered ice.
Seven or eight miles was all that our reindeer could do in an hour, and during the day we had to stop several times to give them rest.
About eleven o'clock we stopped for the night. We spread our bags upon the snow, but we got into one only, for two would have been too warm at this time of the year; and as Mikel and I were ready to disappear in them, I said "Good-night, Mikel," and he replied "Good-night, Paulus."
It snowed during the night, and when we awoke in the morning our bags were covered with it. I did not wonder when I saw this that I had felt so warm during the night.
I was the first to be up. I shook Mikel's bag and shouted to him, "Get up, Mikel," and as his head peeped out of his bag, I said "Good-morning," and he cried "Good-morning, Paulus." Then we took our breakfast. The reindeer, while we were asleep, had dug through the snow to the lichen and fed, and now were quietly resting.
We were soon on the way. As the sun rose higher and higher and its rays grew more powerful, the snow became soft, and the travelling so hard for our reindeer that we had to stop; the thermometer marked 44 degrees in the shade and 80 degrees in the sun. There were sometimes twenty or thirty degrees' difference of temperature during the twenty-four hours, but the change came so slowly, hour after hour, that I did not notice it.
So we had to stop travelling, and while the reindeer rested we took to our skees and went in search of game, but no foxes or wolves were to be seen. Towards four o'clock in the afternoon the snow began to freeze again, and we again took up our journey. Now the nights have to be turned into days, for we can only travel during the time when the sun is not shining or has not great power.
We travelled without interruption the following day, as the sky was cloudy and the snow was hard. Towards midnight Mikel said: "Our reindeer are tired, we must rest; but we will not sleep more than three or four hours, for we must reach a station where we can procure fresh reindeer."
We unharnessed our reindeer, and tied them with long ropes. When this was done we got into our bags and soon were fast asleep.
At about three o'clock Mikel awoke me, saying, "Paulus, it is about time to go."
"Oh, Mikel," I replied, "let me sleep one hour more, for I need more sleep. I want another snooze."
"There is no time to be lost," he replied; "you will have a snooze later in the day."
So I rubbed my eyes to get fully awake, and washed my face with snow, and felt ready for another start.
That morning the sky was very clear, and after a while the sun shone brightly and the glare on the snow was so great that it would have been impossible to travel without green or blue goggles. I had two pairs with me, in case I should lose or break one by some accident.
On account of the strength of the sun's rays, which melted the snow, we had to stop our travelling by eleven o'clock. Our reindeer were exhausted.
I took my short pair of skees, covered with sealskin, and went ptarmigan hunting. I killed four. The birds had already dropped many of their white feathers, which had been replaced by gray ones. They were getting their summer coats, and would soon be entirely gray.
After killing these I went further, and saw something in the distance moving on the snow. Soon I discovered it was a fox of a peculiar color which I had not seen before. I lay flat on the snow, as the animal was coming in my direction. He was evidently hungry, and was hunting ptarmigans himself. When he came within shooting distance I fired and killed him. He was a white fox, but much of his snowy-white fur had dropped, and was replaced by bluish. I wondered if the change took place for his own protection and advantage. When white he could not be seen so easily by the creatures upon which he preyed, and when bluish he could not be so easily seen as if he had remained white.
When I returned Mikel was stretched on his back on the snow with his arms spread out, and was snoring like a good fellow. Oh, what a noise he made! He had succeeded in frightening our reindeer, which had moved away as far as the rope would allow them. I did not wonder that they did not like Mikel's snoring.
After looking at Mikel I stretched myself on the snow, but quite a distance from him, not to be disturbed by his snoring. Now we did not require any masks on our faces, and during the day slept without being obliged to get into our bags.
Soon I fell asleep, and dreamed that I was attacked by a big pack of wolves—I jumped up and looked round, but there were no wolves. I had had the nightmare from sleeping on my back. Mikel was still snoring, and I looked at him and thought I would let him snore a little more.
Towards four o'clock in the afternoon, as it was beginning to freeze again and the snow was fit for travelling, I awoke him. Soon after we started, and we had not driven an hour when we saw a tent in the distance and made for it. The Lapp family who owned it received us with great hospitality. Coffee was made and we were invited to spend the night. I looked forward with great pleasure to the prospect of a good warm meal of reindeer meat and good reindeer broth.
These people were great friends of Mikel, and they agreed to give us some of their reindeer that were not as fagged out as ours. I was delighted.
How I enjoyed the warm reindeer meat and the reindeer broth! It was fine! I was so hungry. After this meal we were presented with a lot of cooked reindeer meat for our journey, and one of the Lapps was to go with us, for he wanted to see some of his friends further south.
Towards three o'clock in the morning we started. We saw many herds of reindeer—they were moving westward towards the mountains that stretched to the Arctic Sea. It was a grand sight. I saw more than thirty thousand reindeer that day, in herds from one thousand to two or three thousand. The Lapps on their skees, with their dogs, urged the animals onward, and the dogs brought those which were trying to go astray, or lagged behind, into the ranks.
Many of the reindeer had already dropped their horns, and the calving season had begun. How pretty were the tiny baby reindeer; they were put on special sleighs and driven in them, their mothers following, uttering a queer kind of grunt.
The baggage of the family and tents went with them, led by women who carried their young children in their cradles slung on their backs.
Late that day I saw a splendid sight, two herds were approaching each other in opposite directions. The bulls of each herd advanced to charge the others with great fury and began a terrible fight, advancing and retreating, then charging again, butting furiously. The horns of two combatants sometimes became entangled, and it took a long time for them to disengage themselves. Mikel said: "Sometimes they cannot be separated and have to be killed." In the mean time, the Lapps and dogs went after them, and with great trouble they were parted and made to go to their respective herds. I noticed, as I went further south, that the twilight was not so bright as it was in the North—for in that northern land, the daylight comes from the direction of the pole.
The darkest part of the day or night was somewhat after eleven o'clock p.m., but even then I could read, and as we travelled only Jupiter and Venus looked at us—no other stars were visible, and towards half-past one these two disappeared, for daylight was so strong; and when the weather was clear after that time only the pale blue sky of the North and its fleecy white clouds were to be seen above our heads. How beautiful it was!
Variable Weather.—Snowy Days.—An Uninhabited House of Refuge.—Animals Changing the Color of their Fur.—Mikel Tells Me about a Bear.—Killing the Bear.—Hurrying on over Soft Snow and Frozen Rivers.—The Ice Begins to Break.—Pass the Arctic Circle.
ONWARD we went, sleeping one day in the tent of a nomadic Lapp, another day in our bags, at other times in the gamme of a river Lapp. The weather was very changeable; one day it was clear, the next day the sky was gray. Snowy days were not uncommon.
Midway between Nordkyn and Haparanda the snow was of great depth. Only the tops of the birch trees could be seen, and strange to say the branches were in bloom, for the trees felt the heat of the sun, and the snow had prevented the freezing of the ground to a great depth. The snow must have been eight or ten feet deep in some regions.
When we reached the summit of the plateau, the watershed that divided the rivers falling into the Arctic Sea and the Baltic, the weather was very stormy. Though it was the 13th of May, we met a furious snowstorm. This was dangerous for us, and Mikel attached my sleigh to his by a long rope, so that we might not become separated. The snowstorm seemed, however, to give new strength to the reindeer, and they went faster than usual, and besides the cold weather we had had the two previous days—the thermometer marking 15 to 18 degrees of frost—had evidently invigorated them. For a while there was a lull in the storm, and we were glad when we came to a house of refuge.
The house was small and uninhabited, but clean inside. Some food was hanging from the ceiling, belonging to some Lapp or some wanderer like ourselves, who had left it to have it on his return journey. The food was sacred and safe. No one would have dared to touch it, no matter how hungry he was, for it did not belong to him, and the one who had left it perhaps depended upon it to sustain his life on his return. We peeped into the parcel—there was some hard bread, reindeer cheese, and a smoked reindeer tongue, a coffee kettle and some coffee, and a few small pieces of wood tied together, to make a fire to cook the coffee with. This was one of those houses of refuge used only for shelter, without people to keep them, built especially by the government for that purpose, in case of sudden storm.
After a while I went out for a walk on my skees, to stretch my legs, for I had been more than ten hours seated in my sleigh. I took my gun with me. Soon I spied some hares, and succeeded in killing two. These were also changing their fur coats; much of their fur was gray, and mixed with white; the hares were to be gray during the summer months. As white was their protection in winter against big white owls, foxes, and other animals, so their gray color would protect them against their enemies in summer.
"Strange indeed is nature," I said to myself. "In some cases the animals change their fur so that they can approach their prey without being seen; in other cases nature changes their fur to protect them against their enemies."
When I returned I saw that Mikel had prepared our supper. He had fetched some firewood he had in his sleigh, and a bright fire was burning under our coffee kettle. Reindeer meat, tongue, and reindeer cheese had been put on a wooden dish, and two tin cups were ready for the coffee to be poured into them. We seated ourselves cross-legged on the floor, and began our meal. What a nice cup of coffee we had! How deliciously it tasted! How good was our coarse hard black bread and our reindeer cheese, and smoked reindeer tongue!
After we had drunk our coffee and eaten our supper I noticed that Mikel was very silent and thoughtful. I wondered if he was thinking of dangers ahead—of the sudden stopping of our journey,—and just as I was on the point of asking him why he was so thoughtful he broke the silence himself and said: "Paulus, I know where there is a big brown bear—a real big fellow. The Bear's Night is not over with him yet, and he must be still sleeping under the snow at the place where I saw him last autumn getting ready to go into his winter quarters."
"You don't say so, Mikel!" I exclaimed. "Is the bear sleeping near where we are?"
"Not so very near," he replied with a twinkle in his eye. "A few hours will bring us to his place."
He saw by my looks that I was ready to go after the bear. It was just what he wished. So he continued: "Paulus, shall we go and kill the bear, before he awakes and goes into the mountains and forests to commit his depredations,—for after his long fast he will be very hungry—and are you willing to lose two or three days and run the risk of having our journey come to an end?"
When I heard this, I forgot all about the ice cracking over the streams and lakes, about the snow melting and preventing people from travelling. "Yes, Mikel," I replied, "let us go after the bear. Afterwards we will travel as fast as we can and take very little sleep; perhaps we shall have luck and the weather may be colder than usual for a while."
"All right," replied Mikel; "we will go after the bear."
"Mikel," said I "before we stretch ourselves on the floor and go to sleep, tell me how you know that the bear is at the spot you suppose and that he is spending his winter night there."
Mikel took a big pinch of snuff and replied: "Paulus, I think I am the only one, that knows where this bear is sleeping, for I have kept it a secret. I hope no other person knows where he is, for I want his skin. Besides I shall get a premium in money if we kill him."
Then he added: "One day last fall as I was hunting for ptarmigans I saw in the distance a huge brown bear walking about and getting ready for his winter quarters. I knew that he was seeking his winter lodgings, because he was going round and round a big cluster of pines before entering it. I watched! After a a while he disappeared among the pines and I saw no more of him. I knew that if he were not disturbed or frightened away he would stay there. The bear assuredly had seen the place during the summer and thought it was a good one for his long sleep. This bear knew that a big snowstorm was coming, and he was not mistaken, for that night snow fell very heavily and the storm lasted two days.
"The Bear's Night will soon be over in this region," Mikel continued, "and at any moment this bear may awaken, break through the snow that is over him, and go away. Perhaps he is already gone. At this time of the year the slightest noise will arouse a bear, for by this time he has ceased to sleep soundly."
Then he added: "We have had very little sleep since we left the coast, Paulus; we need a good rest before we go after the bear."
"Yes," said I, "my eyes ache for want of a good long sleep."
We stretched ourselves on the earth floor, and soon after I heard the snoring of Mikel. He was an inveterate snorer,—I thought the champion snorer of all those I ever had met.
I could not go to sleep, though I was so tired. I turned first on one side, then on the other, then lay on my back. I was much excited, for I thought of the big brown bear and of the hunt that was before us. At last I fell asleep. Suddenly I was awakened by a shaking of Mikel, and as I opened my eyes he said, "Paulus, what is the matter? You have been shouting."
I was in a profuse perspiration. I had again had nightmare from lying on my back. I was fighting with a big bear which had seized me, and we were wrestling and I was getting the worst of it, and when ready to fall down in his grasp I had given a big scream.
After our breakfast that morning, Mikel said: "We must go and tell some of the folks who live in a little hamlet not far from here to come with us."
"What do you call not far from here?" I asked.
I had begun to know what "not far" meant with the Lapps. "Two hours' travel, or about fifteen miles," he replied. "I have friends there."
Before leaving the little house of refuge Mikel swept the floor, and made it as clean as we had found it—for it is the custom of the people to do this before they leave.
We then started eastward, and after two hours' travelling we came to a few farms and entered a house. Mikel told the people about the bear. The news soon spread and there was much excitement. During the day preparations were made for the hunt.
The next morning men gathered, taking their guns and big long sticks, with pikes at the ends to prod the bear with; and all the dogs of the place followed us. Many men started on their skees, others in their sleighs. According to Mikel the bear was about thirty miles away.
I was full of enthusiasm, and longed to come face to face with the big brown bear of northern Europe.
About three hours after, we stopped. All the people took counsel together and spoke in low voices. Then Mikel, pointing out to me a big cluster of trees, said, "Paulus, the bear is there."
Slowly we made for the spot, and then entered the grove, and went in different directions seeking for the bear's winter quarters. Soon after we saw a heap of snow, or little hillock, that covered evidently some boulders piled on the top of each other or a cluster of fallen broken pine trees.
We looked at each other and pointed towards the spot—we knew that the bear was under the snow there. Mikel whispered to me, "The bear sleeps under that hillock of snow."
We surrounded the place, then on a sudden we shouted and made a terrific noise. Two or three of the men fired their guns, the dogs barked furiously.
Then we saw the centre of the heap or hillock of snow tremble, as if some live creature were moving slowly under it. Then the snow moved a little quicker. There was no mistake, the bear was awakened, had moved, and was on the point of rising; he was listening, and getting ready to come out. The noise had frightened him. The snow trembled more and more and rose higher and higher. Suddenly there was a great upheaval, and great cracks appeared in the crusted snow. Then we saw peeping out the head and back of a huge brown bear, then two legs, and finally the whole animal.
He looked round him with amazement. He seemed to be dazed at the strange and sudden sight before him. He sat on his haunches and looked at us, uttering a tremendous growl. We could not tell whether he meant to fight or to run. The dogs barked angrily around the huge beast, but did not dare to approach near enough to attack him. In the meantime we had all drawn together so that we could fire without danger of hitting any of our party. The bear was getting ugly, gave a series of fierce growls, and rose on his hind legs. At this moment Mikel and I fired. A grunt of pain showed that the animal was hit. He ran a few steps towards us and as we got ready to fire again the big beast fell, his blood reddening the snow.
We gathered round and looked at him. He was a huge beast, but very thin from his long fast, for he had been six months or more without food.
After the killing of the bear there was no time to be lost, for we had deviated from our course and had gone eastward into Finland. So now we had to go westward, and after two days' travelling we came to the river Muonio, to a Finnish hamlet called Kuttainen, not far from Karesuando.
Now travelling became really dangerous. The frozen river was full of treacherous cracks, and others were appearing all the time. Once in a while we came to small open spaces, where we could see the swift water of the stream rushing with great rapidity; this made me shudder. In some places there were large pools of water.
It was getting really warm. Some days my "pesh" was comfortable, at other times it was much too warm, the thermometer reaching 48 to 50 degrees in the shade and 86 to 88 degrees in the sun. The dripping from the melted snow came into the river from the hills, and had succeeded in many places in melting the ice on the banks. This travelling was no joke. I followed Mikel, and watched him constantly, fearing that his reindeer and sleigh would disappear under the ice. Travelling appeared to become more and more perilous as we followed the Muonio southward. At times I could hear the angry water under the ice striking against boulders, and this became quite common.
At last I shouted to Mikel, "Let us travel on the land, for surely if we do not we shall fall through the ice and be engulfed."
"We cannot," he shouted back, "the snow is too soft. Our reindeer could not pull our sleighs. We can get along much better on the river, though the ice is very bad. Trust in me, Paulus. I have made this journey over the Muonio River many times before, but you must follow me very closely, for sometimes I shall have to pass near rotten ice or open spots."
"I will follow you carefully, dear Mikel. Go on! Go on!" I said.
So I followed Mikel closely, as he had bade me, but what thumps our sleighs would sometimes get on the now uneven ice of the river! Fortunately they were very strongly built.
We slept at a place called Songamuodka. In the morning it snowed, but the flakes were big and soft and melted as they fell on the old snow. I met no more herds of reindeer, but since I had left on my journey southward I had seen between sixty-five and seventy thousand of them.
Two days after I saw the church spire of Pajala, rested there, and on the 24th of May, as I was travelling on the Torne River, I passed once more the Arctic Circle. It was raining. I was told that it was the first rain that had fallen for over seven months.
Here I said good-bye to the good Mikel and thanked him cordially for the care he had taken of me.
I had now left the kingdom of the "Long Night," and the "Long Day" was to rule over the land through which we have travelled together.
Now, my dear Young Folks, Friend Paul has come back, as you bade him, and I hope you have enjoyed our travelling together in "The Land of the Long Night." Good-bye. Do not forget your Friend Paul, who loves you dearly, for once he was one of the Young Folks himself.
Paul Du Chaillu's Great Work
THE VIKING AGE
THE EARLY HISTORY, MANNERS, &
CUSTOMS OF THE ANCESTORS OF
THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING NATIONS
WITH 1400 ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAP
2 vols., 8vo, $7.50
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers
New York Tribune.
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"Mr. Du Chaillu is every whit as agreeable and entertaining as a student of history as he has long proved to be in the character of a traveller."
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"While in Germany and in Scandinavia itself books have been written upon the life of the ancient inhabitants of the North, no such comprehensive, popular work as this, with citations from the old literature and illustrations of all sorts of objects preserved from the ancient days, has yet appeared. It is, accordingly, an unused opportunity that the author of the work, with characteristic energy, has recognized and seized. The two volumes are filled to overflowing with curious and interesting facts concerning the people of the Scandinavian North, whose manners, social customs, and national life the more than thirteen hundred illustrations serve to bring up almost visibly before us. The book as a whole is a record of persistent and ingenious research, and of extraordinary literary zeal."
"M. Du Chaillu's book is full of valuable information respecting the manners and character of the ancient Norse people. It is, in fact, a perfect museum of Northern antiquities, covering the entire field of Scandinavian archæology. The extracts from the Sagas which are furnished must whet the appetite of students of Norse literature."
"Mr. Du Chaillu's monumental work, 'The Viking Age,' upon which the careful labor of over eight years has been expended, is one for which scholars will be profoundly grateful. It brings together from innumerable sources a vast amount of information, relative to the period covered, never before put in systematic form. The chapters on the mythology and cosmogony of the Norsemen, on the superstitions, slavery, graves, finds, weapons, occupations, feasts, warfare, etc., are intensely interesting. The text is accompanied by nearly fourteen hundred illustrations."
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers
153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York
IVAR THE VIKING
A ROMANTIC HISTORY, BASED
UPON AUTHENTIC FACTS OF THE
THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers
"'Ivar the Viking' is to be thoroughly recommended. The story is characteristically spirited, and the romantic part leaves nothing to be desired."
"It is full of vigor, and seems to bear internal evidence of truthfulness as regards its historic side. Ivar was a Viking whose adventures the juvenile reader, and particularly the boy juvenile, will follow with eager interest."
"Of the subsequent adventures of Ivar and his foster-brothers the interested reader must gain knowledge in the pages of the delightful narrative itself. Suffice it to say that there is no lack of romantic incident at any stage of the story. The prowess of the four Vikings is always potent; they fall in love; Ivar fights a duel, and then wins the loveliest of brides. There is throughout the volume the stimulating air which blows through the Sagas, the nipping salt air of the sea."
Richard Henry Stoddard.
"There is that in Mr. Paul Du Chaillu's 'Ivar the Viking' which not only satisfies the lover of romantic adventure, but carries the scholar back into the remotest period of Scandinavian history. Beyond all living writers this traveller in and explorer of many countries has collected the documents and discovered the secrets of the Norselands."
New York Times.
"The reader who has begun with a blank mind closes the volume with a tolerably clear impression of a very energetic, powerful, and wealthy young Viking, capable of strong affections and disaffections, foremost in games and fights requiring physical force, and with a vast number of habits and customs. It is a history that interests through its simplicity."
"For the splendor of the materials and the range and variety of the information imparted concerning the misty dawn of our Northern civilization, its religious ideas, its moral conceptions, and its social conditions, 'Ivar' will have high esteem among the growing number of students turning to the Northern folk-lore and chronicles for the true classic period of our modern races."
Philadelphia Public Ledger.
"He has rendered a double service, for not only does he instruct the reader in a most graphic and vivid manner, but he also develops a story of adventure and daring which will be followed with breathless interest."
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, Publishers
153-157 Fifth Avenue, New York