Britiske Emily Lowe’s skildring av Hallingdal fra 1857

 

loweFra «Unprotected females in Norway, or The pleasantest way of travelling there, passing through Denmark and Sweden» Av Emily Lowe, London : Routledge, 1857

«Remember Haga! It is a straggling, showy
station, but the accommodation consists of one
bed aud a table. There is no mistress; a doll
aged fourteen, dressed as an Indian idol,
receives the unlucky wights who are unable to
proceed further, and, if you be ladies, will as a
favour allow you a room; but when you have
managed to traverse the awful floor to get to
it, barricade yourself well in, or the first vision
in the morning will be the farmers coming to
a large cupboard in the corner, where all the
crockery they possess is kept; and I suppose
they had never found travellers object to their
presence before, for they made a dreadful row
at our fastened door, thinking some one must
be ill, or committing suicide at least, to justify
so unaccountable a proceeding.

“Indian doll” had been the evening before
very willing to do all she could with nothing,
and waddled about in search of something; for
only fancy—there was no cream to be had!
That failing, Norway becomes a desert: one
must indeed be a horse to eat porridge without
either it or milk; Dr. Johnson was not very
far wrong there; and I must confess, with all
our spirits, to feeling depressed, and hardly
having strength to discover a piece of dry
bacon hanging in a corner. Teaching the Idol
to cook it was another effort, besides grilling
our faces—she was going to put it whole into
the pan. Knives and forks were unknown,
except a rusty two-pronged, not worth hunting
for. Dirty wooden spoons and plates were
alone to be had ad lib. When a later set of
travellers arrived, their dismay was most ludi-
crous at being shown the table as “beds for
four,” and would have rushed away instantly
had this not been a slow station, and they
would have to wait several hours, so they
might as well doze till five in the morning.

Two wrapped themselves up in their cloaks,
and lay like Trappist monks on the table;
the two others, taking each a truss of hay, sent
themselves to sleep by addressing the Idol in
those strains which eastern votaries are said to
use when some prayer has not been granted,
and which must fortunately have been quite
Hindostance to her. They did one sensible
thing, which was to take each a glass of self-
provided warm beverage. Every traveller ought
to have a small flask of some spirit of the best
quality with him; tea after great fatigue will
often keep away sleep, and the other mixture
is more soothing. As glasses are oniy to be
found in the best-appointed houses, and the
great Norske drinking-beakers require exertion
and hot water to cleanse them, in this case
one’s own little travelling cup modestly pledges
its usefulness.

Two or three wayfarers came in, and lay
down in the hall or kitchen for the night,
neither the Idol nor anybody taking the least
notice of their proceedings; they had first shared
the labourers’ porridge, eaten, as in all other
parts of the country, from one large wooden
bowl, into which each dipped his spoon in turn,
then into the sour milk.
The reader will perceive that two people tra-
velling together have so far been able to get
accommodation of some kind or other, but any
beyond that number fare very badly, therefore
two are quite enough to go together. Off the
most frequented tracts, in all probability, if
there be a third person, they will have to wait
upon him; and whatever amount of preserved
meats may be taken, the travellers must dress
them themselves, even at the best stations,
where their nature is not understood in the
least.

Another party had brought some Bologna sausages,
which did not keep well: they
presented them to the peasants, who could
hardly believe in such luck. The best are to be
had in London. Tongue or ham, taken from
the last Norwegian town, soon gets musty by
knocking about all day, and the traveller who
wishes to live well must look to his rod and his
gun; on this road they will never fail to pro-
vide splendidly for him. Both the Helm and
Halling rivers have still as good fish as ever
were deceived by a bright fly yet, while the
Borgund sportsmen answer for the pheasants
and woodcocks. The people will fry your fish
and burn your game to cinders, and if you are
at all particular about what they are dressed
in, at some stations examine the saucepans
yourself; also, if you care about having the
potatoes at the same time, dig them up before
putting the other things on the fire. Knowing
there is all this to do, arrive before your strength
is exhausted.

O Haga! how dreadfully you displayed
the two great vices of Norwegian character,
indolence and dirt! May no one who is not
travelling for the statistics of these, ever
visit the Idol who presides amid such Lares
and Penates. Take up the post-book, and so
arrange your route as to leave your horse alone
to repose there, and gallop quickly off with the
fresh one. The Idol and her father showed,
however, that they had some refinement about
them, by politely charging us much less than
the gentlemen; and what was our surprise and
their disgust at finding that such had been the
case at all the stations where we had stopped,
and they had worse accommodation into the
bargain! Fancy gallantry being carried to such
a point, almost to chivalry, which it actually
attained at some places, where we were charged
nothing ! —but then the gentlemen could not
complain; for, if we paid nothing, they only
paid next to nothing. Bravo, good old Nor-
way !—long may the civilized plan of imposing
upon women be incomprehensible to you, and
instead of “Children half-price,” take for your
motto “ Ladies half-price! “ We had still further proofs of
their gallantry by their always despatcliing us in advance,
and we saw quite a row at one of the stations through the
postmaster insisting upon giving us, without
our suggestion, a horse which arrived the first.
Haga! though you are a dirty den, you contain
no thieves.

The stations to come being all slow, we wrote
a number of Forbud papers, and gave them to
the peasant accompanying the other travellers
(who had rolled off their talile verv early in the
morning), and let them have the start. This
plan answers much better than sending a mes-
senger express, unless you are in a hurry, in
which case either send or see the man off the
evening before, else you will soon overtake
your own messenger on the road.

The next station, “Noes,” was a complete
contrast to the last; a beautiful country-house,
standing in a real flower-garden, which took
us quite by surprise, for we had seen nothing
like it since leaving Bergen. Good coffee was
soon ready, and did away with all the former
evening’s melancholy recollections. This would
have been our last night’s resting-place but
for an accident which happened to a tra-
veller’s carriole going the same way. He had
the only vicious horse I ever saw in Norway,
which, immediately it was fastened to the
vehicle, set off full gallop, was recaught, and
the gentleman declining to wait till it was
exchanged, it began making itself extremely
disagreeable ; his driver having no idea of
liumouring the animal, it suddenly made a
desperate bolt, and, twisting round at the
same time, wrenched off both shafts, nearly
pitching the owner over its head. The peasant
rushed to his horse, and caught him after a
long chase; repaired the shafts with ropes, and,
entering the carriole himself, drove him at a
furious rate to the next posthouse, offering the
gentleman, when he came up, to have the
gentleman, when he came up, to have the
shafts repaired at his own expense, which
offer was accepted, and the village blacksmith
summoned. He set about the work in a very
pompous manner (as he was an influential man
in the place), with instruments of the most
ancient and heavy make, putting bands of iron
from the shafts to the body, and fastening
them with large nails—the work, when com-
plete, displaying the finest specimen of solid
clumsiness. When the owner returned to
Christiania, he found this accident was the
cause of his disposing of his carriole at a great
loss; so those who purchase must take these
contingencies into consideration. Another tra-
veller was detained on the road a long time,
as there was no blacksmith near where he
had an accident ; while those who do not
take their own conveyance have only to jump
into another and drive on. The whole length
of this road we found the little spring-ears
everywhere, and also carrioles, but always pre-
ferred the former as much less fatiguing, upon
further experience.

We had now parted from Captain Finne’s
scientific causeways, and were on a flue spe-
cimen of good old national ones, composed of a
series of “montagues russes,” the ponies rush
ing down with the greatest velocity, that the
impetus might get them up the next rise, the
thin twine bridles placed in the traveller’s hand
out of politeness, being as effectual as darning-
cotton for any pulling-up purposes.

However perverse roads may be, they must
still lead to an end, like our path in life;
and now Hemsedal was among the past, and
Hallingdal the present, its sweet river spread-
ing into a calm lake, which brought down
heaven to earth by reflecting the spotless sky.
The stations suddenly changed from the most
wretched to the most comfortable Norwegian
style, and cleanliness—yes, cleanliness — showed
her fresh-washed face. She first made her ap-
pearance at a little place called “Trustam,”
and we were so delighted at seeing her again,
that, the river now narrowing to fishing dimen-
sions, we cast our anchor ashore, and our lines
into the stream, soon hooking enough for our-
selves and the whole household, for once letting
it be cooked without qualms. This rest made
us an hour later at the next station, and as our
Forbud papers were faithfully delivered, the
peasant with his car and horse had been wait-
ing some time. The law does not allow them
anything extra for delay, unless they are kept
three hours; but as that is harsh and unrea-
sonable, we gave some extra skillings “dryke-
penge” to the man, and he seemed, in consequence,
to think us angels of equity. Fancy
compounding for an hour with an ostler in
England for 3+d.! This shows what the Nor-
wegians in unfrequented places will be con-
tented and pleased with.

On entering the station-yard at Gulsvig in
fine style, we were quite surprised at being
saluted by the raised hats of the early tra-
vellers, whom, with their special “ Forbud,” we
had supposed far beyond. It seems they did
not themselves see the messenger off in the
first instance. He had not started overnight,
but very early in the morning instead, and
been able all day to keep sufficiently ahead till
reaching this spot, where the horses had to be
sought seven miles off. As their peasant car-
ried our papers, we were also in the same
predicament, and ran about the house in
ecstasy at its cleanliness and neatness. The
juniper, with which it was entirely strewed,
shed a sweet odour beneath our steps, as if
grateful, being there ready, at having its quali-
ties drawn out. Solid wooden chests and cur-
tained beds surrounded the rooms, and on
peeping into the loft, I saw the winter sledge,
profusely gilt, lying in state on the hay.

All this elegance, I may say, next door to the ex-
trenic of roughness, was most unaccountable;
and, though the vale was rich and fertile, we had
passed through many such, without seeing any
of their richness influence interiors ; but the
whole of this Hailing district, and even the wild
adjacent country into which we next branched
off, combine the charms of Norwegian pecu-
liarity and rural comfort. I should fancy it
was the pleasantest part a traveller could pos-
sibly fix on to stay some time fishing and
shooting. So remember, cleanliness begins at
Trustam crescendos at Gulsvig, and has its
forte all over the valley of Halling.

The people are as quaint as possible. A
Norske book says : —“ Among the Norwegian
mountaineers none exhibitit a truer picture of
the grand and terrible nature which surrounds
them than the race which inhabit the valley
of Hallingdal. They are quick, intelligent,
robust, and agile. The violent jumps and leaps
which distinguish their national dance are so
famous over the whole country, that these
dances have got the general name of ‘Hailing,’
the name also of the music that accompanies
them. The lively airs (Slot) express in the most
perfect manner the agility, boldness, and sin-
gularity of the dance, aud never fail to exercise
a powerful charm on all those who are ac-
quainted with them. You feel yourself, as it
were, raised from the floor, and wish, like the
practised Hailing dancer, to touch the rafters
of the ceiling with your toes. The dancer
jumps up light as a feather, turns round in the
air, and descends again standing on one leg;
on the floor lie curves also, resting on one
heel, whilst his jacket describes a circle round
him like a bell; then he makes a jump to the
opposite side of the room, and goes on as before.

These mountaineers are used to hardships of
every kind. You may see them in the severest
frost, with their hairy breast bare and full of
icicles. But they are also, when excited, fierce
and savage. That kind of single combat so
common among the Norwegians of old, called
‘Baeltespraetting,’ has been customary in Hal-
lingdal until a very late period. Fastened to
each other by their belts, the two combatants
stabbed each other with their short knives,
sometimes continuing the fight until both
dropped down dead. At their Christmas
banquets (Julelag) these fights were very com-
mon, and the wives seldom went to the feast
without being provided with linen to bind up
the wounds of their husbands, in case of their
taking part in the fight. Although it is now
some years since these combats have gone out
of fashion, the knife of the Hailing peasant is
still sometimes ‘loose in its sheath.’” That
it literally is, for the peasant who drove us
let his slip out during the transit, and next
to the loss of a verv dear wife or children,
that of a knife is the greatest trial to a Norske
peasant, and he went off at a tremendous pace
to try to find it.

Our hostess’s daughter now came in, bearing
a bowl of cream, and was immediately made to
halt before putting it down, while we secured
her attitude and figure; the headpiece being of
remarkably novel construction, and well suited
to the occupation of her sisters, reaping in the
sun. Their Lubins were equally picturesque,
in white shirts ornamented with a variety of
silver chains, and iiiexpressibles gathered high
up with one large brooch.

The fat of the land was spread before us;
fish, melted butter, potatoes, coffee, and sweet
brown bread, which we thought a delicious
finish, when as dessert what should come in
but a joint of cold meat ! Thus, traveller,
you may know what to expect in Hailing-
dal. We felt jolly—actually jolly—over a
Norske meal! and when at length we left off,
and went into the kitchen to congratulate the
inestimable Kone, our dismay was great at
finding her in tears. The daughter maliciously
told us we ought to console her, being the cause
of them; for the kind soul had not only marched
the gentlemen out of the pretty little parlour,
that we might eat in quiet, but carried her
feminine tenderness so fir as to help us first,
while they were taken up with smoking and
grumbling; and when they saw even the coffee
carried out, disregarding her prejudices about
ladies first, one jumped up with such menacing
gestures, that, though she could not understand
a word he said, she sat down and wept, taking
a bitter lesson in civilized politeness. The same
prejudice seemed to run through the family, for
we had hardly kissed away the last tear off her
clean ruddy cheeks, when a single horse arriving,
her son ordered it to be for the ladies’ service, and
we drove off, leaving them to the mercy of such
countenances that no picture of any “coming
storm” has yet expressed. O you who wish
to travel in a hurry, pray keep away from
Norway, and let others who are not in a hurry
have one corner in Europe where they can
linger about, and make friends of the people.
The whole cost of this bountiful meal was less
than some of the scant ones, only two marks.

The road for some time had been beautifully
fringed with trees, which gradually thickened
into a wood, merely allowing occasional glimpses
of sky above, and the water below which told
of evening, for it reflected rose colour. By
the time we reached the next station, the
twilight only let softened outlines be visible
in the slightly frosty air; and as our horse
had not yet been caught, we sat chatting
and sipping Norske negus with the peasants,
who were assembled round a blazing fire, till
one jumped up and gave a specimen of the
national dance, proving by his agility the com-
plete truth of his countryman’s description
before quoted; and who would mention the
most aërial of jigs after seeing the “Hailing,”
which would be slow as tolling-bell compared
to the start of a galvanic battery, for it electri-
fied the whole circle, who each got tip their own
peculiar “ spring” in various parts of the hall,
to their own particular tune, amalgamating the
whole in one rand round in which we merrily
joined the other peasant ladies, dancing for
joy at being again in the land of cleanliness?
Mind, I will not answer for the effect of this
district upon any one coming straight from the
precisest part of England or Holland, but will
back it against anything in Scotland, Germany,
or Tyrol, and after the other parts of Norway,
it seemed just to have returned from a bath.

The peasants are as good fellows as elsewhere,
not having any of their simplicity washed off.
The dancing ring was broken by the sound
of wheels, made by arriving carrioles. On
going to the open door we saw the full
moon had risen, and was presiding over one
of the loveliest of lovely northern nights.
Why not continue on yet a stage this even-
ing, as other travellers are going the same
way? a moonlight cavalcade would be charm-
ing, and was quickly seconded by the peasants,
who willingly left their fire and dances to
mount one behind each carriole; and drove us
off wrapped up in fox-skins, with a large bear
overall, not even leaving a hole to put out a
hand, to give a double shake all round to those
remaining behind, whose hearty chorus of
“Farvel!” made even that word sound cheer
fully through the air. Yet there is something
inexpressibly solemn in spending a few hour
in feelings of kindest and spontaneous friend-
ship with a circle of human beings, then know –
ing the next meeting must, and can only be,
before that throne where the white-robed are
“harping with their harps.”

Transkripsjon ved Olav Sataslåtten

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