Norway – Farmer’s field before terraced Tvindefos near Vossevangen

A fine new house stands only a few rods away ; this is an old farmhouse which has been here a long time. You see we have come once more into the region of sod-covered roofs, and tall hay-driers. Those tall poles leaning against the end of the house are such as the farmer used to construct the hay racks. The field over there on the distant slope looks from here like a patch of potatoes.

It is about three hundred feet the water descends from that precipice to the level of the highway. It is on its way to the fjord above Bergen.

Some of these children are here only for the summer vacation—two of them are wearing the pretty Norwegian peasant clothes—the others have nothing distinctive about their costume. Nowadays city children from Bergen and city children from England are dressed in nearly the same style. Norwegian and English children could play together very readily, so many popular games are common to the neighbor lands—”tag,” “blindman’s buff,” “puss-in-the-corner,” all have Norse equivalents, and other games, peculiar to Norway, can be easily learned. Indeed, little English folks know a great many stories which were originally written in Danish (or Norwegian—practically the same tongue). All the fascinating tales by Hans Christian Andersen circulated here before they were translated into English. The fairy stories of Moe and Asbjornsen were the de-light of Norwegian youngsters before ever a London publisher could bring them out in a British version. They are among the best fairy tales extant, quaint, picturesque, with intimate homely touches of domestic detail, such as make the Marchen of the German brothers Grimm beloved by children everywhere. The fantastic, the grotesque, the preposterously absurd, are all so interwoven with familiar, matter-of-fact details of everyday life, that none but the most drearily unimaginative child could help feeling a delicious thrill of reality in each tale as a whole. The Norse story of “Wooden Jacket” has a Cinderella sort of heroine. The Norse adventures of “Herr Peter” read like our own “Puss in Boots.”

Norse folk-stories over and over again have for their hero the youngest son of a family; sometimes the youth has several elder brothers, at all events, there are pretty sure to be two older youths, whose disagreeable faults set off the hero’s fine spirit and courage in a most effective way. Trolds, giants and goblins figure largely in the popular stories, and some-way they do not like to have their names pronounced by mortals. Over and over again one comes upon the tradition that the evil power of a trold is nullified if one can learn the uncanny creature’s name and cry it aloud. Just how it should be so, . . . but why inquire? Children themselves never do inquire !

A few miles northeast of the farmhouse and the waterfall leaping from stair to stair over the terraced cliffs, the road runs along near a little river with rocky banks. The red 54 on Map 7 near its lower margin, indicates a place where we shall linger a few minutes to see how farmers utilize small portions of the local water-power.