Norway – Looking across Essefjord from Tjugum

Somewhere in this immediate vicinity tradition locates the immensely popular old romance of Frithiof and Ingeborg, retold many times (best of all by Esaias Tegner of Sweden, in his Frithiors Saga), after the original version in an old Norse Saga. Various localities have been fancifully identified as the place where the hero’s house stood—most people think it was nearly opposite here on the south side of the fjord, on a point where the map sets down the hamlet of Vangsnes ( Framnes) .

“Peaceful he heired, sole son to his father, and settled in Framnes. Far to the right and the left and behind his homestead ascended Hills and low valleys and rocks, but its fourth side fronted the ocean.”

Thousands of readers in many lands in different parts of the world have read that old story of fond lovers kept apart by family pride, of wild adventure, and sorrow, and wrongs revenged.

Those houses whose whitewashed walls and red roofs gleam so gaily from among the trees are the homes of rich Norwegians ; a number of city people have summer places in this vicinity, and hotels and boarding-houses along this part of the fjord are well patronized.

A good many muscular young Norsemen accumulate some welcome kroner during the summer by rowing tourists and summer boarders in boats like this or heavier craft. Can you see that these rowlocks are curiously different from ours? The oar is slipped through a stout loop of rope (sometimes it would be just a tough twisted rope of birch twigs), fastened to a single projecting pin. It does not encourage “feathering” one’s oars, but it answers every practical purpose of moving steadily and with reasonable speed. There are regularly fixed tariff rates for the hire of boats, somewhat similar to the schedule for stolkjaerres on land. Boats of different sizes and weights are classified according to the number of oars required. Each rorskarl (oarsman) usually handles two oars. If two men are required the boat is described as a firring (four-oared boat) ; if three men row, it is a sexring; sometimes a big boat on a windy day may need four men—that is an ottring.

Payment is according to the boat used and the number of men needed—not necessarily with strict regard to the number of passengers. The fees are very small.

Two men would row you a mile (almost two kilo-meters) for less than ten cents apiece.

Almost everybody living along the fjord here knows how to row. The men and boys learn to swim. The water is, however, too cold for sea bathing to be generally practised as a recreation, even if there were good beaches, as there are not. A good many old stories are still told of the splendid vigor and skill of the Vikings who lived in such places in earlier times. This sort of thing, for instance, is related as showing what they could do when they tried

“One day as Herraud and Bosi sailed near the land in a strong gale, a man standing on a rock asked to be allowed to go with them. Herraud said they could not go out of their course for him, but, if he could reach the boat, he might go with them. The man jumped from the rock and came down on the tiller; it was a leap of thirty feet.”*

People who live near the fjords naturally do a good deal of fishing. As one sails through in an excursion steamer, one sees again and again a tall triangle of weather-beaten timbers rising from the edge of the water, sometimes bare, sometimes hung with huge nets like a species of giant clothes-drier. A short walk southwest of our last position, a certain point is marked 63 on the map. It will be found directly on the shore of the main fjord. There we have a chance to examine the characteristic apparatus at our leisure.