Norway – Rainbow in the spray of Rjukan Fos

Far, far down there below the bridge of the rainbow and the floating clouds of spray we can see the river just as Taylor saw it years ago, “shooting around the corner of a line of black cliffs,” ready for the awful plunge into space. The mist which rises almost to our faces, catching the sunlight in its net and separating it into bands of color, is made up of the million-trillion particles into which the liquid mass is broken by its crashing fall on ragged rocks away down below our feet. A rainbow like this very often spans the awful gorge with its line of beauty.

It is easy to understand, in a spot like this, where Nature seems so powerful and man seems so small. how the Norse people in old times naturally came to think of the great forces all around them as big, live Powers with imperious wills and uncertain tempers. The Power that manifested itself in Wind and Storm they took to be the All Father, Odin. (To this very time we call the fourth day of our own week Odin’s or Woden’s Day!) The flying clouds were warrior maidens, Amazons hurrying on supernatural errands. Over such a bridge as this radiant curve before us, by way of Bifrost, the rainbow road, the high gods descended from Asagaard, their home, to the earth of human homes.

Old-fashioned people in these country districts still have a more or less concealed belief in supernatural creatures haunting a lonely spot like this. Some of these creatures of superstition are small; there are, for instance, nisser (goblins), the size of a five-year old child, but with the figures and long beards of full-grown men. The trolls are, on the contrary, usually great, lumbering, awkward creatures with overgrown heads, amazingly strong, as befits a dweller on the vast mountains, but clumsy and rather stupid and generally bad tempered. A solitary journey over one of these heights here might open up exciting adventures with the Queer People, like those which befell Peer Gynt in Ibsen’s famous drama. For that matter, if one left the main highway, the simple dangers of falling rocks and slippery steeps would be enough to satisfy an ordinary man’s desire for strenuous traveling. They tell a sad story about a young man who had lived near here long ago and gone away to seek his fortune—after several years he came back to keep tryst with his waiting sweetheart, and as he was coming down by a short cut over the mountain-side he fell or else a rock avalanche overtook him ; at all events the damsel waited and waited, but the lover never saw the long-anticipated wedding day.

After making this excursion to the falls, we may return to position 18—the boat landing at Tinoset, where we saw the little steamer and the country neighbors. From Tinoset our proposed route takes us some twelve or fourteen miles southwest to a place which the map marks 23. At that point a few building make a little hamlet—not a large village ; some-way the country folk hereabouts do not often seem to care to have their houses near neighbors—it is the exact opposite of the custom of country people in England and Ireland.