It almost takes one’s breath away to come suddenly to the dizzy edge of this high shelf ! It really seems as if there ought to be some railing, some protecting enclosure, besides these ragged guard stones, though their universal use along dangerous places does make the very sight of them a reminder to be cautious. They border the outer edge of the road all the way down as far as we can follow it with our eyes. That is the way one has to go to reach the village and the steamboat wharf down at our left. A direct descent from this cliff where we are now would be impossible for any horse. We shall presently be able to look back up here from the fjord, and see where we have been. We shall at the same time see more plainly that waterfall of which we now get just a glimpse over at the other side of the valley.
These girls have come from a sorter higher up on the mountain, to bring supplies for the hotel dining-room. The burden with which they started must have been pretty heavy, but the route was downward, not up, and they are used to hard work, and take it uncomplainingly. Very likely the butter and cheese served at Hotel Udsigt (Outlook House) may come in part from their dairy ; all Norwegian hotels serve cheese of various sorts.
Norwegian girls and women have been studied and pictured many times by authors of their own nationality, and the reader of novels and dramas has a chance to become well acquainted with a variety of feminine types, more or less admirable and lovable, as the case may be. Certainly the most celebrated Norse litterateurs cannot be accused of sentimentally glossing over the faults and failings of their countrywomen, but they have given to the world some heroines of wonderfully impressive dignity and sweetness and strength. Bjornson’s Synnove Solbakken is an idyllic picture of a rough, uncouth lad’s love, and how a shy, flaxen-haired girl made a man of him. Lie’s The Pilot and His Wife is an admirably fine study of how the de-voted slave of a jealous, moody husband learned to make him take a saner, more high-minded view of life, by herself standing simply and frankly on the ground of dignified truth-telling. Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People makes the daughter of the heroic and much vilified doctor understand her father, when almost everybody else is blinded by selfish stupidity, and, when the play ends, though his fight is not won, we know she is going to stand by him, fighting at his side.
We are to take our next position down on the fjord. Map 8 marks the spot. Be sure to look for the number 86 and make a mental note of how the red lines reach up landward.