Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wrote a letter on a dried fish, as she had no paper

The loaves and the ham were finished, and Gerda and the reindeer were in Lapland.

They stopped in front of a little hut. Its roof sloped down almost to the ground, and the door was so low that to get into the hut one had to creep on hands and knees. How the reindeer squeezed through I cannot tell, but there he was in the little hut, telling an old Lapp woman who was frying fish over a lamp, first his own story and then the sad story of Gerda and little Kay.

"Oh, you poor creatures," said the Lapp woman, "the Snow Queen is not in Lapland at present. She is hundreds of miles away at her palace in Finland. But I will give you a note to a Finn woman, and she will direct you better than I can." And the Lapp woman wrote a letter on a dried fish, as she had no paper.

Then, when Gerda had warmed herself by the lamp, the Lapp woman tied her on to the reindeer again, and they squeezed through the little door and were once more out in the wide world.

On and on they sped through the long night, while the blue northern lights flickered in the sky overhead, and the crisp snow crackled beneath their feet.

At last they reached Finland and knocked on the Finn woman's chimney, for she had no door at all. Then they squeezed down the chimney and found themselves in a very hot little room.

The old woman at once loosened Gerda's things, and took off her mittens and boots. Then she put ice on the reindeer's head. Now that her visitors were more comfortable she could look at the letter they brought. She read it three times and then put it in the fish-pot, for this old woman never wasted anything.

Suddenly they stopped before a little house, which looked very miserable. The roof reached to the ground; and the door was so low, that the family were obliged to creep upon their stomachs when they went in or out. Nobody was at home except an old Lapland woman, who was dressing fish by the light of an oil lamp. And the Reindeer told her the whole of Gerda's history, but first of all his own; for that seemed to him of much greater importance. Gerda was so chilled that she could not speak.

"Poor thing," said the Lapland woman, "you have far to run still. You have more than a hundred miles to go before you get to Finland; there the Snow Queen has her country-house, and burns blue lights every evening. I will give you a few words from me, which I will write on a dried haberdine, for paper I have none; this you can take with you to the Finland woman, and she will be able to give you more information than I can."

When Gerda had warmed herself, and had eaten and drunk, the Lapland woman wrote a few words on a dried haberdine, begged Gerda to take care of them, put her on the Reindeer, bound her fast, and away sprang the animal. "Ddsa! Ddsa!" was again heard in the air; the most charming blue lights burned the whole night in the sky, and at last they came to Finland. They knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman; for as to a door, she had none.

There was such a heat inside that the Finland woman herself went about almost naked. She was diminutive and dirty. She immediately loosened little Gerda's clothes, pulled off her thick gloves and boots; for otherwise the heat would have been too great--and after laying a piece of ice on the Reindeer's head, read what was written on the fish-skin. She read it three times: she then knew it by heart; so she put the fish into the cupboard--for it might very well be eaten, and she never threw anything away.

Hans Christian Andersen: Andersen's Fairy Tales

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy

But Eigil was impatient and struck his reindeer, that willing beast which flies like the wind and needs not the touch of a whip. It bounded forward in surprise, and knocked down one of the elves that stood in its path. But the hands of his brothers laid hold of the reins, and stopped the reindeer, and sang again,

The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy,
Lies under the earth;
Seek not without what we offer within,
Despise not the elves, small and dark though they be.
The best is within, do not seek it without:
The Finlander's world, the Finlander's joy,
Lies under the earth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The decent fare of some little wayside hostelry in Finland

The hotels in the country places, too, would be better. At present they exist on a system of monopolism and favouritism; it is quite beyond the ambitions of their managers to collect a clientele; most of these concerns are palpably run on the following principle: to keep the guest in such a state of chattering starvation, that he is ready to eat anything. How often have I yearned, in these "Grand Hotels"--they are all grand hotels--for the material comforts and the decent fare of some little wayside hostelry in Finland, or a rest-house in the jungle of Ceylon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The journey across Finland was a very pleasant one

The journey across Finland was a very pleasant one. Both were in high spirits. The cloud that had hung over Julian had been dispelled, and Frank's constant anxiety about him had been laid to rest. They had gone safely through the most wonderful campaign of modern times, and were now on their way home. Julian's supply of money was untouched save for the purchase of a variety of presents for his aunt. They travelled only by day. The carriage was constructed with all conveniences for sleeping in, and when, on their arrival at the end of their day's journey, they returned from a stroll down the town to an excellent dinner prepared by their servant, they had but to turn in for a comfortable night's rest in the vehicle. At Abo they found their baggage awaiting them.

"By Jove! Julian," Frank said laughing, as he looked at the great pile of trunks in the post-house, "one would think that you were carrying the whole contents of a household. Those modest tin cases comprise my share of that pile."

"It is tremendous!" Julian said almost ruefully. "I feel quite ashamed to turn up with such an amount of baggage. The first thing we must do, as soon as we get back, is to effect a division. I am afraid that my outside clothes will be of no use to you—they would require entire remaking; but all the other things will fit you as well as me. I do believe that there are enough to last me my life-time; and it will be downright charity to relieve me of some of them. You may imagine my stupefaction when I came back one day to the count's and found my room literally filled with clothes."

"I will help you a bit," Frank laughed. "The campaign has pretty well destroyed all my kit, and I shan't be too proud to fill up from your abundance."

They found that the servant who had preceded them with the baggage had already made all the arrangements for their crossing the gulf. The extreme cold had everywhere so completely frozen the sea that there was no difficulty in crossing, which, they learned, was not often the case. Three sledges had been engaged for their transport. The distance was about 120 miles; but it was broken by the islands of the Aland Archipelago, and upon one or other of these they could take refuge in the event of any sudden change of weather. They were to start at midnight, and would reach Bomarsund, on the main island of Aland, on the following evening, wait there for twenty-four hours to rest the animals, and would reach the mainland the next day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I saw the moon rise clear


I saw the moon rise clear
O'er hills and vales of snow
Nor told my fleet reindeer
The track I wished to go.
Yet quick he bounded forth;
For well my reindeer knew
I've but one path on earth--
The path which leads to you.

The gloom that winter cast,
How soon the heart forgets,
When summer brings, at last,
Her sun that never sets!
So dawned my love for you;
So, fixt thro' joy and pain,
Than summer sun more true,
'Twill never set again.