Monday, May 30, 2011

A lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect

Five or six years ago a lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in our Negro dialect, so that she could get an idea of what that variety of speech was like. I told her one of Hopkinson Smith's Negro stories, and gave her a copy of 'Harper's Monthly' containing it. She translated it for a Swedish newspaper, but by an oversight named me as the author of it instead of Smith. I was very sorry for that, because I got a good lashing in the Swedish press, which would have fallen to his share but for that mistake; for it was shown that Boccaccio had told that very story, in his curt and meagre fashion, five hundred years before Smith took hold of it and made a good and tellable thing out of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It is so windy and cold, and oh! so wretchedly dull.

And she was undoubtedly English, after all!

"Oh no," she declared in a low, musical voice, in response to a fear I had expressed, "I am not at all cold. This place is so charming, and so warm, to where my father and I have recently been--at Uleaborg, in Finland."

"At Uleaborg!" I echoed. "Why, that is away--out of the world--at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia!"

"Yes," she declared, with a light laugh. "It is so windy and cold, and oh! so wretchedly dull."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fear and terror along the coast of Finland

Now, turn to your atlases again and look for the large island of Gotland off the southeastern coast of Sweden, in the midst of the Baltic Sea. In the time of Olaf it was a thickly peopled and wealthy district, and the principal town, Wisby, at the northern end, was one of the busiest places in all Europe. To this attractive island the boy viking sailed with all his ships, looking for rich booty, but the Gotlanders met him with fair words and offered him so great a "scatt," or tribute, that he agreed not to molest them, and rested at the island, an unwelcome guest, through all the long winter. Early in the spring he sailed eastward to the Gulf of Riga and spread fear and terror along the coast of Finland. And the old saga tells how the Finlanders "conjured up in the night, by their witchcraft, a dreadful storm and bad weather; but the king ordered all the anchors to be weighed and sail hoisted, and beat off all night to the outside of the land. So the king's luck prevailed more than the Finlander's witchcraft."

The Junior Classics — Volume 7 Stories of Courage and Heroism