The Land of the Long Night
Land of the Long Night
Paul Du Chaillu
Author of "The Viking Age," "Ivar the Viking," "The Land of the Midnight Sun," "Exploration in Equatorial Africa," etc.
Illustrated by M. J. Burns
New York Charles Scribner's Sons 1901
Copyright, 1899, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
University Press: JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.
EX-CHIEF JUSTICE CHARLES P. DALY
As I write this dedication, dear Judge Daly, a flood of recollections comes over me of unbroken friendship and great kindness on your part and that of your wife, whose memory I venerate and cherish. This friendship has never faltered for a moment, but has grown stronger and stronger as the years have rolled by. Fortunate is the man who wins for himself two such friends! I have never ceased to remember the warm interest you and your noble-hearted wife took from the first in my explorations in Africa. I can only give you in return love and devotion for all the kindness I have experienced at your hands.
Your devoted friend,
PAUL DU CHAILLU.
September 1, 1899.
MY DEAR YOUNG FOLKS:
Friend Paul has led many of you into the great Equatorial Forest of Africa. We met there many strange and wild tribes of men, and lived among cannibals and dwarfs or pygmies. We hunted together, and killed many elephants, fierce gorillas, leopards, huge crocodiles, hippopotami, buffalos, antelopes, strange-looking monkeys, wonderful chimpanzees of different varieties,—some of them white, others yellow or black,—and many other kinds of animals.
In this book I am going to take you to a very different part of the world. I am going to lead you towards the far North, to "The Land of the Long Night,"—a land where during a part of the year the sun is not seen, for it does not rise above the horizon, and in some parts of the country does not show itself for sixty-seven days, during which time the moon, stars, and the aurora borealis take its place.
"The Land of the Long Night" is a land of darkness, of snow, of wind, and at times of intense cold; and we shall have a long journey before us, and shall have to change horses and vehicles at many post stations, and at those places we shall get meals and lodgings.
When once in "The Land of the Long Night," we shall roam far and wide—east, west, north—over a vast trackless region, covered with deep snow, drawn by reindeer instead of horses, and sometimes we shall walk or run with skees, which are the snowshoes of that country, and very unlike those used by our Indians.
We shall sleep on the snow in bags made of reindeer skins, follow the nomadic Laplander and his reindeer, live with him and sleep in his kata or tent. We shall hunt wolves, bears, and different kinds of foxes and other animals, and sail and fish on the stormy Arctic seas.
We shall have plenty of fun, in spite of the snow, the terrific wind, and the cold we shall encounter; and, thanks to the houses of refuge which we shall find in our times of peril, we shall not perish in these Arctic regions. But woe to the man who wanders in that far northern land without a guide or without knowing where these houses or farms of refuge are to be found, for he will surely succumb in some one of the storms that are certain to overtake him.
We shall cross the Swedish and Norwegian mountains of the far North, which rise to a height of several thousand feet, and come to the desolate shores of the Arctic Ocean, and there live among the people.
In a sunny room at the Marlborough in Broadway I have written this book. It is a dear little room, made bright at night with electric lights, and full of delightful reminiscences of cheerful evenings with friends, all kinds of knick-knacks, tin horns, "booby" prizes, mugs, etc.,—souvenirs of frolics at which I have had fine times. My two windows look out on the roof of a church; it is all I can see; the noise of a wheel never reaches my ears. It is an ideal room to write books in.
I am surrounded by pictures of boys and girls, and many older friends; they look down upon me and cheer me, and when I write they all seem to say, "Go on, Paul," and at other times, they cry, "Stop, Paul, you have written enough to-day; go and take a walk, go and see people and life, dine with friends; you will work much better to-morrow. 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' We shall be here to welcome you when you come back."
How good it is to have friends, no matter how humble some of them are. I love them all. No one ever has too many friends, and life without them is not worth having.
Now, as I am ready to lay down my pen, I draw a long breath—"The Land of the Long Night" is ready for the printer. I am just thinking: all my books have been published in New York, and all but two have been written, in the dear old city.
PAUL DU CHAILLU.
I. On the Way to "The Land of the Long Night."—Homesick.—Tempted to Return.—Girls and Boys Say "No; Go on, Go on, Paul."—Decide to Continue my Journey.—Winter Coming On.—Don Warmer Clothing.—From Stockholm North. 1
II. Snow Land.—A Great Snowstorm.—Fearful Roads.—Snow-ploughs.—Losing the Way.—Intelligence of the Horses.—Upset in the Snow.—Difficulty of Righting Ourselves.—Perspiring at 23 Degrees below Zero.—Houses Buried in the Snow. 9
III. Halt at a Farmhouse.—Made Welcome.—A Strange-looking Interior.—Queer Beds.—Snowed In.—Exit through the Chimney.—Clearing Paths.—I Resume my Journey.—Reach Haparanda. 17
IV. Good Advice from the People of Haparanda.—Warned against Still Colder Weather.—Different Costume Needed.—Dressed as a Laplander.—Lapp Grass for Feet Protection. 29
V. What the Arctic Circle is.—Description of the Phenomenon of the Long Night.—Reasons for its Existence.—The Ecliptic and the Equinoxes.—Length of the Long Night at Different Places. 36
VI. Fine Weather Leaving Haparanda.—Windstorms succeed.—A Finlander's Farm.—Strange Fireplace.—Interior of a Cow-House.—Queer Food for Cattle.—Passing the Arctic Circle. 40
VII. Skees, or the Queer Snowshoes of the North.—How They Are Made.—Learning to Use Them.—Joseff's Instructions.—Hard Work at First.—Going Down Hill.—I Bid Joseff Good-bye. 48
VIII. A Primitive Steam Bath House.—How the Bath was Prepared.—What are the Twigs for?—I Ascertain.—Rolling in the Snow.—Fine Effect of the Bath. 56
IX. How the Laps and Finns Travel.—Strange-looking Sleighs.—Different Varieties.—Lassoing Reindeer.—Description of the Reindeer. 60
X. Harnessing Reindeer.—The First Lessons in Driving.—Constantly Upset at First.—Going Down Hill with Reindeer.—Thrown Out at the Bottom.—Queer Noise Made by Reindeer Hoofs. 66
XI. The Last Days of the Sun.—Beginning of the Long Night.—A Mighty Wall of Ice.—The Long Night's Warning Voice—The Aurora Borealis and its Magnificence. 73
XII. The Snow Getting Deeper.—Lapp Hospitality.—A Lapp Repast.—Coffee and Tobacco Lapp Staples.—Babies in Strange Cradles.—How the Tents are Made.—Going to Sleep with the Mercury at 39 deg. Below. 77
XIII. Toilet with Snow.—A Lapp Breakfast.—Lapp Dogs. Talks with my Lapp Friend about the Reindeer.—Their Habits and Various Forms of Usefulness. 89
XIV. Moving Camp.—Another Great Blizzard.—A Remarkable Sight—Deer Getting their Food by Digging the Snow.—How Reindeer are Butchered. 99
XV. Watching for the Reappearance of the Sun.—The Upper Rim First Visible.—The Whole Orb Seen from a Hill.—Days of Sunshine Ahead. 109
XVI. Wolves the Great Foe of the Lapps.—How the Reindeer are Protected against Them.—Watching for the Treacherous Brutes.—Stories of their Sagacity. 112
XVII. In Search of Wolves.—A Large Pack.—They Hold a Consultation.—Their Fierce Attack on the Reindeer.—Pursuing Them on Skees.—Killing the Chief of the Pack. 122
XVIII. Great Skill of the Lapps with Their Skees.—Leaping over Wide Gullies and Rivers.—Prodigious Length of Their Leaps.—Accuracy of Their Coasting.—I Start Them by Waving the American Flag. 129
XIX. We Encounter More Wolves.—My Guide Kills Two with his Bludgeon.—A Visiting Trip with a Lapp Family.—Extraordinary Speed of Reindeer.—We Strike a Boulder.—Lake Givijaervi.—Eastward Again. 136
XX. The Lapp Hamlet of Kautokeino.—A Bath in a Big Iron Pot.—An Arctic Way of Washing Clothes.—Dress and Ornaments of the Lapps.—Appearance and Height of the Lapps.—Givijaervi.—Karasjok. 142
XXI. Leave Karasjok still Travelling Northward.—The River Tana.—River Lapps.—Filthy Dwellings.—On the Way to Nordkyn.—The Most Northern Land in Europe. 150
XXII. Leave Nordkyn.—Frantic Efforts of the Reindeer to Keep their Footing on the Ice.—The Bear's Night.—Foxes and Ermines.—Weird Cries of Foxes.—Building Snow Houses.—Shooting-boxes.—Killing Foxes.—Traps for Ermines.—A Snow Owl. 155
XXIII. Jakob Talks to Me about Bears.—The Bear's Night.—Watching a Bear Seeking for Winter Quarters.—They Are Very Suspicious.—I Tell a Bear Story in my Turn. 165
XXIV. Preparations for Crossing the Mountains to the Arctic Ocean.—Decide to Take the Trail to the Ulf Fjord.—Houses of Refuge.—A Series of Terrific Windstorms in the Mountains.—Lost.—Gloomy Reflections.—A Happy Reunion. 170
XXV. A Dangerous Descent.—How to Descend the Mountains.—The Most Perilous Portion of the Journey.—Exhaustion of the Reindeer.—All Safe at the Bottom.—Arrival at the Shore of the Arctic Sea. 183
XXVI. Sail on the Arctic Ocean.—The Brig Ragnild.—AEgir and Ran, the God and Goddess of the Sea.—The Nine Daughters of AEgir and Ran.—Great Storms.—Compelled to Heave To. 190
XXVII. A Dark Night at Sea.—Wake of the Ragnild.—Thousands of Phosphorescent Lights.—A Light Ahead.—An Arctic Fair.—A Fishing Settlement.—How the Cod are Cured.—Fish and Fertilizer Fragrance. 199
XXVIII. Among the Fishermen.—Their Lodgings and How They Look.—What They Have to Eat.—An Evening of Talk about Cod, Salmon, and Herring.—The Immense Number of Fish.—A Snoring Match. 205
XXIX. Departure for the Fishing Banks.—Great Number of Boats.—More than Five Thousand Oars Fall into the Water at the Same Time.—Quantities of Buoys and Glass Balls.—A Notable Catch of Cod. 211
XXX. A Great Viking Sea Fight.—Svein King of Denmark, Olaf King of Sweden, Erik Jarl of Norway, against King Olaf Tryggvasson of Norway.—They Lie in Ambush.—Magnificent Ships.—The Long Serpent.—Ready for the Fight.—The Attack.—The Jarn Bardi.—Defeat of Olaf Tryggvasson. 219
XXXI. Sailing along the Coast of Finmarken.—Hammerfest, the Most Northern Town in the World.—Schools.—Fruholmen, the Most Northern Lighthouse in the World.—Among the Sea Lapps.—Men and Women Sailors. 227
XXXII. A Sea Lapp Hamlet.—Strange Houses.—Their Interiors.—Summer Dress of the Sea Lapps.—Primitive Wooden Cart.—Animals Eat Raw Fish.—I Sleep in a Sea Lapp's House.—They Tell Me to Hurry Southward. 232
XXXIII. Comparison of Finmarken with Alaska.—The Two Lands Much Alike.—What Must be Done for Alaska.—Colonization.—Importation of Reindeer.—Protection of Fisheries.—Houses of Refuge. 241
XXXIV. Preparation to Leave the Arctic Coast.—Great Danger of Encountering Melting Snow, or Rivers Made Dangerous by the Ice Breaking.—Reindeer Come.—Farewell to the Sea Lapps.—I Leave for More Southern Land. 244
XXXV. We Enter a Birch Forest.—The Reindeer are Soon Fagged.—Sleep on the Snow.—The Rays of the Sun Melt through the Snow.—Great difficulty in Travelling.—Meet Herds of Reindeer.—Reindeer Bulls Fight Each Other. 249
XXXVI. Variable Weather.—Snowy Days.—An Uninhabited House of Refuge.—Animals Changing the Color of their Fur.—Mikel Tells Me about a Bear.—Killing the Bear.—Hurrying on over Soft Snow and Frozen Rivers.—The Ice Begins to Break.—Pass the Arctic Circle. 256
List of Illustrations
"Your friend, Paul Du Chaillu." Frontispiece
"On the road were many snow-ploughs at work levelling the snow." 8
"The husband suddenly disappeared through the trap-door and soon came back with potatoes and a big piece of bacon." 20
"The boys got hold of my hands and pulled me through." 24
"It was, indeed, a fearful wind storm." 40
"Paulus, try again!" 54
"The man had to use all his strength." 64
"I was shot out of the sleigh." 68
"At noon I saw the sun's lower rim touching the horizon." 72
"What a strange abode these nomadic Lapps have!" 80
"I went outside the tent with my host." 92
"They were really working hard for their living." 104
"The Lapp passed him like a flash and gave him a terrible blow." 124
"It was a fight for life!" 128
"Suddenly I saw them fly through the air." 132
"I advanced cautiously." 160
"The mist was so thick that I could not see ahead." 172
"We remained seated on the ground, back to back." 180
"Once in a while I gave a look towards the ugly precipice." 184
"I am clad in the garb of a fisherman." 190
"I saw a big towering wave rolling towards the stern of the ship." 194
"It is hard work to haul in the nets." 212
"We sailed towards North Cape." 228
"He sat on his haunches and looked at us, uttering a tremendous growl." 262
The Land of the Long Night
ON THE WAY TO "THE LAND OF THE LONG NIGHT."—HOMESICK.—TEMPTED TO RETURN.—GIRLS AND BOYS SAY "NO; GO ON, GO ON, PAUL."—DECIDE TO CONTINUE MY JOURNEY.—WINTER COMING ON.—DON WARMER CLOTHING.—FROM STOCKHOLM NORTH.
At the time when this narrative begins I was travelling on the highroad that skirts the southern coast of Sweden, then turns northward and follows the shores of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. I had reached that part of the highway overlooking the narrow part of the Sound which separates Sweden from Denmark, and had just left the pretty little city of Helsingborg, and was looking at the hundreds of vessels and steamers which were moving towards the Baltic or coming out of that sea. It was a most beautiful sight.
I intended to follow the road as far north as it went, and enter "The Land of the Long Night" when the sun was below the horizon for many weeks. I had plenty of time to spare, for it was the beginning of October.
On that day my horse was trotting at the usual gait of post-horses, going at the rate of six or seven miles an hour. He knew every stone, ditch, bridge, and house on the road, for many and many a time the dear old animal had made this journey to and fro, often twice each way in a day. He had been a post-horse for over twelve years.
His master, my driver, was very kind to him. He always alighted when there was a hill to ascend, and walked by his side, gently urging him to go on. When the top of the hill was reached, he stopped to give the animal time to take breath; then, before starting again, he would give him a piece or two of black bread, sometimes a potato, which he had put in his pocket before leaving. The people of Scandinavia are always kind to their dumb animals. Believe me, dear young folks, there is something mean and cowardly about a man who is not kind to dumb creatures. Do not have him for a friend!
As I looked at the ships sailing from the Baltic, a sudden yearning to go home took hold of me, and I forgot all about "The Land of the Long Night." I thought of all my dear friends, of all the school girls and boys whom I knew, and I wanted to see them ever so much, even if it might be only for a day. It would have made me so happy to look upon their faces once more. Sometimes one feels very lonely when away from home, and that day I could not help it. I thought of dear Jeannie, of sweet Gertrude, and Hilda, of Marie, of Pauline, of Helen, of Laura, of Blanche, of Julia, of Melissa, of Rowena, of Beatrice, of Alice, of Maude, of Ethel, of Evelyn, of Louise, of Iphigenia, and others that were also dear to me. Then I thought of Charles, of Arthur, of William, of Louis, of John, of Robert, of Frank, of George, of Anson, of Mortimer, of Eddy, of Fred, and of many others.
Many of the girls and boys call me either "Paul," "Friend Paul," or "Uncle Paul;" some of the girls call me "Cousin Paul." These are my chums, and it is lovely to have chums! I thought of the fun and good times I had had with all of them; and I felt on that day that I loved them more than ever as the great ocean separated us.
I thought of all the young folks whom I had talked to in the public or private schools in many of the States,—for if there is a thing Friend Paul likes, it is to talk to the young folks at school. As I thought of this, it seemed as if I could see them listening to me.
I suddenly became very homesick. I said to myself: "I will go to America and see my dear friends, and then return to go to 'The Land of the Long Night.'" I could cross the Sound, go to Copenhagen,—the city was almost in sight, and a nice city it is,—and take one of the comfortable steamers of the Thingvalla Line, now called Scandinavian-American Line, for New York.
As I was thinking of this, it suddenly seemed to me that I heard voices coming across the Atlantic,—voices from friends, from school girls and boys, calling: "Friend Paul, go on, go on to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, and then come and tell us how it is there. Be of good cheer; no harm will befall you; you will be all right."
Friend Paul cheered up when in imagination he had heard the voices of his young friends urging him to go on, and he answered back: "Girls and boys, you are right. I am going to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, and on my return I will tell you all that I have seen there."
The dear old horse did not know what I was thinking, and was trotting along—until suddenly he made a sharp turn and entered the post station, the end of his journey. There I changed horse and vehicle, took some refreshment, and started again. During the afternoon, I came to the town of Landskrona. There, looking towards the Sound, I saw a steamer of the Thingvalla Line gliding over the sea on its way to New York, and I said aloud, "Steamer, you are not going to take me home this time. I am going to 'The Land of the Long Night' first, to the land of snow and of gales, the land of the bear, of the wolf, of the fox, and of the ermine. Good-bye, good-bye, dear steamer! I hope you will have a successful passage, and also that you have on board many Scandinavians going to our shores to make their home with us."
I thought I again heard the same voices as before cry in response, "Good for you, Paul, good for you!"
I felt now that I was a different man. It was as if I had actually heard the voices of the dear young people encouraging me to go forward. I suddenly became very restless and full of energy. I wanted my horse to go faster. The young folks wished me to go to "The Land of the Long Night." To that country I should go.
From that day I was ready for any amount of hardships, of bumping and knocking about in sleighs. I did not care if my ears and nose were frozen. All I wanted was to go ahead as fast as I could until I reached "The Land of the Long Night."
I was in splendid condition for the journey. I had been roughing it all summer in the mountain fastnesses of Norway. I had been living on cream, butter, cheese, and milk, and had had bacon twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays.
There were about one hundred and forty or fifty post stations before I reached Haparanda, the most northern town on the Gulf of Bothnia.
Every day's travel brought me nearer to "The Land of the Long Night," but it was still a very long way off. I had yet to sleep at many post stations and to change horses and vehicles many times.
I entered and left many towns—Malmoe, Skanoer, Falsterboe, Trelleborg,—these last three were quaint, and the most southern towns in Sweden. How charming, clean, and neat are those little Swedish towns! I wished I could have tarried in some of them. Then I made a sweep eastward, following the coast, and passed the town of Ystad, and then I gradually drove northward, for now the road skirted the shores of the Baltic. I passed Cimbrishamn, Soelvesberg, Carlshamn, and Carlskrona.
From Carlskrona the country was very pretty, and on my way to Kalmar, and further north, I could see the Island of Oeland with its numerous windmills.
The continuous driving, often in vehicles without springs, was rather hard on my trousers, and I had not many pairs with me. In a word my outfit was very modest. To travel comfortably, one must have as little baggage as possible; for if you have too much baggage it is as if you were dragging a heavy log behind you; you are not your own master, all kinds of difficulties come in the way, and you have become the slave of your own baggage. I bought clothing as I went along. I wished I could have found some trousers lined with leather, like those used by cavalry soldiers and by men who ride much on horseback; these would have lasted a long time.
The weather was getting colder every day, winter was coming, and we had had a few falls of snow. I passed Oscarshamn and Westervik, and at last about the middle of November I arrived in Stockholm. But I had yet to travel more than nine hundred miles to the north before I came to the southern border of "The Land of the Long Night."
I had to give up my New York overcoat for warmer clothing and get a new winter outfit. I bought a long, loose overcoat coming down to my feet. It was lined throughout with thick, hairy wolf skin, which is said by the people of the far North to be the warmest lining after the skin of the reindeer. I also purchased big top-boots lined inside with furry wolf skin, and a round beaver cap with a border which, when turned down, protected my ears and came to my eyes. I had besides a big, heavy hood, lined with fur, to be used when it was very cold. I had a pair of leather mittens lined inside with fur (mittens keep one's hands much warmer than gloves, because they are not so tight and they do not impede the circulation of the blood). The collar of my coat rose above my head and almost hid my face, and when I wore my hood only my eyes could be seen. In this winter costume I could drive all day long without feeling cold.
From Stockholm I drove to Upsala by road—for I did not care for railway travelling—changing horse and vehicle at every post station. When I reached Gefle winter had come on in earnest. Now all the houses in the hamlets and towns which I passed had double windows, and at the bottom, between the two, a layer of cotton was spread to absorb the moisture. Instead of sliding sashes, French windows opening like doors are used, and one of the panes of each is free for ventilation. The rooms were uncarpeted, just as in summer, but rugs were spread on the floors.
As I drove along it was pleasant to see at the windows, behind the panes of glass, pots filled with roses, carnations, geraniums, and other plants, all bending in the direction of the sun. The sun gave scarcely any heat, yet all the plants in a room liked to look towards the light.
I was always so glad at the end of the day's travelling to rest at a post station, to enter the "stuga," the every-day room, where the family lives, and see the blazing open fireplace. How nice it was to jump into a feather bed, and sink deep and be lost in it, and to cover myself with a quilt filled with feathers or eider down!
When I found a pleasant station I would remain there a day or two to rest, for it was hard to drive day after day, for ten, twelve, or fifteen, and sometimes eighteen hours. It was interesting to see the whole family at their daily occupations; to see the women spin, weave, or knit; to see the men make skees, wooden shoes, etc., and the girls and boys go to school and have fun and play together, throwing snowballs at each other; making snow forts and defending them against other girls and boys that came to attack them. I wished sometimes to join in the fray, for I love fun.
The snow was deep, and the snow-ploughs, drawn by three horses, were seen pretty often on the road. The streets in the little hamlets or towns were often blocked.
SNOW LAND.—A GREAT SNOWSTORM.—FEARFUL ROADS.—SNOW-PLOUGHS.—LOSING THE WAY.—INTELLIGENCE OF THE HORSES.—UPSET IN THE SNOW.—DIFFICULTY OF RIGHTING OURSELVES.—PERSPIRING AT 23 DEGREES BELOW ZERO.—HOUSES BURIED IN SNOW.
After I left the town of Gefle the blue sky became obscured by clouds, a few flakes of snow began to fall, then more and more came down, and soon they covered the old snow, that was already of good depth.
I had never before had a post-horse that went so fast, and I wondered why. The horse knew, but I did not: a big snowstorm was coming! He was afraid of being caught in it, and wanted to reach his stable in time. After a while the snow fell so thick that I could see nothing ahead. To make things worse it began to blow hard. Then I dropped the reins and let the horse go as he pleased. As he knew that the snowstorm was coming, so he would know how to get home. Suddenly he gave three or four loud neighs; this announced his arrival. Then he turned to the right and entered a yard. He had reached home!
The next morning it was still snowing; nevertheless I started. On the road were many snow-ploughs at work levelling the snow. These ploughs were of triangular form, made of heavy timber braced with crossbeams. They were generally from eight to ten feet in width at the back, which was the broadest part, and above fifteen feet long. They were drawn by four horses and attended by two men.
The ploughs were followed by heavy rollers of wood to pack the snow.
Erik, my driver, said that every farmer is obliged to furnish horses to clear the road and level it after a snowstorm. The number of horses he furnishes is regulated by the size of his farm. It is very important that the road should be kept in good order, and the rules are strictly enforced.
As we travelled along the road, it was amusing to see horses and dogs roll in the snow; they enjoyed it! The horses that we drove would often take a nip of the snow, and the dogs that followed us did likewise.
One day when I was looking at two horses rolling in the snow near a farmhouse, I suddenly felt a great jerk and we were pitched out headlong! Our horse wanted to have some fun! So he fell on his side and was about to roll over and enjoy himself, taking the sleigh with him; but we did not see the joke. We succeeded in putting him on his legs. The driver gave the animal a good scolding: "Shame on you, shame on you!" he said to him. The horse listened, and seemed to understand him. I think he felt ashamed.
As I journeyed further north the snow got deeper and deeper every hour. Snow-ploughs were now drawn by five horses and generally attended by three men.
The snowstorm still continued. It had now lasted over four days, and with no appearance of holding up. The wind at times blew very hard.
In spite of the snowstorm I continued to travel, and had passed the towns of Soederhamn, Hudicksvall, Sundsvall, and Hernoesand, with their streets deep in snow. On the fifth day we had great difficulty in getting along. In some places the ploughs had not passed over the road since two days before, for we were now going through a very sparsely inhabited country. Some parts of the road were honeycombed with holes about fifteen inches deep, made in this way: each horse that had passed stepped in the tracks of the one that had preceded him, and made the holes deeper and deeper, which made walking very difficult for the poor animals.
The further north I went the deeper became the snow, and travelling became tedious. Our sleigh tumbled on one side or the other, upsetting before we could say "Boo!" At each effort the poor horse made to extricate himself, we had either to get out of the sleigh or be thrown out. The poor brute would often sink to his neck, and sometimes almost to his head when he got out of the snow-plough's track! In order to make some headway and to make up for the slowness of the horses and bad roads, I travelled sixteen and eighteen hours a day, and when I came to a post station I was pretty tired.
The ploughs I now met were drawn by six horses and attended by four or five men. The struggles of the poor animals as they sank continually in the deep soft snow and tried to extricate themselves, were sometimes painful to behold.
We always had to be careful to drive in the middle of the road, where the snow had been cleared and packed by the snow-ploughs and the rollers. Sometimes we could not tell where it was, for the land around was deeply buried and the track of the snow-ploughs was hidden by the fresh-fallen snow.
When my driver made a mistake and drove one way or the other outside of the track, the first intimation we had was that of the horse sinking suddenly, being ourselves upset or nearly so. Then we had a lot of trouble putting him on the track again.
After several of these mishaps, the driver would say to me: "Now I am going to let the horse go by himself. He is accustomed every year to go in deep snow on this road and he will know the way." "You are right," I would reply.
When let alone the horse would walk very slowly, and he would hesitate each time he put either his right or his left foot on the snow, to make sure he was on the right track. If he thought he was on the left of the road, it was his left foot that came down first; if he thought he was to the right of the road, he put his right foot down, but not until he had made sure that he was right. If he saw that he had made a mistake, he turned quickly to one side or the other.
One day the horse suddenly dropped one leg in the soft snow, on the right side of the track; this unbalanced him and—bang! he fell on his side, taking the sleigh with him. We were pitched out, and as we got up on our legs we found ourselves in snow up to our necks. Only after frantic efforts did the horse succeed in regaining his footing.
As I looked around and saw our situation, and that our three heads were just above the snow, with the horse's head looking at us, his eyes seeming to say, "Are you not going to help me out of this?" I gave a great shout of laughter, for the sight was so funny that I forgot being pitched out—and I said to the driver, "Don't we look funny, the horse included, with only our heads and shoulders above the snow!"
What a job we had to extricate ourselves, put the poor horse on the track again, and afterwards right the sleigh. Then we found that the harness was broken in several places, and we had to mend it the best way we could with numb fingers. I had stopped laughing, for there was no fun in that.
"At this rate of travelling," I said to the driver, "it will take a whole day to go three or four miles. I do not know whether our poor horse will be able to stand it. Look at him! He looks as if he were a smoke-stack, so much steam is rising from his body. He may become so exhausted that he will not be able to go further, and we shall have to abandon the sleigh."
"It is so," coolly replied Lars the driver, and he remained silent afterwards.
I felt sorry for the poor horse, and reproached myself for not having tarried at the last post station.
Then I said to Lars, "If the horse gives out, we will try to build a snow house for us three. You have some hay, and he will not starve. As for ourselves, we will try to reach some farm and get some food and some oats for our poor dear horse. I am very sorry we have no skees with us."
There was so much snow over the land that I thought I had come to "Snow Land." It was over twelve feet in depth; it had been snowing for six consecutive days and nights, and it was snowing yet. I was now between the sixty-third and sixty-fourth degrees of north latitude, and I had to travel on the road nearly two hundred miles more before I came to the southern part of "The Land of the Long Night." The little town of Umea for which I was bound was still far away. I said to myself, "I have to cross this 'Snow Land' before I reach 'The Land of the Long Night.' What hard work it will be!"
A little further on we came to the post station—and how glad I was to spend the night there—to get into a feather bed. The following day the snow-ploughs and the rollers were busy, and the centre of the highway was made passable for some miles further north. So bidding good-bye to the station master and to my driver of the day before, I started with a fine young horse and a strong young fellow for a driver.
As I looked around, I could see snow, snow, deep snow everywhere. The fences, the stone walls of the scattered farms, and the huge boulders with which that part of the country is covered were buried out of sight; only the tops of the birches and of the fir and pine trees could be seen. I had not met such deep snow before! I had never encountered such a continuous snowstorm! "Surely," I said to myself again, as I looked over the country, "this is 'Snow Land.'" I wondered how long it would take to cross it. The snow was nearly fourteen feet deep on a level.
I next came to a part of the country where thousands of branches of pine and fir trees had been planted in two rows to show the line of the road. I could not tell now when I was travelling over a river, a lake, on land, or over the frozen Gulf of Bothnia!
As we were passing over one of the barren districts, a swamp in summer, full of stones and boulders, without a house in sight, I said to my driver: "When are we coming to the next farm?"
"At the rate we are going," he replied, "it will take us two hours at least."
"Then let us stop and give a little of the hay you have brought with you to the horse. After he has rested a while, we will start again."
After the horse had eaten his hay, we started. We had not gone long, however, before we were upset. The horse had not kept to the road. We had a hard time to right the sleigh and bring the horse back to firm snow. It was such hard work that the perspiration was dripping from our faces, though it was 23 degrees below zero.
"I have had enough of this travelling," I said to the driver; "the snow is too deep and soft to go on. The snow-ploughs have not done much good here. They evidently could not go far."
"I do not believe," he replied, "that horses will be given to you at the next post station, even if we should reach there to-day. But I am sure we cannot do it, and we shall have to stop at the first farm we meet and ask the farmer for shelter until people can travel on the road again."
Two hours afterwards I saw in the distance a little hamlet, or a number of farms close together. What a sight! Many of the small houses were buried in the snow, and only their roofs or chimneys could be seen. From some of the chimneys smoke was curling upwards. I was delighted.
Every one was busy digging and making trenches, so that the light and air might reach the windows, or that communication could be had between the buildings, especially those where the animals were housed. In some cases the exit had first to be made through the chimney.
It was a very strange sight indeed! and I said to myself, "Surely I am in 'Snow Land.'"
HALT AT A FARMHOUSE.—MADE WELCOME.—A STRANGE-LOOKING INTERIOR.—QUEER BEDS.—SNOWED IN.—EXIT THROUGH THE CHIMNEY.—CLEARING PATHS.—I RESUME MY JOURNEY.—REACH HAPARANDA.
Soon after we stopped at one of these farms. A trench about fifteen feet deep had been made, leading to the door of the dwelling-house. Here lived friends of my driver. I alighted and walked through the narrow trench and opened the storm door. In the little hall hung long coats lined with woolly sheepskin; on the floor were wooden shoes, shovels, axes, etc. A ladder stood upright against the wall.
I opened the other door. As I entered I found myself in a large room. I saluted the farmer and family. They all looked at me with astonishment, for I was not one of the neighbors, and who could I be!
The farmer said: "What are you doing, stranger, on the highroad with snow so deep, and when travelling is suspended, snow-ploughs abandoned, horses belonging to them gone to the nearest farms? You cannot go further until the snow packs itself with its own weight, and the snow-ploughs and rollers are able to work on the road. Did you come here on skees?"
"No, I drove," I replied.
"Where is your horse?"
"At the gate," I answered.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I am going north as far as the extremity of Northern Europe. I want to be in that land during the time of 'The Long Night,' when no sun is to be seen for weeks; but I am afraid I cannot travel further for a few days on account of the deep snow, and I shall have to wait; and as we cannot go further and reach the post station, I come to ask you if you can give shelter to a stranger far from his country."
"You are welcome," he replied; and his wife added, "We are poor people, we have a humble home, for our farm is small, but you will have the best we have."
"I thank you ever so much," I replied.
The farmer put more wood on the fire, the sticks being placed upright, in which manner they throw out much more heat, and a sudden blaze filled the room with a bright glow.
I like these farmers' fireplaces. They are always built of masonry in one of the corners of the room. The platform is about one foot above the floor and generally four or five feet square, with a crane to hang kettles or cooking pots on; and when only the embers remain a trap in the chimney is closed, to prevent the heat from getting out.
The wife put the coffee kettle over the fire, and one of the daughters kept herself busy with the coffee mill.
In the mean time my driver came in and was welcomed, and they asked him about me. When they heard I was from America they shouted, "From America!" and when they had recovered from their astonishment, the husband said, "I have a brother in America." The wife said, "I have a sister and two nieces in America," and tears came into her eyes. They did also into mine; there was at once a bond of union between us. To them the United States was so far away, and I was so far from home. They often thought of their folks and friends who had emigrated to our land.
The family was composed of three daughters and two sons. The girls had fair hair and large blue eyes, and were strong enough to be victorious in a wrestling contest with big boys.
The sons helped their father on the farm. The names of the girls were: Engla Matilda, Serlotta Maria, and Kajsa Maria; the mother Lovisa Kristina; the father Carl; the sons were Nils and Erik.
The big room was strange-looking. In one corner was the large open fireplace. A large hand loom, with an unfinished piece of thick coarse woollen stuff or cloth which was being woven, was in another corner. Near by were three spinning-wheels; upon one was flax and on the two others wool. On the walls were shelves for plates, saucers, glasses, mugs, dishes, etc.
The ceiling was about eight or nine feet in height. There was an opening in it which was accessible by a ladder. I wanted very much to know what there was above. Along the walls were several wooden benches like sofas, upon which the people sat. A large wooden table with wooden benches and two or three wooden chairs completed the furniture. There was a trap-door in the middle of the floor, leading into the cellar; and as this never froze, the potatoes and other vegetables, the butter and cheese, and ale were kept there.
By the side of the living-room were two doors leading to two small rooms. One had shelves for pails containing milk and the churn to make butter with. In the other room were a number of painted chests, with the initials of the owners upon them, and lots of dresses hanging along the walls, and a bed.
The husband suddenly disappeared through the trap-door and soon came back with potatoes and a big piece of bacon. The sight roused my appetite. The potatoes were washed and boiled, and the pan was put over the fire and the bacon cut into slices and fried.
The meal was put on a very clean table without tablecloth, and then the driver and I were bidden to sit down and eat. Our coffee cups were filled to the brim, and every two or three minutes we were urged to eat more, to drink more coffee. How good were the potatoes! How good were the bacon and the cheese and the butter! I thought that that meal tasted better than any I had eaten in my life.
When we stopped, for we had eaten to our hearts' content, with one voice husband and wife said: "Eat more, eat more;" and before I knew it, our two cups were filled for the third time, and more potatoes and bacon were put on our plates. They all seemed so happy to see us eat with such an appetite.
The dear farmers of Norway and Sweden were always so hospitable and kind to me. Do not wonder that I love them. No one in these countries has ever tried to do me harm or ever robbed me of a penny.
After our meal we stretched our legs before the open fireplace. I was more happy than if I had been in a splendid palace. I forgot the snow and storm. How nice it was to be in front of a fireplace when the storm was raging!
The farmer put more sticks on the fire. The room was in a perfect blaze of light. Gradually the fire died out, and when there were only embers left he stirred them with the poker until not a particle of flame appeared, and when there was no danger of fumes he shut the trap so that no heat would escape through the chimney. The time of going to bed had come.
I was wondering all the time where we were all going to sleep, for there were no beds in sight. "Perhaps," said I to myself, "we are all going up the ladder to sleep upstairs. Perhaps we are going to sleep on the floor." But I did not see any mattress, sheepskins, or home-made woollen blankets anywhere—and these when together would have made a big pile.
Suddenly I saw the daughters come to the bench-like sofas and pull out a drawer out of each sofa. These were to be the beds. They were filled with hay, with two sheepskins on the top to be used as sheets and blankets.
These sliding boxes could be made of different widths, according to the number of occupants that were to sleep in the same bed.
I said to myself, "Strange-looking beds these," when one of the girls said, "Sometimes we can squeeze five or six into one of these beds." I was glad I was not going to be the fifth or sixth, for we should have been packed like sardines or herring.
When everything was ready the boys ascended the ladder and went to sleep upstairs. A bed was given me, and the rest of the family slept in their own, two girls sleeping in one bed. Then we bade each other good-night. How warm and comfortable were my sheepskins!
In the middle of the night I heard the howling of the wind; a terrific gale was blowing. How thankful I felt to be under shelter! Early in the morning, while still in bed, I was startled by the shouts of one of the boys: "Father, we are snowed in! We cannot get out of the house!"
"Are we snowed in?" I exclaimed.
"Yes," shouted the two boys at the same time. I jumped out of bed to find out if it was a joke. It was true!
The boys were delighted, and said with great glee: "The wind has filled all the trenches with snow. We shall have to get out through the chimney. What fun that will be!"
I thought also that it would be fun. I had never got out of a house through the chimney, and I was anxious now to do it, for I might never get another chance.
Everybody was now out of bed. "It is good that the cellar is full of potatoes and that a sack of the Russian flour has not been touched, so we have plenty of food," said the father. "Besides, there is bacon, cheese, and butter," said one of the girls. Another added, "We have inside firewood for three days without being obliged to go to the woodshed."
The farmer said, "There has never been so much snow during living man's memory. Old Pehr, my neighbor, whom I went to see yesterday, and who is eighty-four years old, said that he never remembered such a snowstorm."
I thought of the poor horse that had worked so hard to bring us here. "Boys, we must make the way clear to the stable and feed your horse and mine," I said. "Let us hurry and go out through the chimney."
"They are all right," said the father; "I left so much fodder before them that they will not starve even if we could not reach them to-day."
"Dear horses, how useful to us," I said. "I often wonder that there are some men so cruel and so hard-hearted as to beat the poor animals when they have not strength enough to carry the heavy load put upon them, or to make them work when they are ill. It is a good thing that there are societies in many countries for the prevention of cruelty to horses and other animals."
"It is so," said they all with one voice; "we do not know of any one among our neighbors who is unkind to his horse. We do not know what we should do if our poor horse were ill."
"Yes," said one of the girls, "when he was a colt our horse used to put his head through the door to get pieces of potatoes and apples. We love him!"
The ladder was fetched and put into the chimney. There was no trouble about that, for the chimney was so wide. The shovels were brought in. There were three of them. Then Nils ascended the ladder, and afterwards crept to the top. This was a hard job. Erik followed, and succeeded also in reaching the roof. Then we heard voices coming down the chimney.
"Father," called the boys, "tie the shovels to the cord we drop." They had taken the precaution of carrying a cord with them. The shovels were hauled up.
Then my turn came to go through. I got into the chimney first, and saw the faces of Nils and Erik peeping down. "It is all right. Come on, Herr Paul." I ascended the ladder, then crept up the rest of the chimney. The boys got hold of my hands and pulled me through. What a sight! I was black with soot. Nils and Erik were likewise. We gave three great hurrahs. We shouted through the chimney to the folks with great glee, "Be patient, you will get out by and by."
We worked with a will, and succeeded in clearing the trench leading to the door, and there was a great shout of joy when it opened. Then the girls came out and joined us in making the way clear to the barn, to the two horses, five cows, and twelve sheep. When we opened the door of the barn the horses neighed, the cows lowed, and the sheep baaed. It was a fine concert of voices. They were glad to see us. It was their way of bidding us welcome.
Returning to the house we cleared the windows, then the well, of snow. The well was surrounded by a mass of ice. We drew water and gave a good drink to the horses and the other animals. The girls milked the cows, and gave fresh fodder to all.
When our work was done we were all as hungry as the wolves are in winter, when they have had no food for days.
In the mean time the mother had prepared a big meal for us, and we entered the house. We were ready to do justice to the food. The potatoes and the bacon quickly disappeared. After the meal we cleared the other windows of snow, and made passages to them, so that light might come through. It was a hard day's work all round!
When supper time came we seated ourselves before a big wooden bowl of porridge called "groed," made from barley meal. On each side were two wooden bowls filled with sour milk. We ate with wooden spoons from the same dish. There were no plates for supper, and once in a while we took a spoonful of sour milk to help the groed go down. I always enjoy eating with wooden or horn spoons.
I went to sleep in the loft this time. I wanted to be near Nils and Erik. They were fine boys, and we were friends. Did we not sleep well that night! We did not awake until their father came to shake us.
"There is nothing like shovelling snow to make one sleep," we all said, after we awoke.
The next day the women were very busy a great part of the day. Engla spun flax on her spinning-wheel, Serlotta carded wool, and Maria wove a thick woollen cloth to be turned into garments for three new suits for her father and two brothers, while the mother knitted woollen stockings.
I remained three days on this farm. During that time the snow had packed and the snow-ploughs followed by the rollers had made their reappearance on the highroad. It was time for me to leave, for I was in a hurry, and I had to travel nearly nine hundred miles before I could reach Nordkyn.
When I left I put some money into the hands of the wife, and when she felt it in her hand she said, "No, no; to be paid for giving food and shelter to a person who is overtaken by a storm, is a shame. What would God think of me for doing that? No, no;" she said again, with more earnestness.
I succeeded at last, after much insistence, in overcoming her scruples and making her take it; and once more I was on the road leading northward.
Travelling was still very difficult. I came late to a post station where I intended to spend the night, for I was very tired. The place was filled with travellers and all the beds were taken. Men slept on benches, on the top of the table, and on the floor. These were travellers who had been detained on the road and were once more on their way southward.
I saw a space on the floor between two men—just enough for me to get in—and I quietly stepped over three fellows who were fast asleep and made for the empty place, and went to sleep in my fur coat.
The next morning I was once more on the long and tedious road leading north, towards "The Land of the Long Night." That afternoon I reached the little town of Umea.
The days had become shorter and shorter. The sun was very low at noon and was not above the horizon more than one hour. As I travelled further north I was surprised to notice that the snow diminished rapidly. I had left the great "Snow Land," or snow belt, which seemed to be between 62 and 64 degrees north, behind me.
After changing horses at several post stations I came to the little towns of Skelleftea, Pitea, and Lulea, and at last I reached Haparanda, situated at the extreme northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of the Torne river, the most northern town in Sweden.
At Haparanda I had driven about seven hundred and forty miles from Stockholm, and over twenty-five hundred miles since I had left the mountains of Norway. I was only forty-one miles south of the Arctic Circle, which is the most southerly part of "The Land of the Long Night."
GOOD ADVICE FROM THE PEOPLE OF HAPARANDA.—WARNED AGAINST STILL COLDER WEATHER.—DIFFERENT COSTUME NEEDED.—DRESSED AS A LAPLANDER.—LAPP GRASS FOR FEET PROTECTION.
I had hardly arrived in Haparanda, when the leading people of the place came to welcome me. I was not unknown to several of them, on account of some of my books which have been translated into Swedish; and they were my friends at once.
They heard with astonishment that I intended to go further north. They looked serious and remained silent for a while. "We will give you letters of introduction to our friends," they said; "but after a time you will be too far north, where we do not know anybody. You will find only Finlanders and Laplanders until you come to the Arctic shores of Norway."
After saying this they began to fill their big meerschaum pipes with tobacco and lighted them, and smoke came out as if from a small funnel. They gave puff after puff and were again silent; the wrinkles over their foreheads showed that they were thoughtful and anxious.
One friend said: "The country which lies between the head of the Gulf of Bothnia and Nordkyn, the most northern part of the mainland in Europe, is very stormy in winter, the winds blow with terrific force, and midway between the shores of the Baltic and the extremity of the land snow is also very deep. It is a roadless land."
When I heard this, I said to myself: "Is 'The Land of the Long Night' 'Snow Land' as well?" Then I thought of the great "Snow Land" I had left behind me, and how hard travelling had been, and I wondered if it would be worse in this second "Snow Land." If it was, then I had a hard task ahead of me.
Another friend said, "This big overcoat of yours will never do in the country you are going to. These long boots you wear will not be serviceable."
"Yes," they all said together. "This costume of yours will be unmanageable on account of the wind. You cannot travel in 'The Land of the Long Night' dressed as you are. You must dress like a Laplander. Theirs is the only costume that can stand the weather you are to encounter, the only one in which you will be able to get into their small sleighs, and face the fierce wind and the intense cold."
"Remember," said another of my new friends, "that you are going to travel over a roadless country covered with snow, the reindeer will be your horse, and you will not be able to go about without going on skees, for at every step one sinks deep into the snow."
Then another added, to reassure me: "Our country is a country of laws; we have order, and hate lawlessness. You will feel safe among the people. You will find where the country is uninhabited, or where the farms are very wide apart, houses or farms of refuge where you can get food and reindeer to take you further on. These are post stations where you can remain until the weather is good. There you are as safe as among us."
I thanked them for all the advice and information they gave me and said that I would follow their admonition in regard to my dress. They then bade me good-night. The next day I remembered what my friends had said to me the day before, and with one of them I went to get the garments worn by the Lapps.
I bought two "kaptor." These are also called "pesh." They are long blouses reaching down to the knee or below, made of reindeer skins, with fur attached; with a narrow aperture for the head to pass through, and fitting closely round the neck.
 Plural form. Singular, "kapta."
One of the kaptor was much larger than the other, for in case of intense cold one is worn beneath the other with the fur inside, and the outside one with the fur outside.
I got a pair of trousers made of skin from the legs of the reindeer, of which the fur though short is considered the warmest part of the animal, as it protects his legs, which are always in the snow. The provisions of nature are wonderful!
There are no openings to the Lapp trousers, so that no cold air can reach the body. They are fastened round the waist by a string and are tied above the ankle. There the fur is removed and the leather is made very soft so that it may go round the shoe.
I got two pairs of shoes made of the skin of the reindeer near the hoof, with the fur outside. This part is said to be the warmest part of the whole skin. All the Lapp shoes are sharp pointed, the point turning upward. They are bound at the seams with red flannel. The upper part fits above the ankle. They were large enough for me to wear two pairs of thick, home-knitted stockings and Lapp grass to surround the foot everywhere without pinching it. Long narrow bands of bright color are attached to them. These bands are wound around the legs above the ankles, thus preventing snow and wind from penetrating. These shoes can only be used in cold weather when the snow is crisp, and are especially adapted for skees, as they are pointed and have no heels.
I procured also four pairs of mittens, one made of the skin of the reindeer near the hoof, another of wool with a sort of down, the third of cow's hair, and the fourth of goat's hair; the two latter are the warmest, but they are very perishable.
I also got two pairs of very thick home-knitted stockings. These were of wool. I succeeded in getting two other pairs made of cow's hair, and another pair made of goat's hair, and I was especially cautioned to handle them gently when I put them on or took them off—likewise with the mittens of goat's and cow's hair.
I also got a vest made of soft reindeer skin to put on over my underwear, and two sets of thick underwear of homespun, for these are much warmer than those that are made by machinery.
I added to my outfit one pair of long and another shorter pair of boots for wet weather in the spring, when the snow is damp and watery. These boots were made of the skin of the lower part of the hind legs of reindeer, the fur being scraped off. The leather is black and it is prepared in such a way as to exclude water or moisture. They were rubbed with a composition of reindeer fat and tar.
Then I bought a square Lapp cap, the top filled with eider down. The rim could be turned down to protect the ears and the forehead.
After procuring my Lapp outfit, I thought I would try to dress myself in my new garments. The friend who accompanied me said: "I will show you how to prepare your feet before you put your shoes on. One can never be too careful, otherwise the feet are sure to be cold on a journey."
I put on my two new pairs of hand-knitted stockings. He surrounded my feet over the stockings with Lapp grass; then he put my shoe on most carefully, with the lower part of the trousers inside, and then wound the bands not too tight round my ankle, saying, "Now your feet will be warm all day even if you spend all your time on skees. You see how careful I have been in putting on your shoes. Dressed as you are you can defy the cold. If you follow the advice I have given you, you will never have cold feet no matter how long you drive or walk in the snow. But take great care that neither shoes, nor stockings, nor grass be damp. I think it will be well for you to let a Lapp or a Finn put your shoes on before you start on a long journey—until you can do it yourself quite well."
The "shoe grass" of which I have spoken grows in the Arctic regions in pools in the summer. It is gathered in great quantity by the Laplanders and Finlanders, who dry it and keep it carefully, for it is indispensable in winter in their land of snow and cold. It has the peculiarity of retaining heat and keeping the feet warm and absorbing the moisture. I always travelled with a good stock of that grass, twisted and knotted together in small bundles.
Then I looked at myself in the looking-glass, and for the first time saw how I appeared in my new outfit, my Lapp costume. The frontispiece will show you exactly how I was dressed (without a hood), for it is from a photograph. Unfortunately, being a bachelor, I don't know how to take care of things, and my costume, gloves, stockings, and mittens have been eaten up by moths, and I have had to throw them away. But I appeared before the American Geographical Society in New York dressed in this suit, seated in my Lapp sleigh, with a stuffed reindeer harnessed to it, and my bearskin over me.
To complete my outfit I added two large reindeer-skin bags, one larger, so that the smaller one could be put inside it without much difficulty. I was to sleep in these bags when obliged to rest out doors on the snow. One bag was sufficient in ordinary cold weather—say 15 or 20 degrees below zero; the other I would use when the thermometer ranged from 25 to 40 or 50 degrees below zero.
WHAT THE ARCTIC CIRCLE IS.—DESCRIPTION OF THE PHENOMENON OF THE LONG NIGHT.—REASONS FOR ITS EXISTENCE.—THE ECLIPTIC AND THE EQUINOXES.—LENGTH OF THE LONG NIGHT AT DIFFERENT PLACES.
Now I was ready to go further northward beyond the Arctic Circle, and roam in "The Land of the Long Night."
The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line, just as are the Equator and the two Tropics, going round the earth, and begins at 66 deg. 32' north latitude and is 1623 miles from the North Pole. It is the southernmost limit of the region where the sun disappears in winter, under the horizon, for one day.
At the North Pole on the 22nd of September the sun descends to the horizon and then disappears till the 20th of March, when it reappears and remains in sight above the horizon until the 22nd of September. So at the pole the year is made of one day and one night. On the 22nd day of December it disappears at the Arctic Circle for one day only. The space between the Arctic Circle and the pole is therefore called the Arctic region, or the Frigid Zone. Consequently, the further one advances to the north, the longer the duration of the night.
I will tell you the causes of this phenomenon of the Long Night. The earth revolves about the sun once every year, and rotates on its axis once in twenty-four hours, which makes what we call a day.
Rotate means to move round a centre; thus the daily turning of the earth on its axis is a rotation. Its annual course round the sun is called a revolution.
The axis about which the daily rotation takes place is an imaginary straight line passing through the centre of the earth, and its extremities are called poles, hence the names of the North and the South pole. The diurnal movement is from West to East and takes place in twenty-four hours.
The earth's orbit, or the path described by it in its annual revolution about the sun, is, so to speak, a flattened circle, somewhat elongated, called an ellipse. The axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the plane of the orbit, which is an imaginary flat surface enclosed by the line of the earth's revolution, but is inclined to it at an angle of 23 deg. 28', which angle is called the obliquity of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path or way among the fixed stars which the earth in its orbit appears to describe to an eye placed in the sun, for the sun is the fixed centre and not the earth. The earth, therefore, in moving about the sun, is not upright, but inclined, so that in different parts of its course it always presents a half, but always a different half, of its surface to the sun.
Twice in the year, 21st of March and 21st of September, the exact half of the earth along its axis is illuminated. On these dates, therefore, any point on the earth's surface is, during the rotation of the earth on its axis, half the time in light and half the time in darkness,—that is, day and night are twelve hours each all over the globe.
These two dates are called equinoxes, March 21st being the vernal, and September 21st being the autumnal, equinox.
As the earth moves in its orbit after March 21st, the North Pole inclines more and more towards the sun, till June 21st, after which it turns away from it. On September 21st day and night are again equal all over the earth, and after this the North Pole is turned away from the sun, and does not receive its light again till the following March.
It will thus be seen that from the autumnal to the vernal equinox the North Pole is in darkness and has a night of six months' duration, during which time the sun is not seen. Therefore, any point near the pole is, during any given twenty-four hours, longer in darkness than in light.
The number of days of constant darkness depends on the latitude of the observer. At the pole the sun is not seen for six months, at the Arctic Circle it is invisible, as I have said, for only one day in December. At North Cape and Nordkyn the sun disappears November 18th, and is not seen again till January 24th. That is the reason I have called the land between North Cape and the Arctic Circle "The Land of the Long Night."
This "Land of the Long Night" commences at Nordkyn, or the most northern point of the continent of Europe,—or at North Cape, but five miles distant—on the 16th of November. The whole sun appears on that day, its lower rim just touching above the horizon at noon. The next day, 17th of November, the lower half of the sun has disappeared, and the following day, the 18th, it sinks below the horizon and does not show itself again until the 24th of January—hence the night there lasts sixty-seven days of twenty-four hours each. And at the Arctic Circle the sun is only completely hidden on the 22nd of December.
The following table shows you the dates of the disappearance of the sun, and of its reappearance at the principal places to which we are going.
THE CONTINUOUS NIGHT
Where the sun is last seen, begins at:
Karasjok November 26th Vardoe 22nd Hammerfest 21st North Cape or Nordkyn 18th
Where the sun is first seen again, begins at:
Karasjok January 16th Vardoe 20th Hammerfest 21st North Cape or Nordkyn 24th
I hope that I have been successful in giving you an idea of day and night in the Frigid Zone.
FINE WEATHER LEAVING HAPARANDA.—WINDSTORMS SUCCEED.—A FINLANDER'S FARM.—STRANGE FIREPLACE.—INTERIOR OF A COW-HOUSE.—QUEER FOOD FOR CATTLE.—PASSING THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.
I left Haparanda in the beginning of January, surrounded by the friends who had taken such an interest in me. The atmosphere was clear, and not a cloud was to be seen in the pale blue sky, turning into greenish as it approached the horizon. There was not a breath of wind. Once the thermometer marked 30 degrees below zero.
"Be careful," said my friends. "This is treacherous weather for ears and noses, there is danger of their getting frozen; rub them, and also your face, now and then with snow. Keep your ears covered, and protect them with your hood. If it becomes colder put on your mask."
I thanked them for their kind advice, but replied: "No mask for me just now, I want to breathe this pure invigorating air as much as I can. I want it to reach my lungs."
"Be careful in such weather," they repeated. "This is beautiful weather indeed, but sometimes it does not last long and is followed by furious gales, or great snowstorms; but we hope this fine weather will follow you for many days. Often it lasts quite a while."
Then we bade good-bye to each other. They tucked the sheepskin round me, and bade the driver to take good care of Paulus.
Soon after this we were out of Haparanda and on the highroad leading to Pajala, which was about one hundred and ten miles further north, there being ten or twelve post stations between the two places.
Sleighing was fine, the road had been used much, so we went on at a very fast pace. It was just the weather people, horses, dogs, and reindeer liked. I liked it also very much, for it was so exhilarating, and I felt so well and so strong. I was ready, nevertheless, for all kinds of weather, and I was fully prepared to meet great storms, for I wanted to encounter the blizzards of the Arctic regions just to find out how strongly the wind could blow. I found out later!
I changed horses at several post stations during the day, among them the stations of Korpikyla, Niemis, Ruskola, and Matarengi. I found that the Finnish language was now prevalent, Swedish being only spoken by comparatively few people.
That day was the end of the fine weather. Towards evening the wind was blowing very hard, and it increased in strength every minute until it blew a perfect hurricane. Then what my friends had said to me came to mind. It was indeed a fearful windstorm!
The gale had become such that the horse at times did not seem to have strength enough to pull our sleigh. The snow flew in thick cloudy masses to a great height, curling and recurling upon itself and blinding us. Fortunately our robes were fastened very securely. I wore my hood, and it was so arranged that my eyes were the only part of my face that was not covered. The wind was so powerful that our sleigh was in continual danger of upsetting, and was only saved because it was so low.
I was glad indeed when I reached the hamlet of Matarengi with its red-painted log church, two hundred years old, and separate belfry of the same color.
The windstorm lasted three days. During that time I found that the temperature varied from 8 to 22 degrees below zero.
Then it became calm, the sky was perfectly clear, and the mercury marked 40 degrees below zero. There was not a breath of wind. It was fine, and I made ready to continue my journey.
Wherever I changed horse and sleigh, before starting I shook hands with the station master and his family, and after this bade good-bye to the driver who had brought me to the place. One must not forget that little politeness in these northern lands, otherwise the people would think you ill-bred or proud and would dislike you. No man has ever made friends by being proud or conceited. It is, after all, very silly, and often very ill-bred. I have found that one gets along much better in the world by being polite and obliging. It is so much easier to be pleasant than sour and gruff. In the former case you are happy; in the latter discontented and wretched. I always feel sorry when I meet people who are proud or conceited. Often I laugh at them in my sleeve, and when that pride or conceit becomes overbearing I have great contempt for them, and do not wish to have anything to do with them.
I approached very fast the regions of "The Land of the Long Night." The road was filled with freshly made, huge snowdrifts, which greatly impeded our progress. Towards noon the wind increased again, and soon I was in a worse gale than before. I said to myself, "Now I am indeed in 'The Land of the Wind.'"
Suddenly I saw dimly through the clouds of snow the dwellings of a farm. "Let us go there," I said to my driver, "for we cannot reach the post station to-day." Our horse evidently thought as we did; he had made up his mind to go no further, and preferred to be in a stable. He suddenly turned to the right, entered the yard, and stopped before the dwelling-house of the farm. I alighted. I was so dizzy from the effects of the wind that I could not walk straight, and tottered about for a minute or more. My driver was in the same condition.
I entered the house and found myself in a large room, in the midst of a family of Finlanders, whose language is very unlike the Swedish or Norwegian. I was welcomed at once by all.
I looked around, and saw a queer-looking structure, built of slabs of stone plastered over. It was about seven feet square, the inside oven-like in shape. They were just lighting a fire; then the door was closed. In one section of the structure was an open fireplace used for cooking.
Poles were secured to the ceiling near the fireplace, upon which hung garments,—stockings, shoes, boots, and other articles. In the middle of the room was the usual trap-door leading into the cellar. There were two large hand looms upon which two girls were weaving. These two looms were very old and had been several generations in the family. Three other girls were occupied with wheels, spinning wool and flax.
Along the walls of this large room, which was about twenty feet square, were a number of bench-like sofas, used for beds. Two or three wooden chairs, and a large wooden table surrounded by wooden benches, made up the rest of the furniture.
The stove began to heat the room fearfully, for after the firewood had been reduced to charcoal, and the fumes from it were gone, the sliding trap-door in the chimney had been closed, thus preventing the heat from escaping. The thick walls of the oven-like stove had been heated, and threw out a great deal of heat, which to me soon became unbearable.
The farmer said to me that the walls would remain warm for two or three days. The windows were all tight; none could be opened, and the only ventilation came through the door when some one came in or went out.
I went out and looked at the farm buildings while my sleigh was being made ready. I was surprised to see the buildings of the farm and the big timber of the log house, for I was so far north. The yard was enclosed by houses on three sides. The dwelling-house, the barn, and the cow-houses were the largest buildings. There were besides a blacksmith shop, a storehouse, and a shed for carts. All these buildings were painted red.
In the middle of the yard was an old-fashioned well, with its sweep, having at one end a bucket and at the other a heavy stone, and surrounded by a thick mass of ice. From the well there was a trough going into the cow-house, which I entered. The cattle were small and well-shaped and in good order. The building was very low, the windows very small and giving but little light. The floor was entirely planked over, and there were pens on each side.
Looking towards the end of the building I saw a girl standing by a huge iron pot, about four feet in diameter and three feet deep, encased in masonry. She was putting coarse marsh grass into the pot, which was filled with water made warm by a fire underneath. "Much of the grass we gather," said the farmer, "is coarse, and it is so tough that the cattle cannot eat it; so we have to prepare it in this way before we give it to them."
A number of sheep were penned in a corner. "Our three horses," said the farmer, "have a stable for themselves." This farm was one of the good farms, and there were a number quite as good. In some the dwellings are of two stories, but these were the great exception.
In the mean time supper had been prepared. Dry mutton as tough as leather but cut very thin, smoked reindeer meat, hard bread, butter, cheese, two wooden bowls of buttermilk, and fish were put on the table. This was a great repast, in my honor. There was no tablecloth, no napkin, no fork, the flat bread was used instead of plates, we had wooden spoons for the sour milk, and helped ourselves to it from the common dish.
A little after supper came bedtime. The girls, looking at the clock, which marked nine, suddenly got up to make the beds ready. They pulled out the sliding boxes, in one of which three of them were to sleep. The boxes were filled with straw and hay, and had homespun blankets or sheepskins, and eider down or feather pillows. The sofa-like beds were all along the walls, for there was a large family.
It was well that I was at the farm. A more terrific windstorm than all those I had seen before, arose during the night. In the morning the snow swirled to an immense height, hiding everything from sight; the whole country was enveloped in a thick cloud; the huge snowdrifts were carried hither and thither. The storm lasted two days, and after it was over the weather became calm, the temperature was 40 deg. below zero, and when the atmosphere was very clear we had about three or four hours of twilight.
Then I bade farewell to the good farmer and his wife, and once more I was on my way to "The Land of the Long Night," which was now very near.
The next day I came to a little lake the natives called Kunsijarvi, and further on I came to still another lake called Rukojarvi; and between these two I had crossed the Arctic Circle. But it was January, the sun showed itself above the horizon at noon. Near the shore of Lake Rukojarvi was a solitary farm, where I stopped.
SKEES, OR THE QUEER SNOWSHOES OF THE NORTH.—HOW THEY ARE MADE.—LEARNING TO USE THEM.—JOSEFF'S INSTRUCTIONS.—HARD WORK AT FIRST.—GOING DOWN HILL.—I BID JOSEFF GOOD-BYE.
In the morning Joseff, the owner of the farm, said to me: "Paulus, before you go further on your journey you must learn to go on skees; otherwise you will not be able to travel, for the snow is very deep further north. I will teach you how to use skees, but in order to learn you must remain with us for some time."
Then pointing to the lake near by, he said, "This is the place where you are to learn. It will be easy for you to walk with them, for the surface of the lake is smooth and flat."
After saying this, he went into one of the outer buildings of the farm and came out with several beautiful pairs of skees, and handed one of them to me with these words: "I give them to you; when you wander further north and walk with them, think of me." I thanked Joseff for his gift and said: "I will always remember you, also your wife and your children, without these skees." Then looking at them, I added, "How beautiful they are! How proud I shall be when I walk with them."
These skees, or snowshoes of northern Europe, are made of wood from the fir tree; at their thickest part, in the centre, they are between four and five inches in width. Here, where the foot rests, there is a piece of birch bark fastened, over which there is a loop, and through this loop the foot passes. That part of the skee under the foot is concave, and here it is thickest, so that where it supports the weight of the person it cannot bend downward. The under part of the skee is grooved and polished, and soon becomes by use as smooth as glass. The forward end turns slightly upward, as you see by the pictures, so as to pass over the snow easily.
Joseff left me, and soon came back with a good many more skees; some were not more than six feet long; one pair was much longer than mine.
After I had looked at them, he said, "The short ones are used in the forest, especially among the Lapps, where pine, fir, or birch trees are close together, for there long skees cannot be used; but a heavily built man must have longer ones." Then pointing to the long pair, which were about fourteen feet long, he said, "These long skees are used chiefly in the province of Jemtland, which you passed on the shores of the Baltic on your way here. The snow is generally very deep there, and after a great snow fall, when it is very soft, long skees are needed so that they can bear up the weight of a man and not sink too deeply. Here we use skees of about the size of the pair I gave you, sometimes a little longer; but you are not a heavy man, so longer ones are not necessary for you. They will be able to support your weight without going deeply into the snow, even when it is soft."
Then showing another pair, he said, "These have sealskin under them. They are used in the spring when the snow is soft and becomes watery; the skin prevents the snow from sticking to the skee."
The following morning we started with our skees for the lake, I carrying mine on my shoulders. When we reached the lake Joseff said, "Put your feet under the loops, and you must manage to keep them there, just as you would do if you had an old pair of slippers much too large for you. You would have all the time to push your feet forward to keep them on. Do likewise with the skees. Your sharp-pointed Lapp shoes will help you to do this, as they somewhat prevent the slipping of the skee. It will be a little difficult at first, but it will not take long for you to learn to do this. Constant practice will be the best teacher, and you will soon be able to walk with them."
Then Joseff gave me two staves to propel myself with. At the end of each was an iron spike, and above it a guard of wicker-work, about ten inches in diameter, to prevent the stick from sinking deeper. "These staves," he added, "are very useful when the snow is soft and the skees do not glide easily. Then propelling oneself with them makes one go faster. Though the snow is packed they will help you, as you are a beginner. The most important point to learn is to keep the skees always parallel with each other; this is somewhat difficult at first. Never raise your feet or skees above the ground; make them glide on the snow; push one foot forward, then the other, just as when you walk."
Then he got on his skees, and said: "Now, look at me and see how I go." I saw him gliding on the snow, pushing first one foot then the other, the two skees running parallel with each other; and when one had a tendency to go inside or outside, he corrected the deviation at once by a slight movement of his leg and foot. I noticed afterward that with many persons the ankle was very flexible, owing to their going so much on skees.
After going some distance he returned to me, and we started slowly together. I pushed first one foot then the other forward, and tried to do exactly what he had told me to do; but before I knew it the end of one skee overlapped the other and stopped my advance at once. Fortunately I was going slowly, otherwise I should have landed on the snow. "The overlapping of one skee over the other is quite common with a beginner," said my teacher to me.
Putting my skees in position again, we started. This time one of my skees left me. Several times the two left me, and I found myself seated on the snow every time. I made slow progress that day. At the end of the lesson Joseff said, "Do not be discouraged, Paulus, you will soon learn the knack. I will now show you how fast a man can go on skees. Look at me." Then he started; he seemed simply to fly over the snow, and before many minutes he was far away, almost out of sight. He was going at the rate of at least twenty miles an hour.
I said to myself: "O Paul, when will you go as fast as Joseff!" I was filled with ambition. I wanted to learn as fast as I could, and I thought I would take lessons every day.
When he returned the perspiration was dripping from his face, though the cold was 39 degrees below zero.
I spent several hours every day on the lake, learning and practising, and when Joseff had time he would come with me; and after three days I was able to manage the skees tolerably well. I kept them in line and they did not slip out from my feet any more. I could go several thousand yards without stopping and with no mishaps.
After I could do this, Joseff said to me: "Paulus, you know now how to go well on skees upon level land; now you must learn how to go down hill with them. This is difficult, and I do not know whether in one winter you can learn how to do it—at least so as to go down the slopes of mountains; one has to have learned that in boyhood—but I will teach you anyhow to go down hill safely."
We left the farm and went on with our skees until we came to the foot of a pretty steep hill. Then Joseff said: "We will stop here, and I will teach you to go down hill."
I noticed that he said this with a roguish eye, which was full of fun, and I began to suspect that things were not to go as smoothly as when I was taught on the lake. "We cannot ascend this steep hill straight forward, for the skees would slip backward. We must ascend in zigzag," said Joseff; and then with his staff he showed me how we were to go. "Follow my furrow, then it will be easier for you," said he. I found it hard enough, and slow work. When we reached the top of the hill we were very warm, though that day it was 32 degrees below zero. I was wet with perspiration.