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Feats on the Fiord   By: (1802-1876)

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[Frontispiece: It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up to the can of ale.]










Miss Martineau's Norwegian romance won its way long since into the hearts of children in this country. The unhackneyed setting to the incidents of the tale distinguish it from thousands of more ordinary children's stories; nor is there any other tale so well known having its scenes laid in the land of the fiords. It is quite safe to add that perhaps no other author has felt so strongly and communicated so convincingly the mystic charm of these northern lagoons with their still depths and reflections, their inaccessible walls of rock and their teeming wild fowl life.

This mystic charm is deepened in the book by the thread of popular superstition which runs throughout the episodes and, in fact, gives rise to them. Miss Martineau's dénouements were calculated to shatter the follies of belief in Nipen and other supernatural agents; but her own crusading traffic in them rather endears them to the imagination of the reader and certainly supplies a fascination which the most sceptical of young readers would be sorry to miss.

The author also brings home to the youthful mind the wonder of the physiographical peculiarities of northern latitudes. The book opens with the long nights and ends with the long days. The midnight sun and the northern lights play their parts, whilst the beautiful simplicity of farm life in the Arctic circle is unfolded with authoritative interest.

As for the hero, young Oddo, he is a prince among dauntless boys, yet he never oversteps the bounds of true boyishness. He would be a hero anywhere; but as a leading character in this romance, combined with all the charm of natural effect in which he moves, he makes Feats on the Fiord a book to be classed among the few best of its kind.



It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up to the can of ale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

In the porch she found Oddo

And that vessel, he knew, was the pirate schooner

He sometimes hammered at his skiff

No other than the Mountain Demon

At the end of a ledge he found the remains of a ladder made of birch poles

In desperation Hund, unarmed as he was, threw himself upon the pirate

It was Hund, with his feet tied under his horse, and the bridle held by a man on each side


Every one who has looked at the map of Norway must have been struck with the singular character of its coast. On the map it looks so jagged; a strange mixture of land and sea. On the spot, however, this coast is very sublime. The long straggling promontories are mountainous, towering ridges of rock, springing up in precipices from the water; while the bays between them, instead of being rounded with shelving sandy shores, on which the sea tumbles its waves, as in bays of our coast, are, in fact, long narrow valleys, filled with sea, instead of being laid out in fields and meadows. The high rocky banks shelter these deep bays (called fiords) from almost every wind; so that their waters are usually as still as those of a lake. For days and weeks together, they reflect each separate tree top of the pine forests which clothe the mountain sides, the mirror being broken only by the leap of some sportive fish, or the oars of the boatman as he goes to inspect the sea fowl from islet to islet of the fiord, or carries out his nets or his rod to catch the sea trout, or char, or cod, or herrings, which abound, in their seasons, on the coast of Norway.

It is difficult to say whether these fiords are the most beautiful in summer or in winter. In summer, they glitter with golden sunshine; and purple and green shadows from the mountain and forest lie on them; and these may be more lovely than the faint light of the winter noons of those latitudes, and the snowy pictures of frozen peaks which then show themselves on the surface: but before the day is half over, out come the stars the glorious stars, which shine like nothing that we have ever seen... Continue reading book >>

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