As there was no remedy I entered, and was almost driven back by the stench--a softer phrase would not have conveyed an idea of the hot vapour that issued from an apartment in which some eight or ten people were sleeping, not to reckon the cats and dogs stretched on the floor. Two or three of the men or women were on the benches, others on old chests; and one figure started half out of a trunk to look at me, whom might have taken for a ghost, had the chemise been white, to contrast with the sallow visage. But the costume of apparitions not being preserved I passed, nothing dreading, excepting the effluvia, warily amongst the pots, pans, milk-pails, and washing-tubs. After scaling a ruinous staircase I was shown a bed-chamber. The bed did not invite me to enter; opening, therefore, the window, and taking some clean towels out of my night- sack, I spread them over the coverlid, on which tired Nature found repose, in spite of the previous disgust.
With the grey of the morn the birds awoke me; and descending to inquire for the horses, I hastened through the apartment I have already described, not wishing to associate the idea of a pigstye with that of a human dwelling.
I do not now wonder that the girls lose their fine complexions at such an early age, or that love here is merely an appetite to fulfil the main design of Nature, never enlivened by either affection or sentiment.
For a few posts we found the horses waiting; but afterwards I was retarded, as before, by the peasants, who, taking advantage of my ignorance of the language, made me pay for the fourth horse that ought to have gone forward to have the others in readiness, though it had never been sent. I was particularly impatient at the last post, as I longed to assure myself that my child was well.
My impatience, however, did not prevent my enjoying the journey. I had six weeks before passed over the same ground; still it had sufficient novelty to attract my attention, and beguile, if not banish, the sorrow that had taken up its abode in my heart. How interesting are the varied beauties of Nature, and what peculiar charms characterise each season! The purple hue which the heath now assumed gave it a degree of richness that almost exceeded the lustre of the young green of spring, and harmonised exquisitely with the rays of the ripening corn. The weather was uninterruptedly fine, and the people busy in the fields cutting down the corn, or binding up the sheaves, continually varied the prospect. The rocks, it is true, were unusually rugged and dreary; yet as the road runs for a considerable way by the side of a fine river, with extended pastures on the other side, the image of sterility was not the predominant object, though the cottages looked still more miserable, after having seen the Norwegian farms. The trees likewise appeared of me growth of yesterday, compared with those Nestors of the forest I have frequently mentioned. The women and children were cutting off branches from the beech, birch, oak, &c, and leaving them to dry. This way of helping out their fodder injures the trees. But the winters are so long that the poor cannot afford to lay in a sufficient stock of hay. By such means they just keep life in the poor cows, for little milk can be expected when they are so miserably fed.
It was Saturday, and the evening was uncommonly serene. In the villages I everywhere saw preparations for Sunday; and I passed by a little car loaded with rye, that presented, for the pencil and heart, the sweetest picture of a harvest home I had ever beheld. A little girl was mounted a-straddle on a shaggy horse, brandishing a stick over its head; the father was walking at the side of the car with a child in his arms, who must have come to meet him with tottering steps; the little creature was stretching out its arms to cling round his neck; and a boy, just above petticoats, was labouring hard with a fork behind to keep the sheaves from falling.
My eyes followed them to the cottage, and an involuntary sigh whispered to my heart that I envied the mother, much as I dislike cooking, who was preparing their pottage. I was returning to my babe, who may never experience a father's care or tenderness. The bosom that nurtured her heaved with a pang at the thought which only an unhappy mother could feel.
I was unwilling to leave Gothenburg without visiting Trolhaettae. I wished not only to see the cascade, but to observe the progress of the stupendous attempt to form a canal through the rocks, to the extent of an English mile and a half.