The sight of a bridge erected across a deep valley, at a little distance, inspired very dissimilar sensations. It was most ingeniously supported by mast-like trunks, just stripped of their branches; and logs, placed one across the other, produced an appearance equally light and firm, seeming almost to be built in the air when we were below it, the height taking from the magnitude of the supporting trees give them a slender graceful look.
There are two noble estates in this neighbourhood, the proprietors of which seem to have caught more than their portion of the enterprising spirit that is gone abroad. Many agricultural experiments have been made, and the country appears better enclosed and cultivated, yet the cottages had not the comfortable aspect of those I had observed near Moss and to the westward. Man is always debased by servitude of any description, and here the peasantry are not entirely free. Adieu!
I almost forgot to tell you that I did not leave Norway without making some inquiries after the monsters said to have been seen in the northern sea; but though I conversed with several captains, I could not meet with one who had ever heard any traditional description of them, much less had any ocular demonstration of their existence. Till the fact is better ascertained, I should think the account of them ought to be torn out of our geographical grammars.
I set out from Fredericstadt about three o'clock in the afternoon, and expected to reach Stromstad before the night closed in; but the wind dying away, the weather became so calm that we scarcely made any perceptible advances towards the opposite coast, though the men were fatigued with rowing.
Getting amongst the rocks and islands as the moon rose, and the stars darted forward out of the clear expanse, I forgot that the night stole on whilst indulging affectionate reveries, the poetical fictions of sensibility; I was not, therefore, aware of the length of time we had been toiling to reach Stromstad. And when I began to look around, I did not perceive anything to indicate that we were in its neighbourhood. So far from it, that when I inquired of the pilot, who spoke a little English, I found that he was only accustomed to coast along the Norwegian shore; and had been only once across to Stromstad. But he had brought with him a fellow better acquainted, he assured me, with the rocks by which they were to steer our course, for we had not a compass on board; yet, as he was half a fool, I had little confidence in his skill. There was then great reason to fear that we had lost our way, and were straying amidst a labyrinth of rocks without a clue.
This was something like an adventure, but not of the most agreeable cast; besides, I was impatient to arrive at Stromstad, to be able to send forward that night a boy to order horses on the road to be ready, for I was unwilling to remain there a day without having anything to detain me from my little girl, and from the letters which I was impatient to get from you.
I began to expostulate, and even to scold the pilot, for not having informed me of his ignorance previous to my departure. This made him row with more force, and we turned round one rock only to see another, equally destitute of the tokens we were in search of to tell us where we were. Entering also into creek after creek which promised to be the entrance of the bay we were seeking, we advanced merely to find ourselves running aground.
The solitariness of the scene, as we glided under the dark shadows of the rocks, pleased me for a while; but the fear of passing the whole night thus wandering to and fro, and losing the next day, roused me. I begged the pilot to return to one of the largest islands, at the side of which we had seen a boat moored. As we drew nearer, a light through a window on the summit became our beacon; but we were farther off than I supposed.