Norway - Mt. Rustoi's rugged heights
( Originally Published 1907 )
Direction—West. Surroundings—The deep pocket of the lake drops from this bank only a few rods away behind us. The Maelkevold Glacier, towards which we have just been gazing, is now at our left.
Here again we find every available foot of ground utilized for grain, hay or vegetables. Those little patches of grass higher up at the south (left) of the falls will be mown to add to the barn-stores for next winter.
How tiny the sod-roofed cottage does look in comparison with Nature's background ! It is no wonder at all that people in old times used to believe in giants ; it certainly does seem as if this land had been planned for giants' habitation, so singularly "out of scale" are all human belongings. Old Norse stories are full of accounts of dealings between giants and men. One popular fairy tale begins with a peasant girl's meeting one of the Big People in the woods ; her father sent her to fetch his coat, which he had left there while he was chopping wood. The giant was going to carry her off, but she persuaded him to let her first carry the coat home. "To-morrow night," she said, "when I go to the stabbur (i. e., the outside storehouse) for bread, you may take me if you choose, but to-night let me take father's coat home, else he won't like it." And sure enough, the next night, when they sent the girl to. get the bread, the giant was waiting and he seized her and carried her off to his home. But she had three brothers, and the brothers set out to rescue her; the adventures they met on their quest make up the rest of the story, full of realistic details.
Many a child in Bergen and Christiania has read that story and shivered with sympathetic excitement over the little maid's courage in making that eerie bargain for time !
There is a highway on this side of the lake leading three or four miles up the valley to Brigsdal, and in summer one can hire a stolkjaerre for about sixty-seven cents (2 kroner 50 ore) ; it is an hour's drive. At Brigsdal (the spot is marked 71, near the south end of the lake), we shall be fortunate enough to see one of the characteristic festival costumes of this west-country district--the sort of thing we have read about in all the Norwegian stories.