Afar in the Northland, where the winter days are so short and the nights so long, and where they harness the reindeer to sledges, and where the children look like bear's cubs in their funny, furry clothes, there, long ago, wandered a good Saint on the snowy roads. He came one day to the door of a cottage, and looking in saw a little old woman making cakes, and baking them on the hearth.
Throughout the long and fatiguing journey she had maintained unflinching energy and perseverance, undaunted by storm, sleet, and darkness, she had driven steadily over long miles of trackless snow her instinct had guided her by the shortest and quickest routes she seemed to know every station and village on the way, she always managed to obtain relays of reindeer just when they were needed, in short, Errington would hardly have been able to reach the Altenfjord without her.
He carried Kay and Gerda first to the Finland woman, who warmed them in her hot room and gave them advice for their journey home. Then they went to the Lapland woman, who gave them new clothes and mended their sleigh. The reindeer ran with them until they came to the green fields fresh with the spring green. Here he said good-bye.
Its bottom is known to be nearly a thousand feet below that of the adjacent North Sea, which would seem to show that the lake must be the mouth of some long-extinct volcano. As to the animals of Norway, the reindeer, the bear, the wolf, the fox, and the lynx about complete the list.
When I talked it over with him in a fatherly way he got wrathy, and I had to take him out on the bank and give him a threshing. Then he got sulky, and didn't brighten up till we ran into the mouth of the Reindeer River, where a camp of Siwashes were fishing salmon. But he had it in for me all the time, only I didn't know it, was ready any time to give me the double cross.
It seemed to Christy, after he had completed his examination of the Reindeer, that she carried an enormous deck-load for a steamer of her size, and that the bales were piled altogether too high for a vessel that was liable to encounter a heavy sea. But the cotton was where it could be readily thrown overboard if the safety of the steamer was threatened by its presence.
Some helped them out, some stood like a guard, and some took their reindeer to drive them to the stable. "You are just in time," said the captain of this party, as he stepped forward and saluted them. "The old Gentleman has been waiting for you, sending out to the gate to watch for you all evening."
During this delay a slight injury was repaired which one of the canoes had received. We were here amused by the sight of a wolf chasing two reindeer on the ice. The pursuer, being alarmed at the sight of our men, gave up the chase when near to the hindmost, much to our regret for we were calculating upon the chance of sharing in his capture.
He was dressed in a reindeer jacket and round felt cap like those worn under the helmets; his hair was without a net, cut evenly over his eyebrows and hung in golden curls on his shoulders; he walked swiftly, having noticed the girl; he was tall and graceful, looking like the shield-bearer of a rich nobleman.
He was curiously attired, after something of the fashion of the Highlander, and something yet more of the ancient Greek, in a tunic, vest, and loose jacket all made of reindeer skin, thickly embroidered with curious designs worked in coarse thread and colored beads; while thrown carelessly over his shoulders and knotted at his waist, was a broad scarf of white woollen stuff, or wadmel, very soft-looking and warm.
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