THE FIORDS OF SCHLESWIG
WE set sail at six in the morning of July the 20th. It was not a pleasant day, the wind had got round to thc north-west, it was cold and squally and the rain fell steadily. We found the climate of the Baltic to be even more changeable than that of the coast of Hanover. One day it is hot as at Marseilles in August, the next, a blustering north-wester brings with it the bitter weather of an English March at its worst. We soon discovered that whenever the wind means mischief in these seas it shifts to the north-west. We never encountered bad weather from any other quarter. Another discovery we soon made was that a dangerous sea can get up in the Baltic with extraordinary rapidity. This is without doubt not only due to the shallowness of the water but also to the small proportion of salt contained in it. A well-pickled ocean is always more sluggish than a fresh-water lake.
But the north-wester could not do us much harm during the first portion of the journey before us; for we would be generally coasting northwards with the mainland to the east of us, so were not likely to encounter unpleasantly rough seas except at the entrances to the fiords.
We sailed down the long bay of Kiel and doubled Bulk Point, which forms the extremity of the promontory known as the Danish Wold. Here the land trends in a north-west direction to the mouth of Eckenforde Fiord, and we had a dead beat to windward
As the wind was blowing at us across eight miles of open water, the sea was very choppy; we ran our nose into the short waves, smothered the yacht with water, and made very little way. After tumbling about for several hours we came off Nienhof Point. I had hoped to reach Slimunde before night; but seeing that this was impossible with a head wind, I altered my plans and sailed up Eckenforde Fiord. This inlet of the sea is eleven miles long and three broad; at the head of it is the little town of the same name and an excellent harbour protected from all winds.
We crossed to the north shore in order to get into smooth water; but our luck was bad this day; the wind now shifted to the west and blew straight down the fiord, so that we had to turn to windward all the way to our port.
We came to the conclusion that if all the Danish fiords resembled this one we should be very content. Here was a noble sheet of water surrounded by grassy or wooded hills, while the red roofs of scattered farmhouses relieved the sombre tints of the pine-forests with touches of bright colour here and there. For us there was deep water up to either shore, and we never went about till we could clearly distinguish the white sands and rocks, the weeds and anemones at the bottom. Like all bays of the Baltic, this one swarmed with brilliantly coloured jelly-fish.
We came to an anchor off Eckenforde at five o'clock. Seen from the sea this town has a somewhat dishevelled and repelling appearance. The reason is that, unlike most seaside places, it turns its back to the water. The fronts of the houses on the beach look inland, and we were gazing at a waste of blank back-walls relieved only by clothes hanging out to dry in dingy yards, dust-heaps, and the other unlovely household gods which are usually put out of sight in the rear of a dwelling. The shore itself was untended and had no road along it, but was covered with stacks of timber, hundreds of fishing-nets stretched on stakes, and rubbish of every description. The back view of Eckenforde certainly does not give the approaching mariner a high idea of the cleanliness or tidiness of its citizens; there was, however, a charm in all this slovenliness to one who had been so long tortured by the Dutch craze in the opposite direction.
But one may go too far even in uncleanliness, as I very soon found out. A creek pierces the heart of this town and forms a commodious haven along whose quays lie many fishing-boats — clumsy open craft rigged with three masts and sprit-sails. After dinner I sailed up this haven in the dinghy, and soon became aware of a peculiar and horrible smell. I was puzzled to account for this at first, as the water beneath me was absolutely pellucid; but happening to look over the side I perceived that the bottom was of a glittering white as if it had been paved with a mixture of silver and chalk. A closer examination showed me that thousands of dead herrings and other fish were lying there, and had no doubt been cast overboard by the fishermen as useless. Later on when it was dark I saw that the water was brilliantly lit up with the phosphorescence thrown out by this decaying matter. As there is no perceptible current in the harbour this custom seemed, to put it mildly, a rather unhygienic one, and I began to understand how it was that outbreaks of cholera have proved so deadly on the shores of the tideless Baltic.
I walked through the town, but did not find it interesting. The streets are broad, and some of the houses pretentious in appearance, but there were very few people to be seen abroad, and those not of the well-to-do classes. There was a dejected and shabby air about the place, like that of a town that has seen better days.
The next morning a strong north-west wind was blowing, and the climate was more wintry than ever. On consulting the chart I found that we could sail under shelter of the shore as far as Slimunde, which was twenty miles distant; but that beyond that lay the broad mouth of Flensburg Fiord, across which a heavy sea would certainly be running. So we weighed anchor at 10 a.m., bound for the Slei. When we got outside Eckenforde Fiord the wind, as usual heading us, veered to the north of north-west, so that we could not lay up the coast close-hauled on the port tack, but had to take a short leg inshore occasionally, in order to keep close under the land and avoid the tumbling seas farther out.
We passed by a hilly and wooded coast till about midday, when we skirted a low, marshy country, which extended as far as Slimunde. At two o'clock we saw our port in front of us. It did not look an imposing place, consisting as it did of two houses and a lighthouse. When we came opposite to it we found that the entrance to the Slei was between two piers so very near together that tacking in between them was an awkward task, even for our small craft. We got safely inside, and then entered an extensive lagoon, where we let go our anchor.
The scene was a strange and desolate one. A large expanse of shallow water, noisy with the doleful cries of multitudes of sea-mews, lay before us. It was bordered by swamps and sands on two sides, and, on the side farthest inland, by a flat, well-wooded country. Long dark-green or brown weeds floated everywhere on the surface of the lagoon, adding to the gloom of its appearance. In every direction rose poles and booms indicating the channels across the shallows, and also an extraordinary number of stakes running in parallel ranges, with withies interlaced between them, which are used by the herring fishermen for their nets. The only houses we could see were those I have mentioned as standing by the pier, and the only other vessel here besides ourselves was a German revenue cutter. The only human beings visible were two men who had waved directions to me as I sailed in.
Of all the inlets of this coast the Slei is the most remarkable in its configuration. It is the longest of the Schleswig fiords; but, unlike the others, it does not open out into the sea by a broad gulf but by a channel only eighty yards in width, the original entrance having silted up. The length of the Slei from the mouth to Schleswig is thirty English miles; it forms a succession of narrows and lakes, the largest of which is the Store Bredning near Schleswig.
Having stowed the sails, I pulled off to the pier to call on the two inhabitants of this lonely place. I discovered that they both spoke English. Of the two houses I had seen, one was a hotel and the other the pilot-station, and one of these men was landlord of the first, while the other was one of the pilots resident in the second. I was surprised to find the hotel quite a capacious and luxurious establishment; for several German families come each summer to this healthy spot, where they can live at a very moderate rate and enjoy excellent sea-bathing. About a mile farther up the coast there is a little row of lodging-houses for the accommodation of the visitors.
The only family now staying at the hotel was that of a merchant from Hamburg; but his progeny was numerous enough for several average families. He of course spoke English, and we quickly struck up an acquaintance over the usual bock of beer. He had hired a little fishing-boat, in which he went out every day fishing with his wife and children. He was a wise man, for he evidently did not miss his clubs and town society, but was enjoying his holiday in this quiet place as keenly as the boys themselves.
He told me that I ought to visit Męsholm, a little island that was divided from us by two miles of shallow water overgrown with weeds. This island lies at the old entrance of the fiord, and is exclusively inhabited by fishermen, who form a race apart like the people of Urk and Marken. Here they still keep up the customs of their forefathers, and speak the Danish language. As these islanders will not intermarry with the inhabitants of the mainland they are all related to each other. There are only four or five surnames among them, and as the number of Christian names deemed by them orthodox are also limited in number, it comes that many people have the same names and so have to be distinguished by nicknames expressive of some personal or other quality. For instance, there are thirty Peter Mass's here; and I saw a letter addressed to one in which he was described as, "He that is the eldest of the two Peter Mass's that have red hair." The duties of the Męsholm postman must be arduous and sometimes delicate!
I pulled off to this queer island in the dinghy, and landed among a crowd of fishermen who were mending their nets. They looked at me with evident astonishment, for they perceived that both the dinghy and myself were foreigners; and they had not seen the yacht, so were naturally puzzled to know where I had fallen from. I was not surprised to find that one of these men had served on British vessels and spoke English. He piloted me up to the village, where he introduced me and told my tale to a number of honest fishermen, who gave me a hearty welcome.
The island is well-wooded and the village is a tidy, pretty little place. I entered the one inn, and soon some of the notables came to interview me. Among others was the schoolmaster, who spoke a little English acquired from books and not by practice, and therefore not very easy to understand. But he was very pleased to have an opportunity of speaking to an Englishman. He was a nice young fellow and remarkably well-educated for the dominie of a fishing-village. He discoursed to me on science, literature — he was a student of Shakespeare and Dickens — and contemporary politics. He told me that the fishermen were no longer as prosperous as they used to be. Some years back fifty ocean-going vessels belonged to the people of Męsholm, but now they only owned fourteen. However, there is still a large fleet of small open herring-boats here, and some of the wealthier inhabitants own schooners; in these they sail up the fiord and purchase cheeses and other agricultural produce from the farmers, which they carry to Copenhagen for sale.
The fisherman who spoke English told me that his brother kept the "Jolly Sailor" at Gravesend, and he made me promise to look in there when I was next in that port; "for," said he, "I don't suppose my brother ever meets anyone in England who can talk to him about Męsholm."
The sun had set, and as I knew that it would be difficult to find my way in the dark through the labyrinth of herring-stakes and shoals that lay between me and the yacht, I rose to go. I first went to the village store, where everything useful can be bought, from a marline-spike to an onion, and purchased a quantity of eggs and potatoes, which I carried down to the dinghy. A crowd of friends accompanied me to the shore to bid me farewell. It was with regret that I left this jolly little island with its simple sturdy race of fishermen.
I reached the yacht, and after dinner examined the charts of the coast over my pipe. The plan of Slei Fiord so fascinated me, with its indications of winding lakes, woods, and islands, that I could not resist its temptation; and I decided not to put to sea the next day, but to leave Wright in charge of the Falcon while I made an expedition to Schleswig in the dinghy. As the journey was a long one — nearly sixty miles there and back — it would be necessary to start at daybreak, so I made my preparations overnight by boiling hard half a dozen eggs.
At 3 a.m., July 22nd, I put the needful stores into the dinghy, the eggs, bread, cheese, a bottle of rum and water, pipes, matches, and plenty of tobacco, a sketchboolk and compass, and I did not forget to take a blanket in case I was benighted and had to sleep out.
The wind no longer howled from the north-west, it had shifted to the south-east and was very light, so that I had to take to the oars. I pulled across the lagoon towards the first narrow, passing several of the Męsholm fishermen in their sprit-sail boats, with whom I exchanged greetings. The sun was just rising above the horizon as I left the broad water and entered the channel that leads to the town of Cappel. The water was beautifully clear and full of gorgeously coloured jellyfish. On either side were sloping lawns and woods of fir and beech, while picturesque wooden farm-houses, with tall thatched roofs, peeped out here and there from the rich foliage. It turned out to be a magnificent sunny summer's day, so the country looked at its best.
It is impossible to describe the peculiar charm of the scenery of these fiords. There is not here the wild grandeur of the fiords of Norway, but a soft and peaceful loveliness of which one never wearies. Word-pictures of these sweet landscapes could not fail to be monotonous to the reader; for they are all composed of the same elements — clear water, grassy slopes, and woods of fir and beech. But there is no monotony in the reality; each reach in a fiord presents some fresh feature of its own; and there is a great variety in the tints of both vegetation and water, a variety intensified by the everchangeful northern sky. The sea-coast of the Cimbrian peninsula is to be understood and enjoyed in a boat and not to be described in books.
I pulled away under the hot sun and soon found that a current of some strength was running against me; for, though there is no perceptible tide in the Baltic a strong wind will bring a current with it and cause the water to rise several feet in the narrow gulfs and sounds. Fed as it is by many great rivers, the Baltic has a tendency to flow into the North Sea, and it has been calculated that the current sets outward for five-sevenths of the year. But when the north-west wind has been blowing for some days a contrary effect is produced, and the waters of the German Ocean are driven into the land-locked sea. This had been the case for several days past, and, now that a calm had set in, the water was pouring out again and so causing the adverse current which I experienced.
I rowed by Cappel, a picturesque old town where the Slei narrows considerably and is traversed by a bridge of boats; by Arnis, where the Prussian troops forced the passage of the fiord in 1864 and routed the Danish army; and then came to the Lange Bredning, a fine sheet of water, where, the wind freshening, I was able to lay down the oars, set the sail, and admire the scenery at leisure for a time. The village of Slieby looked so pretty and inviting that I landed there and repaired to the inn for some beer. Here I found a lot of merry men, who, as far as I could make out, had just returned from a yeoman's wedding. These Schleswiger farmers were fine-looking fellows, stalwart, clean of complexion, very English in appearance, as indeed were most of the people I came across in the course of this summer's voyage; for were not these regions the cradle of our race, and had I not been sailing along the coasts of the Saxons, Danes, Jutes, Frisians, and Angles, those brave and ferocious old pirates once the scourge of Christendom, whose descendants on the continent have for some strange reason become the most peaceful and amiable of all Europeans?
The jovial farmers insisted on my joining in their carouse, and we attempted conversation, but could not manage it. I was always meeting people who understood English on this cruise, yet in no previous wandering had I ever realized the curse of Babel so intensely. I know something of the Latin languages, so can get on tolerably well in Southern Europe. I have travelled among savages and semi-savages on the other continents without understanding a word of their tongues; but this enforced silence did not trouble me much, except when I wanted something to eat and did not know how to ask for it; for it was probable that their discourse would not be very amusing or interesting if it was intelligible. But now it seemed to me to be horrible and unnatural not to be able to hold intercourse with these pleasant people so nearly allied to ourselves by blood, whose habits so closely resemble our own, and between whose dialect and ours there is so slight but insuperable a difference. We could not talk together, but we could drink beer together, and we did so—there again in the love of beer our kinship showed itself; then I dragged myself away from my jovial friends and rowed on again under the hot sun, for I was yet only half-way to Schleswig.
After travelling for some hours through a succession of delightful scenes I came to the Store Bredning, a lake three miles broad; thence a short strait brought me into the Lille Bredning, a beautiful sheet of water, and there before me at last stood the ancient city of Schleswig. Its situation is exceedingly picturesque; it may be said to consist of one street, upwards of three miles in length, which is carried round a deep bay at the extreme end of the fiord, having for a back ground the spires of churches and the not beautiful ducal castle of Gottorp.
I had refreshed myself with sundry snacks of bread and cheese on the way, but my long journey had given me an appetite; so, as it was now two o'clock, before landing in the town I sailed to a little island, anchored under its shade, and did justice to my hard-boiled eggs I was surprised to find that this island, notwithstanding its proximity to the city and its distance from the sea, was crowded with sea-gulls, who appeared to be almost as tame as those birds which dwell on desert islands and are never molested by man. I was afterwards told that the gulls on this island, which is called Mowenburg, have been protected by law from time immemorial, and that a heavy fine is inflicted on anyone who lands here during the breeding season.
I had but little time to explore Schleswig, which is a delightful old town full of historical interest; and as it is a sleepy place, with no trade worth mentioning, it has not been modernized by progress, and preserves many of its medieval characteristics. This is one of the oldest cities of the North, and was the capital of the Danes in the days of Charlemagne. The first Christian church in Denmark was erected here on the site of the present cathedral; and — but all this and much more is in Baedeker, to whom I am indebted for these facts.
I visited the old cathedral, with its many monuments of kings and dukes, and should liked to have driven to the ruined Danevirke, but I thought of my long pull home and refrained. The Danevirke was to the ancient Danes what the Great Wall was to China. The head waters of the Eider and the Slei are within a few miles of each other, and, as the swampy shores of the first and the broad deep lakes of the second form an almost insurmountable obstacle to an invading army, the Danish kings commenced, even in prehistoric times, to fortify the intervening space and so form a complete line of defence from the North Sea to the Baltic. Queen Thyra set the whole of her nation to work for three years in constructing a gigantic rampart nine miles in length, forty feet in height, and surmounted by oaken palisades. From behind it the Danes defied their enemies for many centuries, but when the province of Holstein was added to the Danish crown in 1460, and the frontier was moved farther south, the Danevirke was considered of no further use and was allowed to fall to ruins. However, in the war of 1864, the Danes once more fortified the old rampart; all in vain, the luck of the Danevirke had departed, and the Prussians forded the Slei and turned the position. Many a good old-fashioned battle has been fought by here, but this is not the place to chronicle them; though I could not resist the temptation, despite my resolve to foreswear description of lions, of having something to say concerning this grand blood-stained old Danevirke.
The south-east wind freshened in the afternoon, and, as the current was now with me, I accomplished the thirty miles that divided me from my yacht in much less time than the journey out had occupied. However, there was still some hard pulling to be done, and I did not stop anywhere till I reached Arnis, where a cafe on the beach tempted me to land for beer. Near here I noticed a cutter yacht of about ten tons, which was evidently of English build. Two men were engaged in rigging her; they told me that she was entered for the Kiel regatta, that her owner intended to sail to Kiel the next day, and that she was called the Widgeon, and had been purchased at Hamburg from an Englishman thirteen years before. This was somewhat of a coincidence, for I was familiar with the history of this boat, and the book in which her voyage is chronicled was on board the Falcon. If Mr. Robinson, the author of The Cruise of the Widgeon, reads these pages he will learn that his old vessel is in good hands, almost as sound as ever, and does not show her years.
I did not reach the outer lagoon until long after dark. I picked my way with difficulty among the herring-stakes, and lost myself several times in the labyrinths of hurdles, which led me into culs-de-sac amidst the weed-grown shallows — a queer and weird navigation; but at last, shortly after midnight, I found the yacht, and turned in to sleep soundly after my lengthy expedition.
The next morning was hot and windless, but the barometer had fallen two-tenths in the night, so we surmised that one of those rapid changes which are so frequent on these coasts was not far off. We pulled the Falcon out of the harbour with the sweeps at ten o'clock, and then set the sails; there was not a breath to fill them, so they hung useless; but the current was still setting to the northward, and we drifted in a very leisurely manner up the coast, putting out an oar occasionally to obtain steerage-way. We had no idea what anchorage we should reach before night, and it was nearly always thus with us in the Baltic. In these regions of capricious weather there was a charming uncertainty about our movements, and yet, as a rule, an absence of anxiety on the matter, for a port to which we could run for shelter was never far off.
On both seas there is a preponderance of wind, but in no other respect do the Baltic and North Sea resemble each other. On a sultry day such as this was a haze would be hanging over the chilly waters of the German Ocean and obscure the low eastern shores; but here the atmosphere was marvellously clear, and we could discern plainly, far away across the Little Belt, the Danish islands of Langeland and Arroe. The water, too, seemed almost as pellucid as the air; we could distinguish every object at the bottom of the sea fathoms below our keel, even the individual grains of sand. A brightly coloured vegetation, almost tropical in its luxuriance, clothed the coast. This looked indeed like a summer sea, and the German Ocean can never put on so fair an aspect.
A light south-east wind sprang up, so we hoisted our square-sail and got along a little faster.
The glass had not fallen without good cause. At one o'clock, having finished my own lunch, I sent Wright below to get his, and took the helm. There was not a cloud in the sky or the slightest appearance of bad weather. About a mile ahead a topsail-schooner was sailing in the same direction as ourselves, and I was watching her to see whether we were gaining on her at all, when suddenly there was a commotion on her deck, her sails shook violently, down went her topsail, inboard came her sheets, and lo, she was now sailing close-hauled, her lee gunwale under water, on precisely the same course on which she had been running free the moment before! Then I saw a suspicious black line rapidly coming towards us across the smooth blue water.
"Up you come, Wright! In with the square-sail. We'll be all taken aback in a second," I shouted as I left the tiller and hurried forward to cast off the main boom guy.
We had just time to get all ready when down it came on us, a violent squall from the north-west driving the water up before it in a foaming yeast. "Well, this beats everything yet!" exclaimed Wright, "I don't think the weather-prophets would be much good out here."
The Baltic is certainly the match of any tropical ocean for the suddenness of its squalls. We took down a couple of reefs in the mainsail and put the yacht on the port tack. Leaning well over till the water hissed through her lee scuppers, she took the bit in her teeth and tore away up the coast like a race-horse. But not for long; the sea quickly got up, and soon — when we rounded Abue Point and were off the mouth of Flensburg Fiord, where the land afforded us no shelter—the short tumbling waves that opposed her knocked all the speed out of the Falcon. We thrashed to windward across the fiord, making very little way, driving the yacht's bows into seas that looked like walls of water, and which, burying her bowsprit and jib and falling on her decks, would often stop her as completely as if she had struck a rock.
The sky and water had now assumed a uniform leaden hue, down poured the rain in torrents, and it was bitterly cold. No, there is no monotony about the weather here. Those to whom their medical advisers recommend a change of climate should try this country; a voyage from the Equator to Siberia will not present a more utter change than can be constantly experienced here in the course of ten minutes.
I had thought of sailing to Flensburg, but as it is situated at the very head of the fiord, and as I should have had a dead beat to windward most of the way there, I now altered my plans and tried to make Sonderborg in the Als Sound instead.
When we were half-way across the great arm of the sea which forms the opening of Flensburg Fiord the wind freshened and the sea became so confused that the yacht scarcely progressed at all, and was certainly making far more lee-way than head-way. Occasionally four or five steep, breaking waves would charge down on her in rapid succession, when, as if stunned and dazed, she would stop altogether, and merely rise and fall to each billow in a heavy lifeless manner. It began to look as if we should be unable to reach the opposite coast, but be driven out into the open sea. Though we always waited for a "smooth" to go about, the Falcon several times refused to stay, so that we were obliged to wear her round. Hour after hour passed in this manner, but at last, in spite of wind and sea, we got across to Als Island. We made the land close to the lighthouse on the peninsula of Kekenaes some miles to leeward of Als Sound, and being now in smoother water we were not long in tacking up the south side of the island.
At seven in the evening we opened out the deep inlet of Horup Haff, which is about four miles from the Sound; and, coming to the conclusion that we had had enough tumbling about for the day, we gave up Sonderborg, slacked off the sheets, put the helm up, and after sailing with a beam wind for three miles up the perfectly smooth water of the bay let our anchor go off Horuphav, a pretty little fishing-village on the north shore.
We thus put into a port which we had not the slightest idea of visiting, and whose very name was unknown to us when we had sailed in the morning; but I was not sorry that stress of weather had brought us here, for Horup Haff is a beautiful piece of water and Als Island one of the fairest in Denmark. This fiord is seven miles long and one mile broad; as it turns round upon itself the inner portion is completely landlocked, and, the water being deep throughout, affords a most safe and commodious harbour, which, though now frequented only by a few coasters, was of great importance to the Danes during the last war. Most of the fighting was done in this neighbourhood, and this was used as the chief port of embarkation for troops and stores.
As it was still raining hard I did not go on shore that evening, but informed Wright that the next day being Sunday we would make it a holiday and remain at Horup. We became strict Sabbatarians in the Baltic, but as long as we were in the North Sea we could not afford to lose any slant of fair weather on whatever day it might come.
When I awoke on the following morning I found that winter had departed and summer come back again. A hot sun was shining, and the wooded hills and downs that surrounded the fiord looked very fresh and lovely after the recent rain. The song of multitudes of birds filled the air—the extraordinary number of birds and the tremendous musical energy they display is another pleasant feature of these regions. As I gazed at the shore I came to the conclusion that the climate of Denmark is, after all, one of the best in Europe; better even than our own, which is saying a good deal. What though it is changeful, no sensible person would like every day to be monotonously fine; and when it is fine in this land of wind and rain Nature puts on a fresh and tender loveliness which is unknown in those so-called perfect climates which lie under the hard Southern skies. So I thought just then; but I have no doubt that the next time I was caught in a north-wester I set to reviling the Danish climate in no measured terms, even as I had done before.
Seen from our anchorage, Horuphav appeared a comfortable little place. It was half-concealed by the green bushes that fringed the shore; there was no formal street, but the fishermen's cottages were scattered through a pleasant grove of beech and other trees; most of these cottages had deep-thatched roofs, and all had glaring whitewashed chimneys, which produced a rather curious effect. A sloping forest formed a fine background to the scene.
"Now I wonder if we shall come across anyone in this out-of-the-way place who speaks English," I said to Wright as we pulled off to the rough timber jetty.
We landed, and, as we had exhausted our store of bread, I inquired the way to the baker's in English of the first man we met. He looked surprised for a moment, and then replied to me in my own tongue. He, of course, proved to be an old sea-captain. When I made some remark as to our good luck in thus having found at once someone who could understand us, he denied that there was any luck in it. "For," said he, "this place is full of men who speak English better than I do; most of them have been gold-diggers in California in their day."
He told me that he had given up the sea and was now the landlord of the "Baltic Hotel," the only inn in this village. He led the way there, and I was astonished to find it a spacious and seemingly comfortable hostelry, commanding a splendid view over the fiord, and surrounded by a well-laid-out garden. A good many visitors from the neighbouring towns put up here in the summer months, for Horuphav, having the pure sea in front of it and the balmy pine-woods behind, is a very healthy place.
As it was Sunday the local gossips were sitting in the public room enjoying their pipes and beer after the sedate Northern fashion. I noticed that they were all speaking Danish and not German. The North Schleswigers still adhere to the tongue of their old country, and have not yet abandoned all hope of being some day freed from the foreign yoke — no heavy one, by the way, for the German Government is very indulgent to Schleswig-Holstein, and does all it can to reconcile the natives to the new rule. I was introduced to several of the old California diggers, none of whom seemed to have been very successful in their search for gold.
Had I yielded to the importunities of my new friends I might have passed the whole of the glorious day in consuming thin beer and listening to yarns long spun out, in this stuffy room; but I managed to slip away and took a long walk through the woods. I noticed while going through the village, that every fisherman's cottage had its little carefully-tended garden, in which roses, stocks, and other old-fashioned flowers were blossoming. Very pleasant-looking, too, were the good wives who sat knittmg at the cottage porches.
When I returned on board, Wright told me that he, too, had been yarning with the gossips at the hotel, and that when he was leaving the landlord had come up to him, and said in a mysterious voice,
"Does your captain like fish?"
"He likes anything that's good," was the reply.
"Well, I want you to take him from me a little present. It's one of those big fish, I don't remember how you call it in English."
"Turbot?" suggested Wright.
"No, not turbot. It's that fish which turns about and bites you if you catch hold of him, you know."
"Lobster?" ventured Wright again.
"Ah, yes, lobster, that's it! I've got a lot of them down in my cellar, but I can't leave the customers just now, so if you'll come back by and by I'll fetch it for you. "
So, in pleasurable anticipation of a rum-and-lobster supper, I sent Wright back to the hotel in the dinghy. He returned, and, with a quiet chuckle, produced — a large dried eel. Our worthy host had unintentionally disappointed me; however, the eel, when stewed, proved to be excellent.