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wild bewildering sense of the novel which confounds the beholder. I am not sure from what point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at what time; but it could neither have been from the
summit of Helseggen, nor during a storm. There are some pas5 sages of his description, nevertheless, which may be quoted for their
details, although their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the spectacle.
"Between Lofoden and Moskoe,” he says, "the depth of the water is between thirty-six and forty fathoms; but on the other side, 10 toward Ver (Vurrgh) this depth decreases so as not to afford a
convenient passage for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, which happens even in the calmest weather. When it is flood, the stream runs up the country between Lofoden and Moskoe
with a boisterous rapidity; but the roar of its impetuous ebb to the 15 sea is scarce equaled by the loudest and most dreadful cataracts,
the noise being heard several leagues off; and the vortices or pits are of such an extent and depth that if a ship comes within its attraction it is inevitably absorbed and carried down to the bottom,
and there beat to pieces against the rocks; and when the water re20 laxes, the fragments thereof are thrown up again. But these inter
vals of tranquillity are only at the turn of the ebb and flood, and in calm weather, and last but a quarter of an hour, its violence gradually returning. When the stream is most boisterous, and its
fury heightened by a storm, it is dangerous to come within a Nor25 way mile of it. Boats, yachts, and ships have been carried away by
not guarding against it before they were within its reach. It likewise lappens frequently that whales come too near the stream, and are overpowered by its violence; and then it is impossible to describe
their howling and bellowings in their fruitless struggles to disen30 gage themselves. A bear once, attempting to swim from Lofoden
to Moskoe, was caught by the stream and borne down, while he roared terribly, so as to be heard on shore. Large stocks of firs and pine trees, after being absorbed by the current, rise again broken
and torn to such a degree as if bristles grew upon them. This 35 plainly shows the bottom to consist of craggy rocks, among which
they are whirled to and fro. This stream is regulated by the flux and reflux of the sea—it being constantly high and low water every six hours. In the year 1645, early in the morning of Sexagesima
Sunday, it raged with such noise and impetuosity that the very 5 stones of the houses on the coast fell to the ground.”
In regard to the depth of the water, I could not see how this could have been ascertained at all in the immediate vicinity of the vortex. The "forty fathoms" must have reference only to portions
of the channel close upon the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden. 10 The depth in the center of the Moskoe-ström must be immeasurably
greater; and no better proof of this fact is necessary than can be obtained from even the sidelong glance into the abyss of the whirl which may be had from the highest crag of Helseggen. Looking
down from this pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I 15 could not help smiling at the simplicity with which the honest
Jonas Ramus records, as a matter difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the bears; for it appeared to me, in fact, a selfevident thing that the largest ships of the line in existence, coming
within the influence of that deadly attraction, could resist it as little 20 as a feather the hurricane, and must disappear bodily and at once.
The attempts to account for the phenomenon-some of which, I remember, seemed to me sufficiently plausible in perusal—now wore a very different and unsatisfactory aspect. The idea generally
received is that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the 25 Feroe Islands, “have no other cause than the collision of waves
rising and falling, at flux and reflux, against a ridge of rocks and shelves, which confines the water so that it precipitates itself like a cataract; and thus the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the
fall be, and the natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, the 30 prodigious suction of which is sufficiently known by lesser experi
ments.”—These are the words of the “Encyclopædia Brittanica." Kircher and others imagine that in the center of the channel of the Maelström is an abyss penetrating the globe, and issuing in some
very remote part—the Gulf of Bothnia being somewhat decidedly 35 named in one instance. This opinion, idle in itself, was the one to
which, as I gazed, my imagination most readily assented; and, mentioning it to the guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the view almost universally entertained of the sub
ject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was not his own. As to the 5 former notion he confessed his inability to comprehend it; and here
I agreed with him—for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss.
“You have had a good look at the whirl now," said the old man, 10 “and if you will creep round this crag, so as to get in its lee, and
deaden the roar of the water, I will tell you a story that will convince you I ought to know something of the Moskoe-ström."
I placed myself as desired, and he proceeded.
“Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner-rigged 15 smack of about seventy tons burden, with which we were in the
habit of fishing among the islands beyond Moskoe, nearly to Vurrgh. In all violent eddies at sea there is good fishing, at proper opportunities, if one has only the courage to attempt it; but among
the whole of the Lofoden coastmen we three were the only ones who 20 made a regular business of going out to the islands, as I tell you.
The usual grounds are a great way lower down to the southward. There fish can be got at all hours, without much risk, and therefore these places are preferred. The choice spots over here among
the rocks, however, not only yield the finest variety, but in far 25 greater abundance; so that we often got in a single day what the
more timid of the craft could not scrape together in a week. In fact, we made it a matter of desperate speculation—the risk of life standing instead of labor, and courage answering for capital.
“We kept the smack in a cove about five miles higher up the 30 coast than this; and it was our practice, in fine weather, to take
advantage of the fifteen minutes' slack to push across the main channel of the Moskoe-ström, far above the pool, and then drop down upon anchorage somewhere near Otterholm, or Sandflesen,
where the eddies are not so violent as elsewhere. Here we used to 35 remain until nearly time for slack water again, when we weighed
and made for home. We never set out upon this expedition without a steady side wind for going and coming—one that we felt sure would not fail us before our return and we seldom made a mis
calculation upon this point. Twice, during six years, we were 5 forced to stay all night at anchor on account of a dead calm, which
is a rare thing indeed just about here; and once we had to remain on the grounds nearly a week, starving to death, owing to a gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made the channel too boister
ous to be thought of. Upon this occasion we should have been 10 driven out to sea in spite of everything (for the whirlpools threw
us round and round so violently that, at length, we fouled our anchor and dragged it) if it had not been that we drifted into one of the innumerable cross currents—here to-day and gone
to-morrow -which drove us under the lee of Flimen, where, by good luck, we 15 brought up.
“I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficulties we encountered on the ground'—it is a bad spot to be in, even in good weather-but we made shift always to run the gauntlet of the
Moskoe-ström itself without accident; although at times my heart 20 has been in my mouth when we happened to be a minute or so be
hind or before the slack. The wind sometimes was not as strong as we thought it at starting, and then we made rather less way than we could wish, while the current rendered the smack unman
ageable. My eldest brother had a son eighteen years old, and I had 25 two stout boys of my own. These would have been of great assist
ance at such times, in using the sweeps, as well as afterward in fishing—but, somehow, although we ran the risk ourselves, we had not the heart to let the young ones get into the danger—for, after all
said and done, it was a horrible danger, and that is the truth. 30 “It is now within a few days of three years since what I am
going to tell you occurred. It was on the tenth of July, 184, a day which the people of this part of the world will never forgetfor it was one in which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever
came out of the heavens. And yet all the morning, and indeed 35 until late in the afternoon, there was a gentle and steady breeze
from the southwest, while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest seaman among us could not have foreseen what was to follow.
“The three of us—my two brothers and myself—had crossed over to the islands about two o'clock P. M., and soon nearly loaded 5 the smack with fine fish, which, we all remarked, were more plenty
that day than we had ever known them. It was just seven, by my watch, when we weighed and started for home, so as to make the worst of the Ström at slack water, which we knew would be at eight.
"Ve set out with a fresh wind on our starboard quarter, and 10 for some time spanked along at a great rate, never dreaming of
danger, for indeed we saw not the slightest reason to apprehend it. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. This was most unusual—something that had never happened to us
before—and I began to feel a little uneasy, without exactly know15 ing why. We put the boat on the wind, but could make no headway
at all for the eddies, and I was upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, when, looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered with a singular copper-colored cloud that rose with
the most amazing velocity. 20 “In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off fell away,
and we were dead becalmed, drifting about in every direction. This state of things, however, did not last long enough to give us time to think about it. In less than a minute the storm was upon us
in less than two the sky was entirely overcast—and what with this 25 and the driving spray, it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other in the smack.
“Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt describing. The oldest seaman in Norway never experienced anything like
it. We had let our sails go by the run before it cleverly took us; 30 but, at the first puff, both our masts went by the board as if they
had been sawed off-the mainmast taking with it my youngest brother, who had lashed himself to it for safety.
“Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever sat upon water. It had a complete flush deck, with only a small hatch near 35 'the bow, and this hatch it had always been our custom to batten