Dave Porter in the Far North/Chapter 19
OFF TO THE NORTHWARD
Dave and Roger were told to follow the police officer, and did so, to a large stone building, located on one of the principal streets of the Norwegian capital. As they walked along many gazed at the American boys with interest.
Conducted into a plainly furnished office, the boys were told to sit down. Then they were asked if they had any objection to their baggage being examined.
"Not the slightest," answered Dave, and Roger said the same.
"At the same time I wish you to understand one thing," went on Dave's chum. "I am the son of a United States senator, and if I have to suffer any indignity at your hands you'll hear from it later, through the proper authorities."
"A United States senator's son!" murmured the police official. "Ah!" He took a long breath. "I shall not detain you a second longer than is necessary, sir," he went on, more civilly.
After that Dave and Roger were asked a great number of additional questions, and Dave had virtually to tell his story from beginning to end. Several officials listened with interest, but whether they believed him or not the boy could not tell.
"I am afraid you will have hard work finding your parent," said the police officer, at the conclusion of the interview.
"He must have left some directions behind—for forwarding mail, and the like."
"Possibly, but I doubt it. The expedition was bound up into the mountains,—so it was said. The means of communication are very poor at this time of year."
The baggage was gone over with care, and the examination was evidently a disappointment to those who made it. A long talk in Norwegian followed between several police officials, and then Dave and Roger were told that they could go.
"Would you mind telling me what it is all about?" questioned Dave, when he was ready to leave.
"You will have to excuse me, but I am not permitted to answer that question," said the man who had brought them in, gravely. "If we have detained you without just cause, we are very sorry for it." And that was all he would say.
"It's mighty queer, to say the least," observed Roger, after they had taken their departure. "Dave, what do you make of it?"
"I think they took us to be some foreigners who had come to Norway for no good purpose. You must remember that throughout Europe they have great trouble with anarchists and with political criminals who plot all sorts of things against the various governments. Maybe they took us to be fellows who had come here to blow somebody up."
"They ought to know better than that. I don't think we look like anarchists."
"Since that uprising in Russia, and the attempt on the king in Italy, every nation over here looks with suspicion on all foreigners. But there is something else to it, I imagine," went on Dave, seriously. "Those fellows acted as if they didn't think much of this expedition which my father has joined. Maybe that is under suspicion, too."
"Yes, I noticed that—and if it is true, your father may have some trouble before he leaves Norway."
"I wish I could get to him at once. I could warn him."
From an Englishman on the steamer the boys had learned of a good hotel where English was spoken, and there they obtained a good room for the night. Before going to bed Dave mailed several postals to Jessie, and also a letter to his Uncle Dunston and another to Phil Lawrence, for the benefit of the boys at Oak Hall.
It was not difficult in Christiania to find out when the Lapham-Hausermann Expedition had left the capital, or what had been its first stopping-place. It had taken a railroad train to Pansfar and then gone northward to the mountain town of Blanfos—so called because of the waterfall in that vicinity—a waterfall being a fos in the native tongue.
"I don't see anything to do but to journey to Blanfos," said Dave. "I presume it will be a mighty cold trip, and you needn't go if you don't wish to, Roger."
"Didn't I say I'd go anywhere you went—even if it's to the North Pole?" was the answer. "Come on,—I'm ready to start any time you are."
"I don't think we'll get to the North Pole, but we may get to the North Cape. But we can't start until we've got those fur overcoats we talked about."
At several of the shops in Christiania they procured all the additional clothing they thought they needed. Some of their lighter-weight stuff they left behind, not wishing to be encumbered with too much baggage. They booked for Pansfar at the railroad station, and by the middle of the afternoon of the second day in Norway were bound northward.
"There is that police official, watching us!" cried Roger, as the train was about to depart. He was right—the man was in sight, but he quickly lost himself in a crowd, and whether he got on the train or not they could not tell.
The train was but scantily filled, and only four people occupied the coach with the young Americans. One couple was evidently a newly married pair who had been on a wedding trip to Christiania, and they were very retired and shy. The other pair were a burgomaster and his wife, from some interior town. The burgomaster—who held a position similar to that of a mayor in an American city—wanted everybody to know who he was, and was thoroughly disagreeable. He crowded Dave into a corner until the youth could hardly get any air.
"I'll thank you not to crowd so much—there is plenty of room," said the boy.
The Norwegian did not understand, and continued to crowd the youth. Then Dave grew thoroughly angry and crowded back, digging his elbow well into the burgomaster's fat ribs. This caused the man to glare at the young American. Nothing daunted, Dave glared back.
"What do you do that for?" demanded the burgomaster, sourly.
"I don't speak Norwegian," answered Dave, brokenly, for that was one of the native phrases he had picked up. "But I want you to quit crowding me," he added, in English, and moved his elbows to show what he meant.
The burly Norwegian had supposed he would daunt Dave by his looks, and when he saw that the young American was unmoved he was nonplussed. He growled out something to his wife, who grumbled something in return. He did not budge, and Dave continued to hold his elbow well in the fellow's ribs. The situation had its comical side, and it was all Roger could do to keep from laughing.
"If you don't stop that, I'll have you put off the train!" roared the burgomaster.
As Dave did not understand, he said nothing.
A few minutes passed, and the train came to a halt and the door was unlocked. Nobody got out, but a round and ruddy-faced man got in and nodded to all those present.
"Guard! guard! Come here!" roared the burgomaster, but even as he spoke the door was closed and locked again, and the train moved off. Then of a sudden the Norwegian grabbed Dave by the shoulder.
"Let go there!" cried the youth, and took hold of the man's fat wrist. He gave such a tight squeeze that the burgomaster was glad enough to release his hold.
"I say, what's the matter here?" demanded the man who had just come in, and spoke in a distinctly English tone of voice.
"He's been shoving me into a corner and I told him to quit," answered Dave, glad to be able to make himself understood to somebody besides Roger.
The Englishman looked at the Norwegian and gave a grunt of disgust. "Can't you let the lad alone?" he demanded, in Norwegian. "He's not hurting you any, is he? What's the use of acting as if you owned the whole coach?"
The burgomaster attempted to answer, but the Englishman would scarcely listen. He liked Dave's looks, while he could readily see that the Norwegian was nothing but a bully. He said he didn't care if the man was a burgomaster, if Dave wasn't doing anything wrong he must be let alone, and a good deal more to the same effect. He and the Norwegian got into a spirited argument, but finally the burgomaster cooled down a bit, got up and bounced down on another seat, and his wife followed him.
"Some of these blooming chaps are as overbearing as they can be," remarked the Englishman, after matters had quieted down. "Now this fellow is the burgomaster of some small town up here in Norway, and on that account he thinks he can treat folks as he pleases. I am glad to know you stood up for your rights. Never let them walk over you. Old England every time, say I!" And he smiled broadly.
"I am much obliged to you for what you did," answered Dave, smiling back. "A fellow is at a disadvantage when he can't speak the language."
"That's true, lad. What part of our country do you come from?"
"I come from the United States, and so does my friend here," and the young American introduced himself and Roger.
"Well now, isn't that strange!" exclaimed the newcomer. "And I took you to be English lads sure. Well, next to being English I'd prefer to be an American. My name is Granbury Lapham."
"Granbury Lapham!" cried Dave, quickly. "Not the Lapham of the Lapham-Hausermann Expedition?"
"No, not exactly that, lad, but close to it. That Lapham is my brother Oscar. He is younger than I and daffy on the subject of investigations. As soon as I heard he had started for the mountains of Norway I came over to find out just what he was doing. I don't want him to investigate some high mountain in a snowstorm, fall over some precipice, and kill himself."
"You are going to join the expedition?"
"Yes, if I can find it. But what do you know about it?"
"I am going to join it also, and so is my friend," and then Dave had to give his reasons. Granbury Lapham listened with many a nod to the recital.
"I declare, Master Porter, it sounds like a sixshilling novel, don't you know," he said. "So you haven't ever seen this father of yours? Small wonder you're in a hurry to run across him. Well, I'll assist you all I can. I presume we had better travel together."
"With pleasure!" cried Dave, and he and the Englishman shook hands. Then Granbury Lapham told something of himself, and thus the time passed until Pansfar was reached. Here they got out, the burgomaster scowling after them as they departed.
The Englishman had visited Norway a number of times and spoke Danish and Norwegian very well. He led the way to a tavern, where all enjoyed a smoking-hot meal, with some steaming coffee.
"In the parts of Norway where there are no railroads the stage and sleigh lines, so called, are under the control of the government. The drivers are allowed to charge just so much for driving a person from one place to another, and the roadhouses along the way are also subject to official control, and you can always get your meals for a stated price."
"I suppose a fellow can get extras," suggested Roger.
"Certainly—whatever you pay for," answered Granbury Lapham, with a laugh.
He said that the Lapham-Hausermann Expedition consisted of six members, including Mr. Porter. What the object was he did not particularly know, excepting that his brother wanted to gather information concerning the hardy plants of Norway. He knew the party were going to keep to what was known as the Sklovarak Highway as far as Fesfjor and then to a new road leading directly northward.
"I think the best thing we can do is to hire a good sleigh and a double team of horses," said the Englishman. "We'll want a good driver too, one who knows all the roads."
It took them until the next day to obtain just what they wanted. The sleigh was a commodious one, and in it they placed such things as the driver advised them to take along. Then, wrapped in fur overcoats and wearing fur caps, they set off, on a tour that was destined to be filled with not a few perils and strange adventures.