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THE COUNTRY

27

The Diet was the scene all the year round of speeches about the "barely" satisfactory results of the trade returns, by which was really meant the entirely unsatisfactory results, which nobody could dispute, that the local railways did not cover their expenses and the main lines did not pay any dividends—distressing but unalterable and inveterate facts, which the Minister for Trade in luminous but monotonous declarations explained by the peaceful commercial and industrial circumstances of the country, as well as by the inaccessibility of the home coal-deposits. Critics added something about defective organization of the State industrial administration. But the spirit of contradiction and negation was not strong in the Diet; the prevailing frame of mind among the representatives of the people was one of dull and true-hearted loyalty.

So the railway revenues did not by any means rank first among the public revenues of a private-investment nature; the forest revenues had ranked first for years in this land of woods and plough. The fall in them, their startling depreciation, however sufficient reasons there were for it, was a much more difficult matter to mend.

The people loved their woods. They were a fair and compact type, with searching blue eyes and broad, rather high cheek-bones, a sensible and honest, solid and backward stamp of men. They clung to their country's forest with all the strength of their natures; it lived in their bones, it was to the artists which it bred the source and home of their inspirations, and it was quite properly the object of popular gratitude, not only in regard to the gifts of soul and intellect of which it was the donor. The poor gathered their firewood in the forest; it gave it them freely, they had it for nothing. They went stooping and gathering all kinds of berries and mushrooms among its trunks, and earned a little something by doing so. That was not all. The people recognized that their forest had a very distinctly